Mearsheimer On Palestine

Prof. John Meaersheimer claims that there is no possibility for a two-state solution and true apartheid is coming

[tweetmeme]  I mentioned John Mearsheimer’s lecture on the current impossibility of a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.  The lecture, entitled “The Future of Palestine: Righteous Jews vs. the New Afrikaners,” was an academic eulogy for the the state of Palestine: “Regrettably, the two-state solution is now a fantasy”.  It is a great talk – even if you don’t agree with Prof. Mearsheimer – and worth watching.  I have having trouble embedding the video, though the video, as well as the transcript and the audio can be found at the Palestine Center webpage.  A teaser:

Given present circumstances there are four possible futures for Palestine.

The outcome that gets the most attention these days is the two-state solution, which was described in broad outline by President Clinton in late December 2000.  It would obviously involve creating a Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel.  To be viable, that Palestine state would have to control 95 percent or more of the West Bank and all of Gaza.  There would also have to be territorial swaps to compensate the Palestinians for those small pieces of West Bank territory that Israel got to keep in the final agreement.  East Jerusalem would be the capital of the new Palestinian state.  The Clinton Parameters envisioned certain restrictions on the new state’s military capabilities, but it would control the water beneath it, the air space above it, and its own borders – to include the Jordan River Valley.

There are three possible alternatives to a two-state solution, all of which involve creating a Greater Israel – an Israel that effectively controls the West Bank and Gaza.

In the first scenario, Greater Israel would become a democratic bi-national state in which Palestinians and Jews enjoy equal political rights.  This solution has been suggested by a handful of Jews and a growing number of Palestinians.  However, it would mean abandoning the original Zionist vision of a Jewish state, since the Palestinians would eventually outnumber the Jews in Greater Israel.

Second, Israel could expel most of the Palestinians from Greater Israel, thereby preserving its Jewish character through an overt act of ethnic cleansing.  This is what happened in 1948 when the Zionists drove roughly 700,000 Palestinians out of the territory that became the new state of Israel, and then prevented them from returning to their homes.  Following the Six Day War in 1967, Israel expelled between 100,000 and 260,000 Palestinians from the newly conquered West Bank and drove 80,000 Syrians from the Golan Heights.  The scale of the expulsion, however, would have to be even greater this time, because there are about 5.5 million Palestinians living between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.

The final alternative to a two-state solution is some form of apartheid, whereby Israel increases its control over the Occupied Territories, but allows the Palestinians to exercise limited autonomy in a set of disconnected and economically crippled enclaves.

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5 thoughts on “Mearsheimer On Palestine

  1. The “impossibility of the Two State Solution” is a conclusion, not a fact. It is a conclusion based upon the refusal of the USA.EU et al to REQUIRE Israel to REMOVE THE WALL and SETTLERS.

    American politics makes this refusal look pretty solid unless President Obama has more than his arm up his sleeve.

    I have written about Mearsheimer’s talk at here.

    1. Peter, I cannot seem to comment on your blog so I will put my thoughts here:

      Peter, good thoughts.

      One thing occurred to me though when reading through the section about the Bigs in the US. To take two: The Jewish Lobby and Oil. As Israel grows more conservative and orthodox, the possibility of Mearsheimer’s prediction grows. As this happens, the observation by Petraeus may become more obvious. If this is indeed the case, US support for a growing Apartheid state causes more then simply a moral problem (something I think you overlook).

      If US support for some future Apartheid Israel undermines US interests in the region (via anti-americanism, terrorism, etc.), predictably, US access to oil will become compromised (or at least more so). If terrorism and/or new interstate conflicts are at least partially a result of some morally-blind US policy to I/P, Big Oil would predictably urge the US gov’t to take up policies that would ease tensions in the region.

      Secondly, there is a growing schism in the US Jewish population. As AIPAC (and increasingly JStreet) push the conservative Israeli agenda, we see the majority of American Jews supporting Obama. Indeed (though I do not have the numbers in front of me) a majority of American Jews think that illegal settlement construction should stop. The schism in the American Jewish community seems to be between the Jewish people and those in the lobby that are supposedly representing them. In 20-50 years, this is unsustainable. If AIPAC supports future Apartheid policies, it will become more obvious that American Jews, while supporting Israel, do not support the same things as AIPAC.

      You made some good point in your essay, but I would argue that you are a bit too pessimistic. Though, I, pessimistically, do not think that Israel would ever accept the Palestinian right to return (they may recognize it if Palestine agrees to give it up as part of a deal). The realization of the right of return severely threaten, demographically, Israel as a Jewish state.

      Some thoughts, anyway. Good read.

  2. Pabelmont,

    I agree with you, somewhat. The refusal (or inability – domestic politics et al) of the world’s powers to fully stand up to Israel is severely hurting the chances of a viable two-state solution. Unfortunately, in the US, mid term elections make anything dramatic pretty much impossible this year. Furthermore, Congress’ refusal to put financial pressure on Israel undermines Obama (McCain, Lieberman and others have said there is no chance that aid to Israel becomes conditional).

    The best pressure I think we can see in the immediate term is the US abstaining from a vote in the UN. We will see.

    Also, check out my other post about Ibish’s response to Mearsheimer. Hey, and good writing in your post.

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