Last Friday afternoon, I wrote about Roger Cohen’s recent opinion column in the Times, in which he took Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the shed. Cohen objected to Bibi’s recent campaign to remind the world that Iran’s nuclear program is a real threat despite Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s charm offensive at the United Nations and his near-acknowledgment of the Holocaust last month. According to Cohen, Bibi’s American tour was a diversionary ploy to avoid making peace with the Palestinians. (By the way, per peace talks parameters, Palestinian officials are confirming that Israel will release its next round of Palestinian prisoners later this month.)
Anyway, I think Cohen missed the mark, especially by downplaying the nature of Iran’s threat. In the post, I highlighted five particularly silly sentences and explained why I thought they were silly. As it happens, I received e-mails from a few readers who wanted to talk about it. I tend not to post these, but I found that a couple of the responses embodied the strange moment we’re in as we talk about Iran, Israel, and the two-state solution.
One e-mailer disputed this (totally unoriginal) sentence of mine: “No one will dispute that a two-state solution is necessary to Israel’s long-term viability as a Jewish and democratic state.” Apparently, someone will dispute that. The writer noted:
“By your logic, the PLO would have indefinite veto power over Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.” He went on to add that any future Palestinian rejection of a two-state solution “shouldn’t and wouldn’t spell the end of Israel.”
This is a point that’s hard to argue with. But argue we must. My response–which seems to be losing steam as more time passes–is that the two-state solution may no longer be the ideal paradigm if you’re hoping for a realistic end to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, but it remains the best one. It seems impossible that Israel will be able to function in the world and be anchored by both broad American and American Jewish support if the day arrives when the Palestinian population outnumbers the Jewish population in Israel and the West Bank and Palestinians remain without the right to vote.
This isn’t exactly new territory. But if you’re arguing that Israel should just unilaterally cede most of the West Bank to the Palestinians when the demographics problem becomes too big to ignore, then take a look at what happened with the Israeli disengagements from Gaza and southern Lebanon and consider that Israel has now fought three wars with the groups that run both of those territories (the extremist elements of which were emboldened by the disengagement).
I wrote as much to the e-mailer and he argued back that the Palestinians aren’t a viable partner for peace without international pressure and that the two-state solution is inherently flawed. But what’s the other answer?
And then, there’s the other part of the conversation. Another emailer offered this:
Adam, In his “muddled, off-putting” column on Netanyahu’s U.N. speech, Roger Cohen says that to dismiss Iran is a threat is to be “preposterous”. Now, I think he’s covering his tuchas, but, more to the point – did you not read the column? And, pray tell, young sir, how on earth is no nuke Iran an “existential threat” to Israel the world’s 4th deadliest military AND its 500 Nukes?! It isn’t. Israel’s 3-card monte Iran is The Fourth Reich hysteria is a manipulative diversion designed to give Israel a free hidden hand to continue ethnically cleansing the Palestinians, demolishing their homes, and stealing their land. The Hitlerian march towards Eretz Israel Lebrensaum is the Evil Imperative and Iran is the wrong card under the peanut shell for the suckers gathered round. Nobody gives a fuck that you fall for it. Just don’t jeopardize the rest of us by trying to spread your contagious stupidity. Of course, you could just be a good little Nazi Jew, a hasbara shill collecting your shekels.
Some thoughts: I’m impressed with this emailer’s incorporation of English, Yiddish, German, and Hebrew into one response. Also, while the writer signed a pseudonym, he forgot to exclude the link to his LinkedIn profile. The real suffering begins when he starts inadvertently inviting me to connect with him on LinkedIn.