The Two-State Solution: A Sacrifice of the Intellect

Whatever else one may say of the “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is fascinating example of how intelligent men can sacrifice their intellects to a mantra.

Rather than discuss the mentality of men like Benjamin Netanyahu, let’s go back almost twenty years to Mr. Yossi Sarid, then a leader of the Meretz Party with experience on the important Knesset Committee on Defense and Foreign Affairs.

Anticipating Netanyahu’s current position, Sarid had long advocated negotiations with the PLO and the establishment of a Palestinian state. Hence he was taken aback when Yasser Arafat, along with Arabs in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, supported Saddam Hussein's rape of Kuwait. He was all the more discomfited when Israel's own Arab citizens applauded the Iraqi dictator.

In view of these politically embarrassing developments, Sarid felt compelled to “reassess” his position. This he did on August 17, 1990, in an article published in Ha'aretz, Israel's elite intellectual newspaper: “It has always been my position,” he wrote (in the spirit of the cultural relativism of Martin Buber), “that two peoples have rights to the land of Israel-Palestine, Jews and Palestinians, and that the alternatives are therefore clear: either compromise and partition or endless war.”

This has never been the real position of the Arabs—and only fools or intellectual cowards thought otherwise. It was obvious to any well-informed and straight-thinking person that the religious convictions of the Arabs oblige them to reject any permanent partition of “Palestine,” which they always deemed is part of the Arab “nation.”

Moreover, these Arabs do not shudder at the thought of war, as Mr. Sarid does, and they are confident that, in the end, they shall eliminate the Jews from what he calls “Israel-Palestine.” One might therefore think that their support of Saddam Hussein in 1990 would have prompted Sarid to alter his position in some significant way. It did not. He goes on to say in the Ha’aretz article:

The endorsement of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait by the PLO, by supposedly moderate Palestinians not affiliated with the PLO, and even by many Arabs who live inside Israel and hold Israeli citizenship has put a knife in the back of the peace process….

The PLO has dedicated the past two years to convincing Israelis and others that it has changed, that it has reconciled itself to the existence of the State of Israel and has abandoned terrorism. The PLO has kicked the bucket over.

Nevertheless, Sarid continued to support a “two state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Like Buber, he regarded the claims of Jews and Arabs to Eretz Israel as equally just.

For Sarid, the fanatic, not to say barbaric, character of the Arab Palestinians, does not render them unfit or unworthy of independent statehood—a moral judgment beyond the mentality of moral relativists. We see in Sarid and in so many others who support a Palestinian state a sacrifizio dell' intelletto [sacrifice of the intellect]. This will be found across the political spectrum.

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