The two-state solution is dead. The Palestinians and the Israelis have both become paralyzed by the most extreme elements in their respective societies and apparently are incapable of compromise, even in their own interest, on virtually any issue. And America has done nothing to help.
On the one hand, with strong support and influence from Syria and Iran and from individual supporters throughout Islam, militant Palestinians have managed to wrest control of their national movement from the more moderate Palestine Authority. They continue the decades-old battle for the "right to return" and the final destruction of Israel, through their support of Hamas and Hezbollah.
On the other, Israeli fundamentalists, eyes fixed on the re-creation of Biblical Israel, have plunged ahead with Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem. They thus destroy the last hope for peace. They are fueled by support from hard-core Americans who automatically and uncritically support Israel on any and all issues and from American Christian fundamentalists who seek the second coming and, paradoxically, the ultimate conversion of Jews to Christianity.
America always has been Israel's most staunch supporter. According to the U.S. State Department, between 1972 and 2006, the United States vetoed every single UN Security Council resolution that was critical of Israel. That totaled more than 40 vetoes and it was rare that any other country even abstained on those votes. This practice has brought neither Israel or America any real friends.
In the first 50 years of Israel's existence, the United States contributed almost $135 billion in direct aid to that country and in interest on loans to procure it. The result is that Israel has survived as an island in an essentially hostile sea. Is that a success? Certainly not when you look at their options for the future.
America has done Israel no favors. Over the years, we have protected her so completely that Israel has never had to face the realities of either living in her own neighborhood, or of developing appropriate policies to do so. Israel right or wrong.
Israel was established as a "democratic, Jewish state." Without a two-state solution, Israel will either become a non-democratic, apartheid Jewish state or a majority (Palestinian)-ruled democracy. Because of demographic realities, Israel will become either democratic or Jewish, but not both.
Because of our smothering protection, Israel has passed the point of no return on a two-state solution. We have enabled her to sow the seeds of her own destruction and we did this largely because of our idealistic national will to protect a young democratic Jewish state.
What went wrong? Why has Israel today chosen this self-destructive path when the Zionists were so totally committed to democracy and Jewishness?
Israel is about 50 percent secular. Recent polls in Israel show her youth to be far more secular and less interested in the philosophies of liberal democracy and Zionism than their parents or her founders. Sixty years after Israel's birth few original Zionists remain; emigrants from the former Soviet Union have replaced their numbers.
The USSR was not a country that tolerated organized religion, Jewishness, Zionism or democracy. The emigrants who were raised in that repressive environment, whether secular or observant, are generally far more prone to accept non-democratic ideas and activities than the original Zionists.
It's hard to judge the true impact of those former Soviet citizens on Israel, but it seems fairly clear, given the nature of their significant current involvement in the settlement movement and broader Israeli politics, that they think and behave very differently from Israel's founding fathers.
The emotional attachment of the American people to the idea of Israel is constant, but is the same true of our feelings about today's reality of Israel? Do we support its treatment of the Palestinians in Gaza? Israel's bellicose policy toward Iran with its implications for America? The settlement movement that slowly takes over the West Bank? Their manipulation of U.S. public opinion and politics? The list goes on.
Ultimately, Israel must be allowed to pursue her chosen policies without the pervasive international political cover now provided by the United States. Only then will Israeli policies be influenced by realities in her neighborhood, and only then will Israel find broad support in the international community, support that has diminished over the past few years.
Right now, under America's political umbrella, there are no viable alternatives for Israel. Only through modifying our policies can we help her learn to deal with her own realities and find new policies that guarantee her survival as a democratic Jewish state.
Haviland Smith is a retired CIA station chief who served in East and West Europe and the Middle East and as chief of the counterterrorism staff.
Originally published by Rutland Herald/Barre Times Argus.
... written by Jerry Hopeswitch , May 24, 2010
By stating that the murdes commited by palistinianes is the same as building a house by setlersss you are already taking side with the palestinians. moreove, Amirica's assisnce was rewarded with Israely loyalty and technlogical advancment, there for Israel was a true friend and not a vassal state like you picture it.
... written by G S , May 24, 2010
You suggest that if Israel had been more accommodating of the Arabs, they would now be living in peace. I don't know of anything that supports that.
... written by me , May 24, 2010
I guess grabbing Palestinian land is GS's version of Israeli accomodation towards Palestinians
... written by James Benson , June 01, 2010
People get along when THEY have to get along. Lebanon was a basket case where countries vied for influence, pulled it apart and it lost its sovereignty. The United States becomes more broke and living off of Chinese supported deficits while China scowers the Globe for raw materials. Its not a bipolar world and the US and likudish government of Israel don't want to face facts. Why this will bite the US is its basically not democratic. What is the difference in: Hamas vs Israeli Commandos, masked armed men; Piracy in International Waters; state sponsored or not. There is no such thing as international waters or 'the rule of law'. Its whatever nation states can get away with that matters. It is very apparent. Turkey, Israel's staggering ally indicates that the current likudish government does not "get it". Obama, the premature peace prize recipient can't handle the current muck as we watch how undemocratic Iran is, we manipulate the UN, so we fight undemocratic ways with undemocratic ways. Its not Democracy its so called Jewish Democracy which is a euphemism for Theocracy, which is Shia Islam Iran
... written by Gene Miller , June 01, 2010
This writer is so out of touch with reality. Israel is doing what America would do if a group of theocrats wanted to take it over, it's their only course. West bank settlements givePalestinians incentives to live with a culture more democratic than they could accept.
... written by Scott , June 22, 2010
This kind of garbage is why I want to beat people's heads in for being COMPLETELY idiotic. Abandon Israel, leave her open to utter destruction? Eat me, pal. Eat me. You should feel lucky you exist in a country that doesn't kill the stupid.