If Jay Michaelson is going to advocate urging the U.S government “to recognize Palestine,” he has the obligation to define exactly what he means. Is he advocating that such a state include all of the land Israel took after the Six Day War, including all of East Jerusalem, or is he advocating roughly those boundaries but modified by agreed-upon alterations? If the latter, he is simply advocating direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, negotiations we haven’t been able to achieve. If he wants to surrender all of East Jerusalem, then there will be intense resistance in Israel. Is his State of Palestine one that is allowed to send refugees and their descendants from the 1948 War back to live in Israel? If not, there will be intense resistance in the new Palestine. Is he advocating that all Jews be removed from Palestine? If so, how can he morally argue against removing all Arabs from Israel?
Michaelson makes the choice for peace lovers seem easy: Have either a one-state solution with universal opprobrium or a two-state solution with a secure peace. In fact, the reason the conflict hasn’t been solved is that neither choice is acceptable. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a true dilemma. Michaelson lays out the argument against a one-state solution, but he misses the argument against a two-state solution. That argument is complex, but it can be summarized in the simple idea that the Palestinian Arabs have never accepted the idea of a permanent, Jewish nation on any land west of the Jordan River. Pro-Israelis from every political viewpoint have to start from that rejectionist reality in shaping a potential policy.
Lawrence J. Epstein