Alan Dershowitz has been a stout defender of Israel for years — often in distinctly inclement circumstances. For this, he deserves commendation and appreciation. After all, as an acclaimed academic, he could have chosen a less a harrowing path to follow in the anti-Israel climes that prevail in much of the U.S. academe.
Two Ill-Advised Choices
Dershowitz however, made two other choices, which largely undermine his otherwise stalwart pro-Israel efforts.
The one was his ill-advised (two-time) support of Barack Obama
The other is his dogged (the less charitable might say, dogmatic) support of the two-state formula — despite the accumulating mountain of evidence as to its folly, futility, and failure.
At least regarding his endorsement of Obama, Dershowitz no longer seems to have any illusions as to the man he voted for in 2008 and 2012. In a scathing interview on Fox News, he excoriated Obama’s betrayal of Israel: “…he will go down in history… as one of the worst foreign policy presidents ever. He called me into the Oval Office before the election and he said to me ‘Alan…I have to tell you I will always have Israel’s back.' I didn't realize what he meant is that he would have its back to stab them in the back…”
Endorsing Obama Is “Water Under the Bridge”; Endorsing Two-Statism Is Not
While Dershowitz’s grave misjudgment of Obama should serve to instill considerable doubt as to the accuracy of his political instincts, his past endorsement of the man who so misled him is essentially “water under the bridge” — and little can be done to redress any damage it might have caused. This, however, is not the case with his continuing support for the fatally flawed formula for two-states as a blueprint for resolving the conflict between the Jews and the Palestinian-Arabs.
Here he still has an opportunity to renounce.
After all, a quarter-century has passed since the two-state paradigm entailing the establishing a Palestinian state in the territory liberated from Jordan (Judea-Samaria, aka “the West Bank”) and Egypt (Gaza) — until then widely considered borderline treason — became a center-piece of Israeli foreign policy.
Back then, with the heady optimism that accompanied the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords, there were proponents and opponents of the idea.
The proponents promised sweeping benefits, pan-regional peace, prosperity and an El Dorado-like “New Middle East.” By contrast, opponents warned of dire dangers that would bring death and devastation on both Jew and Arab alike. Today, two-and-half decades later, virtually none of the benefits promised by the proponents have materialized, while all the dangers warned of by the opponents indeed have!
Accordingly, by any reasonable standard, the jury is no longer out.
The proponents of the two-state paradigm have been proved tragically wrong; while its opponents have been proved — equally tragically — right.
Paradox of Two-Statism: Liberal Support for Tyranny
However, empirical evidence is not the only reason for professed liberal-democrats (and liberal Democrats) — such as Dershowitz — to reject two-statism. There are also — or at least should be — matters of moral principle.
Indeed, liberal support for Palestinian statehood is particularly perplexing. After all, once all the moralistic rhetoric is stripped aside, support for Palestinian statehood is revealed as nothing more than a call for the establishment of (yet another) homophobic, misogynistic, Muslim-majority tyranny, which, in essence, will comprise an entity that will be the antithesis of all the liberal values allegedly invoked for its inception.
For there is little persuasive reason to believe — and two-staters have certainly never provided one — that the societal hallmarks of such a state would be anything other than gender discrimination against women/girls; persecution of homosexuals; religious intolerance of non-Muslim faiths; and relentless pursuit and prosecution of political dissidents.
Two-Statism: “… Compulsive Temptation to Attack Israel…”
However, it is with regard to its security implications, particularly in light of the past precedents in which Israel has relinquished land to Arab control, that the specter of two-statism has perhaps its gravest impact. Indeed, it was none other the arch-architect of the Oslo Accords himself, Shimon Peres, who warned that setting up a Palestinian state would "in itself create compulsive temptation to attack Israel from all directions.”
Two-staters, such as Dershowitz, would do well to heed this grim prognosis. For as I have argued elsewhere, if the IDF were to evacuate Judea-Samaria, there is little reason to believe that it would not follow the same path as Gaza and descend into tyrannical Islamist theocracy. Indeed, the proponents of such evacuation have not — and cannot — provide any persuasive assurance that it will not.
Moreover, this “mega-Gaza” would pose a far greater threat to Israel’s security.
For, unlike Gaza, which has a 50 km border with Israel, any prospective Palestinian-Arab entity in Judea-Samaria would have a frontier of anything up to 500 km (and possibly even more).
Moreover, unlike Gaza, which has no topographical superiority over its surrounding environs, the limestone hills of Judea-Samaria dominate virtually all of Israel’s major airfields (civilian and military); main seaports and naval bases; vital infrastructure installations (power generation and transmission, water, communications and transportation systems); centers of civilian government and military command; and 80 percent of the civilian population and commercial activity.
Security: Dershowitz’s Perplexing Position
On the security issue, Dershowitz has, of late, been expressing some decidedly perplexing positions.
Thus, in a 2015 interview, he conceded that even if Israel ended its “occupation” [of Judea-Samaria] immediately, as it did in Gaza, the violence would probably increase rather than decrease.
This of course leaves us to ponder: (a) why Israel should relinquish any territory as the past precedent proves it merely serves as a platform from which to launch attacks against it; (b) given the admitted futility of territorial concession, what does Dershowitz propose?
As for the latter, in a 2016 interview, he suggested that Israel should remove its civilian presence for areas designated for a Palestinian state, but leave the IDF deployed therein. But this, as I have pointed out repeatedly — see here, here, and here — would replicate precisely the same conditions that prevailed in South Lebanon, until the hasty retreat by the IDF in 2000. As such, there is little reason to expect that it would produce anything but a very similar outcome — a unilateral abandonment of the territory (without any agreement), which becomes a fearsome arsenal, bristling with weapons aimed at the heart of Israel’s civilian centers.
Gaza: The Ultimate Indictment of Two-Statism
But even if one relinquishes a partisan pro-Israel perspective, and views the rationale and record of the two-state prescription from a Palestinian angle, the condemnation of two-statism is, if anything, even harsher. For it has wrought nothing but devastation and deprivation for the common man in the Palestinian street, left awash in untreated sewage flows, with well over 90 percent of the water-supply unfit for drinking, electrical power available for only a few hours a day, and soaring unemployment rates…
Indeed, in terms of sheer human cost, it is difficult to conceive of anyone that has inflicted greater harm on Palestinian society than avid two-staters, who, with gay abandon, submitted it to their ill-conceived venture, with scant regard for the ruinous results it would have on the Palestinian rank-and-file.
Abbas’s Rant: Carpe Diem and Renounce Two-Statism
It is time for Dershowitz to resign himself to recalcitrant realities and renounce his support for the ill-conceived notion of two-statism — before he has occasion to rue his mistake even more than his ill-advised endorsement of Obama. Fortunately, he has been provided an honorable way to step away for his previous position by none other than PA president, Mahmoud Abbas himself, who in his recent rant wished ruin upon the house of the American president.
After all, if this is the face of Palestinian moderation…
So Prof. Dershowitz, carpe diem! And renounce two-statism!
Dr. Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies, dedicated to the preservation and propagation of joint values shared by the USA and Israel as embodied in the U.S. Constitution and Israel’s Declaration of Independence. He served for seven years in operational capacities in the Israeli Defense establishment and acted as a ministerial adviser to Yitzhak Shamir's government. Sherman lectured for 20 years at Tel Aviv University in Political Science, International Relations, and Strategic Studies. He holds several university degrees — B.Sc. (Physics and Geology), MBA (Finance), and PhD in political science/international relations. He was the first academic director of the internationally renowned Herzliya Conference and has authored two books as well as numerous articles and policy papers on a wide range of political, diplomatic and security issues. He was born in South Africa and has lived in Israel since 1971. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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