If it weren’t for one flaw, I’d agree completely with Daniel Gordis' column in this paper last Friday...[but his arguments are] undercut by the flaw hidden in one seemingly innocuous statement: “Reasonable minds can differ as to whether saying publicly that the two-state solution is dead is healthy for Israel’s standing in the international community.”
Actually, where Gordis stands on that question seems pretty clear: Just last July, he signed an open letter urging Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu not to adopt the Levy Report, lest it “place the two-state solution and the prestige of Israel as a democratic member of the international community, in peril”; he then wrote an op-ed in Haaretz explaining his objections in more detail. Yet all the Levy Report said is what every Israeli government has said for decades: that the West Bank isn’t “occupied Palestinian territory,” but disputed territory to which Israel has a valid claim – which in no way negates Israel’s ability or willingness to cede part or all of it for peace. If Gordis views even that as too dangerous to say publicly lest it paint Israel as a peace rejectionist, I can’t imagine him not objecting to a blunt public statement that “the two-state solution is dead.”
And therein lies the flaw. For if prominent Israelis, and especially Israeli leaders, aren’t willing to say this publicly and repeatedly, the “peace process” will keep right on monopolizing the conversation, and we’ll never have time and space for those other topics that Gordis rightly considers vital.
First, this is because nobody can be more Catholic than the pope: Neither American Jews nor world leaders can declare the two-state solution dead as long as Israeli leaders insist ad nauseam that it’s achievable...as long as Israeli leaders encourage the fallacy that an agreement is possible, overseas Jews will naturally think this should take precedence over the issues Gordis rightly wants to discuss...
...Israeli leaders don’t just say peace is possible; whether out of genuine belief or merely to prove their peacemaking bona fides, they also repeatedly declare it essential for Israel’s very survival:...When Israel’s own leaders – to whom Israelis routinely demand that Diaspora Jews defer on vital security issues – deem a two-state solution the most vital security issue of all, necessary for Israel’s very survival, how can overseas Jews be expected to care about anything else?...
...Thus if the conversation is ever to change, Israelis must first explain to the world why the two-state solution is indeed dead, and why Israel can nevertheless survive and even thrive without it, just as it has for the past 65 years...The more Israelis are willing to join them in saying this publicly, the more likely overseas Jews are to finally start believing it. And only then will we be able to have the conversation Gordis (and I) so badly want to have.