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Jeffrey Goldberg, the Atlantic’s national correspondent, tries hard to summon up enough liberal outrage to challenge the conclusion of Israeli historian Benny Morris that a two-state solution is as unrealistic as the overtly utopian one-state solution to the Palestinian problem. Reviewing Morris’ new book in today’s New York Times, he writes:

In March, Muhammad Dahlan, a former chief of one of the Palestinian Authority’s multifarious secret police organizations, and once a tacit ally of the C.I.A., defended Fatah, the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, from the charge, made by Hamas, that it had previously recognized Israel’s right to exist.

“They say that Fatah has asked them to recognize Israel’s right to exist, and this is a big deception,” Dahlan said. “For the 1,000th time, I want to reaffirm that we are not asking Hamas to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Rather we are asking Hamas not to do so, because Fatah never recognized Israel’s right to exist.”

This was not a helpful statement, at least not to the peace-processors in Washington and in Europe, and to their diminishing band of confederates in Israel and the Palestinian territories. But Dahlan’s comment helps buttress the main argument of Benny Morris’s new book, “One State, Two States.” Morris, a professor of history at Ben-Gurion University in Israel, argues that Arab rejectionism is so profound a force that only the terminally obtuse could believe that Palestinians will ever acquiesce to a state comprised solely of the West Bank and Gaza.


Morris has had a strange and tumultuous career. He is a onetime debunker of Zionist mythology, the father of Israel’s “new historians,” who have dismantled the romantic narrative of Israel’s founding and replaced it with more complicated truths, such as that during Israel’s War of Independence, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding prime minister, essentially ordered the forcible “transfer” of many thousands of Arabs from territory that would become Israel.

Morris abandoned the peace camp after the Camp David fiasco of 2000. Goldberg, who got his job in part because he straddles the line between support for Israel and strict subservience to liberal doctrine, sounds miserable trying to refute Morris. If only Ariel Sharon had made it look like the PLO had negotiated Israel out of Gaza, rather than leaving the impression that Hamas had chased the Israelis out, then Hamas might not have destroyed the PLO in Gaza and taken over with only token resistance. Really? Hamas is ready to die for Islam, and the PLO is ready to deposit aid money in Swiss bank accounts.

Goldberg concludes,

This is not to overlook the great dysfunction among the Palestinians, whose national liberation movement remains, 89 years since the third Palestine Arab Congress, bloody-minded and incompetent. Gaza, after all, is currently ruled by a cult that sanctifies murder-suicide. But there are many Palestinians on the West Bank, and even in Gaza, who reject the Hamas way and seek dignity and quiet within the framework of an independent state that coexists with Israel.

Many? How many? Goldberg sounds supiciously like Abraham dickering with the Lord over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah: If I can find fifty good men, will you please not vaporize them?

More on: Judaism, Hamas

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