“The War of the Roses,” the novel by Warren Adler, later popularized by the Michael Douglas – Kathleen Turner movie, is a story about intertwined lives, hate, and attachment to a home, that ends up in a tragedy. In a nutshell, Barbara and Oliver Rose are a couple who, as many others, after years of living together, have developed an intense loathing for each other. It is clear that their marriage is at the end of their rope and they need to divorce. However, they both have a strong attachment to the house they built together, and both are unwilling to leave. At that point they begin a ruthless mutual campaign of sabotage, neither willing to let go, neither of them willing to compromise, which ends up tragically with both of them dead on the living-room floor.
The premise is simple: the failure to separate and their insistence on fighting for the same piece of real estate without compromising ended up badly for both. In a way, this is an apt metaphor for the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Two peoples, their existence so intertwined, hate each other intensely, and a failure to separate and compromise can end only in disaster. However, the “Roses’” scenario is exactly what, blindly or naively, one-state solution proponents are advocating.
Look at the arguments and you will see the similarities between a failed marriage who refuses to separate and the one-state solution proposal: Their lives are so intertwined, their economies depend on each other, the settlements have expanded geographically in such a way that separation seems impossible, Palestinian Israelis (aka Arab Israelis) are already 20% of the population of Israel. Who gets to keep Jerusalem? How do you divide the state (the estate?). Anybody who is familiar with divorce finds an eerie familiarity with these questions. So, the question is: is the fact that the lives of a couple are so intricately joined a reason not to separate? Especially when, it is clear that the husband (or the wife?) is abusive of his physical and economic superiority?
Alas, that is exactly what one-state solution proponents argue: An abusive spouse (Israel) oppresses his/her partner (the Palestinians). They hate each other, want to kill each other, and damage each other physically and emotionally in an endless cycle. Yet, because their lives are so intertwined, instead of separation, the solution should be to stay together. Yes, give equal rights to both spouses, but stay together because separation would be too complicated.Might sound good in theory, but we know it’s not realistic.
In a relationship of hate and loathing, you don’t stay together just because it is difficult to separate. You might have a nice house, joint bank accounts, and of course children. But it is a mistake to stay together for those reasons. Just like that, it is a grave mistake to propose that Palestinians and Israelis should stay together, indeed deepen their relationship, in spite of their hate, their cultural differences, and their economic disparities.
In fact, the only hope we have to ever achieve normalcy in their relationship between both peoples is for each to have the opportunity to fulfill their national aspirations. Only then, might they be able to look at each other as equals, without hate. Otherwise, it would just create more resentment. It would just lead to a civil war like in Lebanon. It would just end up like the Roses, both lying dead, in the middle of their living room.