Curiously, Zmag does not allow comments on its website, so I’m commenting here on Immanuel Wallerstein’s posting of Nov. 11, “Last Call for a Two State Solution.”
I knew Wallerstein a little in Montreal when I was a student of sociology at McGill University (Wallerstein was a star on the McGill sociology faculty in the early 1970s). It’s interesting how he thinks he’s an expert on this when he’s not, but I guess it’s his Jewishness seeping through. He comes off as being a relative moderate on the issue (unusual for Zmag) but expresses this moderation harshly.
He has no idea that a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine has long had majority support, both in the Knesset and in the population of Israel. Meretz Members of Knesset tell us that it has the support today of about 70 out of 120 MKs. But Wallerstein is correct that this support will not last forever. As he points out, there are openings for such a solution on the Arab side, with Palestinian President Abbas and the Saudi/Arab League peace plan.
Here’s a little more of what Prof. Wallerstein doesn’t know: David Ben-Gurion never advocated “one state” (over two) but was surely in favor of a partition of Palestine with Jordan, and would have accepted a Palestinian state in 1948 if the Arabs had not violently rejected the UN partition plan. Wallerstein puts Ben-Gurion into the same category as Ariel Sharon; and he gives no credence to Sharon’s late-life conversion to his (admittedly anemic) conception of two states.
Like so many self-styled experts, Wallerstein refers to the liberal vision of Judah Magnes and Martin Buber for a binational state, but ignores its advocacy by Zionism’s second largest political movement prior to the state’s founding— Hashomer Hatzair (a predecessor of Mapam and Meretz today). The principle of “Land for Peace” has had majority support in Israel for decades, and most dramatically when Yitzhak Rabin was prime minister in 1992 to 1995. Even Bibi Netanyahu would never have been elected in 1996 (very narrowly over Shimon Peres as a result of a wave of Palestinian terrorism) if he had not departed from the traditional Likud opposition to this formula (of Land for Peace).