Welcome to the One-state Club, Thomas Friedman

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Welcome to the One-state Club, Thomas Friedman

The most famous columnist in the world, who always reflects and shapes the mood in Washington, has finally realized that the two-state solution is dead. 

Some 10,000 demonstrators march on the White House in Washington, DC, to protest Israel's offensive in Gaza, August 2, 2014. (Photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler / Shutterstock.com)

A new, highly regarded guy has joined the club. Like new guys, he’s still standing on the side, hesitant, insecure, perhaps lacking courage. Like highly regarded guys, he’s still afraid to move to the center of the stormy dance floor – but he’s there. Give him some time to get used to it. Welcome to the club, Thomas L. Friedman.

The most famous columnist in the world wrote last week in the New York Times: “It’s over, folks, so please stop sending the New York Times Op-Ed page editor your proposals for a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians” (The Many Mideast Solutions,” February 10).

With the characteristic tardiness of those trying to position themselves in some imaginary center, Friedman has reached the conclusion that the peace process is dead, that the next U.S. president “will have to deal with an Israel determined to permanently occupy all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, including where 2.5 million West Bank Palestinians live” and that Israel is no longer the one the presidential candidates’ grandfathers used to know.

As usual with cautious, symmetric people in the liberal center, Friedman hastens to lay the blame on the world’s shoulders – the settlers, Sheldon Adelson, Benjamin Netanyahu, Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas. It’s regrettable that he’s doing that again. There’s one major party to blame for the situation and only it was responsible for ending the occupation – and it never lifted a finger to do so.

Israel never meant, not for a moment, to reach the two-state solution. Israel is the strong party as well as the occupier, so the blame cannot be divided between it and the weak, occupied side. Nor can one settle for blaming Netanyahu, the settlers and Adelson. Are all the others, from Shimon Peres through Tzipi Livni to Isaac Herzog and Ehud Barak, any less guilty? And are most of the Israelis, who enabled this situation to continue all these years with their indifference, any less guilty?

Friedman’s steps are hesitant, of course, not decisive enough given the decisive reality. But his bottom line is as firm as it can be: “They all killed the two-state solution. Let the one-state era begin.”

Friedman is only a journalist. Still, it’s impossible to ignore this seminal moment, the moment in which one who always reflected the mood in Washington and influenced it, discards the idea that has accompanied him and us for years. Friedman heard it in the hallway. If he didn’t hear it, from now on they’ll talk about it there. Too little, too late – but very encouraging. The longest masquerade ball, the two-state orgy, has reached its end, even as far as Friedman’s concerned. If America listens to its most senior commentator, then there’s hope. Europe, which continues to recite “two states” with an involuntary post-mortem spasm – because it’s convenient for everyone – will have to find its own Friedman to awaken it from its slumber.

Only America and Europe can shake the sleeping beauty, Israel, and awaken it to the new reality – for Israel will never do so on its own. Anyone who knows Israel knows that.

What does one do after burying the dead? Friedman isn’t there yet. Wait a little longer and maybe he too will reach the inevitable conclusions – that the one state has existed for almost 50 years, it exists in order to stay and all that remains is to fight the apartheid regime it has established in part of its territory. Equal rights for all should be the name of the game from now on — one man, one vote, like in the struggle against other evil regimes in history.

And how does one achieve that? The only non-violent way left is through punishment. The carrots have all been devoured by Israel, only the sticks remain. It’s called BDS in English, as Friedman knows.

Yes, dear Tom, it’s not the state our grandfathers dreamed of, far from it. Now it must be treated accordingly, in an attempt to set it straight.

Gideon Levy

Gideon Levy is an Israeli journalist, writing opinion pieces and a weekly column for the newspaper Haaretz that often focus on the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. A notable journalist on the Israeli left, follow him on Twitter: @levy_haaretz

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