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The two-state solution misses the real problem

 Relatives and supporters of Israeli hostages held in Gaza since the October 7 attacks by Hamas militants lift placards during a demonstration in front of the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on April 7, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip between Israel and the Palestinian militant Hamas movement.
Relatives and supporters of Israeli hostages held in Gaza since the October 7 attacks by Hamas militants lift placards during a demonstration in front of the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on April 7, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip between Israel and the Palestinian militant Hamas movement. | AFP via Getty Images/Menahem Kahana

Senator Chuck Schumer endorsed in March the Biden/Blinken two-state solution to the long-standing Israeli/Palestinian dispute, with subsequent greatly heightened American pressure on Israel. Alas, paper agreements are hardly magic wands and ignore realities on the ground, the most important of which is hatred.  Signed documents will not melt hate away, nor will they soften the malice and anger that has been so deeply ingrained by Palestinian textbooks, preachers, teachers, and Middle East media. Addressing hatred should be our mandate, not rewarding barbaric behavior.  

Some background is relevant. It was a result of the 1967 war that Israel gained control over many areas, including Gaza. In the land-for-peace negotiations which led to the Egypt/Israel peace treaty in the late 1970s, Egypt obtained the Sinai but refused to take Gaza. Yitzhak Rabin, Israel's former prime minister, often lamented this — but there was no deal without it. Subsequently, Israel’s policing/occupying status became quite costly, as Rabin had feared. In 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided to end the occupation, expecting that self-rule and no Israeli presence would bring peace, a vacuous hope that ignored the role of hatred. Israel dragged uncooperative settlers out, with Palestinians potentially gaining millions of dollars of Israeli greenhouses, a sure source of employment and export revenues. Gazans, in seemingly victorious rage, attacked the greenhouses and destroyed them. Hate clearly drives irrational and self-destructive behavior. 

After Israel’s 2005 exit, wars followed at the end of 2008, in 2012, and 2014, almost all centering on rockets being fired into Israel. Each ceasefire was broken by Hamas, so Oct 7 was really nothing new, except in its sickly viciousness and Israel’s determination to finish the job this time. 

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Once hatred is embedded, it can easily attach to other groups. Palestinians danced in the streets after the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., merrily celebrating our American tragedy.  Last October they celebrated again and even walked over the border to kick the bodies of dead Israelis. It is so blinding that Hamas terrorists even murdered pleading Arab Muslims who were in the wrong place on October 7. Hatred is indeed incredibly powerful, a feeling not quickly dispensed by a handshake or statehood.

So, what is the current average Israeli’s mindset? “The anger is boiling over. You can feel it in every corner of this country. People want someone to pay a price for this, even if it means protracted war.”  While this would seem like an Israeli response, it was actually said by American political commentator, Tim Russett, to TV newsman, Mat Lauer, after the World Trade Center/Washington D.C. attacks in 2001. We lost about 3,000 people. Our response was a “global war on terror.” Adjusting for the huge population difference between Israel and the U.S., Israel’s October loss of 1,200 was equivalent to our losing 44,000! How would we react to an October 7 here? Would there be parades supporting Hamas or recommendations for Palestinian statehood? Indeed, had American babies been beheaded or infants burned to death while parents were forced to watch, had our women been raped or sexually mutilated, American anger would be unimaginable. A two-state solution now?  It is madness to reward sick, criminal behavior. 

In the early 2000s, the State Department heavily pressured the UAE to stop hate propagation. It did, so it is hardly surprising that the UAE several years ago reached out to Israel and there is now a budding relationship. So, hatred can be dispensed, but hate does not die in a day and no decree or agreement immediately erases it. 

Rewarding hateful actions will only guarantee more.  Hate is so embedded in Palestinian society that a March 2024 poll found that, “70% of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank said they are satisfied with Hamas’ actions … and … 63% said they prefer a ‘day after’ scenario in which Hamas remains in control of Gaza rather than the Palestinian Authority.” 

And why should we welcome a Palestinian state now, one that will be authoritarian, misogynist, anti-American, and a source of future conflagrations? Hate is completely embedded in Palestinian culture, purposefully inserted through every medium possible, which includes the honoring and celebration of terrorists. Alas, the only role models in Palestinian society are murderers, euphemistically called "shahids" (martyrs).  

This cannot continue. The Palestinians must change; they cannot be rewarded for their barbarism. They must embrace civilized norms. But that will not happen until hate is taken out of the equation. 

Donald Losman, PhD, teaches Political Economy of the Middle East at Rollins College, Winter Park, FL.  He spent 37 years teaching at three of our nation’s war colleges, completing his Washington D.C. career at the George Washington University. He is the author of three books, 70 academic journal articles and a similar number of op-eds in almost all leading American newspapers.

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