I’ve always been a solution-oriented person. Ever since abandoning radical leftism due to being turned off by their idealist utopia model for solutions in favour of the “what is the least lousy option that can work” model, I have been pondering various proposed solutions for the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Let’s just say there is a reason why even the brightest minds in the world haven’t found a viable solution yet. It’s complex. There are so many factors at play that many people don’t even realize – geographic, cultural, economic, political, diplomatic, religious, and probably many others.
To complicate matters, in many countries, the conflict has become a bipartisan issue. In the US, for example, red states prefer the one state solution and blue states prefer the two state solution. It wasn’t always this way, but in recent years certain political movements within both parties (Republican and Democrat) pushed it in that direction.
Let me break it down for you.
There is ample archaeological and written evidence, from Roman historians to the Quran, that express without a shadow of a doubt that Israel is the land of the Jewish people.
As you can see from the above biblical map, we are already compromising so much. We just want a state of our own. Is that so much to ask? Even if it’s not even 1/20 of the land God had allegedly given to us.
But let’s leave God out of it. I’m agnostic and modern Zionism is an inherently secular movement, so I couldn’t care less what God had promised us or not.
Archaeological findings prove that there has been a continuous presence in Jerusalem since biblical times. The rest of Israel has been inhabited by Jews for most of recent history despite numerous conquests. Don’t believe me? Go on an archaeological dig anywhere in Israel. Read any historical document that refers to the region that doesn’t have the goal of taking over the region with replacement theology. Take a look at this article. Yes, it’s Wikipedia, but it’s well-sourced and easy to read, with most of the pertinent information in one place. It is well-documented that the Arabs, who are the cultural and genetic forefathers of the modern day Arab Palestinians, conquered the land around 700AD. By then it called Philistia or Syria Palestina, a name given to it by the Romans. The Arabs were referred to as “Plishtim” by the locals, which in Hebrew means “Invader.” The modern term “Palestinian” actually means invader, which totally destroys any “Palestinians are also indigenous” argument. (Granted, they do have the rights to longstanding presence, but indigenous status takes precedent).
There are some big cultural differences we need to take into account when looking at the conflict.
First of all, Israelis. Israelis are a melting pot of different groups of Jews whose ancestors had been forced to flee the region due to colonialism, forced expulsion, and of course ethnic cleansing. They migrated all over the world, and over the years made aliyah, returning to their ancestral homeland. They are a blend of different cultures, from the more Arabized, traditional, conservative Mizrachim and Sepharadim to the more liberal, progressive, Europeanized West European Ashkenazis, to the Eastern European Ashkenazis who mainly fled communism and are just rebuilding their lives and integrating into Israeli society. Then you have the Bnei Menashe and other groups of Jews from countries such as Ethiopia and India, who are finally reconnecting to their roots after thousands of years, bringing with them their own set of customs and interpretation of Judaism. Needless to say, it’s not a monolithic group of white settler colonialists by any stretch, and they don’t always agree on everything (understatement of the year!) so it’s a pretty eclectic vibe.
There are many cultural aspects that bind Israeli Jews together, however. Israelis have a very optimistic attitude that if you can dream it, you can do it. The air is thick with innovation, the free exchange of ideas, open self-criticism of everything (solicited or otherwise), and general openness because Israel is a society that is generally tolerant of differences.
Israel is a blend of individualist cultures, from the European and American immigrants to Israel, and collectivist cultures, from the Mizrachim, Sepharadim, and others. However if you compare it to the surrounding Arab culture, it is extremely individualist. Everyone’s triumphs and successes are their own, and people are encouraged to work hard in school and achieve their own inventions and successes. They are praised for their individuality and creativity and originality is encouraged.
Conversely, Arab culture is uniformly collectivist. The nail that sticks out is hammered down, and the good of the whole supersedes the good of the individual. Anyone who deviates from the groupthink is shunned and heavily ostracized. Since family and group ties are closer and seen as most important, the last thing someone would do is go risk losing them. Therefore, they know that they must do what everyone else is doing and say what everyne else is saying to stay afloat and keep their place in society. If someone goes against the group think, they and their families are shunned and made to feel ashamed. Therefore there is a huge incentive upon families and tribes to keep their members in line to preserve their honour. Honour is heavily valued, so loss of honour brings shame and ostracism on a person’s entire family, as the person is not an individual but a part of the family unit. Therefore the family is blamed because they should have done a better job to keep the person in line, and because the person represents not themselves but their family, tribe, and nation in everything they do. This aspect of collectivism is called honour-shame culture.
An extension of both collectivism and honour-shame culture is called tribalism. Many related families form clans, and clans form tribes (or can be tribes). Tribalism is characterized by strong tribal affiliation, to the point where the tribe is expected to act as a unit, and going against the tribe is seen as the ultimate evil. In tribalism, the tribe is always right, and in any conflict between tribes, the other tribe is always vilified as wrong no matter what the truth may be. People are generally kept in line through religion, poor education, and threats of ostracism.
To Arabs, the Jews are a tribe, and being ruled by another tribe is considered shameful and humiliating, especially if the land was previously at any point ruled by Arabs. Israel’s relative success compared to surrounding Arab countries is additionally humiliating to its tribalist neighbors. This is why most Palestinians don’t want a Jewish state regardless of the fact that their quality of life would vastly improve under Jewish control – the humiliation of being ruled by another tribe overrides that. That’s why most Arabs fight for the entirety of the territory to become a Muslim Arab theocracy, in addition to the fact that it is the party line that they must adhere to. Their people are good, the outsiders are evil, their people are righteous, the others are sinners, their people are virtuous and humble, the others are decadent and lascivious. This “othering” of outsiders serves to reinforce their social ties.
You can probably see how Israel’s robust culture of self-criticism is seen as a sign of weakness to be exploited. Tribalists, who are not allowed to acknowledge when their in-group is wrong, would never shame their own people. That is a cardinal sin. So you end up with Jews constantly criticising themselves and Arabs refusing to do so – resulting in a disproportionate amount of negative content about Israel.
In the 19th century, when Jews started fleeing antisemitism and returning to their ancestral homeland, they brought their agricultural advancements with them. The Ottoman Turks who ruled the region, upset that the Muslim hegemony is being threatened, encouraged Arabs to migrate to the region. There is a reason why so many Palestinian surnames refer to place of origin, for example: Al-Masri (Egyptian), Al-Baghdadi (Iraqi), Al-Moghrabi (Morocco), Al-Dzair (the Algerian), Al-Yamani (Yemen). Many Arabs were eager to piggyback off the economic opportunities brought by Jewish innovation in the region. So yes, absolutely, some Arab families have planted their roots in Israel as early as 1400 years ago. Yes, they form the minority, but not a negligible minority.
So yes, both Jews and Arabs have both planted their roots in Israeli soil, by virtue of indigenous status and longstanding presence, respectively. So this is actually pretty complicated as there are a lot of ethical issues involved with the prospect of removing a group of people from their land. (Some people would call it ethnic cleansing).
Modern day Israel is an economic oasis on comparison to the surrounding Arab countries. Many Israeli Arabs are happy to be living in Israel as a result, since they get to reap the benefits of this prosperity. As previously stated, however, many other Arabs care more about preserving their honour than about economics. So you really can’t make blanket statements about Arabs. Some want to be there, some don’t. We have to make room for the nuance involved.
Fatah and Hamas rule the West Bank and Gaza, respectively. Hamas has a devoted following because they’ve actually done quite a bit to improve infrastructure and social services in Gaza, despite the fact that they spend a ridiculous amount of money, that they should be spending on building the economy and tourism sectors, on terror to destroy Israel. Fatah is less of a terrorist outfit. Although they do support terror – Abbas’ government does compensate terrorists and their families for hurting Israelis – they are much more innocuous, although some say they are just wolves in sheep’s clothing. Fatah’s big problem is that they are a kleptocracy of epic proportions. Fatah’s leaders live extravagant lives, leaving their citizens in relative poverty on purpose in order to show them off as victims to gain more sympathy and aid money, which only fattens the coffers of the party elite and serves to make Israel look bad. Both parties have an incentive to wipe out Israel, as they would gain even more power if they took over the entire region. Needless to say, their territorial political ambitions mixed with a cultural of tribalism means they aren’t backing down anytime soon. We must find a solution to give them what they want (keep them in power) and keep their honour at least somewhat intact.
The Palestinians are being encouraged on many fronts to continue the “resistance” or fight against Israel. First of all the UN is highly anti-Western and anti-Israel, with the communist and third world blocks colluding to spite the Western nations that colonized them (as these Western nations support Israel and the Palestinians have done a good job at convincing the world that Israel is a Western imperialist proxy). These groups support the Palestinians unconditionally as they see their “struggle” as another brown struggle against evil white people, which they can relate to.
Additionally, the Palestinians have the support of the Arab world that sees Palestine as a branch of the same big ethnic tree. Israel’s existence and success is humiliating to them, so to defend their way of life they feel they must undermine Israel at all costs. Moreover, Israel provides corrupt Arab and Muslim leaders with a convenient scapegoat to blame the problems associated with their own corruption on. These leaders have a huge incentive to continue demonizing Israel and spreading antisemitism, as it is a useful tool to keep them in power and make them look good by making an “outsider” group look bad.
The Jewish religion, in concert with Jewish culture, places a lot of emphasis on knowledge, exploration, and questioning. They see the best way to get back to God and reinforce one’s faith in God is to question Him. Consequently, Jewish culture is all about questioning what you know, expanding the knowledge base, creativity, and exploration.
Islam, on the other hand, means total submission to God. The Quran is the rulebook, and the ultimate authority. In Muslim circles, in keeping with the collectivist culture of submission and deference to the group, any kind of debate and questioning upsets social harmony (the holy grail of collectivism) and is strongly discouraged.
At the very core of Islam is replacement theology. In order to assert the legitimacy of his new religion, the Prophet Mohammed had to do his best to discredit the religions that came before him – namely Christianity and Judaism, which were very popular at the time. He did this by effectively “replacing” the relevance of Judaism and Christianity – in other words, undermining or appropriating the fundamental tenets and principles of both religious predecessors. This replacement theology also extends to land. Jews are the chosen people? Not anymore! Muslims are now according to the Quran. So their national desires and territorial aspirations now magically supersede those of the Jews and Christians. Hence the justification of conquest and colonialism.
Indeed, it is a Muslim belief that a territory that is muslim at any point in time cannot be made non-Muslim. Islamicization cannot be undone. Going against this would be going against the Quran. But, interestingly enough, denying that Israel belongs to the Jews is also going against the Quran, as it says that the territory belongs to “Bani Israil” (??? ???????), which some interpret as the Jews and others as the “children of Ishmael,” or Muslims. So it’s a complicated grey area with two contradicting factors.
However, Israel is the name God gave to Jacob after he fought with God. Jacob is the grandson of Abraham/Ibrahim through Isaac, not through Ishmael. Therefore it is factually incorrect to argue that Bani Israil means Children of Ishmael, because Jacob/Israel is not a descendant of Ishmael.
The Factor of Identity
The term “Israeli” comes from the third patriarch, Jacob, who became Israel after fighting with God in the book of ??????/Genesis. This patriarch went on to have 12 sons, who fathered the 12 tribes of Israel. Israeli, meaning “of Israel” signifies that we are descended from Jacob through his 12 sons who formed the 12 Jewish tribes.
The term “Palestinian” comes from the name the Romans gave them after the conquering to upset the Jews: Philistines, which resembles the Hebrew word “Plishtim” or “invader”. So just their name alone alludes to their colonial origins. Before the creation of the State of Israel, the territory was called “Palestine,” and both Jews and non-Jews who lived there referred to themselves as Palestinians (although it was generally a term to describe Jews, as the Arabs saw themselves as part of the pan-Arabist vision and referred to themselves as Arabs).
When Israel was founded the Jews and Arabs who stayed within its borders became known as Israelis. The Palestinian identity to describe Arabs only became mainstream around the early 1960’s, and was manufactured in order to undermine Israel and create a semblance of indigenousness, in order to further their Pan-Arabist (a form of colonialist Arab nationalism) aims.
That being said, nowadays Palestinians identify strongly with the label “Palestinian,” and saying things like “Palestinians don’t exist” is counterproductive and distracts from legitimate dialogue. Right now they call themselves Palestinians, and they have for the last three generations. Yes, it is true, there has never been a State of Palestine on that land that wasn’t part of a larger invading colonial empire. Yes, the only State that ever existed on that land that wasn’t part of a colonial empire was Judea, home of the Jews. Yes, the Palestinians are indeed ethnically identical to the surrounding Arabs, but they have developed a marginally distinct culture and identity that we simply cannot ignore. So throwing them out of this whole spiel and telling them to “go back to where you came from” not only sounds extremely racist and reeks of ethnic cleansing, but also is silly since they do have longstanding presence, and many Palestinians really do feel that the territory of Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza is where they came from! It is their home, whether we like it or not.
What the Israelis have:
Relatively scarce in natural resources compared to the rest of the Arab world, Israel compensates in human capital. It’s an innovation powerhouse, the second most educated country in the world, and has given the world a lot of technology that is used to make the most of scarce resources.
What the Arabs have:
The Arabs have land. Lots and lots of land. Israel occupies 0.16% of the landmass of the Arab World. That’s a massive difference! Furthermore, much of the Arab World consists of sparsely populated desert that can be cultivated with proper Israeli technology. You know, provided these countries decide to recognize israel in the first place…
What the Israelis want:
Self-determination and governance on our ancestral homeland, a safe haven where to we can flee persecution, and the respect and governance of our sacred places. Israel has been willing to compromise, making eight two-state solution proposals that were all flatly rejected. All of them involved dismantling the settlements and some involved giving away Jerusalem entirely. Still, they didn’t budge, meaning that neither the settlements nor Jerusalem matters to the at all. They want to remove us as we get in the way of their Pan-Arabist plan.
What the Palestinians want:
Most believe that the existence of Israel is antithetical to their diplomatic, religious, and political beliefs and want to do whatever it take to get rid of it. As many as 40% of Gazans think suicide bombing can be justified to achieve political aims. A minority (mostly in the West Bank) would support a two-state solution, but the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) have rejected every single two state offer Israel has provided. They even refused to accept the Partition Plan of 1949, which would have given them all of Jerusalem! Due to their refusal, the UN decided to scrap it and gave the land to Israel.
The Arab Peace Initiative
This is an attempted trump card that many anti-Israel activists give whenever they are reminded about the Palestinians’ rigidity in refusing to accept the existence of Israel.
First proposed in 2002, the API offered Israel full recognition of statehood in exchange for a few things. It sounds great and all, but it’s actually pretty sneaky, as if these conditions were met, Israel would cease to exist as a Jewish state.
- Dismantling of the settlements and the creation of a Palestinian state. Interesting, because Israel has actually agreed to this many times in exchange for Mutual Recognition. Mutual recognition they were never actually granted.
- Full right of return. So basically anyone who identifies as Palestinian anywhere in the world can just move to Israel. Since there are over 10 million Palestinians and just 6 million Israeli Jews, this would create a huge demographic problem and effectively stamp out the Jewish state by democracy, making it yet another Arab state. So this condition is in fact a sneaky way of realising their Pan-Arabist, Pan-Islamist colonialist ambitions.
So essentially this is a Trojan Horse that will necessarily end the existence of Israel as we know it.
So it’s really not a peace initiative at all. Or maybe it is to them, as to them peace means wiping out all that are different from them and living in a homogeneous group where everybody follows the Arab groupthink.
One State Solution
Rationale: Many people, more often than not those who lean right, propose a one state solution. This means that Israel annexes the West Bank and Gaza, making it part of Israel. Many supporters of this solution recognize that Palestinians are actually just Arabs, and hope that offering them Israeli citizenship and educating them the Israeli way will help undo the decades of anti-Israel and antisemitic indoctrination that Palestinian leaders implemented into schools. An extreme fringe minority interpret this solution in the Kahanist way, that Arabs don’t belong in Israel and that we should essentially kick them out and make them perpetual refugees. Most supporters of the One State Solution don’t believe this though – rather, they believe in integrating the Arab population into Israel and encouraging them to be vibrant and productive citizens of the Jewish State.
Problems: If the West Bank and Gaza are annexed, Israel will experience a severe demographic crisis similar to that of the Arab Peace Initiative. There would be about 2/3-5/6 the number of Arabs in Israel as Jews, and the birthrate in the Palestinian territories, while decreasing, is still quite a bit higher than Israel’s. Many supporters of the One State Solution argue that if educated in Israel and integrated into their culture, their birthrates will decrease to match Israel’s, but detractors claim it’s unwise to count on that, as once we adopt this solution. there’s no going back.
Two State Solution
Rationale: Proponents of this solution believe that if we give the Palestinians, who have developed a distinct culture of their own in the last 67 years, their own state, the world would have no reason to be upset at Israel anymore. It also strikes supporters as fair – a state for me and a state for you. Two states for two peoples, living side by side. Most proposals, including those offered by Israel, involve a Palestinian state in the West Bank (Areas A, B, and C) and Gaza. Finally, according to supporters, the stateless and oppressed Palestinian people can finally have a land to call their own.
Problems: First and foremost, detractors argue that the majority of Palestinians don’t want a state, they just want to destroy Israel because to them it simply doesn’t belong and throws a wrench in their Pan-Arabist ambitions. The Palestinian government believes in all or nothing and has refused every two state offer. Not only that, but there is no guarantee that a newly autonomous Palestinian state, without Israeli surveillance and security detail, won’t focus all their energies on destroying Israel, enlisting the help of neighboring Arab countries who share the same Pan-Arabist goals. A second and smaller concern is that one or two Palestinian states would push the balance even further against us at the UN. Moreover, many see the fact that Israel is supposed to allow Arabs but the future state of Palestine won’t be allowed to have any Jews – therefore almost half a million people would have to be uprooted and displaced in order for a Palestinian state to exist – is a double standard that should not be honoured under any circumstances. Finally, some of the holiest sites in Judaism are located Palestinian Authority-controlled territories and are being desecrated as we speak. Jews who want to be able to see their historical and holy sites will be prevented from doing so due to anti-Jewish apartheid laws (oh, the irony!) and the mere danger of visiting a country where a lot of people hate your people and want to see you dead.
The majority of Jews believe in a conditional two state solution: provided mutual recognition occurs. This means provided the Palestinian Authority agrees that it will accept Israel’s existence, maintain normal relations, and agree not to fight it. Unfortunately this is nowhere near reality, and actually misinterprets and distorts what the Palestinians themselves claim they actually want, which is not their own state, but all or nothing!
As we can see, neither of these solutions are valid now. All have serious problems associated with them.
I have proposed a third hybrid option. I call it Plan Lex. It isn’t a traditional Two State Solution, but it takes into account the need for a Palestinian State and the desire for self-determination – meaning, to be governed by their own people.
- The Two State Component
- Offer Gaza up to Egypt, and agree with Egypt to render the Sinai Peninsula, which was for a time part of Israel and remains to this day a sparsely-populated desert, part of the Palestinian State or Province/Region along with Gaza.
- In exchange, Israel can provide Egypt with water-saving technology and infrastructure, education, environmental refurbishing, improved agricultural techniques, proper sanitation and modern sewage disposal techniques, etc. for as long as the treaty is in place. It seems expensive, but it’s a worthy expense when you consider that this could potentially solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
- Allow Egypt to administer this territory if it wishes, or hand it over to a semi-autonomous or autonomous Palestinian ruler. Egypt basically gets to do whatever it wants with it as long as anyone who identifies as Palestinian can gain citizenship and live in that region, whether it’s Egyptian citizenship or Palestinian citizenship. This is where the Right of Return comes in, potentially solving this multi-generational “refugee crisis.”
- The One-State Component
- Annex the West Bank in its entirety, Areas A, B, and C. This will allow Jews access to their historical and holy sites that are presently over the green line. All Palestinian inhabitants of this territory will be offered an option: Either they can take Israeli citizenship, or they can migrate to the new Palestinian Country or Territory in Gaza/Sinai and gain citizenship there.
- Ensure the proper integration of this large Palestinian Arab population. Re-educate them to help undo the indoctrination of hate done by the PA.
- Yes, there will be a demographic change, but it will be harmless in comparison to the total One State Solution, as the Arab Population will become a manageable 30% rather than a Jewish-State-threatening 45% of the total.
Israel has dealt with all these territories before. It held Sinai after it captured it in the aftermath of the defensive 1967 war until the 1979 Peace Treaty with Egypt. It controlled the West Bank from 1967 until the Oslo Accords of 1994 when it ceded Areas A and B to the Palestinian Authority in exchanged for a peace that didn’t happen. It controlled Gaza from 1967 until 2005 when it unilaterally dismantled every Jewish settlement, and gave it complete autonomy, which it thanked us for with a barrage of terrorist attacks and a terrorist Hamas government.
What it boils down to is that the Arab World has more land than it knows what to do with, and Israel has some incredible technology that is ages ahead of the standard in the Arab World. If we can arrange a truce that involves the exchange of these resources for peace and common good, we can potentially solve one of the highest profile conflicts of the 20th century.
I know my solution is not perfect. The biggest wrench in it is that the Palestinians have made it clear that they don’t want anything other than Israel destroyed. However, I do think my solution is a lot better than any of the others I’ve heard of, and is a really nice hybrid of the traditional One State and Two State solutions, both of which are very flawed – the first is creating potential demographic suicide and the second is giving up a lot of important ancestral homeland to a people that don’t even really want it. With my solution, we can appease the world’s desire for a Palestinian State in the Sinai which doesn’t contain any important Jewish sacred sites and mitigates the demographic issues associated with annexation of both Palestinian territories.