Mass migration and the one-state solution

Apparently it’s not enough for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to ill-advisedly accept an invitation to speak before a joint session of Congress[1] and thus to play into House Speaker John Boehner’s political poke in President Barack Obama’s eye, a poke Boehner all but admitted to on Fox News Sunday today.[2] Netanyahu has also been upsetting European politicians by beseeching Jews in France and Denmark to migrate in mass numbers to Israel following recent attacks.[3]

When I saw the headline, “Netanyahu Calls For ‘Massive Immigration’ Of Jews To Israel,”[4] my first thought was of a one-state solution. After decades of failed negotiations brokered by the U.S. and increasingly seen by Palestinians as rigged in favor of the Israelis,[5] it’s become harder and harder to see how a two-state solution comes to pass.

Palestine is joining the International Criminal Court, a move opposed by both Israel and the United States, and yet another excuse for the latter to claim that Palestinians have not been negotiating in good faith.[6] Notably, Palestine’s accession clears the path for an ICC investigation into Israeli crimes against Palestinians (and vice versa, but only Israeli partisans would claim anything like an equivalence).[7]

The simple truth is that Israel is unwilling to relinquish its hold on Palestinian territories. But,

From the point of view of Israelis accepting the one-state idea, [sic] would change Israel into just another country where Jews live among non-Jews. The whole idea of a Jewish safe haven would have to be abandoned and there will be no guarantee that the new pluralist state would take in Jews if they were ever in need of rescue. Israeli Jews and many Zionists around the world believe that to ask them to live together with the Palestinian people is to ask them to go back to a state of insecurity and potential victimhood. They simply do not believe that this is reasonable, and therefore would never willingly agree to any solution that compromises their safe haven. This is one of the reasons Zionists counteract any criticism of Israel with persistent cries of anti-Semitism. They really believe that to end the exclusively Jewish state would leave all Jews anywhere in the world, vulnerable to another potential Holocaust.[8]


Israeli Jews have long eschewed the possibility of a single binational state out of fear that it would sooner or later result in an Arab majority, undermining their ideal of a state that is “Jewish and democratic.” While the removal of Gaza from the equation would allow Jews to retain a clear majority, the democracy question is more controversial.

If Israel were to annex the West Bank, 69 percent of Israeli Jews would not want the territory’s 2.5 million Palestinians to be allowed to vote, according to a poll published by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz yesterday.[9]

This is likely why “[t]he US secretary of state, John Kerry, has warned in a closed-door meeting in Washington that Israel risks becoming an ‘apartheid state’ if US-sponsored efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement fail.” His use of the word ‘apartheid’ provoked a furor,[10] even though he was not the first to use it in this context. Former President Jimmy Carter used the term in the title of his book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,[11] and provoked a similar outcry.

The status quo, however, does not work in favor of Palestinian aspirations. “Radi Jarai, a political scientist at al-Quds University, is one of those Fatah members who long supported the peace process, . . . . [but] like most Palestinians, grew bitterly disappointed as he watched the possibilities of dividing the land disappear by the year.” That simple fact has led some Palestinians to advocate “the creation of one democratic, secular state for Arabs and Jews, made up of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.” Under this plan, “everyone in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank should be given the same citizenship and live under a secular democracy.”[12]

A democratic one-state solution would quash the notion of Israel as a Jewish state unless millions more Jews migrate to Israel. It would be wrong of me to pretend to see inside Netanyahu’s head. But when he calls for a mass Jewish migration to Israel, this is what I think of.

  1. [1]Zack Beauchamp, “Netanyahu’s planned speech to Congress is already backfiring,” Vox, February 5, 2015,; Edward-Isaac Dovere and Lauren French, “Don’t disrespect our president, black lawmakers tell Netanyahu,” Politico, February 10, 2015,; Kevin Drum, “John Boehner’s Big Triumph Is Now Just a Big Shit Sandwich,” Mother Jones, February 6, 2015,; Jeffrey Goldberg, “The Netanyahu Disaster,” Atlantic, January 27, 2015,; Joel Greenberg, “Criticism of Netanyahu’s planned U.S. speech mounts in Israel,” McClatchy, January 26, 2015,; Dina Rickman, “Even Fox News thought this from Netanyahu was a bit much,” Independent, January 25, 2015,–ekxCnm4vox; Eugene Robinson, “Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu backfires on them both,” Washington Post, January 29, 2015,; Yishai Schwartz, “Netanyahu’s Foolish Speech,” Lawfare, January 22, 2015,; Rick Ungar, “Bibi Netanyahu — aka ‘The Republican Senator From Israel’ — May Have Made A Fatal Political Mistake,” Forbes, January 25, 2015,;
  2. [2]Caitlin MacNeal, “Boehner: I Didn’t Want ‘Interference’ From Obama In Netanyahu Speech,” Talking Points Memo, February 15, 2015,
  3. [3]Josef Federman, “Netanyahu Calls For ‘Massive Immigration’ Of Jews To Israel,” Talking Points Memo, February 15, 2015,
  4. [4]Josef Federman, “Netanyahu Calls For ‘Massive Immigration’ Of Jews To Israel,” Talking Points Memo, February 15, 2015,
  5. [5]Zack Beauchamp, “It’s over: Why the Palestinians are finally giving up on Obama and the US peace process,” Vox, January 22, 2015,
  6. [6]Al Jazeera, “UN chief: Palestine to join ICC on April 1,” January 7, 2015,
  7. [7]Darren Smith, “International Criminal Court Prosecutor Opens Examination Of Situation In Palestine Weeks After PA Grants ICC Jurisdiction,” Jonathan Turley, January 17, 2015,
  8. [8]Avigail Abarbanel, “A change needs to come,” Electronic Intifada, May 25, 2008,
  9. [9]Christa Case Bryant, “Momentum builds for Gaza to secede, Israel and West Bank to become one,” Christian Science Monitor, October 24, 2012,
  10. [10] Peter Beaumont, “Israel risks becoming apartheid state if peace talks fail, says John Kerry,” Guardian, April 28, 2014,
  11. [11]Jimmy Carter, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006).
  12. [12]Ilene Prusher, “Influential Palestinians Say It’s Time for a One-State Solution,” Time, May 24, 2013,

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