“The political debate in Israel, as to whether an independent Palestinian state would be a blessing for Israel or a curse, is more of a self-contained monologue than a dialogue with ideas and adversaries. The paradigm of the two-state solution has closed all debate.” These powerful words from Mordechai Nisan describing the political reality in Israel, is what this new book, Only Israel West of the River, is trying to overcome.
In a concise 151 page book Nisan manages to analyze various aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian issue with clarity and understanding that is illuminating. Rather than ignoring or glossing over difficult issues, Nisan tackles them in a way that is direct and honest without being abrasive or confrontational. Agree or disagree with his analysis, it is evident that he is being intellectually honest.
His goal is to change the paradigm of how Israel deals with the Palestinian issue since he believes that the closed debate regarding the two-state solution is detrimental to Israel’s future. He writes, “It is the responsibility of government and the creativity of its leaders to address a problem in a spirit of realism; the threat emanating from the problem can catalyze energies to formulate a solution. Inasmuch as Israel’s very existence is threatened by the Palestinians (and their Arab brothers and allies), there can be no resolution without a sound accounting of the immediacy and urgency of the problem.” In this realm he believes that Israel’s politicians have failed; they have not honestly addressed the problems and therefore they have not provided proper solutions. Still further, he claims that the way Israel deals with this issue will ultimately have an effect on Israel itself. “For how Israel deals with and treats the Palestinian problem will indicate what kind of Israel will emerge along the political highway of its future.”
By trying to change the paradigm, it is obvious that Nisan wants to assure a healthy future for Israel. In this regard he envisions Jordan, with its 70% Palestinian population, eventually becoming the hoped for Palestinian state alongside an Israel having complete sovereignty west of the Jordan River. This he sees as the only realistic solution that can bring stability to the region. In this vein he bemoans the current way of thinking which only perpetuates the problem. Nisan writes, “It is difficult to make the argument that Jordan’s survival in its present constitutional character carries greater moral weight than the political rights of the Palestinians and the region’s need for reconciliation and stability.” He then adds “Hashemite regime survival cannot be a more legitimate imperative than Palestinian national self-expression and political rights.”
For anyone who is genuinely concerned about Israel and the Palestinians yet tired of the usual rhetoric, this book is a must.