Thursday, January 05, 2006

Unintended Benefits

Christopher Hitchens argues that those favoring Palestinian statehood shouldn't be celebrating the imminent incapacitation, if not demise, of Ariel Sharon. Accurately, Hitchens' analysis shows that Sharon's career can be seen as a slow realization that Palestinian statehood, however incomplete and cynical, is inevitable.
There are, and always have been, only four alternatives in the Israeli-Palestinian quadrilateral. The first is the status quo of mingled apartheid and colonization that would eventually see the Israelis ruling without consent over a people as large as or larger than themselves and that is now almost universally seen as intolerable and unsustainable. The second is a state where those under its jurisdiction are equal citizens with the right to vote, which would be the end of Zionism. The third is the destruction or removal of one people by the other or their common ruin in a catastrophic war. The fourth is a partition between two separate states. All have their disadvantages, but the fourth appears to have the fewest and is supported officially by the PLO and endorsed by a probable majority of Israeli and diaspora Jews. For most of his career, Sharon supported the first option and conducted occasional flirtations with the expulsionist supporters of the third option. His conversion to the fourth may have taken unpleasing forms—a wall is a wall is a wall—but it did begin to acknowledge the contours of Palestinian statehood, and this counts as one of the better ironies of history.
Let all the analogies to Nixon going to China start now.