Joshua Lipson is the Senior World Editor of the Harvard Political Review. He and Beth are co-presidents of Harvard Students for Israel, writing on behalf of the group. The Harvard Political Review is a nonpartisan political review and a platform for student writing at Harvard. Watch this space for a letter of response from the organizers of the One-State Conference.
This weekend, various on-campus organizations will be sponsoring a “One-State Conference,” which calls for the creation of a single state for both Israelis and Palestinians. Although the conference touts this proposal as a viable resolution to the ongoing conflict, we are gravely concerned that a one-state “solution” would both mean the end of Israel as a sovereign state and create the circumstances for a human rights catastrophe. Despite claims to the contrary, the creation of a binational state would be both radical and antithetical to genuine peace.
The one-state idea marks a departure from the well-established premise of “two states for two peoples,” a solution supported by a strong majority of both Israelis and Palestinians. Support for a binational state is ignorant of the undeniable fact that Israeli and Palestinian societies are drastically different in terms of economic development, political orientation, and cultural identity—a situation which would not change with the removal of a political border. Given the two sides’ history of mutual hostility and resentment, the creation of a single state will likely lead to violent ethnic conflict, a result desired by none but the most radical elements in the region. As a result, a majority of experts across the political spectrum agree that despite difficulties in reaching an agreement, a two-state solution is far preferable to a one-state non-solution.
We unequivocally support the right of all Harvard students to political expression. However, we are disturbed by the one-sided nature of this particular conference, whose program is assembled around a radical idea without providing a balanced discussion of the alternatives.
Dean David Ellwood of the Harvard Kennedy School shares our concerns: “I was deeply disappointed to see that the initial list of speakers for this student conference was so one-sided. I very much hope this will change. Without the balance of divergent views that characterize the most enriching discussions, the credibility and intellectual value of any event is open to question.” In the same letter, Dean Ellwood makes clear that Harvard by no means endorses the views or political aims of the One-State Conference.
We completely reject the premise of this conference, which runs counter to the very existence of a Jewish state as enshrined in international law. Accordingly, we ask the Harvard community and all supporters of peace to recognize the implications of this “solution” and decry such calls for the dismantlement of a sovereign state. Our group urges you to continue to engage in constructive dialogue, and to lend your support to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other viable and mutually agreeable initiatives toward peace.
Beth Drucker and Josh Lipson
Co-Presidents, Harvard Students for Israel