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One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State

Updated: Aug 13, 2020

As a tour guide of Israel, one of the questions I have gotten without fail on every tour for the past 13 years is “what do Israelis think about the current US president?” And of course, people want to know what most Israelis think about the one-state / two-state solution. So let’s get right to it...

One thing to keep in mind always is that when Israelis think of US Presidents they don’t ever consider US domestic policies and issues. They don’t consider what the President’s foreign policy is regarding NATO or Mexico or anywhere else. All they look at is what the president thinks about Israel and the Middle East. Interestingly, however, the last election was an exception to that rule. Even though more Israelis thought that Trump would be better for Israel, Israelis would have voted for Clinton. This despite the fact that they were not big fans of Obama (remember, we are not talking domestic policy here). More likely it was because of a long -standing love affair with Bill Clinton. There was something about Trump that made them wary of him as President.

Now after moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Israeli control of the Golan Heights and taking a tough stance on the Palestinians including tying their receiving of a state to disarming terror groups, stopping incitement and recognizing Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, Israelis have warmed to Trump. A recent poll put him clearly ahead of Biden in Israel, but the headline is misleading. The question was about which candidate would be better for Israel’s interests. As a reminder, Israelis also thought Trump would be better than Clinton (though by not as much as Biden) but they would vote for Clinton over him. As we get closer to the US elections, I am sure we will have polls that will ask that follow-up question of who would you vote for.

As far as things go in Israel, despite Peter Beinart’s recent messianic conversion to the 1-state solution (which brought the question back in the news again), the vast majority of Israelis are not interested in committing national suicide. Just as democracy may be the worst system of government apart from everything else, if we are talking final-status negotiations here, the 2-state solution may be the worst plan out there - apart from everything else.

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