One Land, Two States offers a preface, introduction, and eleven essays by divergent contributors. It purports to propose an "out-of-the-box" approach to the resolution of the century-long conflict between Jews and Arabs over the territorial expanse that

One Land, Two States offers a preface, introduction, and eleven essays by divergent contributors. It purports to propose an "out-of-the-box" approach to the resolution of the century-long conflict between Jews and Arabs over the territorial expanse that covers much of the biblical Land of Israel. Regrettably, it does nothing of the sort.

Having despaired of the dominant paradigm—division of the territory into two states for two people—which the editors admit "has not yielded any results that can constitute a solid foundation for an end to conflict, or even building stones for such a foundation," the book raises an even more improbable notion: Their professed revolutionary innovation consists of the application of something called "parallel sovereignty" in which multiple sources of political power govern the same geographical space.

At least one of the contributors, Jens Bartelson, seems to be aware of the implausible nature of this proposal. Thus he cites Hans Morgenthau's unequivocal characterization of the indivisibility of sovereignty from Politics among Nations[1]: "If sovereignty means supreme authority, it stands to reason that two or more entities—persons, groups of persons, or agencies—cannot be sovereign within the same time and space."

However, despite this cogent characterization, he and the other contributors proceed undeterred to expound solutions in which two sources of sovereignty would be applied separately in the territory currently under Israeli control: one to the Jewish population and one to the resident Arab population. They show some awareness of the problems that arise with regard to taxation, traffic regulation, law enforcement, demilitarization, foreign policy decisions, and, of course, declarations of war. Yet they offer no mechanics to resolve such conundrums, contenting themselves with glib declarations that solutions would be "worked out."

They concede that, in vital spheres such as police, judiciary, and military, some superior decision-making mechanism would be required beyond those parallel sovereignty mechanisms—in effect admitting the need for a unitary source of authority. But they do not indicate who would control such mechanisms. After all, unless both sides have equal representation in such an authority—ensuring deadlock in virtually any dispute—why would one side agree to a lesser say in such a body?

The book is also permeated with anti-Israel innuendo largely detached from any historical or political context. Thus, in the editors' preface, one reads: "Since 2005, Hamas has moved toward the mainstream, participating in elections in the Oslo framework, restraining attacks against Israel carried out mostly by others." Could they really have missed the news reports on the three major Israeli campaigns—Cast Lead (2008-9), Pillar of Defense (2012), Protective Edge (2014)—to quell Hamas' volleys of rockets on civilian targets in Israel?

One essay contains this strangely optimistic sentence about equal rights with respect to gender and to sexual orientation: "The two states would most likely have to have identical regulations in these areas to allow for smooth future relations." How could a serious person, knowing the huge gaps between Israeli and Palestinian societies, expect "identical regulations in these areas"?

This ridiculous and illusionary compilation is so hopelessly detached from reality it should be deemed science fiction masquerading as scholarship. If it has any value at all, One Land, Two States serves as an instructive illustration of the extent to which academic endeavor has descended in a desperate attempt to preserve the delusion that both Jewish and Palestinian-Arab national aspirations can be fulfilled in the sliver of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.


[1] New York: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages, 2005.