Paradigm Lost: From Two-State Solution to One-State Reality

A couple of weeks ago I attended Professor Lustick’s Clarke Forum discussion Paradigm Lost: From Two-State Solution to One-State Reality. The conflict between Israel and Palestine is a complicated topic. I learned a lot from the two hour long discussion but for the purpose of this blog post I am going to talk in depth about one central point that Professor Lustick made that most intrigued me. He argued that identity-based conflicts are rarely solved through negotiations between antagonists like Israel and Palestine. That is why negotiations for a two-state solution were never successful. I learned that for three reasons in particular the negotiations between Palestine and Israel were failures. 

The first reason revolves around “Zionism’s partially successful Iron Wall strategy for dealing with Arabs” (Lustick). Israel’s military strength is vastly superior to Palestine’s military capabilities. Israel has more advanced technology, intelligence, military and airforce than Palestine. Since Israel knows that they are more militarily capable than Palestine they do not see a need to negotiate. A realist would say that Israel does not feel the need to negotiate because they do not feel that Palestine threatens their security. 

Secondly, the failures of their negotiations are in part due to an “Israeli political culture saturated with “Holocaustia” (Lustick). The Holocaust is traumatizing for Zionists and Jews. Since the Holocaust Zionists are scared and have become less trusting of gentiles, non jews. This in turn makes Zionists wearisome to negotiate with Palestines who might want to hurt them or take something away from them. This reason is connected to the constructivist perspective. Zionists are letting history dictate their current decision making. 

The last reason why negotiations have not been successful is because “Israel lobby’s dominant influence on American policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict scuttled efforts to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel” (Lustick). Washington favors Israel because of their strong Israel lobby. Since the Israel lobby is so strong the US is not inclined to pressure Israel to negotiate. 

I know very little about this topic so the two hour long discussion at times was a bit hard to follow. I do believe that Professor Lustick’s arguments about the reasons for failed negotiations are a bit outdated. 

Photos I took when I went to Israel in 2018.

Ian Lustick, Paradigm Lost: From Two-State Solution to One-State Reality. YouTube, April 24, 2023, educational video,

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