A conversation with Benny Morris
Q: What do you see as the relation between this book and 1948: The First Arab-Israeli War?
A: In a way, One State,Two States follows through on 1948. That is, 1948 is still with us, both in the sense that a two-state solution for the Palestine problem is what the international community and the Israeli left and center still want, and in the sense that the refugee problem, created in that year, remains with us and is the main motor force of Palestinian revanchism.
Q: Last year, you stated that if Palestine were to accord Israel legitimacy, this conflict would be soluble but that, at present, the Palestinian mindset makes this impossible. How can this mindset be changed?
A: Mindsets can be changed over the long term through education and gradual osmosis. But this doesn’t seem to be happening among the Palestinians or, for that matter, the Arab world in general. Rather the oppositethese peoples are growing increasingly radicalized, making the requisite change of mindset even less probable in coming decades. Alternatively, mindsets can be changed at a stroke, albeit a very violent stroke, in a critical instant in historyas German and Japanese mindsets changed almost overnight around 1945. Perhaps a similar trauma would do it for the Arab world. Perhaps.
Q: Are you now more hopeful about the possibility of resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict?
A: No, I do not hold out high hopes for the future, believing that the Palestinian national movement has never accepted, and continues to reject, in its innermost being, a two-state solution, while most Israeli Jews, 99 percent of them, do not agree to a one-state solution and most Arabs will not agree to sharing government in a one-state solution based on parity, so neither solution will come about. So, no, I am not optimistic.
Q: What impact do you hope your book will have?
A: I hope it will propel readers to think about the problem and its possible, or impossible, solutions. And to think about the Jordanian option, which I believe should be resurrected as the only, albeit slim, avenue toward a brighter future.