Salman Rushdie: A Palestinian State Under Hamas Would Be Another Iran or Afghanistan

Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP, File

We've had weeks of student protests on behalf of Palestinians and the phrases "from the river to the sea" and "free Palestine" have become pretty routine at this point. The former is either a threat to wipe out Israel completely or a call for some sort of 2-state solution. The protesters mostly claim they don't mean the former but we all know that's exactly what Hamas means. They don't want a 2-state solution, they want a one state solution with Israel driven off the map. 

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Nevertheless, President Biden is supposedly working on a 2-state solution which would, in theory, free Palestine.

US President Joe Biden says he is “working to make sure we finally get a two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during a much-anticipated address at the graduation ceremony of Morehouse College in Atlanta...

“I’ve also been working around the clock for more than just [a] ceasefire. I’m working to bring the region together, working to build a lasting, durable peace,” Biden says, referring to the normalization agreement he is trying to broker between Israel and Saudi Arabia. But the deal is conditioned on Israel agreeing to a pathway to a future Palestinian state — a condition that Netanyahu again rejected on Saturday...

“I’m working to make sure we finally get a two-state solution — the only solution for the two people to live in peace, enjoy their dignity,” he adds.

Yesterday, author Salman Rushdie pointed to the obvious flaw in this plan. If you "free Palestine" right now what you'll get is not more freedom but another Islamic theocracy.

Commenting on the US campus protesters calling for a free Palestine, the author said that while he has “argued for a Palestinian state for most of my life – since the 1980s, probably – right now, if there was a Palestinian state, it would be run by Hamas, and that would make it a Taliban-like state, and it would be a client state of Iran”.

“Is that what the progressive movements of the western left wish to create? To have another Taliban, another Ayatollah-like state, in the Middle East, right next to Israel?” said the Indian-born British-American author on a podcast run by German broadcaster Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg which was released on Thursday.
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He's right of course. You can't give Palestinians a state now because Hamas is still in control. Rewarding them with a state would only create a mini-Iran right next to Israel. It would be a matter of months until the next attack.

As for the idea that we should plan for what happens after Hamas is removed from power, that seems a bit optimistic. The president of Iran just died in a helicopter crash. Are we planning for what happens after the end of the Iranian regime? Not really, because no one expects it to end just because a couple of its leaders died. There are more extremists where they came from.

At least in Iran polls suggest a majority of people would oppose the mullahs if given a chance at a vote on the question. That's probably not the case in Gaza. Free and fair elections there would not produce a more moderate, democratic state. They would empower something just like Hamas or the Taliban or the Iranian mullahs. That's the situation we're in. As Rushdie points out, student protesters don't seem very interested in what "free Palestine" would lead to, probably because they know it would be another brutal Islamic theocracy.

The fact is that any normal person can only be shocked by what is happening in Gaza, by the extent of the innocent deaths. But I think the demonstrators could also mention Hamas. Because it all started with them. And Hamas is a terrorist organization. And it's strange that a young progressive student politician supports a fascist terrorist group, because that's what they do in a way. They demand "free Palestine", liberate Palestine.

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The Jerusalem Post ran an editorial yesterday arguing that a 2-state solution will never be accepted by Israelis unless it comes with security guarantees.

The Biden administration, along with the European Union and other actors, continues to push for the revival of the two-state solution. However, this must come with an understanding of the current Israeli psyche. 

The fear of repeating mistakes where territorial concessions brought increased violence, looms large. For any new diplomatic efforts to succeed, they must confront these fears head-on. Proposals must include robust mechanisms to ensure demilitarization and political stability. Only then can Israel’s public begin to entertain such ideas.

While Biden’s commitment to a two-state solution resonates with long-standing US policy and ideals, it clashes with the harsh realities and prevailing sentiments. So without concrete assurances of security and stability, the two-state solution remains a distant and unattainable goal for most Israelis.

Would Hamas, or whatever similar leadership follows it, be willing to give up its weapons in exchange for a state? I think the answer is obvious to everyone except the student protesters and Joe Biden.

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