Opposition to the two-state solution was once the province of a small group of rightists who were ideologically opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state. Eventually they were joined by a more pragmatic and hawkish contingent alarmed by the rise and popularity of Hamas and other Iranian-controlled proxies. Those two groups then benefited from the deflation of the Oslo balloon, in which many who supported Palestinian self-governance in theory had become disillusioned by the terrorism that followed each Israeli concession.

Those two latter categories are persuadable. The pragmatists can be swayed by the defeat of Iranian terror gangs and the emergence—however farfetched it might be—of a homegrown Palestinian nationalist party that reflects the changes in the region and makes its peace with Israel’s existence. The disillusioned can be swayed, perhaps, by the same thing that made them disillusioned in the first place: a change in Palestinian culture and behavior.

Yet all of those disparate pockets of opposition to a two-state solution might pale in comparison to the one that has only recently shown its strength—that of the ideological left.

Historically, support for Palestinian self-determination was synonymous with “two states for two peoples,” a concept with enduring support on the political left. Support for a Palestinian state itself remains high among self-described Democrats in the U.S., but that has become disentangled from the two-state solution, primarily because many progressives have come to believe that a Palestinian state would be the only legitimate one. This trend has left Israeli liberals with no real support system abroad, because even Israelis who support Palestinian statehood tend not to support the dismantling and annihilation of their country, their people, and their family. That’s a sticking point that isn’t going away.

The post-October 7 pro-Hamas protests were revelatory in this way. Those inclined to dismiss these demonstrations by waving them away as college silliness must understand that the campus portions of the response to the Gaza war are a later development, evidence of the bandwagon effect. Immediately upon the news of Hamas’s success in carrying out the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust, progressive organizers were out in force. The protest movement did not rise in response to anything Israel said or did; it was a true out-of-the-woodwork moment for Hamas superfans. It was as if a hard-luck baseball team made the World Series for once: Everybody who wanted to see Hamas win but hadn’t made their Hamas fandom much of a priority suddenly came to claim their share of the spoils. The Democratic Socialists of America held what was essentially a victory party in New York.

Soon these demonstrations took to the halls of Congress, where staffers openly sympathized (and even occasionally defected to) the pressure groups attacking their bosses. Eventually Democratic representatives, and then senators, began to capitulate. Democratic-aligned super-donors kept the pro-Hamas demonstrators flush with cash. Elite university presidents granted the tentifada’s wish lists, ceding them power over the administrating of the campuses. President Biden, the last holdout, folded and let them influence his foreign policy.

It would be one thing if this entire movement were merely indifferent to the two-state solution. But in fact it is undergirded by hostility to any Jewish sovereignty at all. The larger progressive movement from which it sprang has long been of the opinion that the vital conflict in Israel is over what happened in 1948, not 1967—that is, the existence of Israel, not the expansion of its borders or territory, is the original sin that must be rectified.

The ideological engine behind this is “decolonization,” an upside-down anti-Western and antidemocratic theory of which Israel is only a part. But it’s a large part, because anti-Semitism does not do portion control. The flat-earther idea that Jews aren’t native to Judea or that the people of Israel aren’t from the Land of Israel is silly on its face, but the combination of ideology and conspiracy theory makes it impervious to facts and evidence in the minds of its true believers.

You do not, as Bob Dylan sang, need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. But the Weathermen are the ones with that wind at their backs.

Sometimes the easiest way to see this is by paying attention to those whose professional lives depend on their ability to anticipate shifting orthodoxy. In an April interview with Politico, Patrick Gaspard, president and CEO of the influential Democratic think tank the Center for American Progress, suggested the two-state solution might be a dead end. He and his interviewer then had this exchange:

You don’t see a two state solution as a plausible outcome?

I firmly believe Israel must exist as a state. But I also believe Palestinians — if we are going to solve this problem — need to exist in an Israel that is inclusive of their full rights.

The pushback has always been that if you have a single state, you can’t have a Jewish majority state that is democratic in Israel.

I think that taking out the possibility of coexistence is, in itself, really cynical and tragic.

Gaspard later tried to walk it back, so the finger-in-the-wind take is that Israel’s existence is at least still open to discussion on his side of the aisle. But the shift is pronounced and the forces driving that shift still have all the momentum.

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