Yakov Blotnik, world-weary custodian of the synagogue in Philip Roth’s short story ‘The Conversion of the Jews’, has a simple outlook on life: “Things were either good-for-the-Jews or no-good-for-the-Jews”.
The Blotnik Test confronts us as the new administration in Washington begins to take shape. We’ve just seen the first hints of what to expect at today’s joint press conference between Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu. The US president used to it to break with the US’s decades-old commitment to a two-state solution, insisting the arrival at a peace deal was more important than its details. “I’m looking at two states and one state,” he admitted. “I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one.”
On the surface, this is a dramatic rightwards lurch for US foreign policy, the White House articulating a stance that divides even hawkish Israeli politicians. Several one-state solutions of varying plausibility have been advanced by Israeli rightists but all have this in common: Israel would be the sole sovereign west of the Jordan and the Palestinians would have to settle for autonomy instead of statehood. Most observers agree the Oslo Accords have been defunct for a number of years now but no one expected the President of the United States to tear them up live on CNN.