There are certain words that Israelis hate to hear, especially from Americans whom they have in a tight political headlock.
One word is "apartheid."
Jimmy Carter was the first president to help nurture a peace treaty that undermined the Arab cause — it gave Israel pretty much everything it needed to strengthen its hold on all of historic Palestine.
But after leaving office, and a slow but steady conversion recognizing that it was Israel not the Palestinians who were preventing peace, Carter changed.
Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient because of his Middle East diplomacy, titled one of his powerful exposes on Israel's increasingly anti-peace posture "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid." Israelis went berserk, vilifying him and calling him "anti-Semitic," which, as it turns out, is the word Israelis prefer to describe all their critics.
This week, the Israeli wrath has fallen on another American: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been working diligently to push Israel to do the right thing and bring about a peaceful end to the Palestine-Israel conflict by supporting the two-state solution.
At an international forum this week, Kerry said Israeli policies in the West Bank were laying the groundwork for the eventuality of a "binational" state in which Israel would be forced to absorb the West Bank's 2.7 million Christian and Muslim Palestinians.
Kerry argued diplomatically that Israel's failure to support the concept of a two-state solution — one a secure Israel and one a sovereign Palestine with no illegal Israeli settlements — was pushing the two people into one ugly scenario.
Israel's policies are feeding the extremism not only among Jews but among Arabs, too. They have stepped up their campaign against the two-state solution.
This past week, I engaged in a brief but telling debate with a member of the Israeli Likud Party who parroted the Israeli line that there will never be a Palestinian state, and that the 4.5 million non-Jews who live under Israeli military occupation will never be a part of Israel.
On the Arab side, the one-state solution, which only a decade earlier was impossible to fathom, has now become the only solution still breathing on the Israel-Palestine battlefield.
The extremists have found an alliance with the increasingly discouraged moderate Arab and Palestinian voices who fought hard for two states. The moderates are realizing that the imbalance between Palestinian politics and Israeli power politics is pushing the region to the far Israeli right.
This has increased the voices in support of the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which at one time was a dual movement with some supporters seeking to boycott all of Israel and others seeking only to boycott the illegal and racist Israeli settlements.
But the settlements continue to expand while Palestinian rights continue to erode under Israeli rule. It's very difficult for any "moderate" who supports peace based on two states to survive in today's growing environment of hatred, anger, emotion and increasingly violent conflict.
There is always hope, but the odds are so great that even a U.S. secretary of state feels compelled to declare that instead of becoming a "Jewish state," Israel will soon become a binational state.
If left up to Netanyahu, of course, that binational state would become even more of an Apartheid state, where Jews enjoy special privileges of citizenship and non-Jews continue to be oppressed.
And sadly, Israel's future is being left up to Netanyahu, one of the most ruthless and extremist leaders that has assaulted the Middle East peace process.
I'm not sure what Netanyahu and his growing following think will happen over the coming years.
The population statistics say it all.
There are about 8 million people in Israel, 6 million Jews and 2 million non-Jews. Of the 2 million non-Jews, about 1.8 million identify as "Palestinians."
There are about 2.7 million Palestinians (Christians and Muslims) living in the West Bank, including in occupied East Jerusalem. There are also about 700,000 Jewish settlers living in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem.
Israel's military and armed settlers control this cauldron of conflict.
There are 2 million Palestinians who live in the Gaza Strip, which was occupied by Israel militarily and with settlements until Israel unilaterally withdrew in 2005. But although Israel withdrew, it did not stop controlling the Gaza Strip.
Israel's military controls every aspect of Gaza, including the flow of people and products, and the water and electricity supply. Critics note Israel has created the world's largest outdoor prison in Gaza.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to add up all the numbers and see where this region is headed without the two state solution.
There are 7 million Jews and 6.3 million Palestinians at each other's national throats. The Palestinian population is growing faster than Israel's population. Keep in mind the non-Jewish numbers are probably much higher, but Israel doesn't waste much time counting non-Jews. It spends millions on PR to depress the numbers to discourage pessimism among Jews also.
It is a certainty that in a few more years, even the term "binational state" won't apply.
Israel will be one state. And given the Palestinian refusal to disappear, eventually we can start calling Israel by its "population name," Palestine. Again.
Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist, managing editor of The Arab Daily News at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, and writer at Al Jazeera English. Follow him on Twitter @RayHanania. To find out more about Ray Hanania and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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