Conventional wisdom—whether in Riyadh or Washington, Brussels or Jerusalem—insists that the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel (or, more precisely, on both sides of it) is the one tenable solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Therefore, writes Joel Fishman, it’s worth noting that the PLO’s leaders came to the idea not as a goal, but as a ruse—inspired by North Vietnam:
During the Vietnam war, the North Vietnamese originally employed the “two-state” formula in order to hide their strategic goals. They thus presented themselves as fighting for the North’s independence alone and concealed their aspiration to rule over South Vietnam as well. They adopted a strategy of phases which, by devoting attention to the intermediate stages of their struggle, would enable them to reach their goal by gradual steps. Their real intention was that North Vietnam would conquer South Vietnam, but they spoke of the “two-state solution,” a tactic whose purpose was to disguise their aims and manipulate world public opinion. . . .
In the early 1970s Salah Khalaf—one of the founders of the Black September [terrorist group], led a PLO delegation to Hanoi to learn from the North Vietnamese. There, they met the legendary General Vo Nguyen Giap and political advisers who coached them on how to present their case before the international community, and how to cease to be perceived as terrorists. . . . Khalaf recounted [in his memoir] that the North Vietnamese advised the Palestinians to devote attention to the intermediate stages of their war and to accept the need for “provisional sacrifices.” . ..
We live in a high-technology culture of sound bites and text messages, of quick and simple communication, of one-line messages, and such habits discourage the public from the careful study of past experience. In order to understand what is wrong here, we must remember the history of the slogan “two-state solution,” which was designed from the start to be a swindle. It began as a tool of political warfare, and its purpose never changed.