The prominent Israeli public intellectual says in CNN interview that Israelis have dropped the notion of a two-state solution and largely embraced a multi-tiered class system where Jews are on top
Yuval Noah Harari. Credit: Kristof Van Accom / Belga / AFPHaaretz
Nov 24, 2022
Israelis have given up on a two-state solution for the long-running conflict with the Palestinians and instead have largely embraced the establishment of a multi-tiered class system with Jews on top, Yuval Noah Harari, one of Israel’s most prominent public intellectuals claimed on Wednesday.
Speaking with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Harari – a history professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the author of several international bestsellers, including “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” and “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” – asserted that “a lot of the Israeli public has gradually switched from a belief in the two-state solution to at least an implicit belief in the three-classes solution, that you have just one country between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean with three classes of people living there.”
This includes, he contended, “Jews, who have all the rights; some Arabs, who have some rights; and other Arabs, who have very little or no rights.”
“And this is increasingly the situation on the ground. And this is increasingly also the aspiration or the mindset of even people in government and this is extremely worrying but this is what is happening,” he said.
Addressing the United Nations this September, Prime Minister Yair Lapid said that “a large majority of Israelis support the vision of this two-state solution” so long that “a future Palestinian state will be a peaceful one.”
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However, a recent Israeli Democracy Institute poll showed that only 31 percent of Israeli Jews agreed with the sentiment that the next government should try to advance such an endgame to the conflict.
Harari has been touted as a leading thinker of the 21st century by figures such as Bill Gates, has had his picture taken with presidents, foreign ministers, billionaires and other celebrities and has become a darling of the news media.
He is also a harsh critic of Israel’s rightward shift, refusing to participate in an event at the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles several years ago in protest over the discriminatory surrogacy law and nation-state law.
However, he has also been criticized by some scholars who have called his popular works superficial and accused him of cutting corners and exceeding the limits of his knowledge.
In 2019, a section of the Russian translation of his book “21 Lessons for the 21st Century,” which focused on the “post-truth” era omitted paragraphs relating to the 2014 occupation of the Crimean Peninsula and the initial claims made by Putin and other officials that no Russian soldiers had been sent there, leading to criticism that he was going easy on Moscow.
In response, Harari told the newsru.co.il website that his “objective [was] to bring the fundamental ideas about the dangers of dictatorship, extremism and fanaticism to the broadest possible audience, and that includes people who live in countries that aren’t democratic.”
“A few examples in the book could put off that audience or lead to censorship of the book by the authorities. For this reason, I will occasionally permit changes in a few examples, but not to the general idea.”