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New Hampshire and Iowa, the Two-State Solution

A second Trump term would meet a new world


ith 4.6 million people between them, Iowa and New Hampshire are home to about 1.4% of the US population. Their combined 62 Republican delegates amount to a mere 5% of the more than 1,200 total needed to win the party’s presidential nomination.

Nevertheless, the fact that these are traditionally the first two states to express their preferences in the presidential selection process hands them outsized clout in selecting the eventual winner.

Only Bill Clinton, in 1992, won the presidency after losing both states.

Aside from that one exception, Iowa and New Hampshire have turned into America’s version of the two-state solution, in which candidates get weeded out with the force of a polar vortex.

Ron DeSantis suspended his campaign two days before Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary rather than face a second consecutive drubbing, and he endorsed Donald Trump for the nomination. Trump, already victorious in Iowa, appeared to be widening his lead over Nikki Haley according to the Suffolk University/NBC 10 Boston/Boston Globe tracking poll. Barring a huge polling error, history is not on Nikki Haley’s side; she is facing a Clinton moment, but without the regional constituency that had Clinton’s back.

If 1992 were 2024 — which features a new “winners and losers” column in the media almost every day — Clinton would have been hounded out of the race. He lost in 10 of the first 11 primaries in which he competed. But being a Southern Democrat, and a centrist — now a rare bird in his party — Clinton held a geographic advantage. Once the primaries shifted to the South and the border states in March, Clinton caught fire and won enough delegates to become the front-runner. He also had weak competition. Remember Tom Harkin, Paul Tsongas, or Bob Kerrey? I didn’t either. I had to look it up to refresh my memory.

Haley is a quality candidate who performed admirably in the debates, but the fact that she has consistently trailed Trump by 30% in South Carolina, where she was a popular governor, should always have been a red flag. By the time you read this, we may already know if Haley has followed DeSantis out the door, or is soon to follow him.


Hard Heads and Faint Hearts

While taking his victory lap after the Iowa caucuses, Trump repeated his boast that if he had remained president, under his hard-headed leadership, Ukraine would still be in one piece and Hamas would have never dared to commit the October 7 atrocities. Trump has claimed previously that he could have spared America the twin economic plagues of high inflation and soaring gas prices.

As campaign talking points, they resonate with his supporters. And even if Trump can’t furnish empirical evidence of his infallibility, nobody can disprove his claims.

But it’s both misleading and simplistic to believe that either the sheer force of Trump’s personality or his unpredictability frightens the rogues and the ruthless of the world.

Ukraine’s President Zelensky told a British interviewer over the weekend that Trump’s claims were “dangerous,” especially in the event he were to attempt to impose a solution.

Trump had plenty of conflicts with Iran, Russia, China, and North Korea that remained unresolved and have only festered after three years of a faint-hearted Biden administration.

If Trump becomes president again, he will have to face some new realities.

By January 2025, Iran might have finalized a nuclear breakout. Russia will likely retain control of the 20% of Ukraine it already holds, and Vladimir Putin might have found a new target by then. North Korea just formally renounced interest in a peaceful reunification with South Korea, while China ramps up military drills for a confrontation with Taiwan.

Hamas was not pacifist during the Trump years. In 2018 and 2019, its terrorists fired 2,522 rockets from Gaza into Israel, according to the Meir Amit Terrorism and Information Center.

Trump will also be forced to revamp his Middle East “deal of the century,” which also called for the establishment of a Palestinian state boosted by a multibillion-dollar investment that would only have entrenched the Arab presence in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. Trump’s plan also had a line calling for a “high-speed transportation link that will enable efficient movement between the West Bank and Gaza, crossing over or under the State of Israel’s sovereign territory.”

As horrifying as October 7 was, imagine the plight we would be in today had Hamas built and utilized a high-speed link connecting the “river to the sea.”

Trump’s supreme foreign policy achievement — the widely praised Abraham Accords — carries some long-term risks for Israel if every new country that signs on demands territorial concessions from Israel, along with state-of-the-art American military equipment.


Blinken’s Davos Snow Job

Not that Israel would fare better under a second Biden administration. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s obsession with the Middle East’s version of the two-state solution peaked at last week’s World Economic Forum in wintry, snow-covered Davos.

In a moderated conversation, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, a longstanding cheerleader for a Palestinian state, inspired Blinken to wax eloquent on his vision. Blinken declared that while peace talks had previously failed because “Arab leaders, Palestinian leaders had not done enough to prepare their own people for this profound change,” he added, “The question is now, is Israeli society prepared to engage on these questions?” As if suddenly, after October 7, the onus is on Israel.

The mounting pressure on Israel, which included a Friday phone call from President Biden to Prime Minister Netanyahu, is tone-deaf and insensitive when Israel is still mourning its dead, nursing its wounded, and terrified over the plight of its hostages.

When Friedman “pressed” Blinken for his image of the “revamped” Palestinian Authority, which he eagerly hopes will take over Gaza once Israel’s pesky troops withdraw, Blinken described a government that will provide “what the Palestinian people need and want.”

So, here’s what recent public opinion surveys show the Palestinian people want. The Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that 72% of Gaza and West Bank Arabs believe Hamas’s decision to launch the October 7 attacks was “correct.” Some 64% oppose the two-state solution, while 68% support an armed Palestinian struggle against Israel.

On one of these counts, Israelis agree. The latest Gallup Poll shows that 65% of Israelis now oppose a two-state solution, while a recent Israel Democracy Institute poll showed that 74% of Israelis are certain that a permanent peace between Israel and the Palestinians is unachievable.

Is Tony Blinken alert to this? When he insists that a Palestinian state is the only way to safeguard Israel’s security and future prosperity, it’s like trying to convince Texans that an unlimited flow of illegal migrants across the Rio Grande will render their border with Mexico safer; or trying to persuade a Center City Philadelphia storekeeper that flash mob looting is good for business, because it compels him to upgrade his inventory.

Nobody would buy into that. Just as Blinken wouldn’t recommend this in the US, he shouldn’t be advocating a two-state solution that’s unpopular on both sides, unpalatable, and unworkable.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 996)

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