Northwestern Events Calendar


Paradigm Lost: From Two-State Solution to One-State Reality — A Talk by Ian Lustick

When: Friday, February 28, 2020
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM CT

Where: Community Meeting Room, Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Avenue (Orrington & Church), Evanston, IL 60201

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free & open to the public!

Contact: Danny Postel  

Group: Middle East and North African Studies

Category: Lectures & Meetings, Academic, Global & Civic Engagement


Please join the MENA Program at the Evanston Public Library for this presentation by political scientist Ian Lustick of the University of Pennsylvania about his new book Paradigm Lost: From Two-State Solution to One-State Reality (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019).

About the book

Why have Israelis and Palestinians failed to achieve a two-state solution to the conflict that has cost so much and lasted so long? In Paradigm Lost, Ian Lustick brings 50 years as an analyst of the Arab-Israeli dispute to bear on this question and offers a provocative explanation of why continued attempts to divide the land will have no more success than would negotiations to establish a one-state solution.

Basing his argument on the decisiveness of unanticipated consequences, Lustick shows how the combination of Zionism's partially successful Iron Wall strategy for dealing with Arabs, an Israeli political culture saturated with what the author calls "Holocaustia," and the Israel lobby's dominant influence on American policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict scuttled efforts to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Yet, he demonstrates, it has also unintentionally set the stage for new struggles and "better problems" for both Israel and the Palestinians. Drawing on the history of scientific ideas that once seemed certain but were ultimately discarded, Lustick encourages shifting attention from two-state blueprints that provide no map for realistic action to the democratizing competition that arises when different subgroups, forced to be part of the same polity, redefine their interests and form new alliances to pursue them.

Paradigm Lost argues that negotiations for a two-state solution between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River are doomed and counterproductive. Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs can enjoy the democracy they deserve but only after decades of struggle amid the unintended but powerful consequences of today's one-state reality.

About Ian Lustick

Ian Lustick holds the Bess W. Heyman Chair in the Political Science Department of the University of Pennsylvania. He teaches Middle Eastern politics, comparative politics, and computer modeling. He is a recipient of awards from the Carnegie Corporation, the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Social Sciences Research Council. Before coming to Penn he taught for 15 years at Dartmouth College and worked for one year in the Department of State.

His present research focuses on the implications of the disappearance of the option of a negotiated “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and techniques of counterfactual forecasting. He is a past president of the Politics and History Section of the American Political Science Association and of the Association for Israel Studies, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. His previous books include Arabs in the Jewish State (1980), For the Land and the Lord (1988, 1994), Unsettled States, Disputed Lands (1993), and Trapped in the War on Terror (2006).

Praise for Paradigm Lost

"Ian Lustick has written a richly informed and persuasive account of how the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians has become the seemingly dead-end tragedy it is today. This book provides an especially insightful analysis of why Israeli attitudes toward this issue evolved as they did. It is essential reading for anyone concerned about this conflict and hungry for new ways to think about it." —Paul R. Pillar, former National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia

"This important new book by one of the country's most thoughtful, insightful, and engaged students of Israel and its conflict with the Palestinians is at once both provocative and persuasive. The book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the path that brought Israel to the situation it faces today—and of what is likely to come next. Meticulously researched and convincingly argued, Paradigm Lost is a must-read for all who are interested in, and care about, Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." —Mark Tessler, University of Michigan

"Paradigm Lost is an important addition to our understanding of the failure of the Two States Solution. It unpacks how the Iron Wall mentality came to dominate Israeli politics and hindered any serious attempt to reach peace with the Palestinians.mIt is a must read for every Israeli and American interested in going beyond the present impasse." —Leila Farsakh, University of Massachusetts

Special thanks to the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago for their partnership on this event.

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