Category Archives: Vision of One Democratic State

من أجل فلسطين حرة غير مقسمة

Published in Filastin al-Thawra (probably in 1991)

من أجل فلسطين حرة غير مقسمة

الفكرة التي يدافع عنها الكاتب هي أقرب مما تكون إلى التالي إذا كانت ثمة علل بنيوية وإيديولوجية تحول دون إندماج إسرائيل في محيطها الشرق الأوسطي. فما الذي يمنع طلائع الجالية الناطقة بالعبرية في فلسطين من الإنخراط في الثورة الديمقراطية الفلسطينية. ويقول: هذه الرؤيا تبدو بعيدة الآن لكن الوعي يتطور(يتغير) بسرعة.

بقلم: الياس دفيدسون، فلسطين الثورة ١٩٩١

بالرغم من إنني لم أسكن فلسطين منذ كنت صغيراً ولكنني لا أُخفي عواطفي تجاه هذا البلد المُعذب النازف. ولدت سنه ١٩٤١ في فلسطين لأبوين مهاجرين نفيا من ألمانيا النازية. إنني مدين بوجودي لفلسطين. الأرض التي قدمت المأوى لأبوي, التي كان من الممكن أن أُقتل فيها . ولي من العمر أربع سنوات. حينما هاجمت مجموعه عربية غاضبة الحافلة التي كنا نسافر فيها, ولكن تم إنقاذي على يد فلاح عربي عجوز ولطيف. إنني أُفكر في فلسطين وقلبي ينزف على جروحها.

كانت سنواتي الأولى في ”باقة“ وهي ضاحية من ضواحي القدس, حيث كان اليهود والعرب يعيشون جنباً إلى جنب بسلام وكان لعائلتي علاقات جيدة مع العائلات العربية الفلسطينية في الجوار وأنا فخور في أن أقول أن والدتي تعلمت لغة البلد وبالنسبة لي فإنني لم أمسح من ذاكرتي ومن كياني الصور الأصوات الروائح والأحاسيس التي تغلغلت في هذه السن المبكرة, إني أحمل كل هذا الأحدث لنفسي لأجد فيه مصدر إلهام وطاقة حيوية.

لقد أبعدني مسار حياتي عن فلسطين. ولكن وبرغم المسافه البعيدة. فإن ولعي بمسقط رأسي لم يخفت. وإهتماماتي لم تخف في أن أراه يعيش بخير.

مثل معظم الأطفال ”الإسرائيليين“ خضعت في شبابي لجهاز حزبي صهيوني وقضيت سنوات المراهقة في فرنسا حيث إنضممت إلى حركة الشباب الإشتراكي الصهيوني هي ”هاشومير هاتسعير“ وأعجبتني النشاطات في هذه الحركة وسياستها وتأكيدها على الإشتراكية والإجتماعية. وعلى العدالة وعلى الشجاعة المدنية لكن علمونا مبادئ الصهيونية وكانت مهمة المرشدين المبعوثين خصيصاً من إسرائيل تتمثل في أن يجعلوا منا صهاينة صالحين وشددوا على أننا شعب خاص لأننا يهود ولا مكان آخر لنا تحت الشمس سوى فلسطين (كان المبعوثين يسمونها إسرائيل) وكانت الحجة الرئيسية المقدمة هي أن كل اللذين ليسوا يهوداً …. من الصين إلى البيرو ومن فنلندا إلى الكاميرون , يكرهون اليهود. عن قصد او بدون قصد… وعلى ذلك فإنه كان من الساذج خوض نضال ضد العنصرية أو التمييز العادي لليهود. وكان الدعاة هؤلاء لايرون أن مشاعر العداء لليهود او لليهودية متأصلة في شخصية (غير اليهود) وقد إنتقلت, إنتقلت بمعنى ما,بالوراثة من الأب إلى الولد. وفي سعيهم لرفع هذه الأسطورة القذرة إلى حالة القانون الطبيعي. كانوا يقولون لنا : أن الدولة القومية اليهودية وحدها قد تحفظ الأمن الشخصي ”لليهود“ .

من جانبي فإنني عارضت هذه المحاججة. فأنا لا أستطيع قبول هكذا أحكام مسبقة ضد الإنسانية. وتمثلت فلسفتي الخاصة في أن كل شخص لايمكن أن يصدّق ما لم يثبت العكس فيما أن تجربتي الشخصية. خاصة علاقاتي مع غير اليهود تناقضت تماماً مع هذه الأحكام المسبقة.

في ذلك الوقت لم أكن أعرف المرامي العملية للصهيونية  كما هي حقيقة. لكن هذه الرؤيا كانت تٌستقبل برعب من الصهاينة والقادة الدينيين اليهود. الذين يرون في أن الزواج المختلط كارثة على العرق اليهودي, يمكن مقارنتها بقوة مع ـ الهولوكوست ـ ولأنهم يرون في الإختلاط عملية إستيعاب لليهود وكتهديد لوجود الشعب اليهودي فإنه من المنطقي أن يحاولو مجابهة هذا (التهديد) بكل الوسائل المتاحة بما فيها الإرهاب الفكري والجسدي.

إن لازدراء الزعماء الصهاينة التقليدي للثقافات الشرق أوسطية جذوره في الآراء الإستعمارية ـ العنصرية الأوروبية لغير البيض . إذ أن إنخراط إسرائيل في مختلف النشاطات الأوروبية والإستفزازات المدروسة ضد الدول المجاورة والقمع المتطرف ضد الوطنية الفلسطينية ومايبدو لي أنه مرض مرعب يجعل النظام الصهيوني يأبى الدخول في حوار مع م ت ف . ماهي إلا علامات لتصرف غير عقلاني. إنها إشارة واضحة إلى الدول المجاورة والأمة العربية في أن إسرائيل لا ترغب أن تنخرط كعضو عامل. في حياة الشرق الاوسط  وسبق لفلاديمير جابوتنسكي المعلم الإيديولوجي للزعيمين الإرهابيين شمير وبيغن أن رأى في العشرينيات الحاجة في أن يبني المستوطنون الصهاينة حائطاً حديدياً بينهم وبين الفلسطينين سكان البلد الاصليين.

يتوجب عل كل أولئك الذين يصرّون على الحاجة إلى ضمان دولة إسرائيل المبنية على العقيدة والممارسة الصهيونية ان تصبح دولة مسالمة وملتزمة بالقانون بحيث تستطيع أن تنخرط في حياة الشرق الاوسط؟

من جانبي فإنني أعتبر أن النضال من أجل تحرير الجالية الناطقة بالعبرية في فلسطين (أي الإسرائيلين) بمثابة الحل المتطور للمسألة الفلسطينية الممثلة في م ت ف   هي التي تمسك هذا المفتاح وسبق ل م ت ف أن إتخذت إجراءات حذرة في ضم مناضلين ناطقين بالعبرية (إسرائيلين) في صفوفها إن هكذا إجراءات هي هامة لكنها حالات معزولة جداً لاتصنع حالة سياسية.

وينبغي أن نأخذ في حسابنا أن المجلس الوطني الفلسطيني يعتبر نفسه يمثل أولئك الفلسطينيين الذين يعرفون أنفسهم بأنهم عرباً . هكذا فإن الغالبية الساحقة من اليهود الإسرائيلين (الذين أٌفضل أن أسميهم الفلسطينين الناطقين بالعبرية) لا يرون في أنفسهم شركاء مؤثرين في الحركة الفلسطينية لأنهم لم يكونوا فيها مطلقاً. أو لم يدعوا للمشاركة فيها كأعضاء متساوين وهنا فإنني أتحدث أساساً عن أولئك التقدميين الإسرائيلين الذين قد يرغبون في الإنضمام إلى الصفوف إذا أُعطي لهم خيار مشرف لعمل ذلك.

اليوم تمسك الثورة الفلسطينية مفتاح الحل السياسي للقضية الفلسطينية. بينما تعتري الصهيونية حالة من التآكل (الإهتراء) السياسي . إنه من الواجب أن تستخدم الحركة الوطنية الفلسطينية مصداقيتها وسلطتها لبناء مستقبل يسوده السلام والرخاء لإولئك الذين يحبون بلدهم الاصلي فلسطين…. وذلك بدعوة شعب فلسطين بغض النظر عن الدين مكان الإقامة الحالي أو الإنتماء العرقي للمشاركة في الثورة الديمقراطية الفلسطينية وفي رسم أهدافها ووسائل نضالها ويمكن أن تتمكن الثورة الفلسطينية من إيجاد منهج يسهل خوض نضال مشترك لتفكيك الدولة الصهيونية واستبدالها بدولة فلسطينية ديمقراطية موحدة لكل السكان هذه الرؤية تبدو بعيدة الآن لكن الوعي يتطور بسرعة ومن المحتمل أن يستقبل العديد من الإسرائيلين بارتياح الإطار الإسرائيلي الفلسطيني المشترك للكفاح ضد البنيان الصهيوني.

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The Single-state Solution Is Already Here

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.680882

The Single-state Solution Is Already Here

Now, of all times, out of the fire and despair, we must start talking about the last way out: one Israeli state with equal rights for both Jews and Arabs.
Gideon Levy
Oct 17, 2015 8:28 PM

Here is irrefutable proof that the one-state solution should not even be considered: the bloodshed, hatred and fear currently washing over the country. Advocates of the two-state solution and, especially, those who seek no solution, those Israelis who saw the one-state solution as treason and heresy, are now proclaiming victory. “There, that’s what the binational state will look like,” they are saying. “It will be a bloody, endless civil war.”

The same intimidatory arguments that were used for years against the two-state solution (the “Auschwitz borders”) are now being enlisted against the one-state solution. Now, as then, everything is judged according to the contours of the current, depressing reality, and it doesn’t occur to anyone that another reality is possible.

The nationalists say, “An agreement will never be possible with those bloodthirsty people.” The center-left says, “There’s no way to live together.” The common denominator is racism, and the assumption that the hatred will last forever. To this we must add the arguments over the Jewish state’s sanctity and the end of the Zionist project. In short, one state means the end of the world.

And now to the facts. One state already exists here, and has done so for 48 years. The Green Line faded long ago; the settlements are in Israel, and Israel is also the settlers’ land. The fate of the two million Palestinians who live in the West Bank is decided by the government in Jerusalem and the defense establishment in Tel Aviv, not by Ramallah. Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, is their ruler far more than Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is. They are clearly part of the binational state and have been its subjects, forcibly, for some three generations. This state has three regimes: democracy for the Jews; discrimination for the Israeli Arabs; and apartheid for the Palestinians. But everyone lives in one inseparable state.

The binational state that was born in 1967 is not democratic. In fact, it’s one of the worst states in the world, because of the military dictatorship it upholds in part of its territory – one of the most brutal, totalitarian regimes in existence today. It is also one of the most racist states, since it determines its residents’ rights based solely on their nationality. This is the one state that is washed in blood right now, and will continue to be washed in blood as long as it remains in its malicious, nondemocratic format.

Those who say the current bloodbath is proof that Arabs and Jews can’t live together base this on the current state of injustice. And they’re right. If Israel continues to be a state of iniquity, Jews and Arabs will never be able to live together in peace. But the growing few advocating the one-state solution are not thinking of this state – quite the opposite. They wish to undermine it and establish a different, more just and egalitarian regime. When that is established, the hatred and despair will most likely be forgotten.

One may not want to believe this, of course, but one must not deceive. You cannot deny the possibility of life together with arguments based on the existing conditions. Blood is being spilt because of the injustice, and stems from it. How can you rule out in advance the possibility that in a democratic, egalitarian state, different relations will be formed? There are quite a few historic precedents of hatred and horror that dissipated when the injustice dissipated.

We could go back to the two-state solution, of course. Not a bad idea, perhaps, but one that has been missed. Those who wanted a Jewish state should have implemented it while it was still possible. Those who set it on fire, deliberately or by doing nothing, must now look directly and honestly at the new reality: 600,000 settlers will not be evacuated. Without evacuation, there will not be two states. And without two states, only the one-state solution remains.

Now, of all times, out of the fire and despair, we must start talking about the last way out: equal rights for all. For Jews and Arabs. One state is already here, and has been for a long time. All it needs is to be just and do the right thing. Who’s against it? Why? And, most important, what’s the alternative?

The Taste of Mulberries

The following beautiful texts are taken from the book “Israel, an Apartheid State” by Uri Davis, Zed Books Ltd, 1987.

Prolegomena: The Taste of Mulberries

by Havah ha- Levi

(a) The Female Snake

Someone said something about Tantura…1

Soft hills rolled silently into each other’s embrace [towards the beach] and right on the edge of the hills there was a dense plantation of low palm trees clustered on the beach. A scenery of soft and misty dream. Only the feeling of nausea returns to trouble me.

At a short distance from the cluster of palms there was a group of empty houses.

Some of them were slightly damaged, but generally, the houses were intact and beautiful. Everything [about the houses] was very neglected, empty and filthy. A few ancient shoes exposed their seams along the footpath. There in the deserted village of Tantura the kibbutz set up the summer camp for its children.

The houses were cleaned up. A large long tent was erected to serve as a dining hall. The place was a paradise for children.

I remember the heat of the scorching sun over my tanned skin. The salt taste of the sea water. The swimming competitions. The beautiful and quiet beach. And thirty or forty happy children. Really happy.

And yet I listen to my memories. I try to redraw the lines that chart my memory.

There are things that already had their beginning in another place.

There were these half scornful sentences, such as: if the Arabs come, they will steal you first. You are blonde and the Arabs like blonde girls; if the Arabs come, they will see your golden head in the dark and will steal you first. They will think perhaps that it is a ball of gold; here is an Arab shoe. Such sentences …

Towards the end, two days before the conclusion of the summer camp, they asked who wanted to go on a tour and listen to Motke telling stories about the conquest of Tantura. I went, too.

We went into the cluster of palms, and the leader of the summer camp, a nice jovial kibbutznik who evidently loved children, was already there telling something. I lagged behind as usual. I walked along daydreaming and slightly bored. When I eventually caught up with the group, they were all standing near a large house which had perhaps originally been situated at the edge of the village, and I remember the words: ‘We attacked at both ends. Most of them had already run away. Suddenly a huge Arab came out behind this house and began to run. I shot him, and he jumped in the air like a rabbit, turned a somersault and fell’.

Even today I do not know whether this was a factual description of what had happened. But at our place, they used to say that if you kill a snake, you should throw it away or hide it, because if it is left exposed, all the snakes (the family? the tribe?) will come to the place to look for it and this could be very dangerous. And that if you kill a bee that has stung you, it is likewise necessary to throw it away or hide it, since otherwise all the bees will come there after its smell. And that if you kill a lion, the lioness will always come to search for it.

And then, suddenly, together with the Arab, shot in the air with his white kufiyya and black agal, all the Arabs who had lived there in these houses, who had worn those shoes now discarded on the footpaths, the children who had run about naked on the beach, the fat, erect women who had carried the jars on top of their heads… they all came out suddenly in my imagination to look for him. I recalled the warning not to leave the corpse of the snake in the place where it had been killed because the female snake will come to look for it and I turned to look behind me, terrified. There was nothing there. Only the beautiful houses and the sea. A bit angry and a bit curious, I thought about this bad Arab who had come to attack our soldiers. I thought he had deserved to die like that, yet he did not seem to have been dangerous when he was shot there in the air, like a rabbit. I wanted to know if he was from this village, or from another place.

We returned to the beach and ate a water melon. I wanted to have the ‘heart’ of the water melon, but I never got it because I always arrived late. Everything lost its taste. I told my friend: Mira, I am already fed up with this summer camp. I want to go back home.

She looked at me surprised, beautiful, suntanned: ‘Why?’

(b) The Taste of Mulberries

The name of the villages was Sarkas, which probably refers to the former origin of its inhabitants, Circassians, who came, I would not know how, to the Middle East and settled here.2Anyway, when I came to know the village, all of its inhabitants were Palestinian Arabs. In fact, I never came to know the village properly; I was never there, though this is only half the truth, and I shall return to that later.

In our eyes, the eyes of children four or five years old, the village was represented by two women: Khadija and Hanifa. Maybe they were more courageous than the rest, or maybe they served as something like the ‘Foreign Office’ of the village. They often walked about in the kibbutz, and as far as I can remember they were mainly preoccupied with the picking of khubeiza (mallow) leaves which grew in wild abundance along the roadside. When we asked why they pick the khubeiza, we were told that the Arabs cook the leaves and eat them. And so, the first thing lever knew about Arabs was that they eat khubeiza. I also knew, of course, that they ride on camels, since the camels used to pass through the kibbutz and occasionally camp there; I knew that they ride on donkeys along the white road which probably stretches up to the very end of the world. But at that time there were also in the area British soldiers (the Mandate) and Australian soldiers (World War II), and thus it was imbedded in my consciousness that Eretz Israel3 consists of us, as well as passers by: Arabs, British, Australians …

About that time they all disappeared, and I really did not notice their disappearance all that much. Of course, the departure of the British was accompanied by much talk on the radio and in the yard of the kibbutz. But as to the fact that Khadija and Hanifa ceased to show up – well, there are many events that pass through the universe of any child, and he or she accepts their appearance os well as their disappearance as a matter of fact. Later, I came to know that the village had been destroyed by bulldozers, and I was a little scared. And then I forgot, und many years passed be fore Sarkas again emerged before my eyes as a place where people lived.

The destroyed village was made into the kibbutz garbage dump. I do not know who was the first to discover that in the midst of the ruins and the dust und the stench there remained a mulberry tree. A huge mulberry tree, which, In summer, produced huge mulberries: black and deliciously sweet. The mulberry trees in the kibbutz were grown on much water and their fruit was therefore somewhat watery, and anyway they were much too high to climb. But this mulberry tree was low, spreading wide, and heavily laden with fruit, to the deep delight of a little girl who was rather quiet and clumsy and who loved mulberries. And thus, every Saturday we would go on pilgrimage to the mulberry tree, stand around it for hours and eat of its fruit and return home with hands and faces blackened by the dark dye of mulberry sap. Never, not once, while standing there among the ruins and the dust under the scathing sun did we talk or think of the inhabitants of Sarkas who lived here: where are they? Where did they go? Why?

From the distance of fifteen years of difficult political development, I watch this group of children devouring mulberries in the midst of a destroyed village, and I just cannot comprehend: how? Wherefrom this utter blindness?

For many years I would walk on Saturdays to Sarkas. At times with company. At times alone. Now Sarkas was no longer embodied in Khadija and Hanifa. Now Sarkas was reduced to the stench of the kibbutz garbage dump and the mulberries In summer. On either side of the road to Sarkas there were sabr cacti hedgerows along all roads, but today they have all disappeared, except in books and in Arab villages, where they still remain. In summer the sabr would bring forth their fruit, and raise masses of tiny red and orange flags glued to their rounded green flagpoles in a summer festival. And when the sabr fruit was ripe, the Arab women would appear out of nowhere, fill their big tin containers with the red and orange fruit and walk away. Today I remember these Arab women and I ask myself: where did they come from? Who were they? Were they exiled inhabitants of the of the village? And in the evening, when they eat the fruit that they had gathered or when they sell it at the roadside, do they feel the taste of their lost homes?

But at that time I did not think of them in the least. The Arabs were something whose temporary provisional existence was eternal. They pass along the white mild on a donkey-cart, emerging out of somewhere and going on to somewhere else, Only once, for some reason … There was a big scout night game, a sort of test of courage. I hid behind the sabr hedgerows and waited for my pursuers to pass by. I sat there in the dark for a long time, quietly. I was not afraid. And all of a sudden they were with me. The women of Sarkas. The women who pick khubeiza along the roadside. The women with the long knives who steal wheat from the fields of the kibbutz. The women with the water cans and the bundles of dry wood on their heads. Slowly, slowly, they slipped by on their bare feet, black and silent. Their round outline, like the sabr cacti leaves, merged with the darkness around, silent.

Today there stands on the site a huge plant for the processing of agricultural products. An exemplary cooperative venture. And the hill? The hill of the village of Sarkas, where is it? The entire area was levelled down, and around the huge factory orange groves were planted, and there is not one single cut stone left as testimony. Yet, I remember. I testify.

In 1961, a very young woman from kibbutz Giv’at ha-Sheloshah married an Arab youth who was employed in her kibbutz. The kibbutz refused to allow them to remain there, and they applied to join ‘my’ kibbutz. The debate on whether they are to be admitted or whether they are not to be admitted extended over one and a half years and shook the kibbutz in a way that no other subject ever did, either before or since. The debate cut across families, and brought sons to rebel against their parents, brothers against brothers and husbands against wives. The leadership of the Ha-Shomer ha-Tza’ir kibbutz federation was called to present its position (opposed), and threats of leaving the kibbutz on this matter were voiced in both camps. In the end, the ‘mixed couple’ was not admitted to the kibbutz. Both camps were already tired of endless debates and rows. In a bitter discussion which I (who supported their admission) had with one of the leading opponents he told me: ‘Do you know that Rashid is a son of the village of Sarkas? Do you think he can live here, raise his children here and always see across the street the hill which was his village, and not think anything?’

At that moment, together with the scorching sun and the dust, I felt in my mouth the taste of the mulberries, and I understood what homeland means, and also, for the first time, vaguely and at a distance and a little bit afraid, I understood that this homeland, the homeland of the songs and of school textbooks, is simply just the taste of mulberries, and the smell of dust, and the moist earth in winter, and the colour of the sky, and that it is a homeland not only for me, but also for Rashid Masarwa. At that very moment, in the midst of the heated discussion, the taste of mulberries and the shock, I remembered one fearful memory.

It was towards the end of the 1948 war, after we had won the war and defeated the Arab armies and had a state of our own. We were lying in bed. Eight children in the children’s house. It was night. From the distance we heard the heavy and rumbling noise. It was not very far away, but one could clearly hear that the noise did not come from inside the kibbutz. And the noise went on and on and on. I asked what this protracted and continuous noise was, and one of the children told me that two kibbutz members had gone with bulldozers to Sarkas to destroy the houses of the Arabs. In real fear of Arab revenge I asked: ‘But what will the Arabs do when they come back and see that we have destroyed their homes?’ And he then answered: ‘That is why we destroy their homes, so that they do not come back’.

I then knew that the matter was lost. The home of Rashid was destroyed then so that he would not return. So that he, his mother in the long black robe who walks erect with the bundle of wood magnificently balanced on her head, and all his brothers and sisters who run barefoot on the stones would not return. And also now they will not let him come back.

In December 1972, the entire country was shaken with what was dubbed in the press as the ‘affair of the espionage and sabotage network’. Some thirty Arab youths and six Jewish youths, Israelis, were arrested on charges of forming a ‘sabotage organization’, operated by Syrian intelligence, whose object was ‘to damage the security of the state’. One of the Jewish detainees, a youth aged 26, was a son of my kibbutz. Another detainee from the Arab village of Jatt, was a youth named Mahmud Masarwa. In his defence speech he stated as follows:

The Honourable Court, Your Honourable Judges,

My father was born in the village of Sarkas, near kibbutz .. , in the vicinity of Haderah. My father was the son of a peasant. In 1948, he was removed from his land, expelled by force. Their lands were confiscated. Their homes were destroyed. On the site a factory for the kibbutz was built. My father was compelled to go out and seek work as a labourer in order to feed … [his family]. We went to live in such a tiny house: twelve people in the space of metres times 3 metres. In 1957, I remember this quite well, one year after the Sinai war, my father told me and my brother who sits here [in the court room]: ‘Go out to work in order that you at least help me to finance your studies .. .’ (Quoted from the official Protocol of the court proceedings.)

‘My brother who sits here in the court room!’

His brother who sat there was Rashid Masarwa who, in 1961, applied to be admitted to the kibbutz together with his Jewish wife. It was Rashid Masarwa who told the members of the kibbutz:

I want to live here as a loyal kibbutz member like everyone else, but I want my children to know that their father is an Arab, and I want my children to know the Quran, and I want them to celebrate all the Jewish holidays, but also know what Ramadan is, and that their grandfather and grandmother will come to visit them here in the kibbutz, and that my children will also go to the village to be with their grandfather and grandmother in the holidays.

Now he is sitting here, Rashid Masarwa, and watches his brother being sentenced for wanting to take by the force of arms what he himself had hoped to gain by application and consent, and all the brotherhood among the nations in the world could not be of any avail to them.

In the Ramleh central prison the son of the dispossessing kibbutz und the son of the dispossessed village met again. Only one youth, one Udi Adiv, from that kibbutz. resolved in his mind to cross the road. But the world has no space to accommodate the naive.

And if prisoners in jail do dream – both prisoners, no doubt, see in their dreams the colour of the sky, and perhaps they also savour the taste of mulberries.

1 Tantura is a Palestinian Arab village on the Mediterranean coast, some 13 km north of Caesaria. In 1944 its population was estimated at 1,470 Muslim and 20 Christian inhabitants. It was occupied by the Israeli army in 1948 and subsequently almost completely destroyed. All of its inhabitants were expelled and made refugees. The lands of the Palestinian Arab village of Tantura are now cultivated by the Israeli Jewish kibbutz Nahsholim (established 1948; population 350; area of cultivation 1,500 dunams). [Footnote probably by Uri Davis]

2 After the Russian conquest of Circassia from the Ottomans in 1878, many Circassian clans and families loyal to the Ottoman regime emigrated to various countries throughout the Ottoman empire. The Ottoman Sultan Abd al-Hamid extended his support to the Circassian resettlement and made lands available to them in Palestine, inter alia, where there are two Circassian villages, Kufr Qama in Lower Galilee and Rihaniyya in Upper Galilee. The attempt to settle Circassians in the Northern Sharon, in the northern coastal plain, where they established the village of Sarkas failed, and the original Circassian inhabitants were gradually replaced by native Palestinian Arabs. In 1947 the village population totalled some 400 inhabitants. [Footnote probably by Uri Davis]

3 The Hebrew designation of historical Palestine.

 

Muammar Qaddafi: The One-State Solution

The One-State Solution

New York Times, January 21, 2009
 

THE shocking level of the last wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence, which ended with this weekend’s cease-fire, reminds us why a final resolution to the so-called Middle East crisis is so important. It is vital not just to break this cycle of destruction and injustice, but also to deny the religious extremists in the region who feed on the conflict an excuse to advance their own causes.

But everywhere one looks, among the speeches and the desperate diplomacy, there is no real way forward. A just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians is possible, but it lies in the history of the people of this conflicted land, and not in the tired rhetoric of partition and two-state solutions.

Although it’s hard to realize after the horrors we’ve just witnessed, the state of war between the Jews and Palestinians has not always existed. In fact, many of the divisions between Jews and Palestinians are recent ones. The very name “Palestine” was commonly used to describe the whole area, even by the Jews who lived there, until 1948, when the name “Israel” came into use.

Jews and Muslims are cousins descended from Abraham. Throughout the centuries both faced cruel persecution and often found refuge with one another. Arabs sheltered Jews and protected them after maltreatment at the hands of the Romans and their expulsion from Spain in the Middle Ages.

The history of Israel/Palestine is not remarkable by regional standards — a country inhabited by different peoples, with rule passing among many tribes, nations and ethnic groups; a country that has withstood many wars and waves of peoples from all directions. This is why it gets so complicated when members of either party claims the right to assert that it is their land.

The basis for the modern State of Israel is the persecution of the Jewish people, which is undeniable. The Jews have been held captive, massacred, disadvantaged in every possible fashion by the Egyptians, the Romans, the English, the Russians, the Babylonians, the Canaanites and, most recently, the Germans under Hitler. The Jewish people want and deserve their homeland.

But the Palestinians too have a history of persecution, and they view the coastal towns of Haifa, Acre, Jaffa and others as the land of their forefathers, passed from generation to generation, until only a short time ago.

Thus the Palestinians believe that what is now called Israel forms part of their nation, even were they to secure the West Bank and Gaza. And the Jews believe that the West Bank is Samaria and Judea, part of their homeland, even if a Palestinian state were established there. Now, as Gaza still smolders, calls for a two-state solution or partition persist. But neither will work.

A two-state solution will create an unacceptable security threat to Israel. An armed Arab state, presumably in the West Bank, would give Israel less than 10 miles of strategic depth at its narrowest point. Further, a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip would do little to resolve the problem of refugees. Any situation that keeps the majority of Palestinians in refugee camps and does not offer a solution within the historical borders of Israel/Palestine is not a solution at all.

For the same reasons, the older idea of partition of the West Bank into Jewish and Arab areas, with buffer zones between them, won’t work. The Palestinian-held areas could not accommodate all of the refugees, and buffer zones symbolize exclusion and breed tension. Israelis and Palestinians have also become increasingly intertwined, economically and politically.

In absolute terms, the two movements must remain in perpetual war or a compromise must be reached. The compromise is one state for all, an “Isratine” that would allow the people in each party to feel that they live in all of the disputed land and they are not deprived of any one part of it.

A key prerequisite for peace is the right of return for Palestinian refugees to the homes their families left behind in 1948. It is an injustice that Jews who were not originally inhabitants of Palestine, nor were their ancestors, can move in from abroad while Palestinians who were displaced only a relatively short time ago should not be so permitted.

It is a fact that Palestinians inhabited the land and owned farms and homes there until recently, fleeing in fear of violence at the hands of Jews after 1948 — violence that did not occur, but rumors of which led to a mass exodus. It is important to note that the Jews did not forcibly expel Palestinians. They were never “un-welcomed.” Yet only the full territories of Isratine can accommodate all the refugees and bring about the justice that is key to peace.

Assimilation is already a fact of life in Israel. There are more than one million Muslim Arabs in Israel; they possess Israeli nationality and take part in political life with the Jews, forming political parties. On the other side, there are Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Israeli factories depend on Palestinian labor, and goods and services are exchanged. This successful assimilation can be a model for Isratine.

If the present interdependence and the historical fact of Jewish-Palestinian coexistence guide their leaders, and if they can see beyond the horizon of the recent violence and thirst for revenge toward a long-term solution, then these two peoples will come to realize, I hope sooner rather than later, that living under one roof is the only option for a lasting peace.

Muammar Qaddafi is the leader of Libya.

The Stuttgart Declaration For a One State Solution in Palestine – An Analysis

The Stuttgart Declaration For a One State Solution in Palestine – An Analysis

(26 January 2011)

Lawrence Davidson

Part I – Historical Context

When Yasir Arafat took over the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1969 he changed it from a tool of the Egyptian government to a dynamic united front seeking national liberation for the Palestinian people. What sort of national liberation? Arafat’s initial hope was to transform Palestine/Israel from an exclusive religious-ethnic state designed for Jews to an inclusive democratic secular state with equality for all its citizens. One could hardly imagine a more progressive political goal. However, because of a series of distorting factors such as guilt felt over the Holocaust, Zionist lobby pressure operating within many governments, and the racism still operating against Arabs and Muslims, neither Palestinians nor their healthy political goal of a secular democracy got fair hearings in the West.

That being the case, history unfolded in its now familiar fashion. The West turned a blind eye while Israel grew into an ever more discriminatory society. Its Arab-Israeli minority was ever more segregated, relatively impoverished and despised. So we have the tragic irony that even as the West fought the Cold War in the name of democracy they shut the door to it in Palestine. Israel also grew ever more belligerent and aggressive, driven on by that part of its myth based manifest destiny that envisioned all the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea for the Zionists. Such delusions of power were, unfortunately, encouraged by a steady supply of ever more sophisticated weaponry first from France and then from the United States.

The growing power of Zionist Israel soon made Arafat realize that the Palestinian resistance movement could not achieve a democratic secular state. This being so, the PLO adapted to reality and, in the mid-1970s, switched the goal to what is known as the Two State Solution. This aim had a long pedigree. It had first been put forward by the Peel Commission in 1937 and then, of course, it was the solution envisioned by the UN partition plan of 1947—two states, Israel and Palestine living side by side. By the 1970s the PLO ended up restricting the dream of Palestinian statehood to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It was a hard decision for the Palestinian leadership for it meant relinquishing two-thirds of their ancestral homeland. Yet the power relations appeared to make this compromise inevitable.

But there was an added problem. Even before this decision was taken by the PLO, the Six Day War was fought. Israel overwhelmed opposing Arab forces and captured Gaza and the West Bank. The story that was put out right after the war was that the Israelis would hold the occupied territories as “bargaining chips.” But it was a sham from the start. Almost immediately the colonizing process began (concentrated on the West Bank after 2005) paralleled with continuous delaying tactics and duplicity whenever the Israelis found themselves having to negotiate. There are now over half a million Israeli settlers in the West Bank, all of whom are there in violation of international law. Gaza, on the other hand, has been purposely reduced to an impoverished open prison by an Israeli blockade that is also criminal in nature. All of this has been done with the familiar if infamous open support of the United States. As a consequence, the two state solution also has become an unachievable dream.

It was a foreign set of historical events that would ultimately suggest a way out of the apparent dead end facing the Palestinian struggle. In 2005 apartheid ended in South Africa. What brought down that country’s racist regime was a combined internal/external struggle. Internal resistance, sometimes violent and sometimes non-violent, combined with an international boycott of the country at all levels. This boycott was a prolonged and massive act of civil society that ultimately forced the Western political elites to abandon support for the white regime in Pretoria.

What happened in South Africa took a long time and it defied the power relations that appeared set in stone. The apartheid laws were officially introduced in 1948 and internal resistance began about a year later. The international boycott started to grow in the 1950s. Thus it took nearly sixty years of struggle to change that apartheid state into something resembling—a democratic secular state with equality for all its citizens. This history of resistance and struggle, as long and hard as it was, has now emerged as an inspiration and a model for the evolving character of the Palestinian liberation struggle.

Part II – The Stuttgart Declaration

It is against this historical background that 200 activists came to Stuttgart Germany on November 26 to 28, 2010. The aim of the gathering was to “shift the paradigm” as Israeli historian Ilan Pappe suggested, from a struggle for a two state solution back to a struggle for a single democratic secular state in Palestine/Israel. As the conference declaration explains the two state solution has always suffered from fatal inherent flaws. Thus, “the adherence to a 2-State Solution condemns Palestinians with Israeli citizenship to live as second class citizens in their historic country….Furthermore, the continuance of the Zionist state on the land of the Palestinian refugees denies these refugees the internationally recognized right of return.” On the one hand, the Zionists have decided to forestall the two state solution so as to create Greater Israel. On the other, the Stuttgart activists have decided that a sustainable solution for both Palestinians and Israelis requires a Greater Palestine.

Thus, once more, proponents of Palestinian liberation have adapted their struggle to the reality of the historical moment. And parallels with the struggle against South African apartheid have shown them the way to do so. The result is a growing alliance between a worldwide anti-apartheid movement of civil society and progressive Palestinians and Israelis. The alliance expresses itself through a growing boycott, divestment and sanctions effort against Israel.

Part III – The Final Stage?

If the Israelis find this alliance increasingly frightening they have only themselves to blame. Over the years they have continuously and seriously misjudged their situation. They have been led to do so by hubris and greed. The hubris comes from having too much power for their own good, and in this the West is certainly complicit. The imbalance of power between the Israelis and the Palestinians is presented in stark terms by the Stuttgart Declaration. “Our initiatives must avoid giving the impression that this is a conflict between two equally powerful adversaries. In truth, the Israeli military has absolute superiority over a practically defenseless Palestinian people.” On the ground this imbalance has translated into a disdain for serious compromise on the part of Israel. The recent release of leaked documents by Al-Jazeera reveals that the Palestine National Authority under the control of Mahmud Abbas recently offered Israel almost all of East Jerusalem as part of a peace plan land swap. It was an outrageously generous compromise offer that will probably earn Abbas the hatred of a large number of his countrymen. Nonetheless, the Israelis failed to take up the offer. Why not? Because their leaders believe it is unnecessary to compromise and, in addition, they feel that there is no outside party that can force them to do so. Why make compromises when you can simply take what you want? This is the hubris that has encouraged Israel to pursue territorial expansion that much of the world now interprets, quite correctly, as a public display of colonial greed.

And so it is Israel, acting out its alleged Zionist destiny, that has brought us to a new, and perhaps final stage of the struggle. Israel’s leaders think they are protected by the influence of their allied lobbies in the powerful nations of the West. But these lobbies are already being aggressively challenged both by counter lobbies and by the same sort of mass campaign that isolated and eventually brought down the apartheid system of South Africa. It will of course take time. There will be ups and downs. The Zionist fanatics in the U.S. might very well try to make the entire effort illegal and thus undermine the very constitutional rights of Americas. And there is a good chance that in the last phases of this struggle there will be ever greater violence in Israel. Not only against the Palestinians, but violence of Israeli Jew against Israeli Jew. The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 strongly suggests this possibility. There will be a last stand by the religious fanatics in Israel. They will go down fighting their own government.

In the end, I believe that the 200 people who came together at Stuttgart in November 2010 will be vindicated. Eventually there will be a democratic secular state in Palestine/Israel. At that juncture the spirit of Yasir Arafat can rest in peace and the world can give a sigh of relief. Most Muslims will find this outcome acceptable given what went before it. And, along with the Palestinian refugees, Christians too will start returning to the “Holy Land.” As for the Jews, they can then begin reconstructing their religion, for it will certainly need it after the long dark night during which it was tied to a racist political ideology.

The one-state reality vs. the two-state idea

The one-state reality vs. the two-state idea

|Published May 18, 2012

In the wake of a unity deal between the Likud and Kadima, which resulted in one of Israel’s largest coalitions in history, some claimed that there is a chance to revive the peace process, and ultimately, arrive at a two state solution. Others have said that it’s too late for a plan based on separating Palestinians and Israelis. But this is a false dichotomy.

For Israelis and Palestinians, the single state is a fact of life. The Israeli government controls the airspace, all the borders, the public land, the resources, and even the electromagnetic frequencies between the sea and the Jordan River. The same government has a monopoly over the use of force. The fact that some services that in the past were provided to the majority of the Palestinian population by the army’s civil administration are now given by the Palestinian Authority is all but meaningless. Israel is the sole sovereign both east and west of the Green Line.

Under this single, unified system, different groups of populations enjoy different rights: Israeli Jews have full political representation and all rights; Jews have rights as individuals and as members of certain communities, and they can take active role in shaping their future. More than a million Palestinian citizens have fewer individual and communal rights, but they can still vote. Some 300 thousands Palestinian residents in Jerusalem have even fewer rights than citizens, and they can only vote in municipal elections. Finally, 2.5 million Palestinians non-citizens in the West Bank have extremely limited rights; they are not able to travel freely, they are tried by military tribunals, and they have no political representation within the sovereign system.

Such a system of ethnic separation is nowhere to be found in the West, especially considering that most of the Palestinian population has been under military rule for almost half a century. One can choose any name he or she wants to attach to this situation—”Apartheid,” as Israel’s critics refer to it; or “limited democracy,” as Ambassador Michael Oren recently described the political situation in the West Bank—the reality remains the same: segregation and military control operates along ethnic lines.

The irony is that the “radical” one state solution only involves giving voting rights to the entire population living in Israel, while the “rational” two state solution means breaking the current system into two, not to mention moving many people from their homes. Still, the debate on both ideas misses the point: Israelis don’t feel any urgency in promoting any solution, since maintaining the status quo seems to be the preferred option for both the public and decision makers.

It’s understandable: today Israel enjoys relative calm and economical prosperity. The military advantage Israel has over its neighbors has never been so wide, and the toll of the conflict has never been so low. Keeping things as they are makes sense: the status quo might not be perfect, but it is certainly preferable to all other options. Leaving the West Bank would be costly, dangerous, and could bring the country to a near civil-war moment; giving voting rights to the Palestinians would transform the political system and ultimately the state itself.

Israelis politicians understand this almost instinctively. If elections were held on September as planned, there wouldn’t have been a single party running on a peace platform. Even several of the more dovish parties are explicitly declaring their intention to avoid the Palestinian issue at all cost. The desire to maintain the status quo is what lays the heart of Netanyahu’s new government: While their rhetoric might differ, all parties in the coalition, from the National Religious to Kadima, share an understanding that nothing more than minor adjustments is necessary on the Palestinian issue.

“The problem” is not Netanyahu or Lieberman (nor is it the so-called “Arab Rejectionism”); but rather the way Israeli Jews understand their immediate political interests. They would protest—in masses—the deteriorating government services, but not the collapse of the peace process or the ongoing violations of Palestinians’ human rights. Israelis say in polls that they prefer the two state solution over the single, democratic, state, but when presented an opportunity to keep the status quo, the latter often becomes their favorite option.

There is little point in arguing over the desired change when most of the political capital is invested in preventing any kind of change. The current political battle is not between the supporters of one solution to another’s but rather between those who defend the status quo—the way most of the organized Jewish community, as well as the current administration’s policy do—to those who actively work to transform it.

Instead of debating far-away solutions, political energy should be devoted in constant opposition to the military occupation of the West Bank and the isolation of Gaza, and to all forms of segregation and oppression that come with them. In other words, it should be directly aimed at the status quo and all those benefiting from it.

Since this system not only favors Jews but is perceived by them as the best of the immediate alternatives, changing it means working against the current desires of most Israelis. There is no way around this problem—ending the occupation requires intense pressure on Israel, one that would make the current state of affairs less appealing. All those opposing any form of pressure—whether they are supporters of the settlements or advocates of the peace process—are contributing their part to a regime of oppression and segregation, whose end is nowhere within sight.

The Israel-Palestine Conflict: One State for Two People

The Israel-Palestine Conflict: One State for Two People
Ahmed Moor (MUFTAH)

May 25, 2012

In recent years, the one-state solution has claimed a large proportion of the Palestine/Israel bandwidth. For many people, interest in the issue arose out of necessity. The two-state solution lay still-born or smoldering – and apartheid was as untenable as ever. Others – like me – have never believed in a partition plan for Palestine. Liberalism and equal rights hold their own special appeal. That’s something no amount of moralistic or historical gymnastics can obviate.

It was with a focus on the future that several of us at Harvard began to work toward a one-state conference. The main idea, however, was grounded in the present. Our goal – which built on the work done by many before us – was to begin exploring what a shared state could look like. We also wanted to encourage others to begin thinking seriously about alternatives to the two-state model. I alluded to the reason for that above: the two-state solution is over. Completely. Unequivocally.

It’s worth briefly reviewing why.

More than six-hundred thousand Jewish-Israelis live in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Their Jewish-only colonies are large – some of them are small cities. Moreover, with only forty percent of the West Bank – or less than eight percent of historic Palestine – available to Palestinians, even the prospect of a Palestinian statelet is consigned to an imaginary space. A visit to the region or a glance at a map ought to be enough to convince most people that reality has moved on. The two state outcome was never a good idea and it’s finally been buried.

The conference at Harvard was only the latest in a series of recent undertakings by Palestinians and non-Zionists designed to explore the one-state idea. Some Israelis and their allies may believe that apartheid and siege are viable alternatives to justice for the Palestinians – but that is something Palestinians refuse to accept, especially since the one-state solution stands as a reasonable alternative.

There are, however, serious and enduring questions about how to achieve democracy in Palestine/Israel. Is there a peaceful path to one-state? How do we repatriate refugees and ensure the provision of justice? And once we’re there, can the state protect the rights of everyone who lives in the country?

One of the most encouraging developments in the Palestinian struggle for human rights has been the renewed focus on unarmed and non-violent strategies. Israeli apartheid has thrived on the carefully crafted illusion of an annihilationist Palestinian, willing himself into poverty and destitution in the pursuit of a total genocide. The hasbara – or propaganda – relied on the black deeds of a few to sell a lie to Western publics. The campaign was managed with considerable success for some time. But not any longer.

Today, Palestinians are united in their rejection of attacks on civilians. While there are still groups who seek armed confrontation with Israel, the overwhelming majority have lent their support to popular resistance. They have seen the power of their moral claims begin to succeed where their arms failed. Fifteen-hundred Palestinian hunger strikers shattered the impassivity of Israeli camp guards in ways Qassam rockets never could.

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is similarly powerful. Initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005, it has succeeded in winning the unanimous support of the Palestinians. The effectiveness of the BDS movement is often disparaged by Zionists, but the reality is that the non-violent drive to highlight the case for equal rights has threatened to undermine Zionism in ways previously unforeseen.

I suspect that the path to one-state may be cleared in part by BDS and other popular forms of resistance. Equal rights can only be yielded by coordinated direct action in Palestine and around the world. However, the work is ongoing and its true trajectory is impossible to foresee.

As in South Africa – the hardest work will likely begin after the end of apartheid. Many of us are currently involved in thinking about what a shared state may look like in anticipation of what may lay ahead.

A federal model for the one-state may be the simplest way to ensure both individual and collective rights. A shared state structured along these lines could encompass four territories – two majority Palestinian and two majority Jewish Israeli with independent governance for Jerusalem. Moreover, Israel capably absorbed one million Russians in the 1990s. That experience provides a framework for thinking about how to absorb Palestinian refugees who may want to return.

The ideas presented here may seem unrelated to what’s happening in present-day Palestine. A discussion about one state can appear immaterial in the context of apartheid. But in many ways the occupation is just a symptom. For a truly free and just society to emerge a principled focus on the core issue – Zionism as a justification for a lack of equal rights – will produce the most enduring results. The occupation, apartheid, siege cannot be undermined unless Zionism is overcome. So a focus on equal rights must be the vital core of the pursuit of freedom for the Palestinians. Nothing else will do.

anthology. Twitter: @ahmedmoor

The Zionist last straw: A mini-Palestinian state

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/two-state-salvation.premium-1.490386

Opinion

Two-state salvation.
Belatedly, Western governments have shed their inhibitions and are speaking out forcefully to Israel to commit to the two-state solution – rather than toward the Jewish state’s extinction.


By David Landau | Dec.27, 2012 | 3:23 PM


The worm may be turning.


Not, yet, among the right in Israel. But among Israel’s friends, Jewish and Gentile, left and right, abroad. The looming prospect of the slide toward a one-state solution and what that means for the Zionist dream is finally getting through to them.


The fact that it isn’t getting through, yet, to the hardliners at home may actually be catalyzing the turning of the worm abroad. More and more people who care about Israel are realizing that, left to its own elected (and likely to be reelected) leaders, the democratic Jewish state is headed for extinction.
For the politicians who run Western governments and parliaments, their concern for Israel’s survival dovetails with their own national interests – for Israel’s sovereign survival. And they have begun to speak out with a bluntness and urgency that are unprecedented.


That was the significance of the UN General Assembly vote last month on Palestinian nonmember statehood when almost all of Israel’s friends refused to oppose a resolution that effectively embraced the two-state solution and America refused to pressure them.


That is the significance, too, of the reported resolve of leading EU governments to push for tangible progress toward Palestinian statehood during 2013.


Something seems to have snapped in the bonds of inhibition that previously tied Western statesmen to the Netanyahu government’s prevarications. Perhaps it is Obama’s election to a second term. Perhaps it is Sheldon Adelson’s $100+ million failure to thwart his reelection. Or perhaps, plain and simple, it is the fact that time truly is running out on the two-state solution.


The new tone goes much wider and deeper than government declarations. The British elder statesman Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a proud Jew, pointedly told delegates at a conference in London last week that he has never been able to get Benjamin Netanyahu to answer one straightforward question: “What is your strategy? I understand your short-term tactics, but what is your long-term strategy?”


That meant, said Sir Malcolm, that Netanyahu doesn’t have one or, worse, that he doesn’t want to share it because it does not provide for a viable, contiguous Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel.
This inference, stated with pained candor by a foreign friend, is confirmed, indeed, by top Likud (Gideon Sa’ar) and allied (Naftali Bennett) politicians in the current election campaign. Their outright rejection of the two-state solution resonates around the world, cutting through the curtains of obfuscation that Netanyahu wove with his Bar-Ilan speech.


When leaders like Sarkozy or Merkel are heard or thought to be fed up with Netanyahu’s lying, that is the Big Lie which has exhausted their patience. Now, perhaps by fortunate coincidence, events may be conspiring to turn that impatience into persuasive pushing back.


Their message, moreover – and this is the turning point and the seed of hope – is meeting among Israel’s friends not with defiance and dismissal, but with a new, honest attentiveness. Suddenly, a whole decade after Tony Judt first advanced the single-state scenario, it is seriously frightening people who care deeply about Israel.


The South African analogy is finally striking home. Not to racist apartheid; that was never a valid comparison. But to the danger of the sudden and speedy implosion
, under the weight of a global boycott, of a powerful and prosperous regime that tried to consign the other nation on the land to Bantustans.

The notion of a Jewish-democratic state is an oxymoron and the two-state solution will never work

http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/jerusalem-born-thinker-meron-benvenisti-has-a-message-for-israelis-stop-whining.premium-1.469447
Jerusalem-born thinker Meron Benvenisti has a message for Israelis: Stop whining
The notion of a Jewish-democratic state is an oxymoron and the two-state solution will never work. ‘This country is a shared land, a single homeland,’ he says.
By Ari Shavit | 17:03 11.10.12 |  1

Meron Benvenisti was my first editor. At the beginning of the 1980s, Ariel Sharon established more than 100 settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. At the beginning of the 1980s, Meron Benvenisti founded a Jerusalem-based information center to monitor the settlements Sharon established. At the beginning of the 1980s, I was a very young, very enthusiastic young volunteer in Peace Now, which thought ‏(rightly‏) that the settlements Sharon was establishing and that Benvenisti was monitoring were going to lead Israel to perdition. Thus I found myself working for the tempestuous Meron.

In a small apartment on the edge of Jerusalem’s Rehavia neighborhood, he would roar in a booming voice while I documented every new settlement in the territories, every new road in the territories, every industrial zone. He would shout and rant while I noted a land expropriation and another land expropriation and yet another land expropriation. The country’s leading journalists came and went. And the leading American journalists came and went and foreign embassies requested information, whose compilation was funded ‏(barely‏) by foreign foundations. But after the melee subsided, I cast my gaze on the man who caused a media storm by claiming that the occupation was irreversible. An overgrown boy, I said to myself. An overgrown − and delightful − boy.

He was born in 1934 in Jerusalem, went to a kibbutz ‏(Rosh Hanikra‏) for self-fulfillment and left the kibbutz. He studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem ‏(history of the Crusades‏), and left the Hebrew University. He joined Teddy Kollek ‏(Tourism Ministry, Jerusalem Municipality‏), and left Teddy Kollek. After he ceased to be deputy mayor of the city and after failing to enter the Knesset, he went to Harvard and earned a Ph.D. in conflict management and founded the West Bank Data Base Project in Jerusalem, to document the establishment of the settlements. Betwixt and between, Benvenisti wrote books about the Crusaders, about Jerusalem, about the conflict and about cemeteries. For 18 years he wrote a column in this newspaper. He now divides his time between Caesarea and the city in which he was born, where he will be buried and for which he grieves.

I plead guilty to having a weakness for Meron. I love his volcanic temperament and I love his authenticity and his unbearability. I love his sabra quality and his earthiness, and I love the intensity of his tragic romanticism. Benvenisti is not only an out-of-the-box person; he is an out-of-the-system, out-of-the-mold, out-of-every-convention person. Being irresponsible, immature and unrestrained, he does not feel a commitment to any solution or any stream of thought. Being all chutzpah and provocation and quarrelsomeness, he does not belong to any group. But it’s precisely that lone-wolf intellectual wildness that makes him so fascinating. Serious and not serious, logical and illogical, Meron Benvenisti contains within him all the contradictions and all the vicissitudes and all the irreconcilables of the land with which he is engaged in a relentless wrestling match.

It has been 10 years since we last met. The man who opens the door for me is older and less healthy than the man I knew. After two major heart operations, he is thinner, softer and a bit more conciliatory. When I enter, he does not tell me what he thinks about my articles and my path and my worldview. Instead, he gives me a gift: a short letter written in a refined hand that my mother’s aunt wrote to his father in the village of Zichron Yaakov 92 years ago. Surprisingly, this delicate letter is what opens the subversive autobiography ‏(“The Dream of the White Sabra,” 2012, Hebrew‏) of the subversive Zionist I have come to listen to. Because, when all is said and done, what’s important for this subversive Zionist to say is that he is from here. From within. From this land. From the guts of the story against which he rails.

***

What is it you are saying, Meron? That we are South Africa? That we are white settlers like the Boers and are suppressing the natives like the Boers and that we are doomed to collapse like the Boers?

The comparison to South Africa is wrongheaded, simplistic and dangerous. There was something there which does not exist here: biological racism. The whites there were only 17 percent, and the blacks 83 percent. But on the other hand, the whites and the blacks shared the same religion and lived with one another and the blacks were not expelled. So, I do not accept the allegation that Israel is an apartheid state. Even what is happening in the territories is not exactly apartheid. But what is taking shape here is no less grave. This is a master-nation democracy; in German, a “Herrenvolk democracy.” We are a country that behaves like a full-blooded democracy, but we have a group of serfs − the Arabs − to whom we do not apply democracy. The result is a situation of extreme inequality.

There is a society here of settlers who dispossess others by seizing their place and pushing them out and creating a unilateral power system of migrant rule. That system cannot survive. Ultimately, the good Israelis will not be able to sustain the tension between their liberal values and the brutality of the reality amid which they live. They will leave. They are already starting to leave. Therefore, what’s needed is a transition to a different paradigm. The Jewish nation-state is doomed. It will implode. In the end, the only way to live here will be to create an equality of respect between us and the Palestinians. To recognize the fact that there are two national communities here which love this land and whose obligation is to channel the unavoidable conflict between them into a process of dialogue for life together.

Just a minute. You are saying more than I can take in. I have no argument with you about the settlements and the settlers. But that is exactly why the solution of two states for two nations was devised. That is exactly the reason that the majority of Israelis are ready for a partition solution. It will take time, it will be hard, but in the end we will have a Jewish-democratic nation-state here and they will have a Palestinian nation-state there. That is the way, it is the only way.

It is time for you and your friends in Tel Aviv to understand: it is impossible to divide this land. Impossible. You cannot tell the Arabs to forget about Jaffa and Acre. They will not forget. And you cannot get any Palestinian to sign off on “the end of the conflict.” They will not sign. And the Green Line, which was the great alibi of the left, no longer exists. The Green Line is dead. The separation fence: that is truly apartheid. Separation is apartheid. Tel Avivans don’t want to understand this, but the Land of Israel is whole. It is a single geopolitical unit. It follows that the partition of the land is impossible. It is as impossible geographically and physically as it is psychologically. What’s impossible is the solution you are proposing. Even in Spain and Canada and Belgium, the binational structures are breaking up and falling apart. So, do you expect that in the Middle East, of all places, the Jewish fanatics and the Palestinian fanatics will be able to live under one roof?

You’re dreaming, Meron. You are more divorced from reality than any Tel Aviv leftie.

First of all, I am not proposing solutions. That is not my job. I am saying that the dominant paradigm is a lie, and I am fighting it. I am proposing an alternative paradigm of equality with honor. I am bringing a different terminology and a different way of looking at reality; because the “villa in the jungle” approach won’t work. If you bring about a coerced and unjust division, you will end up with a Palestinian state that is crippled, hurting and angry, which will turn violent. The right wing is correct about that. You saw what happened in Gaza. The disengagement solved nothing and brought Hamas to power. And in the future, you are liable to get something worse than Hamas in the West Bank. That is why division is not a solution to the problem − it is an exacerbation of the problem. It’s true that the Middle East is not a comfortable place. But you came to live in the Middle East. So, what will you say now: “Sorry, it was a mistake, so pack your bags and leave”?

I am not about to pack my bags and leave. I do not have a foreign passport and I will not have one. I am a native son. I am native-born. I am from here. That is why I know that two national communities emerged in this land, both of which are an integral part of it. There are two national communities here that live together in the same place, one within the other. In this situation, partition is not an option. There was a time when it was possible, but no longer. This country is a shared land, a single homeland.

Fine, I get it. Now let’s go back. To the bedrock. Was Zionism born in sin?

Zionism was not born in sin, but in illusion. The illusion was that we are coming to a land in which there are no Arabs. And when we figured it out, we pulverized the country’s Arabs into five different groups: the Arabs of Israel, the Arabs of Gaza, the Arabs of the West Bank, the Arabs of Jerusalem and the refugee Arabs. We succeeded in creating a divide-and-rule system that made it possible for us to rule them and to preserve hegemonic power between the Mediterranean and the Jordan.

I do not want to say that Zionism is racist, but a constellation of traits developed here that is generally identified with racism, albeit without the biological element. We are imbued with a combination of hatred for the goy, which we inherited from our forebears, and hatred for the other whom we encountered here. The result is what we see today. Among a large segment of the public, there is an element of racism vis-a-vis the Arabs, but I would not categorize us all as racists. I would say that what characterizes us collectively is ethnic hatred, ethnic recoil, ethnic contempt and ethnic patronizing. Instead of progress, Zionism brought reaction. It became a movement of dispossession based on nonuniversal, non-egalitarian values.

When did this deviation by Zionism occur − in 1967 or in 1948?

In June 1948. How so? Because that was when state institutions were created here that were supposed to operate according to universal values. That was the moment at which the Zionist revolution was supposed to stop behaving by means of revolutionary force and bring into being a normal Western state. But [David] Ben-Gurion, who until that moment was the head of an ethnic group, did not internalize the fact that he was no longer the head of an ethnic group. He transformed the nascent state into the continuer of the ethnic struggle. Thus, the Arabs who remained within the boundaries of the state were immediately subjected to ethnic discrimination. Discrimination was institutionalized by means of the Military Government, land expropriations, budgetary inequality and the continued existence of organizations such as the Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Agency, which served only Jews.

But in 1967, that distorted situation, which was implicit in the state, underwent a quantum leap. Now it was no longer the Judaization of Galilee but the implementation of a wild policy of dispossession across the Green Line. Seizure of land, settlements, bypass roads: the creation of a declared situation of one law for Jews and another law for Palestinians. Oslo was a purported attempt to stop the rampant situation. There was mutual recognition between the nations, which is important. But in practice, it turned out that it was not Yossi Beilin who shaped the process but those who saw in Oslo an opportunity to continue the occupation indirectly and conveniently. Thus, a neocolonialist situation was created in the territories. We enjoy maintaining a captive market there which enriches us all.

At present we are talking about 350,000 settlers; or, if you also take Jerusalem into account, 550,000 settlers. So, everyone now understands what I said 30 years ago: it is irreversible. Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni can say whatever they like − it is irreversible. There is no way out of this mess.

Zionism, which did not undergo a metamorphosis in 1948 and did not desist in 1967, became a kind of revolution-in-progress and thereby became like the other revolutions-in-progress of the 20th century. It forged a situation that a liberal democrat cannot live with and cannot accept. This is a situation that cannot endure indefinitely.

I will tell you where you differ from the Zionist left. For most of us, the key concept is the “State of Israel.” As we see it, the Zionist enterprise was intended to bring into being a place where the Jewish people would constitute the majority and enjoy sovereignty. If there is no majority, there is no sovereignty and no democratic-Jewish state; there is no point to all this. It’s more convenient to live as a minority in Manhattan. But for you the basic concept is the “Land of Israel.” In that sense, you resemble the right wing and the Palestinians. You have a soil fetish. You come from the soil and you live the soil and you speak in the name of the soil.

It’s true that I live the story of the soil. I live the whole land and I am mindful of all the people who live here. That is how I know that the land cannot tolerate partition. And I know the land is hurting. The land is angry. After all, what two great monuments have we built here in the past decade? One is the separation fence and the other is [architect Moshe] Safdie’s terminal at Ben-Gurion Airport. The two monuments have something in common: they are intended to allow us to live here as though we are not here. They were built so that we would not see the land and not see the Palestinians, and live as though we are connected to the tail end of Italy. But I see all the fruit groves that were demolished in order to build the fence. I hear the hills that were sliced in two in order to build the fence. The heart weeps. The heart weeps in the name of the soil. For me, the soil is a living being. And I see how this conflict has tortured the soil, the homeland. I grieve for the torments of the homeland.

For years, we built against the Arabs. We dried the Hula Valley and we wrecked Jerusalem and we tore apart Judea and Samaria. But afterward, the Arabs started to build against us. They are no better than we are. We raped the soil and they raped the soil, and now the soil is violated. But I know that in the end it will be the soil that laughs at us: because we cannot exist without it and it cannot exist without us.

In the past, there were so many nations that thought they had succeeded in wresting control of the land. None of those nations was willing to share the land; they wanted the land for themselves and tried to seize it the way you seize a mare. But that noble untamed stallion shook them all off. The point is that if you want to live here, you cannot live alone and you cannot live without listening to the soil. You need to know that the soil breathes and the soil remembers. If you do not understand that, you are not truly a native son. Not truly a native. Your place is not here.

Now we have reached the heart of the matter: nativism. You have a nativist obsession, Meron. And I must tell you that there is something dangerous about your worship of the soil and your admiration for the natives, something undemocratic and illiberal and unenlightened. Why this contempt for migrants? What is the justification for rejecting those who seek a haven here? I discern in you a hidden preference for the Palestinian story over the Israeli story because you are enthralled by the fact that the Palestinians are natives here.

I am drawn to the Arabs. I love their culture, their language, their approach to the land. Our love of the land is an acquired love. Look at the heritage project of [Education Minister] Gideon Sa’ar and [cabinet secretary] Zvika Hauser: it is kitsch. First we defined some sort of theoretical Land of Israel and then we fell in love with the concept, and then we destroyed everything that did not fit the concept. We destroyed the Palestinian landscape, dug to find the remnants of Herod and King David in order to justify our existence, and we came up with a landscape of asphalt and malls that even we do not like. “Man is a tree in the field” − that is not us. Our love of the land is a love that we imposed on the land and foisted on the land. With the Arabs, it is the opposite. Their love for the land truly sprang from the soil. Love of the fig, of the tree, of the house.

It’s true that we have managed to mess them up, too. They are doing terrible things in Ramallah. But I love their love of the homeland. I love what [Palestinian national poet] Mahmoud Darwish writes about it and what [Israeli writer] S. Yizhar writes about it. I see a great closeness between Darwish and Yizhar. And I believe in a future in which the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Darwish and Yizhar live together. Because, as Yizhar wrote: Deep down, the soil does not forget. Only those who are capable of listening to the unforgetting silence of this tormented soil, from which everyone begins and to which everyone returns, Jews and Arabs, has the right to call it homeland. I believe in that with all my heart. In my perception, anyone who does not believe it is not a Zionist.

After everything you have said here, about the masters and the dispossessors and the suppressors, do you still consider yourself a Zionist? Is there such a thing as a Zionist who is against the Jewish nation-state? Is there such a thing as a Zionist who is in favor of a binational state?

Look, despite everything, Zionism is a success. It created a Jewish national community here that is alive and kicking. It forged a Jewish-Israeli nation that was not here. That’s why everyone wants to be a Zionist − to be part of the success. And I will not give all kinds of Revisionists and Likudniks the pleasure of saying that they are Zionists and I am not. In my view, the Revisionists and the Likudniks are good only in verbiage. They’re all talk. Look at this prime minister: All he knows how to do is spout verbiage. To go to the United Nations and speak excellent English and show some ridiculous drawing. In this matter he is totally his father’s son. With them it’s all verbiage. With them there is no coping with real life. And it disturbs me deeply that these Likudniks were able to transform the tremendous project of the working Land of Israel into something flawed. Because, despite all my criticism, I am very proud of my kibbutz past. I am very proud of the United Kibbutz Movement and of socialism, and of everything we succeeded in doing. I am thrilled to hear the “Internationale” and to sing the “Internationale.” What were the Revisionists, after all? A few thousand breakaways who purport to claim that they expelled the British. The only thing they were good at is talk. Only talk.

And it’s the same with the Mizrahim [Jews of Middle Eastern or North African descent]. I do not accept all this Mizrahi whining. Because, what would the Mizrahim have done if we had not been here to take them in? What would they be worth? What would have happened to them if we had not created the Israeliness to which they connected and turned into some sort of cartoon? If it had not been for us, the Mizrahim would have remained a potpourri of migrant cultures. True, we made plenty of mistakes. But we made a heroic decision to take them all in. And by that decision we effectively committed suicide. Our Hebrew-Israeli culture dissolved under the flood of immigration. That is why we now have Likud governments and constantly hear Mizrahi whining. But I do not accept either the one or the other. I am proud of being a white sabra. And I will not allow anyone to expel me from the Zionist camp. I am one of the founders of this place. I am from the Zionist Mayflower. I will not allow anyone to treat me as a non-Zionist.

So, on the one hand you are a Zionist, but on the other hand you want full justice and full equality for the Palestinians. How does that work in the real world? Do you evacuate settlements or not? Do you take in refugees or not? Do you accept the right of return or reject it?

The settlements are of no interest to me. Lawbreakers should be expelled. The rule that should be applied in Judea and Samaria is full equality between the Jewish settlers and the Palestinians. After 45 years it is no longer possible to hide behind the term “military occupation.” There is no such thing as military occupation that is not temporary. But in the same degree that the settlers live there, the Arabs have to return to their villages here. There are 140 Palestinian villages inside the State of Israel on which no communities were built but were turned into nature reserves and national parks. Some of them, at least, can be rebuilt. The people of Ikrit and [Kafr] Bir’im [in Upper Galilee] have to be allowed to return to their lands. There is no justification for Kibbutz Baram to occupy so much pastureland. The Palestinians have to be allowed to pray in the abandoned mosques. And every time people make billions from lands that belonged to Arabs, a certain percentage should go for the refugees. The Palestinians should be given a share of the profits that are raked in when all those huge malls are built on lands of kibbutzim and moshavim [cooperative villages]. And certainly the quarter of a million “present absentees” who live in Israel should be given their rights: to build a home, be hooked up to the power grid, not to have to live in “unrecognized villages.”

Don’t be so frightened of the Palestinian villages and mosques that I am talking about. There is no cause for the demographic fear. Most of the refugees don’t even want to return. We need to break down the highly charged question of the right of return into a series of acts of conciliation that address the trauma and move toward some sort of more equitable arrangement. I do not believe that it will be possible to live in one state according to the principle of one person-one vote. If so, the side that gets a majority will exploit its majority to seize the power centers and suppress the other side. We need to find a structure that will not be either a Jewish nation-state or a Palestinian nation-state, but a shared framework in which the two nations will go on squabbling − but on a foundation of equality. A foundation that consists of my acknowledgment of their story and their acknowledgment of my story, with an attempt to find some sort of reasonable balance between the two.

When did all this happen to you? After all, your father was one of the first of the Zionist educators who taught local geography [in Hebrew: “knowledge of the land”] and preached love of the land. You were a student leader of Mapai, the ruling party at the time and the forerunner of today’s Labor Party. The deputy of Teddy Kollek and one of the unifiers of Jerusalem. When did you suddenly cut yourself off from the umbilical cord of the Zionist establishment and become an anomalous figure who promotes weird ideas that infuriate both the right and the left?

The subtitle of my book is “An autobiography of disillusionment.” And that is exactly what it is. I went through an interesting process. My father wanted me to be one of the cornerstones of this country. He wanted the small soles of the feet of his son to touch this soil and no other. He tried to forge in me − and in many thousands of others whom he taught − a feeling of absolute belonging to the Land of Israel. And he succeeded. That is why I went to Kibbutz Rosh Hanikra in the 1950s and experienced the transcendent feeling of working in the banana groves − without noticing that in order to plant the banana trees, I was uprooting olive trees, thousands of years old, of a Palestinian village. That is why in the 1960s I bribed Arabs to remove hundreds of graves from the Muslim cemetery on the Tel Aviv shore so that it would be possible to clear the land on which the Hilton now stands. After the Six-Day War, I was with Teddy [Kollek] and “Chich” [Maj. Gen. Shlomo Lahat, afterward mayor of Tel Aviv] when we decided together to remove the 106 families of the Mughrabi neighborhood to create the large plaza of the Western Wall. I remember to this day the bulldozers and the clouds of dust that rose into the air and the old woman who was buried under one of the houses.

In all those cases and during that whole period I was a go-getter. I did not understand the meaning of what I was doing. But when I started to deal with the Arabs of East Jerusalem, I began to understand. I saw that the problem is not only the individual rights of the Palestinians but also their collective rights. And when I monitored what Arik Sharon was doing when he established 120 settlements in the West Bank, I suddenly realized that it’s irreversible. Finished. The Green Line is finished and the hope of a Jewish state here is finished. After all, the notion of a “Jewish-democratic state” is an oxymoron, and the two-state solution is no solution. And the terms the left uses − “peace,” “occupation,” “Green Line” − are lying, stock phrases. Their only purpose is to give Israeli liberals the good feeling that they are not responsible for the injustice and the dispossession and the terrible deeds their country is doing. I decided that I was no longer going to take part in that fraud. I would not take part in the left’s conceptual [population] transfer. I am not David Grossman of “The Yellow Wind,” who went to describe the occupation in the West Bank like some Captain Cook describing the life of the natives in some remote country. I am not Ze’ev Sternhell, who is constantly waiting for the arrival of some deus ex machina by the name of Barack Obama to force on Israel a peace that will not happen.

The fact is that, in the end, because my father so much wanted me to be a native, I am truly a native. And as a native, I see all the natives who live here − both the Israeli natives and the Palestinian natives. I am not afraid of them and do not flinch from them and do not patronize them. I believe that there is a possibility that they will find some imperfect way to live in the one common homeland.

Strangely, you are less pessimistic than many of the left-wing veterans. You, of all people, are not saying that the country is finished and all is lost. Do you feel that your generation succeeded or failed?

My generation both succeeded and failed. Mostly failed. Look, I belong to the population group that was here in 1948 − people who were 6 years old or more before the state’s establishment, and who were therefore shaped by prestate Zionism. Now I am an extinct species. But when you look back, you see that we played a tremendous part in forging this society and this national community. At the same time, you see that we lost all the wars we fought. We lost the war of creating a new person and creating a new culture and creating a new society. All in all, it came out pretty crappy for us. Everything was debased. And we, because of our bourgeois way of life, let the other forces take over in Israel and vanquish us. And the reason they vanquished us is that they were more steadfast in their goal and we were more pampered.

Living in Jerusalem today, I live in a bubble. Jerusalem outside my bubble is a city that has disintegrated completely. It is on its last legs. It does not exist. And it is too painful for me to see that. When I travel around the country today, I don’t understand exactly what is happening. Everything is different. Not what we wanted it to be; not something I can understand.

But all of that pales in the face of our huge achievement in establishing a Jewish-Israeli national community here which, despite everything, is alive and kicking. That is why I do not accept the whining of the Mizrahim and I also do not accept the white whining of the veteran Israelis.

It was not by chance that I titled my autobiography “The Dream of the White Sabra.” As the white sabra, I am not ashamed of anything. I made mistakes and I admit the mistakes, but in the end I am proud to be a son of the founding fathers. I of all people feel myself to be a Zionist. Sometimes it even seems to me that I am the last Zionist.

There’s Nothing Idealistic About the One-State Solution

There’s Nothing Idealistic About the One-State Solution
A Response to Michael Neumann

by JONATHAN COOK
Counterpunch    NOVEMBER 08, 2011
http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/11/07/after-palestines-statehood-bid/

This is at least the third time in the past four years that philosophy professor Michael Neumann has used these pages to lambast the supporters of a one-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. On each occasion he has offered a little more insight into why he so vehemently objects to what he terms the “delusions” of those who oppose – or, at least, gave up on – the two-state solution.

In his most recent essay,  Neumann suggests that his previous reluctance to be more forthright was motivated by “politeness”. Well, I for one wish the professor had been franker from the outset. It might have saved us a lot of time and effort.

Even though I have identified myself as a supporter of the one-state solution, I find much to agree with in what Neumann writes on this occasion. Like him, I do not believe that a particular solution, or resolution, will occur simply because the Palestinians or their wellwishers make a good moral case for it. Success for the Palestinians will come when a wide array of regional developments force Israel to conclude that its current behaviour is untenable.

There are plenty of signs that just such a power shift is starting to take place in the Middle East: Iran’s possible development of a nuclear warhead; an awakening of democratic forces in Egypt and elsewhere; the fraying of the long and vital military alliance between Israel and Turkey; the exasperation of Saudi Arabia at Israel’s intransigence; the growing military sophistication of Hizbullah; and the complete discrediting of the US role in the region.

Neumann is wrong to assume that one has to be an idealist – believing in the political equivalent of fairies – to conclude that a one-state solution is on the cards. It does not have to be simply a case of wishful thinking. Rather, I will argue, it is likely to prove a realistic description of the turn of events over the next decade or more.

While Neumann and I agree on the causes of an Israeli change of direction, his and my analyses diverge sharply on what will follow from Israel’s realisation that its occupation is too costly to maintain.

Neumann proposes that, once cornered by regional forces it can no longer intimidate or bully, Israel will have to concede what he terms the “real” two-state solution.

He does not set out what such a solution would entail, but he is adamant that it – and only it – must take place. So let me help with an outline of the apparent minimal requirements for a real two-state solution:

•    Israel agrees to pull out its half a million settlers from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, presumably assisted by lavish compensation from the international community;

•    Israel hands over all of East Jerusalem to the Palestinians, while the city’s holy places, including the Western Wall, pass to a caretaker body representing the international community;

•    The Palestinians get a state on 22 per cent of historic Palestine, with their capital in East Jerusalem;

•    The Palestinians are free to establish an army – with Iran and Saudi Arabia presumably competing over who gets to sponsor it;

•    The Palestinians have control over their airspace and the electro-magnetic spectrum. If they have any sense, they quickly turn to Hizbullah for advice on how to neutralise Israel’s extensive spying operations, its overhead drones and listening posts currently sited all over the West Bank;

•    The Palestinians get unfettered access to their new border with Jordan and beyond to other Arab states;

•    The Palestinians are entitled to an equitable division of water resources from the main West Bank acquifers, currently supplying Israel with most of its water;

•    And the Palestinians have, as promised under the Oslo accords, a passageway through Israel to connect the West Bank and Gaza.

Let us leave aside the social problems for Israel caused by this arrangment: the huge disruption created by an angry and newly homeless half a million settlers returning to Israel, as well as the dramatic aggravation of the already severe housing crisis in Israel and the rapid deterioration in relations with the large Palestinian minority living there.
Let us also not dwell on the problems faced by the Palestinians, including the potentially hundreds of thousands of refugees who will have to be absorbed into the limited space of the resource-poor West Bank and Gaza, or their likely anger at what they will see as betrayal, or the inevitable economic troubles of this micro-state.

Doubtless, all these issues can be addressed in a peace agreement.

In his essays, Neumann only factors in what Israelis are prepared to accept from a solution. So let us ignore too the “idealism” of those critics who are concerned about whether a “real two-state solution” can actually be made to work for ordinary Palestinians.

The assumption by Neumann is that, faced with a rapid escalation in the political and financial costs of holding on to the Palestinian territories, Israel will one day understand that it has no choice but to jettison the occupation.

He offers nine reasons for why the one-state solution is “blatantly nonsensical”. Though numerically impressive, most of his arguments – such as his discussion of the right of return, or the representativeness of a Palestinian government, or the nature of legal and moral rights – appear to have little or no bearing on the practical case either for or against one state. The same can be said of his ascription of the sin of idealism to those he lumps together as one-staters, and his allusion, yet again, to the vague formula of a “real two-state solution”.

His other three arguments – the first he lists – are no more revelatory. In fact, they are variations of the same idea, one that can best be summarised by an analogy he offers in one: “If I’m making 50,000 dollars, I might demand 70,000, but not 70 million. It is not clever to demand the whole of Israel when Israel won’t yield even the half that almost the whole world says it must surrender – the occupied territories.”

I am no professor of logic but something about this analogy rings hollow. Let us try another that seems closer to the reality of our case.

One day you arrive at my home and take over most of the building using force. A short time later you drive me out of the house completely, and, in what you consider a generous concession, allow me to live in the shed at the end of the garden. Over the years we become bitter enemies. The neighbours, my former friends, can no longer turn a blind eye to my miserable condition and decide to side with me against you. One day they come to your door and threaten to use violence against you if you do not let me back into the house.

What happens next?

Well, as Neumann implies, it may all end happily with you agreeing to let me live in the box room. But then again, it might not.

Sensing that the shoe is finally on the other foot, I might decide to make your life unbearable in the main part of the house in order to win more space or to drive you out. Or you might decide that, given your precarious new situation in the neighbourhood, you would be better off abandoning your ill-gotten gains and looking for somewhere else to live.

I am not a fan of such analogies. I resort to it simply to highlight that, if one wants to make use of these kinds of devices, then it is at least preferable to use an apposite one.

(Interestingly, if we pursue this analogy, it also questions Neumann’s preferred comparison of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories with France’s occupation of Algeria. In this case, Algeria appears to be the garden rather than the main house.)

The larger point is that there is no reason to assume that, just because the occupation gets too costly, Israel can simply amputate it like a rotting limb.

Part of the weakness in Neumann’s argument can be seen in his repeated references to the settlers as a group of troublesome misfits rather than a substantial chunk both of the Israeli cabinet, including the foreign minister, and of the high command of the Israeli army and security services, including the current head of the National Security Council.

Likewise, he caricatures Western support for Israel as “Zionist hysteria” in the US Congress, backed by “ridiculous” fellow travellers such as the Canadian government. If only the support for Israel among Western governments were this trivial.

Such misrepresentations make his argument that the occupation is vulnerable appear far stronger than it really is. In fact, the occupation is much more than the settlements.

It is the Messianism industry, run by the settlers, that took over Israel decades ago. Its hold extends far beyond the West Bank to the now-dominant religious education stream feeding poison to young minds, as well as to the seminaries where young religious men training to become army officers are tutored daily in their Chosenness and their divine right to exterminate Palestinians.

It is the ultra-Orthodox with their ambivalence to Zionism but their now-savage sense of entitlement to handouts from the state. They have several large urban communities in the West Bank tailor-made for their separatist religious way of life. The people who riot over a parking lot opening on Shabbat will not easily walk away from their homes, schools and synagogues.

It is a large and profitable Israeli real estate industry that has plundered and pillaged Palestinian land for decades, and which seems to implicate every new Israeli prime minister in a fresh corruption scandal.

It is Israel’s farming industries that depend for their survival on the theft of both Palestinian land and water sources.

It is ordinary Israelis, already spoiling for a fight after an unprecedented summer of social unrest over the exorbitant cost of living in Israel, who have yet to find out the true price of fruit and vegetables – and running water – should they lose these water “subsidies”.

It is Israel’s extensive and lucrative military hi-tech industries that rely on the occupied territories as a laboratory for developing and testing new weapons systems and surveillance techniques for export both to the global homeland security industries and to tech-hungry modern armies.

It is Israel’s security and intelligence services, abundantly staffed with the same Ashkenazis who will go on to become the country’s political leaders, pursuing careers surveilling and controlling Palestinians under occupation.

And it is the profligate military – Israel’s version of the West’s prodigal bankers – whose jobs and lethal toys depend on endless US taxpayers’ munificence.

None of this will be given up lightly, or at a cost that won’t make America’s current $3 billion annual handouts to Israel look like peanuts. And that is before we factor in the huge payouts needed to compensate the Palestinian refugees and to build a Palestinian state.

But these problems only hint at the argument for a one-state solution. The reality is that the elites that run Israel have everything to lose should the occupation fall. That is why they have invested every effort in integrating the occupied territories into Israel and making a “real” peace deal impossible. The occupation and its related industries are the source of their moral legitimacy, their political survival and their daily enrichment.

That is also why they are twisting in agony at the prospect of Iran acquiring a nuclear arsenal to rival their own. At that point, the occupation begins to expire and their rule is finished.

Were the regional conditions to come about that Neumann believes necessary to evict Israel from the occupied territories, these elites and their Ashkenazi hangers-on will face a stark choice: bring down the house or scatter to whatever countries their second passports entitle them to.

They may go for the doomsday scenario, as some currently predict. But my guess is that, once the money-laundering opportunities enjoyed by the politicians and generals are over, it will simply be easier – and safer – for them to export their skills elsewhere.

Left behind will be ordinary Israelis – the Russians, the Palestinian minority, the ultra-Orthodox, the Mizrahim – who never tasted the real fruits of the occupation and whose commitment to Zionism has no real depth.

These groups – isolated, largely antagonistic and without a diaspora occupying the US Congress to assist them – have not the experience, desire or legitimacy to run the military fortress that Israel has become. With the glue gone that holds the Zionist project together, both the Palestinians and the Israelis who remain will have every interest to come up with real solutions to the problem of living as neighbours.

The strangest aspect to Neumann’s claims against the one-staters – repeated in all his essays on this subject – is the argument that they are not only deluded but propagating an idea that is somehow dangerous, though quite how is never explained.

If as Neumann argues, correctly in my view, Israel will only change course when faced with significant pressure from its neighbours, then the worst crime the one-staters can be accused of committing is an abiding attachment to an irrelevant idealism.

Iran will not discard its supposed nuclear ambitions simply because the one-state crowd start to make a compelling moral case for their cause, any more than Hizbullah will stop amassing its rockets. So why should Neumann get so exercised by the one-state argument? By his reckoning, it should have zero impact on progress towards a resolution of the conflict.

Nonetheless, even on Neumann’s limited terms, one can also make a serious case that advocacy of a single state might produce benefits for the Palestinians.

If nothing else, were a growing number of Palestinians and international supporters persuaded that demanding an absolutely just solution (one state) was the best path, would this not add an additional pressure to the other, material ones facing Israel to concede a real two-state solution – if only to avoid the worse fate of a single state being imposed by its neighbours?

But I think we can go futher in making the practical case for a one-state solution.

Although the main cause of Israel changing tack will be the alignment of regional forces against it, an additional but important factor will be the emergence of a political climate in which western states and their publics are increasingly disillusioned with Israel’s bad faith. Congress’ support is not paid in the currency of hysteria but in hard cash. And that support won’t dry up until Israel and its “mad dog” policies are widely seen as illegitimate or a liability.

One of the key ways Israel will discredit itself, following it and Washington’s recent decision to block any Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations, is by cracking down – probably violently – on any political aspirations expressed by ordinary Palestinians under occupation.

History, including Palestinian history, suggests that populations denied their rights rarely remain passive indefinitely. Palestinians who see no hope that their leaders can secure for them a state will be increasingly motivated to claim back their cause.

Ordinary Palestinians have no power, as Neumann notes, to force Israel to establish a state for them. But they do have the power to demand from Israel a say in their future, and press for it through civil disobedience, campaigns for voting rights, and the establishment of an anti-apartheid movement. Such a struggle will take place within – and implicitly accept – the one-state reality already created by Israel. If Palestinians march for the vote, it will be for a vote in Knesset elections.

None of this will win them either a state or the vote, of course. But the repression needed from Israel to contain these forces will serve to rapidly erode whatever international sympathy remains and to further galvanise into action the regional forces lining up against Israel.

In short, however one assesses it, the promotion of a one-state solution can serve only to hasten the demise of the Israeli elites who oppress the Palestinians. So why waste so much breath opposing it?

After Palestine’s Statehood Bid
Resolutions and “Solutions”

by MICHAEL NEUMANN
Counterpunch,  November  7,   2011
It’s odd that the  Israel-Palestine conflict always calls up talk about solutions rather than resolutions,  as if some moral puzzle bedeviled the future of the Palestinians and Israel.

Perhaps this is because  no state has come into existence amid such paroxysms of morality.

Times change, and the moralizing about Israel is now obsolescent.   The 20th Century agonies of  genocide and dispossession that initiated the conflict have begun to lose their bearing on the course of events.   Even the post-1967 debates about settlement and occupation are, whether we like to admit it or not, settled.    The injustice of the occupation, the aggressive cruelty of the settlements, Israel’s lack of interest in peace – these now pass almost for established facts in the mainstream media.  Abbas’ appearance at the UN simply highlighted how Israel is running out of friends, not to mention credibility.

As for the United States government, there are other facts to be faced:   that the executive branch has been against the occupation and the settlements from their beginning, and that the United States Congress, the very motherland of Zionist hysteria, is, for all the damage it does, making a fool of itself.   Even this hysteria will abate somewhat as the Arab Spring and the increasing entrenchment of Muslim and Middle Eastern people in American society alter the negative stereotypes of  ‘Arabs’.   As for Canada, the more it apes the US Congress on Israel, the more ridiculous it will appear on the international stage.

Something else has changed, some years ago.    Israel may want US support, but, as one of the world’s strongest military powers, it no longer needs it.   It has a large, sophisticated arsenal of nuclear weapons and delivery systems.   With luck it could probably wipe out the United States, never mind the tiny occupied territories.   It has proven ruthless and its strategists apparently contemplate nuclear retaliation in the face of defeat by conventionally-equipped forces.   It is hysterically eager to defend ‘threats to its existence’, i.e., attempts to deny it anything it may want.   Its arms industry is so advanced that many cutting-edge American projects – drones, missile and anti-missile systems, surveillance software – are co-developed with Israel.[i]   Faced with economic sanctions, it would  happily conduct a land-office business selling weapons systems to all comers.   The Western world may dream and pro-Palestinians may fantasize about imposing a solution on Israel, but that won’t happen.
The internal politics of Israel are no more promising than the external circumstances.   Israel has moved further and further to the right over the years.   Its opposition is evanescent except when demanding better conditions for Israeli Jews.   Its Arab population, despite discrimination, is utterly unwilling and/or unable to challenge the existing order.  All the desperate, self-sacrificing attempts by the Palestinians to change this power balance have failed, so thoroughly that even Hamas makes great efforts to contain those who seek to confront Israel with force.    In short, Israel has all the power; the Palestinians have none.

The failure to ‘get tough’ with Israel is  only in a very extended sense a matter of political will:  the sentiment to impose a peace is there, but so is the danger that Israel’s response would be catastrophic for the region and beyond.  It is this unspoken risk that, most likely,  deters any action on the part of the traditional ‘Great Powers’.   At the end of the day, there is no longer any point talking about ‘solutions’, as if the real world will miraculously contort to solve some moral conundrum.    There is no conundrum.  The morality is clear; and if anyone wants to be useful in helping the Palestinians, he would do well to admit that Israel will yield only when the balance of power alters.    Either the regional powers, one way or another, will eventually pose a real and perceived threat to Israel, or nothing will change.   This does not mean that morality has been somehow superseded; of course the rights and wrongs are still what they are.    But the pointless, endless, obsessive exhortations that pass for morality no longer have any bearing on events, or any potential to accomplish genuinely moral ends

Yet the traditional friends of the Palestinians are unwilling to face such cold facts.  Finding themselves impotent, they seek refuge from the realities of power in the comforting world of ideals.   Here too, things have changed.   The realization that negotiations will go nowhere has prompted some commentators and activists  to posit a miraculous detour around  Israeli power and intransigence.  They reject the ‘two-state solution’ – a mere resolution which would give the Palestinians less than they deserve, but a place to live their lives.     The so-called one-state solution, once a marginal view, is becoming mainstream.   It is  deployed against Palestine’s bid for statehood, which is said to concede too much to Israel.   Its partisans include a number of  Palestinian expatriate academics and a wide range of well-wishers, all of whom have, in the changed climate of opinion, gathered a much wider audience.

For that very reason,  it is time to stop being polite about their position, which has the potential to damage Palestine’s future.  Respectful disagreement doesn’t seem enough to shake these people from their delusions.

It’s hard to grasp just what particular embrace of unreality drives this ‘proposal’ or its faithful companion, the notion that PLO leaders from Arafat to Abbas needed to be ‘tougher’.   Tougher, that is, like the university professors and other verbal warriors standing behind their comfortable, far-off barricades.   I see a lot of ways – nine of them – in which the ‘tough’ one-state solution is blatantly nonsensical.   I will present them as a guide to the illusions which obscure a resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

First is the confusion of wishes with political platforms.   I wish for all the world to live in harmony.   This is a wish.   It is not a political demand, because it won’t happen (see below).   Wishing for mountainously more than the Palestinians can get is not being more radical than demanding only a little more than they can get.   In the same way, it would not be ‘tougher’ or more radical to come out in favour of world revolution in the midst of the Arab uprisings.   This would not be a  radical stance; it would not even be a political stance.   It would simply be a wish mistaken for a political demand, a retreat into childishness.

Second, it is bizarre to suppose that, because someone won’t concede half of something, they are likely to concede all of it.   Some Israelis at least claim to favour a two-state solution; some reject it.   But none say:  “we cherish Greater Israel; we will not yield one inch of it, but we will yield all of it, if only we can abandon the ideal of a Jewish state.   We look forward to the prospect of being swamped by Arab demographics and to  minority status in the country we built.”   There is no sharing here:  in a single state, one side or the other would prevail.   In a democratic state, the ‘Arabs’ would prevail and hold sovereignty over the Israeli Jews.  It is a real feat of willful blindness to suppose that, somehow, the Zionists who would not share in 1948 will share today, when they are much stronger and no less fanatical than they were at the start.

Third, childishly exaggerated demands are not a canny negotiating tactic.   If I’m making 50,000 dollars, I might demand 70,000, but not 70 million.  It is not clever to demand the whole of Israel when Israel won’t yield even the half that almost the whole world says it must surrender – the occupied territories.

Fourth, the two-state solution is not a bad solution because it won’t give the Palestinians true sovereignty, or because it will result in Bantustans, a Palestine cut into miserable islands by strands of settlements.    That’s not criticism, it’s word-games.   By ‘the two-state solution’ is meant two sovereign states; otherwise it would be called the one-state-one-non-state-solution.   No advocate of the two-state solution has shown any disposition to accept Bantustans.   The ‘collaborationist’ PLO and PA have consistently rejected such proposals. [ii] The attempts to make a Bantustan ‘solution’ stand for the two-state solution are a particularly sleazy example of bad faith.

Fifth, a good test case for the one-state solution is not South Africa.   In South Africa, blacks and colored vastly outnumbered whites; land and resources were abundant; and the government was unable to control either township violence or the emergence of a Cuban-supported threat on its borders.  Most important, the Boer régime was the mere colonial excrescence of the supremely powerful white nations of Europe and North America.   South Africa was not the sole sovereign territory of a race determined to maintain its one and only nation against all challengers.   A better test case lies just next door, Lebanon.   In Lebanon, even if you don’t count those massacred under Israeli sponsorship at Sabra and Shatila, or those killed by Israeli bombs, far more Palestinians have died than in Palestine under Israeli rule.  This should be an antidote to the poisonous theory that, if two peoples are locked in deadly conflict, it’s a great idea to pack them into a single state.

Sixth, the Right of Return is not, as one-staters claim, precluded by the two-state solution.  It has nothing to do with the two-state solution:  it has to do with Israel in its pre-67 boundaries.   That there is a Palestinian state in the occupied territories in no way implies that dispossessed Palestinians – individual Palestinians – forfeit their rights.   To think otherwise is to fall for the Israeli debating gambit of insisting, whenever convenient, on regarding the Palestinians as one collective lump.   ‘The Palestinians’ can, collectively, have a state, some kind of political representation.    Acquiring collective political representation in one state has nothing to do with honouring individual property rights in some other state.

Seventh, there is confusion about the relation of rights to political ‘solutions’.   Neither ‘The Palestinians’ nor anyone else has a legal right to Palestine, because international law – lacking a sovereign body to enforce it – is a polite fiction.   ‘The Palestinians’, in my opinion, have a moral right to all of Palestine, and to expel all Jews who are there because of the Zionist project.   No agreement which merely declares a state in the occupied territories can change this moral right, because having such a state doesn’t even resemble compensation for the loss the Palestinians have suffered.   Maybe quite a few billion dollars in reparations would do this, but not the mere establishment of a state.  The two-state solution therefore cannot be seen as some substitute for morality or justice.  It resolves a conflict.   It does not solve a moral problem.

Eighth, a two-state solution does not mean that any Palestinian rights are abandoned, because however that state is formed, those who form it cannot be held to represent the Palestinians.   The reason is simple:  you only get representative government after you have a state, not before.   So there will always be grounds to repudiate whatever arrangements the founders of the state have made.   Inevitably there will be attempts to refute such reasoning, but they don’t matter.   Either the Palestinians will eventually get the real-world power to determine their own engagements, or they won’t.   What people say about those engagements won’t tilt the balance one way or the other.

Ninth, the two-state solution does indeed perpetuate the Zionist state – in the sense that it fails to abolish Israel.   My mortgage and car rental agreement also have this failing.   It is beyond silly to suppose that, therefore, the two-state solution is ‘Zionist’.   You might as well say that the Palestinian refugees of 1948, who left Israel to the Zionists, were also perpetuating Zionism, were collaborating with it.   Yes, they had no choice.     Neither do Palestinians today, when Israel is immeasurably stronger than in 1948.   That is why the two-state solution fails to implement the Right of Return, enforce the rights of Palestinian Israelis, end world poverty, and many other things.   To suppose otherwise it to conflate radicalism, not with good wishes, but with studied obtuseness masquerading as trenchant critique and tactical acumen.

How can so many misconceptions and feats of obfuscation crowd into one ‘solution’?   The culprits seem to be two large delusions.

The first, often repeated, is  that the two-state solution is now impracticable because the settlers are ‘so deeply entrenched’.    Let’s suppose that for most one-staters, this is not a bad-faith manoeuvre to permit the settlers to hang on to their ill-gotten colonial existence.   What then explains such spectacular blindness?   In 1948, more than 700,000 Palestinians left the homes their families had occupied, in some cases for centuries.  What exactly makes it impossible for today 500,000 Jewish settlers to move in the opposite direction?   Amid so much silliness, nothing is sillier than the claim that only a one-state solution is possible because the settlements are ‘too deeply entrenched’.   Maybe they are, but they don’t have to go anywhere.   It’s the settlers, not the settlements, that have to get out.   One would have thought the whole trip to Israel would take, oh, between fifteen minutes and a couple of hours.   Will it destroy their psyches to leave?   so we were told about the settlers in Gaza, who seem to be recovering nicely.   Is Israel’s commitment to the settlements unshakable?  Then why were the Gaza settlers expelled and their settlements abandoned?

In Algeria, French settlers had established themselves for twice as long as their counterparts in the occupied territories.  Their government was firmly behind them:, as one historian writes: “‘Mendès France [the prime minister] was determined to ‘maintain the unity and indivisibility of the Republic, of which Algeria is a part’, and in January 1955 appointed the tough former Resistance leader, Jacques Soustelle, governor-general of Algeria.   Soustelle, affirming a policy of ‘integration’, argued that ‘It is precisely because we have lost Indo-China, Tunisia and Morocco that we must not, at any price, in any way and under any pretext, lose Algeria”‘[iii]   As for the settlers themselves, I have provided an appendix, should anyone be interested, with some touching testimony to how deeply rooted they were.   Colonists, settlers, always swear that the colonised land is ‘part of them’, that they will never leave, that they would sooner lay down their lives.  

Like the settlers in Gaza, they always either leave or submit to the new régime.   So it has been all over British Africa, with the Boers in South Africa and the Dutch in Indonesia.   The only difference is that these colonists could not expect to be showered with the sort of money and sympathy that the Israeli settlers will get.

The second delusion underlying the one-state solution  has to do with a fetishism of non-violence.   It is neither courageous nor even intransigent to suppose that, somehow, a resolute Palestinian stance can conjure up whatever is wanted – a sovereign state, full Palestinians rights everywhere, Jews and ‘Arabs’ living side by side in happy harmony.   Absolutely no facts about Israel do anything but refute this article of faith.  What is really behind all this idealism?   My guess:  the one-state solution belongs to those over-protected souls who simply cannot face the idea that anything should ever come down to physical force.  Somehow, somehow, if the right words are spoken, if the right positions taken, if enough saintly non-violence blooms, all will be well, all can be overcome. I have argued elsewhere[iv] that there is no historical basis for this dogma.

Perhaps this is behind all the talk about how the two-state solution is ‘dead’.   What are dead are the negotiations for two states; they died long ago.   But only someone whose whole world is statements and empty verbal ‘support’ and positions and moral authority would think that a solution must emerge from negotiations.   No, a solution will emerge when Israel has had enough, and withdraws, as it did in Lebanon, as it did, though not fully, in Gaza.   No negotiations are necessary.   The two-state solution emerges full-blown when Israel ceases to have a military presence in or over the occupied territories, and in those territories there arises a truly sovereign state.   This can perhaps be formalized through  negotiation, after the fact, but it can never be obtained by negotiation.   It can be obtained only by making the current or anticipated cost of occupation, in one way or another, too high.

The Palestinians can never prevail militarily against the Israelis, but they have had at least this much success:  Israel already finds it too costly to maintain permanent forces in the occupied territories.   Though Israel will listen only to force, force can speak without actual violence.   Perhaps Israel’s enemies will find greater unity and more power:  for example, Turkey and Egypt might cooperate not only economically but in the enhancement of their  militarily capacities.   Or perhaps Hizbollah will prove itself so enduring a threat that Israel, finally, decides it prefers peace to cheap real estate and the joys of trying to bully  a defenseless people in oblivion.   In these hopes lies the life of the two-state solution; indeed of any solution.   The good wishes of the one-state solution play no role in any future reality.

Today, those who would like to help Palestine must stop fighting a propaganda war they have already won.   They must realize that the principal targets of their exhortations, the Western nations, will never dare to put serious pressure on Israel until the region itself is transformed.   Hope lies only in the emergence of strong regional powers:  in Turkey, and in any country in which the Arab spring proves successful.   The emphasis here, quite frankly, has to be on obtaining at least an equilibrium of force.   This means focusing on Israel’s military and especially its nuclear power, and on propagating the idea that, given this power, Arab nations would be not simply be within their rights to develop nuclear weapons:   they almost have a responsibility to their populations to do so.  It is Israel, after all, that boasts of its willingness to exercise a Sampson option that  will take down the whole region in a nuclear holocaust.   Such talk and such threats will be curbed only when Israeli learn to fear the nations for which they have such contempt.

What then might advance the cause of  Palestinian independence?  The best course is to argue that Middle Eastern countries can expect nothing from Israel until they pose a low-key and restrained but genuine threat to its existence.    These nations should feel free to abrogate the nuclear non-proliferation agreements as long as Israel retains its own nuclear arsenal.    This should not be considered a radical step.   It would only be to assert the strategies of deterrence that all announced nuclear nations have embraced without compunction.    It is not a path to war but to peace.    Only when Israel sees it really cannot persist in defying the world, will the agony of the Palestinians end – if not in a solution, at least in a resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Michael Neumann is a professor of philosophy at Trent University in Ontario, Canada. Professor Neumann’s views are not to be taken as those of his university. His book What’s Left: Radical Politics and the Radical Psyche is published by Broadview Press. He contributed the essay, “What is Anti-Semitism”, to CounterPunch’s book, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. His latest book is The Case Against Israel. He can be reached at: mneumann@trentu.ca

Appendix

Here are a very few of many testimonies to the depth of the Pieds-Noirs ‘commitment ‘to Algeria:

“Car les pieds-noirs s’étaient tellement identifiés à la terre d’Algérie qu’ils ne pouvaient pas concevoir de vivre ailleurs que sur leur sol natal. En ce sens, leur âme était aussi algérienne. Je pense que pour la plupart d’entre eux, elle n’a jamais cessé de l’être. Une partie de votre âme est restée en Algérie…Et le temps n’a pas effacé votre filiation avec ce pays. L’avouer, c’est aussi dire combien vous aimez l’Algérie, combien elle vous manque depuis cet été 62…”
http://les-oies-sauvages.blogs.nouvelobs.com/guerre-d-algerie/

For the pieds-noirs were so at one with the land of Algeria that they could not conceive of living elsewhere but on the soil of their birth.  In this sense their soul, too, was Algerian.   And time has not effaced your attachment with that land.   To acknowledge it is also to say how much you love Algeria, how much you miss it, since that summer of 1962.

—————————————–

“Je suis née à Oran (Algérie) où :
La  vie était belle !
Où le soleil brillait toujours !
Où il faisait bon vivre normalement !
Où l’on se sentait toujours en vacances !
Où l’on avait de belles plages !
Où l’on était heureux !
Où  on avait des amis !
Où nos parents, sont nés, enfin toute une génération ! Que de bons souvenirs d’enfance, mariages, naissances
Enfin le pays que l’on croyait  ne jamais quitter.

——-

Quitter n’était pas pensable, on nous avait promis que l’Algérie resterait Française “?”
http://www.gremline.net/ChezGremline/desmotspourledire/119_TerreLointaineOran/119_TerreLointaine.html
Leaving was unthinkable, hadn’t we been promised that Algeria would remain French”?

“Si les colons ont construit et bien construit, c t pour eux et leurs enfants, il pensait ne jamais quitter notre pays.”
http://www.bgayet.net/forum/350-piedsnoirs-attendus-ce-weekend-a-bejaia-t441.15.html

“1962 : LE JOUR LE PLUS TRISTE de ma vie. Quittez mon Algérie pays ou j’ai vu le jour..pays cher dans tout les coeurs des Pieds Noirs..”
http://michelotte07.canalblog.com/archives/2007/07/21/index.html

Notes.
1.     Among many articles on Israel’s indigenous arms capability, this stands out because it details Israel’s arms sales to the United States.    Yitzhak Benhorin, “US to purchase $700m worth of arms from Israel”  http://www.ynetnews.com/Ext/Comp/ArticleLayout/CdaArticlePrintPreview/1,2506,L-3469677,00.html, accessed 28 October 2011.

2.     The 1993 Oslo Accords did not constitute a settlement but a mere “Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements”.   The settlements were among the issues deliberately left unresolved.

3.   Robert Gildea, France since 1945,Oxford (Oxford University Press) p.25.

4.   See “Nonviolence:  Its Histories and Myths”, Counterpunch, 8-10 February 2003, http://www.counterpunch.org/2003/02/08/nonviolence-its-histories-and-myths/

Nonviolence, Its Histories and Myths

by MICHAEL NEUMANN
Counterpunch,  Weekend Edition February 8-10, 2003

Sometime in the early 1960s, I decided I was too scared to participate in the Freedom Rides. I have neither the moral standing nor the slightest desire to disparage the courage of those who engage in non-violence. But non-violence, so often recommended to the Palestinians, has never ‘worked’ in any politically relevant sense of the word, and there is no reason to suppose it ever will. It has never, largely on its own strength, achieved the political objectives of those who employed it.

There are supposedly three major examples of successful nonviolence: Gandhi’s independence movement, the US civil rights movement, and the South African campaign against apartheid. None of them performed as advertised.

Gandhi’s nonviolence can’t have been successful, because there was nothing he would have called a success. Gandhi’s priorities may have shifted over time: he said, that, if he changed his mind from one week to the next, it was because he had learned something in between. But it seems fair to say that he wanted independence from British rule, a united India, and nonviolence itself, an end to civil or ethnic strife on the Indian subcontinent. What he got was India 1947: partition, and one of the most horrifying outbursts of bloodshed and cruelty in the whole bloody, cruel history of the postwar world. The antagonism between Muslims and Hindus, so painful to Gandhi, still seems almost set in stone. These consequences alone would be sufficient to count his project as a tragic failure.
What of independence itself? Historians might argue about its causes, but I doubt any of them would attribute it primarily to Gandhi’s campaign. The British began contemplating–admittedly with varying degrees of sincerity–some measure of autonomy for India before Gandhi did anything, as early as 1917. A.J.P.Taylor says that after World War I, the British were beginning to find India a liability, because India was once again producing its own cotton, and buying cheap textiles from Japan. Later, India’s strategic importance, while valued by many, became questioned by some, who saw the oil of the Middle East and the Suez canal as far more important. By the end of the Second World War, Britain’s will to hold onto its empire had pretty well crumbled, for reasons having little or nothing to do with nonviolence.

But this is the least important of the reasons why Gandhi cannot be said to have won independence for India. It was not his saintliness or the disruption he caused that impressed the British. What impressed them was that the country seemed (and was) about to erupt into a slaughter. The colonial authorities could see no way to stop it. What they could see was the increasingly violent antagonism between Muslims and Hindus, both of whom detected, in the distance, the emergence of a power vacuum they rushed to fill. This violence included the “Great Calcutta Killing” of August 1946, when at least 4000 people died in three days. Another factor was the terrorism–and this need not be a term of condemnation–quite regularly employed against the British. It was not enough to do much harm, but more than enough to warn them that India was becoming more trouble than it was worth. All things considered, the well-founded fear of generalized violence had far more effect on British resolve than Gandhi ever did. He may have been a brilliant and creative political thinker, but he was not a victor.

Well, how about the US civil rights movement? It would be difficult and ungenerous to argue that it was unsuccessful, outrageous to claim that it was anything but a long and dangerous struggle. But when that is conceded, the fact remains that the Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement was practically a federal government project. Its roots may have run deep, but its impetus came from the Supreme Court decision of 1954 and from the subsequent attempts to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. The students who braved a hell to accomplish this goal are well remembered. Sometimes forgotten is US government’s almost spectacular determination to see that federal law was respected. Eisenhower sent, not the FBI, not a bunch of lawyers, but one of the best and proudest units of the United States Army, the 101st Airborne, to keep order in Little Rock, and to see that the ‘federalized’ Arkansas national guard stayed on the right side of the dispute. Though there was never any hint of an impending battle between federal and state military forces, the message couldn’t have been clearer: we, the federal government, are prepared to do whatever it takes to enforce our will.

This message is an undercurrent throughout the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s. Though Martin Luther King still had to overcome vicious, sometimes deadly resistance, he himself remarked that surprisingly few people were killed or seriously injured in the struggle. The surprise diminishes with the recollection that there was real federal muscle behind the nonviolent campaign.
For a variety of motives, both virtuous and cynical, the US government wanted the South to be integrated and to recognize black civil rights. Nonviolence achieved its ends largely because the violence of its opponents was severely constrained. In 1962, Kennedy federalized the National Guard and sent in combat troops to quell segregationist rioting in Oxford, Mississippi. Johnson did the same thing in 1965, after anti-civil rights violence in Alabama. While any political movement has allies and benefits from favorable circumstances, having the might of the US government behind you goes far beyond the ordinary advantages accompanying political activity. The nonviolence of the US civil rights movement sets an example only for those who have the overwhelming armed force of a government on their side.

As for South Africa, it is a minor miracle of wishful thinking that anyone could suppose nonviolence played a major role in the collapse of apartheid.

In the first place, the ANC was never a nonviolent movement but a movement which decided, on occasion and for practical reasons, to use nonviolent tactics. (The same can be said of the other anti-apartheid organizations.) Much like Sinn Fein and the IRA, it maintained from the 1960s on an arms-length relationship with MK (Umkhonto we Sizwe), a military/guerrilla organization. So there was never even a commitment to Gandhian nonviolence within the South African movements.

Secondly, violence was used extensively throughout the course of the anti-apartheid struggle. It can be argued that the violence was essentially defensive, but that’s not the point: nonviolence as a doctrine rejects the use of violence in self-defense. To say that blacks used violence in self-defense or as resistance to oppression is to say, I think, that they were justified. It is certainly not to say that they were non-violent.

Third, violence played a major role in causing both the boycott of South Africa and the demise of apartheid. Albert Luthuli, then president of the African National Congress, called for an economic boycott in 1959; the ANC’S nonviolent resistance began in 1952.* But the boycott only acquired some teeth starting in 1977, after the Soweto riots in 1976, and again in 1985-1986, after the township riots of 1984-1985. Though the emphasis in accounts of these riots is understandably on police repression, no one contests that black protestors committed many violent acts, including attacks on police stations.

Violence was telling in other ways. The armed forces associated with the ANC, though never very effective, worried the South African government after Angola and Mozambique ceased to function as buffer states: sooner or later, it was supposed, the black armies would become a serious problem. (This worry intensified with the strategic defeat of South African forces by Cuban units at Cuito Cuanavale, Angola, in 1988.) In addition, violence was widespread and crucial in eliminating police informers and political enemies, as well in coercing cooperation with collective actions. It included the particularly gory practice of necklacing.

Though much of the violence was conducted by gangs and mobs, it was not for that any less politically important: on the contrary, it was precisely the disorganized character of the violence that made it so hard to contain. And history of the period indicates that the South African government fell, not under the moral weight of dignified, passive suffering, but because the white rulers (and their friends in the West) felt that the situation was spiraling out of control. Economic problems caused by the boycotts and the administration of apartheid were also a factor, but the boycott and the administrative costs were themselves, in large measure, a response to violent rather than nonviolent resistance.

In short, it is a myth that nonviolence brought all the victories it is supposed to have brought. It brought, in fact, none of them.

How does this bear on the Israel-Palestine conflict?
At the very least it should make one question the propriety of recommending nonviolence to the Palestinians. In their situation, success is far less likely than in the cases we have examined. Unlike Martin Luther King, they are working against a state, not with one. Their opponents are far more ruthless than the British were in the twilight of empire. Unlike the Indians and South Africans, they do not vastly outnumber their oppressors. And neither the Boers nor the English ever had anything like the moral authority Israel enjoys in the hearts and minds of Americans, much less its enormous support network.
Nonviolent protest might overcome Israel’s prestige in ten or twenty years, but no one thinks the Palestinians have that long.

But the biggest myth of nonviolence isn’t its supposed efficacy: it’s the notion that, if you don’t choose non-violence, you choose violence. The Palestinians, like many others before them, find a middle ground. They choose when and whether to use violence and when to refrain from it. Many many times, they have chosen non-violent tactics, from demonstrations to strikes to negotiations, with varying but certainly not spectacular success. And their greatest act of nonviolent resistance is, as Israel Shamir points out, their stubborn determination to remain on their own lands despite repeated attacks from armed settlers, which Palestinian farmers are in no position to counter.

The Palestinians will continue to choose, sometimes violence, sometimes nonviolence. They will presumably base their choices, as they have always done, on their assessment of the political realities. It is a sort of insolent naïveté to suppose that, in their weakness, they should defy the lessons of history and cut off half their options. The notion that a people can free itself literally by allowing their captors to walk all over them is historical fantasy.

MICHAEL NEUMANN is a professor of philosophy at Trent University in Ontario, Canada. He can be reached at: mneumann@trentu.ca

[*Even then, nonviolence was taken with a grain of salt. Oliver Tambo, writing as Deputy President of the ANC in 1966, said that “Mahatma [Gandhi] believed in the effectiveness of what he called the “soul force” in passive resistance. According to him, the suffering experienced in passive resistance inspired a change of heart in the rulers. The African National Congress (ANC), on the other hand, expressly rejected any concepts and methods of struggle that took the form of a self-pitying, arms-folding, and passive reaction to oppressive policies. It felt that nothing short of aggressive pressure from the masses of the people would bring about any change in the political situation in South Africa.”]

Palestinian Statehood – Kalaam Faadi

Palestinian Statehood – Kalaam Faadi

by Lynda Burstein Brayer

 

 

(Swans – August 29, 2011)

Background

 

Our present age is experiencing a trauma of dislocation, the proportions of which are at least equal to the Copernican Revolution, the Reformation, and the destruction, real or legendary, wrought by Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan. The present and actual political economy of the West, dominated by neoliberal theory and practice led by the USA, has rendered the central political notions, terminology, and institutions of the current Western political reality and discourse bereft of substance and meaning, and therefore obsolete. Both the national and international arenas are witness to a destruction, in fact, if not formally, of the prevailing systems of governance and international relations.

 

National Arena

 

In the national arena, it is no secret that the formally democratic American political system has become an undisguised tool for plutocrats whose influence is wielded through corporate funding and lobbying. In classical terms, the government has become completely corrupt, as it is unresponsive to the general population and does not fulfill the classical duty of serving the population, which is its only claim to legitimacy. This plutocracy has wiped out all traces of democracy, leaving the proverbial “man in the street” powerless to control the allocation of national material and cultural resources through responsive political and social institutions. As a result, the vast and overwhelming majority of the American population is experiencing a real and severe destruction of its social framework in all areas of endeavor: employment, education, health, banking, transportation, and commerce, and all the welfare services for the weaker members of the society. What seems to be most egregious of all, and what holds back change, is that the ordinary citizen does not understand fully, if at all, the dire reality in which he or she is mired, thus preventing any serious and appropriate resistance to its force and power. This, I believe, is the result of the “infotainment” institutions — television, radio, and movies — providing an unceasing flow of propaganda, brainwashing the population to such an extent that the capacity to think independently has been severely and deliberately damaged. This issue has been sidestepped in all public discourses. This lack of understanding is expressed in the new election fever surrounding the two-party system that as such, no longer has any substance.

This national politico-economic, social, and cultural corruption and destruction has its parallels in the rest of the world, with the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings representing the first, albeit inchoate, revolts against neo-liberal corrupt governments. These populations are not subject to the same onslaught of all-encompassing powerful “infotainment” propaganda tools as in the USA, Europe, and Israel which accounts for the fact, I believe, that the populations of the so-called Third World are able to understand the real world and to recognize propaganda. In Egypt and Tunisia there has been a demand for a change of personalities, but not a detailed plan for the overhaul and restructuring of the system, but in both cases the revolutionaries have not laid their hands on the levers of power. The Greek continuing demonstrations in Greece reflect a similar understanding and these demonstrations are spreading across Europe. However, counter-revolutionary forces have already made their appearances that are already lethal. The Western attack against Libya in support of the “rebels” as well as their probable instigation and support of the “rebels” in Syria, both supposedly justified national uprisings, are a clear and unequivocal indication that the Western power-holders of today are not going to let governments unsympathetic to global capital attain office or even remain in office. What these actions indicate is the demise of national independence and sovereignty — not as a general rule, but rather as a matter of policy of global capital and its institutions of power. But this ad hoc behaviour is in itself, the destruction of law.

 

International Arena

 

The international arena reveals the same breakdown. “Globalization” is the rule of capital all over the globe exercised through the institutional framework of myriad inter-related international or transnational corporations, which dominate governments. The leading institutions are the financial institutions, which includes, but are not confined, to banks. The availability of capital in the form of loans to national governments makes and breaks those governments. National boundaries have been removed effectively for capital, in a word, money and natural resources, but retained for labor, thus permitting the transfer of manufacture, that is production where labour is a primary cost, out of the U.S. and Europe to where labor is cheapest, bringing about a destruction of much of the manufacturing base in the West and a resultant wild spin into financialization to offset the loss of profits from production. In the U.S. this has brought about a real unemployment rate of close to 20%, the consequences of which are increasing poverty and immiseration. Britain is walking in the same path and so is much of Europe. The Third World, or the periphery as it is called by Samir Amin, Andre Gunder Frank, and Giovani Arrighi, that is, the periphery with respect to Western capital, has never been allowed to exercise economic independence, which might affect negatively the capitalist centers and capitalist power. There are today, however, a few national pockets of resistance, mainly in South America, but there are continuing efforts to overthrow these leaders, the chief examples being the successful coup in Honduras and the failed coup in Venezuela — both instigated and supported by the U.S. for the reasons stated above.

It should therefore not be surprising that this rule of international capital has deliberately brought about the real, if not formal, destruction and obsolescence of the international political system, rendering its terminology, presumptions, apparent values and safeguards ineffective and possibly obsolescent. This system was based on mutual recognition, with diplomatic and economic relations between independent and sovereign nation states, which despite its flaws sought to prevent a descent into the savagery and barbarism that had prevailed in Europe during the First and Second World Wars.

 

The “War on Terror” and “Humanitarian” Military interventions

 

The categories of “war on terror” and its counterpart, “humanitarian” military interventions, are the politico-legal tools invented by global capital that work through compliant governments of nation-states utilizing institutions such as the UN, IMF, et al. These categories are used as justifications to bypass and undermine international law and diplomacy for specific interests of monopolistic capital, such as monopolistic control of resources and their distribution for the purposes of both protecting, and when possible, expanding their control and wealth. This need for the protection, control, and expansion of capitalist interests is the only reason for the present wars and attacks in the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia in which the U.S., NATO, and Israel are engaged.

 

In the international sphere, the “war on terror” and “humanitarian” military inventions constitute the equivalent of declared national emergencies, such as a state of war (Israel is in a permanent state of a national emergency) that qua emergencies permit the “legal” suspension of the application of law and diplomacy, which in itself is subject to fierce controversies. To suspend the application of law and to rule by fiat means effectively to wield power without any limitations. If the U.S. presses for the definition of a movement or country as a “terrorist” organization, which it always succeeds in doing because of its unlimited power, international treaties and conventions concerning political, social, cultural, religious, and human rights and the laws of war are set aside, permitting it and its surrogate institutions to attack those so defined. This has had the effect of turning the victims into the “terrorists” and war criminals, such as the late Slobodan Milosevic, the judicially murdered Saddam Hussein, now Gadhafi, and Assad, Hamas, and other Palestinians, and no doubt many others to come, whilst leaving the Western leaders, Superman saviors, basking in a glow of righteousness and purity. The “war on terror” has been waged against those who either resist global capital’s programs or merely hinder it. This is the reason Iran continues to be targeted and Palestinian political rights have not been achieved. The “war on terror” and “humanitarian” military intervention are in absolute contravention of the formal notions of legitimacy and legality, as well as that basic principle governing all exercise of power, which is the absolute prohibition against the killing of civilians. In this respect, a political leader is a civilian and NOT a military man. The assassination of political leaders is illegitimate assassination and the worst crime of all, because it has the capacity to weaken a society and damage the political cohesion necessary for that society to function properly.

The result of this “war on terror,” not surprisingly, has destroyed both the notions and corresponding realities of political independence and state sovereignty, exposing ordinary human populations across the globe to a scourge of unparalleled violence and destruction such as the drone war against Pakistan, a Western ally — operations that completely undermine the notion of ally. By replacing international law and diplomacy with their own modus operandi, Macht ist Recht — might is right, they have returned mankind to savagery, which the earliest and all subsequent orthodox original religious impulses sought to defray and deflect.

In sum, both on the national level and in the international arena, the power of individual states to act independently, to control their economies, and to protect their citizens has been severely compromised by the praxes of the U.S., NATO, and Israel.

 

The issue and practicality of Palestinian statehood at the present political conjuncture

 

It is within this present dispensation of the breakdown of law and order, leaving peoples exposed to real physical dangers besides politico-economic and social ones, in the real sense of these terms, that we are witness to the latest Abbas-led bid for Palestinian statehood. It reflects, I believe, and I write this with great sadness, a total lack of understanding of the balance of power, the forces and the interests that now operate in the region and in the world. In the light of the history of Palestine, I have no doubt in classifying the latest attempt by the Western-backed Palestinian negotiators to achieve Palestinian statehood through a vote at the United Nations as a chimera. It will be another instance of kalaam faadi, as the Arabic expression goes — which in its Latin version is flatus vocis, or empty words, a meaningless expression about a reality that does not exist! It is, and will be, another example of that oxymoronic term “grinding water.” Furthermore, it can only have negative effects and results. This bid takes up enormous human physical and mental energy and material means, requires a huge input of brainpower, concentration, cooperation, coordination, tactical and strategic planning and yet cannot, whatever the outcome, provide anything of value in the real world for the ordinary Palestinians. On the other hand, because of the power players, it can bring about a worsening of their position in that these ruling powers might decide, as is their wont, to “punish” the Palestinians for their uppityness, and to block funding, resources, and opportunities for a long time to come, causing once again, real suffering but inestimable damage.

 

Arguments or Assertions for Palestinian statehood at this time

 

Western pro-Palestinian supporters and pro-Western Palestinians are throwing their weight behind this move. But we may ask, and not naïvely, what is meant by making such a bid at this time and could it result in a viable reality? Can anything change on the ground from what prevails at present — a collection of ghettos or open-air concentration camps in both the West Bank and Gaza? Several arguments, or better still and more accurately, several assertions, have been put forward in support of Palestinian statehood — why not talk about a Palestinian state — which includes many beliefs that I shall extrapolate.

The first that seems to be the most compelling is the claim that negotiations with the Israelis are now stalled, and that this is a way of jump-starting them. In other words, this proclamation will provide the trigger to bring the Israelis to the negotiating table. In response, I would argue that this position does not take into account the myriad UN resolutions that have had no effect upon the U.S. and Israel. As the first of the four kushiot, or questions asked by Jews when reclining at the Passover table, mutatis mutandis, what would be different about this resolution from all other previous resolutions? Even I can think of a thousand excuses, justifications, promises (to be broken, of course) that can be utilized in order to deflect any real consequences that such a resolution might entail on paper, at least. With respect to a binding resolution from the Security Council, I believe that in this case not only the U.S. but other permanent members will cast vetoes. On the other hand, a Resolution of the General Assembly is not binding, so how can it act as a trigger? Might it carry the weight of public opinion? Or the opinions of the vast majority of the peoples of the world? This could be the case, but in this present political dispensation what the people want, that is to say, real democracy, does not exist and therefore cannot be practiced. So what will be achieved?

Secondly, for argument’s sake, let us consider that following such a Resolution declaring a Palestinian state, the Palestinians will slowly build up this state as the Jews have done with the state of Israel. In other words, the trajectory of the development of the Jewish state is taken as a model for Palestinian prospective development. This position has been forcefully put forward by the Palestinian Representative to the United Nations.

I would contend that there are severe problems with this position. First of all, this position grants legitimacy to a Jewish Zionist state in Palestine. As an Israeli, I beg to question the assumption or presumption of the legitimacy of a Jewish Zionist state in Palestine, particularly as a lawyer who has experience in representing Palestinians confronting Zionist methods of dispossession and destruction of Palestinian rights and Palestinian society. It is a truism that Arabs have no need of a Jewish state in Palestine. However, rejecting a Jewish Zionist state does not mean “driving the Jews into the sea,” nor does it mean dismantling the successful social institutions that it has built in the area. What it does mean, is the rejection of Jewish Zionist privilege and power, Jewish Zionist oppression, and Jewish exclusivity in any or all parts of Palestine and the Middle East. This grant of legitimacy derives, I believe, from an implicit assumption that the Jewish state exists and therefore it has a right to exist and ought to exist. This, however, is an application of a logic that David Hume long ago proved to be incorrect. Or, to put it in other words, one cannot derive an “ought” from an “is.” Just because a Jewish settler colony exists does not mean that it ought to exist. Furthermore, as a political entity there is nothing necessary about it.

 

The Jewish State is an integral part of imperialist/capitalist colonialism

 

The Jewish settler colony/state was created as part of the imperialist capitalist policy of “divide and rule” in the Middle East. It has operated, knowingly and willingly, as both a dividing sword and a poisoned arrow in the heart of the Arabian Moslem world, dividing the Middle East and its hinterland in Iraq and Iran from North Africa, beginning with the isolation of Egypt from Greater Syria and the Hijaz, and continuing with the rest of the Maghreb. These countries are all natural neighbors entitled to benefit from their shared commonalities, shared history, religion, language, culture, and society. The Jewish colony has deliberately destroyed these material ties on the ground. As an expression of the deliberate fragmentation of the Middle East it has remained the overall threat to peace and stability in the region, poisoning all efforts to achieve effective independence and economic growth in the surrounding countries. Its army has, of necessity, created the need for the creation of armies in surrounding countries, thereby wasting precious national resources, and loans, on waste products, rather than on fructifying commodities, institutions, and systems.

The Jewish state is a Jewish settler colony, a fact that Herzl referred to quite clearly in support of Zionism, highlighting that the very foreignness of settler Jews would guarantee their loyalty to the Sultan whilst providing access to finance and expertise that would help in the development of Palestine, which would, by definition, serve capitalist interests. Naturally this reason could not be used to attract Jews to Palestine and therefore for them, it would be presented as a response to European anti-Semitism. It was obviously the service and loyalty of such a colony could provide to a capitalist government that eventually made it attractive to imperialist Britain, after it had defeated the Ottomans in Palestine. The Sultan had rejected the idea on the grounds that he could not transfer Palestine, a Muslim waqf, or trust, out of Muslim control. Thus it was neither a mistake nor an accident that the so-called Balfour Declaration was addressed to the leading banker in England, the paradigmatic capitalist, who happened to be Jewish, Lord Nathaniel Rothschild, and whose family embodied the two-folded significance of a Jewish capitalist colonial venture in Palestine. It should not come as a surprise, therefore, to learn that they subsequently did very well out of Palestine, as did his other confrère bankers and capitalists. The first British High Commissioner, Sir Herbert Samuel, was from a Jewish banking family!

Today the reality is such that this Jewish settler colony, called the State of Israel, exhibits that predicted loyalty to foreign capitalist interests, which arises out of its antagonistic status in the area. It is the enemy because its existence has been and continues to be predicated on the destruction of the local population, the majority of which remains refugees in the surrounding countries. This is the reason for the American foreign aid to Israel and all other aid from Europe.

With respect to the Jewish settler colony as a model for Palestine, it must be obvious that a broken, fragmented Arab Palestine can never fulfill the role of the Jewish state for myriad reasons: Palestinians are first and foremost not foreigners. They do not need to be dependent upon the West to legitimize their presence in Palestine. The vast majority is part of the Muslim wattany that forms the overwhelming majority of inhabitants in the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Asia, and shares the language, culture, and religion of the area. They are not Westerners, they do not command Western languages, they do not have the Jewish international commercial and financial skills and networks that serve global capital. In other words, following the logic of the Jewish state, Palestine has nothing to offer the capitalist West. This is the sole reason there still is no Palestinian state!

 

An Independent Palestinian nation-state — a possibility?

 

If one does not agree with my conclusion that the present international political dispensation has brought about the demise of the nation-state as a viable politico-economic social entity, one might bring another argument to bear against the viability of a Palestinian state. This argument would concentrate on the physical conditions necessary for statehood. The territory of Palestine beyond the 1967 borders has been so fragmented by the Jewish settler colony that it cannot be considered either appropriate or practical to call for any self-rule in the confined, bounded, and non-contiguous areas of the West Bank and Gaza, in the hope that this will either be an expression of, or lead to, an exercise of independent sovereignty and the fulfillment of the dream of freedom. Even if Palestinian statehood [sic] were recognized within the 1967 borders, such recognition would only have nominal value. Palestinians have no force nor power to remove the Jewish settlers from anywhere beyond this border, in Jerusalem, or the West Bank. As it is, within the tiny ghettos left over from the Jewish colonies in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinians do not control the water resources, the airspace above, and their exits and entries. And I am not even considering all the lands stolen and dispossessed and the official ports of entry, nor the Judaization of East Jerusalem. There is no viable economy, currency, nor international commercial and industrial relations and, most egregiously, there is no Palestinian army, nor will there be one precisely because of the actual physical conditions. The Palestinian security forces are police forces, created by the demands of the West and supported by them, for the purposes of policing Palestinians and preventing resistance to their oppression and dispossession. They are not there to attack Jewish Israelis.

One of the most ironic aspects of this bid for statehood is that the Palestinians will be required to rely upon the U.S., Israel, and the Western powers to achieve it — a status that these three entities have done everything to prevent, and undoubtedly, will continue to undermine. Yet there seems to be either the mistaken belief or an unforgivable naïveté amongst the proponents and supporters of this idea that the very entities, which have acted against Palestine and Palestinians, will suddenly change their attitudes and their allegiances. What grounds are there for believing that this is possible?

Because Palestinians have not lain down and died as per Western demands, they have been accused of shooting themselves in the foot all the time, in “never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity” and are their “own worst enemies” as well as having a corrupt leadership. Ironically, the one leadership that has not been corrupt, the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, has been declared a “terrorist organization” only because it has refused to go along with Israeli, et al, demands, and give up Palestine and all that that entails. It has continued to resist, even physically, the brutal and murderous Zionist military occupation.

Today’s negotiators do not represent the vast majority of the Palestinian people: anyone who is prepared to “negotiate” for twenty years and watch while his homeland is whittled away from under his thumb, or nose, cannot be considered a bona fide negotiator nor leader. However, by following the Western lead, they have definitely served their Western hosts — but not their own people. They do not suffer as their compatriots do on the ground, and even worse, their interests neither reflect nor coincide with the ordinary Palestinian living under military occupation as a refugee or as an exile.

 

Counter-proposal to Palestinian statehood

 

So the famous question arises, “What is to be done?” Unfortunately, there is no replacement for reality. It has never been in the cards in the West that the Palestinians will be given a proper deal. It is my considered opinion that the Jewish Zionist settler colony, also known as the state of Israel, will be supported as long as it remains a viable option for international capital, and the Palestinian question will be kept going on a low flame in order to prevent serious rioting, or an uprising and resistance. Because of the lack of a balance of power in the world today following the collapse of the USSR, unfortunately there is no “happy end” for Palestinians at this time. This means that what is left is only resistance. At the same time, the work of struggle, particularly with respect to information, must continue apace. As part of a program of education and the spreading of information, it is especially important to educate those Western sympathizers of Palestinians that it is their capitalist institutions, their governments and their political frameworks and references that are the cause of the Palestinian catastrophe. It is simply insane to turn to President Obama, as did the leaders of the American Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and ask him for help against Israel. Furthermore, it must be understood by all that references to democracy, non-violence, humanitarian aid, and human rights in the present international context are for the single and sole purpose of distracting attention from, and preventing proper understanding of, the real problems of the Jewish settler colony and its politico-economic power matrix. It must also be understood that the huge and continuing damage and harm, which Palestinians continue to suffer, is a direct result of that power matrix. And it must be understood very clearly that the building of Jewish settlements in occupied territory is an ongoing military conquest of that territory, a violation of all three basic war crimes, and not just “unfortunate” as the quartet is wont to say.

As an instance of resistance, I would add that the BDS movement (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) must be seen as marginal, because its organizers have not exhibited any serious or deep understanding of the actual political problems facing Palestinians in the manner in which I have described. Furthermore, the sanctions against South Africa, which is the model they have adopted, did not bring the South African apartheid regime to an end. Rather, the acquiescence and agreement of the ANC and the South African Communist party to a continuation of the neoliberal capitalist regime, with no expropriation of assets and land nor their redistribution to black owners and citizens, is what permitted the end of the openly racist regime. No preparation for a transfer of land in the form of agricultural training courses for black farmers, to prevent a reduction in food supply (as happened in Zimbabwe) took place, nor did civil service training take place on a scale demanded in the circumstances. In South Africa today, the class divisions continue as before, without the legal framework of deliberate racism as in apartheid. A black plutocracy serves as a fig leaf for those continuing and profound inequalities of wealth and power that existed under apartheid and that have never been ameliorated. The tragic irony is that the average black person is worse off than he or she was under the hated Afrikaner Nationalist regime. The Palestinian negotiators might well be compared to the black South African plutocracy, for what they have to offer I believe, can be and will be only a continuation of the terrible living conditions in both Gaza and the West Bank, if not worse.

I propose instead, as part of the resistance, a serious attempt to theorize the illegitimacy of the Jewish settler colony in all of Palestine, and not to grant it the status of a legitimate sovereign state in any part. It must be regarded it as an illegitimate political entity that has served to provide privileges for foreign Jews in Palestine at the quite deliberate expense of the native local population.

The governing principle for the future political dispensation in the Middle East must be the principle of unification. It must be understood very clearly that unification must be the struggle of all the local populations against the divisions and fragmentations imposed in the region by foreign imperialist capitalist powers. Unification confronts the imperialist motto “divide and rule” with “unify for strength!” My particular political inclination is to seriously push for an opening up of the political question of “Syria Tabiyya” — natural Syria, or Balady Shams — the Semitic/Arab Country. For the sake of the people in the region there should be a return to the unified territory of Greater Syria before its fragmentation by the then-imperialist powers of France and England. The carving up of Greater Syria has had disastrous consequences for the local populations and has most definitely held up its development and overall well being. It has also deprived the region of the richness and interest of its cosmopolitan character as it existed prior to its divisions and most definitely prior to the 1948 carving out of the Jewish state in Palestine. Except for the Jews in the Jewish state, none of the local regional states have flourished as they could have. Lebanon has been fractured by religious divisions (a wonderful Christian idea) and a horrendous civil war, and suffered disastrous military attacks and destruction by Israel. The regime of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, a very poor state, provides a military base for the West and is its most reliable Arab client, but its economic capacity is extremely limited, and nearly 80% of its population is refugees from Palestine. Palestinians in Israel are second-class citizens living under constant police and security forces surveillance, whilst Palestinians living in the rumpf of Palestine have been in a declining limbo since 1948, and continue to suffer the ravages of military occupation. Truncated Syria has no political center, is very poor, consists of a mosaic of different communities, and is threatened both internally and externally.

Therefore, deriving from the logic of the situation on the ground it would seem that for all the peoples of the Middle East, the solution lies in unification — in a unified country. It might be a Confederation of cantons, or vilayets, or provinces, in the territorial area of former Greater Syria, composed of what are now artificial nation-states and military-occupied areas. This Confederation can use Switzerland as its model, and must entail real democracy, real egalitarianism, and an economic system that serves the population and not the profiteers. Surely its cultural matrix will be Islamic, which in contrast to both Christianity and Judaism stresses the unity of peoples, the respect for the other and his religion, and a modesty as found in the Prophet himself — a modesty that is the heart of Islam, in contrast to the excessive luxury of the Arab Emirates, the Saudi ruling family, and the leaders who have pocketed national treasures and resources, the latter being the epitome of capitalist greed.

It goes without saying that this solution will come up against tremendous resistance. What is hopeful, however, is that the ordinary person is no longer without knowledge and, even more importantly, the capitalist system that has been the source of all the misery in the Middle East is itself in a profound crisis and this is apparent and cannot be hidden. This should open up new opportunities on the ground. But the one thing that we must understand is that so-called Realpolitiek, that is, the status quo, must not be allowed to overcome the struggle for a better human and communal existence that is beneficial to all — and not just the rich and not just the Jews.

TIBI: The tragedy of a two-state solution

TIBI: The tragedy of a two-state solution

Settling for a single nation may soon prove the only road to peace

Dangers of the Two States Solution

http://dissidentvoice.org/2009/12/dangers-of-the-two-states-solution/

Dangers of the Two States Solution

by Dr. Elias Akleh / December 16th, 2009

The Two States Solution (Israeli and Palestinian states) to the Zionist-Arab conflict has been, lately, revived as the only practical solution to the conflict. This solution, with all its embedded dangers, had been unjustly and illegally imposed by the UN in 1948 giving the Zionists a foot hold in the Arab World. It was, then, welcomed by the Zionists but rejected by the Arabs. Ironically, after 61 years and due to the changing balance of power, reviving this solution, now-a-days, is welcomed and sought for by the Arabs, but is rejected by Zionist Israel.

The 1993 Oslo Accords were supposed to be the solution of the conflict between the two parties. The Accords provided for the creation of a Palestinian Authority as a first step towards statehood in the West Bank and Gaza Strip side by side with Israeli state. A Palestinian state, in one form or another, would have been achieved in 1996, after which permanent agreements would have been negotiated leading to the Israeli withdrawal from the 1967 occupied territories. But Israeli intransigence, land confiscations, and colonial expansions had sabotaged all negotiations.

The Two State Solution has been used by late American administrations (Bush and Obama) as a sedative and a future-to-look-forward-to as a reward to neutralize any Arab opposition to American military adventurism in Afghanistan, Iraq, and possibility in Syria and Iran. Israel, meanwhile, takes the opportunity to expand its colonies at Palestinian expense.

Finally, after 18 years of fruitless peace negotiations, the Palestinian Authority recognized and officially declared the fact which every Palestinian knew, namely that the so-called peace negotiations were only meant for Israel, the stronger party, to impose its own solutions on the weaker Palestinian party while at the same time expanding its illegal colonies. Mahmoud Abbas, the President of Palestinian Authority, whose presidency expired last January, has petitioned the UN to recognize the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders the same way it recognized the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948. Abbas and his entourage were seen visiting important countries trying to garner political support for the declaration of a Palestinian state.

The definition of a state includes, among others, a contiguous piece of land with internationally recognized borders, a free people, who can exercise their own will within an organized social, political and economical structures, with a free government that exercises total control over its natural resources, its borders, its air, and its sea, and can secure inner peace and protect, through arms when necessary, the security of its citizens from any invading party, and most importantly a thriving economy that can sustain such a state. Does this definition apply to the would-be Palestinian state?

Israel exercises total control over all aspects of Palestinian life: land, air, sea, water, and economy. Israel controls the movement of virtually every Palestinian and specifically the Palestinian Authority. To put it bluntly, Palestinian officials cannot even fart without Israeli permission. One wonders, then, what form would a Palestinian state take. Would it be viable or decaying? Sovereign or subservient? Free or besieged? Emancipated or dependent? Above all, would the establishment of a Palestinian state, at this time, solve or exacerbate the conflict?

Palestinian Authority envisions a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders (West Bank and Gaza Strip) with east Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as its capital, and a “just solution” to the Palestinian refugees’ situation. This is a huge change in the goals of the Fatah’s liberation program. Fatah’s present leadership, headed by the rigged elected Abbas, had degraded its honorable goals from liberating the whole Palestine down to accepting the establishment of a teratogenic state on less than 18% of Palestine proper, for Israel has annexed 80% of Palestine, has taken all of Jerusalem, and the separation wall is taking 42% of the rest of the land. Leaders of Palestinian Authority are still hoping to keep on serving their Western employers by playing the role of policing, subjugating, and containing Palestinians within their major cities. It seems that they have forgotten that Palestinians are struggling not only for a mere dwarfed state, but also for justice, for freedom, for equality, for return to their homeland, and for independent sovereignty.

It behooves Abbas and his gang, and the rest of the Arab leaders who have abandoned Palestinians, to remember that the Palestinian Cause does not belong only to Palestinians, but also to all Arabs. Legitimizing the right of existence of an expansionist colonial foreign entity in the heart of the Arab World is not a decision to be taken by few puppet leaders. Every Arab citizen has a stake in this decision.

Israeli leaders, on the other hand, although pretending to accept the Two State Solution, are introducing all kinds of unattainable conditions in order to sabotage the solution. They want to keep the unbalanced negotiations to milk as much would be internationally recognized political concession as they could from the weak Palestinian representatives. They are adhering to the main policy of their Zionist founders which states a “Jewish state is unthinkable without the compulsory transfer of Palestinians to other Arab states”. The Zionist project of establishing a Jewish-only Greater Israel is based, initially, on the expulsion of Palestinians out of Palestine into the neighboring Arab countries in order to implant Jews in the land. Then, while expanding Israel into the Greater Israel dream, drive the Palestinians and the rest of the Arabs, living within the area between the Nile and Euphrates, into far away countries. Zionists are taking the American model as their road map, where the so-called “American pioneers and forefathers” had annihilated the Indigenous peoples to establish the good old USA.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed this policy eloquently: “Israel is not a bi-national state. It is the homeland of ANY JEW. And there is a broad consensus in Israel that the Palestinian refugee problem should be resolved outside Israel’s borders. Jews will come here and Palestinians will go there. That is the bases of a solution. Palestinians should have to make a final peace deal with The Jewish State of Israel.”

Zionists will never accept east Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. They want Jerusalem to be the eternal capital of Israel. In their final scheme Jerusalem is planned to become the Zionist capital of the whole world after the destruction of the al-Aqsa Mosque and the building of a Jewish temple in its place. This plan was hinted to in Ben Gurion’s statement: “There is no meaning to Israel without Jerusalem, and there is no meaning to Jerusalem without the temple.”

The Two State Solution is a dangerous and an unjust solution. It gives legitimacy to the law of the jungle; might is right. It takes the land and the homes of the Palestinians and gives them to armed-to-the-teeth Zionist terrorists. It vindicates the Zionists’ war crimes, crimes against humanity, their massacres of civilians, and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, as well as their war crimes against Egyptians, Jordanians, Syrians, and Lebanese. It denies those victims any right to pursue justice, their right of return to their homes, and their right for full reparations. It recognizes and legalizes the rogue state of Israel as a racist Jewish only state. It wipes all the history and cultures of the land before the times of Abraham, and recognizes only the shorter Jewish history and their so-called religious right to the land.

The proponents of the Two State Solution claim that it is the only practical and logical solution due to the present balance of power and due to the facts on the ground. Balance of power is represented in the WMD Israel possesses and has used against Palestinians, and in the American blind unconditional political, financial, and military support to Israel. The facts on the ground are represented by the Israeli illegal occupation of all Palestine, and the illegally scattered Israeli militarized colonies (settlements) in the West Bank. It is claimed that it is impractical to uproot already resident Zionist colonists (settlers) and to dismantle the illegal colonies.

A New Path For Israel?

A New Path For Israel? 

by John Spritzler 

November 16, 2008

[newdemocracyworld.org]

Hours after resigning as prime minister of Israel on September 21, 2008, Ehud Olmert gave an interview to the Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth (excerpted in the New York Review of Books), in which he seems to have made a 180 degree turnaround from his former views. Olmert said,  

"We must reach an agreement with the Palestinians, meaning a withdrawal from nearly all, if not all, of the [occupied] territories. Some percentage of these territories would remain in our hands, but we must give the Palestinians the same percentage [of territory elsewhere]without this, there will be no peace." In answer to the interviewer asking, "Including Jerusalem?" Olmert replied, "Including Jerusalem with, I’d imagine, special arrangements made for the Temple Mount and the holy/historical sites." 

This is, at least verbally, a very different Ehud Olmert from the one who, in March of 2008, declared that even despite the fact that, as Al Jazeera’s report put it, "Washington has been especially critical of Israeli plans to build hundreds of new homes in [the Jerusalem neighborhood of] Har Homa," he would do so. Al Jazeera reported,  

"The Israeli prime minister said his government would continue to build hundreds of new apartments in Har Homa in east Jerusalem. ‘There will be places where there will be construction, or additions to construction, because these places will remain in Israel’s hands,’ Olmert said during a visit to Israel by Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, on Monday.’This includes, first and foremost, Jerusalem,’ he said. ‘We are building in Jerusalem because everyone knows that there is no chance the State of Israel will give up neighbourhoods like Har Homa, as you know. It’s an inseparable part of Jerusalem.’" 

The "new" Olmert made news again as recently as November 13, 2008, when Haaretz headlined, "Olmert decries ‘deliberate and insufferable’ discrimination against Arabs." The article reported that,  

"Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Wednesday decried the ‘deliberate and insufferable’ discrimination against Arabs at the hands of the Israeli establishment, during an appearance before a Knesset panel in Jerusalem. The gap between the proportion of Arab citizens in Israel and their inclusion in the state’s civil service positions ‘arouses concern and unrest,’ the premier told a parliamentary commission of inquiry examining the issue." 

The "new" Olmert may have begun to emerge, however, as early as May of 2007, when the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted a report  of Olmert’s speech at the "Israeli Democracy Institute" headlined, "PM Olmert to Israeli Arabs: ‘Equality is not just a slogan.’" Olmert said,  

"I will not try to hide the fact that in the State of Israel there is discrimination…. 

"Lastly, the Government has made many decisions that will assist in reducing gaps among the Arab population, including increasing the number of non-Jews in the civil service, investing millions of shekels in encouraging employment in peripheral areas in both the north and south, constructing new classrooms and declaring all non-Jewish communities as A industrial development areas. This year, we will finance the activities of a special Arab sector fund that will enable investments in 40 companies. All of the foregoing is being done in order to convert equality from a slogan into reality."

What’s Going On?  

An indication that Olmert’s surprising statements reflect something more than just his personal views is this November 11, 2008 Inter Press Service report:

"The Israeli government has begun to actively promote voluntary army service for Israeli Arabs. The Knesset, the Israeli parliament, is meanwhile considering plans to make civil service compulsory for all Israeli citizens, including Israeli Arabs." 

There are other reasons to suspect that the "new" Olmert may reflect more than just one man’s changed opinion. The fact that Jimmy Carter wrote his book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, calling Israel’s occupation of the West Bank "apartheid,"  the fact that two ultra-establishment academics–Harvard’s Stephen Walt and the University of Chicago’s John Mearsheimer– challenged the idea that America’s virtually unconditional support of the Israeli government was in America’s "national interest," and the fact that President-elect Obama is reportedly going to pursue a "peace plan" involving Israel withdrawing to pre-1967 borders all suggest that the American as well as Israeli elite are considering a "course correction" in policy related to the Israel/Palestine conflict.  

What might this "course correction" entail? Apparently, it would mean actually implementing the two-state solution, instead of just using its "Roadmap to Peace" rhetoric to cover up perpetual Israeli occupation of the West Bank and control of Gaza. The "new" Olmert apparently would let the Palestinian state include all of the Gaza Strip and all of the West Bank after some swapping of land acre-for-acre between the West Bank and Israeli along the border.  

But–and this is crucial for understanding what is going on–the "new" Olmert, along with Jimmy Carter and Walt and Mearsheimer and Obama, conspicuously avoid talking about the right of return of the Palestinian refugees to their country (that is now called Israel.) They oppose the right of return. The New York Times reported in March of 2007, that  

"Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in interviews published Friday that Israel would not allow a single Palestinian refugee to return to what is now Israel, and that the country bore no responsibility for the refugees because their plight resulted from an attack by Arab nations on Israel when it was a fledgling state…He said the return of even one Palestinian refugee to Israel was ‘out of the question.’" 

I am not aware of any "change of heart" by Olmert on the right of return question.  

Jimmy Carter’s position on the right of return is, as he expressed it in his book’s section on the Geneva Initiative that he helped write, that there should be a "limited right of return of Palestinians." To put this word "limited" in its true perspective, imagine the outrage that would be hurled at Carter by world leaders and pundits if Carter had suggested that there should be a "limited right of return" to Germany of Jews who left Germany to flee from the Nazis!  

The two-state solution described by people like Olmert and Carter, however, will thus maintain the fundamental apartheid reality of Israel/Palestine, in other words the substantial separation of Jews from non-Jews that resulted from the ethnic cleansing in 1948 (and more in 1967) of most of the non-Jews from Israel. It will formalize this apartheid reality by declaring that, in a region of the world where Jews and non-Jews share a common source of water and are thoroughly intertwined economically and in close proximity geographically, nonetheless there will be two separate states, one for the Jews and one for the Palestinians, a "Jewish" state and a "Palestinian" state. Furthermore, while the "Jewish" state of Israel will be a regional super-power with nuclear weapons and the United States as its ally, consider what the Palestinian state will be. It will have no military comparable to Israel’s and it will, like the nominally "independent" Gaza Strip that is essentially a prison run by Israel today, have no more control over its borders and other key elements of sovereignty than Israel chooses to grant it. The apartheid that Olmert envisions is about two separate and very unequal states.

Why Would Olmert Talk About Ending Discrimination Against Non-Jews?  

In this sense of maintaining apartheid, there is nothing new going on. Even the talk about abolishing discrimination against non-Jews inside of Israel fits right into the apartheid "Jewish state" paradigm as it was formulated way back in 1948 in the "Declaration of the State of Israel." This document asserts that Israel is a "Jewish state" in which the sovereign authority is "the Jewish people" and not all of its citizens. But it also asserts that Arabs shall have "complete equality of social and political rights" and "full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its [Israel’s] provisional and permanent institutions." Israel’s founding leaders believed that if the norms of equality and democracy seemed to prevail inside of Israel, that this would divert attention from the enormous ethnic cleansing of non-Jews that was the very basis of the Jewish state, and enable Israel to enjoy legitimacy in the eyes of the world. Thus Israel’s leaders continue to insist that Israel is a "Jewish democracy," as if denying the right of more than 4 million non-Jews to even return to and live in their country (Israel), never mind vote in it, is democratic.  

It is important to put Olmert’s talk about ending discrimination against non-Jews in perspective. Eliminating discrimination against an ethnic or racial group is not the same thing as improving the lives of most members of that racial or ethnic group. Consider, for example, what happened to black people in the United States after overt de jure racial discrimination in the South was entirely abolished and de facto discrimination in the North was greatly reduced in the 1960s. Since then, as a result, a small number of blacks have indeed benefitted. There are some very rich American blacks now. Some blacks are CEOs of corporations, top TV newscasters and a Supreme Court Justice. Blacks hold top government positions such as governor of Massachusetts and Secretary of State and even the presidency-elect. But from 1970 to 2000 the number of blacks in prison increased eightfold, from 133,226 to one million people. From 1970 to 1989 black median family income declined from 61% to 56% of white median family income.  

Likewise, the conditions of life for ordinary blacks in South Africa got worse  after apartheid was abolished. Ashwin Desai, in his book We Are the Poors, writes of post-apartheid South Africa: 

"The white elite was allowed to move its corporate assets to London and a small black elite made up of around 300 families became super rich. Unemployment reached 40 percent and by every measure (life expectancy, morbidity, access to food, water, etc.) the living conditions of the poor rapidly worsened…  

"On May 16, 2000, Michael Makabane was shot dead at point-blank range during a peaceful protest against the exclusion of poor students from the University of Durban-Westville. That campus had been considered a hotbed of militant resistance to apartheid. While police repression had been brutal no students had ever been killed during the apartheid era. The local paper, now under black editorship, called for tougher action against protesting students…  

"Over a million people had been disconnected from water because they couldn’t pay; 40,000 children were dying from diarrhea caused by dirty water each year. Cholera returned with a vengeance, infecting over 100,000 people in Kwa-Zulu Natal alone. People starved in rural areas, throngs of street-kids descended on every town to beg and prostitute themselves, petty-crimes soared, and the jails reached 170% capacity." 

Class inequality and oppression does not require racial or ethnic discrimination. The upper class may have exactly the same ethnic/racial composition as the general population without taking away one iota from the brutality and injustice of class inequality. Indeed, when racial or ethnic discrimination has lost its legitimacy, class inequality may actually be strengthened by providing an equal opportunity to all people, regardless of their race or ethnicity, to join the upper class elite, enjoy its wealth, privilege and power, and of course help oppress the working class. The fact that the Israeli government has begun to actively promote voluntary army service for Israeli Arabs so that they may join Jewish soldiers in violently denying Palestinian refugees their right of return illustrates how "ending discrimination" and advancing the welfare of the people who are discriminated against are not always the same thing. The emergence of well-to-do blacks in the United States and South Africa has actually made it, if anything, harder for ordinary blacks to fight for real improvements, because upwardly mobile blacks seize leadership and define "progress" to be merely the opportunity for small numbers of blacks to rise in an unequal society in which most will remain at the bottom.  

Olmert Sees the Handwriting on the Wall  

The problem for Israel’s leaders today is that Israel’s legitimacy in the eyes of the world is wearing very thin. Too many people know that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and virtual imprisonment of the people living in the Gaza Strip are inhumane and unjustifiable. There is a limit to how long such a brutal occupation can justify itself with phony claims about protecting Jews from anti-Semites. Up to now the extreme brutality of the occupation has directed public anger at the occupation itself, as opposed to the fundamental injustice of the ethnic cleansing that is the basis of Israel being a "Jewish" state. As long as public anger is deflected this way from seeing the wrongness of Israel’s very existence as a "Jewish state," the Zionist project is not at great risk.

But people around the world are coming to see that the occupation is about defending ethnic cleansing. The more this happens, the more sense it makes for Israel’s leaders to end the occupation. And indeed, public opinion is turning against Zionism, per se, so much that 73% of voters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the absence of any focused educational campaign, voted "yes" on the Somerville Divestment Project’s ballot question in 2008 calling for the U.S. to support the "right of non-Jewish Palestinian citizens of Israel [my emphasis] to be free from laws that give more rights to people of one religion than another." That public opinion in the United States, of all places, has shifted so much that any American town would deliver such a stunning indictment of the Zionist project has given farsighted Israeli leaders like Olmert cause for concern. That 74% of Americans, according to a University of Maryland polll reported on July 1, 2008, would say that they think their government should not take Israel’s side in the Israel/Palestine conflict cannot have gone unnoticed by people like Olmert, either. Also alarming to Zionist leaders is the fact that they are losing their own Jewish base. Anti-Zionist views are taken seriously now at places that were formerly bastions of uncontested Zionist influence, like Brandeis University. When a mode of elite social control becomes widely viewed as illegitimate, shrewd elite leaders have no choice but to consider alternatives, meaning alternative ways of enforcing elite social control.  

Israel’s Occupation of the West Bank Isn’t the Only Way to Skin the Cat  

Why does Israel occupy the West Bank and inflict pain on the people of Gaza? It has nothing to do with protecting Jews from anti-Semites. It is all about protecting the Israeli Jewish upper class (whose 18 wealthiest families’ income is equivalent to 77% of Israel’s national budget)  from ordinary Jews. The enormous and increasing social inequality inside Israel, even among just the Jews, exists because Israel is not really a "Jewish" state at all, not in the sense that ordinary Jews control the government and use it to make a better life for themselves. The Israeli government is controlled by billionaires and generals, and politicians in their service, who use it to dominate the Israeli working class, the same way an American upper class uses the American government. Michal Schwartz describes what is happening to Israelis this way in a 2005 article:  

"In early 2003 a new Finance Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, claimed that catastrophe sat at the door. His response was to make Israel more attractive for the rich. The country, he said, had been spending beyond its means. The solution? Cheapen the cost of labor and cut welfare. Let the poor go to work in the jobs that would trickle down from the investments of the rich!  

"Netanyahu cut into guaranteed minimum income, child allowances, old-age benefits, supplements to single parents, and unemployment compensation. Women made up 65% of those receiving this money. They weren’t parasites or charity cases, as he made them out to be. The vast majority worked, but their pay was so low that they needed the supplements in order to get through the month. They were Netanyahu’s main victims."  

Since 1948 the main way the Israeli elite has controlled the Jewish Israeli working class has been by keeping it more frightened of Palestinians and Arabs generally than of the billionaire rulers of Israel who are driving workers down. Every atrocity against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza committed by the Israeli government foments more Palestinian anger that Israeli rulers use to keep Jews frightened. Every rocket fired by Hamas into an Israeli town helps the Israeli ruling class tighten its grip over Israeli Jews. This has been a very successful strategy of social control. To understand just how successful it has been one must imagine what Israeli workers would likely have done in its absence.

To defend themselves against the Israeli elite, Jewish workers wage very frequent strikes, often general strikes. In 2003 700,000 workers shut down ports, airports, schools, universities, the stock exchange, government offices and almost all public services. There was another general strike of 400,000 workers in July of 2007. But as militant as Jewish Israeli workers are, their leaders told "defense"-related workers to remain on the job during the strike, seriously weakening it. In 2006, one of their leaders–Amir Peretz, who had himself called general strikes in the past as the chairman of the huge Histadrut labor union, and who was the leader of the Labor Party, took command of Israel’s military as Defense Minister and orchestrated the killing of 900 Lebanese civilians–working class people with whom Israeli workers need to ally to truly win their struggles against the billionaire class. The billionaires surely do have a problem controlling Israeli workers. But it is a zillion times easier for them to do it when workers are so fearful of their non-Jewish fellows that they follow leaders who sabotage general strikes by telling "defense" workers to scab, and who kill innocent workers for the crime of not being Jewish.

This strategy for controlling the Israeli working class has been quite successful. But it has come at the expense of increasing world wide disgust at the Israeli government, because the strategy requires fomenting Arab anger at Israel with gratuitous attacks on Arabs, like the Lebanon war and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.  

Olmert is apparently afraid that, like apartheid in South Africa, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank may end up being unsustainable due to world outrage that could lead to sanctions against Israel. Boycotts against Israel are already starting to happen, including one by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. Olmert may have calculated that the question is not whether to continue the occupation indefinitely or not, but whether to be in control–or not in control–of its dismantling when it is impossible to maintain.  

Olmert and Carter seem to be considering the following plan. To regain world legitimacy, Israel will get out of the occupation business while still maintaining the essential features of apartheid in the region. It will do this by arranging for a Palestinian elite, in a Palestinian state, to take over from Israel the task of controlling Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. And it will further restore Israel’s legitimacy by removing the obvious forms of discrimination against non-Jews inside of Israel.  

Already we can see the outlines of this alternative form of social control. The Boston Globe on November 15 reported, for example, how the United States and Israeli government are relying on a Palestinian elite–the Palestinian Authority–to do their dirty work for them. The Palestinian Authority is arresting members of Hamas, an organization that, unlike the Palestinian Authority, still demands the right of return for Palestinians:  

"The arrests have been part of increased Israeli-Palestinian cooperation in which US-trained Palestinian troops are moving into West Bank cities, leading to some pullback by Israeli troops." 

The natural extension of this is the two-state solution. What people like Olmert apparently hope to do is get the Palestinian refugees to give up on the right of return and to accept their exile to the West Bank or Gaza (and their lack of compensation for the land and other property stolen from them by the Zionists) in exchange for being ruled over by Palestinians instead of Israeli Jews. Then, Olmert and his kind hope, Israel would regain its lost legitimacy in the eyes of the world. The downside of this for both Israel’s and America’s rulers–and it would be a downside— is that there would probably be less overt violence between Israelis and Palestinians. This would result in Israeli Jewish citizens growing less frightened of Palestinians and more inclined to wage general strikes against the Israeli ruling class, as they did, for example, in 1997 when the hope for peace associated with the Oslo negotiations made them less fearful of Palestinians.  

Presumably Olmert believes that other forms of conflict between Jews and Palestinians could be fomented that would accomplish the same ends that the violence of Israeli occupation does now. There is every reason to believe that the Palestinian Authority would gladly collaborate with the Israeli elite for this purpose, because the PA itself is not run democratically by ordinary Palestinians but rather by a Palestinian upper class. As Allegra Pacheco wrote for www.palestinecenter.org in March, 2000, describing the Israeli occupation’s "closure" policy in the West Bank that makes freedom of movement a privilege:  

"VIP passes are issued to members of the Palestinian Authority (PA), to wealthy Palestinian business persons, and to some collaborators. This system enables this select elite to maintain political and economic control over the rest of the Palestinian population, and assures the continued prosperity of all the Palestinian monopolies. Closure also supplies cheap, unprotected Palestinian labor for the mequilladora industrial zones owned and operated by Israeli and VIP Palestinian businessmen." 

Perhaps the Israeli and Palestinian elites could copy the game book of U.S. and Mexican elites in pitting ethnic groups against each other. American rulers demanded (as a condition of NAFTA) that Mexico amend its constitution to eliminate the clause, from the days of the Mexican Revolution, that gave peasants rights to their land. Then American agri-business, with U.S. government subsidies, began flooding Mexico with artificially cheap corn, thereby driving Mexican peasants off the land. Mexico’s ruling elite, in turn, provide few jobs for these peasants, preferring that they emigrate. In this manner, two million peasants have been forced to enter the United States illegally in search of employment. American businessmen use them for cheap labor. At the same time American politicians tell American workers that "illegal Mexican immigrants" are their enemy for taking away jobs and lowering wages and sponging off of American taxpayers. This "two-state solution," i.e. Mexico for the Mexicans and America for the Americans, might not be as good a method of divide-and-rule as a shooting war, but it’s not bad, and something very similar could doubtless work with the two states of Israel and Palestine. Additionally, the scarcity of water, for example, from common aquifers for Israel and the West Bank, could be used to generate even more animosity between Jews and Palestinians. All it takes is a bit of "creative statecraft." 

Dividing historic Palestine (from the River to the Sea) into a Jewish and a Palestinian state fits right in to the pattern of social control by divide-and-rule along ethnic lines that American and other elites have used in other parts of the world. The American government, for example, used NATO to break Yugoslavia up into ethnic pieces, used rainbow colored "revolutions" to break up the former Soviet Union along ethnic lines, and promoted Tibetan nationalism for decades to stir up discord within China. Britain’s rulers split Ireland into Catholic and Protestant states, leading to ethnic violence known as "The Troubles." British rulers also played a key role in splitting India into a Hindu state (India) and a Muslim state (Pakistan), resulting in massive ethnic violence and a half million deaths. Vice-President-elect Joe Biden famously called for splitting Iraq into three loosely federated ethnic states, and this may indeed be one of the unstated aims of the American invasion of Iraq, since this is exactly what a former president of the powerful elite organization, the Council on Foreign Affairs, called for. As the Asia Times reported November 27, 2003,  

"Iraq is ‘artificially and fatefully made whole from three distinct ethnic and sectarian communities’, says Leslie Gelb in his November 25 New York Time article. Gelb – a former editor and columnist for the Times and president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations – advocates dismembering Iraq into three parts, a Kurdish north, a Sunni center and a Shi’ite south, in what he calls the ‘Three State Solution’." 

The best solution for the Palestine/Israel conflict, of course, is not this divide-and-rule, but simple justice and fairness–a one-state solution in which all of Palestine, from the River to the Sea, is a single truly democratic state in which everybody is equal before the law regardless of their religion, with the unconditional right of return for the Palestinian refugees with full compensation from the Zionist elite for the land and property that the Zionist project stole from them, just as Jews have the same unconditional rights with respect to Germany. This is not only morally right and called for by international law, but also logistically and politically feasible.

Israeli Occupation and Discrimination Aren’t the Only Problems  

As bad as Israel’s occupation of the West Bank (and control of Gaza) is, and as wrong as Israeli discrimination against non-Jews inside Israel is, we would be making a big mistake if we limited our goal to abolishing these wrong things only. As Olmert seems to realize, occupation of the West Bank and discrimination inside Israel against non-Jews are not required for class oppression and inequality to function. In fact the latter can and may even need to dispense with the former in whole or in part in order to gain the legitimacy required to prevail. What a privileged and powerful elite cannot dispense with, however, is the practice of pitting people against each other, in one way or another, to control and dominate them. This is because most people don’t like to be dominated and they don’t like inequality and if left to themselves would abolish elite rule and create a society in which people worked together as equals to make a better world for all. The only realistic alternative to our being pitted against each other with lies and manipulation is a society without a privileged and powerful elite. That must be the explicit goal of those who truly have the interests of ordinary Palestinians and Israelis at heart. Otherwise the Olmerts of the world will carry the day.

Other articles about Palestine/Israel by John Spritzler

Occupation by bureaucracy and hope for the democratic state

International Herald Tribune
Occupation by bureaucracy
Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A cease-fire went into effect in Gaza last week, offering some respite from the violence that has killed hundreds of Palestinians and five Israelis in recent months. It will do nothing, however, to address the underlying cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Intermittent spectacular violence may draw the world’s attention to the occupied Palestinian territories, but our obsession with violence actually distracts us from the real nature of Israel’s occupation, which is its smothering bureaucratic control of everyday Palestinian life.

This is an occupation ultimately enforced by tanks and bombs, and through the omnipresent threat, if not application, of violence. But its primary instruments are application forms, residency permits, population registries and title deeds. On its own, no cease-fire will relieve the beleaguered Palestinians.

Gaza is virtually cut off from the outside world by Israeli power. Elsewhere, in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the ongoing Israeli occupation comprehensively infuses all the normally banal activities of Palestinians’ everyday lives: applying for permission to access one’s own land; applying for what Israel regards as the privilege – rather than the right – of living with one’s spouse and children; applying for permission to drive one’s car; to dig a well; to visit relatives in the next town; to visit Jerusalem; to go to work; to school; to university; to hospital. There is hardly any dimension of everyday life in Palestine that is not minutely managed by Israeli military or bureaucratic personnel.

Partly, this occupation of everyday life enables the Israelis to maintain their vigilant control over the Palestinian population. But it also serves the purpose of slowly, gradually removing Palestinians from their land, forcing them to make way for Jewish settlers.

Just in 2006, for example, Israel stripped 1,363 Jerusalem Palestinians of the right to live in the city in which many of them were born. It did this not by dramatically forcing dozens of people at a time onto trucks and dumping them at the city limits, but rather by quietly stripping them, one by one, of their Jerusalem residency papers.

This in turn was enabled by a series of bureaucratic procedures. While Israel continues to violate international law by building exclusively Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, it rarely grants building permits to Palestinian residents of the same city. Since 1967, the third of Jerusalem’s population that is Palestinian has been granted just 9 percent of the city’s official housing permits. The result is a growing abundance of housing for Jews and a severe shortage of housing for non-Jews – i.e., Palestinians.

In fact, 90 percent of the Palestinian territory Israel claimed to have annexed to Jerusalem after 1967 is today off-limits to Palestinian development because the land is either already built on by exclusively Jewish settlements or being reserved for their future expansion.

Denied permits, many Palestinians in Jerusalem build without them, but at considerable risk: Israel routinely demolishes Palestinian homes built without a permit. This includes over 300 homes in East Jerusalem demolished between 2004 and 2007 and 18,000 Palestinian homes in the occupied territories demolished since 1967.

One alternative has been to move to the West Bank suburbs and commute to Jerusalem. The wall cutting off East Jerusalem from the West Bank and thereby separating tens of thousands of Jerusalem Palestinians from the city of their birth has made that much more difficult.

And it too has its risks: Palestinians who cannot prove to Israel’s satisfaction that Jerusalem has continuously been their "center of life" have been stripped of their Jerusalem residency papers. Without those papers, they will be expelled from Jerusalem, and confined to one of the walled-in reservoirs – of which Gaza is merely the largest example – that Israel has allocated as holding pens for the non-Jewish population of the holy land.

The expulsion of half of Palestine’s Muslim and Christian population in what Palestinians call the nakba (catastrophe) of 1948 was undertaken by Israel’s founders in order to clear space in which to create a Jewish state.

The nakba did not end 60 years ago, however: It continues to this very day, albeit on a smaller scale. Yet even ones and twos eventually add up. Virtually every day, another Palestinian joins the ranks of the millions removed from their native land and denied the right of return.

Their long wait will end – and this conflict will come to a lasting resolution – only when the futile attempt to maintain an exclusively Jewish state in what had previously been a vibrantly multi-religious land is abandoned.

Separation will always require threats or actual violence; a genuine peace will come not with more separation, but with the right to return to a land in which all can live as equals. Only a single democratic, secular and multicultural state offers that hope to Israelis and Palestinians, to Muslims, Jews and Christians alike.

Saree Makdisi is professor of English literature at the University of California, Los Angeles and author of "Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation."


Notes:

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Arab leaders doubtful on 2-state solution to Palestinian conflict

Arab leaders doubtful on 2-state solution to Palestinian conflict
By Michael Slackman
Friday, February 22, 2008

CAIRO: Arab leaders will threaten to rescind their offer of full relations with Israel in exchange for a complete Israeli withdrawal from occupied lands unless Israel gives a positive response to their initiative, indicating the Arab states' growing disillusionment with the prospects of a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

At an Arab League meeting in March in Syria, the leaders plan to reiterate support for their initiative, first issued in 2002. The initiative promised Israel normalization with the 22 members of the league in return for the creation of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as the capital, and a resolution of the issue of Palestinian refugees.

But this time, "there will be a message to Israel emphasizing the need to respond to the initiative; otherwise, Arab states will reassess the previous stage of peace," said Muhammad Sobeih, assistant secretary general of the Arab League in charge of the Palestinian issue. "They will withdraw the initiative and look for other options. It makes no sense to insist on something that Israel is rejecting."

Israeli officials on Friday rejected the Arab complaints and said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had responded positively to the Arab League initiative as a basis for negotiations.

Mark Regev, the spokesman for Olmert, said Israel was engaged in serious peace negotiations with the Palestinians on nearly a daily basis, in order to settle the conflict on the basis of two independent and sovereign states.

"Israel has responded positively to the Arab League initiative," Regev said. "We've praised the initiative, and we said we were willing to have negotiations with the Arab world on its basis, and the prime minister has praised it. To say we've ignored it is simply incorrect."

The talks with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and his chosen negotiators go on "almost daily," Regev said, with Abbas-Olmert meetings every other week.

Another Israeli official, who asked not to be identified for diplomatic reasons, played down the comments from Sobeih. The official said that in general, Amr Moussa, head of the Arab League, and his secretariat staff were more "critical and negative than Arab League foreign ministers." He described Moussa and his staff as "more Nasserite" and said that European interlocutors "tell us, 'Don't expect much from Amr Moussa.' "

Many Arab leaders never warmly embraced the idea of a two-state solution to the conflict because of their distaste for Israel, but they accepted it as a means to stabilize the region and tamp down extremism. Now, however, there is a growing feeling that Israel wants to create only a rump Palestinian state that would be neither viable nor truly sovereign. And that, officials say, is not only unacceptable, but also dangerous.

That perception hit Arab leaders hard when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians crashed through the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt in January, in the wake of an Israeli policy to cut off supplies to Gaza to protest the rule of Hamas there and the continuing rocket fire on Israel.

When the Palestinians poured into Egypt, suddenly, officials in both Jordan and Egypt – the only neighbors with peace treaties with Israel – grew frightened that Israel planned to solve its Palestinian problem by forcing Egypt to absorb Gaza, and Jordan the West Bank.

"The crisis was an awakening for those who didn't know or were not familiar with plans or ideas to drop Gaza on Egypt's shoulder," said an Egyptian government official speaking on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the subject. Israeli officials have said that they would like Egypt to take over administration of Gaza.

As a result, there is a growing sentiment in Arab states that the principle at the core of the peace process – the two-state solution – has no future. Increasingly, the peace process, once aimed at figuring out how to get from here to there, is back to a more fundamental point: where to go.

"There Is No Longer Space for Two States on the Palestinian Land," read a headline in a recent edition of Al Hayat, a pan-Arab newspaper in London.

Egyptians and Jordanians say that the way events have evolved, there is no likelihood that a real Palestinian state would be formed. A truncated entity, one dotted with Israeli settlements and divided by internal Palestinian conflict, would in the end be no state at all, and would serve only to empower radicals and fuel the conflict in perpetuity, Arab political analysts and government officials said.

"There is a general Arab sentiment of despair regarding this issue," said Dureid Mahasneh, a member of the Jordanian team that negotiated the treaty with Israel in the 1990s.

That despair is accompanied by anxiety and fear that momentum is moving in favor of the more radical players, like Hamas and its patron state, Iran.

"Hamas is going to be fortified," said Mahmoud Shokry, a retired Egyptian ambassador to Syria who serves on the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, a government advisory group. "Not only Egypt, but all the Arab countries have to think about this."

Arabs blame Israel – as the occupying power – for the diminishing viability of a two-state solution, even while Sobeih said he would never, under any circumstances, accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.

"People no longer trust that a Palestinian state can be established, for one sole reason: the brutality of the Israeli state and the retreat of the Arab world," said Abdullah el-Ashaal, a former assistant to the Egyptian foreign minister and a professor of international law at Cairo University, who was articulating a widely held position in this region. "And this is why there is a return to the radicalization of the Arab attitude, meaning the words 'peace process' no longer hold any meaning."

Steven Erlanger contributed reporting from Jerusalem.

Notes:

Copyright

Taken for a Ride by the Israeli Left: A Response to Uri Avnery

It clearly suits those who believe that partition is the only solution to act as though the world never changes. But it does — and did under apartheid. It will change also in Palestine.

http://www.uruknet.de/?s1=1&p=30064&s2=26

Taken for a Ride by the Israeli Left: A Response to Uri Avnery

Steven Friedman and Virginia Tilley, The Electronic Intifada

January 26, 2007

Uri Avnery is a human rights crusader of venerable standing. He has fought, written, published and campaigned for Palestinian rights for some sixty years. He has stood on the political barricades and faced down bulldozers to defend Palestinians from Israeli military abuse. His articles, books, and magazine denounced Israel's seizure of Palestinian land before most of the "new historians" learned to write. He even denounces legalized discrimination against Palestinian Israelis in uncompromising terms and has called for Israel to become "a state of all its citizens", although still retaining a large Jewish majority (e.g., see his recent "What Makes Sammy Run?"). As a founder of the peace group Gush Shalom, he remains the recognized godfather of liberal Zionism and no one doubts his sincerity in insisting on a two-state solution.

Given all this, it may seem odd that many people working hard for a stable peace in Israel-Palestine find Mr. Avnery so immensely irritating. The reason stems from his moral contradictions, all too common to liberal Zionism: that is, while taking an unflinching moral stand against racist abuses of Palestinians, he somehow drops the same principles in assuming that Israel itself has a right to preserve its "Jewish character" at the expense of Palestinian rights. For it is all too obvious that sustaining an "overwhelming" Jewish majority in Israel, essential to preserving its "Jewish character," requires that Israel sustain a whole cluster of racist practices, such as giant Walls to keep people from mixing and not allowing Palestinian exiles to return.

Liberal Zionists who cling to Mr. Avnery's analyses consistently trip over this moral fallacy. They want the occupation to end and find oppression of Palestinians morally abhorrent, and some even believe that discrimination against Palestinian Arabs must end. But they don't want Israel's status as a state run for only one ethnic group to end. They must therefore endorse whatever discrimination is deemed essential to preserving Israel's Jewish majority, particularly in keeping those Palestinians expelled from what is now Israel from ever coming back. In this view, Israel itself is morally okay — a "miracle," as David Grossman recently put it — or it would be okay if its leaders hadn't stupidly stumbled into military occupation after the 1967 war.

The result of this conundrum is moral chaos. While bald ravings about ethnic cleansing by racists like Avigdor Lieberman are considered repellent, the earlier ethnic cleansing that gave birth to Israel is considered acceptable — a convulsion of war violence that has (it is never explained how) been morally transcended. The solution, in this view, is not to redress that founding sin but simply to stabilize Jewish statehood, which is understood mostly as relieving Jewish-Israeli fear of attack or annihilation. Recognizing that some modicum of justice is required to achieve this "peace", the liberal-Zionist goal is to create a Palestinian state next door (safely demilitarized, of course, and not necessarily within the 1948 green line).

It takes a special kind of denial to hold onto this worldview, especially in light of fresh histories like Ilan Pappe's The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, which demolish the soothing fantasy that Israel's history of ethnic cleansing was an accident of war. This isn't surprising in itself: nationalist myths everywhere dismantle slowly. But Mr. Avnery does not fall into the classic category. He exposed Zionist crimes before anyone else. Yet he has never lost his affection for Jewish statehood or his dedication to preserving Israel's Jewish majority in Israel. He knows that, in 1948, Zionist troops ruthlessly terrorized and expelled hundreds of thousands of defenceless Palestinians from their villages and threw them out of the country. But he believes that the agenda of preserving the Jewish-Israeli society that he treasures not only mandates but grants moral authority to not allowing them back.

It is from this muddle of contradictory tenets that Mr. Avnery approaches the "apartheid" charge, given new publicity by President Carter's recent book. In a recent Counterpunch essay, "Freedom Ride: Israel and Apartheid", he rejects any lessons the comparison suggests for a one-state solution in Israel-Palestine.

Mr. Avnery's argument against the apartheid analogy is not that Israeli state policies toward the Palestinians are not racist. He agrees that the occupation is racist and that the settlements and the Wall are creating a Bantustan Palestinian state. He endorses the term "apartheid" to describe Israeli policy in the West Bank. He also argues what is incontestably true: that many people treat the comparison of Israel with South Africa too casually and commit errors of logic. (His "Eskimo" comparison, about chewing water, is an uncomfortably antiquarian reference to the Inuit but makes the point). This care we endorse: genuine differences distinguish South Africa and Israel that do require careful consideration.

But Mr. Avnery's own analysis includes glaring logical and factual errors, stemming partly from a fundamental misunderstanding of what apartheid was and how it worked. He seems to think apartheid was an extreme version of Jim Crow, in which blacks were subordinated while being incorporated into a white society. In fact, apartheid was a system of racial domination based, crucially, on the notion of physical separation. The doctrines, policies, and collective psychologies of the Israeli and South African systems were much more similar than he recognizes and it is vital to spell these out.

Mr. Avnery's main argument stems from his most profound misconception. He warns that a campaign for South African-style unification in Israel-Palestine would only trigger new ethnic cleansing, because brooding Jewish anxiety about the "demographic threat" (too many non-Jews) would inspire Israeli reactionaries to forcibly expel the entire Palestinian population. Yet he considers this risk special to Israel, on grounds that it didn't exist in South Africa: "no White would have dreamt of ethnic cleansing. Even the racists understood that the country could not exist without the Black population." Yet a key feature of apartheid was forcible population transfers. Celebrated books have been written about the forced removal of hundreds of thousands of people from their homes and lands in an attempt to create a "white South Africa" in which blacks would be allowed only as "guest workers". So widespread was the policy of "forced removals" in order to "whiten" South Africa that we will probably never know how many people were really moved; the campaigns were far more systematic attempts at "ethnic cleansing" than anything attempted in Eastern Europe. If Mr. Avnery thinks apartheid had nothing to do with population transfer, he does not even vaguely understand apartheid.

Mr. Avnery supports this flawed analysis by offering four reasons why the apartheid comparison should not guide a solution in Israel-Palestine. First, he says that consensus on a one-state solution was already in place in South Africa. Blacks and whites, he argued, "agreed that the state of South Africa must remain intact — the question was only who would rule it. Almost nobody proposed to partition the country between the Blacks and the Whites".

This is a fundamental misunderstanding. Territorial separation of blacks and whites was the central plank of official apartheid policy at least until 1985 — that is, for almost four decades. Central to the policy was the claim that 87 percent of the country's land mass belonged only to whites and that blacks were allowed into it only under sufferance and without rights. In the late 1970s, for example, a senior Cabinet Minister told the South African Parliament that eventually "there will be no black South Africans". Part of this policy was the creation of phoney "black homelands" which were given sham "independence" to make the point that their "citizens" were no longer South African — just as Israel's "two state" policies promise a "homeland" for Palestinians today. The acknowledgment that South Africa should remain intact was a consequence of apartheid's defeat, not a feature of the system.

Israeli soldiers explain the route of Israel's separation wall to angry Jewish settlers who wish to annex further West Bank land into their settlement of Efrata near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, 9 November 2006. (MaanImages

Second, Mr. Avnery argues that, while racial separation in South Africa was a white agenda universally rejected by blacks, in Israel-Palestine both peoples want separate states. "Our conflict is between two different nations with different national identities, each of which places the highest value on a national state of its own." He affirms that only a radical micro-minority on both sides wants a single state. On the Jewish side, he says, these radicals are the religious zealot settlers who insist on retaining all of the West Bank. On the Palestinian side, the rejectionists are "the Islamic fundamentalists [who] also believe that the whole country is a "waqf" (religious trust) and belongs to Allah, and therefore must not be partitioned."

These sweeping assessments of either case do not hold up. First, black South Africans were not so monolithic in their own views. The ANC supported unification and democracy but factions of South Africa's black population bought into the "homelands" concept. Best known for this was the Inkatha Freedom Party in KwaZulu, but other groups also embraced the homeland policy for the power and patronage it allowed them — much as Fatah is embracing the truncated "state" offered by Israel today. Yes, the vast majority of black opinion rejected separate "homelands". But the small section of black society that felt it had something to gain from the "homelands" did not.

Palestinian views are not so monolithic, either. Polls conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre from 2000 through 2006 have shown Palestinian support for a two-state solution (understood as an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip) running at only around 50 percent. Adherence to the vision of one Palestinian state in all of Palestine has waffled between 8 and 18 percent. But notably, support for a single "bi-national" state in all of Israel-Palestine has hovered stubbornly between 20 and 25 percent — a strikingly high figure given that the one-state option is not under public debate among Palestinians. (The reason for this silence is not that unification is unpopular, but that its discussion would undermine the premise for the Palestinian Authority's "interim" existence and is therefore politically very sensitive.) If a quarter of Palestinians support a one-state solution even under these daunting conditions, it is not unreasonable to propose, as do veteran Palestinian activists like Ali Abunimah (author of the new book, One Country), that wider Palestinian support for unification would quickly manifest under more conducive ones.

It's also relevant that, in these same polls, Palestinian support for an Islamic state has run at about 3 percent. Clearly, 25-percent Palestinian support for a unified state can't be reduced, as Mr. Avnery suggests, to Islamic radicalism.

Third, Mr. Avnery points to the different demographics of the two conflicts. In South Africa, a 10-percent white minority ruled over a 78-percent black majority (as well as "coloreds" and Indians), while in Israel-Palestine the Jewish and Palestinian populations are roughly equal, at about 5 million each. But this point leaves the argument hanging — so what? Any idea that it somehow makes the comparison inapplicable fails in two ways. First, it fails morally. Does oppression change qualitatively if the population distribution between the oppressor and oppressed vary? Would apartheid not have been apartheid if whites were half the population? Second, it fails in its political logic. Surely the black "threat" perceived by a 10-percent white minority in South Africa was far greater than the Palestinian Arab "threat" now feared by a Jewish-Israeli population standing at roughly 50 percent. Not surprisingly, the fear of being "swamped" by a large black majority was frequently cited by apartheid's supporters as a rationale for continuing to deny black rights. Yet Israeli Jews are far better positioned to retain political and economic power in Israel than were whites (especially Afrikaners) in South Africa.

Finally, Mr. Avnery holds that unification in South Africa was driven by racial economic interdependency. "The SA economy was based on Black labor and could not possibly have existed without it". In its initial phases, apartheid did try to minimize any dependence on blacks, by trying to relegate blacks only to menial labour. Black Africans were not permitted to do work reserved for whites (or for Indians and "coloreds"). There was, for example, a strict ban on blacks working as artisans outside the segregated homelands. The system started unravelling in the late 1960s when the economy ran out of whites in some semi-skilled and skilled occupations and the government was forced to allow blacks in. That change gave black workers greater bargaining power and, with other factors, provided a base for more effective organised resistance. Whether the Israelis will be forced at some point to let Palestinians back into the labour market is hard to know. But even here the differences are not as stark as he claims.

In his conclusions, Mr. Avnery argues that the apartheid comparison also fails on the question of an international boycott. "It is a serious error," he insists, "to think that international public opinion will put an end to the occupation. This will come about when the Israeli public itself is convinced of the need to do so." This argument suggests that Mr. Avnery does not understand how apartheid fell, either. White South Africans did not change their minds about apartheid simply because the moral and political case was finally brought home to them by black street demonstrations and labour strikes. They did so when a strategic campaign of hard and bloody domestic struggle was supported by concerted international pressure, which included boycotts of South African products and the currency as well as artists and sports teams.

The economic effects of these sanctions against South Africa are still debated. But the psychological effect of international isolation on South African whites' willingness to change was immense and became one of the key levers which ended apartheid. As late as 1992, when whites were asked to endorse a negotiated settlement in a referendum, media interviews with voters showed that whites' desire to "rejoin the international community" persuaded many who might have voted against a settlement to endorse it.

To attribute the "lack of bloodshed" in that transition to "wise leaders" like de Klerk and Nelson Mandela is to misunderstand how those historic figures were able to play their vital role precisely because of this far larger and historical collective effort. Just as it was impossible to imagine a negotiated end to apartheid without international isolation of South Africa, so it is hard to imagine that a political solution to the Palestinian conflict will be achieved unless substantial pressure is exerted on Israel by the world.

But an even deeper mistake underlies Mr. Avnery's pessimism about a one-state solution on the South African model: he seems to confuse the South Africa that everyone saw at the 1990 negotiations with the South Africa that existed before then. This all-too-common error holds that the factors which led to a settlement were immutable parts of the South African reality. In fact, political consensus about the need for national unity crystallized only after a long and bitter struggle, whose successful outcome had seemed just as implausible to most commentators as a shared society in Israel now seems to Mr Avnery. Forgetting this history indeed erases from it those courageous campaigners who fought for decades for the principle of national unity, sometimes at the cost of their lives. In fact, South Africans were never united in the view that the country had to be shared — many whites still reject the notion today. This is partly why, as late as the 1980s, much scholarship and "expert" commentary on South Africa continued to assume that the conflict was intractable and that a shared society was impossible, citing many of the same arguments that are repeatedly cited in the Palestinian case.

It clearly suits those who believe that partition is the only solution to act as though the world never changes. But it does — and did under apartheid. It will change also in Palestine.

Steven Friedman is a South African political analyst based in Johannesburg.

Virginia Tilley is a US citizen now working as a senior researcher at the Human Sciences Research Council in Pretoria. Comments can reach them at her email address, tilley@hws.edu.

A greater Palestine, comprising Israel and Jordan?

A Palestinian state of the West Bank and Gaza is no longer on the cards,  irrespective of the make-up of the coming Israeli government. Israel instead has created the strategic conditions, including a near Israeli  public consensus, for the expulsion of the Palestinians from the West Bank…A tri- ethnic state in Greater  Palestine would enable Jews to live in Eretz Israel (Land of Israel), as Israelis call Greater Palestine. Jews for millennia lived amongst Arabs and Muslims and thrived economically and culturally in their midst. Yes, they  experienced episodes of misfortune, which often struck the Arabs themselves  too. The creation of Israel disrupted a largely admirable, long-shared  cultural history. Anti-Semitism is a European-spawned demon that caught in its claws first the Jews and then the Palestinians. The fog of present  hostilities prevents envisioning a tolerant, inclusive political order;  however, it is not, or at least we must believe it is not, impossible. 
A greater Palestine?   


Perhaps "Palestine" should be declared to include Israel, the West Bank,  Gaza and Jordan.


By Sharif Elmusa
Al Ahram, 27 April – 3 May 2006
http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2006/792/re2.htm

The writer is an associate professor of political science at the  American University in Cairo.

   A Palestinian state of the West Bank and Gaza is no longer on the cards,  irrespective of the make-up of the coming Israeli government. Israel  instead has created the strategic conditions, including a near Israeli  public consensus, for the expulsion of the Palestinians from the West Bank.  This is what the wall and the planned retention of Jerusalem, the Jordan  Valley and large settlement blocks foretell. Israel will likely let  eviction happen by haemorrhage, rather than engineer a 1948-style ethnic  cleansing. It may not feel impelled to act soon, waiting for the fall of  the Hashemite monarchy, which Israel seems to anticipate and which could  only be hastened by the continuous exit of Palestinians from the West Bank  to Jordan. Ariel Sharon’s wish for a Palestine state in Jordan thus would  be fulfilled. Gaza could dissolve imperceptibly into populous Egypt. Such a  momentous "checkmate", however, is not destiny for the Palestinians. The  leadership needs to think beyond the mental checkpoints around Ramallah and  devise a new political vision and a commensurate strategy of action.

   This vision, I submit, must rest on turning the current demographic  fragmentation of the Palestinians into an asset, by redefining their  geopolitical space to encompass a state in Greater Palestine, the territory  that was Palestine before Winston Churchill in 1922 split it by fiat into  Palestine and Transjordan. Today there are approximately eight million  Palestinians in that area: 1.2 millions in Israel, 1.15 millions in Gaza,  two millions in the West Bank and 3.2 millions in Jordan. In 30 years or  so, they will double to 16 million strong. If the last century of strife  has taught us anything, it is that they will fight fiercely for a state in  which they are equal citizens. At a time when the advocacy of democracy has  become a political mantra in the region, it is historically retrograde that  the people who constitute the majority in Greater Palestine remain subject  to dispossession by Israel and sub-citizens in Jordan.

   Demography matters. In countries where aggrieved nationalities are  concentrated in one area, we observe a centrifugal pressure towards  secession or at least a demand for autonomy. The splitting of  Czechoslovakia and Cyprus exemplify this conclusion. Quebec in Canada, the  Basque region in Spain, and Kurdistan in Iraq and Turkey are further  illustrations. Where ethnicities are more evenly spread and intermingled,  only democratic accommodation can begin to tackle social tensions; South  Africa stands out. Yet, in a third situation where the same nationality  exists in two separate states, re-unification may be sought. Witness the  two Germanys, North and South Koreas, Mainland China and Taiwan. In Greater  Palestine "the demographic effect" is mixed. The diffusion of the  Palestinian communities throughout the territory is a unifying factor,  although their prolonged isolation from each other cedes the formation of  distinct identities. The Jewish and East Jordanian concentration west and  east of the Jordan River, in contrast, pulls in the opposite direction —  separation.

   By now it should be evident that establishing a third, Palestinian  state, in addition to Israel and Jordan, faces insurmountable hurdles.  Apart from the Bantustanisation of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel adamantly  rejects the Palestinian right of return. This means that even if a  Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza were established, there would  be a large number of Palestinians left in Jordan. Although the Hashemite  monarchy offered the Palestinians citizenship, acquiring in the bargain the  West Bank and helping to obliterate "Palestine" from the map, it has failed  to make them equal partners. East Jordanians, in turn, continue to fear a  Palestinian takeover. The recent scare in Jordan caused by the news leak  that two top Israeli military commanders predicted the demise of the  Hashemite regime is indicative of the ethnically induced volatility of  Jordanian politics.

   In addition to the Palestinians in Jordan, there would be the  Palestinians who are Israeli citizens but unable to overcome their  third-class citizenship status in a state that insists on being a "Jewish  state". In Greater Palestine we have not only the Palestinian predicament,  but Jewish and East Jordanians dilemmas as well, for the presence of a  Palestinian majority confronts both Jordan and Israel, and will ever more  so, with a central question of how to co-exist with this majority. Both  states have been apprehensive that a viable Palestinian state only would  embolden the Palestinians under their tutelage to press them for  fundamental political concessions. That apprehension explains why they have  never genuinely contemplated permitting the emergence of such a state.

   Seeing that a Palestinian state is untenable in the tattered West Bank  geography, and that what was emerging was a South Africa-like apartheid  system, some have begun to revive the old idea of a bi-national,  Israeli-Palestinian state. But a tri-ethnic state in Greater Palestine is  no different in its requisites from that of a bi-national state and, it can  be argued, presents superior opportunities. Such an expanded state would be  large enough for everybody; no one has to be squeezed out. It allows people  to move into places where their heart or their pocket feels at home. The  question of return of the Palestinian refugees in Jordan becomes a matter  of normal movement within a country. With a decrease in competition for  space, the Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon would be given the  option of finding home in the proposed state. The Palestinian right of  return for the major refugee clustres thus can be resolved as regards  residence, identity and political status, rendering other aspects, such as  compensation, easier to tackle.

   The only other way the refugees’ right of return could possibly be met  is to implement the 1947 UN partition plan. This plan, in fact, is the sole  international legal document that defines borders for Israeli and  Palestinian states; the land that Israel has come to control by military  conquest. Israel needs to choose between demographic advantage and state  size; to insist on having both is to invite strife. In a state within 1947  borders Jews would be a majority, but Israel is not satisfied with the area  it controlled on the eve of the 1967 War. A tri- ethnic state in Greater  Palestine would enable Jews to live in Eretz Israel (Land of Israel), as  Israelis call Greater Palestine. Jews for millennia lived amongst Arabs and  Muslims and thrived economically and culturally in their midst. Yes, they  experienced episodes of misfortune, which often struck the Arabs themselves  too. The creation of Israel disrupted a largely admirable, long-shared  cultural history. Anti-Semitism is a European-spawned demon that caught in  its claws first the Jews and then the Palestinians. The fog of present  hostilities prevents envisioning a tolerant, inclusive political order;  however, it is not, or at least we must believe it is not, impossible.  Israel bears a special responsibility for bringing it about; the choices it  makes will largely determine the course of the conflict.

   With my sincere admiration for Jordan’s historical heritage, I should  think that it is loftier for East Jordanians to belong to a state that  encompasses Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth. The Hashemites began their  career on a high rhetorical note of pan-Arabism, which has diminished into  the parochial and divisive, "Jordan first". They and Zionism divided up  Greater Palestine and undertook to suppress Palestinian nationalism. In the  process, a deep Palestinian-East Jordanian cleavage evolved that kept the  two peoples suspicious of each other. Yet, considering the cultural  affinities between them, in the long run they could forge a common  identity, although the example of Iraq must be borne in mind. The  Palestinians must reassure the East Jordanians that they won’t simply  reverse roles. They ought to recall how their hyper-nationalist displays  after the 1967 War frightened East Jordanians, and how the government  harnessed that fear in 1970 to end the Palestinian military and political  presence in Jordan.

   The vision of a single state in Greater Palestine could only come to  fruition through Palestinian mass mobilisation. The Palestine Liberation  Organisation (PLO) needs to reconstitute itself as a non-corrupt Palestine  Reunification Organisation (PRO). The PLO, even though it had earned the  support of the majority of Palestinians, was never able to harness  Palestinian energies. It became absorbed in local battles where the  leadership happened to be headquartered. The latest manifestation of this  tendency is the ascent of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the decline of  the PLO, and the concomitant inattention to Palestinians outside  Israeli-controlled territory. Whether this development was engendered by  the maladroit behaviour of leaders or by deliberate policy to downgrade the  "right of return", the net outcome has been the weakening of the position  of those under occupation as well of those in exile.

   The PA thus finds itself at the mercy of politically driven foreign aid,  which can be withheld when the authority does not comply with the political  diktat of donors. In Jordan, the Palestinians, among other things, were  blocked from publicly demonstrating their support for the recent Intifada.  The time has come to rectify this structural failure. Two West Bank  intellectuals, Ali Jarbawi and George Giacaman, have advocated one option  that deserves serious debate. On their suggestion, the PA, whose main  function of negotiating the creation of a Palestinian state has been  superseded, ought to be disbanded while the PLO is reconstituted. The West  Bank and Gaza could be led once more by informal institutions, as was the  case before the Oslo accords.

   "Armed struggle", however, would have to be re-evaluated since the aim  is not to separate, but put together. A strategy of non-violence, according  to Palestinian and international activists, is more likely to convince the  current adversaries of the sincerity of Palestinian intentions, to garner  global allies, and to keep the Palestinians themselves engaged. What I want  to underline is that President Mahmoud Abbas, with his international  credibility and forthrightness, could be an ideal shepherd for a creative,  peaceful resistance. But he still clings to the belief or hope that  diplomacy and reason could bring about a Palestinian state and the right of  return, without first mustering the strength necessary for negotiating such  a political feat. The rationalist "engineer of Oslo" would render his  people a lasting service, if he drew a different conclusion. The  Palestinians have before them great counsellors: Nelson Mandela and the  African National Congress.

   This proposal of a single state in Greater Palestine hardly arises out  of some wide-eyed optimism. It is easy to stack up objections regarding  practicality, or shrug shoulders at its apparent utopia. But if it’s  impractical, why hasn’t something more practical materialised? And if it’s  a utopia, mustn’t it be weighed against the dystopia of interminable  conflict?

Israel: The Alternative

Israel: The Alternative

By Tony Judt

The New York Review of Books
23rd October 2003

http://www.one-state.org/articles/judt.htm

The Middle East peace process is finished. It did not die: it was
killed. Mahmoud Abbas was undermined by the President of the
Palestinian Authority and humiliated by the Prime Minister of
Israel. His successor awaits a similar fate. Israel continues to
mock its American patron, building illegal settlements in cynical
disregard of the "road map." The President of the United States of
America has been reduced to a ventriloquist’s dummy, pitifully
reciting the Israeli cabinet line: "It’s all Arafat’s fault."
Israelis themselves grimly await the next bomber. Palestinian Arabs,
corralled into shrinking Bantustans, subsist on EU handouts. On the
corpse-strewn landscape of the Fertile Crescent, Ariel Sharon,
Yasser Arafat, and a handful of terrorists can all claim victory,
and they do. Have we reached the end of the road? What is to be
done?

At the dawn of the twentieth century, in the twilight of the
continental empires, Europe’s subject peoples dreamed of forming
"nation-states," territorial homelands where Poles, Czechs, Serbs,
Armenians, and others might live free, masters of their own fate.
When the Habsburg and Romanov empires collapsed after World War I,
their leaders seized the opportunity. A flurry of new states
emerged; and the first thing they did was set about privileging
their national, "ethnic" majority – defined by language, or
religion, or antiquity, or all three – at the expense of
inconvenient local minorities, who were consigned to second-class
status: permanently resident strangers in their own home.

But one nationalist movement, Zionism, was frustrated in its
ambitions. The dream of an appropriately sited Jewish national home
in the middle of the defunct Turkish Empire had to wait upon the
retreat of imperial Britain: a process that took three more decades
and a second world war. And thus it was only in 1948 that a Jewish
nation-state was established in formerly Ottoman Palestine. But the
founders of the Jewish state had been influenced by the same
concepts and categories as their fin-de-siecle contemporaries back
in Warsaw, or Odessa, or Bucharest; not surprisingly, Israel’s
ethno-religious self-definition, and its discrimination against
internal "foreigners," has always had more in common with, say, the
practices of post-Habsburg Romania than either party might care to
acknowledge.

The problem with Israel, in short, is not – as is sometimes
suggested – that it is a European "enclave" in the Arab world; but
rather that it arrived too late. It has imported a
characteristically late-nineteenth-century separatist project into a
world that has moved on, a world of individual rights, open
frontiers, and international law. The very idea of a "Jewish state"
– a state in which Jews and the Jewish religion have exclusive
privileges from which non-Jewish citizens are forever excluded – is
rooted in another time and place. Israel, in short, is an
anachronism.

In one vital attribute, however, Israel is quite different from
previous insecure, defensive microstates born of imperial collapse:
it is a democracy. Hence its present dilemma. Thanks to its
occupation of the lands conquered in 1967, Israel today faces three
unattractive choices. It can dismantle the Jewish settlements in the
territories, return to the 1967 state borders within which Jews
constitute a clear majority, and thus remain both a Jewish state and
a democracy, albeit one with a constitutionally anomalous community
of second-class Arab citizens.

Alternatively, Israel can continue to occupy "Samaria," "Judea," and
Gaza, whose Arab population – added to that of present-day Israel –
will become the demographic majority within five to eight years: in
which case Israel will be either a Jewish state (with an ever-larger
majority of unenfranchised non-Jews) or it will be a democracy. But
logically it cannot be both.

Or else Israel can keep control of the Occupied Territories but get
rid of the overwhelming majority of the Arab population: either by
forcible expulsion or else by starving them of land and livelihood,
leaving them no option but to go into exile. In this way Israel
could indeed remain both Jewish and at least formally democratic:
but at the cost of becoming the first modern democracy to conduct
full-scale ethnic cleansing as a state project, something which
would condemn Israel forever to the status of an outlaw state, an
international pariah.

Anyone who supposes that this third option is unthinkable above all
for a Jewish state has not been watching the steady accretion of
settlements and land seizures in the West Bank over the past
quarter-century, or listening to generals and politicians on the
Israeli right, some of them currently in government. The middle
ground of Israeli politics today is occupied by the Likud. Its major
component is the late Menachem Begin’s Herut Party. Herut is the
successor to Vladimir Jabotinsky’s interwar Revisionist Zionists,
whose uncompromising indifference to legal and territorial niceties
once attracted from left-leaning Zionists the epithet "fascist."
When one hears Israel’s deputy prime minister, Ehud Olmert, proudly
insist that his country has not excluded the option of assassinating
the elected president of the Palestinian Authority, it is clear that
the label fits better than ever. Political murder is what fascists
do.

The situation of Israel is not desperate, but it may be close to
hopeless. Suicide bombers will never bring down the Israeli state,
and the Palestinians have no other weapons. There are indeed Arab
radicals who will not rest until every Jew is pushed into the
Mediterranean, but they represent no strategic threat to Israel, and
the Israeli military knows it. What sensible Israelis fear much more
than Hamas or the al-Aqsa Brigade is the steady emergence of an Arab
majority in "Greater Israel," and above all the erosion of the
political culture and civic morale of their society. As the
prominent Labor politician Avraham Burg recently wrote, "After two
thousand years of struggle for survival, the reality of Israel is a
colonial state, run by a corrupt clique which scorns and mocks law
and civic morality" (1). Unless something changes, Israel in half a
decade will be neither Jewish nor democratic.

This is where the US enters the picture. Israel’s behavior has been
a disaster for American foreign policy. With American support,
Jerusalem has consistently and blatantly flouted UN resolutions
requiring it to withdraw from land seized and occupied in war.
Israel is the only Middle Eastern state known to possess genuine and
lethal weapons of mass destruction. By turning a blind eye, the US
has effectively scuttled its own increasingly frantic efforts to
prevent such weapons from falling into the hands of other small and
potentially belligerent states. Washington’s unconditional support
for Israel even in spite of (silent) misgivings is the main reason
why most of the rest of the world no longer credits our good faith.

It is now tacitly conceded by those in a position to know that
America’s reasons for going to war in Iraq were not necessarily
those advertised at the time (2). For many in the current US
administration, a major strategic consideration was the need to
destabilize and then reconfigure the Middle East in a manner thought
favorable to Israel. This story continues. We are now making
belligerent noises toward Syria because Israeli intelligence has
assured us that Iraqi weapons have been moved there – a claim for
which there is no corroborating evidence from any other source.
Syria backs Hezbollah and the Islamic Jihad: sworn foes of Israel,
to be sure, but hardly a significant international threat. However,
Damascus has hitherto been providing the US with critical data on
al-Qaeda. Like Iran, another longstanding target of Israeli wrath
whom we are actively alienating, Syria is more use to the United
States as a friend than an enemy. Which war are we fighting?

On September 16, 2003, the US vetoed a UN Security Council
resolution asking Israel to desist from its threat to deport Yasser
Arafat. Even American officials themselves recognize, off the
record, that the resolution was reasonable and prudent, and that the
increasingly wild pronouncements of Israel’s present leadership, by
restoring Arafat’s standing in the Arab world, are a major
impediment to peace. But the US blocked the resolution all the same,
further undermining our credibility as an honest broker in the
region. America’s friends and allies around the world are no longer
surprised at such actions, but they are saddened and disappointed
all the same.

Israeli politicians have been actively contributing to their own
difficulties for many years; why do we continue to aid and abet them
in their mistakes? The US has tentatively sought in the past to
pressure Israel by threatening to withhold from its annual aid
package some of the money that goes to subsidizing West Bank
settlers. But the last time this was attempted, during the Clinton
administration, Jerusalem got around it by taking the money as
"security expenditure." Washington went along with the subterfuge,
and of $10 billion of American aid over four years, between 1993 and
1997, less than $775 million was kept back. The settlement program
went ahead unimpeded. Now we don’t even try to stop it.

This reluctance to speak or act does no one any favors. It has also
corroded American domestic debate. Rather than think straight about
the Middle East, American politicians and pundits slander our
European allies when they dissent, speak glibly and irresponsibly of
resurgent anti-Semitism when Israel is criticized, and censoriously
rebuke any public figure at home who tries to break from the
consensus.

But the crisis in the Middle East won’t go away. President Bush will
probably be conspicuous by his absence from the fray for the coming
year, having said just enough about the "road map" in June to
placate Tony Blair. But sooner or later an American statesman is
going to have to tell the truth to an Israeli prime minister and
find a way to make him listen. Israeli liberals and moderate
Palestinians have for two decades been thanklessly insisting that
the only hope was for Israel to dismantle nearly all the settlements
and return to the 1967 borders, in exchange for real Arab
recognition of those frontiers and a stable, terrorist-free
Palestinian state underwritten (and constrained) by Western and
international agencies. This is still the conventional consensus,
and it was once a just and possible solution.

But I suspect that we are already too late for that. There are too
many settlements, too many Jewish settlers, and too many
Palestinians, and they all live together, albeit separated by barbed
wire and pass laws. Whatever the "road map" says, the real map is
the one on the ground, and that, as Israelis say, reflects facts. It
may be that over a quarter of a million heavily armed and subsidized
Jewish settlers would leave Arab Palestine voluntarily; but no one I
know believes it will happen. Many of those settlers will die – and
kill – rather than move. The last Israeli politician to shoot Jews
in pursuit of state policy was David Ben-Gurion, who forcibly
disarmed Begin’s illegal Irgun militia in 1948 and integrated it
into the new Israel Defense Forces. Ariel Sharon is not Ben-Gurion
(3).

The time has come to think the unthinkable. The two-state solution –
the core of the Oslo process and the present "road map" – is
probably already doomed. With every passing year we are postponing
an inevitable, harder choice that only the far right and far left
have so far acknowledged, each for its own reasons. The true
alternative facing the Middle East in coming years will be between
an ethnically cleansed Greater Israel and a single, integrated,
binational state of Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians. That
is indeed how the hard-liners in Sharon’s cabinet see the choice;
and that is why they anticipate the removal of the Arabs as the
ineluctable condition for the survival of a Jewish state.

But what if there were no place in the world today for a "Jewish
state"? What if the binational solution were not just increasingly
likely, but actually a desirable outcome? It is not such a very odd
thought. Most of the readers of this essay live in pluralist states
which have long since become multiethnic and multicultural.
"Christian Europe," pace M. Valery Giscard d’Estaing, is a dead
letter; Western civilization today is a patchwork of colors and
religions and languages, of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Arabs,
Indians, and many others – as any visitor to London or Paris or
Geneva will know (4).

Israel itself is a multicultural society in all but name; yet it
remains distinctive among democratic states in its resort to
ethnoreligious criteria with which to denominate and rank its
citizens. It is an oddity among modern nations not – as its more
paranoid supporters assert – because it is a Jewish state and no one
wants the Jews to have a state; but because it is a Jewish state in
which one community – Jews – is set above others, in an age when
that sort of state has no place.

For many years, Israel had a special meaning for the Jewish people.
After 1948 it took in hundreds of thousands of helpless survivors
who had nowhere else to go; without Israel their condition would
have been desperate in the extreme. Israel needed Jews, and Jews
needed Israel. The circumstances of its birth have thus bound
Israel’s identity inextricably to the Shoah, the German project to
exterminate the Jews of Europe. As a result, all criticism of Israel
is drawn ineluctably back to the memory of that project, something
that Israel’s American apologists are shamefully quick to exploit.
To find fault with the Jewish state is to think ill of Jews; even to
imagine an alternative configuration in the Middle East is to
indulge the moral equivalent of genocide.

In the years after World War II, those many millions of Jews who did
not live in Israel were often reassured by its very existence –
whether they thought of it as an insurance policy against renascent
anti-Semitism or simply a reminder to the world that Jews could and
would fight back. Before there was a Jewish state, Jewish minorities
in Christian societies would peer anxiously over their shoulders and
keep a low profile; since 1948, they could walk tall. But in recent
years, the situation has tragically reversed.

Today, non-Israeli Jews feel themselves once again exposed to
criticism and vulnerable to attack for things they didn’t do. But
this time it is a Jewish state, not a Christian one, which is
holding them hostage for its own actions. Diaspora Jews cannot
influence Israeli policies, but they are implicitly identified with
them, not least by Israel’s own insistent claims upon their
allegiance. The behavior of a self-described Jewish state affects
the way everyone else looks at Jews. The increased incidence of
attacks on Jews in Europe and elsewhere is primarily attributable to
misdirected efforts, often by young Muslims, to get back at Israel.
The depressing truth is that Israel’s current behavior is not just
bad for America, though it surely is. It is not even just bad for
Israel itself, as many Israelis silently acknowledge. The depressing
truth is that Israel today is bad for the Jews.

In a world where nations and peoples increasingly intermingle and
intermarry at will; where cultural and national impediments to
communication have all but collapsed; where more and more of us have
multiple elective identities and would feel falsely constrained if
we had to answer to just one of them; in such a world Israel is
truly an anachronism. And not just an anachronism but a
dysfunctional one. In today’s "clash of cultures" between open,
pluralist democracies and belligerently intolerant, faith-driven
ethno-states, Israel actually risks falling into the wrong camp.

To convert Israel from a Jewish state to a binational one would not
be easy, though not quite as impossible as it sounds: the process
has already begun de facto. But it would cause far less disruption
to most Jews and Arabs than its religious and nationalist foes will
claim. In any case, no one I know of has a better idea: anyone who
genuinely supposes that the controversial electronic fence now being
built will resolve matters has missed the last fifty years of
history. The "fence" – actually an armored zone of ditches, fences,
sensors, dirt roads (for tracking footprints), and a wall up to
twenty-eight feet tall in places – occupies, divides, and steals
Arab farmland; it will destroy villages, livelihoods, and whatever
remains of Arab-Jewish community. It costs approximately $1 million
per mile and will bring nothing but humiliation and discomfort to
both sides. Like the Berlin Wall, it confirms the moral and
institutional bankruptcy of the regime it is intended to protect.

A binational state in the Middle East would require a brave and
relentlessly engaged American leadership. The security of Jews and
Arabs alike would need to be guaranteed by international force –
though a legitimately constituted binational state would find it
much easier policing militants of all kinds inside its borders than
when they are free to infiltrate them from outside and can appeal to
an angry, excluded constituency on both sides of the border (5). A
binational state in the Middle East would require the emergence,
among Jews and Arabs alike, of a new political class. The very idea
is an unpromising mix of realism and utopia, hardly an auspicious
place to begin. But the alternatives are far, far worse. Notes

(1) See Burg’s essay, "La revolution sioniste est morte," Le Monde,
September 11, 2003. A former head of the Jewish Agency, the writer
was speaker of the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, between 1999 and
2003 and is currently a Labor Party member of the Knesset. His essay
first appeared in the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot; it has been
widely republished, notably in the Forward (August 29, 2003) and the
London Guardian (September 15, 2003).

(2) See the interview with Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul
Wolfowitz in the July 2003 issue of Vanity Fair.

(3) In 1979, following the peace agreement with Anwar Sadat, Prime
Minister Begin and Defense Minister Sharon did indeed instruct the
army to close down Jewish settlements in the territory belonging to
Egypt. The angry resistance of some of the settlers was overcome
with force, though no one was killed. But then the army was facing
three thousand extremists, not a quarter of a million, and the land
in question was the Sinai Desert, not "biblical Samaria and Judea."

(4) Albanians in Italy, Arabs and black Africans in France, Asians
in England all continue to encounter hostility. A minority of voters
in France, or Belgium, or even Denmark and Norway, support political
parties whose hostility to "immigration" is sometimes their only
platform. But compared with thirty years ago, Europe is a
multicolored patchwork of equal citizens, and that, without
question, is the shape of its future.

(5) As Burg notes, Israel’s current policies are the terrorists’
best recruiting tool: "We are indifferent to the fate of Palestinian
children, hungry and humiliated; so why are we surprised when they
blow us up in our restaurants? Even if we killed 1000 terrorists a
day it would change nothing." See Burg, "La revolution sioniste est
morte."