The Israel/Palestine one-state solution sounds like a good idea, but...
|Friday, June 18,2010 09:25|
|By By Roger Tucker|
A brief history
Due to recent events, things are coming to a head in the Middle East. As Israel becomes more belligerent and aggressive, more committed than ever to using overwhelming force as its only answer to a rapidly deteriorating situation, feeling itself even further victimized and becoming ever more paranoid, two issues come to the fore: the question of legitimacy and the question of long-term viability. More and more people, even within Israel itself, are becoming aware that what we are looking at is a severe societal case of paranoid schizophrenia, featuring simultaneously the Jewish Uebermensch and the cringing victim, in light of which the search for a solution becomes even more pressing.
The only reason that this bizarre situation has lasted so long – six decades and counting – has been the financial, military and political support that Israel has been receiving from the West. This support, in turn, has been the result of intense pressure brought to bear by a relatively small number of wealthy and powerful Zionist Jews, the Israel lobby, particularly in the English-speaking democracies. This support seems to be on the verge of weakening, while the political elites are finally beginning to comprehend the insupportable costs to their countries – in lives, wealth, international support and moral standing – of succumbing to such blackmail.
Equally relentless have been a small but determined number of liberal Jews who have fought Zionism from day one, and whose numbers are now increasing exponentially. These people have come to realize not only the moral hypocrisy and irrationality of supporting liberal, humanitarian and universalist causes everywhere except Israel, but the age-old danger to themselves of antagonizing their host populations and ultimately incurring their inevitable wrath.
There is a third segment of the Palestinian population, the Diaspora, the most numerous of the three groups, living in refugee camps in Lebanon, in Syria, as well as constituting nearly half the population of Jordan, and spread out across the globe, with many of them in the US and the UK. They have steadfastly refused to give up their right of return, a right that is not based on an ancient story, like the one that forms the core of the Jewish narrative, but is clearly historical, quite recent, and deeply enshrined in international law.
This is the real "existential threat" to Israel, not the seemingly endless and arbitrary series of enemy nations "out to get them", the latest target being Iran. The real existential threat to us, the rest of the world, is the Israeli proclivity to act on its paranoia regardless of consequences, and to apply its overwhelming military superiority (built from the largesse of US taxpayers) to its perceived enemies.
Israel is a nuclear power (again, thanks to its fifth column within the US) and there is no reason to believe that if they imagine themselves sufficiently threatened they won't use those nukes. The bottom line, the reason that the story herein described is so vital to understand, is the likelihood that Israel, if allowed to continue on its path unchecked, will inevitably provoke a nuclear war, a catastrophe that life on this planet might very well not survive.
There are various proposals for resolving this state of affairs, but they really boil down to two: the one-state solution versus the two-state solution. The latter has been endorsed by most of the world's elites, including significant minorities within the Israeli government and civil society; in the West, led by the US; most of the Arab countries; and the PLO since Yasir Arafat himself endorsed the idea. Well, that pretty much settles it, one might say, at least if you don't look too closely. The two-state solution proposes that an independent Palestinian state be created in the West Bank and Gaza within the borders that existed prior to the 1967 war. Such a state would have territorial integrity, a protected land corridor between the two sections, the rights and privileges of any member of the United Nations, provide a home for all Palestinian refugees and have its capital in East Jerusalem. Makes sense, doesn't it?
Moreover, Zionism is a textbook example of ethnocentric fascism, almost identical to Nazism, merely having a different tribal identity. A salient characteristic of such ideologies, as Junblatt pointed out, is that they have no brakes – if they stop picking fights with their neighbours, if they stop trying to expand further and further, they lose their cohesion, their raison d'etre, and die.
This is particularly true in the case of Israel for a number of reasons. One of the main ones is that the Jewish population of Israel is a hodgepodge of different peoples, a true melting pot of cultures that have little in common with one another except for the notion that they are "Jewish". But, as Shlomo Sand has convincingly demonstrated, there is no such thing as “the Jewish people”, any more than there was such a thing as the “Aryan race”, It's just a story, the kind one would tell to children, then massaged into powerful propaganda. Without the glue of an external enemy and serial wars, Israel would implode. Its people, by and large, distrust and even detest one another. As long as their fear and hatred can be directed at the "other", the external enemy, then the house of cards can maintain itself.
Until recently, Israel resembled India, a caste system with the Brahmins (the Ashkenazim) on top and those from the third world at the bottom, with the Sephardim somewhere in between, and the Ethiopians and other exotic “Jews” being the Untouchables. However, several new wrinkles have emerged in recent years, particularly with the massive intake of Russian opportunists (many of whom are about as "Jewish" as Mao Tse-Tung), and more ominously, the rise of a virulently fascist religious element. And lastly, the Gush Emunim, the settler movement, a group of way-over-the-top fanatics who largely overlap with the religious zealots. They are becoming increasingly powerful and are challenging the old Ashkenazi elite in both the political establishment and the military. These factors create an opportunity for reaching out to the very small but still potent segment of Israeli society that retains some vestiges of sanity with the idea of one democratic state.
One-State, three variations on a theme
The current situation is already a single state, consisting of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel has de facto control of the entire country, although Gaza is in a state of resistance, its people desperately trying to survive. Israel controls all the borders, the transport infrastructure, the electricity supply, the water supply, and has an overwhelming monopoly on military force, in fact everything but the air that people breathe. But those pesky Palestinians refuse to give up and die, which must be extremely irritating to the leadership in Tel Aviv. The strategy is, and always has been, to rid the land of non-Jews, using whatever means are available, but limited by the constraint that Israel vitally needs the support of the West, at the very least American support. The possibility of losing this support – without which Israel would be in the same position as the apartheid state of South Africa when they could no longer ignore the writing on the wall – is the only thing that has so far prevented the total expulsion or extermination of the Palestinians within the country.
This view, the goal of which is the establishment of Eretz Yisroel, is the Zionist version of a single state. There used to be a largish contingent who imagined that the borders of this state would be the Tigris/Euphrates to the east and the Nile to the west, but there is now a consensus that would be satisfied with the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.
There are two other possible versions of a single state, at least in theory. The first is a mirror image of the Zionist one, as articulated by a few Palestinians and their more strident supporters. This vision entails, at least metaphorically, driving the Jews into the sea. For an eloquent and passionate expression of this vision, read “A strategy of liberation requires emancipation”, by Nahida Izzat, someone I admire and respect. It is, at bottom, a simple but unconditional demand for justice. In her view the only solution that would satisfy this condition would be to return the land to its rightful owners – end of story. She leaves up in the air the question of what would happen to the current Jewish population – that is not her concern. This is a very powerful view and one which is difficult to fault. However, it ain't gonna happen. As Thomas Wolfe put it, "you can't go home again". The fact is that most of the now resident Jewish Israelis were born there. However, as an initial negotiating demand, the version of a single state articulated by Nahida has more validity than the Zionist one, at the very least.
The government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Arab dictatorships and the US empire and its vassal states are all primarily concerned with short term political and economic advantage rather than an actual solution to the problem. Not only that, but the Western democracies are hamstrung by the nearly absolute power wielded in those countries by the Israel lobby, a situation that, in the US, reaches back at least as far as the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. Those who have an actual stake in solving the conflict, and thereby achieving the universal goals of human rights, peace and justice, are ordinary Israelis, Jews everywhere, the Palestinians and the populations of the West, not to mention the umma, the Islamic world – actually, all of us.
Indeed, it is the entire world that is at risk. Considering the high probability of Israel setting off a nuclear war if it feels irremediably backed into a corner, it is in everyone's most fundamental interest to bring about a peaceful resolution, which can only be achieved through the establishment of one democratic state.
How Israelis would benefit?
One of the most often heard objections to the one-state solution (OSS) is that the Israelis would never accept it. This argument is false on several counts. For one thing, never say never. The nationalists of apartheid South Africa loudly proclaimed "over my dead body", as did the Protestant Unionists of Ulster. There are many examples. In the heat of battle, the enemy is always seen as barbaric, the embodiment of evil, people with whom one could never be reconciled. But what actually happens after an armed conflict has been concluded? The hated "Huns", the dreaded "Boches", become one's friends and allies. The "Yellow Peril", the "Japs" and so forth, not to mention the dreaded Russians, become one's principal trading partners and fellow upholders of the peace.
The Zionists wanted to have a place where Jews would be safe from their implacable enemies, a place where they could be just ordinary people, going about their business – a place where Jews would no longer be exposed to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Unwilling or unable to recognize that the Western democracies already offered such a haven, they settled on Palestine as the location of the putative Jewish state (a number of other places were considered), they convinced themselves that they could unobtrusively insinuate themselves among the natives, who wouldn't really mind. After all, the Zionists were enlightened Europeans and the natives were benighted, albeit inoffensive, orientals. No doubt they would feel honoured and grateful. Land would be purchased, deals would be made, and knowledge and wisdom would be transferred. Bear in mind that all this was promulgated at the height of European colonialism and the idea of the white man’s burden.
Well, what can one say? Good luck, sir, as my teacher put it. We Jews have a reputation for being "smart" people, but a dumber idea has never been formulated. It arose out of a sense of utter desperation. So we set about constructing the Golem, but in our usual Rube Goldberg fashion. Even so, the Golem was fed and cared for, and as predicted, it became a monster.
How Palestinians would benefit
In a survey taken a couple of years ago 72 per cent said they would accept a two-state solution. Responding to a different question, 72 per cent said they would accept a one-state solution. In a word, the Palestinians would like the nightmare to stop – they just want a solution and they're not picky about what form it takes. However, as we have pointed out, a two-state solution is anything but a solution – it would be a recipe for an even greater disaster. Not that the Israelis, while under the sway of political Zionist leadership, would ever actually consider a viable, sovereign Palestinian state. So it's not something that we even have to seriously consider, unless the US-led West, in its predictably imperious, blundering, short-sighted manner, were to try to impose such a thing.
How the rest of the world would benefit
This should be too obvious to even mention, but a couple of things need to be said. With the Jewish state dissolved and the problem solved, Zionism, a combination of ethnocentric, religious and nationalist fascism centred on the creation and continued existence of Israel, would no longer have a raison d’être and would consequently die a quiet, unlamented demise, to the great relief of billions of people. In one stroke, its iron grip on the political life of the West would relax and perhaps the ideals and hopes that gave rise to the great democracies could somehow be salvaged. The US, foremost among these, might once again be viewed with respect instead of with a mixture of fear and contempt. Perhaps we could begin to deal with the real problems that face humanity, without being distracted by the wars, hypocrisy, treason, crimes, terrorism, distortions, double standards, lies, confusion and scheming that Zionism has until now plagued us with.
If one agrees that one democratic state is the only conceivable solution, then, you, dear reader, must act. As is frequently said, silence is complicity. And as mentioned earlier, we cannot look to the powers that be to accomplish this. They have other agendas, utterly inimical to working for the actual benefit of their constituencies, let alone humanity as a whole. That leaves us, ordinary people, to bring this about. We will have to work within our communities, our towns, cities and states, our own countries. Most people, in the West particularly, have been subjected to incessant propaganda that has left them confused and almost totally ignorant. If you talk to people and just point out a few simple facts you'd be surprised how people will respond. It starts with "Oh, I didn't know that. Keep talking." One by one people will become more aware and start pitching in, like a snowball rolling downhill.
If you're interested, please get in touch with me (we’re just collecting email addresses at this point) – some of us have developed a workable strategy for moving forward, but we need a bunch of people to help out. We envision a three-pronged campaign, in Israel itself, within the Palestinian communities and, most vitally, among the population in the West. It was worldwide moral outrage that undid South African apartheid, along with the resistance of the oppressed together with their white South African allies, and, eventually, the recognition by key members of the ruling elite that the jig was up. This will be more difficult, because the power elites in the West weren’t part of the problem then as they are now. The craven, hypocritical politicians have been bought and are terrified of the Israel lobby. The Zionists own the mainstream media and are in firm control of the universities. This will be more of a challenge, but we the people can do it, and it has to be done.