Israel Middle East peace process Palestinians

A choice between the unlikely and the impossible

Apparently this little way station of relatively calm conversation has helped to spark another blog, which will be part of John Sigler’s “For One Democratic/Secular State in Israel-Palestine.”

John, who maintains a bibliography project focusing on the one-state solution, has been a welcome contributor here. But apparently he was frustrated by some limitations, indicating that one reason for establishing his new blog was “a recent series of exchanges and discussions exploring the issue in some detail on Dan Fleshler’s `Realistic Dove’ website.” He continues:

The exchanges were conducted on the comment threads and remained civil though, like this blog, the administration was already strongly opinionated (in that case, in favor of a two state solution; whereas this blog is clearly supportive of the one state idea).

Giving full credit where it is due, the administration [DF: he is referring to me] did allow alternative perspectives and even opposing points of view; however, due to the bias of the administration, the posted topics kept the discussion within a Zionist Left framework that essentially confined alternative perspectives to the role of reactionary polemics.

…One of the interesting things about the reactionary polemics at Realistic Dove is that because of the framework, the articulation of the one state case had to be analytical, deconstructing the opposing arguments point by point, in some cases almost line by line…Such a methodology removes rhetorical flourish and turn of phrase from the discussion, replacing it with a detailed analytical response to the contentions being challenged. As part and parcel of maintaining the bibliography project, there are many new articles being presented that deserve this analytical treatment and this is what this blog intends to do.

I hope John will continue to supply his “reactionary polemics” to this blog from time to time. The “detailed analytical” approach has limitations, though. When the analytical arguments for both the one-state and two-state solution are stripped down to their core, they are both based on faith and hope.

John, who used to be a passionate two-state supporter, is part of the crew that believes a workable two-state solution will never be implemented, that we are past the point of no return, that Israel is already one de facto state with different ethnic and cultural groups, and the world should accept this fact and make the de facto state more just. In the intro to his bibilography project, here is part of the explanation for his faith in this possibility:

Living in a country – the United States – where Jews and Nazis, African-Americans and Ku Klux Klan members, Kurds and Turks, black and white South Africans, Irish Catholics and English Protestants, Serbs, Croats, and Albanians all manage to co-exist within the same state, the same polity, and the same society; the argument that Israeli Jews and Palestinian Christians and Muslims simply can never do the same carries no weight whatsoever. Of course there are grievances, tensions, and even sporadic violence, but this is true of all multicultural states, and regardless of what either Israelis or Palestinians have to say about, they do live in a multicultural state.

Leaving aside the question of whether or not Jews need and deserve a state of their own (which, I believe, they do), that statement is radically idealistic. As a result, there is no way to prove that is impossible, any more than one can prove that the U.S. will never be a socialist country. It would take many thousands of words, I think, to even begin to show that two nationalist movements that have been fighting for many decades in Israel/Palestine are simply not going to live together in one polity as easily as, say, Kurds and Turks in Los Angeles. Or, if they are going to live together so easily, it will not happen for generations. To believe otherwise requires faith in –or hope for–the impossible, in my view.

I would prefer to put my hopes in something that is unlikely –perhaps even highly unlikely– but not beyond the realm of the plausible. There are enough Palestinians, other Arabs, Israelis, Americans, Europeans and others of good will who still cling to the belief that two contiguous states can be carved out between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, and that their relationship need not reduce the Palestinian state to a “bantustan” that will always be under the thumb of the Israelis.

But I don’t want to provide specific bases for these hopes right now. This blog is meant to attract constructive ideas. I am hoping others who share my hopes will explain how we could move from the intolerable present to a better future that includes two states, and will share why they believe it is possible to do so, despite the daunting odds. If I don’t hear from anyone else, or if I don’t hear anything convincing from anyone else, I’ll chime in after a few days.

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