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An Arab American moderate argues against the 1-state solution

American Jews like me who argue against the one-state solution are constantly confronted by those who claim a moral high ground and cite the small but growing number of Palestinian intellectuals who have given up on two states. They spend much of their time showing why the two-state solution is no longer feasible while spending precious little time explaining how in the world one state could possibly arise, or what they have to offer Palestinians who need an end to the occupation as soon as possible. It was refreshing to read the following, devastating critique by Hussein Ibish of the American Task Force on Palestine, another passionate Palestinian moderate. I will quote from it in full:

On college campuses in the United States and the United Kingdom, and increasingly among grassroots activists in the West generally, the cause of ending the Israeli occupation and securing independence for a Palestinian state is being abandoned in favor of a much more far-reaching goal of replacing Israel with a single, democratic state for all Israelis and Palestinians, including all of the refugees. Until now, this rhetoric has been largely unchallenged from a pro-Palestinian perspective, which has probably been a significant factor in its appeal.

My new book, “What’s Wrong with the One-State Agenda?”, traces the development of this agenda and interrogates its assumptions and claims.

The outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000, which inflicted profound suffering and created deep ill-will on both the sides of the Palestinian-Israeli divide, bolstered stridently nationalist perspectives among Israelis and Palestinians. For many, it prompted a negative re-evaluation of what kind of peace was possible and desirable.

In Israel, this was manifested in the collapse of the “peace camp,” a radical shift to the political right and the election of Ariel Sharon, who became prime minister. Among the Palestinians, Islamists, especially Hamas, gained significant ground. In the Palestinian diaspora, where support for Hamas is limited and, especially in the United States, politically untenable and even legally risky, this same disillusionment and radicalization was largely expressed through the rise of the one-state agenda.

More generally, the one-state agenda reflects the conclusion that Israel will never agree to seriously end the occupation and allow for the creation of a fully sovereign, viable Palestinian state, therefore that negotiations and diplomacy are pointless. At the end of Part One of my book I pose a series of pointed questions that are not usually addressed to, or have been insufficiently answered by, one-state advocates, and that in many cases their sympathizers have not adequately considered. Here are the six of them:

First, if Israel will not agree to end the occupation, what makes anyone think that it will possibly agree to dissolve itself? If Israel cannot be compelled or convinced to surrender 22 percent of the territory it holds, how can it be compelled or convinced to surrender or share 100 percent of it?

Second, what, as a practical matter, does this vision of a single, democratic state offer to Jewish Israelis?

Third, what efforts have Palestinian and pro-Palestinian one-state advocates made in reaching out to mainstream Jews and Israelis and to incorporating their national narrative into this vision?

Fourth, how do one-state advocates propose to supersede or transcend Palestinian national identity and ambitions? Why is it that no significant Palestinian political party or faction has adopted the one-state goal?

Fifth, how, apart from empty slogans about largely nonexistent and highly implausible boycotts, do one-state advocates propose to realize or advance their vision? What practical steps do they imagine and what is their road map for success?

And sixth, since they reject both Palestinian independence and the ongoing agenda of infrastructural and institutional development presently defining the strategy of what they consider the “quisling” Palestinian Authority, what do one-state advocates, as a practical matter, offer those living under occupation other than expressions of solidarity and interminable decades of continued struggle and suffering?

It is striking that the most ardent and tenacious one-state advocates seem to be taking a great deal of their time in even starting to formulate answers to these questions. Assad AbuKhalil, who comments on anything and everything on his blog, has remained strangely silent. Ali Abunimah, who is surely the most ardent and prolific one-state proponent in the United States, and who also runs a well-read blog, also appears at a loss for words. Even the overgrown juvenile delinquents at the Kabobfest blog, who have exhibited signs of suffering from a cybersphere version of Tourette’s syndrome, are also strangely passing up what would seem to be a golden opportunity to repeat their usual accusations about “traitors” and “collaborators.”

I have no doubt that sooner or later a response, and hopefully a calm and thoughtful one, will be forthcoming from some of the committed one-state advocates. But the amount of time it is taking for them to offer any sort of answer to these extremely relevant questions suggests, perhaps, that they are proving difficult to formulate and quite possibly were not anticipated.

But there surely must be a considerable burden of proof on those proposing that the Palestinian national movement abandon its long-standing goal of ending the occupation, which is based on a huge body of international law and reflects a regional and international consensus, in favor of a grand experiment in almost entirely uncharted waters that poses significant risks and offers uncertain benefits. One-state proponents have an obligation to explain how exactly they think they can achieve the extraordinary task of compelling or convincing Israel to effectively dissolve itself.

Unless it offers answers to simple, clear and obvious questions such as these, the one-state rhetoric will be an agenda for accomplishing very little if anything. Rather it will merely be a convenient vehicle for rejecting any and all things Israeli and adopting a position of uncompromising confrontation.

This is not an abstract intellectual exercise. Those seeking to liberate the Palestinian people cannot allow themselves to be beguiled by the narcissistic thrill of “winning” an academic debate on campuses while contributing nothing, even doing harm, to the causes of peace and Palestine.

Hussein Ibish is a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine in Washington DC. His book is available for free download or purchase on the website of the American Task Force on Palestine ( He wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR.

68 thoughts on “An Arab American moderate argues against the 1-state solution

  1. While many of his arguments are compelling, Dr. Ibish argues for a continuation of the type of government that the PA presently offers Palestinians. He dismisses Hamas (I’ll quote him) as merely a bunch of Islamists, “reckless,” “incoherent,” and given to “religious rhetoric.” All these things may have some truth in isolation, but Ibish writes off the strong support that Hamas has won in Gaza and even in the West Bank. Hamas is also anything but “incoherent” and has capably and consistently enunciated its positions. Many Palestinians see politicians like Ibish as collaborators and not as the patriots that they see themselves as. Many Palestinians increasingly see the Two State solution as merely a delaying tactic to provide Israel time to steal more land and extract more concessions from a pliant and corrupt regime in bed with Israel and the U.S.

    Ibish himself is allied with the “American Task Force on Palestine,” which really doesn’t go out of its way to conceal its ties to American diplomats, USAID, VOA, and other U.S. institutions. Even assuming that American motivations are as pure as the driven snow, connections like these do not inspire confidence in Palestinians a world away.

    The Ibish denunciation of One State is therefore U.S. policy.

  2. Dan–I really appreciate your posting the voices of moderate Palestinians. It’s quite heartening.

    Obviously one state solution and right of return are the same–or close cousins. And he poses great questions.

  3. Hussein Ibish is not Palestinian at all. His ancestry is Lebanese Kurdish. He does not represent Palestinians by ancestry nor by popularity. He just hopes that by singing the tunes the PA and the Obama administration like to hear, he and his group will be relevant.

    The sad truth is the two-state solution is a hopeless dream. There is one state now, and it will never allow a sovereign, viable state no matter how many times that phrase is used. Either it will end up as apartheid with nominal Palestinian homelands that only appear, but do not function, as states, or it will be a state for all its citizens. Ibish argues for an impossible dream taht will only deliver the former.

  4. Thank you, Fareed. The question is which of the unlikely possibilities is more likely: a one-state solution that is not an apartheid state or a two state solution that truly yields two states instead of Bantustans. I agree that the odds against both are daunting but the latter is not beyond the realm of the possible. Not yet, anyway. Maybe in one or two more years, but not yet.

    There are answers to the question of what needs to be done in order to achieve two viable states. There is a path, difficult as it will be to travel down that path. Like Ibish, I have never heard good anwers to the questions he poses.

    David, it may well be that denunciation of the one-state solution is “U.S. policy.” So what? Why does that render it invalid? ATFP is trying play the insider’s game in order to influence U.S. policy. What is wrong with that? Again, if you believe in a diplomatic goal, you need a political path that could conceivably lead to that goal. I have yet to see one carved out by those who believe in one state.

  5. Dan,

    If you had read Fuad Ajami’s book on Iraq, “The Foreigner’s Gift,” you would realize that in the Arab world what is important is not the logic or likely outcome of a policy but who is presenting it.

    What does Hamas offer for Christian Palestinians or Muslims who want democracy or the ability to interpret for themselves what form of Islamic practice to follow? The Islamism of Hamas is in many ways the flip side of the pan-Arabism offered by secular nationalists. Both justify authoritarian rulers who will quickly silence all dissent. Hamas may have a coherent program, after a fashion, but so did Arafat. The problem is that neither program is very practicable.

  6. Helena Cobban has a nice rebuttal to Ibish’s argument, particularly about the “mis-characterization” of arguments from those who support a one-state solution.

    In any case, the current situation is a one-state solution where Jews are given rights over non-Jews both within (albeit to a lesser degree) and outside Israel proper.

  7. Myro,
    She doesn’t answer most of his questions in that op-ed. She argues with what she says he said at an event. I just got his book and find it hard to believe she characterized what he said accurately, as his account of the origins of the one-state solution and its place in Palestinian thinking resembles hers in many ways. One of her main points seems to be that the one-state idea is “not confrontational” to Israelis because she has seen some Israelis favoring it at conferences. That completely evades the reality that no solution can come about without the support of large swaths of Israelis, and the one-staters basically disregard the Israeli narrative –the way they choose to see themselves– as if it can be completely wished away.

  8. Dan,

    “Maybe in one or two more years, but not yet.” If your time estimate is correct…haven’t you as well as acknowledged the inevitability of one state?

    What is the likelihood that Netanyahu, and the apparent increasingly right wind attitudes of Israelis…will give Palestinians genuine freedom in the next 2 years? Strikes me as next to nothing.

    Not to mention Ibish’ questions are stunningly irrelevant, or illogical.
    1. Israel is not being compelled to dissolve itself. It has made that choice freely.

    2 Palestinians have no obligation, morally, to ask the question. They do have a moral obligation to free themselves.

    3. Like it or not, as with q2, the Palestinians have no obligation, morally or any other way, to “reach out” to their oppressors. It is Israelis and diaspora Jews who have a moral obligation to reach out to Palestinians (in my opinion).

    4. Ibish thinks “nationalism” is more important to Palestinians than being free of oppression? You agree with that, Dan?

    5. What is the road map to success (to a one state solution)? Astonishing question. Israel has provided the road map via it’s behavior…has it not?

    6. “agenda of infrastructural and institutional development” Strikes me as a genuinely historically ignorant question.

    Every time the Palestinians make any progress whatsoever in this regard, Israel finds a reason to destroy precisely those infrastructures and institutions the Palestinians manage to develop…what the hell just happened in Gaza? The West Bank 7 years ago.

    Sorry to be so blunt, but it seems that the American Jewish community is just now “waking up” to the impending doom (Israel’s self destruction”). Who bears responsibility for that? Haven’t liberal and left wing Israelis been pleading for help for decades now?

    And when those of us who are not Jewish attempt to support these liberal and left wing Israelis…we run the very real risk (almost certainty) of being labeled antisemitic. Frosting on the cake, I guess.

  9. “And when those of us who are not Jewish attempt to support these liberal and left wing Israelis…we run the very real risk (almost certainty) of being labeled antisemitic. Frosting on the cake, I guess.”

    Please don’t whine about risks taken. If your convictions are credible, there are ways to express them that are not anti-semitic and can be thoroughly intellectually defended.

    If your convictions are uninformed or selectively informed gambles, that is a another story.

    In contrast to the assertion that liberal Zionists are “progressive except for Palestine”, I counter that “progressive on Palestine”, is to support their comprehensive development and improvement in life, and that OBVIOUSLY there are paths to accomplish that.

    While Netanyahu objects to the assertiveness of Fayyad’s statements, “we will conduct institutional building, and if you don’t acknowledge and accommodate our responsible efforts, we’ll simply declare our independance”, the efforts themselves are undeniably needed, credible, progress.

    Its only where “progress” is not progressive, that the rejectionist/”resistance” approach is adopted.

    But, where tangible and considerable progress is desired, institution and relation building is the name of the game.

    The political agitation turns out to be a hollow shell compared to the substance of institution and community building.

    Some community building is constructed in the process of struggle, and some is deterred in the process of struggle.

    Two things are evident from Uri Avnery’s criticism of BDS and one-state aspirations, and Ibish’s.

    They are that Israelis are not going to willingly disappear, and that Israel is not going to willingly disappear.

    Because of that, a one-state solution results in LESS self-governance than a two-state.

    In a one-state solution, the only condition in which less than 48+% feel externally governed (colonized if you life), is where a majority associate with non-national integrated civil parties. There is one in Israel, and none of that ilk in Palestine.

    A MAJORITY. Maybe it could happen. Maybe meretz (3 seats), labor (14 seats), kadima, would join a liberal or centrist integrated party with whom on the Palestinian side? (hard to know exactly, probably called Uncle Tom).

    More likely would be Lebanon redux. 30 – year civil war so far. Deferred only in yeilding to Hezbollah’s vanguard “leadership”.

    So, if you prefer tyrrany of a slim majority (51%) in a single state, to 15-20% minorities with full civil rights (if focus on reform) in two-state, then we have different definitions of “progressive democracy”.

  10. It’s disappointing that Ibish goes after one-state advocates with such a viciousness. Presumably he and they are all advocates for greater Palestinian rights. Within that cause, discussions of these issues are probably quite important. But he gives fodder to the other side, and makes his own task harder, by failing to acknowledge the legitimate concerns of one-staters, and by portraying them as extreme and rejectionist.

    Rather than a rejectionist idea, I see the one-state proposal as an affirmative vision of a truly equal-status relationship between Jews and Palestinians. It involves no inherent opposition to compromise or progress. It’s not a take-it-or-leave-it deal. It’s a long-term goal to aim toward. Unfortunately, a lot of his argument rests on this mischaracterization.

    Part of this more basic mischaracterization is the assertion that one-state advocates are no longer interested in ending the occupation. An assertion that, frankly, makes no sense. Of course there would be no occupation in a single state that enfranchised Palestinians as citizens. But beyond that, I feel quite safe in saying that one-staters universally support an end to the occupation regardless of the political framework in which that happens. Even as part of a two-state solution, I believe they would welcome that development as indispensable progress.

    And his line of questioning about the tactics behind a one-state proposal is simply foolish. Does he not realize that BOTH one- and two-state Palestinian rights advocates are asking Israelis to make huge sacrifices of power and privilege? The tactics behind either solution would have to be essentially the same. Here he is also denigrating his own cause.

    At the negotiating table, talk of bi-nationalism might scare the Israelis away. But we’ll certainly never achieve real justice if we don’t allow anyone to talk about what that might look like.

    And while I haven’t read Ali Abunimah’s book (One Country) about the one-state solution, its existence certainly causes me to doubt Ibish’s claim that Abunimah is “at a loss for words” on the subject. The personal attacks in this piece are just more evidence of the bad faith in which it seems to have been written. I wish Ibish had written with more of an eye toward constructive criticism, and explained why his vision for Israel/Palestine is the more just one.

  11. Richard, let me first say that I don’t believe in an exclusive one-state approach. I support making progress in the realm of human rights, however that happens. I do see the one-state proposal as an admirable (and probably the best) long-term goal.

    When you say that “Israel is not going to willingly disappear,” I agree with you. But you are using deceptive language. What you really mean is “Israeli Jews are not going to willingly accept more Palestinians into their state (because that would threaten the precious demographic balance that apparently is what makes Israel Israel, rather than its democratic character or anything else).” You are correct about that. However, we would be right in opposing that sort of racist sentiment, in the same way we oppose Israel’s unwillingness to stop building settlements. And it’s also true that Israeli settlers are not going to willingly disappear, or allow a state in the West Bank, and that poses a bigger problem for the two-state proposal than it does for the one-state.

    You are right that there are perils to minority status in a democracy. The Palestinian-Israelis are proof of that. But those perils can be reduced with strong legal commitments to rights-protection, of the kind that were implemented in the U.S. after the civil rights movement (and that Israel sorely lacks).

    However, for the foreseeable future the numbers of Jews and Palestinians would be roughly even. Many Jews and Palestinians already make common cause today. They protest together in Bilin. A Jew is currently a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council. So I HIGHLY doubt that some multi-ethnic coalition (or party, for that matter) would be impossible, even initially.

    And I don’t share your view of an indefinite future involving ethnic hostility and exclusive nationalisms. In fact, one of the very purposes of the one-state solution is to reverse the development of those ideas, which are structurally endorsed and encouraged by a two-state framework. The Palestinians’ adoption of the demand for inclusion (rather than the exclusive and hostile demand of independence) would not only send a more positive signal to the rest of the world, but would entail and encourage fundamental changes in the Palestinian national movement of the kind you would love–towards non-violence and universalism.

    Like you, I perceive racist Israeli rejectionism to be a huge practical barrier to this kind of arrangement. (I think it is the primary one.) But this poses a problem for the two-state solution as well, and as racism, it is something we should be trying to change anyway.

    So, to sum up a little bit, I think a one-state solution would be workable. If we can get to that point where the two peoples are even talking about living together as equals, I think they will be able to get along in the same democracy. And I think there could be great benefits to a more widespread adoption, including by Palestinians themselves, of the call for democracy in one state.

    Of course, whether Palestinians adopt that call or not is up to them. But if there is a good case to be made, its our duty to make it so that everyone can come to an informed decision. And Palestinians, as negotiators, are hostages to some extent to what Israel finds acceptable. So by promoting this idea to Israelis we give Palestinians more space to freely choose what they present as their wishes.

  12. Robin-
    Do you remember “Pan-Arabism”? They kept claiming that the Arabs were “really” one people, artificially divided into different countries by the “imperialist colonialists”. So along comes a charismatic leader, Nasser, who proclaims a “United Arab Republic” and then merges with Syria. How long did that last? Three years IIRC. Then we have other unitary states like Iraq where the population is almost entirely Muslim and largely Arab-speaking. How is that country doing? How is multi-confessional “rainbow” Lebanon doing.
    And you come along and tell us that it is some sort of “ideal” for us Israelis to form a single state with the Palestinians, when the Palestinians have essentially two separate states at each other’s throats?
    Come back with your ideas after the Arab world unites into a single state. That, after all is much easier, isn’t it?

  13. Yep–people with white guilt are quick to talk about Israeli racism but refuse to address Arab racism and xenophobia. Until you start talking about that in real terms–your arguments are lightweight.

    There is also the issue of assimilation. Israel is tiny. If countries in Europe are grappling with the assimilation issue–how is Israel expected to handle that?

    We’re talking about serious culture clash here…and I’d argue that was always the crux of the problem–even before Israel was created.

    Call it racism, call it whatever you want…but it boils down to different culture and different values. Nation states (i.e. stable societal and governmental infrastructures) depend on a certain amount of cohesion–a social contract or covenant, if you will.

    I don’t see the possibility of that at this time.

    BTW–considering that Mizrahim fled Arab countries and are now in Israel…I find it a bit rich that Israeli policies are called racist. It’s more like cultural or religious exclusivity…so keep it real, please.

  14. Robin,
    Perhaps you are not aware of the struggle and considerable long-term comprehensive effort went into the construction of the state of Israel.

    It is not trivial like many new-left usually young thinkers presume.

    And, the efforts, history, commitment is remembered and HELD by Israelis. Zionism is not an academic ideology.

    It came to be after centuries of persecution, that in some ways is comparable to Palestinians’ current experience, in other ways far and permanently exceeded the degree of persecution.

    And, that persecution culminated in the holocaust.

    While it is wrenching and guttural, an experience at Yad Vashem or DC holocaust museum is descriptive. (They certainly exist for a purpose, to educate, but that is what they do in spite of Phil’s dismissals. He’s never been to my knowledge.) And, most important it is remembered.

    That forms the basis of Zionists’ self-assertion. The actions in Palestine are not reactions directed at Palestinians FOR the actions of nazis. They are separate. The common thread is the absence of acceptance of Jews as Jews, or now of Israelis as Israelis.

    There is the wish that they just weren’t there, with many strategies to deal with that. (Ignore them, dismiss them, agitate against them, boycott against them, harass them, shell them, threaten with nuclear or chemical weapons.)

    The denial of Palestinians existence and needs is also troubling.

    But, please don’t minimize the reality of Israel, and the importance of Israel as Israel to the world’s Jews.

    Israel is not disappearing. There is no current chance of it becoming absorbed into a single state, or bi-national state.

    There are too many fundamental reasons against it, even as Begin applied in the mid-80’s.

    The Palestinians themselves organized the first intifada to oppose that. The resurrection of the idea now, by Ali Abunimeh of all people, is odd.

  15. Y. Ben-David: What are you even talking about? Because Egypt and Syria couldn’t stay merged, Jews and Palestinians can’t live together?

    Jews and Palestinians already live together in Israel. What people like you are afraid of is, when all Palestinians can vote, you’ll no longer be able to use the government to segregate and discriminate against them.

  16. First of all, I am happy that, thus far, this conversation has been civil and mutually respectful, and hope the tone continues. Wish I had all day to address everything that has been broached here but I’ll take on just a few:

    Don (#9), you say the Palestinians have no moral obligation to figure out what a single, democratic state offers Jewish Israelis. And that the Palestinians have no moral obligation to reach out to their oppressors. But don’t they and their supporters have a practical obligation?

    In much of your (and Robin’s) critique of Ibish’s critique, you either deny or ignore the simple fact that no agreement is possible until large swaths of both the Israeli and Palestinian people support it. That is a very common problem among one-state advocates.

    It is impossible to prove a negative, so I can’t prove why the vast majority of Jewish Israelis are not going to buy the notion that, after carving out a place where they can be a majority, they should willingly live in a state where they will be a minority.The Jews from Muslim countries and their descendants, the Jews from the former Soviet Union and their descendants, and the Jews from Eastern Europe and their descendants, are not going to willingly accept a state where Jews will once again be in the minority. You can make all the moral arguments you want, you can rail against ethnic distinctions and nationalism all you want, but that is the practical reality in Israel (a similar reality obtains in the Balkans and in much of the rest of the world; for that matter, it is also a practical reality in American voting districts, where African Americans and Latinos understandably insist that racial and ethnic identity is taken into account when those districts are formed). Ignoring that reality simply perpetuates Palestinian suffering and allows an abstract ideal to trump practical steps that could conceivably free them, i.e. partition, with two viable states living side by side. There have been times since the Oslo accords when most Israelis told pollsters they would accept all kinds of sweeping compromises that they had never accepted before, if those compromises truly led to a comprehensive peace. Those are sentiments that still have a chance to be restored in more Israelis, and to form the basis of an agreement. It is an admittedly slim chance, but it is real. The chance for a mutually agreed-upon one state solution is not.

    That is one reason why the majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza do not support a one-state solution. Another reason is that their first priority is to end the occupation ASAP and an agreement with the Israelis is the only way to make that possible. Among the intellectuals in the territories who do speak in favor of the one state idea, some use it as a means to pressure Israel into making concessions now (i.e., “if you don’t end this occupation, then one state will be the only alternative”) but it is not a serious political platform. Ibish points out in his book that there is a major difference between “diasporic” Palestinian rhetoric on this issue and the rhetoric of those on the ground in the territories. Faced with this reality, one-state advocates resort to answers like “many” Palestinians support it or “it is not a fringe movement” or “support is growing in the territories.” But those are not answers.

  17. I am sure you’re right Richard. Israelis are REALLY REALLY attached to the idea of Israel as Israel–a Jewish-supremacist state. That would present an immense difficulty to bi-nationalism. That’s an important point to make.

    But what does that have to do with what is just? I have been arguing that that attitude is an impediment to justice. Whether or not this can ever change, whether or not justice is ever possible, I will advocate for justice. And if I am correct about what is just, then I am morally right (and obligated) to advocate for it.

    Do you think a one-state solution can be just? Do you think a two-state solution can be just?

    “Please don’t minimize the reality of Israel, and the importance of Israel as Israel to the world’s Jews.” OK. If you’re talking about a subjective importance: I get it. Is this a statement of your values? If so I think you need to explain them a bit more. If you are telling me to stop talking about the one-state idea, you need to tell me why that idea is wrong, not just that it is unattainable. (Indeed, to say it is absolutely impossible to attain, ever, is a bogus and ideologically motivated self-fulfilling prophecy.)

    “The Palestinians themselves organized the first intifada to oppose that. The resurrection of the idea now, by Ali Abunimeh of all people, is odd.” Did you read Cobban’s piece? You are outrageously off-base if you’re interpreting the first intifada as an expression of opposition to inclusion, rather than to occupation. Occupation is neither inclusion nor separation, but domination. At this point Palestinians are basically asking for anything but the latter. But true equality and justice can only happen through inclusion, which makes 2 states unnecessary.

    And allow me to ask you not to use deceptive language, as in writing “Israel is not disappearing” to mean “Israel will not change its connection between Jewishness and the state”. The first brings nefarious undertones to a development that most people would regard as enlightened.

  18. After reading Dan’s comment I just want to clarify something about where I stand.

    I’m totally committed to advocating, as an ideal, for a one-state solution or at least two states that are fully inclusive of both Jews and Palestinians.

    As for what movements (Fatah, Hamas, organized boycotters) should be demanding of Israel as a near-term solution, and which demands are more likely to bring significant advancements in respect for Palestinian human rights, on that question I am basically agnostic. My arguments in favor of a tactical one-state approach (mostly in #12) are essentially devil’s advocate. I think that discussion is important, and I’m very open to insightful arguments from either side about why their approach is better (unfortunately there’s almost none of that in the Ibish article, although there could be in the book).

  19. Dan.

    First…sincere thanks for your response. My post was rather harsh, but partly out of frustration. I was partly responding to your “time estimates” (which I don’t necessarily agree with.)

    I do agree with this “Those are sentiments that still have a chance to be restored in more Israelis, and to form the basis of an agreement.”

    I personally don’t see why Israelis (Jews) and Palestinians (Christian and Moslem)cannot live together, in one state or two (and yes, that should be their choice, not ours).

    There are (admittedly small) groups over there who demonstrate this every day. They demonstrate every day that Jews and Arabs cannot only live together, but that they can “value” and “befriend” each other.

    Anyone who see this as “naive nonsense”…in my opinion they have not explored the issue sufficiently; the groups are out there…and they need our assistance (rather desperately).

    It seems to me that we (by which I mean all faith groups in the US) have, and continue to…fail miserably in efforts to assist Israelis and Palestinians; who seem to me to be doing a dandy job of “destroying each other”.

    And I also agree Palestinians should reach out to Israelis…some do, though it is not easy.

    I am (in my opinion) on your side, Dan. And the side of Palestinians. It seems to me that it is not morally acceptable to “care about one side and not the other”. If I gave that impression, my apology.

  20. “Israelis are REALLY REALLY attached to the idea of Israel as Israel–a Jewish-supremacist state.”

    That language indicates to me that you are an ideolog rather than an advocate for democracy.

    One of the reasons it is wrong is because it is untenable, that it will prolong and exacerbate tensions that have an otherwise practical path of some resolution.

    The second reason that it is wrong is because it represents an imposition on a larger minority than two national states represent, and with harsher consequences.

    The population of Jewish Israel and Arab Palestine is roughly at parity. Some group has 51-52% and some other group has 48-49%.

    If 10% of each group were to prefer a civil state to a national state (which I think is the accurate proportions), then 40% would be some Zionist in primary orientation, 40% would be Palestinian nationalist, and 20% would be civilist.

    To impose a civilist state on the remainder, would mean that 80% are living in a state formation that they find objectionable.

    And, that in either Zionist dominated single state or Palestinian dominated single state, at least 40% of the population would find it objectionable.

    The next question is what would people accept?

    Among Israeli population, I doubt more than 30% would be even willing to live in a civil or Palestinian state (70% perceiving that they are oppressed, governed by a foreign entity). I would expect similar proportions among Palestinians.

    Obviously, these two exercises are not authoritative, but illustrative.

    In contrast, I would expect that 90% of the population of Israel is willing to live in Israel as Israel (including 50% of Arabs, of the 20% population). Even if no Arabs were willing, but lived there in some state of oppression, that would be 20% total that regard themselves as not self-governed.

    In the West Bank, it is a different question, as the settlers now comprise 10% of the population of the West Bank. If they were even to stay as Palestinian citizens, that would still be only 10% that regard themselves as not self-governed.

    I don’t see how an advocate for democracy or justice, can advocate for a proposal that yeilds a minimum of 40% of the people feeling that they are not self-governed, comprising a “tyrrany of the majority”.

    And, given the historical animosities, it is likely that that tyrrany would not be a benign one.

    IF, a big if, there were an active civilist movement in Israel (which does exist – Balad party) and in Palestine that achieved a near majority of votesin each, then a bi-national or single state might then be feasible (still a big and long exercise following that status). But, that status is currently remote.

    A MUCH preferable, MUCH more progressive, MUCH more just approach would be to encourage the acceptance of Israel (even at the 67 borders), but acceptance not just the Hamas rationalization of “we’ll accept what the people decide, (though we’ll attempt to influence their decision to the negative)”.

    On your rhetoric. There is a phrase, “you can’t make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear”, meaning that for you to rise to the level of “progressive”, you’d have to renounce the assumption that Israel is a “Jewish supremacist state”.

    It is less of one now than Palestine is a Palestinian supremacist state. They both clearly need reform, and will achieve it if that is where dissenters put their attention.

  21. Thanks, Don. In my experience, some people who are invested in this issue start by disagreeing and realize that they are not as far apart as they’d thought. Other people become more entrenched in their positions. Glad you feel like the former is true.

  22. Bring on the King Abdullah proposal. Bring it on now.

    If this one-state conversation isn’t enough ro raise the hairs on the back of the settlers’ necks…I don’t know what is!

    Just give the Palestinians their state and let an international army oversee the borders.

  23. Don,
    You must remember that Jews define themselves not simply as a religion but also as an ethnic group or people. This is especially true of Israeli Jews. But this idea didn’t begin with Zionism, it has been with Judaism since ancient times: when one converted to Judaism one became part of the Jewish people or Jewish nation, am Israel. Even Reform Judaism, which started out by trying to turn Judaism into a “normal religion” like Christianity or Islam but gave up on this because Jews didn’t accept it.

    This means that one isn’t simply dealing with with three separate religions but with two ethnic groups, both of whom define themselves as nations, in the same state. It is much easier to try and get the two nations two live separately in two separate states than in the same state in peace, particularly when one of the religions denies that Jews as a religious group deserve ethnic or national rights. As it is demographically possible for the two nations to be separated into separate states, this is what should be attempted. If you want to end occupation you do it by adopting the difficult, but possible method, rather than by adopting the impossible method.

    I disagree totally with those who believe that settlements will soon make a two-state solution impossible. In Northern Ireland power sharing was attempted in 1974. It failed. It was attempted again from 1998 to 2002. Again it failed. It apparently has succeeded when it was attempted for a third time in 2007. This is because the demographic logic remained constant. Catholic nationalists and Protestant unionists remained intermingled, particularly in the two eastern-most counties in NI. What happened between 1974 and 2007 is that the Republican Movement (IRA/Sinn Fein) realized that it could not force NI out of the UK through terrorism (“armed struggle”) and could not have power sharing without decommissioning of its arms and explosives. What happened is that the human price paid for that realization went up after 1974. Likewise the logic of the two-state solution will remain compelling. It will eventually prevail. What is likely to occur if Israel continues to settle all of the West Bank is that the existing settlement blocs will lose their special status and territorial swaps will no longer be available as a solution in the future. All settlements will be removed. So Israel can decide if it wants to lose all the settlements, or just lose some and trade territory for the others. Palestine will have to decide if it will give up the “right” of return now or give it up in the future after thousands or tens of thousands of Palestinians have been killed and the infrastructure of the territories devastated.

  24. In my reply to Don, the second sentence in the second para should read “two nations to live separately in two states”…

  25. Richard, you are making a comparison that is not only incorrect, but reprehensible. The feeling of Palestinian-Israelis of being oppressed due to segregation and discrimination (real conditions) is NOT anything like the potential opposition of Jewish Israelis to a state that includes a comparable a number of Palestinians and gives them equal status. Some Jews may feel oppressed or externally governed, but under a system which strictly protects equal rights and enfranchises everyone, that feeling will not reflect the reality. (Rather, it will be born of a nostalgia for untenable domination.)

    I am white and a U.S. citizen. Projections say that whites will no longer be the U.S. majority within the century. If that development occurs, will I be right to consider myself oppressed and “externally governed”, in spite of retaining all of the rights I have now? Should my feeling of being “oppressed” be weighted equally with that of African-Americans under Jim Crow?

    When you call my ideas undemocratic, it seems you misunderstand democracy. As we’ve learned in the U.S., democracy means everyone having a say, not everyone WANTING everyone to have a say. Was the civil rights movement undemocratic because it ignored the wishes of southern whites?

    In your arguments you are prioritizing irrational and fundamentally racist sentiments over legitimate aspirations for equal rights. And I see that as quite problematic.

    And furthermore, there is a presumptuousness and illogic behind your calculations of support in the first place. One-state is not going to be “imposed” on anyone without at least some growth in Jewish support, and much more Palestinian support for the idea. Rates of support right now are beside the point of its future viability, and are exactly what advocates are seeking to change in the short-term.

    But the idea that most Palestinians would oppose such an arrangement if it were an option is, I think, ridiculous. First of all, read Cobban’s piece. Some form of one-state has long been the ultimate goal of the Palestinian national movement. It was an idea officially sacrificed, in the face of Israeli demands (backed of course by coercive power), for the sake of negotiation. And only quite recently. And logically, it makes little sense that Palestinians would have any problem with a deal that gave them infinitely higher status. So don’t pretend to “protect” Palestinians from a one-state solution. You would only be protecting the disproportionate power of Jews.

    If Israel renounces a necessary connection between Jewish ethnicity and the state, then it will no longer be Jewish-supremacist. In the meantime, there is no reason for me to back off of that term. The Israeli government currently works for the maintenance of a Jewish majority (and its attendant power) at the expense of human rights. This is not an academic point.

    “Palestine is a Palestinian supremacist state.” Not a fair point, because there is not a Palestinian state. Also, there is not a significant non-settler population of Jews in Gaza and the West Bank. So this discussion is more academic, and not yet a significant factor in the conflict. But I am committed to equality, and I admit to some ignorance about the policies of the PA and Hamas administrations. Do they officially discriminate against Jews as Jews?

  26. The selection of jurisdiction is a choice. The selection of river to sea is a choice. The selection of green line would be a choice.

    To optimize democracy, particularly if you desire to avoid gruesome civil war, you select the jurisdiction that will result in the optimal degree of self-governance, or is that concept not important to you?

    In geographic Israel, ALL citizens have equal votes, and theoretical equal rights (there is some Jim Crow like discrimmination that is as much class based as ethnic). The 20% minority Palestinians in Israel vote, and some vote for Balad, some for Arab parties, some even for Zionist labor party (there is a Palestinian labor party member in the knesset, and appointed to the Israeli cabinet under Kadima).

    There is no Jewish minority allowed to vote in the West Bank. There is no state yet in the West Bank, so its mute. In the West Bank, there is now prohibitions (punishable by death) for legally selling land to a Jew. NOT a good precedent.

    Most Palestinians certainly would oppose a single state that was dominated by Zionists. If the single state emerges, and Zionists elect the control of parliament, and the whole of Israel/Palestine becomes subject to then parliamentary determined favored laws, what do you think would happen then? Either way, whether Palestinians assert their “rights”, say forcing many Israelis from their homes, or vice-versa.

    Would that be a good outcome? What basis of law do you think should emerge? THAT is the realm of the legislature, and a 2% swing would shift the tenor of law considerably.

    Get informed, before you start calling people and institutions names.

    The two-state approach is the only possible one, short of advocating for a blood bath in civil war.

    And, short of asking that 40% be governed by others, rather than 10-20% in the two-state solution.

    That is democracy, government by consent of the governed.

  27. “Reprehensible”.

    You’ve been sold on the parallel between South Africa and Israel/Palestine which is false.

  28. Jewish-supremacist, Richard. Just as an officially “White state” in America would be white-supremacist.

    I didn’t mention South Africa, you saw those parallels yourself. Which false parallels did you think I implied?

    I’ve heard a lot of your problems with a one-state solution. Most of them I see as not fundamental or permanent–current unfavorable opinion can be changed, however slowly, and equal rights can be protected in a constitution-type basic framework for the state.

    How about the problems involved in a two-state solution?

    First of all, there are problems in implementing it. Removing the settlers of course, or dealing with their presence in a Palestinian state. I’m sure you see this as doable. I have hope that it is, in the same way I have hope Israelis can come to accept fairer alternatives to the “Jewish state”. I don’t know which prospect is more possible or imminent. I think hopelessness hurts our cause in either case.

    In the area of rights and fairness, a two-state solution would leave many problems to fester:

    -It would do nothing about the 2nd-class status of a million Arab-Israelis.

    -It would probably not address the right of many refugees to return to their land of origin.

    -It would not address Palestinians’ desire for the right to live on Israeli land (in other words, an equal immigration/naturalization policy).

    -It may result in restrictions on Jews’ right to live in the West Bank/Gaza, or of their equal rights there.

    -It would not address Palestinians’ desire to travel freely in Israel and form a common national community with Palestinians who reside there.

    -It would do nothing to link the security or interests of both peoples. There would still be an all-Jewish military opposite an all-Arab military. Meaning…

    -It could not credibly guarantee either security or real sovereignty to the weaker state–the Palestinian state. One ethnicity would maintain, through its superior military, the power to coerce or abuse the other. (Imagine, for instance, a West Bank that looked like today’s Gaza. Or Lebanon’s relationship with Israel. Hardly a great step forward.)

    In short, a two-state solution has a strong potential to maintain the general domination of Jews over Arabs in Israel/Palestine. It may be a softer domination, but it may not even be that. Military force will remain a tool for pursuing ethnic interests, rather than being replaced by voting power or other peaceful methods of democratic politics. At some point, whether there are one states or two, won’t we need to see more cooperation, more integration, less separation, less mistrust, less prejudice? Those things are at the core of the one-state idea.

    I am far from arguing that a two-state solution would render these issues permanently unsolvable, or even render eventual unification impossible. (Although it may entail a surrender of leverage that would make these goals more difficult–an interesting topic for discussion.) However, I have pointed out real problems, affecting mainly Palestinians, that a two-state approach does not even seek to resolve. It does no harm and, indeed, it’s our obligation to talk now about potential solutions to these, even if we accept progress in the form of two-states and work for that immediate result.

  29. A one-state constitution? Who is going to draft that, if you can’t get enough individuals that support the concept even into the same room on those terms?

    I NEVER stated that there weren’t problems associated with the two-state solution. Beyond the obvious improvement in degree of self-governance of a two-state vs a single-state orientation (in this case we are talking about, not hypothetical Switzerland or Belgium), there are issues of reform to address.

    Why would you suggest that the settlers have to be removed if they agree to be citizens of Palestine, and compensate under a rational and consistent basis of law color-blind to perfect currently contested title? THAT would constitute ethnic cleansing, and suggest that Palestinians could not legally accommodate minorities in their community.

    Its resolvable.

    Second-class status of Israeli Arabs, Israelis of color, anyone poor, would have to be reformed, and will be absent the prospect of threat to sovereign Zionist Israel. Israel is constitutionally Zionist AND democratic (equally per their basis laws).

    Right of return of descendants of former Palestinians is not a right by international law. Right of return to one’s homes is, but in TOO MANY modern world cases, that specific application is impossible, especially 60 years hence. An example is my mother-in-law’s former home in Hungary, that was expropriated when the Jews were forced into slavery (actual, not a ghetto). It was expropriated by a family, then from that family (for war profiteering) to the then communist regime public library, which it remains now. (It was never returned.) Jews that were Hungarian or Polish or Rumanian citizens were theoretically allowed to return to their former homeland, but practically were harrassed and brutalized when they did, so they moved to Israel.

    “-It would not address Palestinians’ desire for the right to live on Israeli land (in other words, an equal immigration/naturalization policy).

    -It may result in restrictions on Jews’ right to live in the West Bank/Gaza, or of their equal rights there.”

    Those are good points.

    -It would not address Palestinians’ desire to travel freely in Israel and form a common national community with Palestinians who reside there.

    If there were peace, then travel would be accommodated, just like travel between US and Mexico, which once was a brutal state of war.

    -It would do nothing to link the security or interests of both peoples. There would still be an all-Jewish military opposite an all-Arab military. Meaning…

    This would be resolved by treaty. Hopefully, absent jihadists in Palestine, they would establish convivial relations that would minimize the current need for military. Rather than a state of war, there would be a normalized state of relations.

    -It could not credibly guarantee either security or real sovereignty to the weaker state–the Palestinian state. One ethnicity would maintain, through its superior military, the power to coerce or abuse the other. (Imagine, for instance, a West Bank that looked like today’s Gaza. Or Lebanon’s relationship with Israel. Hardly a great step forward.)

    They’ll have to live with being a smaller military. They’ll be able to with lines of communication to resolve problems.

    The one-state idea is an idea of magic, of desiring institutions and means to reconcile without making the effort to develop those means.

    The people’s do NOT operate under common codes of law, or custom. In some respects diversity of custom is not a big deal. In matters of law, including basis of land ownership, it IS a big deal.

    That is the manner in which imposition will be experienced. For example, if Zionist land ownership norms (Jewish Agency and Jewish National Fund owning the majority of land, but leasing it to residents) are the legal norms of the single-state, and Palestinians desire to employ land ownership criteria more consistent with their norms, the Zionist forms would prevail in a single state, and eliminate the traditional basis of land rights.

    If you are concerned about Palestinian subordination, a single-state would institutionalize it.

    The only way to prevent that would be to organize civilist movements in both communities that prefer the civil and solely democratic. Right now there is NO movement that does that.

    The Abunimeh single-state approach is through the political, the South African BDS model, NOT the model of development of civil institutions. He criticizes them as “collaborationist”.

    It would take renouncing Palestinian nationalism for integrated civilism, which he and most others that advocate for single-state are unwilling to do.

    The sets of political attitudes that would have to be reconciled, describe the various positions in a concensus oriented group process:

    1. What do you desire? (Shariah Palestine, National Palestine, Civil, National Zionist, Halacha Zionist)?

    2. What would you be willing to live under (Shariah Palestine, National Palestine, Civil, National Zionist, Halacha Zionist)?

    For the single-state to prevail in a plebiscite, a strong super-majority (70+%) would have to accept Civil.

    My assessment of a current poll of the five, what would you accept is:

    Total P I
    Shariah Palestine 20% 30% 10%
    National Palestine 45% 70% 20%
    Civil 40% 50% 30%
    National Zionist 50% 10% 90%
    Halacha Zionist 15% 5% 25%

    The grid includes settlers in the West Bank as Jewish Palestinians.

    NONE achieving super-majority.

    What might be possible after years of careful party development, I don’t know.

    The quick BDS route isn’t it. Its a form of jihad, “fully consented” persuasion under coercion.

  30. “I admit to some ignorance about the policies of the PA and Hamas administrations. Do they officially discriminate against Jews as Jews?”

    Richard already answered that question, i.e., Palestinians have not had the opportunity to discriminate against Jews so it’s a moot point.

    However, let’s change the question a little bit:

    “I admit to some ignorance about the policies of the PA and Hamas administrations. Do they officially discriminate against Christians as Christians?”


    That’s a pretty good indicator of what their policy is to anyone who is not of their creed. We’re talking about Christian Arabs who are persecuted by other Arabs (in this particular case, Palestinians).

  31. Meanwhile, every other oppressed peoples on the planet is struggling for self-determination and sovereignty…but here we have an argument demanding Israelis and Palestinians live together so the Israelis can babysit the Arabs.

    This is what the Palestinians want because unlike everyone else, they are better off living under the dominion of people who have treated them like crap for years.

    These 2 people can’t stand each other–and it would be a marriage made in hell. But that’s just a minor detail.

    If the Palestinians are incapable of running a stable state (and I did ask that question at one point) then let the Jordanians and Egyptians absorb the respective territories. If nothing else, there would at least be more cultural cohesion.

    However, I personally haven’t given up on them yet 100%. Who knows, maybe the Iranian mullahdom will topple soon and there will be one less supplier of weapons to Palestinian jihadi.

    I guess a lot of the 2 state possibility boils down to making Israel’s borders secure (from rockets, missiles etc)

  32. “You must remember that Jews define themselves not simply as a religion but also as an ethnic group or people. This is especially true of Israeli Jews. But this idea didn’t begin with Zionism, it has been with Judaism since ancient times: when one converted to Judaism one became part of the Jewish people or Jewish nation, am Israel.”

    Tom, thank you for saying this. I’m not religious in the least. I’m not even 100% ethnically Jewish (only by matrilineage). But there is ABSOLUTELY without doubt cultural richness, tradition, values etc from that side of my family (as with the other side).

    When Armenians and Greeks preserve their culture and tradition it’s regarded as ethnic pride. When Jews do it…it’s called supremacy.

    People have been whining about Jewish insularity and separateness for centuries and this is just more of the same.

    No one is fooled by it.

  33. Richard, I don’t mean to quibble or be testy when I say that much of your response seems to argue against claims I did not make or intend. For instance, I did not argue that enough support currently exists for one-state, that you denied any problems with the two-state model, that settlers could not remain as members of a Palestinian state, or that BDS efforts should be linked to a call for one-state.

    Your ideals on Arab-Israelis are admirable. But you don’t show much appreciation for the problem in focusing on the significance of class, or even color (although such problems do exist to a lesser extent). Schools segregated by language receive vastly unequal funding. Non-Jews are barred from buying most land. Privileges are provided on the basis of military service, compulsory for Jews and understandably avoided by Palestinians. Ethnicity is the explicit basis behind disparities in most cases, as it is in these.

    And your strategy for dealing with the problem seems to involve mostly wishful thinking. You seem to support, in effect, Israel’s divide and conquer strategy by de-linking calls for Palestinian rights in the West Bank and in Israel. You hope that Jews will renounce undue privileges when they feel less threatened. What if they don’t? Would you make strong demands that they do? Would you support the U.S. bringing political and economic pressure to bear? (Or is Israel’s “right” to US aid and trade more important than Palestinians’ right to equal status under the law?)

    You generally don’t seem open to the ideas: that Jews could oppress Palestinians in the absence of any violence (and indeed there is not violence from Arab-Israelis); that there is something about Palestinian identity itself that threatens prevailing Zionist ideas; that Jews don’t find abhorrent the privileges they now enjoy at others’ expense.

    You show a profound trust of Jewish Israel that has to be based on emotion more than realism. And which leads you to tolerate and support a tremendous concentration of power in its hands (rather than a sharing or a balance of power). A basically paternalistic attitude. More on this later…

    Your focus on property is a confusion of right to return designed to make it appear more difficult. While international law also protects property from arbitrary seizure, right of return is not primarily about that. It is about the right to return and live in your country of origin. I don’t think anyone is saying that, after 60 years, Jewish residents of formerly Arab homes should be evicted to make way for the original occupants. Right of return would be considered granted if Israel merely permitted former residents to immigrate. (Or even better, if the Law of Return was amended to include Palestinians.) That would be the easiest solution (for Israel) to implement in this whole conflict, if only the will was there. Discussions of compensation for property are good, but separate to right to return and, I would guess, less important to the Palestinians. You take for granted your mother-in-law’s formal permission to go back to Hungary, and consider it insufficient. But Palestinians don’t even have THAT in their case, and it is important to them.

    “If there were peace, then travel would be accommodated, just like travel between US and Mexico, which once was a brutal state of war.”

    “This would be resolved by treaty. Hopefully, absent jihadists in Palestine, they would establish convivial relations that would minimize the current need for military. Rather than a state of war, there would be a normalized state of relations.”

    “They’ll have to live with being a smaller military. They’ll be able to with lines of communication to resolve problems.”

    Essentially, you hope and you trust that Israel will respect its agreements–in the absence of any restraints, and despite history to the contrary. I am not saying it definitely won’t. But where is the realism? And where is the respect for Palestinians’ desire for not just mercy, but equality?

    These concerns are easy to dismiss for people like you who innately trust Israel. Not so much for those who Israel has personally brutalized, without valid reason. You’re saying to them: be happy with a promise of mercy. They may have to, for lack of options. But your demand is paternalistic.

    “It would take renouncing Palestinian nationalism for integrated civilism.” Not true. Jewish and Palestinian nationalism can be reconciled, with a commitment to equal national rights and recognition for both groups. Today’s Zionist mainstream opposes such a reconciliation, insisting on unequal national rights and effectively exclusive Jewish control of state institutions on most of the land. With Palestinian nationalism it is impossible to honestly judge, since they have been told incessantly and credibly that such a reconciliation is not an option. But if it were, it’s unrealistic to expect that most Palestinians would oppose it, given all they stand to gain.

    “What might be possible after years of careful party development, I don’t know.” We agree on this. Is there something wrong with working to make a one-state arrangement possible? My suggestions aren’t any more extreme than that.

    And finally, a ridiculous statement: “The quick BDS route isn’t it. Its a form of jihad, ‘fully consented’ persuasion under coercion.” Again, I never linked BDS to one-state demands. (It’s about international law and primarily the occupation.) And when you describe BDS, negatively, as coercion, keep in mind that Palestinians are negotiating under occupation and LITERALLY under Israel’s prowling drones, bombers and helicopter gunships. So yes, on some level, BDS is coercion. It’s tangible pressure. But, as nonviolence, it is NOT an immoral means to a good end. And it is IMMEASURABLY less threatening than the coercion that the Palestinians negotiate under. If you truly are against all pressure or coercion in negotiations, then you support the total disarmament of all sides. That’s not a real-world argument, and you’re not making it. Apparently, you oppose coercion of Israel and support it against Palestinians.

    In a negotiation, both sides bring pressure to bear. Realistically, we can expect a bad result for the side whose power to pressure or “coerce” the other is inferior. The more extreme the imbalance, the more extreme the results. Look at the situation Richard! One side is incalculably stronger AND better off than the other. Do you think those two things are unrelated?

    With BDS, the hope is that increased pressure on Israel will not only change the cost-benefit equation in its decision to occupy, but spur greater reflection in Israeli society. There may be a backlash and an entrenching of some attitudes, but people will not change without being presented with the possibility that they are wrong. Racist attitudes were beaten back in the United States by being confronted, mostly nonviolently, rather than placated. BDS has the power to confront more Israelis with the idea that the policies of their state are wrong. I have faith in the consciences of Israelis, that the more this issue is raised, the more people will come around to supporting justice.

    But the main point of BDS is that it puts some power back into the hands of the Palestinians (who called for it) and their global network of solidarity. Rather than relying paternalistically on Israel to solve, on a whim, the problems it created.

  34. And let me add to my post to Richard:

    I don’t believe a majority of any group of people ever opposes their own interests/privileges out of pure idealism. BDS publicizes the moral argument while crucially appealing to Israeli self-interest.

  35. If the goal of BDS is unclear, then it is only a malevolent approach. And, that is the case with the currently articulated BDS approaches. It is promoted by groups with very varying motives.

    It is an attempt to force Israel to do something, but who knows what specifically, except to punish for some past.

    I consider the majority of dissenters promoting BDS to be inadequately educated on the issues to support such an intrusion and insult. Even education as to the reasons for your position is insufficient. It takes some education as to the others’ perspective to ethically undertake any use of force, whether violent or non-violent.

    I disagree with your assessment of power. Certainly, in military power, Israel has the upper hand in resources, personnel, positions, equipment, intelligence.

    In negotiation, a negotiator is a peer, unless willingly surrenders peer status.

    While the PA has been accused of being “Uncle Tom’s” by some of the loud left, it is not an accurate description, and a functionally demeaning and disempowering one to Palestinians.

    Whether I trust Israel or not, I see no valid political alternative to a situation with nearly equal populations than to rely on persuasion and consent of the governed.

    You can make a better argument, to appeal to sympathy (which exists, and could exist to a greater extent in different conditions), but to advocate for force and to call it democracy, is really hypocritical.

    There has NEVER been a time when there has not been an active boycott of Israel, so Israelis perceive the revival of that effort to be a never-ending continuation. It is not something new, not some new pressure, not some new political effort with a new political agenda.

    It is perceived as a persecution, and may be in fact.

    If the important effort is to change hearts and minds, then isolating Israel and Israelis that already feel isolated is NOT the way to accomplish it.

    Your comments imply to me an expectation that changes are easy there. They are not. They only occur with commitment to respect the other, to fact-check so as to present accurately, towards persuading.

    Israel is NOT a fascist state. It is a democracy governed by an electorate that historically has been far more diverse than the US (and the US is accepted as a democracy). It includes Arab citizens of Israel, which comprise 20% of the electorate, a higher percentage of the electorate than blacks, or hispanics, or Jews comprise in the US.

    If you can’t rise to respect Israelis and Israel, then you should renounce involvement in the issue. Thats what it takes to persuade, respect of the other.

    There are tons of contempt expressed for others (particularly for Israelis, for Zionists), and when rhetorical terms are applied imagining that they are merely descriptive, that indicates a hypocrisy.

    Don’t assume that persuasion is the same as placation. That is an insulting equation.

    Make a better argument. Get better informed. Learn what is important to your opponent, so that you can identify what is compromisable, noting that any peace requires compromise on the part of both parties.

    Please apply skepticism in all assumptions, your own and others. Trust but verify.

    A justifiable criticism of Israel is that they distrust Palestinians and their representatives (they appear to anyway, who knows what relationships exist behind closed doors?).

    Please don’t indulge in distrust of Israel, thereby modeling the behavior of what you oppose.

    Its a paradox. Its a similar to paradox to the neo-orthodox quandry of committing to abide by Torah, which states “do not covet thy neighbor’s possession, anything that is thy neighbor’s”.

    So, the promise of the covenant “the rain in its time (harmony)” and “agency sovereignty over the land” is only possible if Jews and Israel collectively renounce desiring land that is others’ property.

    Please note that the right of return articulated in the Geneva Conventions, does NOT apply to descendants of displaced, but to the displaced themselves (those living and residing in Israel in 1948, and those living in the West Bank including East Jerusalem in 1967.) And, it really is unclear if right of return necessarily means to Israel, or could mean to some jurisdiction under Palestinian self-governance.

    Allow it to be determined by the Palestinian representatives. Don’t end up passively articulating the position of Hamas by your passive acceptance of activists’ repetitions.

    If you are committed to democracy, you will commit to persuasion, not force. If you don’t have the time to bother, then you also don’t have the right to force.

  36. No, Robin, perish the thought that the Palestinian or the larger Arab/Muslim worlds persecute the Christians or Jews. Their well-known “tolerance” that Obama effusively praised is no doubt the reason that 100 years ago 20% of the Middle East was Christian, whereas today it is down to 2%. This, no doubt, explains why Bethlehem, a major Christian holy city, had after the Six-Day War a majority popoulation of Christians, whereas today it is down to something like 20% (read Matt Rees’ novel “The Collaborator of Bethlehem” to see how the Christians are treated there-BTW Rees is a pro-Palestinian non-Jew). No doubt this wonderful tolerance is the reason that outside the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth and facing it, there is a huge green banner saying how anyone who doesn’t believe in Islam is going to rot in hell (I posted Seth Freedman’s column about this here in Realisticdove).

  37. Robin-you can call us Jews/Zionists any name you want -“racist”, “particularist”, “parochialist”, “fascist”, “tribalist”, “nationalist”=whatever you want-I couldn’t care less. I am not going to lose any sleep over what epithets “progressives” call us. We Jews had the “priviledge” of living as a minority for 2000 years and we kept waiting for the “tolerance” the “progressives” kept promising us….but instead we got discrimination, oppression, pogroms and finally the Holocaust. And the irony is, is that it was generally the “progressive”, Social Democratic states like Holland , Norway and France that handed the Jews over to the Nazis the most efficiently and cleanly. We have learned the lesson. So your lecturing us about how we are not “multiculturally sensitive” enough is simply a waste of time.

  38. The goal of BDS is quite clear: the end of occupation.

    It has nothing to do with the past. It is not a persecution.

    You apparently wouldn’t understand this, but Teddy Roosevelt said, “I speak softly, but I carry a big stick.” Israel carries one too, and what’s more it’s shown eagerness to use it. You want me to believe that has no effect on the Palestinian side in negotiations.

    “…any peace requires compromise on the part of both parties.” I agree. How about this for a fair compromise: I agree to give up aspirations of dominating you, and you agree to give up aspirations of dominating me. Equality.

    That wouldn’t be allowed on the table under the current dynamics. The options that are on the table, Israel would reject in a role-reversed form. That tells me the negotiators do not operate in a magic bubble in which they become “peers”.

    I don’t “indulge in mistrust of Israel”. I treat Israelis, and Palestinians, and Americans, realistically. I advocate for checks on power, and institutions that form a barrier against conflict and discrimination, rather than foster it. In the form it has taken these past 60 years, in which category of institution would you put the state of Israel?

    You imply that I am not interested in either democracy, compromise, or the wishes of people on the ground. But what about Palestinians’ wishes about the nature of Israel? Your stance is that there should be no compromise on that issue, and that Palestinians’ wishes (for a non-Zionist state) are invalid. But the nature of Israel is something that deeply affects them. For gosh sake, Israel has ruled them (or kept them in exile) for the last 40 years! It subsumes the majority of their declared homeland. Palestinians are 50% in the land Israel controls, but they should have no say in what Israel is? Or only a small fraction should have a say? That to me seems anti-democratic, anti-compromise, dismissive of the feelings of people on the ground.

    Binationalism, for me, is a potential compromise on that issue–in fact, the only reachable compromise in a situation without power differentials. (If you hate coercion, that should have appeal.) The true “meeting in the middle” of two groups. It has the added benefit of enshrining a relationship of equality and cooperation between the ethnicities.

    Richard, tell me, does the right of return apply to the descendants of the displaced? That’s me turning to sarcasm out of frustration with your repetition (I hear you the first time), and your condescension (“Get better informed,” you order). I want our dialogue to stay respectful and productive.

    “Don’t end up passively articulating the position of Hamas by your passive acceptance of activists’ repetitions.” What does that mean?

    Out of curiosity, what do you think about a withdrawal of American aid to Israel (for as long as the occupation continues)? Would you consider that to be an application of force?

  39. “the end of occupation.”

    You don’t get how vague (opportunistically vague) that term is?

    “Your stance is that there should be no compromise on that issue, and that Palestinians’ wishes (for a non-Zionist state) are invalid. ”

    Do you get how from that statement, I surmise a strong advocacy of the single-state solution (not a “consideration” of it, as you articulated earlier)?

    Your arguments are not served by the snarky.

    The issue of optimal democracy is a critical question that you did not address.

    There is frustration all around. And, angers that result from that. For you to join in the angers only, and NOT address the substantive structural questions coolly, puts you into the emotion driven camp.

    As BOTH narratives of the conflict are valid, supported by fact and experience, if you read widely then you’d encounter a great deal of emotional confusion (if you let emotion rule your approach).

    There are stimuli that support each rage.

    Consider the “non-violent” demonstrations occurring in Nelim and Beilim. I’m not there seeing with my own eyes, so I can’t confirm this from my own experience.

    Others have told me that what is occurring with the demonstrations is an almost Pavlovian “reminder” exercise on both sides of the issue. That is that demonstration itself is designed and functions for the purpose of keeping up angers (as the only motivation that drives determinations to make change, not reasoning or persuasion).

    There are various perspectives among the demonstrators. Some are sincerely committed to non-violence in tactic. Some are committed to non-violence as a worldview. Some regard non-violence only as good PR, but “by any means necessary” is the guiding motive. Meaning that if non-violence is the most effective means of dissent for the PR, so be it. If horrific and intimate terror on civilians ONLY, so be it.

    On the content issue of single-state, bi-national state (whatever that means), two-state, you didn’t address my core argument/question which is a relative one.

    Which solution optimizes self-governance? There is no perfect one, one that contains no suppression. Yours doesn’t. So, the question is what is the best of the options, with the clarity of what to pursue.

    The introduction of the one-state solution instead of really persuading of the validity of the two-state is an INTENTIONALLY injected distraction, TO keep a peace agreement from occurring. It is designed to oppose the two-state solution (temporary or permanent), that DOES deny the Jewish people sovereignty.

    Netanyahu himself at other times historically, has articulated his goal for a Mediterranean and Levant European economic union (which was the 2-decades precursor to the European Union, which is still largely economic).

    That articulation is similar to the bi-national or federal approach (his market integration utopia), but with different sets of parties and boundaries of jurisdictions. I’m sure that you don’t consider yourself of really any similarity of Netanyahu.

    There is great irony in the support for a single-state among dissenters. That is that the recent history of assertive Palestinian demonstration, REJECTED the Begin single-state in favor of Palestinian self-governance. And, now the BDS sequence to democracy into a single state, suggests exactly the same.

    Israelis that have memory, note that irony, and conclude that the political leadership is solely emotion-driven, NOT goal-driven. They note the consistency of Fatah (which scares them because of the plausibility of their approach, [it counters the arguments that there is no one to negotiate with], the opportunism of Hamas, and the gullibility of the left.

  40. I hope it’s okay when I just post the same answers to the questions I already used on Mondoweiss. Also, in a nutshell, to clear up a misconception: One-state advocates don’t just dismiss the TSS because they find the OSS somewhat fancier. They just think that the TSS has already become impossible – and looking at a map of the West Bank, it’s very hard not to see their point. Hence the switch to a different strategy to pursue the same goal – human and civil rights for all the Palestinians. A strategy which apparently worked before in South Africa.

    Now for the answers:

    1. This question is not really valid, since Israel won’t be asked to dissolve itself. South Africa did not dissolve itself, and it finally enfranchised a far larger share of the population. But let me answer a slightly modified question: How can Israel be motivated to grant civil rights to all the Palestinians living under its control?
    By international pressure. The same method which is now being used, albeit in homeopathic doses, to make Israel accept the two state solution. Does anybody believe Netanyahu would ever have uttered even his poisoned acceptance of two states without prodding from the US?

    2. Well, for one thing, what everybody claims they want: Peace. For a second thing: The right to live and settle anywhere in the “Land of Israel”, including “Judea and Samaria” – provided they legally and honestly purchase whatever land they want to build on. No more armored buses and separate highways – a lot of Arab neighbours who might want to go shopping in your settlement’s mall, though.

    3. Well, I can’t answer this, since I am not (yet) a convinced one-state supporter. I am just making an argument hre.

    4. Those are two questions. The first one can be answered: By allowing them to keep their national customs and identity alive in a multi-ethnic state including a strong federalist element. Yes, everyone always cites Yugoslavia as how it wouldn’t work. Nobody ever cites Switzerland. Second question: Because they are invested in two states. Nobody likes having the goal which you put decades of work and energy into just evaporate.

    5. Well, the first practical step is to get Palestinian leadership, and the rest of the world to accept the current, one-state reality. Ideally, the major UN members would say (maybe not in public) something to the effect: “Okay, enough with the doublethink. In two years, Israel will either have completely – and we mean completely – relinquished governmental control of everything – and we also mean everything – it conquered in 1967 and put it into the hands of the PA and the UN or we will consider all of it to have been annexed by Israel. We will then proceed from whatever option Israel chose.”

    6. They don’t reject it. They think it’s pointless. Big difference. The other question can be answered with a question, which harks back to my very first sentence in this post: What else do two-states advocates offer them? A time table? Like the Oslo one? “Compromises”? Like Netanyahu’s? Yeah, right.

  41. Robin

    I don’t know if you read the article in full–but even the interviewees on page 1 concede later on there’s a strong likelihood that Christians are downplaying persecution in order to stay safe.

    Kind of reminds me of the Iranian Jews saying things are just peachy keen in Iran.

    Arguably one of the burdens of dhimmitude.

    There are a lot of mixed stories coming out of the Palestinian territories–and finding the truth over there is like scouting for water on the sun. Sorry to say.

    What does come through in that story is that there are gangs harassing Christians–and the leadership condemns it but does nothing about it.

    So that may be the policy for now.

    I think we can all agree that radical Islam (of which Hamas is a member) is totalitarian in its desire to create a shariah state.

    If I were a Christian over there–I’d be watching what I say too. Or emigrating…which is happening in MUCH higher numbers than Muslims living under the same difficult occupation.

    So while some may say this exodus too is Israel’s fault…something is fishy.

  42. Suzanne, you’re arguing from preconceptions. That’s why you rely on speculation and innuendo (“something is fishy”) rather than the facts in front of your face. Reality is important.

    And you’re also relying on generalizations again. Islam, a religion of a billion people, is not monolithic. To suggest it is shows laziness and hate. The status of minorities where Muslims predominate DOES vary in reality, regardless of whether that fits into your schema.

    Furthermore, your original claim was that Hamas and the PA officially discriminate against Christians as Christians. An objectively false claim–unless you have better sources claiming otherwise. In fact the opposite is closer to the truth: their policies privilege Christians in politics.

    You are peddling in slanders of Palestinian society, which are also pernicious as distractions from real problems. Like Israel’s official discrimination against Christians as Arabs, and its violence against them. THAT’s reality, not speculation or slander.

  43. Koshiro,

    South Africa is a very different situation than Israel for several reasons.
    1) Both Afrikaners and Africans claimed the same nationality as South Africans. A negotiated solution became possible because Afrikaner nationalists gradually widened their identity focus from Afrikaners to white South Africans and then to South Africans. In the Mideast both Israelis and Palestinians claim a separate nationality. Even Palestinian Israelis claim that they are part of the Palestinian nation.
    2) South Africa was vulnerable to sanctions because it had a huge state sector–it was really Afrikaner state socialism. It used parastatal corporations to provide full employment for Afrikaners and to make S Africa more self reliant. Because of apartheid there was multi-redundancy in state bureaucracy. Israel had a similar economy in the 1950s but evolved.
    3) The sanctions that really forced change were not the formal trade sanctions of the EEC and U.S. but the informal sanctions by European bankers who refused to roll-over S African short-term loans necessary for economic expansion because S Africa had become a bad credit risk due to the unrest. Israel doesn’t have the same degree of short-term dependency.
    4)In S Africa both the National Party (NP) and the African National Congress (ANC) dominated their respective sectors. In the Israeli-Pal conflict, as in N Ireland, the two sides are both deeply internally divided. Israel has a very inefficient multiparty system and Palestine besides being divided between Fatah and Hamas has a leadership stucture (the PLO) that was built around the idea of armed struggle as the only legitimate way of resolving the crisis. This resulted in power being divied up among fedayeen terrorist organizations in the late 1960s while nonviolent organizations and later Islamist groups were excluded. So it is very difficult for both sides to exhibit flexibility in diplomacy.

  44. “The end of occupation” is not a bit vague. It means no Israeli soldiers in the West Bank and Gaza. And don’t you agree that it’s an important goal? Would you really suggest we can’t work for it because it’s “vague”?

    “Do you get how from that statement, I surmise a strong advocacy of the single-state solution (not a ‘consideration’ of it, as you articulated earlier)?” No. I was pointing out a merit of the two-state idea, and a problem with your approach. And if I did exclusively support a single state, it would make my point no less valid.

    Your approach has total respect for Jews’ desire for a Jewish state, and no respect for Palestinians’ desire for a non-Zionist state. On this question, your approach represents imposition (backed by force on the ground), not compromise or democracy. The same applies to the concept of partition itself, as well as the specific partition proposals. Palestinians have never thought of these as fair, or as things they would agree to in the absence of force.

    You don’t show an understanding of the symmetry and the reciprocity involved in fairness.

    Can and will they reciprocate on the demands they make? (For example, Israel’s demand to recognize Jewish-state rule over 78%–or more–of the land in question.) If not, those are not fair demands. And in practice such demands have never been freely consented to, but rather imposed.

    “There is no perfect one, one that contains no suppression.” Exactly. As I’ve been trying to get though to you, your solution also involves suppression, concentrated on the Palestinian side. Binationalism suppresses only demands that cannot be reciprocated. If these are concentrated on the Jewish side (and I am not claiming they are, but this seems to be your concern), then that is a testament to Palestinian tolerance (for which they should not be punished!).

    Did Begin really propose equal rights for all under Israeli rule? Was it really a serious offer for the PLO or Palestinian people to accept or reject? This is something I would genuinely like to know more about. Although certainly Begin did not propose binationalism.

    And about Nilin and Bilin, trust me, Palestinians do not have to go there for “reminders” to “keep up their angers”. Israel has installed “rage-supporting stimuli” all around them.

    My understanding of the demonstrations is that their purpose is to, 1: attempt to make construction of the wall more difficult. And 2: generate international sympathy and support (pressure!), because foreign actors may in fact have more power over what happens on Palestinian land than Palestinians themselves do. (A circuitous route to asserting their rights, made necessary by Israel’s disrespect of their rights and voices.)

  45. I don’t quite get this blind infatuation Robin has with Palestinian leadership–particularly Hamas (love is obstinate, isn’t it?)

    However this link may interest others. It’s a pdf format of a paper produced by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. It covers the issue of the treatment of Palestinian Christians pretty extensively.

    Christian Persecution

  46. Reminder to everyone, now that Yaacov B-D has entered the conversation as an unapologetic right-wing Zionist: we need to stay civil and mutually respectful, no matter how passionately we feel. No ad hominem (personal) attacks. They haven’t happened quite yet, but I can detect the signs. Thanks in advance..

  47. I agree with you, Dan. And I apologize for any part I’ve played in bringing down the level of civility.

    Suzanne, thank you for providing an alternative source.

    But I have to say, I question your judgement if you consider that report reliable. To do so, one would have to ignore: logical inconsistencies; the reliance on extremely disreputable sources, including, ironically, fundamentalist Christian Zionist ones; the bizarre inclusion of quotes that amount to partisan rants (including one from Bashir Gemayel); and claims without supporting evidence or attribution.

    I mean, it should at least be obvious that the report is completely skewed. The author isn’t concerned with the problems of Palestinian Christians, but rather with attributing them all, often illogically, to religious persecution by Muslims. In so doing he not only conflates separate issues (such as collaboration) with religious persecution, but completely ignores any evidence of coexistence, non-discrimination, or problems not attributable in some way to Islam (Israeli violence, the Wall, occupation etc).

    The article I provided acknowledges the concerns raised in this report, but also gives a fuller, more honest picture of the reality. Crucially, it DOES NOT effectively silence the many Christian Palestinians who argue that the occupation and its effects comprise the bulk of their hardships–and the reason why they emigrate.

    And there are some more fair-minded accounts out there (although the issue seems to be harped on more by those with an agenda). The Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (a PA watchdog) conducted an investigation into the issue earlier on, which I believe can be found here: I haven’t read it through, but they seem to have found that many prominent claims could not be substantiated.

    I believe some of the charges in your report are true. But they still don’t show discriminatory POLICY. The most they show is a societal rise in intolerance or hostility (not that these attitudes predominate), and the profound corruption and lawlessness of PA rule–which may have improved somewhat since these accounts, which tend to be 5-15 years old. And keep in mind, this is one empirically shaky report with a clear political agenda.

    Official recognition of Sharia is problematic, but discrimination by religion is also banned in PA law. Evidence does not suggest that the former provision translates to discrimination in practice and in violation of the latter.

    It is good that you are concerned with human rights. You should spend some time on B’tselem’s website, where you can read not only about the PA’s and Hamas’ human rights abuses, but Israel’s–of which there are no shortage. Given our close ties to Israel, maybe you can even help do something about those.

  48. @ Tom Mitchell
    1) You’re assigning to much importance to the term “nation”. During the heyday of apartheid, the difference in identities was as great, if not greater, than between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians. Whether this is expressed in terms of “race” or “nation”, both of which are arbitrary political buzzwords anyway, is of minor importance.
    These differences could be overcome – or, for the time being, ignored.

    2)&3)Israel is *extremely* vulnerable to EU and US economic sanctions even of the mildest varieties.
    There was a quarrel between Israel and the EU a while about Israel not properly designating goods from the occupied territories for customs purposes. The moment the EU just said “do it or lose all your tariff privileges”, Israel obliged. Should the EU actually exclude Israel from its free-trade deal, the blow to the competetiveness of Israeli exports would already be severe. If the EU would actually go so far as to erect additional hurdles for Israeli goods, it would be catastrophic.

    4) I fail to see where this is an argument against one state. It seems more like an argument against two states.

  49. ““The end of occupation” is not a bit vague. It means no Israeli soldiers in the West Bank and Gaza. And don’t you agree that it’s an important goal? Would you really suggest we can’t work for it because it’s “vague”?”

    Of course it is horribly vague.

    For two reasons:
    1. Others use exactly the same language to refer to removing Zionism (Jewish Israeli self-governance), and for removing Israelis from the land that they’ve lived on now for three generations. (That makes it there “traditional” home, grandparents – parents – children)

    2. The 1967 lines are legally TEMPORARY cease-fire lines, “until a permanent resolution is implemented”. I don’t remember the ratified UN resolution #, sorry.

    That status was quoted to me by Ali Abunimeh personally (author of “One Nation”). His emphasis was in advocacy of right of return, and for the single-state concept, that in accepting the 67 borders, Palestine was compromising.

    You assume that when an ideologue states “borders” that it is as you think of borders, US – Canada. Its sadly much more fluid than that.

    And, the failure to actually choose an approach, stick to it, realize actual peace and borders, ends up being a self-destructive effort that confuses and DELAYS any positive outcome for Palestinians.

    I get that after their trauma, they are no longer clear-thinking, decisive, consensual. And, I acknowledge that many are working very hard and effectively to get to clear-thinking.

    I would rely on elders to accomplish that. Elders have lived (achieving the value of long experience and wisdom – including the acknowledgement that “we” and “they” are only human – shared), and their bodies themselves are not so adrenaline driven.

    The neo-young (newly young) can bring discipline, but also a cultivated immaturity and dogma to the process.

    The thesis that in time, gradual annexation will pass a point of possibility for a real two-state solution, is real and important.

    The only two-state answer (which I think is the best one anyway on its own merits), is the one that allows Israeli settlers to live where they are, but as Palestinians citizens, assuming that they reconcile conflicting title claims to land that they reside on.

    If they individually desired to live on the land more than they desired to be Israeli citizens, then they would stay, compensate for the perfection of title (thereby giving them ownership). If they individually desired to be citizens of Israel, they would move to Israel.

    Robin is not aware that I’ve advocated for that solution AT the green line (with the exception of permanent Israeli annexation of the Jewish portions of the old city of Jerusalem. There is NO WAY, that Israel will again surrender the Kotel.)

    To Koshiro,
    On the one-state approach, whether entirely integrated or bi-national (which could be almost identical to an actually truly reconciled two-state approach).

    It is false to state that the one-state solution does not mean the demise of Israel. Its come up with the description of Ahmenidijad’s “wipe them off the map” quote.

    There were two interpretations of that the quote. One was “we’ll kill them all”, which was paraded by the paranoid exagerated Zionist rhetoric (or not so exagerated if they do build a bomb and get “forced” to use it).

    The second interpretation was “we will remove Israel as a jurisdiction from the map”. Meaning that they will attempt to restore the land under the Islamic waqf, with the Al Aqsa Mosque complex as a territorial marking stone (Muhahammed slept here).

    He did not mean the single integrated democratic state, but was confident that it would be restored to the waqf by the combination of some force (including BDS) and election (especially after enough Jews were scared away).

    He also did not mean the philosophical “all states are ultimately vain and transitory, and will melt into the sea eventually”. But, that Iran would “help it along”, and not similarly help Iran melt into the sea, but help Israel to.

    So, Ahmenidijad intends something different from the one-state people.

    But, to the Jewish mentality, in all the pogroms and holocaust, similar anti-semitic coalitions of some otherwise strange bedfellows occurred, conspiring to suppress if not all desiring to annihilate, but ending up doing it.

    The same can be said to a MUCH more limited extent about Israel, that strange bedfellows share the Zionist idealism, and that the principled humanist Zionists, frequently yeild or ignore or are powerless to stop the actions of the more zealous and dogmatic Zionists.

    The choice of jurisdiction is a choice. If the people’s think of themselves as two people’s, with some fundamental differences, then it is better to form two states, and reconcile that way.

    I know FEW Palestinians that think of themselves as part of the same people, the same nation, as the majority Zionists in Israel.

    The sentiment is separate community, the tangible means to reconcile standards of law are difficult and teeter radically depending on which 1% side of majority.

    Please review my grid of population that would desire a single-state and would accept a single-state. The number of those that would have to accept a single-state to be viable is really in the 80% range, to be able to support rule of law that successfully stops extremists from disruption.

    There are actions that sincere proponents of the single state can do to improve the prospects of achieving that 80% super-majority accepting it.

    But, the left currently, is advocating for those efforts as they appear to be collaborationist, in deviating from agitation and BDS.

    The BDS route is NOT a path to a single-state. It will hit the chasm of Israeli near universal rejection of it, and war in some form to protect Zionism.

    Maybe that would result in actual boundaries after the physical war, but maybe we’ll end up with the same status of 1967, with no willingness to make anything permanent on both sides.

    I think the best thing to do is to make peace, accept the other, treaty, establish boundaries (by AGREEMENT), and enforce them, and enhance then inter-national trade and cooperation.

    Then later, proceed towards an EU type regional free trade/free movement zone.

    As Tom referred, in the areas where BDS has been successful, the people thought of themselves as one people. South Africans thought of themselves as South Africans. Irish though of themselves as Irish.

    In places where federalism didn’t take, Croats didn’t think of themselves as Yugoslavs. Georgians didn’t think of themselves as Soviets.

    There is a need to dissent, to oppose settlement expansion, and I get the frustration of activists (especially newbies and those that have never risen to put in hours going door to door or door to door in Congress, if the issue is that important to them.)

    But, I don’t get the adoption of a utopian approach through the South African “model”, as it is fundamentally DIFFERENT.

    You take strong medicine for a diagnosis. You don’t say “I’m sick, give me some …..”. You prescribe for the particular condition.

    If you give the wrong remedy for a “similar” condition, you will harm if not kill the patient.

    We’re more skilled than that guessing approach.

    There are situations where a medicine will work after prior therapy but will not work if given cold. So, rather than organize for integration in BOTH Israel and in Palestine (say common political parties in both, emphasizing common civilist ideology not positions), the BDS pathers argue for functional isolation.

    And, with no malpractice insurance, as if prospectively killing the patient weren’t disturbing enough.

    The reason that I use such harsh metaphors, is my experience at Mondoweiss and a dozen other forums (face to face and web), in which reasoning that conflicts with BDS assumptions is literally attempted to be SILENCED.

  50. “But, the left currently, is advocating for those efforts as they appear to be collaborationist, in deviating from agitation and BDS.”

    That should be “the left is NOT advocating…”

  51. First of all: I realize I sometimes appear unshaved, and my choice of clothing isn’t exactly stylish either – but please don’t confuse me with Ahmadinejad. What he has to say about one state concerns me not.

    Secondly: So, you’re saying that ~500000 or so Jewish settlers could just live as Palestinian citizens. After giving back all territory not legally purchased (which would actually mean all territory, if taken literally) or compensating for it. And they would gladly accept their considerably lowered standards of living, such as water rationing, they would submit to Palestinian police and Palestinian courts and wait at the border for Palestinian soldiers to check their ideas – because Palestine will undoubtly have certain security needs – while commuting to work in Israel, if they even can commute to work in Israel. Yes?

    So basically, for some reason, you expect all the trouble that a binational state would ostensibly entail to disappear because one nationality is a clear minority.


  52. “The only two-state answer (which I think is the best one anyway on its own merits), is the one that allows Israeli settlers to live where they are, but as Palestinians citizens, assuming that they reconcile conflicting title claims to land that they reside on.”

    Richard–This sounds ok on paper–but what are the odds of this when you look at the history of the region (prior to ’48)–and the current political climate of both the ME at large as well as I/P?

    I don’t see them moving off the land either…so I don’t know what the answer to that one is going to be.

    “The second interpretation was “we will remove Israel as a jurisdiction from the map”. Meaning that they will attempt to restore the land under the Islamic waqf, with the Al Aqsa Mosque complex as a territorial marking stone (Muhahammed slept here).”

    Never mind Ahmadinejad…that is EXACTLY what’s being proposed right here in the discussion of one state solution.

    In fact, it’s the most glaring evidence to date that most antipathy to Zionism has anti-semitic roots.

    There is no medium ground for these people–and I include the Left in this category. No compromise. Their stated goal to turn Israel back into Palestine (likely ruled by Sharia law) Their 100% disrespect and disregard for Jewish sovereignty is obvious.

    That’s one of the main reasons I’m not too worried about American public opinion changing its mind on Israel. An Islamo/leftwing proposal does not appeal to democratic minds.

  53. Obviously not?
    I am genuinely tired of all these attempts to drag a clear-cut political conflict into the sphere of emotional discomfort.
    “The Arabs must learn to genuinely love us before we make peace.” No, they don’t. Israel first established relations with *Germany* as early as 1950, finally formalizing them into full diplomatic relations in 1965. These were times when the whole conservative West German political establishment was still well saturated with former Nazis even in the highest position. Just year after commencing formal diplomatic relations with Israel, Kurt Georg Kiesinger became the West German chancellor – a former NSDAP member!

    Diplomatic relations, peace, and formal recognition will come first. Trust and respect on a grass-roots, popular level will follow – later.

  54. “Never mind Ahmadinejad…that is EXACTLY what’s being proposed right here in the discussion of one state solution. ”

    Those that are sincerely proposing democracy aren’t advocating for the Islamic waqf. Many though site language like “it is Muslim land”, which is the language of the politics from the religious sensitivity (not from the humanist).

    I didn’t state that you were proposing Ahmenidijad’s perspective, though in ways I think you are. But, you ARE stating that Israel should “not exist” as Israel. That is the one-state proposal. And, it is similar to Ahmenidijad’s.

    And, when you both state in any way “by any means necessary”, you are sharing the worldview and approach of Ahmenidijad.

    Probably for different goals, thankfully.

    A more humane approach would be, “I RESPECT your reasoning, but I differ”.

    Even if you are committed to the relevance of the integrated democratic state as solution, there are ways to accomplish critical elements of that positively, rather than the punitive approach of BDS.

    Specifically, as I suggested, that proponents could organize (or join) political parties in both Israel, West Bank Palestine and Gaza Palestine that are civilist parties. (Non-Zionist, non-Palestinian nationalist, non-pan-Islamacist).

    And/or organize and join integration efforts that are being conducted around culture, ecology, sport, education, public health, trade.

    Some of those are supported by Netanyahu, and to advocate for an integrated approach would appear to support something that he supports. If you are sincere about your effort, you would do that.

    The left is willing to make bedfellows with some that I consider borderline neo-fascists (the “America First” theme). So, I would think that you would be willing to encourage interaction with others that are willing to respect Palestinians and common needs and interests.

    Again, Please take in that BDS isolates, in a setting that if you advocate for one-state, you need integration. In South Africa, there were three places that integration occurred prior to apartheid ending, odd combinations:

    1. Culture – Mostly around native culture, moreso than white
    2. Large American and European corporations – that had non-discrimminatory hiring guidelines (not all did, but they were still an institution of integration)
    3. Vanguard ANC – There were a few accepted activist whites, the equivalent of “good Jews” among the America First crowd.

    BDS only accomplishes the third means to integrate, which I consider the most conditional and tenuous in ways.

    Its a chemo-therapy.

  55. I have to stop responding to these at some point, in order to re-establish some kind of life. (Writing is an especially time-consuming process for me.) But it has been stimulating. I appreciate your willingness to engage with me even when we disagree.

    Just a little more food for thought: the one-state idea might be more effective as a TACTIC than BDS or anything else, as far as achieving a two-state peace in the near future. One need look no further than Suzanne’s reaction to the idea on this forum. Sort of like the “bad cop” role that Black nationalism may have played in the civil rights movement, scaring moderate Whites into an embrace of MLK’s integrationism. (Although, ironically, here it is the “integrationist” idea that is perceived as more extreme and threatening.)

    To go with your analogy Richard, binationalism is not a medicine that I want to administer cold. Only after lengthy therapy consisting of peace and human rights progress. The implementation of that therapy itself will require pressure of some form on Israel, which is too satisfied with the status quo/scared of change. But ultimately, a binational state would help clear up the lingering symptoms of oppression/conflict.

    As of now, that’s how I see it.

  56. Richard–to clarify–I meant that this sentiment is behind the argument of one state solution:

    “The second interpretation was “we will remove Israel as a jurisdiction from the map”.

    It’s been stated unequivocally here, on Mondoweiss & elsewhere.

  57. @ Richard Witty
    First you very clearly implied that my interpretation of “one state” was the same as Ahmadinejad’s. Then you deny it, in the next sentence you backpeddle.
    For the record: This is an incorrect insinuation.

    Then you say I said something about “any means necessary”. This is an incorrect insinuation.

    If you meant to insinuate that I disapprove of cultural and human ties as a means to promote understanding between Israelis and Palestinians: That insinuation would also be incorrect.

    And then you go on to write capital letter RESPECT. I, incidentally, find the way you make wanton insinuations about me highly disrespectful.

    In any case: Grass-roots, small-scale, trust-building measures are nice. Economic advancement, even if it only means taking baby steps to maybe reach the levels of 10 years ago, are also nice. But they are not a replacement for genuine political progress. And for that kind of progress – one-state or two-state does not matter here – Israel as a state has to budge, quite simply. If it doesn’t do so voluntarily – and Netanyahu has recently made it clear what he thinks of that idea – then it must be either pulled or pushed.
    – Pull simply cannot work, since the Palestinians have literally nothing to offer which Israel does not already have.
    – Push, of the most gentle variety, has worked in the past. I am fairly sure it will work in the future as well.

  58. One more, to make a point about strategies.

    BDS IN NO WAY resembles a “by any means necessary” approach, if that’s what you mean. It is an unimpeachably moral means to an URGENT end.

    It is moral, first of all, because it eschews violence. It is also moral because, in addition to being an attempt to influence, it is a withdrawal of support for crimes. Investment and trade with Israel, foreign aid, and especially military aid/trade, increase Israel’s strength and enhance its ability to commit crimes which are ongoing. Provision of these things also effectively rewards the crimes. Institutions have no inherent right to material support from outsiders. We are immoral if we do not set basic conditions on the provision of such aid (to Israel or anything else).

    Keep in mind, this does not mean the severing of all connections. Just those that strengthen an institution that is beyond the pale.

    Richard, your suggestions for action are also admirable where they do not conflict with the obligation not to support crime. I am sure they would be helpful to some people. But it’s not quite my place, nor within my means, to be joining political parties in other countries. I will continue to focus my efforts on my areas of greatest personal responsibility–myself, and the institutions I am a part of–working always for a more constructive and just relationship to the conflict.

  59. Koshiro,
    You can take offense at my comments, or you could choose not to (in your own head, not only on paper).

    I did clarify that I didn’t consider your comments to be equivalent to Ahmenidijad’s but that the politics overlap, are similar in substantive ways, if not in ideology or hopefully intent. (I don’t know either his or yours, as it is your person, and I am not a mindreader.)

    I found Finkelstein’s voluntary dissassociation from the Gaza march coming up, to be laudable and illustrative. I’ve been commenting that my experience of BDS is that it is vague, and being vague, entirely inneffective civil disobedience (a thesis which he apparently agreed. I would be surprised if he was directly influenced by anything that I wrote, though I do expect that he reads Mondoweiss at least periodically.)

    My point is that unless some vanguard undertake the efforts that I outlined, that a BDS movement would be to impose a shell. That DIFFERED from South Africa. The ANC was very attentive to institution building and relationship building during its resistance, and most importantly approaching and during the transition.

    That is NOT yet apparent among the far left on this issue. It is apparent now in Fatah and the PA, so they create a path to peace, the possible reconciliation of tangible issues.

    You read Mondoweiss. Consider the reaction of posters and of Adam Horowitz and Phil Weiss to suggestions of relationship-building. They damn the thought, although later acknowledge that it was most effective. But they still won’t do it.

  60. “Vague” to me is a critique of the practice, not the principle of BDS. It does not seem vague to me, but I think you’re right to suggest it be targeted.

    And it is not the international left who needs to be “relationship building” with Israelis. It’s the Palestinians, who as you say are open to it–even as they face The Wall and other barriers with which Israel isolates itself from them.

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