This was originally going to be my topic for Monday, but I decided to put this discussion off for a few days and showcase it here. Our “Fame Days”, after all, aren’t just about celebrating achievements but include shining the spotlight on noble issues or events we believe should have more attention, and I’d be hard-pressed to think of any idea more deserving than the “One-State Solution”.
Chances are that you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, and that’s fine. Normally I rail against what I’d consider self-imposed ignorance when it comes to politics or foreign affairs, but this is a really, really obscure concept (heck, that’s the entire reason we’re talking about it today).
When we’re talking about either the “one-state” or (more common) “two-state” solutions, we’re referencing the debate over the future of Israel and the Palestinian territories. Pretty much every so-called “road map” to “peace in the Middle East” revolves around settling the question of the borders of Israel and what would eventually become the state of Palestine. Who gets what land, access to which resources, authority over which sites- you get the idea.
As you can see in that picture above, it’s a pretty tricky and contentious process. Exactly where do you restore the borders to? How do we account for the massive number of refugee Palestinians who would flood back into the newly created state? How would travel work between Gaza and the West Bank, if the two would be connected at all?
These are the questions surrounding the two-state solution, which in spite of its complexity, is viewed by pretty much every superpower (heck, pretty much everyone) as the default goal for peace in the Middle East.
Which is a shame, because the two-state solution is really ****ing stupid.
Not just dumb- immoral. The idea of slicing out a strip of land and saying “you can only live here if you have the right religion or race or culture” is simply reprehensible. I wouldn’t advocate for an “Arabs Only” state anymore than I’d advocate for a “Jews Only” one. Stop me if I’m wrong, but haven’t we dispelled all that “Separate-but-Equal” crap?
Fortunately the “two-state solution”, while dominating political discourse, isn’t the only idea out there. We’re here to talk about the one-state solution, after all, so let me break it down.
I. One Person, One Vote, One State
The beauty’s in the simplicity. We’re talking not about further partitions, but in the complete and utter removal of all barriers and borders. Gaza, the West Bank, and “Greater” Israel- they’re all merged into a single state.
Call it “Israstine”, “Pasrael”, “The State o’ Israel & Palestine”, whatever– the point stands that every man and woman within those borders, regardless of their ethnicity, culture, religion, or immigration status is granted full and equal citizenship. Everyone votes for the candidates who they believe best represent them, everyone can travel without harassment, everyone can worship or not worship however they choose, and everyone can be assured a fair and speedy trial by a jury of their peers.
Or as we call it “Democracy”.
But it gets better…
II. “One-State” Saves Palestine
I don’t know how else to say it at this point. I’ve documented time and time again the heinous offences and outright genocide that’ve been inflicted upon Palestinians. We can keep pointing to a desperate Palestinian state as much as we want, but the truth is, that’s bankrupt on a logistic and moral standard. As things stand already, Gaza and what little of West Bank still exists are dangerously overcrowded, and a single state suddenly allows a far more reasonable ratio of people to land.
One state further means that millions of Palestinians will be able to return to their ancestral homes. I’m not talking about that in some lofty, poetic sense, I literally mean their ancestral houses.
While we’ll occasionally hear about the death toll from Israel’s indiscriminate bombings, what we almost never hear about is the day to day struggle of Palestinians who lack such basic necessities as hospitals, farmland, and water. Shy of proving freedom of movement to the Arabs, there’s just no way a two-state solution could work without mass starvation, drought, and plague.
III. “One-State” Saves Jews
As ironic as that sounds, it’s the truth. I talk a lot about Israeli oppression of Palestinians, but what I often find myself leaving out is Israeli oppression of Israelis. It’s not a question of Jews versus Arabs but one of Ashkenazis over Sephardics/Mizrahi over Ethiopian Jews (seriously, click that last link). Yes, those are all different types of Jewish background and yes, there does exist a distinct hierarchy within Israeli society (hint: they don’t get lighter as you go down the totem pole).
The Israel Democracy Institute- the lead polling institute of Israel- found that “52% of Jewish Israelis identify with the statement by MK Miri Regev last month that African migrants are ‘a cancer in the body’ of the nation, and over a third condone anti-migrant violence…” This statement was made by a member of the Israeli Knesset (congress) and a former Brigadier General in the Israeli Army. Again- the person who holds this view is now a major politician and used to be in charge of of soldiers.
Not convinced? In 2011, the Israeli Knesset passed the “Acceptance to Community” law, granted communities of under 500 to deny entry to individuals on such criteria as “[being] Arabs, single parents, disabled persons, same-sex couples, Mizrachi Jews, religious people, new immigrants, and so on.” Further, a collection of 50 state-appointed Rabbis in 2010 signed a letter demanding that Jews should not “rent apartments to non-Jews”.
IV. One State Saves Democracy
Yeah, the very ability to live in a free, just, and equitable society hinges upon the creation of a single state. While Israel tries to style itself as the Middle East’s “only” democracy, we’re seeing continued and growing attacks on basic democratic freedoms within Israel.
Heck, Israeli Jewish leftists decrying the racist policies of their own state have been physically attacked by other Israelis. On July 18th of this year, a group of Israeli anti-occupation protestors were confronted and attacked by their fellow citizens. The following day, one of the protestors went to apologize to a local vendor whose shop was damaged in during the attack and was attacked again.
Likewise, there exist in Israel such groups as Yad L’Achim, a group whose goal- I can’t make this **** up- is to prevent interracial marriages and prevent religious conversions, with Messianic Jews being one their key targets.
Now in this country we do have people who decry race-mixing. They just can’t hold their heads in public because as a society, we don’t tolerate ****ing monsters.
Now there are people, like the guy who created this image above, who’d argue that the creation of Palestine would mean the end of any kind of Jewish state. Palestinians significantly outnumber Jews, meaning that the Jewish population would become a religious and ethnic minority.
To such people I say:
Who the hell cares?
America has, as of 2011, fewer white than non-white births. Do you see me throwing a tantrum? No- it doesn’t bother me. I could be the only white antinomian (or whatever my faith gets classified as) in the United States and I still wouldn’t give a damn. If I can marry who I want, practice my faith how I want, vote, write, and live where I choose, why would I give a damn?
Now you might respond, “But Gordon, you peerless iconoclast, the whole point of having a Jewish state is to protect Jews from attacks. Antisemitism is still very real- how will the now minority Jewish population be protected without a state of their own?”
I hear ya, but that’s just lousy logic. It’s in the same vein as saying women should get a state to protect against race or misogyny, rather than teaching people not to be rapists or misogynists. Racial and religious segregation is a validation of bigotry, not a protection from it. If we can’t have a multicultural and multi-ethnic society, then we simply can’t have a society. We live together or we don’t live.
To the advocates of the one-state solution- all those who have helped develop the idea and who have kept it alive all these years- to you we offer our applause and gratitude. Lord knows it’s been a long time coming.
Keeping fighting the good fight, comrades.
One State sounds nice and democratic, but I think that in a world where, say, Scotland wants to leave the UK, or Ukraine is trying to break up, or Czechs and Slovaks could not stay together, and where larger federations like the United States or Canada have individual provinces or states that jealously guard their own local laws and rights, it is hard to imagine happening.
Perhaps the best option is for Europe to lead the way! If the European Union can stay together – and indeed if it can happily integrate nations on its fringes like Turkey or Ukraine without problems – perhaps there is hope for Israel.
Scotland isn’t trying to leave the UK because the Scots believe themselves to be some sort of divinely-appointed master-race. Neither are the Ukrainian rebels. I’m not sure what you have against the individual states and provinces having their own specific legislation either.
I liked your diagram showing what happened from 1947 to 2008. However, (Please don’t assume that I share the conservative viewpoint–I’m just bringing up an objection that someone could have.) didn’t the territory belong to Great Britain prior to 1947? They defeated the Ottoman Empire in WWI, and hence they obtained the territory. Thus, it really wasn’t the Palestinians’ territory, since they were part of the Ottoman Empire. Hence, since Great Britain gained that territory in a defensive war, then they essentially get to keep the territory (international law agrees with this). Therefore, the same argument was used for Israel in the 1967 war. Israel didn’t cause the war, in fact, they listed about five casus belli, and attempted multiple times to negotiate peace with Jordan, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. However, those countries (mainly Egypt) massed tanks on their borders and prepared to invade; hence, Israel fought a defensive war. Thus, the territories that they gained in said war belong to them, right? (Again, based on international law, any territories obtained in a purely defensive war can be kept. However, territories gained from aggressive expansion cannot [i.e. Nazi Germany].) Additionally, Israel allowed the Palestinians self-determination in that they gave them the opportunity to govern themselves, even though the territory now belonged to Israel (post Six Day War).
Now, I’m not saying that Israel is 100% right in this, but if they fought and conquered the territory then it’s theirs, right? Now, this is where we get to the source of the conflict. The Arabs wanted to anhiliate the Jewish state, and that includes the Palestinians. Thus, if the Israelis allowed Palestine to become a strong military power, then wouldn’t that put their own state in danger? I mean, Israel is surely 100% responsible for the well being of the people in the occupied territory; however, historically speaking, whenever the Israelis conceded anything to the Arabs that were fighting them, they wound up getting screwed. I can understand their hesitation in allowing the Palestinians any freedom, given that idea. You’re right about the fact that Gaza is in bad shape, and the Israelis are to blame for it. They are also to blame for the fact that there are now 70% civilian casualties in this latest ground invasion, (Which is obviously not the first, but the latest in multiple attempts to resolve the situation. They say that insanity is the repetition of behavior in spite of negative consequences. Stupidity must be the repetition of behavior in spite of the same negative result.) but isn’t Hamas equally to blame for this? Hamas wants the anhiliation of the Israelis, such that, if they cave to their demands to life the siege of Gaza with the promise that rocket attacks will cease, then what will Hamas ask for next?
I think I agree with you that a one-state solution would be the ideal scenario. However, when we look at who is historically justified in owning the territory, it seems that Israel kinda wins here. Especially due to the facts that:
1) The territory was given to them with the British mandate. It was voted in by the U.N. The Palestinian people lost that territory when the Ottoman Empire decided to fight for the Central Powers. Hence, it was no longer theirs to control. Plus, the Israelis had lived there prior to the Palestinians until Rome kicked them out for doing EXACTLY what the Palestinians are doing now. Shit. History repeats itself.
2) They tried to make peace with their neighbors, but their neighbors decided to fuck with them anyway.
3) They granted the Palestinians self-determination of Gaza, but in thanks for that Hamas shoots rockets at them.
4) The people who are demanding an end to the siege are doing so with violence. Hence, Israel has to be strong and respond with equal measures. If Hamas really wanted Palestine to become independent/free, they should look how Ghandi and MLK accomplished great things rather than resorting to an insurgency.
So, really, shouldn’t the one state in the region be Israel? And if it’s their land, then don’t they have the right to determine who lives in it and who doesn’t? I mean, it’s a different argument here in America, where we have traditionally been a melting pot of cultures and people, and our Declaration of Independence basically said that everyone has the same freedoms. I mean, if they truly want to call themselves a democracy, then, yes, they need to guarantee rights to everyone. However, with it being their country, then don’t they have the right to expel foreigners? Yeah, it sucks for those who get the short end of the stick, but technically it’s Israel’s land that they won by defending themselves. It’s the same as refusing service to someone you don’t like because they threw a rock at your car and broke the windshield one time.
Again, I’m not saying that it would be right here in America. Our country was founded on the idea of freedom for everyone. However, I’m just saying that we shouldn’t try to make everyone become America. America is really cool, and we have really good ideas, but our government won’t work for everyone else. Look what happened after we tried to turn Iraq into America.
Don’t get me wrong–I’m not saying that Israel is completely innocent. Honestly, I support the latest U.N. move to declare war crimes on Israel, I mean, they did bomb a U.N. shelter and a few hospitals… Someone should surely hold them accountable for their actions. However, what I’m trying to say is that both sides are to blame for the fighting.The Arabs started the fighting, and Israel has to keep delivering knockout punches or they will get invaded, too. We just need a better referee that will hold them accountable while they try to defend themselves from aggressive nations on the outside.
Sooooo much to cover here, so I’ll go point by point.
I. There is no such thing as “right of conquest”. If I mug someone in an alley, their wallet does not become mine by “right of conquest”. Same thing on a national scale- land only ever belongs to the folks who’ve been living on it.
II. Israel has never given Palestine “self-determination”. The so-called “Palestinian Authority” is self-determined in about the same way the leadership of a Sioux reservation is self-determined. The lands supposed ceded to Palestinians are pretty much controlled by the Israeli “Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories”, which is more or less their version of America’s Bureau of Indian Affairs.
III. What other Arab states do or don’t want isn’t relevant to the issue of Palestine. Arab states could be mortal enemies or they could be devoted cheerleaders- their stances don’t affect the moral or legal issues at play here.
IV. Likewise, Hamas isn’t part of the equation here. The fact that there were racist black organizations during the civil rights struggle doesn’t mean that segregation was justified. In the same way, the presence of racist Palestinian groups doesn’t justify segregation (and genocide) here.
V. The Jewish diaspora took place in 70 AD, and there’s really no justification at all to be had here. I mean, my [alleged] Cherokee ancestors were forced out of Georgia in 1830, but you don’t see me going down to Atlanta and bulldozing people’s homes. Heck, if you DID want to use this argument, you could talk about the ancient Hebrews moving into what was already then Philistine (ancient Palestinian) land. If we start using the “who was there first” argument, pretty much nobody would be allowed to live anywhere.
Anyways, the issue isn’t that Jews CAN’T live in Palestine, it’s that Palestine should belong ONLY to Jewish people (and what is “Jewish”? Religion? Race? Culture?). Everyone should be able to make a living wherever they want.
VI. Israel making “peace” doesn’t really matter. The nation is predicated on segregation and racism- that’s like saying 1930s France and Poland should have “tolerated” Nazi Germany in spite of its government’s genocidal agenda and actions.
VII. Again, Israel has given Gaza “self-determination” in the same way America gave “self-determination” to citizens stuck in the WWII interment camps. Gazans can’t elect who they want, can’t travel, can’t even build their own houses or fish in the sea without permission from Israel. That’s not freedom.
VIII. Organizations like the Shin Bet actively prevent Palestinians from using peaceful protests, boycotts, and the like. Palestinian organization is destroyed before it can even begin. That’s like blaming Jewish resistance fighters in Europe for fighting the Nazis with violence instead of “peaceful” protest- you can’t appeal to a conscience when the oppressor doesn’t have one. It’s the whole “when peaceful protest is impossible, violent uprising is inevitable”.
IX. I DO think every country should be like America. Racial and religious tolerance isn’t some Western luxury- it’s a human right, and any nation that denies such rights is a nation that should not exist. Same for democratic self-rule. This isn’t some luxury- it’s a universal right of all human beings. Iraq when bad not because democracy doesn’t work, but because democracy needs to be taken by the people- not instilled from above (you can’t help anyone until they first start helping themselves).
X. Again, this’d be like saying we need a referee between Nazi Germany and the Jewish, Homosexual, Communist, and JW population of Europe in the 30s and 40s. This isn’t a game between teams, it’s a genocide.
“Do you see me throwing a tantrum? No- it doesn’t bother me. I could be the only white antinomian (or whatever my faith gets classified as) in the United States and I still wouldn’t give a damn. If I can marry who I want, practice my faith how I want, vote, write, and live where I choose, why would I give a damn?”
But I think that’s where you may not understand the Israeli nationalist anxiety: you (and I) are thoroughly American in our lack of anxiety, but both Israeli nationalists and Arab nationalists are thoroughly “European” in their “tantrum”.
I’ll play devil’s advocate and offer up one comeback that you may very well find in the nationalist comments on JPost.com: that if European states have the “right” to define themselves corporately as states of “x” ethnic nationality, why not Israel. Or the self-definition of surrounding states in the Levant as “Arab republics” or “Arab states”. The former would fall under late 19th century European nationalist self-tyings of nationality to ethnicity (Serbia for Serbians, Greece for Greeks, Poland for Poles, etc.), from which Theodor Herzl developed Jewish nationalism because these other nationalist movements (and their resulting states) had their own anxieties about “the Jewish question” and really did not want to suffer those “perfidious Jews” in their midst.
That line of reasoning – that Israel defines its ethnic and demographic character just like every other European or MENA state does, and thus has a “right” to limit “threats” to such character as has been exercised by other countries in Europe in the past – is what you will likely encounter among Israeli nationalist comments.
So if Israeli nationalists see their country as being firmly rooted in the tradition of 19th century European-style nationalism (and its effects), then there is a striking difference between their self-perception about nationhood and the American self-perception.
We Americans have the 14th Amendment, we have birthright citizenship, we have never had an official language or religion at the federal level, and the majority of us immigrated voluntarily to this country for our own individual or economic reasons. Few other countries on this planet have a similarly non-ethnic openness in their self-definition, and they all were also former colonies of an empire who shunted their aborigines aside to make room for the immigrants (like us).
Israeli nationalists, OTOH, see themselves as returning MENA aborigines who “never belonged” in other non-Jewish-majority, non-Jewish-governed countries to begin with, and they’re competing with Palestinians who have a rival claim to indigeneity and a Palestinian majority. Privilege for “Bumiputera”, so to speak. The openness that you tout about your nationality is restricted in the MENA region (and in much of Europe).
Not saying that our American sense of openness is bad, only that it isn’t there in much of the world, including Israel. Just saying that you get along fine without those anxieties, or that you’ve gotten past those anxieties, doesn’t account for why Israelis, among others, fret so much about “ethnic character” and “demographic majority”.
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