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Demystifying one-state, acknowledging facts

The question is no longer about whether one state should be considered, as there is only one state which governs over two people. The question is which kind of state it will be: the left or the right-wing version.

Palestinians workers walk in the early morning next to the Wall to cross the Eyal Israeli military checkpoint, November 2011. Despite the impression of border-crossing, they are in fact going from one Israeli-held territory to another (photo: Activestills)

The protests a few weeks ago in the West Bank against Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, once the hope for an institutional and economic state-builder for Palestine, look like one more sign of failure for the emergence of a de facto if not de jure Palestinian state.

In the lead-up to September 2011, the Palestinian state appeared poised to advance towards greater general legitimacy.

Internationally, the political zeitgeist was there. The UN has long acknowledged the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, and Palestine has more formal recognitions of its independence (declared by the PLO in 1988) than any other un- or under-recognized entity. Like in Kosovo, protracted bilateral negotiations have failed, and unilateral statehood seemed to be the only remaining, if second-best, answer.

And if formal UN support fell short, I believed that even Israel’s hard-line, nationalist leaders would increasingly accept that a Palestinian state was in their rational interest – to avoid annexation and integration of millions of Palestinian citizens. Every leader since Rabin, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, has publicly acknowledged the preference for two states. While denying statehood officially and rhetorically, I believed Israel would quietly cultivate a reality of two separate states – economically, bureaucratically, through increased de facto Palestinian control and by boosting the PA.

The PA would then have been motivated to show democratic reforms, redress corruption and generally demonstrate state-worthiness, like some of the other state-hopeful cases.

Instead, the opposite has happened. Over the last year, Israel has wielded military, political and legal power to continue its land grabs in the West Bank. It has entrenched the legal and physical infrastructure of control over area C, ensuring separation of the Israeli and Palestinian populations, and discrimination against latter, who live under military government. Even PA control in area A remains circumscribed by Israeli military law.

These actions have increasingly undermined the PA. In July 2011, Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki told me that for Palestinian people, the UN bid was the PA’s last chance. Indeed, one year later, that leadership is insecure and faltering, governing only part of the Palestinian areas, and has hardly made new efforts at democratization. Elections are heard of, but not seen. Anger at corruption and economic hardship sparked the rioting, threatening the PA’s relevance altogether.

At present, one sovereign alone actually holds power over the territory from the river to the sea: Israel.

The two populations living under Israeli sovereignty (whether civilian or military sovereignty) have unequal rights, unequal resources, unequal opportunities and unequal realities.

Unable to ignore this situation, many Israeli analysts and political figures, including committed “two-staters,” have increasingly called to acknowledge a one-state reality. They come from both the far and middle left and the right, including Avraham Burg, and Speaker of the Knesset and Likud stalwart Reuven Rivlin. As a very broad characterization, the right-leaning version will curtail Palestinian rights or representation somewhere so that even if Palestinians become a majority, the Jewish state remains and Palestinians will be second class on some level; the left-leaning version will strive for full and equal rights, including political representation and probably in national character and symbols too. Symbolic and political representation, and demographics, is why many (not just right-wingers) worry about the “end of the Jewish state.”

To put it bluntly: the question is no longer about whether one state should be considered, because if we’re counting “states” who control people, it is already a reality. The question is which kind of state it will be: the left or the right wing version.

PM Netanyahu, Secretary of State Clinton and President Abbas of the PA talk in the Blue Room of the White House, Sept. 1, 2010. Israel has since wielded military, political and legal power to continue its land grabs in the West Bank (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Remarkably, many American policy figures, Jewish leaders and intellectuals refuse to enter the debate. They keep talking about the negotiated two-state solution, which is becoming more slogan than substance, as if anyone on either side is listening.

That’s unfortunate. A moratorium on thinking about it will not change the facts. The vain attempts to stifle criticism of Israel in American Jewish discourse and in American politics proved that uncomfortable realities can’t be wished away.

It would also be foolish to pretend I don’t understand the desire to erase the topic. Most Jews view one state as the catastrophic destruction of the Jewish state. They are scared – I was too. I have been a “committed two-stater” ever since college, when I was old enough to think about it, long before I moved to Israel. Two states wasn’t very popular then, and positioned me on the political margins. In that sense, it’s not only part of my political identity – two-states has been part of my personal identity. But paradigms shift and we must be brave enough to sacrifice our familiar individual identities to adapt to historic realities. Keeping the question in the dark deepens the mystique and heightens the fear of the unknown.

The best response is to start demystifying that unknown. It’s time to dive in and start confronting what one state really means. This will help us cut through the emotional noise, analyze problems and advance realistic proposals (“solutions” at this stage would be a stretch). If there are no workable answers, we must acknowledge that too and maybe that will lay the whole theme to rest.

This is not just an acceptable discussion. It is an urgent one. The far right is implementing its own vision at present. Soon we’ll be reading articles calling to acknowledge an undeniable reality of apartheid. An alternate political vision must emerge that can theoretically interest the wide majority of Israelis who are not of the far right. That vision must involve both true equality, and acknowledge national, collective rights for two communities.

I can’t do all that here. Instead, I’ve started by listing what I view as the toughest, most painful issues head-on, because we’ve learned our lesson about leaving core issues for the end. I’ve opened up broad directions for addressing them. Then the real work begins.

1.       Ongoing occupation. Under a single state, what is to stop Israel from continuing to encroach on Palestinian land rights, discriminating in resources, infrastructure, and law, restricting a wide range of human and civil rights, crushing economic potential of Palestinian-populated areas, and keeping the people of Gaza in prison?  Proposal: Freeze the maps. In return for not being asked to dismantle the entire settlement project, Israel agrees to establish no new settlements at all. Zero tolerance, genuine enforcement: no winking and legislating around it – dismantle those hilltop caravan clusters too. Allowing individuals to live freely anywhere will be the logical next step; outside cities, it’s likely most people will naturally gravitate to their own communities anyway.

2.       National narratives. It was too early to eulogize nationalism in the 1990s and it is too early now. Identity matters, and the symbols that stand for them matter too; people kill over these things. Will there be two sets of symbols? Symbols that incorporate both people? Civic symbols and separate national symbols – three different sets? Proposal: Each community keeps its symbols; the country appears internationally as a federated state with its two nations forming its identity. Although awkward, it may be better to use both flags, than deny anyone’s existence. And both sides stop the post-modern game of pretending they can educate the other out of existence.

3.       Political/electoral system: Israel votes with a single-constituency proportional representation and coalition system. Should an electoral or governing system guarantee a grand coalition, minority or community veto rights, require a majority in both communities for major decisions, or any other constitutional guarantees of divided societies? It’s worth remembering that these often don’t work; constitutions have failed to prevent implosions of Cyprus, Yugoslavia, and Somalia and other places. Proposal: Some constitutional or electoral guarantees of bi-communal representation in executive power; but these should be kept to a minimum to avoid ongoing accusations of breaches.

4.       No catharsis. The Palestinian and Israeli people, international leaders, a whole fleet of diplomats, countless civil society groups, tireless activists, all of which have cost a sea of money – the people living in exile, under occupation or under rocket fire – will be forced to accept a whimper but no bang: no handshakes on the White House lawn, no soaring speeches. My only proposal is to remind ourselves that we the people of Israel and Palestine voted in the leaders who brought this situation about; if we had wanted it otherwise, we would have had to act differently.

5.       Palestinian refugees. No creative solution will make this problem easier. Proposal: go back to the Saudi/Arab Peace Initiative – and allow for some number to return, pending the agreement of both sides.

Others can probably add to this list of thorniest things.

I can’t say this is what I personally hoped for all these years. Nor can I say that this is what will be – maybe we’ll all be surprised when the next American administration pulls a two-state rabbit out of its hat. But holding our breath for a negotiated two state solution is liable to cut off the oxygen to this land.

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    1. Richard Witty

      It is without a question a thorny issue, and thanks for the probing summary (though there are MANY more issues and potential perspectives, some in the box, some new).

      My own feeling is that change for the better rests almost entirely on the Israeli elections, supported by moderation of the more radical parties involved (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, external, including sympathetic solidarity support).

      The suppressed single administration relationships cannot last forever. (They can last a long time. The current status is worse than in the 1980′s, when the West Bank was regarded as functionally annexed and integrated – without voting rights for Palestinians, more freedom of movement than currently.)

      The geographic frozen map would be unpalatable to Palestinians as East Jerusalem is asserted to be majority Jewish now, and a plurality basis of the map would prohibit East Jerusalem as part of Palestine.

      Long-term, if the single state question is raised in earnest, the question to the Palestinians themselves would be raised about whether they prefer to be in a single state with Israelis or with Jordanians, and which would constitute a more coherent and governable unity?

      My sense is that the Palestinians would choose to be Jordanian over Israeli, with the prospect that in an undifferentiated border, Jewish economic dominance would result in the free settlement of the West Bank by Jewish individuals, including currently distinctly Palestinian towns and cities, and become more western than Arab.

      Palestinians are a cosmopolitan people, and the western/Arab/Israeli architecture and implied city structure, might not be repugnant.

      I don’t see any scenario where Israel would accept Gaza in its border, and I don’t see that Jordan would accept Gaza either.

      I sadly don’t see a way for a contiguous Palestine currently (even with a tunnel or bridge system connecting West Bank to Gaza). And, that leaves the national aspiration for a healthy viable Palestine, gone.

      The only way that Palestinians would ever have a path to integrate into a single state currently would be the Sari Nasseibeh proposal of accepting the subordinate political status, but improving the social and economic status to achieve social/economic integration and then later naturally political.

      Can an assertive orientation morph into a subordinated pragmatic, with all the incidental and fundamental assaults on one’s community pride, with only individual compensations?

      And, with an utterly insensitive Israeli power structure, not committed to making a path for integration?

      All when there are too many in Israel that seek confrontation as justification for increased pressure to force Palestinians to leave.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Laurent Szyster

      Great plan, all rational and practical, the clear way forward.

      Hamas and Fatah cannot agree even on the simplest issue, how on earth would those peoples agree to share anything with Jews ?

      As Sharon said after having laid out the wonderful opportunities of the Gaza disengagement to Rice, there’s just two small problems: “They are bloodthirsty and treacherous”.

      Oh, and before you think it’s racist to say so, watch across the Golan Heights what “power sharing”, “political transition” and “constitutional reform” look like in an Arab country.

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      • AJM

        The quote attributed to Sharon is indeed racist.

        Of all the possible examples of “constitutional reform” in the Arab world (Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, etc.), you picked the one where that phrase applies the least, where the absence of reform has triggered the current situation.

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        • Laurent Szyster

          I could also have picked “democratic” Irak where Arabs have been slaughtering each others like cattle while their country was occupied by foreign forces.

          Or Lebanon where democracy and the one state solution looks more like a mix of medieval fiefdoms and gangland wars.

          But I picked the closest one where there is a clear sectarian/social divide inside a single state and forty years of accumulated hatred.

          As for Egypt and Jordan, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

          Who knows what’s going to happen when economic shit hits the islamist government fan in Cairo ? And what’s going to happen when the Palestinian majority wrestle power from the Hashemites ?

          Morocco is still a divine monarchy where the court rules sovereign. It’s a democracy in name only.

          The only real democracy is Tunisia, the most homogeneous, secular, modern and westernized member of the Arab League.

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      • Moshe

        It means they get to kill each other with nary a peep from their fellow Arab “brothers” and when the killing stops and the dust settles a “democratic” government more radical and oppressive then the ‘dictator’ they “dethroned”.

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    3. AJM

      This is a thoughtful article. I think that it should be read in conjunction with another article published today:
      http://972mag.com/watch-idf-fires-tear-gas-at-olive-harvesters-in-west-bank/57343/
      Especially this part:
      .
      “…a concerted political effort by Israeli policy makers to remove the Palestinian population from Area C. As building permits are denied authorization, homes are demolished, and olive groves are either vandalized or left to rot, life for ordinary Palestinians in Area C is made ever more unsustainable. Consequently, the cities of the West Bank continue to swell in size, which only further exacerbates the already rampant levels of unemployment and endemic poverty.”
      .
      I think this is the atmosphere in which those who care should be discussing one-state options: Palestinians in the West Bank are increasingly herded into enclosed areas that increasingly resemble Bantustans. How can we transfer from *this* situation into one in which individuals of all races and religions have full political and legal rights?
      .
      As Dahlia suggests, I think that the process that is used will be inseparable from the specifics of the end result.

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    4. AJM

      One more thing…Dahlia mentioned that it is the far right that is determining the contours of the one-state reality that exists at present. It must be considered that, rather than accept granting full political rights to Palestinians in the West Bank, many on the far right in Israel would choose to “transfer” them from Israeli-controlled territory by one means or another.
      .
      It is becoming more and more important to monitor
      the attitudes of the Israeli right towards “options” involving “transfer”, towards “encouraging” West Bank Palestinians to accept citizenship in Jordan, or towards other “incentives” to Palestinians to make their home outside of Israeli-controlled territory.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Shua Frazer

      This may have been the most interesting article I’ve read on 972 in weeks. Great job!

      Reply to Comment
    6. Michael Croydon

      It is clear that the two state solution is dead, and it is a sign of just how dead it is that a “leftist” site like 972mag is publishing posts of this nature (as opposed to just the far right). Unfortunately, I find Dahlia hopelessly naive.

      “Freeze the maps”? The Israelis haven’t done that up till now – why would they consider it later? Each community keeps its symbols? So which flag flies at the UN? And why would Israel accept this, when they haven’t up till now?

      The reality, in my mind, is that at least in the short term what Dahlia calls the right wing version of the one state solution, i.e. apartheid, is inevitable. Israel will face isolation at the same level as S Africa did – and then we will see what happens.

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    7. Aaron the Fascist Troll

      This article follows in the time-honored tradition of calls for Israelis to sit down and talk with each other over what to do about the Palestinians. This is a conflict that can only be solved by negotiation, and by that I mean peaceful, serious, good-faith negotiation between the Israeli left and the Israeli right. Once a just and comprehensive one-state agreement is worked out – a plan for a liberal, non-discriminatory, Western, secular Jewish (and Arab) state – the Arabs will sign on the dotted line and the war will be over.

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      • ” what to do about the Palestinians” You must be related to the slave traders of the golden age of white supremacy.

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      • Laurent Szyster

        +1

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    8. “I believe very strongly in the power of prayer. When I was a little boy, I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized, the Lord in His wisdom doesn’t work that way. So I just stole one and asked Him to forgive me. And I got one.”
      Emo Philips

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    9. Kolumn9

      The reason why many people don’t enter this debate is because there is no solution to be found in this solution (or situation as someone might argue). Even were the reality of the one state acknowledged it would be seen as a problem that needs a solution of which partition is the only one that makes sense. Hence the addiction to the two state solution, which in any case de facto already exists, making it even more attractive as an option. Yes, Israel still controls much of what goes on in the Palestinian Authority, but it most certainly isn’t going back to a situation where it would be responsible for ensuring that the garbage in Jenin gets collected and the thought that Israel is going to operate the school system in Gaza is preposterous. The claim that at some point in the near future Tel Aviv and Gaza City are going to be ruled by the same government is very very hard to take seriously.

      Back to the article.. Sorry Dahlia, I don’t understand the points in your proposal. It seems to presume that Israel is taken over by some group of people which is interested in a one state solution while the Palestinians are given no voice in the outcome.

      I entirely don’t understand the context of point one. Who is Israel making this compromise with of freezing the map in exchange for not removing the settlements? Who would be doing the monitoring? Who would be enforcing it on the ground? This point only makes sense within the context of a solution imposed by force from the outside.

      The point on national narratives is also strange. The Palestinians have a narrative according to which the Jews have no claim on the land. The Jews have a narrative that Jews have a claim on the land. One is exclusive while the other is malleable. How can these two coexist in a single state side-by-side? How would the two narratives not create entirely unsolvable problems in regards to the Law of Return, the Right of Return, the property disputes, prisoners, the legal system, international relations, etc? How would these issues not naturally radicalize their communities to the point where the entire political system breaks down? If you want to see what politics looks like in a country where you have groups with divering narratives you really don’t have to look very far. Just look at the interaction of Israeli Jewish and Israeli Arab representatives in the Knesset. Now imagine a scenario where some agreement on any of the issues where the narratives are in conflict was needed for forming a government or passing a budget and where the dominance of one group over the other was not as great.

      On to point three about electoral or constitutional guarantees. Here you yourself acknowledge that such frameworks have a long and bloody history of failure. In other words, historically, the entire approach of trying to throw two nations into one country is doomed to failure. Going back to the issue of narratives; a country can only have a single overriding narrative and only a single overriding national identity. So, a binational state or any other fixed framework of representative and executive guarantees will inevitably fail, especially given the instability in the region. If you are going to push for a one-state solution you will need to push a unitary state, and to overcome the horribly diverging national narratives it would have to be entirely technocratic and devoid of the symbols of either side. Unfortunately this too is an entirely unstable arrangement given that there are large nationalistic minorities on both sides that would eat this state from the inside, ultimately ensuring its collapse, either by coup or by anarchy and civil war. This isn’t South Africa where the Boers were immediately outnumbered 7:1 and were minorities in every geographic area. Once the Boers gave up power they were at the mercy of their new rulers. This isn’t South Africa which has eleven official languages and even more tribes where the ANC has to be good at consensus building even before it got to power. Here it just Jews and Arabs with unresolved grievances, with neither in a position of clear dominance and both in a position to sabotage the state.

      Point four really doesn’t make much sense outside of some context of an externally imposed solution. Where is this deus ex machina that will ‘force’ all these powerful people to accept an outcome that isn’t a solution? Why is there a presumption of finality even were such a deus ex machina to show up?

      This is the problem with this discourse. It presumes that once X happens everything will be fine. Time will stop, history will end, the national narratives will disappear, religion will vanish and people will stop being the flawed humans we know and love.

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    10. XYZ

      Kolumn9 said it all. I just would like to add that it is time that everyone acknowledge that THERE IS NO SOLUTION. No 2-state solution, no 1-state solution.
      Dahlia, while certainly well meaning shows herself that that none of these things can work in her last point, which seems to be thrown in as almost an afterthought—the Right of Return of the Palestinian refugees. This in itself is enough to kill any possible solution. Dahlia still holds to the old Israeli Left self-delusion that the refugee problem is inherently a “humanitarian” one, i.e. we all have to find some place to send them or to get the current host countries (e.g. Syria, Jordan, Lebanon) to regularize their status. The problem is that the Arabs and the Palestinians in particular don’t view it as a “humanitarian problem”, but rather as a “political weapon”. I recall that Yossi Beilin and others who were trying to get Israelis to follow his siren-song of peace would wave public-opinion polls among the Palestinian refugee population claiming that not all want to return back to what is now pre-67 Israeli territory. However, what will happen when the Palestinian religious authorities and others will denounce any refugee who gives up his actual right of return to be betraying Islam and is endangering his soul to perdition?
      Dahlia’s suggestion that Israel accept “some” refugees in order to give the Palestinians a feeling of “pride” over some sort of Israeli acceptance of the RoR is simply a fraud and an attempt to pull the wool over the Palestinian’s eyes and would be laughed off.
      Zippi Livni and Ehud Olmert claim they will have the refugees return to the territory of the future Palestinian state they intend to set up. This is totally unacceptable to the Palestinians and they will reject it utterly. This means the refugees in camps in Gaza and the West Bank are now automatically reclassified as “non-refugees” since they are already on the soil of Palestinian. Obviously they reject this. Also, the existing population in the West Bank would vehemently oppose any influx of refugees from the outside because these refugees, if there are enough, could wrest political control from the existing West Bank population, they would be resented as outsiders (just like the tension that existed in the Palestinian Authority between Gaza and the West Bank before the HAMAS coup in Gaza) and there simply isn’t enough land and resources to support them. This would most likely lead to a civil war in the West Bank.
      Thus, we see this problem is insoluable in and of itself and this would prevent any progress to any sort of solution.

      Reply to Comment
      • peter hindrup

        ‘the left-leaning version will strive for full and equal rights, including political representation and probably in national character and symbols too. Symbolic and political representation, and demographics, is why many (not just right-wingers) worry about the “end of the Jewish state.”’

        It is blatantly obvious that any just solution is the end of the Jewish state. Inevitable and desirable if history is followed and the example of South Africa is followed.

        ‘ An alternate political vision must emerge that can theoretically interest the wide majority of Israelis who are not of the far right. That vision must involve both true equality, and acknowledge national, collective rights for two communities.’

        The answer to this is simple: the Israelis have no rights. Under international law the displacement and genocide of the Palestinians was, and remains, a war crime. Those who have subsequently benefited have no more entitlement to the spoils than do the receivers of the proceeds of any common theft.

        Incredibly, the my mind, the Palestinians have always been the reasonable, responsible party in negotiations. It may be that they are prepared to give some space to those jews who cam e to plunder, as opposed to the Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews who have equal rights with Palestinians.

        I have seen no discussion upon how compensation to there Palestinians for pain. Suffering an dispossesion would be assessed, nor how the Palestinians property would be returned, with rent/compensation paid, and although Dahlia touches upon symbols, the restoring of Palestinian names to their towns and villages, including those destroyed and built over in similarly undiscussed.

        Until forced by circumstances, I do not believe that Israelis will even begin to appreciate their position: it is obviously untenable and can be sustained only so long as the US is in a position to put its muscle; or it money and its weapons behind them. That this period is all but over ought be obvious to the most obtuse observer, and Israel will be among its first casualties.

        The choice for Israelis then will be do we ungraciously return all that we stole and beg forgiveness, or do die on a strip of land defending our mythical ‘rights’, or do we flee to whomsoever will offer us sanctuary?

        The problem there, is any country assessing the short but vicious, predatory history of Israel would surely be hesitant to accept any great number of a people proven to be dismissive of the rights of those offering hospitality, and driven by some delusion that they are the chosen ones, destined to rule over all hmanity.

        Reply to Comment
    11. I see a one state determined neither by the left nor right, but rather the product of continued vanguard settler encroachment (which Israel will not stop) and local expunging as proceeds now mostly under radars. Israeli businesses in the Bank will grow, as will use of Palestinian labor. Over time an industry of violence will emerge on the Bank; the occupation will clamp down harder. Over decades, a movement for citizenship will emerge within Israel as the costs, internally and internationally, escalate. I do not think Jordan will want an under-developed population with core radicals within it. I think Gaza is doomed to be functionally annexed to Egypt, economically at first.

      If you cannot deal equitably with your Arab Israeli citizens, how are you to form a superstructual State? Even verbal justice for the Nazarene 13 remains elusive. Talk of the occupation seems a drug fix for the tiny left to avoid talk of changing Israeli law proper, perhaps because there is no way to do so anyway at the moment. That prominant figures both left and right now speak of a single state suggests there may also be an opening to change things within Israel itself.

      Once again: if you change yourselves via your Declaration of Independence, you may be able to keep crucial aspects of a Jewish State–in jurisprudence, free ingress of Jews and religious institutions. If you wait until violence leaves no alternative, you may well lose it all. I greatly respect Dahlian, but this is what I see. Maybe I am wrong.

      Reply to Comment
      • I think my very old Windows OS truncates my really important comments in the “more” area, unlike those of K9 of the Other Side. So, to no benefit, here is what I think was truncated:

        Once again: if you change yourselves via your Declaration of Independence, you may be able to keep crucial aspects of a Jewish State–in jurisprudence, free ingress of Jews and religious institutions. If you wait until violence leaves no alternative, you may well much more. I greatly respect Dahlia, but this is what I see. Maybe I am wrong.

        Reply to Comment
        • Aaron the Fascist Troll

          Greg, I’m able to read your whole comments by clicking on “more.” I think it’s just a problem when you read them. I’m using a Firefox browser on a Mac.

          Your problem is probably an old browser, not the old operating system itself. Make sure you’re running the latest version you can of your browser, and if that still doesn’t work, try different browsers (Firefox, Opera, Chrome, etc.), if any of those can run on your old operating system.

          Reply to Comment
          • Thank you Aaron, I will do this–and stop ridiculously repeating what I can’t see but others can.

            Not so unfriendly for a troll….

            Reply to Comment
    12. Ben Zakkai

      A couple of years ago I wrote an article for Mondoweiss proposing a one-state framework. The article inspired a lot of discussion and drove me to write a few more relevant posts for Mondoweiss. All the posts can be seen here:

      http://mondoweiss.net/author/ben-zakkai

      Having said all that, I now tend to think that a functional one-state here is an unrealistic dream. But, as Dahlia wrote, paradigms change …

      Reply to Comment
    13. Aaron, This is not about Israelis talking to each other about the fate of Palestinians. 972 would be more than happy to post thoughts of Palestinians on this topic here. Our own Palestinian writers do so, and we welcome guests.

      Others – thank you for the thoughtful comments.

      Reply to Comment
      • Aaron the Fascist Troll

        You’re talking in good faith to Palestinians, but you’re offering them a binational state that only a Jew could love. So they’re not listening, except maybe a handful, probably even fewer than the Jews.

        You sincerely want to include Palestinians in the conversation, but your vision of a Westernized, liberal, secular, inclusive polity effectively excludes them – again, with only a handful of exceptions. In effect, you’re talking only to your fellow Israeli Jews, plus some international eavesdroppers.

        Reply to Comment
      • I once came across an obscure quote:

        “We cannot defeat you; so we prepare the ground for after your defeat.”

        This is how I think of +972, and why I visit it almost every day.

        Reply to Comment
    14. XYZ

      Note to moderators:
      This person is the same as the one who posted here using names of SS and other Nazi personalities such as Herbert Kappler, Stella Goldshlag and others and who was banned.

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      • Escherichia coli

        Should we ban long-deceased people like Ante Pavelić from posting here, and if so, how should moderators determine if someone is dead or alive? Clearly, one problem we have is that small differences in spelling, say Ante Pavelic rather than Pavelić can confuse a data base of the deceased.

        Moreover, what if someone puts “Two state solution” or Nosferatu as the “Name” in a comment? How to handle individuals exhibiting some hallmarks of a dead person and some of a living person?

        Reply to Comment
        • Escherichia coli

          A related question: should posts with “Name” being “Peace Process” be banned?

          Reply to Comment
    15. Ignatz

      At the moment, in terms of 1-state solutions, the only game in town is the right-wing vision of Israel from river to sea, with transfer / carving out of the Arab population to keep it down to something manageable around the 20% mark. Right-wingers do not care about any kind of reconciliation between the communities as long as they believe that this outcome is possible. Looking at other countries 20% minority ethnic group is the biggest you can successfully dominate and suppress.

      With Gaza out of the frame and Area C locked down, they are about halfway to realising this vision, by the way.

      I disagree that a discussion of the practical details of a left-version of 1-state is urgent, although it’s interesting in a theoretical, abstract sense. The more urgent problem is the stranglehold of the right wing on Israeli politics, and what to do about it. Until you sort that out, 1-state or 2-state, you may as well be discussing alternate realities in science fiction.

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      • The Trespasser

        “At the moment, in terms of 1-state solutions, the only game in town is the right-wing vision of Israel from river to sea, with transfer / carving out of the Arab population to keep it down to something manageable around the 20% mark. Right-wingers do not care about any kind of reconciliation between the communities as long as they believe that this outcome is possible.”

        Quoted passage extremely well displays how little people outside Israel actually know about what “right-wing” Israelis desire.

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    16. Pedro Granata

      As one-state-solution becomes mainstream in “jewish left” they start counting the Palestinians chosen to join and “go back to the Saudi/Arab Peace Initiative”, to “allow some number to return”. These Zionists – left or right – will never accept the death of their “Jewish state”, facing oriental life in Arabia. Once again Germany has to pay for Endlösung: they will have to convey away Bavaria to them and watch Netanyahu expelling natives there. :)

      Reply to Comment
    17. YoMo

      Dahlia, the proposal you outline really seems functionally closer to a two state confederation than one state.

      Reply to Comment
    18. YoMo

      Dahlie, by the way, you endorsed two states a year ago- what is so different in 2012 to have wrought such a change in opinion?

      Reply to Comment
    19. YoMo – I am surprised by your second question – that is exactly what I have tried to answer in the entire first segment of the piece. I have supported two states not only a year ago, but for most of my years of thinking about Israel. I would continue to support it if i thought it to be in any way realistic or achievable, as I still believe it is probably the better option. This isn’t so much a matter of support as acknowledging realities on the ground – and you’re right to point out that the changes have been taking place over more than the course of the last year, which is why some have responded that my comment here arrives quite late.

      Reply to Comment
    20. YoMo

      Dahlia, I guess I was asking what do you feel has changed over the last 12 months, on the ground, qualitatively or quantitatively, that has changed you views on the feasibility of a two state outcome

      Reply to Comment
    21. Mihai-Robert Soran

      To be honest, I couldn’t discover one single new question, answer, idea, opinion, structure or principle.

      I remember “us” people from the democratic, liberal left having started to discuss all the above already late 1977, early 1978 in Haifa, in Tel-Aviv, in Jerusalem …

      And I see almost no palpable change in the problems seen and solutions thought of since these 35 years …
      Regards.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Wolf Plotkin

      No use beating about the bush – the single state between the sea and the Jordan was created de facto in June 1967 and has passed these 45 years rather peacefully, as compared with neighbouring Lebanon. I would not attach much importance to the de jure aspect of its existence and functioning – it is there, and it shows no signs of vanishing in the foreseeable future. After two decades of my sojourn here I have come to the conclusion that there is another reason for the obvious resistance of the Israeli citizenry and government (in that order) to the creation of a Palestinian state beside us – and that is the unwillingness of their counterparts on the other side to to depart from the single state. True, it treats them abominably, but as a silver lining it also holds an increasingly realistic prospect of someday annexing the entire country and granting citizenship to all its inhabitants regardless of ethnic and religious differences. They are not fooled by the theatricals of the Palestinian administration – nor should the Israelis.
      There is thus no escape from the South African solution. As for the political and juridical modalities of the inevitable deal, let us leave them to our and their generations to come.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Wolf Plotkin

      No use beating about the bush – the single state between the sea and the Jordan was created de facto in June 1967 and has passed these 45 years rather peacefully, as compared with neighbouring Lebanon. I would not attach much importance to the de jure aspect of its existence and functioning – it is there, and it shows no signs of vanishing in the foreseeable future. After two decades of my sojourn here I have come to the conclusion that there is another reason for the protracted endurance of this state – the obvious resistance of the Israeli citizenry and government (in that order) to the creation of an adjoining Palestinian state is matched by the unwillingness of their counterparts on the other side of the Green line to depart from the single state. True, it has treated them abominably, but as a silver lining it also holds an increasingly tangible prospect of someday annexing the entire country and granting citizenship to all its inhabitants regardless of ethnic and religious differences. They are not fooled by the lip service of the Palestinian administration for a state of their own – nor should the Israelis.
      There is thus no escape from the South African solution. As for the political and juridical modalities of the inevitable deal, let us leave them to our and their generations to come.

      Reply to Comment
    24. Robin

      I think it is great that Dahlia advances this discussion, although I see her specific proposals as coming clearly from an Israeli negotiating perspective.

      What makes sense to me in terms of national rights (I am not Palestinian, but coming from a Palestinian-rights focused perspective) is that, whenever possible, those rights should be reciprocal. In other words, whatever one community expects or demands for itself, it must accept for the other. There are some cases where this may not work (the flag for instance, although the principle can still inform potential solutions). But it works on some of the biggest issues, among them right of return, and right of settlement.

      Not that it would be easily agreed to, but this principle does have the political and cognitive benefit of commonsense fairness. If we accept as the basis for binationalism the idea that Jews and Palestinians are both indigenous to the territory, then it follows logically that people of both groups should be able to live within it, wherever they choose.

      Perhaps my perspective should be more Machiavellian, but I believe that a settlement built as closely as possible around ideas of universal rights, will also be the most durable and fruitful.

      Reply to Comment
      • rose

        the 2 states solution is alive and more important than ever, unless e want to justify ipso facto what the settlers did and are doing. In the words of Uri Avnery:

        If someone despairs of swimming the English Channel and decides, therefore, to swim across the Atlantic Ocean, it might be considered slightly odd. When my Palestinian friend, Michael Tarazy, despairs of the two-state solution and now advocates One State (IHT, Oct. 5), it does not look to me much more realistic.

        Many beautiful utopian ideas have come to nothing, and some, like communism, have caused great tragedies, because they run contrary to human nature.

        France is a member of the EU, but tell a Frenchman to dismantle France and merge with, say, the Germans in One State, and he will not be amused. The idea that Israelis would voluntarily dissolve their state, for which they have fought so hard (and for which, according to Zionist dogma, “eighty generations have longed and prayed”) is far-fetched indeed. It could only happen after a crushing military defeat, but then the whole question would be moot anyway.

        Nor, I believe, will the mass of the Palestinians give up their right to have a state of their own, like any other people on earth -unless, of course, the One State solution is a euphemism for dismantling Israel and turning all of the country into an Arab state.

        Since nothing like this will happen in the next 100 years, the discussion could end right here. However, it may be worthwhile to examine some of the points made:

        – There is very little similarity between Israel/Palestine and South Africa. In Israel/Palestine we have two nations with different histories, cultures, languages, religions and national aspirations.

        – The apartheid rulers were partners of the Nazis and universally detested. Israel is “the state of the Holocaust survivors”, and, as such, enjoys considerable sympathy and immunity from criticism. The pressure of world public opinion that helped bring racist South Africa to its knees is not going to materialize here.

        – Per capita income of Israelis is almost tenfold higher than that of the Palestinians. Not only militarily, but also technologically and economically, the gap is immense. In the putative One State, Israelis will dominate all fields of endeavor for generations to come. The One State would in practice be an apartheid state.

        – Even preaching the One State solution is dangerous, since it legitimizes the eradication of the pre-1967 Green Line and the unlimited expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. If one advocates this solution, how can one object to Israelis living everywhere in the country?

        – At this point in time, more Israelis than Palestinians live between the Mediterranean and the Jordan. One has indeed to be naive beyond belief to imagine that Israelis would accord the Palestinians citizenship and then passively stand by while Palestinians become the majority, thus effectively turning the state into another country where Jews are a tolerated minority.

        – It is far more likely that in the joint state there would rage a perpetual civil war, making the present conflict look like a garden party.

        No, the two-state solution, which my friends and I have advocated for the last 55 years (following the 1947 UN resolution to that effect) is not only the best solution, it is the only one. The alternative is not One State, but escalating bloodshed, ethnic cleansing and catastrophe.

        Two States do not mean two ghettoes. On the contrary, we want two states with an open border between them, not the US-Mexico but the US-Canada model. While each side will live in a state that expresses its national identity, our economies will inevitably grow closer together, our joint capital (Jerusalem) will symbolize our joint destiny. And down the road, some kind of Semitic Union, on the lines of the EU, may come into being.

        Already 22 years ago, Yasser Arafat told me of his belief in a “Benelux solution” – a close cooperation between three sovereignstates, Israel, Palestine and Jordan. He has repeated this many times since. I share this view with him.

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