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Two state vs. one state debate is a waste of time, political energy

 Your favorite pastime is a part of the occupation. 

A partly constructed portion of Israel’s separation wall, in Walaja, December 7, 2010. Israel is a de-facto one-state, with different rights to the non-Jewish minority population under its control (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Arguably the most popular political debate on Israel/Palestine is the one taking place between supporters of the two-state solution and those who support a one-state idea. A piece by Professor Ian Lustick in the New York Times won a lot of attention recently, and it’s not surprising: from our own modest experience here at +972 Magazine, I can state that we have noticed long ago that pieces based on the idea that “the two-state solution is dead/not dead” or “the one-state solution is possible/impossible” win a lot of attention and get many comments.

However, my own feeling these days – which is also based on my own contributions to this debate – is that this is a false question, a waste of time and political energy, which currently serves to prevent any form of a just and peaceful solution.

The whole line of thinking on “the death” of the two-state solution is a bizarre abstraction. How can one determine when an idea has become impossible to implement? What makes a certain threshold – say, number of settlers – an absolute tipping point, beyond which it is impossible to divide the land into two?

In real life, the probability of an idea being implemented is a question of political circumstances and political power. Under certain political circumstances, it is impossible to evacuate a handful of settlers, while under others, we can imagine not 100,000 (which has become the new “possible” threshold in recent years) but one million leaving their homes – the way the French settlers left Algeria after one-and-a-half centuries there.

Therefore, it is not surprising that “the death of the two-state solution” argument appears as a sort of political Fata Morgana – it is always a few steps ahead of us, yet we never seem to get there. But if we haven’t yet arrived at the “death of the two-state solution moment” when the 500,000th Israeli Jew is moved east of the Green Line, or when the Palestinian Authority is broken into two entities, I suppose we are able to continue speaking about this moment for many more years.

More importantly, the conversation vis-a-vis both solutions is meaningless, as these two labels – “one state” and “two states” – only seem final and coherent in nature. In reality, however, the people using them hold extremely varied interpretations. The two-state solution proposed by Benjamin Netanyahu is very different – in every aspect – than the two states described by the Geneva Initiative or the two-state solution that some Palestinians consider. Again, the two-state solution will never die because we can always reinvent the notion of what a Palestinian state is.

The entire conversation over “the coming death of the two-state solution,” phrased in future terms, serves a single purpose – to prevent a fact-based discussion on what we have had for a very long time now: a single, united regime on the entire land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, where roughly half of the population (Jews) have full rights, while non-Jews are allocated more limited legal rights, according to a complicated mechanism of citizenship and residency (some have almost as many rights as Jews, while some have close to none). This is not an abstraction nor a judgment – it is the political reality. Yet describing reality this way carries very serious moral and political implications, which many people and organizations have a serious problem with. Thus, they prefer to deal with imaginary abstractions – talking about what could or couldn’t be rather than what is.

> Click here for +972′s special coverage of the diplomatic process

Things are not less abstract when people discuss the one-state solution (though supporters of this idea are less inclined to delude themselves about the current state of affairs). My general impression is that when the Israeli Right speaks about the one-state solution it is referring to a Jewish state, not unlike Israel today, with a larger Palestinian minority. Furthermore, when most Palestinians speak of a one-state solution, they imagine a Palestinian state with many Jews. As any visitor to the country might have noticed, both societies are extremely nationalistic – you only find consistent post-nationalism in intellectual and elite circles, which is kind of expected.

My feeling is that people argue about solutions because it is (a) easy; (b) fun, especially for intellectuals; and (c) helps them avoid tough political choices. For example, Israeli supporters of the two-state solution tend to see their country as a democracy which will cease to remain at the moment (which never comes) the two-state solution is no longer possible. You won’t ever get a J Street or Peace Now statement saying “Israel is not a democracy, but it could become one if it evacuates the Palestinian territories,” even though such a statement is just as correct (and in my opinion more so) – than one which states that Israel is a democracy, but one day could cease to be so. For one-staters, the debate is a useful distraction from having to deal with real on-the-ground trends in both societies that seem all-the-more consumed by the project of securing their very nationalistic models.

So please, no more one-state vs. two states. An honest approach to politics, I believe, must begin with a real evaluation of the current reality on the ground (de facto one state, albeit not a very democratic one), and the creation of political force for change. Since every person and party speaks of a different solution anyway (even when they use the same labels), we should only scrutinize actual plans set forth by the political parties. In other words, both communities on the ground will need to evaluate and approve real agreements when they are reached.

Related:
One or two states? The status quo is Israel’s rational choice
The peace industry’s slippery slope
Oslo years, a view from the ground

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    1. The Trespasser

      From a recent conversation with a Palestinian Arab friend:

      “People like her believe that this land is islamic jewish
      But she doesnt know that this land cannot be shared”

      There can be no “one state” with equal rights for everyone until Palestinian Arabs realize that this land can be shared.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Richard

      Noam – this kind of obfuscation is reaching a dead end. Do you really think its that hard to see that your “de-facto” argument is the basically the same as arguing for one-state? Yeah, if we’re stuck with mandate borders, that’s one-state, we get it. You’re absolutely right – people arguing uttering the words “two states” is a waste of time for people who’ve already decided that one state is inevitable or desirable – “a just and peace solution” – in Noam code. There’s something a little bit deranged about thinking that being like “shhh, shhh, just stop…talking about it, its all just word, meaningless word…” is an intelligent approach to the discussion, when all of the ambiguities you take issue with can be resolved by anyone who chooses to debate the issue, in good faith, with more specific language. The reality of demographics, security, international law, and other obstacles to your “de-facto” claim do not disappear because politicians don’t mean what they say, or mean different things when they use the same words. You’re guilty of exactly the same cloudy word games, and you’re not quite as good at playing them as your adversaries, since the reader walks away from this piece not even understanding what you are FOR. It takes a veteran Noam reader to actually understand.

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    3. Kolumn9

      Isn’t the whole point of this debate and debates in general to determine the correct direction for the political elites on both sides to pursue?

      But even beyond that, the classification of the status quo as a ‘single, unified regime’ is hallucinatory. The laws and regime in Gaza are not the laws and regime in Tel Aviv. The laws and regime in Ramallah are not the laws and regime in Mevasseret Tzion. There is de facto only one state on the ground only because the other states choose to not declare themselves as such but in every possible sense there is more than one state already here. Only under the most abstract structuralist and legalistic definition is there a single regime and only then there is no way but to exclude Gaza from such an equation. Despite your claim to the contrary, your presentation of the ‘facts’ demonstrates quite clearly that you have no interest in actually having a fact-based discussion.

      In any case, your response to the debate is to demand to end the debate on the basis of accepting the perspective and outlook of those pushing for a one state solution. You call this the ‘real evaluation on the ground’ even though it is nothing more than a biased ideological reading of circumstance. It is a cute trick.

      I must give you credit though for accepting that prevailing narratives on both sides are nationalistic and that the ‘post-national’ analytical framework is accepted only by marginal minorities (which tend to arrogantly self-refer to themselves as ‘intellectual’ or ‘elite’). Would it be safe to presume that this too should be part of the ‘fact-based’ discussion by the ‘intellectual elite’ or is that just an inconvenient detail to be bulldozed over with reeducation camps and mass indoctrination?

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    4. This article basically asserts that the one state solution is the proper and recommends not arguing with the assertion.

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    5. GAD

      you are correct that Two state vs. one state debate is a waste of time and political energy.
      their are already to states, or two nations, living side by side, and the realty is they don’t get along, at all!
      the real argument is between people who want Israelis and Palestinians to coexistent peacefully, and the ones who don’t.
      the ones who don’t seem to be the majority. and as long as this is the case the Two state vs. one state debate is pointless.

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    6. shmuel

      The Myth of One-State Alternative To the Two-State Solution

      The new prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, Rami Hamdallah, is perceived by some as an “obscure figure,” by others as a “nice guy who will not make waves” or as “Palestine’s Nothing Man.” When I first met Rami Hamdallah in May 2010, in his office at An-Najah University, he appeared to me as a statesman with a clear vision and a strong sense of purpose. The interview that followed became part of a book focused on the persons and the ideas that in present-day Palestine and Israel are inspired enough to present alternative solutions to the local dramatic reality.

      While fully supporting the self-determination of his people, Hamdallah stressed that discussing the one or two-states solution is risky, because it can de-focus the attention from the real priority: Palestinian rights and equality of treatment. Furthermore, the then-president of An-Najah University pointed out that a sustainable peace could not be achieved without deliberately engaging local women: This, he claimed, was the reason why most of their students (56% in 2010) were women. Finally, Hamdallah noted that only a nonviolent grass-roots struggle had the potential to achieve change instead of only shaking the status quo: A standpoint that mirrors Erich Fromm’s approach. Human beings, the German social psychologist wrote, have “continued to evolve by acts of disobedience.”

      After that meeting I further realized that the endless debate over what Tony Judt defined as “the only real alternative” — a single, binational state — to the two-state solution was (and is) an empty and counterproductive exercise.

      It is “empty” because it is based on a wrong assumption. The chances that the Israeli authorities may express an interest, albeit weak, in the creation of a single state, or just in the annexation of the Palestinian territories, are near to null. The status quo ensures the exploitation of the Palestinian territories — as well as control of an area considered of strategic importance for defense purpose — without requiring additional “inconvenient responsibilities.” In this sense, the Palestinian territories represent in many ways a unique case. In other somewhat similar contexts, such as Tibet, Abkhazia, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Western Sahara and East Turkestan, the “occupying powers” of these areas have created nominally independent states or incorporated the local inhabitants as their citizens: with all the guarantees, rights and problems that this entails.

      On top of this, it is counterproductive because the alternative to the two-states solution has never been a binational state but instead a state of permanent tension, if not war. True, in an ideal world borders should not exist. However, as Noam Chomsky once noted, “If you are serious, you say, ‘how do we get from here to there?’” In a reality in which one of the two contending parties is exponentially more powerful than the other — from a political, economic and cultural point of view — a single state would soon turn into a legalized tool for “choking” the weaker party. Mutatis mutandis, the idea of ​​creating a binational state already failed at the time of Brit Shalom (in the late 1920s), when the attitude of the people, free from the scars of this last century, would have been in theory far more “malleable” than today. The one-state scenario would require the absence of a marked imbalance between the two parties. Furthermore, the support for such an option is problematic inasmuch as it offers a sort of justification for the ongoing unilateral construction of new settlements; if the two-states solution is not anymore feasible, as often claimed by the binational state supporters, what should prevent the creation of additional “facts on the ground”? To put aside the two-states solution without first obtaining a practical alternative is a political suicide that will further affect the lives of million of persons.

      The real issue at stake, then, is not if the two-states solution is feasible or not, but to strive for a re-articulatation of the political approach of Washington — and, to a minor extent, of the EU — on these issues. The position of the Obama administration is that the two parties involved must initiate direct negotiations “without preconditions.” This was also the reason given by the United States in February 2011 to justify their veto against a resolution of the UN Security Council that held the settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to be “illegal.” Fourteen out of 15 members of the Security Council voted in favor of that resolution.

      From a symbolic point of view, the US veto had serious consequences. The message that it sent out is that the issue of settlements and the exploitation of the natural resources (water, stone, gravel) in Palestinian territory are topics of negotiation. More then this, Washington’s standpoint was further problematic because both Israel and the US administration continue, on the other hand, to require various pre-conditions from the Palestinians; from recognizing the State of Israel to the rejection of any abstract idea or effective implementation of armed struggle: i.e., the reasons why Hamas has been excluded by the political process. On the other hand, as Noam Sheizaf clarified, “Israel was never asked to formally recognize the Palestinians’ right to this land, nor has its government ever voted in favor of the two-state solution.”
      According to the last report (Acting the Landlord, June 5, 2013) released by B’Tselem, Israel’s policy in Area C of the West Bank is anchored in a perception of the area meant above all to serve Israeli needs. The exploitation of natural resources and the psychological humiliation that are taking place beyond the “separation barrier” cannot in any way be justified by the legitimate Israeli need to rely on safe borders. An internal document compiled last April under the auspices of the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin — recently distributed to all of Israel’s embassies in Europe — claims that settlement-product labeling under discussion among EU foreign ministers would hurt the Palestinian economy the most: It is an attitude that recalls to mind the times in which well-known historical figures used to praise the economic opportunities afforded by the benevolent colonial power to the occupied people.

      This further confirms that, today more then ever, the priority is to dismantle the annexation process that especially in these last few years used the “peace process” as a façade. Such an approach requires less idealistic slogans and effortless “shortcuts,” and more practical forms of pressure. In Amílcar Cabral’s words, “Tell no lies, claim no easy victories.”

      Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/ar/contents/articles/opinion/2013/06/rami-hamdallah-two-state-solution.html#ixzz2fSo08W46

      Reply to Comment
    7. Two States, and much One State, are just ways of talking people into doing what you want or, rather, expending false effort while ground activity continues. One State as outcome delineates Israel as de facto jurisdiction over the West Bank and notes that any resolution will require evolution of Israeli Law. Contra K9, above, Gaza, blockaded but not under Israeli jurisdiction in terms of enforceable law absent aerial bombing, is not part of this de facto One State. Gaza has been amputated physically but not conceptually, which blocks Two States in any inclusive nationalist sense. That leaves only work towards economic development of the WB with independent courts on matters of commerce, itself a fiction given commerce cannot be separated from mobility, but it is a place to start.

      Since the beginning of the second Intifada, resolution has devolved to Israeli law. I think Noam wrong that Israeli Arab citizens are near equals. In matters of livelihood and its advance they are not. The only new Arab villages I know of post 49 are relocation villages. In presently expanding areas, the Communities Law tries to enable racial purity (as well as ideological purging of some opinion) without using the words. Arab Israelis are about as equal as Jim Crow blacks; lynching and mob violence was mostly gone by the mid 50′s, yet civil rights were still unmet. In the North, overt Jim Crow was not needed to keep blacks in their place.

      You will find that neither Arab citizens nor West Bank subjects will lay in the dirt indefinitely. Resolution of both matters will depend on what Israeli law seeks to become; that there is presently contention over what law should be I submit as evidence the recent 9-0 refugee camp decision.

      You have three tiers of residents under Israeli jurisdiction: Jewish Israelis, Arab Israelis, and non citizen category residents, with the PA bantu control which is most independent when considering the salaries and benefits of its higher level employees. When PA “citizens” can be killed by the IDF through the immunity of a few words, with no independent prosecution nor judicial intervention, there is no independent PA government of said “citizens.”

      I think you will find that WB subjects will not lie in the dirt indefinitely; resistance will grow as economic ties grow, and these ties will grow as some Israelis try to better themselves in what ways they can. I think you will find, over time, conceptual convergence between Arab citizens and subjects as both see the law as inequitable.

      This is a very hard fight over jurisprudence and the Israeli constitution, including the scope of judicial review and the limits of Knesset false populism. One State as outcome is about the Israeli constitution, not some starting fresh binational founding. Resolution of One State as outcome requires an Israeli constitution. You are not there yet. Whatever hope there was of ending the unfinished Independence War is now gone. You will, unlike the US, have to deal with your defeated massive numbers. They will not be what you need them to be. And that is the engine of constitutional change.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        “Gaza has been amputated physically but not conceptually, which blocks Two States in any inclusive nationalist sense”

        Gaza is its own entity. It blocks nothing. Whatever entity gets eventually recognized as a state in the West Bank can negotiate with Gaza about confederation. Or not. In either case it doesn’t block partition as the resolution to the conflict.

        “Arab Israelis are about as equal as Jim Crow blacks”

        BS. Just simply BS. Arab Israelis are present in every sphere of Israeli society. Christian Arabs outperform Jews on average educationally and economically.

        “You have three tiers of residents under Israeli jurisdiction: Jewish Israelis, Arab Israelis, and non citizen category residents”

        We, like every country, have two tiers only. Citizens and non-citizens. Non-citizens in the West Bank sometimes get killed during military action. Likewise the US sometimes kills non-citizens in Pakistan with few repercussions, yet last time I checked a government does exist in Pakistan and those the bombs fall on do not qualify for US citizenship.

        “resistance will grow as economic ties grow”

        That’s stupid. “Resistance” is what destroys economic ties. The idea that Israel will not be able to cut off economic ties with the Palestinians should have been properly laid to rest given the fact that it already had done so repeatedly during the last prolonged period of “resistance”.

        “I think you will find, over time, conceptual convergence between Arab citizens and subjects as both see the law as inequitable”

        One can make any argument ‘over time’ because it requires no verification. I think you will find, over time, that Arab citizens will start eating more soup as they absorb Israeli Jewish culture. Go argue the contrary.

        “This is a very hard fight over jurisprudence and the Israeli constitution, including the scope of judicial review and the limits of Knesset false populism”

        There is no Israeli constitution. The Knesset is indisputably supreme over the court.

        “One State as outcome is about the Israeli constitution, not some starting fresh binational founding”

        One state is not an outcome that depends on the Israeli constitution. It depends on an Israel annexation of the West Bank and Gaza. This is not a possible judicial act, so the entire line of argument is moot.

        Reply to Comment
        • Thoughts on your reply are below; if forgot to place them under yours directly; sorry.

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    8. Shmuel

      Just for the record. Another person by the name of Shmuel wrote a long post above.

      So there are TWO people who write in + 972 who have THE SAME NAME.

      The other one seems to write less frequently. I write more often.

      Just for the record, I am one of those who is vehemently opposed to the one state solution. It would be the death of Israel and the death of the Jewish people.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Shmuel

      “you only find consistent post-nationalism in intellectual and elite circles, which is kind of expected.”

      The implication in the above is that only elites and intellectuals are “broad minded” to advocate post-nationalism. I think it is worth pointing out two errors in that assumption:

      1. Some “non elites” non intellectuals go along with the idea too. For their own reasons.

      2. Some “elites” and intellectuals reject the one state solution, again for their own reasons.

      I suspect that the reason why SOME Israeli elites/intellectuals advocate the one state solution is firstly, because they came to the conclusion that in the long term, Israel won’t be able to withstand the pressure that it will come under and they expect that Israel would eventually collapse. They therefore, would rather avoid that calamity and would rather accept what they consider to be the inevitable one state solution under their own terms. They are wrong on that count.

      Secondly, some of the so called Israeli “elites” and intellectuals, don’t care even a tiny iota about the idea of keeping the Jewish people, culture and nationhood alive. They call themselves post-nationalist. But they are being dishonest. Some, as a result of naivte (the minority of them), some because of hypocrisy, the majority. They know full well that even with the most optimistic outlook, the result of a one state solution for Israel/Palestine, the eventual outcome would not be a post nationalist state. It would be another Arab/Muslim state which would have a disadvantaged Jewish minority. That would be the best outcome. The worst one, I won’t talk about because it is obvious to any hard headed person, just look around and see what is happening in this crazy region.

      Reply to Comment
    10. No K9, the point is that excluded Gaza evokes nationalism as a possible block on the creation of a “State.”

      As to Jim Crow in your land, no Arab village has been created save for relocation purposes, and the Community Law is designed to keep Arabs out. Then, I recall the Superland incident where you said a private business can exclude Arabs on a day if it wishes; that is classic Jim Crow. Then there is the still unimplemented High Court order for the repopulation of an Arab Israeli village. I am confident that a look at economic interactions would yield more cases.

      In both the American South and South Africa, civil resistance was most effective when it harmed local businesses via boycotts and protests. In both countries, these white owned businesses asked their local authorities to come to some sort of accommodation, for too much money was being lost. As economic ties grow, so long as discrimination continues so too will more efficacious opportunity for civil resistance. I do not see this as stupid.

      As to your Pakistan example, the US is not occupying Pakistan. If it were, it would create subjects under its jurisdiction who are not citizens. The occupation is not a war. It was for a little while, but it has become, well, an occupation. You have Jewish Israeli citizens out there and prior residents who are subjects under occupation. Add to this the Arab Israeli citizen, who can go to Superland anytime she wants, as well as buy a house anywhere, and successfully petition for the creation of a new village, and you have three categories of person under Israeli jurisdiction.

      As to the Israeli constitution, read your Declaration of Independence, which asserts there must be one and accepts the UN mandate to that end. When the Constituent Assembly transformed itself into the Knesset, it usurped constitutional sovereignty; but a constitutional assembly is not empowered to be an unchecked legislature, indeed, the assembly is empowered to both enumerate the powers of such a legislature and check it via other provisions of the constitution. The Knesset usurpation left judicial review ungrounded. I believe the locus of judicial power and scope of review will indeed motivate the next step in the evolution of the Israeli constitution, written or not. I did not mean that the courts will declare One State; rather, that as judicial review articulates rights and process, the evolution of One State becomes possible. As I said, I think the Independence War has morphed into relations with the defeated. The best you can hope for is federated states with evolving neutral commerce arbitration. That would in itself evolve into rights formation. Oslo was your best chance as well, and it is gone, I think.

      I guess that is enough. You have been unusually silent on the High Court’s 9-0 Refugee Detention decision. That’s the first movement toward judicial review I have seen in years, and the IDF isn’t around to nullify it in slow motion.

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      • Shmuel

        Jim Crowe, Jim Crowe, Jim Crowe …

        Repetition intended to create guilt by association. The fact is that the Israel/Palestine situation was never the same except if one believes in propaganda.

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        • Nice crowd taunting, Shmuel. Your mind can do better.

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          • Shmuel

            Well Greg, the other day when I opposed the one state solution, you compared me to your mother in law who you said was in favor of segregation in the Jim Crowe era.

            I tell you that offended me because me opposing the one state solution has nothing to do with Jim Crowe or discrimination. I abhor discrimination. But expressing a preference towards the two state solution, two independent states in which all citizens would have equal rights respectively has nothing to do with what Jim Crowe stood for and you know it.

            Reply to Comment
          • No I didn’t. And I was speaking of my mom, not mother in law. The woman I took care of until she died of cancer.

            I was not referring to you at all, but to why I am here, partly.

            I don’t “favor” a One State “solution,” but see One State (of vastly unequal rights acknowledgement as basically present) and inevitable. I think a Two State solution has become self contradictory because of Israeli security needs, leaving the vanguard settlers (not the big housing projects) aside. I see the inevitable evolution of One State and think it will be quite unpleasant at times. Larry Derfner of this site is also a Two Stater, for he thinks One State would self destruct (I hope that is fair). I am an advocate for judicial review and rights protection. If you abhor discrimination, then what of the treatment settlers bestow to Palestinians nearby? There are no rights where there is just we and them.

            Actually, what is happening in the West Bank is worse than Jim Crow (not “Jim Crowe”). So I guess there you are correct; I do not see it as the same.

            Why would I want to offend you? I care about the evolution of Israeli jurisprudence, not attacking you. I guess we are both happy with the High Court 9-0 Refugee Detention decision, on the matter of discrimination.

            What often happens on this site is feel good ideological warfare. I see no value in that at all, although I can be tempted into it, as most hereon can. I have tried to stake out a position on Israeli jurisprudence, rights formation, and constitutional change, employing the Israeli Declaration of Independence, which I see as a unique and remarkable document. This places me in a kind of radical jurisprudence many will dislike. But I do not think this jurisprudence will always go in ways I personally like. I just think things can, and should, go differently. But I have no “solution.” Nor am I member of any “front,” save insofar as I think equal protection under the rule of law demands. If that offends you I can’t do anything about it.

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          • Shmuel

            “No I didn’t. I was not referring to you at all, but to why I am here, partly.

            You may not have directed your comment specifically to me but you directed the following comment at those of us who are against the one state solution:

            “My mother was Jim Crow Southern who lived into this century yet refused to abandon the purity of segregation”

            I am sorry but I find it offensive to be compared to people who advocated racial segragation. As opposed to us who advocate separation because we do not want to be a disadvantaged minority again amongst a people who conducted a vendetta against us for the last 100 years. The two situations are ENTIRELY different.

            “I don’t “favor” a One State “solution,”

            Glad to hear that.

            “but see One State (of vastly unequal rights acknowledgement as basically present) and inevitable.”

            It isn’t inevitable at all. It is inevitable only if one wants it to be so.

            “I think a Two State solution has become self contradictory because of Israeli security needs, leaving the vanguard settlers (not the big housing projects) aside.”

            I don’t think that Israel’s security needs make the two state solution self contradictory at all, unless one wants it to be so.

            “I see the inevitable evolution of One State”

            Why? I totally disagree.

            “and think it will be quite unpleasant at times.”

            You bet it would. Especially for us Jews. But it won’t happen.

            “Larry Derfner of this site is also a Two Stater, for he thinks One State would self destruct (I hope that is fair).”

            Larry Derfner is right.

            “I am an advocate for judicial review and rights protection. If you abhor discrimination, then what of the treatment settlers bestow to Palestinians nearby?”

            I don’t support attacking the “other” purely for it’s own sake. When that happens, I advocate throwing the book and applying the full force of the law against the perpetrators. But to pretend that only the settlers attack “poor Palestinian” victims is disingenuous. The fact is that what is happening is a vicious cycle of attacks and retaliations by BOTH sides. This needs to be stopped. But so called progressives in + 972 only complain about settler violence. You guys never complain about Palestinian violence. Moreover, you complain when Israel attempts to curb Palestinian violence but you expect Israel to clamp down on settlers.

            What is needed is a clamp down on BOTH. If that’s what you would advocate, I would support you.

            “There are no rights where there is just we and them.”

            That is true. But it would be easier to have a ‘WE’ if the Palestinians too would see us as human too with rights and legitimate aspirations.

            “Actually, what is happening in the West Bank is worse than Jim Crow (not “Jim Crowe”). So I guess there you are correct; I do not see it as the same.”

            Look, I don’t know enough about how things were in the Jim Crow era so I don’t want to debate which is “worse”. I do know enough about it though to say that the two situations have NOTHING in common.

            Jim Crow was a system of segregation perpetrated against a subjugated people who were originally imported in order to be exploited as slaves. Subsequently, after they were freed, they were segregated out of pure spite and maybe some fear (the fear bit is the only thing that may be common).

            The Palestine/Israel situation on the other hand is a nationalist war between two peoples who lay claim to the same piece of land. We Israelis want to separate from them (we want the 2 state solution) because we don’t want to return to the status of a disadvantaged minority again. We have been there and done that in history and it did not work well for us in the past.

            “Why would I want to offend you?”

            Why indeed? Maybe you should be a bit more careful with your analogies.

            “What often happens on this site is feel good ideological warfare. I see no value in that at all, although I can be tempted into it, as most hereon can.”

            Yes, me too but I don’t necessarily enjoy it.

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      • Kolumn9

        How can an independent Palestinian state that already exists in Gaza prevent the creation of an independent Palestinian state? There must be some kind of magic involved in your statement because it makes sense only in your mind.

        There is no Jim Crow in Israel. Arabs participate in every social and economic activity. The Superland example is a great one. In that case the business can either close down because the Arab and Jewish kids are fighting on a daily basis or it can set up separate days for school trips from Arab and Jewish schools. The preferred method among people on the left is that it is better to close it down because it is offensive to their sensibilities even though that would cause neither the Arab kids nor the Jewish kids any particular pleasure. In other words, it is better to destroy rather than compromise on unrealistic principles. I feel that is the approach taken by people on the left towards much of what goes on here with the usual justification that something perfect *will* eventually come along to replace the present if enough blood and magic is spent. Like this is some kind of experiment in a lab and we can just throw out the results if it fails and try again.

        The example of the American South and SA is stupid because in neither of those cases were the children of the white owned businesspeople being blown up on buses. When that happens, and in the case of ‘Palestinian civil resistance’ it usually comes down to that or some other form of violence, all focus on economic considerations is dead and buried. Before the first intifada the Palestinians were an integral part of the Israeli economy. Palestinian workers would come from Gaza to Tel Aviv for work on a daily basis. And yet, here we are. The Palestinians are no longer an integral part of the Israeli economy and the flow of Palestinian labor can be shut off at any time. One attack and all the economic integration you are building on goes pop. Not only can it go pop, but it has already gone pop, so it isn’t a theoretical possibility, but one that has been demonstrated conclusively to exist and be realistic. Nor has anything really changed in the Israeli economy which would make it impractical. We do have massive amounts of labor-intensive industries like the South Africans. We do not sell massive amounts of good to the Arabs. Cutting off and replacing Palestinian labor is easier now than ever, giving the ‘white businessmen’ you think will come to force Israel into a one state outcome no particularly good reason to make much of a political effort to that effect.

        As to my Pakistan example, would you prefer the example of Afghanistan or Iraq or was the US not occupying those places either? And again, I repeat there are only two tiers here. Citizens and non-citizens. Arab citizens were they to actually elect a leadership to the Knesset that is actually interested in working with the Jews in Israel rather than fighting against them at every step would have long ago built new villages. As to the issue of ‘buying a house anywhere they want’, I can’t buy a house anywhere I want. Many communities will not want me. So, then, am I too a different category of citizen or is it simply that you have defined your categories ideologically and not objectively? As to the Superland thing you keep repeating. You are full of crap. An Arab can go to Superland whenever it is open. The issue was about organized school trips where kids tend to get rowdy.

        “When the Constituent Assembly transformed itself into the Knesset, it usurped constitutional sovereignty;”

        Ok, so you accept that the Knesset is supreme and judicial review is ungrounded. You just don’t like it. That’s fine, but where other than faith do you get the idea that the situation will change? Additionally, if such an unlikely outcome is your prerequisite to the even then unlikely possibility (uhm. the courts can’t annex the territories or grant citizenship) of a one state outcome then you are building walls of ice on top of clouds.

        “The best you can hope for is federated states with evolving neutral commerce arbitration. That would in itself evolve into rights formation. Oslo was your best chance as well, and it is gone, I think.”

        Yah, ok. There was a reason why the Palestinians went for Oslo and it wasn’t because their other options were superior. And clearly, our lack of options in preventing a one state outcome is what is causing us to continue to occupy Gaza (sarcasm). So, to sum up, their options haven’t changed and neither have ours. Neither have the power relations. Well, ok, arguably the Palestinians are even weaker now and we are stronger, but that is besides the point. The point is that were I to send you back in time 25 years your tools of analysis would be pretty much useless in predicting outcomes. They still are. If Oslo is gone, there is zero chance it will be replaced by whatever framework you have thought up because your entire outlook on the situation is silly.

        “You have been unusually silent on the High Court’s 9-0 Refugee Detention decision. That’s the first movement toward judicial review I have seen in years, and the IDF isn’t around to nullify it in slow motion.”

        But not the first case of judicial review in Israel.. These things come and go and rarely change anything. The Knesset and government will find ways to achieve their objectives on the matter in a different way and the illegal migrants will be kicked out anyway. That’s the thing.. The Israeli courts are just an occasional break on consensus government policy, not a body actually capable of changing it, which is why your theories which build on a crusading court which will fundamentally change everything are so unrealistic.

        Reply to Comment
        • andrew r

          “How can an independent Palestinian state that already exists in Gaza prevent the creation of an independent Palestinian state?”

          The independent state of Gaza which has extremely limited or no access to its own waters, relies on the currency of another state and has its imports and exports controlled by that same state. Let’s also not forget the IDF modifies the border between Israel and independent Gaza at will, as there’s a 300 meter buffer zone extending into the strip.

          http://electronicintifada.net/content/pretext-security-along-gazas-buffer-zone/8813

          The most important point though, is that Gaza exists as a separate entity because the people there were expelled from the areas of Palestine that were taken by the Zionist armed groups during 1948. Gaza would not be split apart from 1948-occupied Palestine without the Zionist invasion. The so-called independence of Gaza is a device to justify the segregation of the people there from 1948 Palestine and was concocted only because Israel gave up on trying to settle the territory.

          “There is no Jim Crow in Israel. Arabs participate in every social and economic activity.”

          My last response to you in this talkback detailed how non-Jewish Israeli citizens are barred from leasing land.

          http://972mag.com/between-admiration-and-cynicism-mixed-opinions-of-egyptian-revolution-in-israel/75058/

          “The example of the American South and SA is stupid because in neither of those cases were the children of the white owned businesspeople being blown up on buses.”

          This argument implies that if African-Americans had undertaken reprisal attacks against white civilians, the racial measures against them would ipso facto become self-defense and not economic or politically motivated. Zionist violence against civilians is not a reaction; it’s a pre-requisite for the establishment of the Israeli state. Violence against Israeli civilians can not mitigate that fact.

          Not to mention the ANC conducted bombings against civilian targets which had fatalities. That doesn’t mean apartheid was a legitimate self-defense measure.

          Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            The difference is that black South Africans were true natives of South Africa but the Europeans were western colonisers who made black South Africans second class citizens in their own country.

            We Jews on the other hand returned to our ancestral homeland in which we lived for 3000 years before European colonisers invaded, expelled us and renamed the land from it’s previous name of Judea to Palestine. Those European invaders in turn were subsequently expelled by Arab invaders. Who in turn were taken over by Ottoman Turks, then Brits, then we returned and have been there since the mid 19th century, some of us even much longer.

            Moreover, In 1948, we agreed to share the land. We agreed to the UN partition plan. Had the Arabs agreed too, there would be two independent states today in the land described by the Roman name of Palestine. But the Arabs did not agree. They attacked the Jewish state claiming that we Jews had no right to return to our ancestral homeland. They have been making war on us ever since.

            Do the claims of the Arabs stand up to scrutiny? Of course NOT! The fact is that in the mid 19th century when Jews started to return, there were maybe about 500,000 Arabs living in Palestine alongside a much smaller number of Jews who lived there continuously for even longer than the Arabs (they filtered back soon after the Roman expulsion). Overall, the land was sparsely populated. But by 1948, the Jewsh population grew to 33% of the population. Nevertheless, overall the land was still sparsely populated and there certainly was room for two states, one Arab, one Jewish. Yet the Arabs claimed exclusive rights to ALL of Palestine, they made war on the Jews and tried to expel us. That would be equivalent more to American Europeans trying to expel descendants of American Indians from America than to your example of what happened in South Africa.

            Reply to Comment
        • By “State” I meant a negotiated settlement with the WB, as you well knew. And you know nationalism will be a problem upon exclusion of Gaza.

          Economic ties upon entry into the WB, not imported labor into Israel. Indeed, the reason why you now have (unwanted) legal foreign workers is to remove dependence on Palestinian labor. Yes, bombings would disrupt things horribly; perhaps that is why you disdain all nonviolent attempts otherwise. You’re in a corner: there can be no Palestinian State on the WB absent IDF forces, and you don’t want the residents therein to be there. That is the engine producing a One State outcome. Both the American South and South Africa focused not on “massive amount of labor” but economic distress of shops with “minority” clients. You will find businesses in the WB asking for moderation in State policy. Unless you can keep the level of mental hate up to your level, with perpetual subordination of WB residents because they fail to be what you require.

          “Arab citizens were they to actually elect a leadership to the Knesset that is actually interested in working with the Jews in Israel rather than fighting against them at every step would have long ago built new villages.” : Neither equal protection nor rights protection are matters of transient political victory; indeed, they may enable later political victory. Under your logic, American desegregation would never have occurred. You embrace discrimination against yourself via the Community Law to keep Arabs in check, for you know even fewer will want them, rather than you. A true racial ideologue. Even your beloved Bibi State disapproved of the Superland incident, at least in talk. You have a strong tendency to approve of anything which keeps Arabs in check. There is always something wrong with them, it seems. That makes a second class citizen. Instead of assigning them all blame, try parsing it out a little more equitably.

          Usurpation is not a good thing, and can be reversed. The Knesset does not have the power you attribute given your Declaration of Independence. You are treating a constitution like it is conquered land; it is not. Your Declaration is a meta-constitution insuring equal protection, unmet to this day. It is the basis for judicial review, and transcends the Knesset, for it essentially created the Knesset via the usurping Constituent Assembly. You do not have “consensus” government but a silencing government; that’s what governments are, more or less, and rights are there to limit the silencing. A majority does not articulate rights for itself but indulgences for itself. Rights are first articulated in opposition, and “consensus” government may well slap them down. Nine Justices, including the conservative Chief Justice, said no to the camp. But it was fine with you, and that tells me much.

          Hatred and anger are indeed powerful tools, but they do not always win the day, and they nurture themselves in purported enemies. You can “silly” “crap” and “stupid” me all you like. What I don’t understand is why you take the time at all, unless you fear lesser minds will take words such as mine seriously.

          Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            “Hatred and anger are indeed powerful tools, but they do not always win the day, and they nurture themselves in purported enemies.”

            You might want to preach that to Palestinian Arabs too. There is plenty of hatred in them towards us.

            But let’s go a bit closer to home. Your home Greg.

            “(Reuters) – American Muslims face a rising tide of religious discrimination in U.S. communities, workplaces and schools nearly a decade after the September 11 attacks, a congressional committee heard on Tuesday.

            Evidence of growing anti-Muslim bigotry, aired at a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing, poses a challenge for President Barack Obama as his administration works to foster good relations with American Muslims and secure their help against the threat of home-grown terrorism.”

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/29/muslim-discrimination-cas_n_842076.html

            That is a much better analogy to the backlash in Israel against Arabs than your stupid Jim Crowe analogy.

            Now, Greg, you are American aren’t you? So why don’t you do something about what is happening in your own home, before preaching to us? As they say: “Physician, heal thyself!”

            Reply to Comment
          • Not only am I an American, you can back track me via my website; Googling my full name thereon will provide more information that you yourself will ever expose. The site is (useless) work on American jurisprudence. And I can do both, conjecture on Israeli jurisprudence and write on American jurisprudence.

            Comparing how the US and Israel treat Muslim hate crimes will not serve you–Israel will fare worse in the comparison. I doubt there are Knesset hearings on settler hate crimes.

            And why should you care if an ineffectual American comments herein? Why should I be pushed off? How will that change things? Does the marketplace of ideas need such tight control?

            Spell “Jim Crow” right (unless that is a taunt) and articulate your ideas positively rather than attack others; in the long term, you will profit more that way.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            “Not only am I an American, you can back track me via my website; Googling my full name thereon will provide more information that you yourself will ever expose.”

            Do you know how many Greg Pollocks come up when I googled your name? Thousands!

            “I can do both, conjecture on Israeli jurisprudence and write on American jurisprudence.”

            Not only that but you could conjecture on the Palestinian side too. Say Hamas?

            “Comparing how the US and Israel treat Muslim hate crimes will not serve you–Israel will fare worse in the comparison.”

            Don’t be so sure about that. There would be swings and roundabouts. For instance, America sentenced Nidal Hassan to death. Israel never sentenced any terrorist to death. Mind you, on that score I agree with America rather than our side. We are too lenient.

            “I doubt there are Knesset hearings on settler hate crimes.” Maybe not, but Israeli courts have and do deal with hate crimes. How do Palestinian courts fare on hate crimes against Israelis?

            “And why should you care if an ineffectual American comments herein? Why should I be pushed off”

            I care about one sided condemnations. If you as an outsider want to complain against Israel, that is your right. Feel free to do so. But please put things in context. And maybe you could comment on Palestinian wrong doings to? Push BOTH sides if you must. Not just us. That way, fair minded but pateiotic Israelis might even listen to you more.

            “How will that change things? Does the marketplace of ideas need such tight control?”

            Who is controlling you? You criticise us and if I feel that your criticism is unfair, simplistic or simple minded, then I too criticise you. Like you say, your “market place” statement applies to you too.

            “Spell “Jim Crow” right (unless that is a taunt) and articulate your ideas positively rather than attack others; in the long term, you will profit more that way.”

            No, it wasn’t a taunt. It was a genuine spelling mistake.

            Reply to Comment
          • “Gregory B. Pollock” will reduce the number; the useless website has my middle initial. Or google “Suicidal altruism under random assortment,” a biology journal paper. That is me. Or was me. I’m far more identifiable than most comments on this site. For what that is worth.

            My focus is on Israeli jurisprudence, the rule of law, and judicial review–including cases where such review is simply ignored by the State, or the State drags its feet so long that the State is deciding what the court said. Israeli jurisprudence evolves in response to this conflict, but its logic is not determined by outside enemies as such. I think that is what the 9-0 Detention Decision of the High Court is saying.

            Look at the Yesh Din reports on this site. What Hamas does in Gaza has no import for the failure of law detailed in these cases. The issue in this case is not what Hamas is but what Israel will be. I don’t see things as a tally of demerits, whoever having less winning. When the State has the power to correct an error, it should do so; that is presently not the case. Do I think Palestinians are uniquely cuddly wonderful? No. They will be just like everyone else. That’s another reason why you need the law.

            If I were inherently anti Israel I wouldn’t care about Israeli jurisprudence or your Declaration of Independence. The issue for me is self improvement, not being better than someone else. And there is real risk in this, I know.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            “What Hamas does in Gaza has no import for the failure of law detailed in these cases.”

            First of all it’s not just what Hamas does in Gaza. It is what Hamas does TO Israelis from their Gaza base.

            “The issue in this case is not what Hamas is but what Israel will be.”

            But what Israel will be is influenced by what it’s Gazan and West Bank neighbors do to Israeli citizens too. You can’t just sequester the two issues. We influence one another and we react to each other’s actions.

            “I don’t see things as a tally of demerits, whoever having less winning. When the State has the power to correct an error, it should do so;”

            Yes the state should correct errors and more often than not but not always, it does.

            Yet you cannot just let the Palestinians off the hook for what they do because their actions against us, influence us. The reverse is true too but that’s not what some people do here in + 972. What they do seem to do is ONLY expect us to change.

            “Do I think Palestinians are uniquely cuddly wonderful? No.”

            Good for you. At least you are man enough to say so after some prompting. But others here are not.

            “They will be just like everyone else. That’s another reason why you need the law.”

            No Greg, to say that they will be just like anyone else is not good enough. We can say the same thing about us, and I for one DO. But if you want REAL change, then you need to PUSH BOTH SIDES, NOT JUST Israel!

            Reply to Comment
          • Once again, jurisprudence is not a tally of demerits. I actually believe that if rights jurisprudence grows it will strengthen Israel, and think the Yesh Din a good place to begin. As to biased 972 notice of violence, this is clearly the case, and I’ve said so several times (so what). 972 is a blog cooperative; members decide what to report or discuss on their own, although I guess they have meetings about topic and emphasis. They get no survival wage from their efforts and cannot be directed to write on something. I believe it a serious mistake to not cover violent acts against Jews (of all beliefs). But the grievances reported by Yesh Din do not thereby dissipate. And these grievances really don’t depend on Hamas in Gaza, or rockets fired into Israel. I think one should disentangle grievances as much as possible so that some sort of instanced resolution be suggested.

            I only comment on 972; I don’t surf the net generally at all. I’ve taken my stand on the rule of law, and I greatly admire how 972 has taken its own stand against cultural backlash; it is not what one does if a pure careerist. And 972 has evolved. Yossi Gurvitz, who writes for Yesh Din, used to post pieces somewhat vindictive and acerbic. I now find his work among the best of 972, although it must be very frustrating to speak with little prospect of change. Then there are the 972 posts on asylum refugees which seemed hopeless, but now the Court has ordered the camp closed in 90 days (no causation). 972 members can have an acute sensibility.

            I am not so “manly.” That I post so often on this site should be a warning flag: I have little else to do, I want to see my name out in false effectuality–both true. If you want to speak to the other side in critique, there are ways of doing that, where you live. I am a follower but not practitioner of nonviolence. In nonviolence, your first opponents are some of those you want to help, who would launch violence. You have to decide to believe there are people on the other side who think like that, and reach out. It is a risk, an empirical matter, and will sometimes fail for many reasons. That reach out must include “why do you do this, how does it happen” as critique all around. Your land is damn hard on everyone (and I don’t mean Israel here).

            I try to articulate positions, as on One/Two State and jurisprudence, and those have evolved over the months. But I am no one, and I would not advise getting sucked up in the dynamic of reply comments. I probably continue in false belief that my comments may sometimes be useful to those in the 972 cooperative, although, as said, I see limitations therein.

            You yourself have already caused me to refine One/Two States for me. It doesn’t mean anything, but you have. Words absent the silencing or laughing off of others are important. No so much for my life, but perhaps for where you live.

            Reply to Comment
    11. Richard Witty

      The question of goal is important.

      Reply to Comment
      • richard witty

        Goal needn’tbe defined in terms of specific political outcomes. It can be described in other terms, other criteria.

        The definition though does remain critical journalistically, to avoid deception.

        Reply to Comment
    12. Gideon (not Levy)

      Your own modest experience at Haaretz.com is NOT good enough.
      You had a chance to interview Glenn Greenwald for Haaretz (“Why whistleblower Snowden came to me”) and you “FORGOT” to ask him what was Israel’s role, and why was it collaborating with the NSA, which makes me suspicious of your journalistic record.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Danaa

      Noam is right. Continuing to discuss “solutions” is as pointless as pretending that there is an agreement between any two people on what the word “solution” means. is it an end of pain? the beginning of bliss? symbol of end to “hostilities’ or just a mask to pull over inconvenient facts, too difficult to arrange into a coherent whole. one man’s ‘solution” is another man’s dilemma and a third man’s entrenchment of ever-lasting injustice. it’s like the word “peace’ – what does it mean?

      i also suspect that Noam is on to the sad truth that the ongoing discussions about ‘solutions” are just ways of circling the problem, while averting collective eyes of just how humongous that problem is and how unlikely it is to be solved simply by exercise of puzzle-solving “strategies”.

      so what is he suggesting that we do? meditate on the confounding nature of ‘the problem”? call it a day and wait for godo? make an art of “small” solutions without touching the beast in front of us? Of course i don’t know what he is suggesting other than for each of us, in our own camps, to continue do that which we do. The BDS’ers do more of it, the activists will act more, the settlers settle more of whatever “it” is, the PA do more of what it’s told to do (ie, talk about it), the palestinians continue to survive as best they can, and the rest of the israelis spend another day at the beach where it’s maniana every day, and the price of cottage cheese forever fluctuates.

      Alas, in the meantime nothing really stays the same, and as time goes on, new fissures will materialize, new realities will weigh in and the scales will rock time and again. Until one day, something will give, and the new realities may be unlike any that anyone envisioned or wanted.

      Reply to Comment
    14. The Trespasser

      http://news.walla.co.il/?w=/550/2679767

      A Palestinian Arab has invited his Israeli Jewish colleague to visit his home in Kalkilia. Upon arrival the Arab had murdered the Jew and dumped his body into a well.

      One state? Equal rights? Mwahahahaha.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Aaron Gross

      Another excellent comment by Noam. Not for originality – I’ve been saying most of these things since forever, including the Algeria example, and so have lots of other people; it’s excellent because it appears in +972.

      As usual, I do disagree with his description of the current situation as a de facto single state. In fact it’s a belligerent occupation – a prolonged one. It’s 100 percent an occupation, so it cannot be a de facto single state, no matter how intertwined the economies, governments, and judicial systems are. A consequence is that ending jurisdiction over the territories will not make Israel one iota more democratic.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Richard Witty

      Talking about what is a waste of time, is a waste of time.

      Reply to Comment
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