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(Another) Knesset Speaker endorses one-state solution

Former Knesset Speaker Avraham (Avrum) Burg (photo: Yossi Gurvitz)

Former Knesset Speaker Abrum Burg has an op-ed in Haaretz in which he not only endorses the one-state solution, but calls the entire left to do the same. Burg has flirted with the idea in the past, but he was never so explicit:

So enough of the illusions. There are no longer two states between the Jordan River and the sea… we [the left] must consider how we can enter into the new Israeli discourse. It has intriguing potential. The next diplomatic formula that will replace the “two states for two peoples” will be a civilian formula. All the people between the Jordan and the sea have the same right to equality, justice and freedom. In other words, there is a very reasonable chance that there will be only one state between the Jordan and the sea – neither ours nor theirs but a mutual one. It is likely to be a country with nationalist, racist and religious discrimination and one that is patently not democratic, like the one that exists today. But it could be something entirely different. An entity with a common basis for at least three players: an ideological right that is prepared to examine its feasibility; a left, part of which is starting to free itself of the illusions of “Jewish and democratic”; and a not inconsiderable part of the Palestinian intelligentsia.

The conceptual framework will be agreed upon – a democratic state that belongs to all of its citizens. The practicable substance could be fertile ground for arguments and creativity. This is an opportunity worth taking, despite our grand experience of missing every opportunity and accusing everyone else except ourselves.

The rest of the article is interesting as well; Burg writes against the habit of Jewish leftists to argue on behalf of the state and even the government abroad, thus helping the right carry out its policies undisturbed: “Let the right-wing MKs, the Katzes and the Elkins, travel around the world and show the beauty of their faces without the deceptive layer of makeup we  provided.”

A year ago, asked by +972 whether it’s time to move from a two-state vision to a one-state model, Burg said:

In Israel, there is a real fear of confrontation with the armed messianic forces living among us. Anyway our government policies are drawn from the power of the settler vision. It seems that the only way to balance this is an alternative suggestion of one state between the Jordan and the sea.  Secular, democratic, egalitarian and civilian.

It looks like recent developments and the expansionist policies of the current government have convinced Burg that it’s time to join the growing one state camp.

It’s interesting to note that the current Knesset Speaker, Reuven Rivlin (Likud), a rightwing hawk, also prefers a single state to two, arguing that “this land is not divisible.” Rivlin doesn’t support the “one person, one vote” model Burg is referring to, but mulls over what seems like a multi-national entity, possibly with two parliaments.

This is from an interview I did with Rivlin a year and a half ago:

“There is a conflict in the Middle East between two entities, and they’re both right, each in their own way. This is our only home, and therefore all kinds of solutions can be found. One could establish a system in one state in which Judea and Samaria are jointly held. The Jews would vote for a Jewish parliament and the Palestinians for an Arab parliament, and we would create a system in which life is shared. But these are things that will take time. Anyone who thinks that there are shortcuts is talking nonsense. As long as Islamic fundamentalism thinks that Jews are forbidden to settle in the Holy Land, we have a problem. It will not be resolved by an agreement, even if we obtain a promise from all the Arab states that it will be fine.

“So if people say to me: Decide − one state or division of the Land of Israel, I say that division is the bigger danger.

Who’s next in line?

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    COMMENTS

    1. In this one state of Burg’s or Rivlin’s or anyone else’s, who has the guns, who has the army – the Jews, the Palestinians or both? That’s the fundamental question when we’re talking about a state, and I haven’t heard a good answer to it. If the Jews have the army it’s a Jewish state, if the Palestinians have the army it’s a Palestinian state, and if they both have the army it’s a civil war. I think I’ll stick with the two-state solution.

      Reply to Comment
    2. jalal

      you don’t come pillage, kill, steal and settle then ask the indiginous to abide with what suits you best (two state solution in this case) it just doesn’t work this way. It makes it even worse when you settle in the last bits left for the indiginous and refuse to leave.
      I certainly support his unavoidable only-rational-solution the (one man, one vote) one state solution. Think realistically.
      Thanks for this post!

      Reply to Comment
    3. Same question, Jalal – who’s got the guns, who’s in the army?

      Reply to Comment
    4. Aaron

      Larry Derfner asks exactly the right question: Who has the guns? He’s exactly right that that’s what determines whose state it is.

      Regarding Avrum Burg, I’ll say this as politely as I can, but he’s not the most brilliant person ever to have served in the Knesset. People on both the right and the left used to laugh at him all the time back then. So if his opinion is to be taken as a guide, I’m not sure it should be as a guide in the way he intends.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Richard Witty

      The single state forms are on a continuum.

      The US is a federal “single-state” (nation rather than state), with 50 sub-jurisdictions, with an emphasis on the federal. Conservatives, constitutionalists, prefer that the states be more important than the federal.

      The US is a super-power with overwhelming military power and responsibility.

      Canada is a federal “single-state”, but with slightly more authority to the provinces.

      Canada has a supportive military (supportive to US, NATO, UN, no real defense needs of its own)

      India is a federal “single-state”, but with much more authority in the component states.

      India has a distinct and very powerful military, with severe enemy Pakistan, to the extent that they feel compelled to have a deterrent nuclear weapon.

      Belgium and Switzerland are federal “single-states”, but with more authority in the component states.

      They basically have no militaries, no real enemies.

      The EU as a whole is a federal single-state.

      Lebanon is a single-state, with recurring civil wars, with highly militarized militias, but incidental central military.

      Syria is a single-state, with recurring civil war and highly militarized.

      West Bank Palestinians are disenfranchised, not self-governing, not participating in a state that they are even statistically anonymous (as I, one of 160,000,000 voters in the US am anonymous and can be said to be disenfranchised in a way).

      The step that Avram Burg can take, would need to take, if he means what he says, is to start a non-nationalist political party in Israel, and seek electoral support for the likely liberal (not communist) policies of the party.

      If such a party, on its merits, received even 8% of the vote, that would be an indication that there is even a seed of viability for a single state, that it would be consented in fact, and not just imposed politically in any form.

      Reply to Comment
    6. AYLA

      while i can certainly understand people’s fears–everyone ought to have them, and those who have lived on this land for a generation or more have experiences to fuel them–i love (love love) the one state solution, especially because I don’t know what it looks like. also because it doesn’t involve hacking up this land (as we already have) in artificial ways. And especially because it is *my* loss if we put one people/culture on one side of a jagged wall, and jews plus whomever on the other (pretty much like it is today). This land has memory. We do need to listen to her, above ourselves. It is *not* the same, but look what’s happened in the U.S. since slavery, since the civil war, since the 1960’s. Again–not parallel. Just: things can change. They do, all the time.

      Reply to Comment
    7. AYLA

      this from the parashah we read today, Mikeitz: When Pharoah owned all the land in Egypt, and the people had nothing during a time of famine, and Joseph was the custodian of the land, Joseph gave all the people seeds, and allowed them to use portions of Pharoah-owned land for their own harvest. They only had to give 1/5 of the harvest back. It matters less who owns land, and more what we do with land, to land, with/to/for each other.

      Reply to Comment
    8. AYLA

      lastly (maybe)–whenever I want to say that I love a person’s face, in this case, Avrum Burg’s, it turns out that Yossi Gurwitz took the photo. Yossi–whenever I get married, will you be my wedding photographer?

      Reply to Comment
    9. AYLA

      Peaceworker, Bernie Glassman, wrote in the Huffington Post: “Ive lived through many protests. From my opinion, whenever the language of the arising labels someone… is against someone — it leads to more violence. …I heal the system as healing myself, not fixing someone else who is to blame for all the problems.”
      *
      What if we’re all on the same side? I know it sounds Kumbaya. Believe me, I am not kumbaya. I’m just radical, and I confess to having an undying faith in humanity.

      Reply to Comment
    10. John Yorke

      One state solution or two state solution?
      Not exactly spoilt for choice here, are we?

      But is any choice actually present or ever likely to be? Are we just fooling ourselves into thinking that one or the other must come about in the fullness of time?

      All we seem to be doing is looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack and appearing not to care that the haystack is being pulled to pieces in the process.

      Perhaps a better answer would be to have the needle come to us.
      In which case, shouldn’t we all be trying to find another solution?

      http://yorketowers.blogspot.com

      Reply to Comment
    11. Jack Katz

      Does 972 do any journalism? Or is has it become a stage where insignificant pundits comment on stuff available in Haaretz Engish? A circle jerk.

      I hope no one’s paying for this BS. It would be waste. But just out of interest, are you still “independent”, or do you get any non-reader funding?

      Reply to Comment
    12. AYLA

      @JackKatz–I benefited more from reading this piece than any one of the primary pieces, plus I’ve grown to want to hear from Noam, which is–and I know this is Crazy Talk–why I’m here. But you should definitely spend your energy coming here just to slam the hard work of others devoting their lives to this conflict, (and yes, they it do for free), just for fun.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Jack Katz

      And you would know this how? Will the editors not disclose their funding sources?

      Ayla, it doesn’t help 972’s credibility when you defend it anonymously.

      Reply to Comment
    14. @JackKatz:

      You can see the list of (two) grants we got in 2011 on the About page. I can assure you that we will continue to follow a policy of complete transparency on financial issues.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Mitchell Cohen

      I’ll add another ? to Larry’s (which I already asked on Akiva Orr’s thread a while back):

      What will the national language be?

      And before, you all throw the “there will be two languages: Arabic and Hebrew” eggs at me, what will the DOMINANT language be? Which language will this country officially function in? If the Jews are going to Hebrew speaking schools and the Arabs to Arabic speaking schools, isn’t this, in essence, not really one state, but two people’s living in two ghettos? My questions are endless (just on the language aspect, not to speak of all the other fears, concerns, issues, challenges, etc.), but let us start there….

      Reply to Comment
    16. AYLA

      ayla peggy adler

      Reply to Comment
    17. Mitchell Cohen

      Ayla, pretty name….Beware, I can find you on facebook now….:-)

      Reply to Comment
    18. AYLA

      Facebook is the ultimate OSS. (I’ve always commented on the fb thread at 972 and figured people could make the connection and easily identify me). Noam–sorry to hijack; I tried to link this comment to the primary topic :).

      Reply to Comment
    19. maya

      in Switzerland are 4 official languages 9italian, french, german and retroroman) and most swiss speak at least two of them. I don’t see problem in the language. Really Mitchell Cohen, quite bizarre question.

      Reply to Comment
    20. “a democratic state that belongs to all of its citizens”. Wouldn’t that be great? But contrary to what Larry says, the weapon thing is not between Israelis and Palestinians. The 51st state will not become a true democracy if the US can help it. There is too much denial in Israel about the roots of their military power. You sold your soul to the devil and there is no way back. In the 1930’s many leftish intectuals flirted with what we now see as the pinacle of evil. You shift between your blind spot and cognitive dissonance in the best case.
      There is no possibility of a morally acceptable society if you don’t get rid of the evil forces inside first, and of the merchants who pay for them.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Sinjim

      The underlying premise to all the arguments against a one-state solution are that it’s going to happen a month from tomorrow, when tensions and mistrust and racism are at an all time high. Of course, such a state of affairs will lead to failure and violence.
      .
      However, no one who argues seriously for a one-state solution believes it can be accomplished in a few months or a few years. They understand the work necessary to lay down the foundations of such an arrangement.
      .
      There are only two consistent objections to a one-state solution: 1) Palestinians and Jews are intrinsically incapable of coexistence and therefore will never be at peace so separation is necessary or 2) I don’t like the idea of a secular and nonsectarian state.
      .
      It’s funny because Larry argues from both objections. His assertion that the sole outcome of a mixed army is civil war makes sense only if he believes that Palestinians and Jews will never live side by side without killing each other. His belief in Jewish supremacy (as articulated in his article defending Zionism) comes from the second objection, because he wants to live in a sectarian state.
      .
      I will say, however, that Mitchell’s comment is very interesting. I think it’s possible and desirable to teach children multiple languages. One option would be primarily Hebrew or primarily Arabic schools that devote a sufficient amount of time towards cultivating native or near-native fluency in the other language. If all or most citizens understand both languages, then what would be wrong with politicians conducting their business in the language of their choice, while the business of state (laws, passports, reports, speeches, etc.) is produced/archived in both languages.
      .
      The other thing to keep in mind is that one state doesn’t mean one powerful centralized government. A confederation, with two internally autonomous states with open borders and who share a common foreign and monetary policy, is another possibility.

      Reply to Comment
    22. AYLA

      @sinjim–interesting re: the government; I’ve never heard that! And I’m with you re: the languages in schools.
      *
      Mostly, isn’t this kind of brainstorming so much more inspiring than two state solutioning (lines, walls, borders: mine mine mine). This is actually fun, no? The game the whole family can play? (oh, sorry Sinjim. Not a family 😉 ).

      Reply to Comment
    23. Richard Witty

      Sinjim,
      So work for it. Do it in such a way that it is truly mutually just, and not only a remedy for wrongs to Palestinians.

      Then put it to a vote, so that it can be consented rather than imposed.

      Reply to Comment
    24. Aaron

      Just a reminder that while you’re engaging in this “brainstorming” (Ayla) and “laying down the foundations” (Sinjim) for more than “a few years” (Sinjim again) – apparently a *lot* more than a few years – while you’re patiently laying down these foundations, the OWB movement (Occupy West Bank) is also laying down their foundations, quite literally, for the one-state solution. Maybe they’re working towards that solution unknowingly, but from your point of view and Avrum Burg’s and Ruby Rivlin’s, that’s what they’re doing.
      .
      You’ve probably answered this question lots of times, but this is the first time it’s occurred to me: Since Jews, like Arabs, will have the right to live anywhere they desire west of the Jordan River, what’s wrong with laying down those foundations now, provided it doesn’t involve the theft of private property, driving out existing residents, etc.?

      Reply to Comment
    25. Mitchell Cohen

      “I will say, however, that Mitchell’s comment is very interesting. I think it’s possible and desirable to teach children multiple languages. One option would be primarily Hebrew or primarily Arabic schools that devote a sufficient amount of time towards cultivating native or near-native fluency in the other language. If all or most citizens understand both languages, then what would be wrong with politicians conducting their business in the language of their choice, while the business of state (laws, passports, reports, speeches, etc.) is produced/archived in both languages.” [End of Sinjim]

      That sounds great on paper, but the reality is it won’t work in the long run. Why? Because people will always prefer their dominant language. Whether ALL schools decide that the dominant language is one or the other (Hebrew or Arabic) and teach the other as a second language or the dominant language continues to be Hebrew for Jewish schools (while teaching Arabic as a second language) and the reverse for Arab schools, the bottom line is that people always prefer speaking in their dominant language. If, for example, all schools teach in Arabic as the dominant language and Hebrew as the second language, citizens of this “bi-national” state will always speak with each other in their dominant language (Arabic) and the secondary language (Hebrew) will drift away within a couple of generations at the most. If, on the other hand, the status quo continues (Arabic dominates Arab schools and Hebrew dominates Jewish schools), then there will always remain a language barrier between the two populations. For most kids, learning a second language is far from their favorite subject. I see this with Israelis learning English. Many Israelis speak/write impressive English (hats off to the native Israeli columnists on this site), but many Israelis also struggle to learn the language and speak broken English at best. So, like it or not, there would be a language barrier between a large percentage of citizens in this “bi-national” state OR one of the languages would be swallowed up by the other as the dominant language within a couple of generations.

      Reply to Comment
    26. Sinjim

      @Aaron: You’re being too cute by half. The problem with the settlements, as anyone with even an inkling of honesty in their body recognizes, is that they are Jewish-only enclaves built on land that doesn’t belong to Israel and come at the expense of the native Palestinian population. They are not there as cooperatives between people, and their existence is an affront to the capitalist ideal of private property.
      .
      If the settlements get rid of their Jewish supremacist character and begin to respect the rights of the Palestinians on whose land they live, then we can talk about how they’re laying the foundations for one state. At present, they are instituting and perpetuating an apartheid regime where the government gives you privileges and rights (or takes them away) based on your ethnicity.

      Reply to Comment
    27. Sinjim

      @Ayla: Nope, not a family at all. Personally, I’d love if the conversation could move past brainstorming all these and other ideas for justice and start implementing them.
      .
      @Mitchell: I disagree with your viewpoint. Israeli Jews aren’t living in a society that has a primarily English-speaking portion of the population. Arabic wouldn’t just be on TV or in the textbooks. It would be the language they hear from neighbors or friends. This is what has happened with Palestinians. Everyone one of them who has any regular interactions with Jews speaks Hebrew, even if they learned it informally. Jews are no less accomplished than Palestinians. There is nothing wrong with a country having a tradition of bilingualism in its society, nor is it impossible.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Sinjim

      Sorry, Ayla, my comment wasn’t meant as bitchy as it appears on re-reading. For what it’s worth, the first sentence was supposed to be semi-tongue-in-cheek.
      .
      Also, just something else I was thinking about. It seems to me the biggest obstacle to a one-state solution isn’t the guns or the language or any of that stuff. It’s the gulf in development. Palestinian areas, whether in the occupied territories or in Israel itself are vastly underdeveloped or worse de-developed. The military occupation is the single biggest cause and obstacle to the solution of this problem.
      .
      Any serious one-state proposal must have a mechanism that addresses this because without fixing the development gap, there’s no way that one state would succeed (or two states imo, but that’s a different argument).

      Reply to Comment
    29. Bosko

      All I can say about this vision is that it is utopian rather than practical. I mean, how can one argue against something that calls for …
      .
      “Secular, democratic, egalitarian and civilian”
      .
      It would be like arguing against motherhood and apple pie. Yet I for one am willing to argue against it because one is real and practical while the other is just pure wishful thinking. I can best illustrate it with what happened with COMMUNISM. Even though I am a right winger (centre right to be exact), I believe that the idea of communism is beautiful. It promotes equality and cooperation rather than greed and selfishness. But how did that work out in practice? I will leave it to others to answer that for themselves. But I’ll say this: Communism failed because it did not take account of human nature. That beautiful ideology failed because it was designed for unselfish altruistic beings who would not take advantage of the system to benefit themselves at the expense of others. Communism failed because it ignored reality. And it did not just fail but before failing, it caused untold suffering and misery to millions of human beings. Going down the path of the one state solution would end the same way for the same reasons.

      Reply to Comment
    30. Bosko

      And another thing: What is wrong with the idea of striving towards TWO …
      .
      “Secular, democratic, egalitarian and civilian”
      .
      States? One Jewish state one Arab state? That idea too is just. Is it achievable? I would say, more so than the one state solution. The reason why it has not been achieved yet is because I believe that one side still has not given up yet on their idea of a one state solution in which they would dominate. Guess which side am I talking about?

      Reply to Comment
    31. AYLA

      @Sinjim–YES–you read my mind; I was just going to comment that the biggest challenge will be the socio-economic divide. Regardless of what systems get put in place to combat that, it will take generations. (of course, there are also wide gaps within Israeli society today, and I don’t mean between Palestinian-Israelis and Jews; just in general. but in a State that will have a lot of power struggles, that will be the number one problem, if you ask me).
      *
      Thanks for the clarification re: tone. you just need one of these: ;).
      *
      any suggestions for how we can move into implementation, or is that simply a wish (pne I share)?
      *
      Still–you know what I mean, about how this feels different than hammering on about two states? Just, energetically (if you will)?

      Reply to Comment
    32. Cortez Moreno

      “That sounds great on paper, but the reality is it won’t work in the long run. Why? Because people will always prefer their dominant language. Whether ALL schools decide that the dominant language is one or the other (Hebrew or Arabic) and teach the other as a second language or the dominant language continues to be Hebrew for Jewish schools (while teaching Arabic as a second language) and the reverse for Arab schools, the bottom line is that people always prefer speaking in their dominant language. If, for example, all schools teach in Arabic as the dominant language and Hebrew as the second language, citizens of this “bi-national” state will always speak with each other in their dominant language (Arabic) and the secondary language (Hebrew) will drift away within a couple of generations at the most. If, on the other hand, the status quo continues (Arabic dominates Arab schools and Hebrew dominates Jewish schools), then there will always remain a language barrier between the two populations. For most kids, learning a second language is far from their favorite subject. I see this with Israelis learning English. Many Israelis speak/write impressive English (hats off to the native Israeli columnists on this site), but many Israelis also struggle to learn the language and speak broken English at best. So, like it or not, there would be a language barrier between a large percentage of citizens in this “bi-national” state OR one of the languages would be swallowed up by the other as the dominant language within a couple of generations.
      .
      Why won’t it work in the long run? Why does it matter language ends it being dominant as long as the people feel culturally connected? Only because of a warped history in the last 50 years? For hundreds of years Jews, Christian, and Muslims in Palestine shared similar languages and changed languages over time. It has been done before. Many countries today are bilingual or multilingual. Children in Canada, Switzerland, and India among other nations are accustomed to a multilingual education and many of them are proficient in three or more languages by the time they are adults. Its been done successfully in the past and it can be done in the future.

      Reply to Comment
    33. Bosko

      Here is a novel idea for those who nevertheless want to implement the impossible …
      .
      Let’s learn to crawl first before we try to walk. As a first step, strive to implement two “Secular, democratic, egalitarian and civilian” states, one Arab one Jewish. Then, as a second step, see whether it would be desirable and practical to turn those two states into one state. I would say that would take about a couple of hundred years to get there and our great great great grandchildren might have to answer that question.

      Reply to Comment
    34. Cortez

      “States? One Jewish state one Arab state? That idea too is just. Is it achievable? I would say, more so than the one state solution. The reason why it has not been achieved yet is because I believe that one side still has not given up yet on their idea of a one state solution in which they would dominate. Guess which side am I talking about?”
      .
      You mean both sides? Where Hamas wants a state free of Jews and members of the Knesset have explicitly expressed that the lands of Judea and Samaria should all be Jewish to the detriment of non-Jews?
      .
      I would say that a one-state solution is already happening in the West Bank because of the settlement expansion. But an optimal one-state solution is achievable and beneficial for both parties in the long run, if the effort is made at the lowest and highest levels.

      Reply to Comment
    35. sh

      Sinjim & Ayla on gulfs in development etc., maybe there are parallels here.

      Belgium, which first cobbled together French-speaking Walloons and Dutch-speaking Flemings in a single state on the fragile basis that both were Catholic (most of the Dutch in the Netherlands are Protestant), later went federal and bilingual. For each language group, the language of the other was for a while obligatory at school. The erstwhile underdog of the two peoples, the Flemish*, became more competent in both languages than the top dog Walloons and were therefore spoiled for choice as far as employment was concerned. More industrious too, they became the more prosperous partner in the Federation. They recently broadened the choice of obligatory second language in their schools to include English as an alternative to the federation’s other national language, French. So these days the situation is reversing and many of the younger Flemings are less likely to be able to speak their country’s second language than their parents were.
      .
      Belgium’s federation hasn’t all been plain sailing. Luckily for us, we can learn from the mistakes of several other countries that are bilingual too. Basically, if you start teaching young enough, anyone can speak several languages. It’s a question of motivation.
      .
      A feature of the experiment here will be the fact that unlike Canada, Switzerland or Belgium, our federation is situated in an overwhelmingly monolingual region. (For reasons I haven’t quite fathomed, Israelis interested in learning Arabic have been fobbed off with learning methods that transliterate Arabic into Hebrew, making many of those who have been motivated to learn to speak it unable to read or write it. That would obviously have to change.)
      —–
      *The Flemish were used as cannon fodder during WWI. The French were the military cadres and, not conversant in Flemish would give their battle instructions in French, adding “et pour les Flamands la même chose” – and for the Flemings, the same. This led to enormous Flemish casualties which the Flemish never forgave or forgot.

      Reply to Comment
    36. Bosko

      Cortez
      An optimal one state solution? I guess you mean a secular state in which both Arabs and Jews have equal democratic rights? Much to your surprise, I am all for that in theory. In practice though, I am not for it because I don’t think it is achievable in our lifetime. Here, let me give you a scenario that I outlined before on another thread when the same topic came up:
      .
      In such a state, there would no longer be an IDF as we know it. The army would comprised of both Jews and Arabs (that’s democratic). But would the fanatics (I am talking about fanatics on BOTH sides) disappear over night? If your answer to that is yes, then I guess you believe in fairy tales too and this discussion should end here and now. If on the other hand, you are realistic, then you would admit that the fanatics would continue their incitements and provocations. Sooner or later, they would trigger off riots, pogroms, demonstrations, provocations. I could conjure up for you any number of trigger points that would lead to it (just ask me to). Sooner or later there would be civil unrest and killings leading to more killings. What do you think the reactions of neighbouring Arab countries would be? Remember, there would no longer be an IDF to stop their intervention. And if they would intervene, whose side they would take? I don’t think I have to answer that. And that would be the end of the secular democratic equal rights for the Jews at least.
      .
      That’s why I think that the idea of even talking about this mythological democratic secular one state is the same as talking about suicide of the Jewish people. We have been there seen it and done it before. We want no more of it, thanks.

      Reply to Comment
    37. sh

      Another feature of those bilingual countries is that foreigners living in them often end up learning both much more easily than the natives who are blocked by their prejudices.

      Reply to Comment
    38. AYLA

      @SH–Excellent models of do’s and don’t’s–and of how the language question and the development question are connected–thank you! Exactly what we need. So interesting, too. This is the most hopeful I’ve felt in a while. The OSS is about One. The TSS is about separation, possession–the idea of it always made me feel a sense of deep loss (and not of land…), though I was all for supporting it if that was what people could agree on. But this, One State–I love it. Hammering out the details is about how to be here together, speaking each other’s languages; not about everyone feeling dispossessed. Thinking of solutions feels more like creation than destruction. Signing off on a hopeful note. Til soon.

      Reply to Comment
    39. Henry Weinstein

      Bosko, I guess each side can accuse the other, but on a practical level even retirees in a small village in the French countryside know perfectly who performed the annexation of the West Bank minus its population and why, so they would have no problem to understand the synopsis Sinjim draws, because it makes sense and it’s worth to work on this, I mean what’s wrong to share thoughts & ideas to get out of the Hatred Zone?
      .
      Thanks Sinjim,you bring so much to this blog with your free speech.
      Thanks for your patience, your studborness.

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    40. Henry Weinstein

      Santa Claus Proofreading: stubborness

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    41. Bosko

      Hey Henry. I was not into accusations, I talked about fanatics ON BOTH SIDES. The topic is whether the one state solution is practical or not, in our life time. In my opinion it isn’t and I gave reasons why it is NOT. I even gave a suggestion how to work towards it (learn to crawl before trying to walk), try to implement TWO secular democratic states side by side first and then see whether it would be worth while and possible to amalgamate them into one. Have you got anything to say about that?
      .
      By the way, have a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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    42. Bosko,
      Fanaticism wouldn’t disappear overnight, but as one unified state won’t appear overnight, I don’t think we have to worry about dealing with hordes of extremists within that framework. We’ve got time. Your idea of starting out with two federated states is a distinct possibility, and one I’ve heard suggested before. I agree that this would be a useful step in the process.
      .
      One of the most important things is to combat the fanaticism that you speak of (although I’m not sure that fanaticism is really the best name for it). I have met some people with really horrible frightening views, including someone who told me, “Arabs are just like animals, really. They can’t help being violent – it’s their nature.” This was one of the milder things he said during that conversation. This guy had served in the Territories, and the thought of him having control over people whom he viewed as ‘just like animals’ was pretty scary – or it would have been, if I hadn’t already been used to the sight of what people with those views can do when they’re given a gun and some authority. I talked to him for quite a long time, and the enduring memory I have of him is not the racism, but the tiredness and anxiety behind it. I think if he can get beyond those things he will eventually be OK. Working towards a one state solution would mean making sure that he’s OK. I don’t think it’s helpful to try and frame the conflict as ‘reasonable people versus fanatics’. I am more interested in how a person becomes like that in the first place, and I don’t believe they have to stay that way.
      .
      Not every extremist is going to change. There will always be new ones – but that’s true in every country. In the UK there are racist groups with hateful agendas, and new ones pop up periodically. It’s not possible to stamp this way of thinking out completely, but it’s possible to make sure that it doesn’t bring down the country. Of course, some societies are more likely to foster extremism than others – and a heavily militarised society is a prime candidate. You are right that the one-state solution would mean no IDF as we know it (thank goodness – the IDF in its current form is not a desirable thing to have in your back garden). Right now Jewish Israelis attend schools that are largely free of Palestinian students and they go into an army that has the same demographic make-up. If kids were going to school together, attending the same birthday parties, sharing the same languages, living in the same streets, then I think they could exist in the same army unit without ethnic fault lines appearing. It wouldn’t just be the demographic make-up of the army that would change; the people in it would, too. Who knows? Maybe conscription wouldn’t even exist at this point anyway.

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    43. Bosko

      Vicky
      I did not talk about two confederated states as a first step. I talked about two independent states as a first step. Our great great grand children could subsequently see whether it would be worth while to have say a confederation and ultimately maybe a one state. But this generation? NO, because it would be suicidal for the Jewish people. Both because we have our own fanatics whom you chose to mention but also because the Palestinian Arabs too have plenty of fanatics who say just as apalling (or even worse) things about Jews. And BOTH those types are precisely the reason why each group should be allowed to control their own destiny for the foreseeable future.

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    44. Michael W.

      How do you think BDS and the anti-normalization movement will affect the efforts towards a one-state solution?

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    45. Palestinian

      @ Larry , the answer to your question is : there will be no need for an army , a demilitarized state ,just like the one Israel is asking the Palestinians for.I think the real challenge will be how to get both peoples live together.

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    46. Bosko,
      You cannot control your own destiny when occupied. The settlements and their protectors have forced a single rule of law. As I’ve noted elsewhere, the settlements logically imply equal protection for all Isrealis of all spoken views within the occupation. This can begin the incremental change you and others suggest.
      .
      I would, however, ask you to transport your comments back to apartheid South Africa when talk of a universal constitution began. They seem, to me, to fit that era too. Yet consider: a white milita ultimately allowed itself to be intergrated into the South African Army before the change of government (it would have to be before, I guess). I am not claiming South Africa today a utopia; yet clearly all your objections applied during the transitional stage.
      .
      Do not ignore the fears of renewed violence. They are real and far from irrational. If you want to dampen the possibility of violence, you need to provide a political outlet for those intitially disinclined to violence; these, if buttressed, can reduce the power and number of those inclined to violence. That means you need a real Palestinian Authority, not under the domination of Israel. And even then one must recognize that modern bomb technology implies some suicide bombing will be inevitable. Those striving for a shared existence (the only real option) must be prepared to deal with that; and doing so does not mean draconian measures–indeed, I believe what will be needed is the risk to absorb such events without the full measures of the past.

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    47. Cortez

      “In such a state, there would no longer be an IDF as we know it. The army would comprised of both Jews and Arabs (that’s democratic). But would the fanatics (I am talking about fanatics on BOTH sides) disappear over night? If your answer to that is yes, then I guess you believe in fairy tales too and this discussion should end here and now. If on the other hand, you are realistic, then you would admit that the fanatics would continue their incitements and provocations”
      .
      Well fanatics never fully disappear but they get marginalized.
      .
      I don’t need to believe in fairy tales because its happened before 1950 and happens in other nations.
      .
      Another false assumption is that Jews and Arabs would continue to self-identify as Jews and Arabs in the same way they do now. Depending on how children are educated or how mixed the cultures become…or whatever becomes the more dominant culture…these strict ethno-religious divisions of the last 50 years could disappear as well as a national change from a history of of ethnic nationalism to civic nationalism. Again this doesn’t have to be a fairytale cause its happened in other places around the world.
      .
      It was only less than a 100 years ago that all Sephardic Jews in “Palestine,” and Mizrahi Jews in other Arab countries spoke Arabic as their first language. Similarly, many(and maybe most) Arab cab drivers in Jerusalem speak and understand Hebrew. If I walk to my favorite falafel place on Yaffo street, I’ll find my favorite Syrian styled falafel in a place that is majority “Jewish.” This is all to say that that currents of cultural and linguistic exchanges already existed and still exist now in one form or another. I don’t believe in fairy tales and I don’t believe it would be easy in any sense. But its worked before in Palestine, its worked in other places and there’s a shared benefit for the people and the region if a serious effort was made.

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    48. @ Palestinian, if it were up to me, a Palestinian state would be free to have as big an army as it wanted – just like Israel and every other state in the world. Israel isn’t offering the Palestinians a state, it’s offering them local control under Israeli sovereignty – sort of like a giant Palestinian municipality inside the State of Israel, except that the Palestinians don’t get to vote in Israeli elections. It’s basically what the Palestinians already have now. The two-state solution that I’m talking about it is the real thing – the Palestinians would have exactly the same rights of sovereignty within their borders as Israel has within its borders. No Israeli leader has ever offered them that.

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    49. AYLA

      @Vicky–if 972 had a “like” button, I would “like” all your comments. thank you. Also, I second Henry’s gratitude to Sinjim. And I’m happy to see Greg Pollock, as always, even if he won’t send me a message on facebook so I can learn more about him. So far, I don’t agree with either of you, Vicky and Sinjim, on anti-normalization–I think it’s a negative means to a positive end that hurts the process–but we share a vision, and many other, deeper understandings about the necessary process.
      *
      the word “one” in hebrew corresponds to the word “love”. Echad and Ahava. They have the same numeric value–13.

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    50. Mitchell Cohen

      With all due respect to the replies to my language question, I guess I will just have to agree to disagree. I still see one of two possibilities:

      1) Each population (Jewish and Arab) will continue going to schools that operate in their respective languages, while learning the other as a second language, but many will struggle to learn the second language (not because of prejudice or racism, but for most kids learning another language is hardly their favorite subject) and, hence, there will be a language barrier between the two populations. Regarding, Palestinians who succeed to learn Hebrew, that is because they have no choice if they want to work (for Israelis), but one does not learn a language just because his friends and neighbors speak it (for example, one can grow up in Florida, have MANY Spanish speaking friends neighbors, and not even be able to speak a sentence in the language).

      OR

      2) One language will eventually be swallowed up by the other (dominant) language, like Africaan and Zulu did to English in South Africa.

      For those who disagree with me, I admire your optimism, but if the so-called “OSS” came to be today, I would have my doubts that my grandchildren would be speaking Hebrew 🙁

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