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One state: Stop the hysteria and start thinking

By Lisa Goldman and Dahlia Scheindlin

(This article has been updated. See the addendum below.)

In a recent New York Times op-ed, a prominent American academic posits that the time for implementing a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict is now past. Ian Lustick, a professor of comparative politics at University of Pennsylvania, argues that after 20 years of failed negotiations, the two-state paradigm is a proven failure. The Americans, Palestinian Authority and Israeli government cling to what he calls the “two state illusion” out of vested interests that have nothing to do with the facts on the ground. It is time, he writes, to explore other options.

The article generated a predictable and tedious flurry of dramatic reactions from left and right, as if Lustick’s grand thesis were new. It is not, and neither are the clichéd (and hysterical) responses.

It seems that the talk of one state for Israelis and Palestinians is causing a stir now for two reasons—because the New York Times is a mainstream liberal media outlet; and because mainstream Israeli and non-Israeli Jews are now discussing it seriously.

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

But the idea of one state for Israelis and Palestinians has not been radical for quite some time now. As Mairav Zonszein documents in a post for +972, Members of Knesset from across the political spectrum have turned away from two-state rhetoric, including former Knesset Speakers Reuven Rivlin (Likud), and Avraham Burg from the left (a former Labor MK and Chairman of the Jewish Agency). Today, these two men agree with far-right politician Danny Danon and Likud hard-liner Tzipi Hotovely that the two-state solution is no longer possible (and for the Right, it never was desirable). Meanwhile, Tel Aviv University’s Yehouda Shenhav, a Leftist who recently published Beyond the Two State Solution, insists that exploring alternatives to two states is Israel’s “moral obligation.”

In the United States, liberal Jewish supporters of a two-state solution responded to  Lustick’s op-ed as if it were a betrayal, perhaps because he is “one of their own” — a former chairman of the Association for Israel Studies, which he helped found partly to counter anti-Israel bias in Middle East studies. Meanwhile, the Right simply lumped him together with all the “depraved anti-Israel” left-wingers, because it views the Left’s version of one state as the destruction of the Jewish state.

Basically, there seems to be a lot of reacting and not a lot of listening or lateral thinking.

There also seems to be a prevailing partisan attitude on all sides that shuts down debate. Those who deviate from the party line face excoriation. The result is that the actual complexities on the ground are choking in the dust of absolutism.

It’s easy to fling out the assertion that the two-state solution is dead. That is what Lustick, Danon and Shenhav essentially have in common. Whether American readers like it or not, that is a realization that both Israelis and Palestinians on the ground, from both the Left and Right, are starting to agree on.

What we need is a deep and honest examination of whether the alternatives are in any way feasible.

If a one-state option in any form is to be considered at all relevant there are some fundamental questions that must be answered: how will land be owned and divided? What will Jewish and Palestinian refugee rights be? Whose national symbols and narratives will appear where? And what kind of political system can be fashioned that is both representative and provides relative stability? Amongst those who call for one state, few have addressed these issues in any concrete way.

But in Israel and Palestine there are people who are quietly working to develop creative solutions. Nascent civil society initiatives have sprung up among Israelis and Palestinians, and not only on the Left. These people are working on various formulations that go beyond the two-state paradigm, because they live there, recognize the reality and care deeply about the future of the place they call home. They have, pragmatically, abandoned dangerously utopian notions of a single democratic state devoid of ethno-national identity basis and perfect equality for all. Instead, they are exploring ideas such as federation, confederation, open borders, two entities in one land, consociational power-sharing arrangements—essentially a bi-zonal, bi-communal approach. This is the kind of solution that has long been imagined for nearby Cyprus, where the two-state solution is embraced primarily by the hard-line nationalists. Although negotiations have failed there too, the bi-zonal bi-communal unification idea remains the paradigm, and the violence that scarred Cyprus in the 1970s and 1980s is now history.

But in any case, the ill-conceived notion that stamping out debate over this issue can somehow make changing and urgent realities on the ground magically disappear, should finally be put to rest.

Ian Lustick provided the following correction, regarding the establishment of the Association for Israel Studies:

I did serve, as you say, not as chairman, but as president of the Association for Israel Studies, and I was one of its founders. I organized the founding conference of the Association at Dartmouth College, where I taught in the 1980s, and edited its first publication. But our rationale was not to defend Israel against anti-Israel bias in Middle Eastern studies. Our objective was to create a scholarly setting for the study of Israel, per se, that did not advance itself as a Zionist organization or act as a propaganda tool for the Israeli government. That is, indeed, how we saw existing organizations at that time, for example the Association of American Professors for Peace in the Middle East.

We are grateful for the correction, and regret the error.

Read more:
Why we can’t stop having the one- or two-state debate
How a Jewish Agency fellow becomes a one-state activist
Why it’s time to discuss the one-state solution

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    1. XYZ

      Interseting. Just as multi-cultural multi-ethnic, multi-tribal countries in the Middle East like Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Libya are blowing themselves apart, Jewish “progressives” now seem to think we can force Jews and Arabs to live under one government here. This is odd, considering there is far more bad blood between the Jews and Arabs here than there are between the various continuent parts that are slaughtering each other in those other countries. But, as we all say, there is generally a conspiracy of silence by “progressives” regarding the violence in those countries, hoping that silence will bring everyone to forget the lessons from those places and to try an insane experiment here with the same kind of regimes that failed so miserably in those countries.

      Reply to Comment
      • jmgreen

        But ‘Jews and Arabs’ do live under one government. Roughly half the population in the area controlled by the state of Israel since 1967 (46 years now) are Palestinians. Wouldn’t it be better if they lived in a situation of equality and mutual respect rather than with one group dominating the other.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          Not really. Only in Israel itself do Arabs and Jews live together and even here only because the Jews are completely predominant and still the political leadership of the Israeli Arabs make their opposition to the Jews being here clear on every possible occasion. In the West Bank they live in parallel with the Jews under the government of Israel and the Arabs under the control of the PA. In Gaza there are no Jews and the Arabs live under the rule of the Hamas government.

          And the answer to your theoretical answer might be yes, but all evidence points to your ideal being entirely impossible in this region. If the Jews don’t ‘dominate’ (aka: are able to defend themselves) they will be oppressed, massacred and/or expelled like every other minority in the region. The less ideal answer is to grant the Arabs their own state so that they can exercise their citizenship rights through that state. This one might be practical if the Arabs were interested in actually having a state rather than being obsessed with destroying the one the Jews already have. In the meantime and until the Arabs change their mind we have the status quo and/or various fallback positions (negotiations, interim agreements, economic peace, unilateral disengagements, etc, etc, etc..).

          Reply to Comment
    2. “Those who deviate from the party line face excoriation. The result is that the actual complexities on the ground are choking in the dust of absolutism.” : So very well said. I say present incremental processes that could be begun now (or later). Keep presenting them until a Knesset coalition exists which is ready to consider the approach. Until then, refuse the usual divides, as you do herein, and subsist on mutual hope.

      Reply to Comment
    3. One of the laws governing MSM is that what is talked about most, is the least relevant. All visions and paradigms offered are smokescreens as long as they pretend to have “some truth” in them. Netanyahu is constantly switching between Jean de la Fontaine and dr. Strangelove, maybe he wants to be both. Peres, the “social Einstein”, fails to see the obvious parallel between Anne Frank and Rachel Corrie.
      Let’s forget about the facts on the ground, let’s call in the psychiatrists.

      Reply to Comment
      • Vadim

        “the obvious parallel between Anne Frank and Rachel Corrie”

        They were both female. I think that’s as far as it goes.

        Reply to Comment
        • Well let me spell it out for you then: they were both idealistic young women, murdered by fascists.

          Reply to Comment
          • Marcos

            good lord! You are a mental midget

            Reply to Comment
    4. S.Goldenberh

      Where lately the one state solution between diverse populations worked,Yugoslavia,Sudan ?
      Maybe solution for disater !

      Reply to Comment
      • sh

        ***Where lately the one state solution between diverse populations worked,Yugoslavia,Sudan ?***

        Switzerland, Belgium … This is Jeff Halper of ICAHD on the subject:

        “… Palestine-Israel could instead validate the national identities of its two constituent communities at the expense of the state, if the state was structured as merely a weak administrative unit instead of the repository of national identity, as in Switzerland or Belgium, for example.

        The parliament of a bi-national democratic Palestine-Israel (or “Canaan,” to adopt Mazin Qumsiya’s suggestion) would be a federal one, a “grand coalition” of the two peoples in which, through proportional elections, decisions affecting the entire population would enjoy across-the-board support.

        National assemblies of each people, such as the Communities’ Parliaments in Belgium, would support the federal system, as would empowered municipalities and local authorities. To further enhance each people’s national heritage and self-expression, each might have a national university, national museum and national theater, as well newspapers, television channels and significant input into the school system. Alongside such national institutions other venues would be available for those who wishing to develop a more common identity as citizens of whatever the new state is called – non-sectarian schools, universities, cultural spaces and common labor movements, not to mention mere neighborliness. Such a consociational arrangement would offering, I submit, the best chance of promoting intrastate post-conflict co-existence; indeed, the essence of federalism is found not in any particular set of institutions but in the conduct and regulation of communal relationships in a common political life. Needless to say, minorities not belonging to these two peoples would enjoy inclusion and well-defined political rights.”
        – See more at: http://www.icahd.org/node/486#sthash.R6dnWUR3.dpuf

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    5. Robert

      A great article, but still misses the point. You can’t accommodate Islamism, not can you make peace based on two false identities (“Israeli” and “Palestinian”). Real peace can only be made between Jew and Muslim.

      Reply to Comment
      • aristeides

        Remarks like this one just illustrate your lack of understanding of the situtation. Palestinian doesn’t equate to Muslim. Anyone who leaves out the Christians just doesn’t understand the beginning of what Palestinians are.

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    6. I think the overriding question that one-staters have to answer is: Can Jews and Palestinians share the defense of the country against prospective enemies beyond its borders? Can they serve in the same army, Mossad, Shin Bet, Dimona, etc.? Because if the Jews do it w/out the Palestinians, then it’s still a Jewish state – the power of the state belongs to the Jews – and if the Palestinians do it without the Jews, then it’s a Palestinian state – regardless of whatever civil arrangements are made. I don’t think the Jews and Palestinians can share the defense of this country against its possible enemies, which is one reason I don’t support the one-state solution.

      Reply to Comment
      • I fail to see your point. Palestinians are not Arabs per se, they are Arabs, Jews, Christians, Druze, Bedouin.
        There is a conflict between Palestinians (and all civilized people) and Zionists, not between Palestinians and Jews.
        There already is a de facto 1 state, with a small non-Jewish majority, so there is no way back.

        Reply to Comment
        • You want to tell the Palestinians they’re not Arabs? And the Jews here are overwhelmingly Zionists. And when you say Zionism is uncivilized, remember that it was created by European anti-Semitism.

          Reply to Comment
          • I believe Palestinians are the people of Palestine, they don’t have to be Arabs, but they must be equal.

            About European anti-semitism.

            Zionists took over Leon Pinsker’s definition of anti-semitism as “a psychosis and incurable”. It’s this concept that has created so much suffering as it was exploited by the Zionists. As Herzl wrote in his diary: “It is essential that the sufferings of Jews.. . become worse.” Now the Jews were singled out as some alien group, without any historic or political context for their discrimination (as Hannah Arendt remarked); with all the atrocities that followed.
            So anti-semitism after 1882 became very different from anti-semitism before that date. “Modern” anti-semitism was an invention of Zionists with a very clear goal: the occupation of Palestine. It was not anti-semitism that created Zionism, it was the other way around. Don’t forget that at the same time the Zionist Ashkenazim destroyed the Sefardi culture, it was not limited to Palestinian culture.
            That’s why to me Zionism relates to the Jews as the Nazi ideology related to the German population at large.

            Reply to Comment
          • You’re saying that anti-Semitism after 1882 was invented by the Zionists?

            Reply to Comment
          • Yes, Pinsker gave it its modern meaning and that way of looking at it is seen every single day when people are accused of anti-semitism, when they critisize ethnic cleansing or war crimes. “You must hate Jews”

            Reply to Comment
          • Correct me if I’m wrong, but if you’re saying the Zionists invented post-1882 anti-Semitism, you’re saying the Zionists were somehow responsible for the Holocaust? Mikesailor, same question.

            Reply to Comment
          • All labels influence or distort reality. If Zionists made Jews believe in the “incurable anti-semitic non-Jew”, then that had an influence not only on the way Jews saw themselves, but also on the way they were perceived by others. On many occasions Jews have tried to create anti-semitism where there was none, maybe with the best intentions, but they were deluded anyway.
            So yes, this new conceptual framework of anti-semitism as a psychosis plus the need for anti-semitism by Zionists has played a role in the events that lead to the judeocide, in my view. It was not planned, but things could get out of control, because the framework was there.

            Reply to Comment
          • Richard Witty

            Larry’s point is pragmatic and important.

            I disagree really entirely with the idea that the two-state proposal is dead. Maybe this is the time when it is really new.

            I personally think that the nearly entire responsibility to articulate and work for a single state is electoral on the part of proponents.

            If they can argue for its merits and convince a significant minority to prefer a single state (even a federation), and a super-majority to accept a single state, then it is a manifestation of self-governance, self-determination.

            If not, if the vast majority in all Palestinian and Israeli communities elect national party representation, then that tells you what the will of the people are, and that arguing that a single state is democracy, or self-determination, is really a falsehood.

            Ian Lustick doesn’t argue for a single state, neither in the NY Times op-ed, nor in his article today in Open Zion. Most of the proponents of a single state do so in dissent against Israel, NOT for advocacy of a democratic civil single state with equal rights for all (including property rights).

            Further, the demise of the two-state is only a concensus among the tired and frustrated.

            The patient don’t describe the two-state as dead.

            They describe the obstacles to the two-state as receding. I’m a little tire, a little patient.

            My impression was that the most effective dissent against Israel was the self-governance and development efforts led by Fayyad, but rejected by PA, Hamas, “progressive” dissent, everyone that is joining the two-state is dead repetition.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            “If Zionists made Jews believe in the “incurable anti-semitic non-Jew””

            Lusitz, we made no one believe such nonsense. There are good and bad people amongst everyone.

            Having said that, history speaks for itself. The inquistion cannot be denied, the Holocaust cannot be denied. The periodic pogroms cannot be denied. The expulsions of Jews from various places at various times throughout history cannot be denied. The discrimination and prejudice against Jews, even today, amongst some, cannot be denied.

            Is every non Jew responsible for all that? Of course not!!!

            Just as much as NOT every Jew is responsible for whatever bits of offense or wrongs committed against non Jews by SOME Jews.

            Unlike you, to me, it isn’t about blame. It is about reality and how we deal with reality. We Zionists came to the conclusion that we are better off taking responsibility for our own well being rather than to have to rely on others to protect us from those who wish us harm. You don’t like that? Too bad. That is your problem.

            Reply to Comment
          • For the record. Shimon Peres was in Holland last week, on sunday september 29 he said: Anti-semitism is a disease.

            Reply to Comment
          • Mikesailor

            The question of whether or not the Zionists were responsible for the Holocaust is a silly question. If you examine the history, however, the underlying concept of Zionism did help to bring it about. Balfour was promulgated during the throes of WWI. Why? As a war measure, not because the British really gave a damn about a ‘Jewish homeland’. The belief was that the ‘promise’ of a Jewish state would perform two activities which would assist the Allied war effort: 1) it would defang the pro-German Jewish media within the US and change their allegiances because it would be seen as ‘good for the Jews’; and 2) it would hopefully drive a wedge between the German Jews and their German compatriots still fighting on the Western Front. The first performed as planned, the second was used as the excuse for the antisemitic tropes of the Nazis as they rose to power. Why did it work? The better question is why wouldn’t it work?

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            But it is even more silly to pretend that antisemitism didn’t exist before Herzl, modern Zionism and the Balfour declaration.

            Reply to Comment
      • Richard

        Larry is right – tribalism is too strong a force to be overcome by whatever economic, social, or demographic factors are also in play. The premise of this piece, and others like it – that there is some sort of one-state pow wow that people need to start having because the two-state solution is “dead” – needs to be questioned. There is no such thing as a point in time before or after which point the political geography of Is/Pal is set this way or that. Some Syrian Alawites and Druze wanted to keep the statelets they received under the French, and 5 years ago I’m sure everyone would have said that the 3 or 4 state “solution” for Syria had been “dead” for decades. It isn’t now, which shows you that “solutions” and other endgame concepts for volatile and tribalistic places like Is/Pal are not a realistic way to understand how to build or even predict the future. If one violent cataclysm in Is/Pal forces fewer than a million people to move only 20 miles away from their homes, such an event could utterly transform the strategic positions of each tribe. It isn’t a slow-moving glacier we’re trying to analyze here.

        Reply to Comment
      • sh

        ***Can Jews and Palestinians share the defense of the country against prospective enemies beyond its borders? Can they serve in the same army, Mossad, Shin Bet, Dimona, etc.?***

        We’re talking about a genuine, permanent cessation of hostilities here, an agreement for right of return included. If so, why shouldn’t they serve? The Palestinians have been struggling for their rights undefended for the past 65 years. Not one of the surrounding countries, all with regular armies of their own, has been of any help to them. Why would Palestinians hand the fruits of that struggle to them on a plate instead of beginning, finally, their own project?

        Reply to Comment
        • Shmuel

          “We’re talking about a genuine, permanent cessation of hostilities here”

          You might be talking about it. Starry eyed Israelis and Palestinians may be talking about it. But can the majority in both camps make it real?

          Both societies are tribal and we (both sides) have been so since time immemorial. There are centuries of resentments towards each other and the starry eyed ones will just sweep it away overnight? Give us proof that it can be done. Heck point at just one example elsewhere in the world where your vision proved to be a success. Or even show us a reasonable probability that it MAY work? Let’s start in the Arab world. Just show us one peaceful Arab society where the ethnic and sectarian tensions were put aside and ended up in a peaceful, respectful cooperative society rather than one at best full of tensions or at worst an explosion of ethnic/sectarian/tribal strife.

          We are ALL ears. We want to be convinced. Go for it Sh ….

          Reply to Comment
          • sh

            Who said anything about overnight? A tree takes time to grow. We haven’t even prepared the soil to place in the pot to plant a seed that will produce a sapling, let alone designated the field in which we hope it will become a mighty tree. The rest of your argument I’ve heard verbatim from others and won’t bore you or anyone else with the stock replies about the Rambam, Binyamin of Tudela and a colorful gallery of kabbalists and others who (yeah, yeah, apart from Yehuda Halevy) seem to have managed to survive unharmed and even thrive in the region without armed guards on high walls to watch over them. What is the evidence for the centuries of enmity between the tribes of which you speak? How does that enmity compare with that between Christians and Jews in Europe. And-look-how-cosy-we-are-now-with: Spain (ok, sure, that was half a millennium ago) and Germany. Hah! I just bored you.

            Neither the kind of Jew who wandered here before Herzl came up with his ideas, nor the people amongst whom they lived over the centuries exist anymore. The offspring of both was catapulted into the 20th century and modernity by two world wars. Now most of us watch the same kind of TV pap, like the same music, communicate via the same virtual means, use the same gadgets and eat the same kind of convenience food. As the two women who wrote this piece suggest in its title, we have to overcome the fear the political class continues to monger and get thinking. Do we really want to go on scratching around for – or, where necessary, manufacturing – reasons to justify the unjustifiable? Did you imagine it would ever go this far? How much more of it are you willing to countenance?

            “Can the majority in both camps make it real?”
            Consider this: settlement in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza was started by a zealot minority and took years to catch on. Theodor Herzl and his Zionism were seen as heretical or nuts by a majority of Jews of his time. For years Menahem Begin was considered a terrorist by Israel’s majority and he ended up Melekh Yisrael the First. The Knesset is marking the assassination of erstwhile extremist Mr Transfer aka Rehav’am Ze’evi aka (ludicrously) Gandhi in an official ceremony shortly. And who can tell whether the majority that approved the banning of extremist, militant Meir Kahane and his minority party from the Knesset wouldn’t have gone on to elect him Prime Minister of Israel one day if he hadn’t been assassinated?

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            You know what Sh? I won’t bore you either about the history of persecutions of Jews in Arab countries where Jews were minorities. Just read this:


            But even more important than history, just show us in which part of the Arab world TODAY are minorities treated with tolerance and respect?

            It won’t happen overnight you say? Ok then. Let us wait it out when we see evidence of moderation and tolerance creeping into Arab societies, we will revisit the idea of the one state solution. Not till then though, if it is all the same to you OK?

            Reply to Comment
          • sh

            No, Shmuel, you can’t wait out stuff like this.

            You have to start to work on doing something to change it. People already are, but too few and it’s hard going. We need to stop telling ourselves fairytales that enable us to watch, ignore or commit criminal behavior, with arms folded.

            By the way, your link said roughly what I said, i.e. there were no “centuries of resentments towards each other”, no “history of persecutions”, as you put it.

            “For most of the past fourteen hundred years, according to Bernard Lewis, Arabs have not been antisemitic as the word is used in the West.”

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            I quote directly from my link:

            “The situation where Jews both enjoyed cultural and economic prosperity at times, but were widely persecuted at other times”

            And there is worse stuff in there too. Now, you Sh might be happy to be treated as a Dhimi (read up about it in my link) which means roughly as a TOLERATED people which in turn means, sometimes reasonably and sometimes harshly, depending on the whim of the particular rulers of the day and the general population but the rest of us Israelis would rather look after our own well being instead of being dependant of the mood of others.

            And Sh, like you said, I am prepared to put the past into perspective, not to forget it though but look at TODAY: for the third time, I ask you the same question. Show me a single Arab society today which treats it’s minorities with respect and tolerance. Until you do, you will never convince Israelis like me to experiment and gamble with the lives and well being of our family and friends. We will not submit to the fate of Dhimnihood again in your idealistic one state solution. We have had enough of being Dhimis, we don’t want to be reduced to that again for the sake of your crazy social experiment.

            Reply to Comment
          • sh

            Dhimmi status basically boils down to having to pay an extra tax and exclusion from certain explicitly Muslim duties. Other than that Christians and Jews enjoyed equal rights in Muslim countries according to whatever rights everyone else had. Tolerance is a lot better than persecution – a bit more of the former wouldn’t do Israel any harm either. Historically an equivalent of the jizya tax existed in Europe too, but with savagely murderous frills and without the equality. Today, Jews continue to live in the Europe that despised them only yesterday of their own volition. In short, what for the likes of “Bat Ye’or” is something to complain bitterly about would have been paradise for European Jews. Quite a few from Poland and Germany found a comfortable refuge in Egypt in the early 20th century.

            Morocco and Tunisia treat their Jews with respect and tolerance.

            I am pushing neither a one nor a two-state solution. But if two-state has taken this long to end up nowhere, it behoves us to think about alternatives. If you have an alternative that is neither one-state nor what is deceptively called status quo (but is in fact slippage into deepening depravity) tell us about it.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            “Other than that Christians and Jews enjoyed equal rights in Muslim countries according to whatever rights everyone else had”

            Equal rights? Including the right to be massacred in periodic pogroms?

            For the THIRD TIME, Sh, please read the rest of what is written in my link. Don’t just cherry pick the bits that agree with your pre-conceived notions.

            Oh, and please, it does not matter where the persecutions were worse. What matters is that there WERE persecutions and we were defenceless. But NOW we are NOT!

            Reply to Comment
      • Aaron Gross

        Larry is right, of course – this is a standard objection to the one-state idea – but I’ll add something that he was too polite to mention. It says a lot about the quality of the so-called debate that the list of “fundamental questions,” and what one co-author calls the “thorniest things,” don’t even include that obvious item.

        Us two-staters are quite willing to discuss the one-state plan. We just want our questions answered, as we also try to answer questions about a two-state plan

        Reply to Comment
    7. Mikesailor

      Zionism was not created by European antisemitism. It was created by Jewish xenophobia and the old saw that the Jews should “live apart”. If you really want evidence of that fact,look at Herzl’s view of the French Jews who, after the uproar and defense of Dreyfuss by French non-Jews such as Zola, refused to buy into Herzl’s vision of a “Judenstadt”. Herzl wanted to excommunicate them as non-Jews. That is the problem with Zionism, it is composed of one main myth: that the Jews were somehow never players who helped to decide their own fate. That instead they were only innocent pawns, never responsible for anything. I would remind Larry that Germany allowed Jews to enter the civil life of Germany in the 1850’s; full life into the professions and educational systems. It was one of the reasons the French believed Dreyfuss was a spy: because Germany treated Jews so well at that time. The very concept of Zionism drove a wedge between, for instance, Jews and other Germans. For whose well-being were the Jews concerned with primarily? Other Jews as a special “ethnic” group or their German compatriots? and neighbors? I think that is the heart of this nebulous concept of antisemitism. That both sides played this isolation and distrust of the other for their own purposes, but the fact is they both played.

      Reply to Comment
      • Shmuel

        Yea mike, the holocaust never happened. It is just in our vivid Zionist imagination.

        Neither did the inquisition, nor the pogroms both in Europe and in Arab countries. Nor, the blood libels, the prejudices and the petty discriminations that we faced for centuries, from people like your very self who now substitute the word “Zionist” for “Jew”. We just imagined it all. You know better than us even though you are not one of us.

        Reply to Comment
      • So you’re saying that Jews were to a substantial degree responsible for their own persecution, and much more so with the advent of Zionism?

        Reply to Comment
        • Shmuel

          YES! I believe that is EXACTLY what he said.

          Reply to Comment
        • Mikesailor

          Do you ever wonder about the origins of ‘antisemitism’? Children are not born with an ‘antisemitism’ gene, it is not an instinctual reaction. So, the question becomes whether or not something within Judaism, or the way it is practiced, leads the ‘others’ to distrust, and/or discriminate against, Jews as a group. Now, the two ethnicities suffering the most discrimination in the “Western” sphere are the Roma and the Jews. Why? I would submit that both groups were seen as alien within the host body politic of eaaach country, not merely minority shareholders in the state but not members of the state at all. Both groups have strict sanctions against ‘fraternization’ or ‘assimilation’ with their neighbors in the “outside” population. Both created their own languages, culture and even governmental structures not merely alongside but directly in derogation of their neighbors. Both believed that their loyalties were to their own ‘ethnic group’ over and abcve any allegiances to those they live among. This is the xenophobia I speak of. As Jews in Israel actively discriminate against the non-Jewish population because they do not share the dominant ethos of acting ‘in the best interest of the Jews’, so did the Europeans feel. Are such feelings unnatural?

          Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            There you are, Mikesailor, you just backed up Zionist claims that we need our own country where we are a majority, in order to be able to defend ourselves from those who hate us and live in dignity.

            Yea, indeed you are right (sarcasm) we owe it all to ourselves that we are hated. Yes, even our babies deserved to be so hated that they deserved to be murdered with the rest of us during periodic pogroms which culminated in the holocaust.

            You summed it up pretty well Mikesailor, us Zionists did not have to create myths about antisemitism. People like you are living proof of it.

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    8. Shmuel

      Larry, Kol Hakavod

      Our politics are different. I am on the centre right and you are somewhere to the left. But on this issue, you nailed it. I agree with you 100% about why the one state solution cannot work. It cannot work because in a democratic state, the army too would need to be democratic. It would have to be a joint Jewish/Arab Palestinian army. And while in theory, it would be a beautiful concept, in practice, given our mutual history and even our respective cultures, this concept has as much chance to work as pink elephants flying.

      So if we would give up our army, we would in effect place ourselves at the mercy of our “loving” neighbors. All 400 millions of them. I don’t know about our foreign kibitzers, nor about some of our starry eyed locals, but most normal Israelis, I believe, are dead set against the idea of gambling with the futures of those whom we care for and love.

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      • Kolumn9

        Of course the foreign kibitzers (and starry eyed locals) are aware that most Israelis would not be willing to take that kind of a gamble. That is why they have now switched their approach to demanding international pressure on Israel because what they are pitching has zero chance of being accepted by Israelis.

        The funny thing is that they think that making Israelis insecure through international pressure is what will make Israelis more likely to gamble their very lives on arrangements in which they give up the capacity of defending themselves.

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    9. Kolumn9

      A ‘bi-communal bi-zonal’ approach which has not been implemented in a place which is already partitioned and has been for 40 years where both sides see themselves as members of the same nation (Cypriot) is your model for the resolution of this entirely dissimilar conflict? Actually Cyprus is an excellent example of a one state solution failing miserably.

      The hysteria is entirely on your side. Rather than actually having a reasonable discussion you are the ones trying to close discussion and force a new and ill fitting paradigm onto a conflict that fights it with facts and logic at every place imaginable. The truth is that for all your desire to ‘think’ about what such an outcome would look like no one has yet to come up with a reasonable and sustainable way that it could be implemented. So, think away, but based on previous thought experiments here by Dahlia it does not appear that thinking has gotten you very far if Cyprus is what you have come up with.

      As for ‘nascent civil society initiatives’. Yeah, there are some marginal initiatives born on the extreme left midwifed by massive amounts of European money that wish to replace Israel with something else. Even among that marginal group those talking about ‘consociational’ arrangements are a marginal group isolated to 2 or 3 academics for whom it is a stalking horse to open up debate about ending Israel. And on the Palestinian side? Tumbleweeds.

      One really doesn’t need to go very far to find attempts at consociational governments. In fact there was an attempt next door in Lebanon to do so. It led to a civil war leaving 150,000 dead, millions exiled and a country that barely functions under the heavy influence if not outright control by an Islamic terrorist group. The Lebanese too thought in 1943 that a consociational government between the various sects would maintain stability indefinitely. 30 years later they were massacring each other in Damour and Karantina with the Lebanese army splintering on confessional lines. Maybe we should that one as a role model?

      No, but seriously, what kind of an idiot can look at the history of the attempts to create multinational states and think that it is a good idea?

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    10. Steve Benassi

      Obama UNSC ’67 borders coming 2014, 2 States, 1 Country, Palestine Israel.

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    11. Vadim

      This reminds me of the rhetoric used by Holocaust deniers or people that oppose the Evolution theory.

      The Holocaust is very well documented and researched. Lots of work has been put into researching different aspects of it and publishing the results. Holocaust deniers claim that is should be researched more because it has not been researched enough, implying that the research done so far is flawed because it does not fit their belief.

      With evolution, you have people that say – hey, this is just a theory and intelligent design is also a theory so they should be treated as equals, again demeaning the evolution theory because it does not fit their belief.

      Same goes here. This idiocy has been tried over and over again in various place (in the ME and outside of it) and it failed miserably each and every time. I will not repeat the examples already provided by other people here. There is no hysteria and people have been thinking about it for quite some time and see this solution as utter madness and idiocy. There is no reason to rethink anything, nothing changed to warrant that and the old conclusions still hold.

      Just like the Holocaust deniers – you believe something that contradicts common sense and history and so you ask people to research it some more or think about it again.

      (If it wasn’t clear, I didn’t denying holocaust is the same as proposing a one state. Just said that both share a common rhetoric)

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      • Shmuel

        What is interesting about it exactly? Have I missed something?

        The court said that there is no such thing as an ethnicity known as Israeli. There is only Israeli citizenship. So it did not allow some ethnic Jews to label themselves by non existent ethnic description.

        Here it is in a nutshell. One can be an Israeli citizen without being Jewish. In fact about 20% of Israel’s population are Arabs who are israeli citizens. And their ethnicity is Arab. The other roughly about 80% are also Israeli citizens but their ethnicity is Jewish.

        Have you got a problem with any of that?

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        • Indeed, you missed an awful lot (again).

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          • Shmuel

            A snappy comeback, I will grant you that.

            But then again, it might just mask the fact that you have nothing worthwhile to say.

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      • Vadim

        You may call it interesting, but the supreme court made the exact same ruling 40 years ago – so there’s no *development* here.

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        • sh

          Point is there shouldn’t be an ethnic rubric on your ID at all. Know of any civilized country that does that? If you really need to know, that’s what censuses are for. When I look at that sneaky row of stars, or the papers that note it outright, I’m always reminded of the J a notorious regime stamped on the IDs and passports of loved ones a few decades ago.

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          • Shmuel

            Try civilised countries involved in a war of survival.

            For instance, during WW2:

            Britain: kept track of citizens from enemy countries by placing them in internment camps.

            USA: ditto.

            Canada: ditto.

            Australia: ditto.

            New Zealand: ditto.

            A bit more draconian than current Israeli practice, wouldn’t you say?

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          • sh

            We don’t need to be draconian. We aren’t involved in a war of survival, let alone a world war; at least not until we start one.

            And we don’t have any citizens of enemy countries here. The Palestinians who live within the Green Line are citizens of our own country. The Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are either stateless or citizens of a country with which we have a peace treaty.

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          • Shmuel

            A war of survival is a war in which the other side aims to destroy your country, murder your citizens and exile the rest. That is Hamas’s aim with us and I am not sure about the PLO either. I am not as trusting of them as you are. Their current ability or inability to do so has nothing to do with it. In 1948, they were very close to succeeding. Also in 1973. Who is to say that in the future they won’t be close to succeeding again? Especially if starry eyed people like you will get to determine what happens.

            Now about citizens of enemy countries. My analogy was 100% spot on. In WW2, Britain, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand had FULL British, American, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand citizens of German, Italian and Japanese origins interned in camps. That was more draconian than what we do to OUR citizens who are of Palestinian Arab origin.

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          • sh

            1) The Palestinians didn’t have a chance in hell of succeeding in 1948. They had no army and we did. The armies that supposedly fought on their behalf were withdrawn when it suited their countries’ interests leaving the Palestinians high and dry. There’s no reason to suppose that the Palestinians have forgotten or forgiven that.

            2) The Palestinians were not involved in the war of 1973 at all.

            3) I didn’t say I trusted Hamas and the PA and I’m not convinced many Palestinians do either. But when we recognize our role in their suffering the negotiations that follow will start on a different footing.

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          • Shmuel

            1) The Palestinians didn’t have a chance in hell of succeeding in 1948.

            I said war of survival. Are you saying that the new state of Israel did not have to fight a desperate fight of survival in 1948 in which it had a real chance of being strangled at birth?

            Your memory is that short?

            – Israel faced 7 Arab armies

            – The most formidable of which was the Arab legion a small but professional army which was led by British officers.

            – Israel had a make shift army with rag-tag weapons at least until it obtained some Chech weapons but only towards the end of the war.

            – Many of Israel’s soldiers were survivors of the holocaust with no fighting experience yet they were sent to the front straight off the boat.

            Not a war of survival, HUH!!! Israel lost 1% of it’s population in the 1948 war.

            You really must stop reading left leaning pro-Arab history books written by revisionist historians. What next? The holocaust didn’t threaten the survival of the Jewish people? Hmmmmmm?

            “2) The Palestinians were not involved in the war of 1973 at all.”

            Who cares. The Syrians and Egyptians were and they were backed up by a super power, the Soviet Union. All of whom claimed to fight FOR the Palestinians. Was that a lie? Maybe, maybe not. But who cares?!! The fact is that Israel’s survival WAS really not assured, at least in the first week of the war.

            “3) I didn’t say I trusted Hamas and the PA and I’m not convinced many Palestinians do either. But when we recognize our role in their suffering the negotiations that follow will start on a different footing.”

            I will recognise my role in their suffering when they recognise THEIR role in OUR suffering. Everyone suffers in all wars. Moreover most Israelis don’t like war. War has not been OUR choice. It has been THEIR choice.

            In 1948 we accepted the partition plan, they did not.

            After 1967 we wanted a peace deal, their response was the three NO’s of Kharoum.

            In 2000/2001 Ehud Barak offered a peace deal in return for which we got the intifada and 4 years of deadly suicide bombing campaign.

            In 2008 Olmert offered them another peace deal to which “they forgot” to respond, pathetic, just pathetic.

            Stop coming up with excuses for them Sh. They are not the innocent lambs that you make them out to be. And they are very good at finding their own excuses and blaming us for absolutely everything. They don’t need suicidal leftist starry eyed Israelis to join their ranks and using propaganda against the rest of us. Enough already. We are not the Goliath here. They are because they are backed up by 400 million Arabs, 80 Million Iranians, the rest of the Muslim world and petro dollars and nations such as Russia, Venezuela, Cuba as well as an assortment of others. Ok, lately not so much, not that actively for now. But they have been in the past and who is to say that they won’t be again?

            Yes it has been a war of survival. They have been fighting a zero sum game in which they want it ALL and therefore we stand to lose ALL!!!

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          • sh

            1) Israel faced 1 Arab army cobbled together by the Arab League and led by a Lebanese commander. It comprised soldiers from six countries, plus a few Palestinian volunteers who, remember, had no country and were defending their homes against us. Israel has since signed peace treaties with two of those countries and most of the others are defanged by being in the US sphere of influence. The only soldiers that were anywhere near formidable were, as you say, Jordanian.

            Thanks for the advice and the stories I already knew. Like most here, I was fed the right-leaning history before I tackled the left-leaning ones. Your remark about the holocaust is gratuitous and, to me, offensive.

            2) “Who cares.”
            I care. Contrary to what you say, the 1973 war was not launched for the Palestinians. The Egyptians wanted Sinai back, the Syrians the Golan. (Just to get things straight and to save you excessive verbiage about wars, I was here in both 1967 and 1973.)

            3) Your “they” are not the Palestinians. After 1967 no-one asked for a peace deal with the Palestinians. Israelis thought the West Bankers were Jordanian and the Gazans Egyptian. Most of us had no idea that those people had lived in Ashkelon, Yavne,Tiberias, Beit She’an, Haifa, Safed, etc. not 20 years before. Jordan was glad to wash its hands of the West Bank’s population, ditto Egypt re Gaza. Clever of them. As already pointed out, Israel went on to sign peace agreements with both.

            The PLO were the only Palestinians present at Khartoum. They disagreed with the final declaration and so refused to sign the three NOs.

            If the Palestinians had been backed up by 400 million Arabs, the rest of the Muslim world and all the others you mention, they’d have had their state a long time ago. As it is, those states saw to their own interests not the Palestinians’.

            I suggest that instead of reading, you start to form your own opinion about what’s happening on the ground by taking something like a Breaking the Silence tour to Hebron.

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          • Shmuel

            Let’s talk about Hebron then. The 1929 Hebron massacre of Jews. Who did that, Sh? Little Ggreen men from Mars?

            And then your:

            “Your remark about the holocaust is gratuitous and, to me, offensive.”

            And your whole litany of revisionism and one sided apologetics for them is offensive to me.

            I was here too in 1967 and 1973. And my recollection of it is entirely different to yours.

            Now enough. We are getting nowhere. But I’ll leave you with this.

            I am not against making peace with the Palestinians. I have been praying for it in my entire adult life. But unlike you, I want a real peace with them with mutual respect. By that, I mean them respecting us and our grievances with them too. Not just the other way around.

            You on the other hand seem to want to grovel to them, to pound your chest and confess “how evil WE are” and “how innocent THEY are”. Oh, of course they will love you for that. Of course they will flatter you and stoke your wishful thinking sentiments. But that is not how Israelis will get peace with them. That is a formula for allowing them to finish the job that the Mufti of Jerusalem started. You will not suck the rest of us into that kind of peace. All you will succeed is in dividing us as a people. That is why I find your attitude offensive and even threatening. Because division was our downfall historically. That’s why both the first and second Temples fell. Think about that.

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          • sh

            So essentially, we come from the same place, Shmuel. You cannot have found mention of or allusion to innocence in my words but if you interpreted any of them as such, my bad. I said and meant that the Palestinians did not control or direct or even play a part in most of the wars we are told we fought against them and are currently defenceless victims of our ingenious, intentionally skewed legal system. I’ll leave it to you to judge whether, if it remains unchallenged, this undermines their future alone.

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          • Shmuel

            Ok Sh, I must admit that I find myself confused about what you stand for. You say this:

            “I said and meant that the Palestinians did not control or direct or even play a part in most of the wars we are told we fought against them”

            Then you say this:

            “You cannot have found mention of or allusion to innocence in my words”

            Your first sentence implies Palestinian innocence. The second one however tells me that I must have misunderstood you.

            I would genuinely welcome your explanation/clarification of what you mean.

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          • sh

            I had hoped to convey:

            that in 1947-8 the Palestinians who fought were irregulars or guerilla fighters who got their weapons from a military coalition of Arab states and were defending inter alia their homes in their own villages.

            – That the military coalition of Arab states was in itself anything but united and sections of it were withdrawn at various stages when the countries that had sent them decided for one reason or another that it wasn’t worth the bother. The armies returned to the countries from whence they had come. The Palestinians, being from here, stayed, or tried to. The only role they played in 1967 was to put white sheets on their roofs, in 1973, no role at all. But that does not mean that they are innocent.

            In between the wars, Palestinians abroad formed organizations that sent guerillas into Israel to kill civilians, not only soldiers or people who had been soldiers. They attacked and murdered Jews abroad too.

            And your example of the Hebron massacre in 1929 is correct. The Jews they slaughtered had no means of defending themselves, wouldn’t have known how to. A propos Hebron, what I didn’t know but found out from a conversation I overheard on a park bench during the second intifada, is that some Hebron Palestinians warned their Jewish neighbors that something terrible was going to happen and told them to flee. The old man telling the story to a Russian lady was six years old in 1929 said that his parents and siblings had lived in an isolated house on the outskirts of Hebron. An Arab acquaintance came to their door telling them he had heard rumors, that it was unsafe for them to stay there and insisted they come with him immediately. He took them into to his own home until the violence died down about a month later, giving them every hospitality. But we tend to forget things like that, although we remember heroes like Janos Korczak and commemorate many righteous gentiles in Yad Vashem.
            We also forget that we had our own guerillas who did terrible things. We have built museums to tell their story, we put up plaques to commemorate their exploits, we study them at school and some killers became the most respected members of our society.

            But at the end of the day, we shouldn’t have to repeat these stories. It’s simple. Our guerillas saw themselves as fighting for our homeland, their guerillas were in every sense fighting for their homeland, in which some of their actual homes still stand, or lie in pieces under parks and forests we picnic in. The leaderships of neither, it seems, thought of trying to sort it out in a different way.

            We have all been praying for peace but few of us can actually manage to do anything to try to achieve it. If we are ingenious enough to rediscover how to make trumpets for a future temple and to find the blue dye everyone thought was lost for a thread in the tzitzit, we must surely be able to rediscover keeping peace between man and his neighbor without a gun.

            Is that any clearer?

            The late Rabbi Froman is quoted as having said something like:
            “What I want for myself I must also want others to have. I want a Jewish state, I must want there to be an Arab state. I love Jerusalem, I have to want them to have Jerusalem, too.”

            We must stop with the tropes and the polarities and work out how to do that.

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          • Shmuel

            Well Sh, I know why you are doing it. You are doing it because your dearest wish is to live in peace. That is my wish too but nevertheless I can’t delude mysef. Let me start by quoting a dictionary definition of war:

            A state of armed conflict between different nations or states or different groups within a nation or state.”

            That is what we have been involved in with our neighbors for the last 100 years. You say they defended themselves? I say WE defended OURSELVES. The fact is that the Palestinians played a zero sum game. We were willing to accept the UN partition plan but the Palestinians were NOT, they rioted and attacked us. They wanted all of Palestine for themselves and themselves alone.

            But even before that. Because of their leader, the Mufti of Jerusalem, they fought us at every step of the way, right from the 1920s.

            Had they been willing to compromise, hundreds of thousands of Jews could have found shelter in Palestine instead of perishing in the holocaust. You might say why should they have compromised? And my answer is that if they had the wisdom to compromise, they would have saved both themselves and us a lot of suffering. And in effect, more than likely we would have ended up with the one state solution that a lot of lefties are now so ready to advocate and many Palestinians want. But in my opinion it is now no longer feasible at least for the foreseeable future.

            Moving on, you mentioned the Fedayeen attacks and the countless terrorist attacks against our civilians between 1948 and 1967, before the occupation. And which continued after. They rejected Ehud Barak ‘s 2000/2001 peace offer and responded with the second Intifada involving 4 years of extremely bloody suicide bombing campaign. And they in effect rejected Olmert’s 2008 peace offer too.

            In order to isolate us internationally, they spread propaganda and hatred against us to this very day. That’s it in a nutshell. That has been their war on us. And no, not every single one of them was involved in everything bad that they did to us but as a people, collectively they were. That’s war.

            Now please don’t trouble yourself to tell me the bad things that we did. I am on the record of admitting at least some bad things, not their exaggerations. But remember, there are no good or moral wars. All wars are bad and immoral by their very nature. And that is another reason why I am upset with them. Because they forced us into a 100 year war that we never wanted.

            For the sake of peace, I think both sides should forgive and forget. That I am willing to be party to. But NOT for Israel to grovel and to vilify itself, as is the practice of this magazine, that I am not willing to be party to. And neither are most of our fellow Israelis.

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    12. charles-jerusalem

      I don’t see any two state solution anytime soon.
      The one state solution is not and will never be a stable solution and will not be supported by anyone part of the activists (in strong minority).
      I see more of the status quo non solution because on a day to day basis, this is the only one that is actually applied on both sides.

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