Rhetoric and propaganda on the Israeli side of the border has become far harsher than in the past. Rabbi Donniel Hartman, until recently known for his moderate orthodox views, made the claim that the targeted killing of Israel’s enemies was tikkun olam, Hebrew for “correcting the world.” Hartman cited the Talmud, “When someone arises to kill you, preempt them, and kill them first.” Writing in the Jerusalem Post, Yaakov Katz likened the strikes in Gaza to mowing the lawn, just something that has to be done periodically, apparently with no concern about the loss of civilian lives. The official Twitter account of the IDF hailed Israel’s “restraint” in the attacks. While the Israeli media kept score, the international media hardly reported on Gaza at all. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, however, has kept careful track of the damage done by Israel’s coldly calculated attacks.
All of this served as the backdrop to some reading I have been doing about a possible resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian scenario: the One State Solution. The solution, championed by Palestinian writer Edward Said, simply states that a single nation must be created for both Israelis and Palestinians, thereby ensuring peaceful coexistence and genuine reconciliation. Said stated that the situation between Israelis and Palestinians appeared intractable simply because “it is a contest over the same land by two peoples who have always believed they had a valid title to it and who hoped that the other side would in time give up or go away.” Since neither has given up, nor gone away, and a Palestinian state has yet to come into existence, a bi-national state, with equal rights for all citizens remains the only logical solution.
The One State Declaration, written in 2007, states “[T]he two-state solution ignores the physical and political realities on the ground, and presumes a false parity in power and moral claims between a colonized and occupied people on the one hand and a colonizing state and military occupier on the other.” This Declaration calls for a single, non-sectarian state on the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, founded on the principles of equality and justice for all who live there.
The single state, minus the equality and justice, already exists, argues Ali Abunimah, a signatory to the Declaration and author of the book One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. In a recent lecture at Brandeis University, Abunimah pointed out that any current or future Palestinian state remains a myth. Israel controls every aspect of life in Gaza and the West Bank regardless of any elected governments there. The Israeli military controls the borders, air space and sea routes of both, Israel maintains a strangle-hold on the economy of both territories, Israeli military incursions into both areas are commonplace and Israeli settlements are constantly growing within the West Bank, slowly dissolving the structure of any future state.
Ilan Pappé, an Israeli historian, agrees with this premise. Speaking at the recent One State conference held at Harvard University, Pappé proposed that a sense of urgency for the one state solution is being seen as we are witnessing the “funeral march” of the two-state solution. The recent attempt by Palestine to gain admission into the United Nations was a public failure and little has been said of it since. Pappé believes that the single state result has always been Israel’s intention. According to his research, Israeli politicians were planning out the annexation and control of the West Bank and Gaza four years prior to the 1967 occupation. He believes that the peace process that Israel has engaged in since 1993’s Oslo Accords has been nothing more than a viable way for Israel to talk about peace, while quietly annexing more and more Palestinian territory, supplanting Palestinian aspirations and continuing to deny equal rights to Palestinians within its borders.
So, if the one state solution is already playing itself out on the ground, what is there to be done to achieve the ideal? The hurdles to be overcome are immense.
On the Palestinian side of the equation is 60 years of mistrust of anything Israeli. Militant anti-Israeli sentiment is common throughout Gaza and the West Bank and the idea of settling down side-by-side with Israelis and sharing a country is something of an anathema to most Palestinians. Palestinians demand a right of return for all refugees who have been forced out of, or have fled, from historic Palestine since the 1917 Balfour Declaration first began Zionist resettlement in the region. Reconciliation, repatriation and restitution are the demands made just to attempt to reach a sense of status quo. Equal rights for Palestinians within and without Israel’s current borders are required. No longer can Israel build walls around Palestinian villages, lay roads that only Israelis are allowed to drive on nor can it continue to turn a blind eye to settler violence against Palestinians or the destruction and seizure of their land.
The Israeli side of the equation is balanced with mistrust of anything Palestinian. Twenty-five years of organized resistance to Israeli rule and the rise of militant organizations dedicated to the eradication of Israel form two legs of the stool of Israeli objections to a single state solution. The third, and largest, leg is the concern that Israel will cease to be a Jewish state if it absorbs the Palestinians. Israeli Jews may quickly become a minority among Palestinians, a majority of whom are Muslim. To many in Israel, this means that the country will cease to be a safe haven for the Jewish people, the very principle of Zionism that brought Israel into existence.
In the next part of this series, I will address, in more detail, some of the very real concerns that both Israelis and Palestinians share with the proposed one state solution. The third part of this series will look at the steps that would need to be taken to achieve this goal.By Ted Graham, Aslan Media Columnist