‘Tell us what you think of the two-state solution’
Adam Horowitz, Mondoweiss, 15 March 2009
Adam Horowitz, the co-editor of this site, has done a lot of speaking on Israel/Palestine and is regularly asked, “But Mr. Horowitz, tell us what you think of the two-state solution!?”
There is a short answer and a longer answer to this question. The short answer is that I don’t take a position on one state or two states. In the end I’m not invested in one end product, but in ending the conflict. For that to happen, there are several principles that any just solution will have to meet. Some of those principles are equality (in the personal and collective sense) and self-determination. These are principles that can be met in theory in any configuration of solutions, whether they be one state, two states, a confederation, etc. I have heard compelling arguments for the need for one democratic state in Israel/Palestine and for separate states calledand Palestine. In the end it is up to people living on the ground to find a solution that works for them.
From our perspective in the US we just need to know that regardless of what the solution looks like, the conflict will not end until these principles are met. Also, it has to be said that the current “two state solution” that is being touted by the US, the Quartet, and some Israelis (ie Olmert and Livni) does not meet these conditions. Their is being used to formalize the unequal relationship between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians, not end it. It will only deepen the conflict.
The longer answer gets to the real reason I think people tend to ask this question, especially if they’re confrontational: they are asking if I support a Jewish state. The simple answer is no. This is for the reasons stated above: it is impossible for there to be equality in Israel/Palestine while there is a state that offers special and exclusive rights to Jews over other people. This is the case inside Israel, where Jewish citizens enjoy special rights over Palestinian citizens, inside thewhere Palestinians live under and in the diaspora where Palestinians’ collective rights are ignored while Jewish people are offered incredible privileges. The example I give for this is that, as a Jew, I can move to Israel tomorrow and become a citizen with incentives and benefits from the state, while my Palestinians friends who still have the key to their family homes in Jaffa or Haifa would be arrested at the border if they tried to return.
That is currently the situation in Israel/Palestine. The conflict, and the suffering that comes from it, will not end until this system ends.
Does this mean that the Jews will be thrown to the wolves? No. I tell my questioners if their real concern is for Jewish safety, it is a concern I understand. I also understand why people would think that a Jewish state is necessary to ensure Jewish safety. But in fact the opposite is true. Setting up a system of perpetual domination of one people over another can only lead to endless conflict. The missiles hitting Sderot in southern Israel from the besieged captives of Gaza is one example of this.
I tell them if they’re interested in Jewish safety, then they need to be working for a just solution to the conflict in Israel/Palestine because that is what will end the violence. If they are concerned about Jewish safety then they need to be concerned about Palestinian safety. Jews will feel safe in Israel/Palestine once everyone feels safe, but not before.
If instead they are simply concerned with there being a “Jewish state,” then they are consigning the people of Israel/Palestine to endless violence. Right now the logic of a Jewish state is leading Israeli politicians to propose kicking non-Jewish citizens out of the state and the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the. This is the process that has to be stopped. The future of Israel/Palestine depends on it.