The idea that two peoples who hate each other can live in one state is absurd
A Message from Romnyahu
By Uri Avnery, Gush Shalom
Sepember 22, 2012
ONCE UPON a time, President Richard Nixon wanted to appoint a certain lawyer to the US Supreme Court.
“But the man is a complete moron!” one senator exclaimed.
“So what,” answered another, “There are a great many morons in the US, and they have a right to be represented in the court as much as any other sector of society.”
Perhaps the United Morons of America have a right to elect Mitt Romney president. But for the sake of the US and Israel, I hope that this will not happen.
Some people say that Israel is the 51st state of the Union. Some say that it is the first among the 51. Whatever, our lives – and perhaps our deaths – depend to a great extent on the man in the White House.
So, with all my misgivings (and I have a lot) about Barack Obama, I very much hope that he will be reelected.
IN HIS latest seizure of wisdom, Romney did not only disclose that 47% of Americans are parasites, but also that “the Palestinians” want to destroy Israel. According to him, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has no solution, it will go on forever.
I wonder where he got this last piece from.
In Nazi Germany there was a certain Herr Doktor Otto Dietrich, a functionary of the Ministry for Propaganda. Every day, he would gather the editors of the important newspapers in Berlin and tell them what their headline and editorial were going to be the next day.
That was before the Internet and fax. Nowadays, the Prime Minister’s office faxes a daily ‘page of messages” to Netanyahu’s ministers and other stooges, telling them what messages they are to spread.
I strongly suspect that Romney read this page of messages just before he met his audience, composed of billionaires (or mere millionaires). After all, he couldn’t have invented these astounding pieces of insight all by himself, could he?
“THE PALESTINIANS” means “all Palestinians”. All nine million of them in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, Israel, not to forget the refugees around the world.
Well, I suppose that if by divine intervention Israel were to disappear from the globe, very few Palestinians would shed a tear. Neither would many Israelis shed a tear if, again by divine intervention, all the Palestinians disappeared. Quite a few Israelis would even volunteer to help God Almighty in this task. Who knows, if Romney’s evangelical friends pray enough, their God may dematerialize all those Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians and assorted other miscreants.
Alas, such fantasies belong to the realms of dreams and nightmares. In the real world, peoples do not disappear even after gruesome genocides, nor can states which possess nuclear bombs be eradicated by foreign enemies.
I know quite a number of Palestinians, and not one of them believes that Israel can be annihilated. Since Yasser Arafat decided in late 1973 that he must come to terms with Israel, the great majority of Palestinians want a deal that will enable them to set up a state of their own in a part of historical Palestine. This is called the “two-state solution”.
The present government of Israel does not want this, because they are not ready to give up the 22% of historical Palestine which would become the State of Palestine. Since they have no viable alternative, the government’s spokespeople assert that “this conflict has no solution”.
One of the fathers of this slogan is Ehud Barak. After the failed 2000 Camp David meeting, Barak, then Prime Minister, famously declared that “we have no partner for peace”. Since Barak was the main cause for the meeting’s failure, I dubbed him “peace criminal”.
Netanyahu gratefully picked up Barak’s cry, and now the great majority in Israel believes this message implicitly. (Recently I was interviewed by a Danish journalist. I told her: When we finish, stop the first taxi. Ask the driver about peace. He will tell you “Peace would be wonderful. I am ready to give back all the territories for peace. But unfortunately the Arabs will never make peace with us,” An hour later the journalist excitedly called me: “I did as you told me, and the driver repeated your words one by one.”)
“No solution” gives an impression of “everything will remain as it is”. That is a mistake. Nothing remains as it is. Things move all the time, settlements expand, Palestinians will rise up, the world is in flux, the Arab world changes, some day an American president will put the interests of the US ahead of those of Israel. Where will we be then?
THE GIST of Romney’s message is that the two-state solution is dead. This reminds me of Mark Twain’s famous: “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”
It is now in fashion to say so. Quite a trend. However, different people have different reasons for believing that the two-state solution is dead.
Parents, teachers, pedophiles and cannibals all say they love children. But their motives are not the same. This is also true for the would-be undertakers of the two-state solution. They include:
One: Idealists, who wish for people of different nations to live together in harmony and equality in one state. (I would like them to study the history of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Sudan, and the present situation of the French in Canada, Scots in Britain, Flemish in Belgium and Basques and Catalans in Spain.)
Two: Arabs, who really believe that this is a peaceful way to get rid of Israel.
Three: Settlers, who want to turn the whole of historical Palestine into their dominion and, if possible, “cleanse” the country of non-Jews.
Four: Israelis, who believe that the settlements have created a situation that is “irreversible”. (Meron Benvenisti, a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, coined this phrase already in the early 1980s, when there were less than 100 thousand settlers. I told him then that nothing was irreversible except death. Situations created by human beings can be changed by human beings.)
Five: Anti-Zionists, including Jewish anti-Zionists, who hate Zionism indiscriminately, with all its good and bad aspects, and for whom the very existence of a “Jewish” state is an abomination.
Six: Muslim fanatics, who believe that Palestine is a Muslim waqf (religious grant), so that allowing any part of it to non-Muslims is a deadly sin.
Seven: Jewish fanatics, who believe that all of Eretz-Israel, from the Nile to the Euphrates, has been promised to the Jews by God, so that conceding any part of it to non-Jews is a deadly sin.
Eight: Christian fanatics, who believe that the second coming of Jesus Christ will be possible only after the ingathering of all the Jews in this country (with no place in it for anyone else.)
Sorry if I have forgotten someone.
SOME OF these people have invented something called the “one-state solution”. That is an oxymoron. There is a one-state problem, there is no one-state solution.
From time to time it is worthwhile to come back to the basic facts of our life:
There are two peoples living in this country.
Neither of the two will go away. They are here to stay.
While the Arab Palestinians living in the country are still a minority, they will constitute the majority quite soon.
Both peoples are intensely nationalistic.
The two peoples have different cultures, languages, religions, historic narratives, social structures, standards of living. At present, after some 130 years of continuous conflict, there is intense hatred between them.
The possibility that these two peoples could live peacefully in one state, serving in the same army and police, paying the same taxes and abiding by the same laws enacted by the same common parliament, is nil.
The possibility that these two peoples could live peacefully side-by-side in two states, each with its own flag and its own elected government (and its own soccer team), does exist.
Such co-existence can take different forms: from a loose confederation with open borders and free movement to closer forms of evolving structures, like the European Union.
I hope that this is not too complicated for Mitt Romney to understand. But this may become irrelevant if – as I fervently hope – he is not elected.
I would hate for an ignoramus to be given the opportunity to learn world affairs on our backs.
By Haidar Eid, Palestine Chronicle
September 24, 2012
GAZA–Racism is the belief that a particular race (or religious group –my insert) is superior or inferior to another, that a person’s social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics. Racial separatism is the belief, most of the time based on racism, that different races (or religious groups) (my insert) should remain segregated and apart from one another. (as qtd. on ADL website)
Much has been said and written about the Oslo Accords and the Geneva initiative. The signatories claim that these much debated documents in principle opened up new possibilities for ‘cooperation’ between what has for so long seemed to be irreconcilable positions. Yasser Abed Rabo and Youssi Beilin, the signatories of the Geneva Initiative, for example, believe that ‘the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the establishment of two-states.” And, in what sounds like a warning, the latter adds that the window for a two-state solution will not be available indefinitely and Israel will be forced to deal with the “demographic threat” imposed on it by the Palestinians in historic Palestine.
This article, on the contrary, maintains that the two-state solution under present conditions denies the possibility of real coexistence based on equality. This is because both the Geneva document and the Oslo accords accept the Zionist consensus and, for the first time in the history of the conflict, seek to legitimize Israel as a Jewish state in historic Palestine. In both of these documents, therefore, Israel would appear to have been confirmed as the ‘state of all the Jews” and never ‘the state of all of its citizens’. The logic of separation implicit in these documents implies some fundamental contradictions and begs certain serious questions.
The Accord and the Initiative have legitimated apartheid. Both documents include a language that is, euphemistically, reminiscent of the series of laws known collectively as the Group Areas Act (GAA) which forced the relocation of millions of non-white South Africans into racially-specific ghettos. It was created to split racial groups up into different residential areas. Like in Apartheid South Africa, where the most developed areas were reserved for the white people, and 84% of the available land was granted to the same racial group, who made up only 15% of the total population, in Palestine even the 22% of the historic land on which an “independent state” is supposed to be declared is, according to the Oslo accords, “disputed”. In the South African case, the 16% remaining land was then occupied by 80% of the population. But contrary to the Palestinian case, that was never given legitimacy by the leadership of the indigenous population!
How can you call for the implementation of Security Council resolutions asserting the right of return of the 4.5 million Palestinian refugees to their lands in Israel, and at the same time maintain the exclusively Jewish nature of the state? To be fair, this contradiction also appears in the literature of the Palestinian Resistance Movement. Both Hamas and the PLO also fail to answer this question. Moreover, how does this solution solve the problem of racism and cultural oppression of the marginalized Palestinian citizens of Israel?
Furthermore, is the establishment of an independent state, as the solution to the Palestinian problem even possible? The argument of Beilin and Abed Rabbo, and even that of the leadership of the PNA, is that only negotiations can solve it. For ten years negotiations have not moved the Israeli position at all; the Camp David negotiations reached the impasse predicted by both the Palestinian Left and the ant-Zionist Israeli Left. Ehud Barak’s red lines, 1999, are now very well known, and Netanyahu’s platform leads to nothing more than a canton for native Palestinians. Of course Avigdor Liberman’s advocacy of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine has won him more seats in the Knesset. Add to this the fact that the establishment of a Palestinian state is not mentioned in any of the clauses of the Oslo agreement, thus leaving the matter to be determined by the balance of power in the region.
This balance tilts in favor of Israel, which rejects the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state, in spite of its recognition of the PLO. No Israeli party, neither Labour nor Likud, is ready to accept a Palestinian state as the expression of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination as defined by International Law. The Labour Party is prepared to negotiate with the Palestinians in order to give them an advanced form of self-rule that will be called a state, and through which the Palestinians will be enabled to possess certain selected features of “independence,” such as a Palestinian flag, a national anthem, and a police force. Nothing more! This was Barak ‘generous’ offer in Camp David. The Likud Party, on the other hand, is not prepared to give the Palestinians even these semblances self-rule. Their vision of the future is rather that the Palestinians should be allowed to run their own affairs under strict and binding Israeli control.
And lately, in a bizarre, ironic twist, Palestinians have been blamed for killing the two-state solution! Right-wing Israeli historian Benny Morris has given up on finding a solution to “the conflict… mainly due to the Palestinians’ consistent rejection of a solution of two states for two peoples!” This is not unlike saying that blacks of South Africa are to blame for killing the Bantustan system. And they should be punished! “In the end, both sides of the Palestinian movement − the fundamentalists led by Hamas and the secular bloc led by Fatah − are interested in Muslim rule over all of Palestine, with no Jewish state and no partition!” And Palestinian leadership, according to Morris, “has no desire or intention of reaching a solution of two states for two peoples”. The two- state solution is dead because “The Palestinian leadership and people will not be satisfied with 20 percent of the territory of Palestine. A state composed of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem will not satisfy them.”
And when asked about the right of return, Morris claims that it “essentially requires the destruction of the Jewish state… the Palestinian discourse and the Palestinian objectives have not changed, and their actions, i.e. terror…” It is Palestinians that are to blame because “[the] demonization is not equal on the two sides. In the Israeli education system, in general, there is no demonization of the Arab, [whereas,] there, the Jews are completely demonized. The Palestinian authorities are busy deeply implanting the demonization. The Palestinian people think we can be made extinct. We don’t think that about the Palestinians.” The problem for Morris is that “[aside] from revenge, the Palestinians have absolute faith in the justice of their side, which derives in part from religious faith. What God commands, and what his interpreters on Earth say that God commands, is the definite truth. While the Jews are much more skeptical about this sort of interpretation, the Palestinians feel that justice is on their side and that God doesn’t want the Holy Land to be shared with another people. ..”
Edward Said and Frantz Fanon must be turning in their graves!
But facts on the ground tell another story. Settlement activity in the West Bank continues, as do the confiscation of land and the opening of zigzag roads to service the settlements. Notably, the number of Jewish settlers has risen from 193,000, when the Oslo Accords were signed, to 600.000. (There are separate “Jews only” roads for settlers and other roads for native Palestinians!) No Israeli government has ever been willing to commit itself to the complete evacuation of settlers from the West Bank. Yet this is a basic pre condition for the creation of an “independent Palestinian state,” impossible in light of Israel’s commitment to the settlers. In order to guarantee the security of the settlements and ensure their future development, Israel is bound to control the greater part of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, in any future contingency it is certain that Israel will invoke its security needs to justify tightening its control over the Jordan Valley, thus, again, rendering the project of an independent Palestinian state impossible.
Jerusalem has suffered and is still suffering from the continuation of settlement activity, the building and expansion of Jewish neighborhoods, the confiscation of Jerusalem IDs, i.e., ethnic cleansing, and the policy of “facts on the ground” which leaves no room for future Palestinian control over the city.
In addition, Palestinian refugees living outside the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are experiencing increasing difficulties especially in places like Lebanon and Syria, and are waiting for the day to return to Palestine and to be compensated for their confiscated property. This is a right guaranteed by UN resolution 194. Meanwhile the Palestinian community in Israel is prevented from coexisting on an equal footing with Israeli Jews. Israel’s state policy against its Palestinian citizens amounts to Apartheid as defined by the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, and ratified by United Nations General Assembly resolution 3068 (XXVIII) of 30 November 1973. Needless to say, the PNA does not represent either of those two large segments of the Palestinian people.
Defending a two-state solution is, therefore, an insult to the memory of those who fought for equality and justice not only in Palestine, but also in the American South and South Africa!
Thus we come to the inevitable conclusion that a sovereign, independent Palestinian state is, for the reasons mentioned above, unattainable. The question, therefore, is whether there is an alternative solution?
One alternative increasingly to be found in the writings and pronouncements of certain Palestinian intellectuals and activists is the idea of a secular-democratic state in Mandatory Palestine in which all citizens are treated equally regardless of their religion, race or sex.
A secular, democratic state is one inhabited by its citizens and governed on the basis of equality and parity both between the individuals as citizens and between groups which have cultural identities. Inherent in such an arrangement is the condition that the groups living there are enabled to coexist and to develop on an equal basis. This is summed up in Nelson Mandela’s last words at the end of his four- hour statement to the court at the Rivonia Trial: “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
This system is proposed here as a long-term solution that will need much nurturing, following the political demise of the project of an “independent Palestinian state” as a result of the Oslo Accords, the siege of the Gaza Strip, and the occupation of the West Bank. The establishment of four Bantustans in South Africa was considered by the International Community to constitute a racist solution that could not and should not be entertained. In order to bring that inhumane solution to an end, the Apartheid regime was boycotted academically, culturally, diplomatically and economically until it succumbed and crumbled into pieces. Nothing remains of the old ethnically cleansed South Africa or the impoverished Bantustans it had created: not the red carpets, nor the national anthems, or the security apparatuses. This is what racist solutions come to: a corner in the dustbin of history — a museum for the gaze of new generations.
Haidar Eid is an independent political commentator from the Gaza Strip and Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature, Al-Aqsa University, Gaza Strip, Palestine.