25 August, 2006

1-state solution

Jon's post this morning got me thinking about Israel again. I find much of the discussion about its conflicts to be irrelevant. I don't think the abrasion between Israel, Palestine and their neighbors can be solved by trying to assign blame for specific actions and wars. It's much more useful to look at the structural conflict and to seek ways to resolve it.

Maybe the problem is that Israel is an ethnically based state -- and one imposed on a region where its dominant ethnicity was a minority at the country's founding. Ethnic states are archaic. Ethnic states run by a minority fell out of fashion before I started humming "Free Nelson Mandela."

It's fashionable for peaceniks to push for a 2-state solution. I think this is doomed to fail. Who will be in which state? Who gets the airports, seaports, fresh water? Will the world keep dissecting into smaller units, each devoting its best and brightest to defending a border?

Why not a 1-state solution, with Israel accepting full human and civil rights for all those who live there? It's sad that even here in the U.S., which was the first country based on the notion of inalienable rights, this is a controversial view.

I believe such a state would be more stable and healthy for both Palestinians and Jews because of improved prosperity. More minds working on problems, less money spent on internal security, more food security for all, and if other prosperous but historically torn societies are any gauge (England vs. Ireland?) fewer people feeling the passion of a blood feud. Israel could live up to its moniker of being the only democracy in the Middle East.

There is a reason why there are more Jews in the U.S. than there are in Israel -- it's a more prosperous place. Our prosperity is largely because we have eschewed the 16th-century ideal of being an ethnic homeland (despite some people's efforts).

Many Jews and Zionists think full rights for Arabs would betray Israel's mission of being a Jewish homeland. The country could soon revert to being minority-Jew, and the Knesset could be dominated by people who oppose Israel's very existence.

This risk is real. On the other hand, being a more peaceful and prosperous place, perhaps more Jews would move there. And more importantly, making it a better country could help save the religion. I was born a Jew but if I'm supposed to identify with that homeland, I'll stick to atheism and stay out of shul. The U.S. is the Jewish homeland for now, and I think it will remain that way unless Israel backs off and figures out how to be a functioning part of the modern world, rather than, like its Islamic Republic neighbors, a relic of a more tribal time. As is, it is driving some of us away from the religion without creating paradise on earth for itself.

(Cross-posted from Tiny Revolution.)


this seems to put aside 100+ years of ethnic housecleaning and exploitation of non-europeans before the USA could become a working alternative to "balance of power." based on that, some kind of one-state solution will come to pass, in the 22nd century (on the most forgiving timeline). one of the really bad things going on is that the good-paying jobs in israel now are well above working class education, unlike the factory work that developed the urban melting pot here, so the class thing is even bigger than it was here.

now i'm wondering if a good comparison would be the elimination of arabs so that persians, south asians, and turks could move to israel, seeking economic and political refuge.

(also crossposted.) 

Posted by hibiscus

Well, I like the provoking stance and it at least makes one think this all over again.

Firts, OK for looking a moment at the structural conflict and not the historical one.

What do we have here ? An ethnic state ? Yes that. Israel in that sense bear terrible likeliness to the South Africa of Apertheid era.

But does that describe all the structural context ? No not really. You can't take out of the picture, the global context of the middle east as a Oil source for the world especially the USA. So once this come into play, you have an ethnic state engaged (or pawn) in a power game played by various forces.

Hmm.. it becomes a bit morce complicated. We can't hope to describe this conflict completelty and any simple solution is bound to miss an essential point.

But still the argument is valid : thinkijng exclusively in term of separate states is certainly a nationalist or ethnic constrained view and an historical one.

Hmm.. that got me thinking. Thanks.


Posted by Doomu Rewmiv

I've in the past been given to understand that Palestinians historically have been absurdly well-educated; not sure how this is achieved, exactly, or if it's true, but if so, it might mean that class/education barriers are less of a factor. 

Posted by saurabh

Reminds me of an another time when the two nation vs one nation theory was hotly discussed - India, 1947.

The two nation was chosen. It was to be an ethnic divide. What came of it? How I wish it had never happened.

Posted by Anonymous

been reading autobiography of malcolm x  and a few other "civil rights"/human rights histories here. particularly now one can gather together how frightening the ghetto riots were to those who were in position to shoehorn the black population back into the big plan (after they got tossed from their war-earned social power). "they live in the ghetto because they're violent" is such a powerful narrative.

it seems palestine is a prison for people who are to be convicted in the future? i want to think that integration can work but i have a hard time believing the israelis are up to it, like the powerful folks in alabama and louisiana. to a select group, it's guilty-until-innocent with a case unprovable by any evidence. 

Posted by hibiscus

I've been hearing more progressives advance this view. It might have been plausible earlier and maybe it still is, but I think it might amonunt to the dissolution of Israel as a state as it currently stands. Ultimately, demogarphically, it's not plausible for Israel to exist as a Jewish state and a democratic state in a one-state solution (and it owuld probably be called Palestine). I doubt that that would be acceptable to Israelis.

It's sad that even here in the U.S., which was the first country based on the notion of inalienable rights, this is a controversial view. 

Hello? slavery / the construction of the Black race? That's a pretty strong argument to contend with in advancing the idea of a one-state multiethnic solution. 

Posted by saurav

Hibiscus, Saurav:  I don't think that it's erasing U.S. brutality to continent's earlier nations, or erasing slavery, to say that the U.S. invented the notion of inalienable rights. The trick is that it took them a long time to recognize Africans and Americans as humans; with that done, the rights came with the package. The Israelis claim to recognize Palestinians as humans, but the rights lag behind.

Hibiscus: I hear what you're saying that structurally, Palestine is a waiting room for prison, if not bullets. But I take hope from South Africa, which for all its fits and starts, has kept some of its national identity while more-or-less-peacefully transferring power to the group that had for decades been under the country's thumb. 

Posted by hedgehog

I don't think that it's erasing U.S. brutality to continent's earlier nations, or erasing slavery, to say that the U.S. invented the notion of inalienable rights. The trick is that it took them a long time to recognize Africans and Americans as humans; with that done, the rights came with the package.The Israelis claim to recognize Palestinians as humans, but the rights lag behind. 

I think my difference of opinion with you is that it's not that rights for some classes (or racial groups or caste groups) lag behind but that their second-class status is fundamental to the maintenance of the system. That might have changed, to some extent (at least on an ideological level), in the U.S., post Civil Rights era, but many of my friends who are immigrant advocates point to the same process in terms of the construction of non-citizens as the marginal labor pool.

On the race question in the U.S., you should take a look at David Roediger's Wages of Whiteness (race and the formation of the American working class, is I think the subhead). It's informative on this perspective. It taught me the phrase "herrenvolk republicanism" :) 

Posted by saurav

Saurav underscores what makes a one-state solution difficult: Israeli intransigence on the subject of the Jewish state. Worries about the "demographic problem" in Israel are an indicator. As long as many Israelis continue to believe that the security of the Jewish people depends on the existence of a Jewish-majority state with special rights for Jews, a one-state solution will be unappealing to them. I don't think Zionism is disappearing anytime soon (even israeli peaceniks believe in it), especially so long as groups like Hizbullah continue to reinforce the notion that others want to destroy the Jews through rhetoric and action, so I can't believe a one-state solution is reasonable, no matter how much I think it is desirable that everyone just learn to get along. Of course, I'm an advocate of no-state solutions, so... 

Posted by saurabh

hh, th'uthers said much for me, but i add that (if i have my dates right) american religiously-motivated expansion on the continent was completed before a commitment to rights for either african or native americans was on the table. to me this is an old-school liberty/security question, which means "inalienable" can be limited in scope by the power group's concept of who "all men" refers to. "savage" status remains the loophole in the american social contract. 

Posted by hibiscus

I truly think you are missing the point. There religion wants to wipe everyone who is not of there religion off the face of the earth.

Until that little sticking point is resolved there can be no solution.


If the Islamic forces laid down their weapons, there would be peace in the region.

If the Israeli forces laid down their weapons, there would be no more Israel.

Posted by crankyright

to be parallel, you should say, "if the jewish  forces laid down their weapons." without this, it looks like you're holding your nose when speaking of hebraic folks. 

Posted by hibiscus

Crankyright: Which religion are you talking about when you say "there" (apparently meaning "their")? Jewish, Muslim, Christian, or Krikkit? And where did you get your information? 

Posted by hedgehog

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