I keep saying that there’s about to be a Jewish intifada, that young empowered American Jews are going to throw off the idea of a Jewish state just because it is not meaningful to them. I deal in straws in the wind, and I saw it at J Street when young people spoke openly of Jewish privilege in America (a verboten meme in the older generations; because anti-Semites say that) and I saw it in Palestine last month, on a hillside in annexed Jerusalem, where an oldster leftish American-Israeli Jew confronted young Josh Levey and Michael Kaplan and said that Ethnic states are cool, and the two guys just smiled at her– these two students from a Jewish high school who are volunteering in a refugee camp and actually believe in democracy.
The whole reason for new generations is to let the old die off with their old ideas. They have lost the ability to imagine the world afresh. They are locked in their own beginning-middle-and-end that began with ancient assumptions, many of them racist, or steeped in the Holocaust. While the young, having absorbed in a heartbeat all the innovations that it took the previous generation 30 years to bring about (gay rights, civil rights), are ready to strike with their own hammers against the inequities of the human condition.
Well I had to sermonize, sorry. But here’s more evidence for my claim: New Voices, the Jewish students magazine, prints a groundbreaking piece by Jeremy Siegman called "States of Denial" (I think they punted on the headline) that essentially endorses the idea of a binational state. The feeling here is, If you will it it is not a dream, though Siegman makes a visit to Mort Klein of the ZOA, who he points out helped create the situation by destroying the 2SS by destroying the old idea of separation. Siegman:
With all these obstacles to separation, [Daniel] Gavron, a lifelong labor Zionist, ended his latest book with an unexpected bang.
He proposed that Israel be dissolved in favor of a single binational state, the State of Jerusalem.
“I think that the Jews would be rather horrified at losing the State of Israel to a one-state entity,” Gavron said. “But in a way we’ve got ourselves to blame, not the settlers. It’s the rest of us who’ve allowed them to do this.”
Gavron and [Tony] Judt agree that the settlement movement’s “facts on the ground” have been more successful than many realize, making complete separation between two states impossible.
If withdrawal is impossible, Gavron would let the entire territory of Israel and the Palestinian territories encompass a one-man, one-vote democratic state—similar to [Martin] Buber’s 1939 idea of a unified parliament of Israelis and Arabs in Palestine.
Israelis and Palestinians could live where they please, which would solve the problem of the “right of return” for Palestinians who were displaced in the Arab-Israeli fighting of 1947 and 1948. At the same time, the new state could maintain the Jewish Law of Return.
Gavron calls this “an open solution, without any walls through it,” or at least without Israel’s barrier along the West Bank border, built following the second Intifada.
Israel is a country that has absorbed astronomic numbers of Russian refugees, Gavron argues, and it could do the same with Palestinians. Palestinians share some of Israelis’ high-tech savvy, which he says could be another source of cooperation.
The State of Jerusalem would also merge the various Palestinian security forces with the IDF, which Gavron claims would make for fairer treatment of the diverse population…
Judt is unenthusiastic about the American Jewish Diaspora’s ability to make peace. He argues that diasporas in general “make small, vulnerable and victimized countries radical and resentful.”
Gavron thinks Jewish students can and should come around to his new ideas and would have J Street U [J Street's student wing] focus more on environmentalism.
“I’m not discouraging American students from coming [to Israel],” Gavron told New Voices. “Zionism today is about preserving our environment and working together, among peoples.”…
Both Judt and Gavron view Obama as the last, best hope for an agreement. And if two states were to pass, Gavron would be “deliriously happy,” he told New Voices.
Nor has Judt given up on Obama. He thinks that the negotiations could succeed now, but only if they abandon “so-called confidence building” and go straight to final-status issues: Jerusalem, territory, and rights of return—if only just in theory.
Advocates of a binational state seem willing to address those issues. They do not all claim to have answers, but they are asking many of the same questions that the early Zionists did.
Do Jews or Palestinians need their own nation-state to fulfill their aspirations? Should the international community try to establish more ethno-national states? Or can the two peoples retain ethnic states while living amongst each other?