Brief notes on the emerging right-wing one-state solution

on 58 Comments

Years ago I was close to relatives in the religious settler camp.  They were generally warm, generous and honest toward members of their families and communities, but unapologetically racist toward Arabs.  I remember one woman who walked miles in the summer heat every Sabbath to visit elderly synagogue members in the hospital, but frowned with distaste when she saw Arab women there.  One man explained to me matter-of-factly that here in (Greater) Israel, Arabs are guests who may stay only if they behave themselves.  Another referred to them off-handedly as stinking Arabs, "aravim masrichim."  A third expressed hope that in the next war, we could drive all the Arabs out, because the Arabs are the modern incarnation of Amalek, the enemy of God and the Jews. 

When I said that Israel couldn’t continue to rule over Palestinians without granting them equal rights, the settlers looked at me like I was from outer space.  We finally drifted apart after I expressed enthusiasm for the evacuation of Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, because, as one of them frankly explained, "We like to be with people who think like we do." 

So if some religious settlers and their right-wing allies are now proposing to grant Israeli citizenship to Palestinians in the West Bank (see Haaretz report here, longer Hebrew version here), it’s safe to assume that they’re not much motivated by new-found love of Arabs or respect for human rights.  Rather, they’re forced to admit that world opinion is increasingly impatient with Occupation and its associated horrors, and that Israel can’t ignore world opinion forever.  They understand that in the era of Operation Cast Lead and the Mavi Marmara, criticism of Israel can’t be dismissed as anti-Semitism, and that Israel is in real danger of having even its legitimate concerns disregarded because of its illegitimate actions.  

The settlers are by no means solely responsible for the Occupation.  Most of Israeli society is complicit.  But the settlers, especially the religious ones, are the spearhead.  They’re the ones who believe that God granted the Land of Israel to the Jews, and that settling the whole of it will speed the coming of His Messiah.  How can you argue with someone who knows how to bring the Messiah? 

The settlers are also the ones who have the most to lose if Ariel and Ma’aleh Adumim go the way of Gush Katif.  They’ll lose their homes, jobs, communities and dreams.  Thus, many of them would prefer to stay where they are, even at the cost of making substantial concessions to Palestinians.  Some would choose to stay put even if they found themselves living within a Palestinian state. 

So now the settlers and their political allies are looking for ways to square the circle:  that is, to grant Palestinians rights – or at least to gain points and time by talking about doing so – while also preserving the essential Jewishness of the Jewish state.  That’s why right-wing proposals to annex the West Bank and grant Israeli citizenship to Palestinians living there are invariably and immediately accompanied by one or more of the following qualifications:  the Gaza Strip and its residents will not be included in Israel; there will be no Palestinian right of return to Israel; Israeli citizenship will be granted to West Bank Palestinians only gradually, perhaps over the course of a generation; and the grant of citizenship may be contingent on some kind of profession or proof of loyalty to Israel.  Lots of wiggle room there. 

In politics, one should never underestimate the power of a highly-motivated and well-organized minority to lead an apathetic or directionless majority around by the nose.  When settlers and their political allies talk, it’s a mistake not to listen.  They’re filling an ideological vacuum.  The much-reduced-in-size Israeli peace camp is dejected, deflected and caught up in internal squabbles.  The political center has no plan and no direction.  "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." 

What, then, is to be done?  How is the awful stalemate to be broken? 

I support BDS, but it’s not having much of an effect, at least not yet.  I take my hat off to the brave folks demonstrating in Sheikh Jarrah and Bil’in, but they don’t seem ready to storm the Bastille.  I’m overwhelmed with admiration for the many human rights organizations operating in Israel and the Occupied Territories, but by and large they work to alleviate the symptoms of Occupation, not to end it.  Meanwhile, Fayyad is a technocrat, Hamas is medieval, Obama’s been squished, and Europe is ineffectual. Where is the political movement that will end the Occupation, resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and bring about a workable one-state or two-state solution? 

My last two posts, which discussed a possible framework for a one-state solution and its implications for the Palestinian right of return, generated a few hundred comments, along with a thoughtful response from Ahmed Moor that generated another fifty.  Responses ranged in tone from thanks and praise to suggestions that I be hit over the head and banned from Mondoweiss.  Substantively, the comments touched on many different subjects, from the Peel Commission and the Palestine Electric Company to South Africa and the Bolsheviks. 

However, I received not a single response, positive or negative, to my proposal for a Palestinian voting rights campaign in the Occupied Territories.  Nor did anyone raise the possibility of using some other kind of moral and political judo, like for example the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state within the ’67 borders, followed by a campaign for international recognition, followed by the settlers having a hard time explaining their illegal presence in a foreign country.  Nobody put forth a plan. 

In this post I’m taking a break from turgid analysis and detailed proposals.  Instead I’m throwing the ball back to the community of Mondoweiss writers and commentators. 

It’s undeniably therapeutic to fulminate against injustice.  It may also be useful to apply pressure to a corrupt regime through criticism and other sanctions, even if one doesn’t have a plan for changing that regime, or a clear idea of what will replace it.  Still, at some point, one must formulate a plan.  That’s what the settlers are doing.  

58 Responses

  1. MHughes976
    July 17, 2010, 4:30 pm

    You clearly know the settlers much better than I do and I ought to say that your bearing of the trauma of breaking with relatives for the sake of justice deserves much admiration. I’ve never had to do anything like that.
    The settlers’ plan is, as far as I can see from this distance, to talk and to temporise, creating room to wiggle and wriggle and calling forth abundant Western plaudits for all this ability to think so interestingly and humanely under such pressure from terrorists and anti-Semites. This plan will probably work quite well, perhaps work for the foreseeable future, but no one can play for time for all time.
    I have never seen a plan from ‘our’ side that I would expect to work even in the medium term. I can’t think of anything to which Israel would not have an effective rhetorical answer and therefore its customary licence to use force and more force. The nightmare’s nowhere near over.
    The idea of a Palestinian declaration of independence in the West Bank has gained some praise in the UK press but it seems to me that there would be a certain amount of ridicule involved in ‘declaring’ what is plainly not the case to be the case and a problem about the implicit abandonment of most of Palestine to ‘dependency’.
    The effectiveness of the rhetoric depends on the predisposition of Western minds to accept it and objectively false, even preposterous, arguments which have become customary. So the only thing to do is to keep on with the counter-arguments unceasingly, in season and out of season. Nightmares don’t end quickly but the vast majority of people wake up sooner or later.
    Of course Israel may provoke a crisis so serious that it all ends quickly. But I don’t think any of us can foresee clearly how that might happen.

  2. Bumblebye
    July 17, 2010, 4:35 pm

    No, the point of this !one-state” discussion is to get the world to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, then to obfuscate forever over some limited form of citizenship for Palestinians, while making life worse than second class hell for them. Still hoping they’ll refuse to be subject to a recognized Jewish sovereignty, maybe pushing “Europistan”to invite them to become their new home since the other Arab states and the USA won’t be throwing open the doors.

    • Mooser
      July 18, 2010, 12:53 pm

      And of course, we can depend on the settlers to submit to and adhere to any agreements that are made, and depend on the Israelis to police them.

      • Bumblebye
        July 18, 2010, 1:27 pm

        Agreements with holes in them as big as the Pacific to allow for multiple interpretations, which strangely enough, will only ever be in the favor of one small group and never the larger…

      • Bumblebye
        July 18, 2010, 1:30 pm

        While Israel gets on with celebrating its world recognized extended sovereignty but delays and delays & oops, forgets it made a few promises to obtain it.

  3. Donald
    July 17, 2010, 4:42 pm

    Both of your suggestions sound fine with me and I didn’t comment before because I assume that most people here would agree. The first one, demand the vote, sounds like the South African one man one vote solution that many people here favor. The second one is to declare a Palestinian state on the 67 borders and stop waiting for Israel. I’d support either one if that’s what Palestinians want to do.

    I’m a little puzzled why you’d ask us for a clear plan–most of us are Americans, not Palestinians. Shouldn’t it be the Palestinians who choose the plan and then ask us to support it?

    • Donald
      July 17, 2010, 4:55 pm

      Actually, I only remember that you wrote something before–I don’t specifically remember your suggestions, but if you proposed a Palestinian voting rights campaign then that’s the same thing that Nelson Mandela asked for in South Africa. In case you haven’t noticed, that’s called a one state solution and it’s popular here.

      What Palestinians want is the important question.

      • RoHa
        July 17, 2010, 10:47 pm

        “What Palestinians want is the important question.”

        Don’t be ridiculous. Time for you to go back to the political re-education camps!

  4. Avi
    July 17, 2010, 4:46 pm

    Ben Zakai,

    In this article you present a reasonable point of view and you seem genuinely concerned; you’ve hit on a few points that are my personal pet peeve regarding some of the Israeli human rights organizations; in particular, those which merely act to ease the occupation, but not to end it. So, kudos for acknowledging that. It’s a sober and honest assessment.

    Unfortunately I do not recall your previous article here on Mondoweiss or why it received criticism. It will be interesting to see what other commenters have to say about what you wrote above, within the context of that previous article.

    And finally, I’d like to bring your attention to one last point which I believe is an important one. You wrote that, “Hamas is medieval”.

    Hamas is, as several US politicians have already acknowledged, relevant to a future resolution of the conflict. If they continue to be marginalized and demonized, it makes the work of former Congressman Brian Baird, among several others, all the more difficult.

    While I have no doubt that some of Hamas’ policies are anathema to secular Palestinian society, it’s also important to remember that Hamas and their policies are a product of their own environment. In other words, while it’s factually true that their policies on dress code, for example, are at odds with the rest of Palestinian society, it is important to note that such developments have not been part and parcel of the movement’s national aspirations, historically. As you probably know, Palestinian society has been incredibly secular compared to other countries in the region, and the religious dogma put forth by Hamas was catapulted into the mainstream (at least in Gaza) due to the occupation and similar repressive policies.

    In that sense and within that context, I believe that Hamas as the dominant group in Gaza, and the elected party in the elections of 2006, is relevant to a future resolution of the conflict and the actualization of Palestinian rights. Mind you, this does not mean that ideology or dogma need to be embraced, but merely a reminder that Hamas is the last Palestinian national movement that has yet to betray the Palestinian people or their aspirations for a viable and independent state. For creative brevity, I can see how Hamas can be summarily characterized as “medieval”, but that does not provide an unfamiliar reader with the necessary background information to understand such labels.

    Thus, in the absence of credible and readily available information on Gaza, Hamas and the rift between Hamas and Fatah, it behooves the writer — you ;) — to explain the fine details and put them in context. The meme that is often peddled by the mainstream media regarding Hamas and its fanatic policies certainly doesn’t help Palestinian society’s national goals or the efforts of brave politicians and government officials, both in the US and in Europe.

    • Citizen
      July 18, 2010, 12:28 pm

      Anbody know if Obama has acknowledged CENTCOM’s Red Team report, which argues it’s time to start talking to HAMAS in earnest? Surely this would lay some groundwork for a Palestinian vote to declare its own state. link to

      Kinda hard for the Palestinians to self-declare a state like Israel did when they are split up by the most powerful state locally, and the most powerful state period.

  5. Bumblebye
    July 17, 2010, 5:33 pm

    I’m sure your suggestion of UDI within the ’67 borders was made, earlier this year by a Palestinian politician, to which the response was that the moment it happened the West Bank would be cut off without a penny (except for the Settlements of course) & that other obstacles would continue to be put in their way.
    The current Settler discussion is an attempt to take control of the agenda to achieve their own ends – naturally, the extension of full Israeli sovereignty over “Judea & Samaria” – while still merely talking about granting citizenship to Palestinians. They’ll probably advocate “residency” rights as per East Jerusalem Palestinians, making far easier to maintain control, to threaten to strip rights, etc. There won’t even be a pretence of equal rights over land and property, any more than there is in East Jerusalem. Just a new ploy to play for time, to extend the hell of subjugation, to take more & yet more land for themselves. While increasing their pseudo-legal right to kick out as many more people as they can find excuse to do. And also as I said before, to “encourage” emigration. One of the first things they’d do with their extended sovereignty would be to strip the land of Palestinian names of villages or towns, turn it into their Israel, try to make it “feel” foreign as they destroy yet more of the history of the “other” and replace it with theirs. They want a new 1948, knowing they can’t have an *immediate* expulsion.

  6. Scott
    July 17, 2010, 6:09 pm

    Nice piece. I favor a campaign for Palestinian voting rights in the occupied territories, –even if it’s ultimate goal is two state, not a one state, solution. It would be a way of focusing international attention on the status quo, which is intolerable. And if it succeeded, I think inevitably Arabs would be part of the national governing coalition, and the settlers wouldn’t be able to run rough-shod over them. But mostly I see a campaign for voting rights as an effective political tool to put pressure on the status quo. “Israel is a democracy” is the number one selling point of the Israel lobby here, and a voting rights campaign subverts it quite directly. If you don’t mind my asking, where are you and your settler relatives from–or have you all lived in Israel so long it’s no longer relevant?

  7. potsherd
    July 17, 2010, 6:48 pm

    Maybe a voting rights campaign would finally shift the US black leadership out of their selfish stance of ignoring injustice anyone but their own block.

    • Citizen
      July 18, 2010, 12:32 pm

      Potsherd, that’s a good point; it would definitely be harder for American black leaders to ignore.

      • potsherd
        July 18, 2010, 12:41 pm

        Obama today sent birthday greetings to Nelson Mandela. I wish Mandela had replied that for his birthday he would like justice in Palestine.

  8. Jeffrey Blankfort
    July 17, 2010, 8:02 pm

    Some observers have said that de facto, there already is one state, an apartheid state that provides no solution. As I have said before, I don’t think it is the task of those outside of Palestine who are not Palestinians to debate or decide the future of the people living there.

    From my perspective, the call for a “two-state solution,” which originated in the US among American Jewish “peaceniks,” was a device designed to keep Americans from focusing on what we were and remain responsible for, namely, continuing economic and political support for Israel which those same “peaceniks” do not want to see ended.

    Ironically, even the call for a single state plays into their hands because it keeps attention away from what we can actually do but have never seriously tried, is to raise, in a national campaign, a call to end all financial support for Israel, and not on the basis of what it has done to the Palestinians but it what it has done to America’s position and image in the world and to what is left of American democracy with Congress having become Israel’s most important occupied territory.

    That campaign would incorporate the attack on the USS Liberty, the previous bombing of the US film library in Egypt, Israel’s documented history of spying on the US and the theft of nuclear materials, all designed not to attract the useless head-in-the-sand-American left but that larger segment of America from which it has been so long alienated.

    Even the BDS movement against Israel called for by Palestinian civil society has been neutralized in the US by a later generation of these same peaceniks who believe it is enough merely to call for divestment from American companies doing business in the occupied West Bank, leaving Israel off the table completely. That’s the position of Noam Chomsky and Jewish Voice for Peace and constitutes the latest from of damage control. It’s high time we recognize it.

    • hayate
      July 17, 2010, 9:59 pm

      “That campaign would incorporate the attack on the USS Liberty, the previous bombing of the US film library in Egypt, Israel’s documented history of spying on the US and the theft of nuclear materials, all designed not to attract the useless head-in-the-sand-American left but that larger segment of America from which it has been so long alienated.”

      I think that would be a very effective way of ending zionist control of the usa. The view of the “person on the street” is a lot less pro-israel than many might assume. Despite the constant propaganda from the israeli occupied media, most people I’ve talked to are not very impressed with israel, but they’re not exactly pro-Arab, either. Many view the Arab-israeli conflict with disinterest. Trying to invoke sympathy for the Muslim victims of zionism would continue to fall on mostly deaf ears in america. The 40 years of zionist hate propaganda in the zionist run american media and entertainment industries has all but converted Muslims into animals to most americans and the countries are too far away, regardless, to spark an american interest in what goes on there. By concentrating on the damage zionists are doing to america and its interests, realistic american interests, like health care, real representation in the political arena, etc., many more americans would see it in their own interest to take their country back from these ziofascist occupiers.

      The zionist [cough] left would likely first ignore such a movement to try to keep it from getting additional leftwing support, much like they do with leftwing independent, non-zionist sponsored politicians. But once such a phenomena made much headway, and then couldn’t be ignored, the zionist “left” would begin trying to discredit it and those involved.

      • Mooser
        July 18, 2010, 1:20 pm

        Israel’s high place in the pantheon of public opinion is not assured, nor can Zionists hope to retain control of the speech concerning these issues.

  9. RoHa
    July 17, 2010, 11:42 pm

    “I received not a single response, positive or negative, to my proposal for a Palestinian voting rights campaign in the Occupied Territories.”

    I’m astonished! As this thread shows, there are quite a few of us who think that would be an excellent thing to do.

  10. thankgodimatheist
    July 17, 2010, 11:48 pm

    The concept of a bi-national state is not all that new. Martin Buber, Judah Magnes, Hannah Arendt and even Einstein were not the only proponents of the idea. From the Palestinian side there were many like Adil Jabr who in 1941 worked closely with Haim Kalvarisky on a draft for a bi national state to be submitted to Ben Gurion who vehemently rejected it..

    When the Palestinian Arab Adil Jabr and the Zionist binationalist Haim Kalvarisky drew up a program for bi-nationalism in 1940-1 which they wanted to present to Arab leaders for discussion, Kalvarisky first tried to secure the approval of Ben-Gurion at the end of July 1941. Ben-Gurion got angry and called it “an abomination.” A few weeks later, Sharett, Ben-Gurion’s right-hand man and future Prime Minister of Israel, wrote that the draft was not acceptable unless it was revised to include a Jewish state. Cohen concluded that the “bottleneck” to negotiations with Arabs was Ben-Gurion’s refusal to accept a bi-national Palestine based on political parity. Of course this was not known at the time because Ben-Gurion publicly favored bi-nationalism until the early 1940s. The obstacle was not — I quote Cohen who was a participant at the time — “the oft heard complaint that there is no one to talk to in the Arab camp. “(This alibi is a stark reminder that
    history repeats itself.) Jacqueline Rose is correct: “For a brief moment Zionism [she includes here the bi-nationalists] had the chance of molding a nation that would not be an expanded ego, but something else” (p. 86). That is, it could have been a nation based on the kind of genuine cooperation between Jews and Arabs that was advocated by Buber, Magnes, Hannah Arendt, Albert Einstein and others. (See my interview with Chomsky in Radicals, Rabbis and Peacemakers)

  11. Jeffrey Blankfort
    July 18, 2010, 12:25 am

    The bi-national state that Buber, Magnes and others, including the young Chomsky, supported was never a possibility since none of those major Jewish figures were part of the mainstream Zionist leadership which had been dead set on establishing a Jewish state from the beginning. The leadership, under Ben-Gurion, only paid lip service to the idea of sharing the land because at the time they were a distinct minority. Nahum Goldman, one of those early Zionist leaders, told the truth about the duplicity on the part of the early Zionists which would be its hallmark in the years to come.

    There was also a very practical reason why a bi-national state was an impossibility in 1948 and no less now. Israel has always relied on the political and financial support of world Jewry which has proved to be only interested in the welfare of their fellow Jews. The money they donate to Israel today is intended to and, in practice, with few exceptions, it benefits Jews only. Should there ever be a state in which Palestinian Arabs have political equality with Jews it would be more than likely that both the economic and political support by world Jewry for that state would evaporate. An apartheid state, whatever its size or configuration they would tolerate as they have made patently clear. This, at the moment, seems to be the most likely prospect for the immediate future unless………..unless a worldwide BDS campaign brings Israel to its knees.

  12. thankgodimatheist
    July 18, 2010, 12:36 am

    Another thing
    ” Hamas is medieval”
    I understand that “enlightened” Israelis can’t live with that but what makes them think that enlightened Palestinians would be able to live with the prehistoric god-gave- us- the-land ideological settlers who are a significant part of the pack ?

  13. Leigh
    July 18, 2010, 3:54 am

    A palestinian voting rights campaign would be difficult, considering that the PA has already taken down artwork displayed in the westbank that motivated for a one-state solution. So the Palestinian community would have to be sufficiently united to campaign, not only against Israel and its allies, but against their own, um, government. And this would have to involve Palestinian society leaders either negotiating directly with Hamas (which is probably why, if rumours are to be believed, Hamas wants someone like Marwan Barghouti included in the Shalit prison swap deal), or somehow excluding Egypt, Israel and the US from mediation talks. Obviously foreign activists can’t take the lead, as much as I’d love to hear Obama defend granting and withholding rights based on ethnicity/religion (which some journalists would then hopefully ask him to do). It might also place pressure on those that believe that the BDS campaign should apply to settlements only, and not to Israel as a whole. That’s what made anti-apartheid campaigning easier; black South Africans all wanted the same things and were willing to fight for it.

    But I can’t see why, now that they have organised sufficiently to get regular protests going, they cannot organise to get ideas going and work them into the protests as they have already done on a small scale. Set up mock voting stations with international journalists and former politicians/nobel peace prize winners (Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu since Mandela is a bit frail), bombard Israeli offices with citizenship requests and registration of new political parties and requests for tax forms and job applications to Israeli institutions (with copies to the US state department), burn all identity cards on mass like the South Africans did, make fake Israeli IDs and march in mass up to check points, etc. But ultimately, it will have to be a Palestinian campaign with extensive international support.

    If the world sees no problem with settlers residing in occupied territories and residents of the territories being moved out, I’d be surprised if anyone will care about settlers living in a foreign country; especially considering that the international community will probably recognise a Palestinian state, but avoid controversy by refusing to endorse a statement about its borders. So the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state has never seemed particularly promising to me. But it’s for the Palestinians to decide which initiative they want to push.

    As much as I like the idea, I’m also not wildly optimistic about a campaign to show ostrich-like Americans how Israel acts against American interests. There is a lot that can be used in a neocon counter campaign: “the Israeli deterrent keeps the extremist Arabs and Muslims in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Syria and even Iran under control (I mean, America cannot do it all by themselves), all countries spy on each other so why make an exception in the Israeli case, Israelis are bright enough to help the US develop weapons, the Liberty was an unfortunate accident,” etc. Sadly they can do the same with the voting rights plans: “if Israel gives Palestinians voting rights, when Israel no longer has a Jewish majority a nuclear arsenal will be in Arab hands,” etc. Long deep sigh.

    A pity that European countries are so scared of antagonising the US, otherwise a campaign in the UN General Assembly for countries to call to exclude the US from the peace process (yuck) would have been interesting. I mean, it’s not as if evidence is lacking that they have not had any success. And obviously there is no way of using international law to force the US and Europe out of participating in the occupation, except in the form of an International Court of Justice call that everyone will ignore.

  14. MHughes976
    July 18, 2010, 6:47 am

    Having spoken pessimistically before I should say that Ben’s remarks, even if they provoke some pessimism, do hit the nail squarely on the head, as many of the comments have also done. The situation in Palestine is that sovereignty is being exercised by a power that practises massive disfranchisement of those subject to it and offers an array of very bad arguments, some meant to conceal or disguise, some meant to justify what it is doing. The latest ‘right-wing’ offer seems to be to stop doing these dreadful things eventually and selectively, which is not a great advance – but the fact that these people are talking in these terms does create a little scope for exposing the real situation.

  15. wondering jew
    July 18, 2010, 7:56 am

    I wade into this discussion cautiously. Doubts regarding the one state rightists are appropriate. But where the building of coalitions fills me with the sense of possibility it seems to fill most of you with a sense of despair. Certainly the Palestinian leadership is the one on the spot to give the command that one state is the direction in which they wish to proceed. Such a command is not foreseeable while Obama is president. (Unless you foresee something I don’t foresee.)

    If the Palestinian leadership would give the command, then Jerusalem would be the starting point. Palestinian residents of Jerusalem can technically already apply for citizenship. Very few have ever done so. I assume the reason is the official policy of the national Palestinian movements. If those movements would change their policy and allow these Palestinians to swear loyalty to Israel (but not as a Jewish state, but merely as a national entity), that would be the first step.

    Certainly those who want the dismantling of Israel tomorrow will not consider a gradual move an adequate step. This movement on the right wing of Israel is still in an embryonic stage. My own assessment is that a two state solution is far nearer than this path. But that proximity might be an illusion and then the one state solution will be the way to go and then the right wing Israelis might be the most illogical allies but nonetheless the most important alliance. But certainly the Jerusalem Palestinians would be the most logical tactical starting point.

    • annie
      July 18, 2010, 10:10 am

      Palestinian residents of Jerusalem can technically already apply for citizenship. Very few have ever done so.

      sometimes i have to roll my eyes at the stupidity of some of these comments.

    • Bumblebye
      July 18, 2010, 1:35 pm

      Yes wj, and I hear they can also apply for building permits.

  16. Richard Witty
    July 18, 2010, 8:12 am

    Advocacy for full civil rights for law-abiding civilians is a compelling and ultimately undeniable position for dissent to take.

    It is grounded in the present, rather than either flavors of the reactionary formulas based on past (even recent 1948 past, or 1945 past, or 1917 past).

    You still face the knotty problem of SELECTION of jurisdiction.

    The reasoning behind partition is that jurisdiction is selected to optimize self-governance (for both Israelis/Jews and for Palestinians, noting that there are minorities in each group). So, the question of whether Gaza should be part of single state Palestine (it wasn’t until 1948) is an interesting question, a selective one.

    Again, the only condition in which a single state or bi-national state would be a more just, a more complete fulfillment of consent of the governed, is if the populations regard themselves as primarily secular, democratic rather than any nationalist flavors. If 70% of Israelis regard themselves as national, and 60% of Palestinians, that is 30% that would impose their governmental form on a majority that prefers nationalist institution.

    Even if it ended up forced, I expect that whichever 51% would seek to institutionalize their agenda, so a 51% Zionist majority would impose a Zionist state. A 51% haredi majority would impose a halachic state. A 51% fatah majority would prefer and maybe impose a Palestinian state. A 51% hamas majority would likely impose a sharia state.

    There are ways that 51% majorities can strongly consider the minorities, and there are ways that they could regard 51% majority as an authoritative and permanent mandate, and not for democracy.

    The rule of law agitated for non-violently is the only path for genuine dissent. It ends up conflicting with right-wing Zionist objectives and policies. It ends up conflicting with Hamas and anarchist dissenting objectives and policies.

    I hope you guys even recognize that that is the case.

    The right of return as Palestinians’ day in court, is just and undeniable. The “right of return” as Palestinians dispossession of current residents’ homes, is unjust and aggressive.

    No one here or really elsewhere has clarified what Palestinian solidarity seeks in that regard, and that keeps the concept as a dismissed one, rather than an engaged one (unless the demand conflicts with the rule of law, and is otherwise entirely unrealistic).

    • Koshiro
      July 19, 2010, 4:21 am

      “The right of return as Palestinians’ day in court, is just and undeniable. The “right of return” as Palestinians dispossession of current residents’ homes, is unjust and aggressive.”

      Geeze Louise, cut it out with this sophistry. Victims of theft don’t need their ‘day in court’, they need their property back. And if that should prove impossible, they need compensation for their stolen property. And if you think that the poor people who happened to buy the stolen property from the thieves can’t offer that compensation, offer it yourself or stop giving high-handed lectures.

    • thankgodimatheist
      July 19, 2010, 6:43 am

      An American, Jew or not for all I care, is not going to tell who should and who should not be able to return or not..You have your own problem to mind for now; You are moderated and that is for a good reason..Good luck…

  17. wondering jew
    July 18, 2010, 8:14 am

    One other comment: regarding the anti Israel campaign that some of you have in mind. What percentage of the American public is aware of the story of the USS Liberty? Is that really the smartest linchpin for your campaign?

    I really don’t see an incident that occurred 43 years ago to be a potential key to the campaign. The argument that the attack was an accident is believable. The primary argument that the attack was intentional seems to be based on whether the flag was clearly visible or not on a ship near the Egyptian shore in a time of war 43 years ago.

    The only time in the past that the American people have revolted against official Washington foreign policy has been when many Americans were returning home in caskets. Most Americans do not attribute the war against Iraq as a neoconservative policy, but rather the policy of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. And now it is the policy of Obama. What is the name recognition of Wolfowitz or Kristol or Douglas Feith? In the single digits?

    I know that my advice as a supporter of Israel will be scoffed at and even the oak tree started as an acorn and a movement that you discern as being in American interests (and may in fact be so, I am not neutral enough to determine American interests) is a worthwhile movement.

    But the focus of the rhetoric I read here does not seem to me to have the potential to start a mass movement, unless you have some historical allusion that would show me wrong. That is why your best hope is a war against Iran and 10 dollar a gallon gas prices.

    • David Samel
      July 18, 2010, 9:38 am

      WJ, as far as the Liberty is concerned, the Israeli explanation of accident was never plausible, except to those predisposed to believe it. Israel’s attack lasted a couple of hours, and to my knowledge, there has never been a single surviving sailor who gave any credence to the accident excuse. You undoubedly are correct when you note that a very small percentage of Americans is aware of the incident, but that is not an argument in favor of continued ignorance. You may also be correct when you say that this incident, if more widely publicized, would have little or no effect on US-Israel relations. Who can predict that with any accuracy? The fact is that there are still many survivors, and families of the dead, as well as an American public at large that has fed tens or hundreds of billions of dollars to Israel since then, who have always been entitled to a full accounting.

      With respect to the one-state solution with equal rights for all citizens, what is the alternative? Obviously a situation of permanent conflict, or even turmoil, is in no one’s interest, so what do you see as a situation everyone can live with? Should the Palestinians resign themselves to the fact that they will forever live as inferiors dominated by another people? Would you find that acceptable? If a two-state solution magically materialized tomorrow, with Israel agreeing to full withdrawal to the 67 borders (I have a much better chance of growing a full head of dark hair), Palestinian citizens of Israel would continue be second-class citizens as long as the concept of the “Jewish State” exists. This disadvantage would not only be in comparison to Israeli Jews, but also to diaspora Jews such as myself, and even to gentiles who convert to Judaism. When would that, or should that, become acceptable?

      The only thing standing in the way is the refusal of Israeli Jews to recognize full equality as inevitable. Maybe I’m optimistic, but I do not consider this to be a permanent state of mind, and I welcome any movement, even the equivocal one among right-wingers, in the right direction.

    • potsherd
      July 18, 2010, 10:10 am

      The problem is American apathy. The task is to overcome it. The existence of injustice won’t work, we have seen this. There seems to be no outrage that Israel can commit against Arabs or Muslims that can penetrate American indifference.

      The only solution is to appeal to the perceived self-interest of American voters. Gas prices are one factor that is known to be a high motivator, across the entire political spectrum, and it is something everyone can immediately see. Loss of jobs is another strong motivator.

      A really horrendous military disaster and loss of American lives might do, also, but the tricky part is always to pin the problem clearly on Israel, to counter the inevitable Israeli propaganda, which will try to pin the guilt on Iran or whoever else is their victim. This is the lesson of the Liberty attack and coverup, as well as the more recent lesson of the Mavi Mamara, in which the murder of a single US citizen has been ignored, with blame cast on the victim.

      • potsherd
        July 18, 2010, 10:10 am

        It is also the lesson of 9/11.

    • annie
      July 18, 2010, 10:16 am

      What is the name recognition of Wolfowitz or Kristol or Douglas Feith? In the single digits?

      about 7 or 8 and we’re all here WJ. hee hee , keep dreaming.

      What percentage of the American public is aware of the story of the USS Liberty?

      10 years ago i would guess maybe about 139. now more like several million, in another 10 years it will be in all the history books. it’s an important historical piece of the puzzle. for context and all that.

    • Mooser
      July 18, 2010, 10:59 am

      “I really don’t see an incident that occurred 43 years ago…”
      Than stop kvetching about the Holocaust, idiot!
      No, things reported to have happened 2500 years ago mean a whole hell of a lot more.

    • Citizen
      July 18, 2010, 12:58 pm

      WJ, thank you for highlighting the immensity of the task of informing the average American he or she has skin in the game in the face of so many decades of Big Brother Hasbara–yes, a big task–barring a war on Iran in support of Israel, especially if it includes (eventually) a US Military Draft combined with the inevitable higher gas price at the pump. But the comments responding to your post are valuable too, especially the one saying that slowly average Americans are becoming aware.

    • hayate
      July 18, 2010, 2:56 pm

      Remove* the “WJs” from control of the american media and americans will be better informed.

      * By remove, I mean take them out of the picture. Bypass their control by promoting alternative sources free of zionist control. Boycott the zionist corporate media out of business.

  18. CitizenC
    July 18, 2010, 9:29 am

    The binational state was not some humanist “solution” but was undemocratic. Brit Shalom advocated in 1925 full political equality with the Palestinians, including immigration and demographic parity for Jews, when they were 17% of the population. After 1945 Jews were 33-35%. The binats wanted political equality leading to immigration and demographic parity and majority. Palestinians who disliked the Zionisation of their country could move to federated Transjordan or Syria. After 1945 Elmer Berger and the American Council for Judaism opposed binationalism, argued for a single state governed by its inhabitants, which would have mean an Arab majority with a Jewish minority. Martin Buber was asked to support this but refused.

    No doubt the right-wing 1-state discussion is Zionism by other means. But it’s not simply a settler idea. I don’t think Tzipi Hotevely, Moshe Arens and Menahem Rivlin are settlers. As a defense of Zionism its more constructive than massacre and expulsion. In the purely hypothetical event the US exerted enough pressure on Israel for it to consider a peace of any sort, 1-state would possibly become more than Zionism’s last stand.

  19. Mooser
    July 18, 2010, 10:55 am

    Guy is full of it. There is an entire international syndicate and internal Israeli machinery which supports the settlements. Expansion by settlement is Israeli policy and has been for years.
    “They’ll lose their homes, jobs, communities and dreams. “

    They will lose the sweet deal they get for being the phalanx, the vanguard of the Israeli state. And excuse me for living, but what the hell do I care about their racist, murderous homes communities and “dreams”.
    Thieves and murderers have dreams, too. They dream of successful, unopposed thievery and murder. The idea that settlers are owed anything except incarceration is ridiculous, and the idea that the settlers are brave religious Jews with a “dream” is insulting.

    • thankgodimatheist
      July 18, 2010, 8:03 pm

      “Thieves and murderers have dreams, too. They dream of successful, unopposed thievery and murder. The idea that settlers are owed anything except incarceration is ridiculous, and the idea that the settlers are brave religious Jews with a “dream” is insulting.”

      C’mon Mooser..Thieves and murderers have mums too…I feel pity (sniff..) for those “dispossessed” settlers when there will be no more Palestinians around for them to quench their sadistic penchants and continue their exercises in depraved cruelty. But my question is: Will normal Israelis who dumped them in the OT accept to live side by side with those packs of hyenas? Not that I should care but just wondering..

  20. Mooser
    July 18, 2010, 11:01 am

    “while also preserving the essential Jewishness of the Jewish state.”

    You can’t even tell me what that consists of, in any context which cannot just be dismissed as Jewish supremacy, but you’re convinced the settlers are right to kill for it. You are full of crap.

    • RoHa
      July 19, 2010, 6:51 am

      Sad to say, Mooser, and saving your wonderful self, I agree with Annie. (Though I use the shift key to do so.)

      It seems to me that the essential Jewishness of the Jewish state is a combination of two (connected) ideas which to a non-Jew seem to be pretty widely distributed Jewish traits.

      The first is (in Salima’s words) the idea that “We matter and you don’t.”

      The second is that of hating everybody.

      Clearly neither of these apply to you, or a fair number of the other Jews who post here, but it looks as though they are the foundation of Israeli Jewishness.

  21. annie
    July 18, 2010, 11:08 am

    “while also preserving the essential Jewishness of the Jewish state.”………………You can’t even tell me what that consists of

    i can!

    jumped from her seat and rushed to the rostrum, letting out blood-curdling shrieks, waving her arms, in order to remove Haneen Zoabi by force. Other members rose from their seats to help Michaeli. Near the speaker, a threatening crowd of Knesset members gathered. Only with great difficulty did the ushers succeed in saving Zoabi from bodily harm. One of the male members shouted at her, in a typical mixture of racism and sexism: “Go to Gaza and see what they will do to a 41 year old unmarried woman!”

    One could not imagine a greater contrast than that between the two MKs. While Haneen Zoabi belongs to a family whose roots in the Nazareth area go back centuries, perhaps to the time of Jesus, Anastasia Michaeli was born in (then) Leningrad. She was elected “Miss St. Petersburg” and then became a fashion model, married an Israeli, converted to Judaism, immigrated to Israel at age 24 but sticks to her very Russian first name. She has given birth to eight children. She may be a candidate for the Israeli Sarah Palin, who, after all, was also once a beauty queen..

    anastasia perfectly reflects what the essential Jewishness of the Jewish state is..

    ; )

  22. Mooser
    July 18, 2010, 11:15 am

    “Years ago I was close to relatives in the religious settler camp. They were generally warm, generous and honest toward members of their families and communities,”

    Hey Ben, you could make a lot of money! Just get one of those “nmarried to the mob” books or “My Mafia childhood” books and simply cross out any reference to “Mafia”, “mob” “Family” etc. and replace it with “settlers”
    Of course, you will have to replace spaghetti or lasagna with gefilte fish or kreplach. You may even get a movie offer.
    In the meantime, stop bullshitting me, I’m Jewish, okay? You don’t make the kind of person who can live at a settlement by being “generally warm, generous and honest toward members of their families”, you make them with constant abuse, to brutalise them to the necessary level. Just the fact that you can even insult me by positing that people can be both “generally warm” but “unapologetically racist” tells me you’ve never really left the settlement, just become an agent for them.

    “but unapologetically racist toward Arabs.”

    Oh, I see, the “unapologetically” makes it all better? Should we admire them for their forthrightness?

    “Still, at some point, one must formulate a plan.” It’s our responsibility to formulate a plan for the settlers? What’s Israel’s plan for them, besides unmitigated support, and eventual abandonment?
    You want a plan for the settlers? They should be held to account for their crimes. They will probably be safer in jail, cause when and if they outlive their usefulness, and cannot secure the occupied territory for Israel, Israel will abandon them.

    • Citizen
      July 18, 2010, 1:00 pm

      Gemutlichkeit; ain’t Das Volk, er I mean the folks wunnerful?

      • Mooser
        July 18, 2010, 1:39 pm

        Ah I lost my temper, I’m sorry. I over-reacted to the writer’s anecdotes which sought, I guess to give a ‘just folks’ side of the settlers, you know warm, honest, and unapologetically racist. And when I read “How can you argue with someone who knows how to bring the Messiah” , I think I may have snapped. So we can’t argue with them, but we have to make plans for them?

  23. Bandolero
    July 18, 2010, 2:35 pm

    “Still, at some point, one must formulate a plan.”

    I disagree with that. First of all plans people are sticking to in factions have the danger to create rifts. So a simple demand might be better to keep unity. An example for such is to demand “justice”. That already includes many other demands like “just peace” and “no to apartheid”, but it doesn’t devide the Paletinian rights movement into “one staters” and “two staters”.

    Technically justice is based on rights. So the situation is to demand from Israel to fulfil all it’s obligations under international law. That exactly what the arab peace initiative 2002 is demanding: Israel has to abandon the occupied territories and let the ethnically cleansed people exercise their right of return and/or offer just compensation.

    With the settler’s one state solution, we see now, that pressing Israel to fulfill it’s obigations may bring new offers from the Israeli side, where they offer a single state instead of fulfiling it’s international obligation for the two state solution. That’s fine as it shows that Israeli camp moves.

    But as long as such a proposal brings no justice, it should be rejected. The situation changes, when the Israeli side makes a one state proposal, that brings justice.

    From my point of view a fair one state proposal may be:

    1. Israel will abandon all apartheid,
    2. Israel offers fair power sharing in the whole single state,
    3. all refugees are granted their right to return back into 48 occupied lands and into 67 occupied Palestine and/or compensation.

    It does not need to be the job of the Palestinian camp to develop a just offer for the Israeli side. It’s the Palestinian’s job to decide whether an Israeli one state soution offer is so attractive, that they will abandon their just rights derived from international law having their own state for a specific one or two state offer.

    I think what I tell here is very much like the position of Norman Finkelstein. And I think that’s a clever position. The Palestinian camp should stick to the rights of the Palestinians derived from international law. Israel is free to make a better or at least as good offer than what the international law grants the Palestinians and the Palestinians are free to accept a fair Israeli offer.

    The settlers one state offer is not fair, so it is to be rejected. Of course, eveybody is free to help the Israeli side to make a better offer that what international law grants to the Palestinians. In this way, I would see the “One Country” book of Ali Abunimah. It says, hey Israel, if you offer us such a just one state solution we may agree to it and create a win-win-situation for all of us.

  24. hayate
    July 18, 2010, 3:03 pm

    From the article:

    “and that Israel is in real danger of having even its legitimate concerns disregarded because of its legitimate concerns actions. ”

    There are no legitimate israeli concerns because israel is illegitimate in all its aspects and always has been.

    • Interested Bystander
      July 18, 2010, 7:58 pm

      Everyone has legitimate concerns, everyone has family, everyone wants to get by. If we’re not willing to grant that premise then there can be no plan, and there is nothing to talk about. We may just as well adopt a screen name like “I hate” and fulminate.

      • hayate
        July 18, 2010, 10:50 pm

        Here, have a lollipop, troll.

  25. Bumblebye
    July 18, 2010, 3:26 pm

    This whole exercise of Ben Zakkai’s is directly comparable to a nursery teacher asking her class of 5yr olds to paint pictures of Moses going up the mountain.
    The only possible chance of there NOT being the outcome I suggested the Settlers actually want – and likely within 5yrs – is if public opinion in the US & only the US is turned about face and the public motivated to bombard their representatives & potential representatives calling for an end to the iniquitous “aid”, and calling for an end to the presence of dual nationals & “Israel Firster” Zionists in all the top, middle & bottom layers of government. And in so many government associated “think-tanks” etc. The opinions or plans of the Palestinians, the opinions of the rest of the world, have no chance of effecting change without this also happening. And pigs might fly.

  26. thankgodimatheist
    July 18, 2010, 8:45 pm

    And what are their plans for Gaza? Doesn’t look like it’s in the picture at all.

  27. Damyan
    July 18, 2010, 9:20 pm

    Well, here is a plan that can work:

    link to


    • Bumblebye
      July 18, 2010, 9:36 pm

      If the race card’s ripped up, they’ll just switch to more of the religious or cultural superiority arguments. Don’t forget, the student’s are scared to hear arabic spoken in their universities, it’s a provocation to see a Palestinian walking down your own street, the daily workers are referred to as “terrorists”. A few genetic markers won’t change that!

  28. RoHa
    July 19, 2010, 6:53 am

    Talk about having “plans” for people – be they settlers or not – has chilling overtones.

  29. Joseph Glatzer
    July 19, 2010, 11:50 pm

    Ben: I give you a lot of credit for writing this and your previous articles. Although I definitely find some sticking points in regards to your take on the refugee issue; I think it’s terribly important to start having these discussions and conversations. We are all stakeholders in the future of Israel and the Palestinians, so we must take responsbility in formulating a positive future vision.

    I think you make an excellent suggestion, and it’s something I’ve thought of before. It’s Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza simply demanding voting rights. Anything that recalls the African American Civil Rights Movement has powerful overtones and can be incredibly effective.

    What if Palestinians flood the checkpoints separating the West Bank from Israel and show up at voting booths or registration offices and demand their right to vote for the leaders who rule over them?

    So, I agree with you on the need for action which makes a difference right now, while also pursuing the long term approaches of BDS and human rights monitoring and reporting groups like B’tselem.

    I think there are definitely many creative and attention getting means of resistance: such as the flotillas.

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