The No State Solution is the latest contribution from Alternate Focus to examine the Israeli-Palestine conflict. This 28 minute video first explores political barriers to any solution, and then possible resolutions. The video features interviews with Dr. Stephen Zunes (Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco), Miko Peled (author of “The General’s Son”), and Jeff Warner (Jewish peace activist in Los Angeles and author of this review), interleaved with the filmmakers narrative are abundant modern and archival clips.
The first section examines why there has not been an Israeli-Palestinian agreement after more than twenty years of negotiations. Interviews with Warner and Zunes make the case that although the American government says it wants a Palestinian state alongside Israel, it will not fight to make that happen because neither the Israeli government nor its people want a Palestinian state to emerge, and American politics is such that both parties fear confronting Israel.
The second section asserts that Zionists as well as the PLO and Hamas all call for a single state in all of Palestine with themselves in charge. The video documents the Zionist drive to achieve their goal, including dismissing the existence of a Palestinian people. Transfer of Palestinians is suggested but called “marginal” by Warner.
It makes sense to develop the Zionists campaign towards a single Jewish state over all the land considering that that is what is happening. But the video errs in leaving the Palestinian side with the 1969 PLO charter that calls for a single, secular democratic state, and the 1988 Hamas charter that calls for a single Islamic state. The problem is that the PLO has completely changed its goals in the ensuing 44 years, and Hamas is in the process of doing so.
The PLO position of one secular state became obsolete in 1974 when the 450 member Palestinian National Council (PNC) passed a resolution to accept a state on part of Palestine. That position was progressively liberalized over the subsequent years. First in 1988 when a PNC resolution accepted U.N. Security Council resolution 242 which acknowledged the “sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area [read Israel] and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force,” and called for a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip (22% of historic Palestine). Then with the 1993 Oslo Accord in which the PLO explicitly recognized Israel’s right to exist. That remains the official position of the PLO as well as the 22 member Arab League.
Even Hamas no longer is guided by its charter. Think of Hamas as a group in transition, mimicking the evolution of the PLO in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Although some Hamas members cling to the rejection of Israel, many of top Hamas leaders, including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Political Chief Khaled Meshaal, call for a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders – a position that tacitly recognizes Israel’s right to exist.
The reality today is that the PLO and Hamas have both abandoned their hard-line positions of not recognizing Israel and insisting on a single state over all of mandate Palestine. That reality is missing from “The No State Solution.”
The final section of the video is cut as a debate between Peled and Warner. Both agree that Zionist, the current Israeli regime, will not allow any resolution of the conflict that allows Palestinians any rights. Peled concludes that negotiations are impossible. But Warner says that negotiations are the route to Palestinian self-determination. Both agree that with Zionists in control of Israel, a two-state solution is impossible. Peled calls for one democratic state. Warner responds that a one-state is just as impossible as two-states and would be unstable, but two-states would allow each side to express its national identity. Peled responds that partition is impossible.
The agreement on the current situation but disagreement on its resolution expressed by Peled and Warner underlies the filmmaker conclusion that there is no resolution of the conflict likely in the near future, and the “No State Solution” title recognizes that conclusion. The filmmakers imply that the parties must learn to live with the status quo, and that is distressing because the status quo, although relatively quiet, invests all power with the Jewish Israelis. The film tells us that we must redouble our efforts to end the violent military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the expansion of settlement colonies, and the dispossession of Palestinian.
John Odam, the filmmaker, told me that his goal was “to focus on how the one- and two-state solutions play out in the context of the US elections, and to examine the cross-pollination of current Zionist politics with American politics, and whether that bodes well for the Palestinians.” He succeeded in doing that, and more. He made a beautiful video that energizes us to fight to protect Palestinians from the constant threat to their life and property, and to save the Jewish Israelis from themselves and their so-called supporters in the Israel lobby and the American administration and Congress.
Alternate Focus has produced tens of videos on aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which can be accessed here .