Out of the margin: One-state paradigm and nonviolent resistance are now standard fare on US left

Israel/Palestine
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Awareness is growing in the States of the fundamental injustice of the situation in Israel/Palestine; and the left knows what side it must be on. Here are two fine pieces that indicate the end of the marginalization of a human-rights discourse for Israel and Palestine post-Obama-visit. First, David Shulman at the New York Review of Books relates the nonviolent resistance movement in the West Bank to the American civil rights struggle. And the second piece by Andrew O’Hehir in Salon explains that whatever Obama did to raise consciousness in Israel/Palestine, he did not alter the fundamental power imbalance there, and thus the ultimate failure of partition. Notice O’Hehir’s crushing conclusion, in Salon no less, that Israel’s Jewish identity and the prospect of peace are in conflict.

David Shulman, Hope in Hebron:

Whatever real chance there is for peace remains in the hands of the Palestinians. They gave up long ago on Obama. They’ll have to do it themselves, though some Israelis will be there to help, if they’re needed and wanted. . . . Growing numbers of Palestinians, both the leadership in Ramallah and village councils on the West Bank, have come to the conclusion that mass nonviolent resistance may be their best bet….

Then, on the screen, the scenes of my American childhood: the sit-ins, the arrests, the beatings. Rosa Parks. The march to Montgomery. 250,000 people marching on Washington. The words: “I have a dream…that someday sons of slaves and sons of former slave-owners will sit down as equals.”…

Men like Isa and Badia and Abdallah Abu Rahma from Bil’in, and Bassem Tamimi from Nabi Saleh, and women like Irene Nasser of Just Vision in Jerusalem, all of them fully committed to nonviolent resistance, seem to be popping up everywhere, and one day the children I met in Hebron, too, will take their places. I, for one, wouldn’t underestimate them. 

Andrew O’Hehir at Salon: “Is the two-state solution finally dead?”:

In contrast, Romney’s infamous private summary of his Middle East policy – “we kick the ball down the field and hope that, ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it” (he never used the phrase “kick the can down the road,” although that’s how it has entered the popular discourse) – has the unmistakable tang of realpolitik rather than wishful thinking. Given the long history of failure by all sides in this arena, it’s not even cynical to suggest that this is precisely Obama’s strategy: Try to soften attitudes on the ground a little, win over a few hearts and minds on both sides, and then gratefully hand over the problem to another hopelessly conflicted president in 2017.

What we can also detect in Romney’s remark and, a little deeper below the surface, in Obama’s Jerusalem speech is the growing sense in many quarters that the two-state solution is dead – that it’s no longer practical or possible to establish an independent Palestinian nation alongside the Jewish state of Israel, if it ever was. While the “one-state solution,” however conceived, remains a semi-forbidden zone in mainstream international policy discourse, it keeps cropping up all over the place on both the right and the left. Within a few weeks last summer, leading Israeli settler activist Dani Dayan published an Op-Ed in the New York Times urging the international community to give up “its vain attempts to attain the unattainable two-state solution,” while radical journalists Antony Loewenstein and Ahmed Moor published an anthology of writing by academics and activists entitled “After Zionism: One State for Israel and Palestine.”

Less than a month later came the English translation of eminent Israeli sociologist Yehouda Shenhav’s explosive essay, “Beyond the Two-State Solution,” which imagines a bi-national, bilingual federal democracy of Jews and Arabs that would encompass the entire territory of present-day Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. Shenhav, Dayan, Loewenstein, Moor and the leadership of Israel’s staunch enemies Hamas and Hezbollah might agree about nothing else, including which day follows Tuesday and whether the sky is blue. But they’d all agree that a negotiated two-state solution won’t work…

[T]hese days Israel’s Jewish identity and the possibility of peace seem to be in direct conflict. With a two-state solution fading toward invisibility, what Palestinian political scientist Khalil Shikaki chillingly describes as “an ugly one-state dynamic” with “no happy ending” in view for either side – the Dayan-Netanyahu plan, in effect — is gradually being enforced on all parties. At the very least, we should see it for what it is.

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