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

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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.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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23 Responses

  1. Cliff on March 24, 2013, 11:28 am

    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.

    Perfect summary.

    Obama can’t do anything about Israel even if he really wanted to.

    The Israelis want the land and have their quiet. They don’t need to comprise. They are occupiers and colonizers and masters. And the most powerful country in the world can’t do anything about it because of Jewish Zionists and Christian fundies in the government and the Israel Lobby.

    We can’t end our own wars. We can’t be expected to challenge Jewish nationalism and colonialism.

    People grow up in our country with plenty of fictions about our national history and the world outside.

    When you factor the Jewish Lobby/Israel Lobby’s antisemitism slander industry and the socializing / internalizing of the Holocaust and Jewish suffering into our popular political culture – it’s no wonder people are not immediately questioning the established pro-Israel piety of our politicians, MSM, etc.

    I remember being for the Iraq War in the most superficial sense, at 18. It took me until 2006 to begin to question everything about the war and also to take notice of Israel in the Middle East.

    It’s just not an issue you know about right away. It’s buried in the news and so you have to take an interest on your own and do your own research.

    • W.Jones on March 24, 2013, 5:48 pm

      Good points, Cliff, particularly at the end.

      The issue of CZ fundies is an important factor. Yet Canada has a far smaller number as I understand it, yet their government is an even more zealous supporter of the State.

      Likewise, the USSR originally supported the State in 1947-48, hoping it to become Socialist due to the kibbutz matrix, and presumably also positive words that had been sent from the State to the USSR. The idea would have been that the State would have served the USSR’s strategic interests, however the State did not choose to go down that road.

      With the State’s relation to the US, there is also a major factor of “strategic” interests, as well as ideological overlap. So one must consider CZs, strategic similarities, ideology, lobbies, and other factors to explain the situation, but some are more important than others.

  2. ramzijaber on March 24, 2013, 11:38 am

    David and Andrew are right on. Th eworld, not only the Palestinians have given up on the US.

    We, Palestinians and Palestine supporters worldwide, must immediately focus our energies on just one thing: ONE PERSON, ONE VOTE.

    We will no longer ask for any land back from israel. We will no longer ask for settlements to stop. We will no longer bother with the US. We will no longer beg for our rights.

    We will just ask for ONE PERSON, ONE VOTE.

    Who could argue against that??? The optics will quickly and fundamentally shift against the illegal racist apartheid zionist regime.

    Onwards towards the DEMOCRATIC State of the Holy Land!

  3. Yani on March 24, 2013, 12:49 pm

    Yep we all agree on this except those that live in the 1940s!

  4. Citizen on March 24, 2013, 3:00 pm

    Most humans living in current times, no matter their ignorance or awareness of world history, although they likely do not know the French Revolution, the Enlightenment, know America stands historically for the principle of one person, one vote in a state legitimized by the consent of the governed, with equal rights before the law.

    • Ecru on March 24, 2013, 5:24 pm

      Well I know about the French Revolution and the Enlightenment but this America standing historically for one person one vote is completely new to me. As I think it would be to anyone who has even a passing familiarity with American foreign policy for the past 100 odd years. Especially in Latin America and the Middle East.

      No the USA historically has stood for “one person one vote – as long as you vote the way our rich businessmen want you to vote. Otherwise it’s CIA ‘advisors,’ military coups, torture, death squads dictatorships and we don’t give a crap about your human rights. Including the right not to have your entire family blown to smithereens by the weapons we give your quisling leaders. That you didn’t vote for.”

    • bilal a on March 24, 2013, 5:57 pm

      And how has ‘One Man, One Vote’ been working for African Americans, the working class, and child poverty in America? Can’t Sheldon Adelsons buy support from an impoverished native Palistinean population even more effectively than they do in the West?

      The’Democratic’ One State Solution will be a Jewish state, with an opprssed majority, even if a corrupt Arab elite co-participates in the theft of ALL the land, resources, and water. And maybe thats the whole point of ‘Peace’ at this juncture.

    • on March 24, 2013, 8:09 pm

      That’s true. Unless, of course, you happen to be Indian, black, female, gay, Mexican/Latino, Arab…

  5. Citizen on March 24, 2013, 3:08 pm

    Pilate’s key role was to keep tax funds flowing to Rome’s coffers. The Establishment Jews of the time, whom Pilate had to work with to fulfill this agenda, told Pilate Jesus was engaged in sedition against Rome. Hence, Pilate’s fixated question to Jesus whether he thought he was king of the Jews. Jesus said his kingdom was not of this earth. Pilate washed his hands, but gave Jesus a crucifixation, a very common punishment at the time, when his referendum to the Jews saved Barrabas, the notorious criminal, rather than Jesus. Isn’t that the story? Obama’s key role is to keep winning big donors and main media in the coffers and pocket of the Democratic Party.

  6. Citizen on March 24, 2013, 3:22 pm

    And didn’t Obama just tell the young Israeli Jews, I am a mere politician, and all politicians must be pushed towards justice and peace? It’s up to you, he said. He didn’t say that to the Palestinian youth.
    And he has never told that to the American youth either, at least in terms of American foreign policy in the Middle East wrt Israel. He went over the Israeli knesset head to say this, but has never gone over the head of the US congress to say the same thing wrt Israel. He cheats like crazy. For what? A nice lifestyle for his nuclear family. Uncle Tom Obama.

    • annie on March 24, 2013, 8:25 pm

      he has never told that to the American youth either

      yeah, he said it to the american public.’make me do it’..or something like that.

  7. W.Jones on March 24, 2013, 3:36 pm

    “[T]hese days Israel’s Jewish identity and the possibility of peace seem to be in direct conflict.”
    If 19th century society in the US had made their white identity for them the main thing, it would have made peace with the Native Americans even harder, since the whites had practically all the guns. In fact, although the US was not a “white state” officially, the white identity was so paramount that it really did make peace with the Natives very “unrealistic”. In that case, the absence of “peace” was not a one-sided war, but a mass forced confiscation of land.

    Imposing an even more official and more divisive identity on the Holy Land makes peace even harder, the absence of which is again mass forced confiscation, where one side has practically all the firepower.

    On the contrary, a Palestinian identity promotes peace, because it does not discriminate based on religion, but merely on one’s ancestral belonging to the land, which a significant number of Jews do anyway.

  8. DICKERSON3870 on March 24, 2013, 3:55 pm

    .RE: “. . . 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 . . .” ~ David Shulman

    MY COMMENT: Israel will see to it that “mass nonviolent resistance” by Palestinians will only be done over many dead Palestinian bodies!

    SEE: “Netanyahu: Stupid Like a Fox?”, By Uri Avnery,, 06/13/11

    [EXCERPT] Last week, there was a repeat performance. The Palestinians all around Israel have declared June 5 “Naksa” Day, to commemorate the “Setback” of 1967, when Israel spectacularly defeated the armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, reinforced by elements from the Iraqi and Saudi armies.
    This time, the Israeli army was prepared. The fence was reinforced and an anti-tank ditch dug in front of it. When the demonstrators tried to reach the fence—again near Majdal Shams—they were shot by sharpshooters. Some 22 were killed, and many dozens were wounded. The Palestinians report that people trying to rescue the wounded and retrieve the dead were also shot and killed.
    No doubt this was a deliberate tactic decided upon in advance by the army command after the Naqba Day fiasco and approved by Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak. As was said quite openly, the Palestinians had to be taught a lesson they would not forget, so as to drive any idea of an unarmed mass action out of their minds.
    It is frighteningly reminiscent of events 10 years ago. After the first Intifada, in which stone-throwing youngsters and children won a moral victory that led to the Oslo agreement, our army conducted exercises in anticipation of a second Intifada. This broke out after the political disaster of Camp David, and the army was ready.
    The new [second] Intifada started with mass demonstrations of unarmed Palestinians. They were met by specially trained sharpshooters. Next to each sharpshooter stood an officer who pointed out the individuals who were to be shot because they looked like ringleaders: “The guy in the red shirt… Now the boy with the blue trousers…”
    The unarmed uprising broke down and was replaced by suicide bombers, roadside bombs, and other “terrorist” acts.
    With those our army was on familiar ground.
    I suspect very much that we are witnessing much the same thing once more. Again, specially trained sharpshooters are at work, directed by officers. . .

    SOURCE –

  9. DICKERSON3870 on March 24, 2013, 4:11 pm

    RE: [I]t’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.” ~ Andrew O’Hehir

    MY COMMENT: “Down, down, down we [the U.S.] go into the deep, dark abyss; hand in hand with Israel.”

  10. gazacalling on March 24, 2013, 4:46 pm

    Yep, the 2ss is dead and the one-state solution is all that is left. And yes, the Palestinians have to do it themselves.

    But they need an assist from the US media, or at least some elements of it that make it less monolithic. There has to be publicity of the nonviolent resistance, otherwise it won’t work.

    That’s where we come in. Keep chipping away. It’s happening, baby.

  11. kalithea on March 24, 2013, 5:02 pm

    I must confess. I was once a two-state believer. I wanted the Palestinians and the refugees to get all the land that was legally theirs pre-67. I resisted the notion of one state because I believed Palestinians might end up as second-class citizens, persecuted and discriminated against in such a state.

    Today, when I look at the type of Zionists that settled the West Bank, how cruel, radical, racist and violent they are and how many have been allowed to root themselves into that stolen land I think; it’s nuts to imagine they would vacate that place without a bloody war, and granted it just might happen anyway with the one-state option, or the bloodshed may be more sporadic.

    However, the only remaining humane, just and realistic option is to push for full rights for Palestinians in one state, because this injustice cannot continue, wishing Palestinians could have their own state is delusional and cruel and Palestinians, refugees included, should not be held in a limbo of injustice any longer; it’s inhumane. Besides any two-state solution that could happen in this century will be so blatantly unjust and disproportionate for Palestinians, it would be outrageous and again there would be great tragedy to follow as the majority would never accept to be cheated after their long-suffering ordeal.

    If this one state will operate as a true democracy, it will ironically heal most of what happened in 1948. Palestinians will in theory recover all the territory even if it will be shared with others as a multi-national state for the three main religions and all other minorities, but then Jews lived in Palestine before Zionism.

    THIS is the ideal that everyone should strive for and it is forward thinking, BUT again, the settlers will never stand for this and so that reality will bring chaos and bloodshed. So in my opinion, there are three possible scenarios:

    1. Palestinians will be cleansed completely from the area and into several states post a catastrophic war in the region with Syria and Iran; if the U.S. and Israel succeed in nuetralizing all the states they’re meddling in today. And God knows that’ll be the crime of the century.
    2. There will be a bloody civil war inside Israel to change the status quo and Palestinians will be caught in the crossfire and persecuted like never before. (Least likely option)
    3. There will be an act of God, a catastrophic disaster that will change the dynamics of hate to compassion. Great tragedy will occur and bring people to their knees and their senses about what matters most and the end result will be lasting peace.

    My money’s on “only God can fix this” #3.

  12. on March 24, 2013, 8:05 pm

    I have witnessed not only the taboo beginning to break in the media but also in a thawing in the public when it comes to gatherings/protests and support for the Palestinians. When I started working with them, there were a handful of us attending the different events. A decade later, the ranks have swollen into the hundreds for any given event. One of my favorite things to do (I confess) is to demonstrate in front of the Isreali consulate flying a huge Palestinian flag (something we do on a fairly regular basis). Notwithstanding the harassment we subjected to by the police (and the other alphabet soup Fascist ministries).

    Viva Palestina!

  13. lohdennis on March 25, 2013, 1:37 am

    Great article!! Shared on my FB.

  14. Nevada Ned on March 25, 2013, 2:11 am

    The case against the 2SS is that for decades Israel’s settlement policy has been aimed at preventing any Palestinian state from happening. (Israel and the US have worked together towards this goal, according to Rashid Khalidi’s most recent book). Hence, many MW writers conclude, the 1SS is the only possibility.

    The case against the 1SS is that it has almost no support from Israeli Jews, not even from Uri Avnery. The 2SS, according to some polls, has some significant support among Israeli Jews. (Naturally, the “settlement industry” has never ceased expanding since 1967, so it’s not clear how much the alleged support for the 2SS really means.) There is international support (i.e. the EU) for the 2SS but not for the 1SS. And, finally, Rashid Khalidi points out that the 1SS is what we have now!! One state – Israel. No state for the Palestinians.

    My conclusion is that neither the 1SS nor the 2SS is likely to happen in the near future. In the longer run, I don’t claim to know. Either one would have to be forced onto Israel. The policy of the Jewish Voice for Peace is to be agnostic on this question.

    • seafoid on March 25, 2013, 3:50 am

      “almost no support from Israeli Jews, not even from Uri Avnery.”

      The great thing about life is that no generation hangs around forever. Even the ha
      st hearted cohorts hand over to their kids eventually.

      The great economist Keynes said “Markets can remain irrational a lot longer than you and I can remain solvent.”

      Galut can wait a lot longer than Israel can sell us apartheid.

  15. NickJOCW on March 25, 2013, 8:13 am

    One state is not a solution, it’s a likely outcome, what happens when you drive towards a cliff without brakes.

  16. palijustice on March 25, 2013, 9:43 pm

    If one looks at a map of I/P and sees all the Israeli settlements there, and the ethnic cleansing of “area C” and East Jerusalem, one can see that one state exists already. The argument about 1ss or 2ss is over. When Palestinians realize this, they can focuss their efforts on equal rights and citizenship in one state called Israel/Palestine. The real democratization of the place might happen then, and Israelis might wonder why they fought against this for such a long time.

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