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What Comes Next: A manifesto for the Jewish-Palestinian Arabic-Hebrew state

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This post is part of “What Comes Next?: A forum on the end of the two-state paradigm.” This series was initiated by Jewish Voice for Peace as an investigation into the current state of thinking about one state and two state solutions, and the collection has been further expanded by Mondoweiss to mark 20 years since the Oslo process. The entire series can be found here.

A specter haunts the Middle East, the daunting specter of Palestinian-Jewish binationalism. All the world’s powers have joined hands to conduct a holy war to the bitter end, until that specter is defeated. One can read the entire modern history of the region as the history of a violent, lasting conflict instigated to deny and expel that specter.

Binationalism is not a new idea dreamed up by some fringe philosopher or other. It is the reality that we still refuse to recognize. Now, after one hundred years of conflict, with no solution in sight, the time has come to present binationalism in all its glory.

Thus, this small piece of land containing the names Israel and Palestine has become an intense critical mass containing all the tensions between East and West, between North and South, between religions, and between religious and secular thought. The Middle East has become the place where the world brings together all the ideological oppositions, like a testing ground for various ideological explosions. Therefore, one moment before this ancient mythology-infested place implodes into a black hole powerful enough to swallow the whole world, we propose binationalism as the only living alternative for a new place, a new beginning and a new language.

We live in a binational reality in which the two-state solution has become little more than an empty cliché intended to preserve the status quo. As such, the time has come to recognize that there is only one realistic option left. This is not some attempt to dodge the many difficult questions posed by a binational solution; we simply reverse the order of things. Our approach places the vision of binationalism squarely at center stage instead of first focusing on all the open-ended questions and concerns that inevitably accompany it. In the long run, the degree to which we disentangle competing narratives—the extent to which we separate and control them—isn’t really that important. The fact will always remain that two distinct peoples live in the same land and are as integrated with one another as the warp and woof of some oriental carpet. There is no way to separate them, but, more importantly, there is no need to separate them either. Instead, what we must do is find a new language, a binational language, as Edward Said proposed in tribute to Sigmund Freud.

The long journey of the binational specter into its realization as a living, breathing Mediterranean  body is a bold odyssey through numerous hazards. And, like Odysseus, who had the wisdom to descend into the under-world, in order to seek the guidance of Tiresias, so shall we lend our ears to the spirits of our guides and teachers Walter Benjamin, Hannah Arendt, Primo Levi, Mahmoud Darwish, and Edward Said.

What is binationalism if not our insistence on being able to gaze out over this beautiful country and see it as it really is, so rich in cultures, identities, and shades of identity? This is the only way we can avoid being held captive by the vile forces of secular and religious nationalism that have flourished in this country. Only when we reconsider our conceptions of the state, its laws and institutions, its culture and symbols, and adopt this new approach, can we truly rid ourselves of ideas and ideologies whose time has long since passed. And in any act, as revolutionary as it is, we shall not forget for a moment our intimate acquaintance with the precariousness of life. Only then will we be able to thrust open the door of all this, our common home, to a new era, to life.


Udi Aloni
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12 Responses

  1. OlegR
    October 21, 2013, 11:21 am

    Lah Lah cumbaia…
    Such a brave new world we want to build (on the ruins of the old one as traditional)

    /A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies./

    Udi Aloni should read his partner Barghoutti manifesto.It’s much more to the point.
    Palestinians get self determination Jews don’t.

    • pabelmont
      October 21, 2013, 6:53 pm

      Why say 1SS is self-determination for Palestinians but not f0or Jews? Why not for both? Adn if there is to be a majority, who can say what it will be (and WHY IT WILL BE SO)?

      Barghouti said that unearned privilege would be removed, and that suggests EQUAL rights for Jews and non-Jews.

      Decolonization should not be understood as a blunt and absolute reversal of colonization, putting us back under pre-colonial conditions and undoing whatever rights had been acquired to date. Instead, decolonization can be regarded as a negation of the aspects of colonialism that deny the rights of the colonized indigenous population and, as a byproduct, dehumanize the colonizers themselves.

      If there is to be a single binational, democratic, non-discriminatory state, and if all the Jews in the world have been invited to move into present-day Israel to boost the “numbers” and some have done so and many have not (as at present), and then if all the Palestinians in the world are invited to move into the new state and some do and some do not, as one would also expect, then it is ANYBODY’S GUESS what the proportion of the population will be.

      Today, it appears that there are many Palestinians who’d love to move ANYWHERE in Palestine (these are among the refugees outside Palestine) as well as very many in Gaza who’d love to move into green-line Israel to escape the horror of Gaza. Partly the desire to “move in” is a matter of the deprivation and desperation of present-day circumstances, partly of love of THEIR land. BY CONTRAST, many Jews are moving out of Israel to Germany and elsewhere from a desire for wealth or safety or, in some cases, for life in a democratic and non-discriminatory state. Of course with the prospect of a democratic Israel/Palestine, some of these might wish to move back.

      So, population-wise, who knows? Where all this self-assurance about how it would work out?

      • OlegR
        October 21, 2013, 7:19 pm

        /Why say 1SS is self-determination for Palestinians but not f0or Jews? Why not for both? /
        A good question you should ask it of mr Barghoutti he claims

        / bi-national state solution also cannot accommodate the right of return as stipulated in UNGA resolution 194, not to mention the fact that it infringes, by definition, the inalienable rights of the indigenous Palestinians on part of their homeland, particularly the right to self-determination. Recognizing national rights of Jewish settlers in Palestine or any part of it cannot but imply accepting the right of colonists to self-determination. Other than contradicting the very letter, spirit and purpose of the universal principle of self-determination primarily as a means for “peoples under colonial or alien domination or foreign occupation” to realize their rights [7], such a recognition of national rights for a colonial-settler community may, at one extreme, lead to claims for secession, or Jewish “national” sovereignty, on part of the land of Palestine, undermining Palestinian self-determination./

        It’s his claim that only Palestinians can have self-determination
        not what he calls “Jewish settlers in Palestine or any part of it”
        ie according to him Jews don’t get any sort of national rights anywhere.

      • OlegR
        October 21, 2013, 7:23 pm

        He also says.
        /A secular, democratic unitary state in historic Palestine (in its British Mandate borders) is the most just and morally coherent solution to this century-old colonial conflict, primarily because it offers the greatest hope for reconciling the ostensibly irreconcilable — the inalienable rights of the indigenous Palestinian people, particularly the right to self-determination,

        /and the acquired rights of the indigenized former colonial settlers to live in peace and security, individually and collectively, after ridding them of their colonial privileges./
        By ridding of colonial privileges he means dismantling their state thus denying them rights to self -determination and giving it to Palestinians.

        The guy wants all of it, there is no way around it.

    • talknic
      October 21, 2013, 9:30 pm

      @OlegR “Udi Aloni should read his partner Barghoutti manifesto.It’s much more to the point.
      Palestinians get self determination Jews don’t.”

      You’re a liar.

      Lying is against the basic tenets of Judaism. Liars for the Jewish state are really quite sick lil’ puppies

    • RoHa
      October 22, 2013, 12:20 am

      Thank you, Oleg. We would never have guessed that the opening lines were a reference to The Communist Manifesto if you hadn’t told us.

      “Palestinians get self determination Jews don’t.”

      Wrong. Everyone – Jew and Palestinian – gets self determination as citizens of the new state.

  2. DICKERSON3870
    October 21, 2013, 6:41 pm

    I recently added several of Udi Aloni’s films to my Netflix queue.

    ● CURRENTLY AVAILABLE: Forgiveness, (2006) NR
    David Adler (Itay Tiran) returns to his native Israel to join the army. When he accidentally shoots a Palestinian girl and descends into a catatonic state, he is committed to a mental institution built on the ruins of a Palestinian settlement. Subjected to an experimental drug treatment, he encounters the ghost of a 10-year-old girl who may be the key to overcoming his trauma. Udi Aloni directs this psychological thriller.
    Cast: Itay Tiran, Clara Khoury, Moni Moshonov, Makram Khoury, Tamara Mansour, Ruba Blal, Michael Sarne, Mike Bakaty, Omer Barnea, Lupo Berkowitch
    Director: Udi Aloni
    Genres:Drama, Psychological Thrillers, Social Issue Dramas
    Netflix format:DVD availability date unknown
    Netflix listing –

    ● NOT YET AVAILABLE: Kashmir: Journey to Freedom, (2008) NR
    Filmmaker Udi Aloni journeys deep into volatile Kashmir to present this compelling look at a growing nationalist movement dedicated to achieving political independence for the region through nonviolent means. The grassroots effort offers an alternative to residents of Kashmir, who, despite being savaged by decades of violence in the hostilities between India and Pakistan, still dream of restoring peace and tolerance to their land.
    Director: Udi Aloni
    Genres: Documentary, Political Documentaries
    Netflix format: DVD availability date unknown
    Netflix listing –

    ● NOT YET AVAILABLE: Art/Violence, 2013, NR
    After the murder of Palestinian-Jewish director and peace activist Juliano Mer-Khamis, Palestinian actors and directors use theater as an expression of rebellion, drawing inspiration from Alice in Wonderland, “Waiting for Godot” and “Antigone.”
    Director: Udi Aloni, Mariam Abu Khaled, Batoul Taleb
    Genres: Documentary, Foreign, Political Documentaries, Foreign Documentaries, Arabic Language, Middle East
    Language: Arabic
    Netflix format: DVD availability date unknown
    Netflix listing –

    • DICKERSON3870
      October 21, 2013, 7:08 pm

      P.S. CORRECTION: Sadly, Forgiveness, (2006) is not yet available.
      My mistake; I was trying to beat the 10 minute edit clock and misread something!

  3. JustJessetr
    October 21, 2013, 10:21 pm

    Well, with the Arab League abandoning the Palestinians:

    And with Israel succeeding (eventually) in lucrative LNG contracts:

    And with the rise of anti-semitism in Europe (and naturally anti-immigrant sentiment as well), which will undoubtedly lead to more Jews considering immigrating to Israel:, ,,,,,

    And with the counter argument to European anti-Semitism that Jews were always safe in Arab lands so why should they even need an Israel?:

    And with Hamas calling for blood again, and again, (so sorry Roger Waters, but Hamas is definitely still on the violent end of things):

    And with even Desmond Tutu screaming for intervention from the ICC for all sorts of nations, but not even mentioning Israel:

    And with the smartest activists in the world calling BDS’s call for a one-state solution a cult,, and hypocritical nonsense because most Palestinians don’t even claim to be represented by so-called Palestinian Civil Society,

    And that there was no “Samson Option”:

    And with my profound gladness that Israel is still there despite efforts of people around the world to strangle it through whatever means they can, and that I could emigrate there should things ever get bad enough in the US where I could be welcomed as a Jew (one who still loves the USA and works to keep it free by volunteering tirelessly for the ACLU and anti-hydrofracking initiatives)…

    Then I would say that binationalism is pretty much a dead-letter. Because one thing MW conveniently overlooks through it’s self-righteous morality: Palestinians aren’t going to get what they want unless they do it through negotiations with Israel, and negotiations with Israel means a 2SS. No one in power anywhere in the world is working for a 1SS. They are either working for a 2SS which they hope will end peacefully, or simply supplying violent elements with weaponry and propaganda to whip up anti-Israel feelings while not giving one whit of concern for the actual plight of Palestinians. No one in their right minds believes that a violent minority of Palestinians won’t use the establishment of a 1SS or binational home to further attack Jews and make them an underclass or just wipe them out (like Hamas or their equally violent offshoots). No one believes it. Nobody.

    All the Seafoid and Tanaka “Israel-is-a-doomed-project” babble will get the Palestinians no closer to what they deserve, which is to have their own land where they can be free to farm and do business and not be pawns of activists and demagoguery. BDS is the Maoism of today. It talks tough, but eventually it’s adherents kill it off.

    • Citizen
      October 22, 2013, 6:41 am

      BDS worked on the apartheid S African regime. It took a long time, with Israel the last of that regime’s supporters. Maybe Zionism is the Jewish Maoism in the sense you suggest.

  4. Pamela Olson
    Pamela Olson
    October 21, 2013, 11:40 pm

    Inshallah! What a lovely vision. May sound far-fetched at the moment, but…

    As some guy once said:

    “If you will it, it is no dream.”

  5. mtorres
    October 22, 2013, 12:04 pm

    How about a “state”. Not a “Jewish-Palestinian” one, but just a “state”. Keeping alive the concept of a “Jewish state” keeps alive the concept of an apartheid state. A “Jewish state” was a primitive colonial idea whose time has come and gone.

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