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.
There is a wide gulf between what I envision as a just future for Israel/Palestine and what I view as the best possible outcome given the current reality – and the latter becomes increasingly bleak with every day’s new facts on the ground.
And so when I say that my solution is “one state, two state, red state, blue state,” I am not being flip. I am acknowledging that there is more than one way to arrive at a just solution for the region, and that in order for it to be truly viable, it will require far broader support than that of my – amazing but – small circle of like-minded compatriots.
My dream is of one state, as that solution best reflects my worldview and my vision of how everyone’s rights and claims would be realized. (I also think, by the way, that it would be the safest solution for all, particularly given many Jews’ fears of their neighbors). In my one state, all races/ethnicities/religions enjoy equal status before the law in a substantive way, not just the superficial and technical equality that exists today. That one state would of course need to address all rights of return. I believe only way it could do so is with an appropriate immigration policy open equally to Jews, Palestinians and others, perhaps with a priority system based on need.
I also recognize, however, that both sides have harbored over 60 years of fear, mistrust and resentment toward one another, which only increase over time. For that reason, two states might be the only solution both could agree on – for now.
No matter how that state (or states) look, what is important to me is that the solution will mean the beginning of true democracy and the end of “occupation” – not only the physical occupation of territories, but the ideological occupation of the Palestinian narrative, identity, and claim on both sides of the ‘green line’.
It would mean that even if there were to be an Israel and a Palestine as mutually recognized states, both Jewish and Palestinian citizens and residents would be able to take part in all aspects of public life and to hold true membership in each respective society. Whether Jews or Palestinians were the substantial minority in the other’s state, official languages, state symbols, property, political and social rights would accommodate the minority culture.
What I would not stand for is either one state, or one of the two states, as an Israel that continues to give Jews preference at the expense of Palestinians and other non-Jews. And unfortunately, this seems to be the exact path we’re traveling down, turning our de facto reality into a de jure one – making today’s facts on the ground into one big state with Jewish hegemony.
Therefore, given the current reality we’re stuck with, my short-term dream – and one I think it’s worth pushing toward, and fast – is of two democratic states. I hope to see those two states develop one day into one state, and perhaps even into an EU-like confederacy. In this geo-political climate, it may be only mutual economic necessity that can trigger this development. But important, sustainable relationships have been born out of far less.