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What Comes Next: One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State

Israel/Palestine
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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.

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.

whatcomesnextverticalMy 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.

Emily W. Schaeffer
About Emily W. Schaeffer

Emily W. Schaeffer is an American-Israeli human rights lawyer practicing in Tel Aviv.

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6 Responses

  1. Taxi
    Taxi
    November 7, 2013, 9:55 am

    “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.”

    Another dreamer (of the boring kind).

    Brace yourself, dear: the 2SS itself got so frigging fed up, wore cement boots and jumped into the sea – never to be seen again.

    What’s more likely to happen eventually is war – a war so fierce it will see israel lose everything. Brace yourself. And blame yourself.

  2. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw
    November 7, 2013, 11:48 am

    Anyone who saw your efforts in your advocacy for the Bilin village v Green Park International court case in Canada knows that you are a person with the utmost integrity, you advocate a two state solution and the end of occupation, but do not say how this can come about, in a perfect world a two state solution with civil rights for everyone in those states possibly leading ultimately to one state would be the perfect solution, but first we have to get to the two state solution, and the end of occupation, the Israeli Government do not want to end the occupation and their enablers the US do not want to either, outside pressure and a united Palestinian front [PLO and Hamas] is essential together with action at the UN General Assembly [Agencies] and concerted efforts to force the ICC to investigate the ongoing war crimes in Palestine are the minimum first steps to at least stop the expanding settlement enterprise and then roll it back, will the Palestinian Leadership do this?

  3. MahaneYehude1
    MahaneYehude1
    November 7, 2013, 3:33 pm

    “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.”

    “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.”

    Correct, Emily. The only just solution now is the two independent sovereign states, Israel and Palestine. The one state solution, although sound right, is currently no more than very bad solution that would brings more wars and bloodshed between the nations, like in other neighbor countries of Israel.

    • bintbiba
      bintbiba
      November 8, 2013, 7:11 am

      Do I detect a faking of poor English?
      You’re such a goody goody, MY1 !! (I’m really trying to be polite).

  4. Inanna
    Inanna
    November 7, 2013, 8:58 pm

    Sorry, what’s this about distrust that both sides harbor for each other? The victims of massacre, theft and ethnic cleansing have the right to distrust the perpetrators. And the perpetrators’ distrust comes from fear of retribution for their criminality. So please don’t talk about both sides as if they were equivalent. They are not.

    Great to see you have the right of return. Are Israelis also going to return the property of the refugees that was stolen from them? This thing I keep hearing about the only path to one-state is via two-states is just ridiculous in a world that patently indicates two-states is a fantasy; and Israeli Jews don’t want to live with Palestinians – they are quite happy to have them stay out and also get rid of the ones left over. They’re just biding their time for the next phase of transfer since the slo-mo version happening now is too slow for them.

    As Taxi says above, it’s going to come to war and it will be the fault of all those zionists who cannot see the self-destructive logic of ethno-religious supremacy founded on blood and soil nationalism.

  5. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    November 8, 2013, 8:05 am

    Reality …. Israel killed the two state solution by persistently expanding illegal settlements. The two state solution is dead.

    Either you have an apartheid state which is there for all the world to see and sanction or a one person one vote Democratic state..

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