It’s one state and ‘kumbaya’ is the way forward — former Police drummer Copeland

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“One world is enough … for all of us,” sings Sting on The Police tune “One World (Not Three)” released in 1981. Now, former Police drummer and CIA brat Stewart Copeland has come out in favor of one state in Israel and Palestine.

As reported by, Copeland recently teamed up with Serj Tankian of System of a Down to record a song for 2 Unite All, a benefit album to provide humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza. The record, sponsored by Project Peace on Earth, also features Peter Gabriel.

Copeland is one erudite rock’n’roller. He is the son of the late high-ranking CIA agent Miles Copeland, who was instrumental in both the Iran coup of 1953 and in supporting Egyptian independence during the Sinai crisis. Stewart grew up largely in Beirut where he played with the children of notorious British double-agent Kim Philby. When The Police ran into logistical red tape in Egypt in the early 80s, Daddy Copeland’s old CIA connections came to the rescue.

In a wide-ranging interview with, Copeland reveals himself to be a serious, well-versed student of the Middle East situation. When he says that current conditions allow only for a one-state, “Kumbaya” approach, he is not being cynical or facetious. (The two-state solution? “I think the ship has sailed on that.”)

The eternal cycle of vengeful finger-pointing and bloodshed only perpetuates itself, he says, and what’s more, neither side can provide what the other truly requires most: the Palestinians cannot guarantee security, and the Israelis can’t provide territory enough for a separate Palestine.

By appearing on the record, Copeland says he’s not taking sides: “We’re not advocating for, or against, anybody. We just want to get that aid there.”

In a press release for the record, Copeland said:

“Our music may not be able to rebuild homes nor bring back victims of violence, but at least it can soften hearts … Hard hearts allow violence in the Holy Land and softening up allows persuasion. Even the most flinty realpolitik analysis shows that ‘Kumbaya’ is more credible than ‘They Must Go.’”

He elaborated on this remark in the interview with Brian Ives of Excerpts:

Copeland: “They Must Go is a book written by Rabbi Meir Kahane. It’s the embodiment of the supercharged Zionist spirit on one side of this equation. And I just think ‘Kumbaya’ is the other extreme. And I think that, given the situation that the region finds itself in, ‘Kumbaya’ really is a lot more credible than ‘they must go.’ There’s been 60 years of war… the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ of how we got to where we are today are a little bit irrelevant in facing the problem. These folks are stuck together. All kinds of forces have been brought to play—by fair means and foul—to separate them. And it just hasn’t succeeded. There appears to be no political power that can separate these two people on that one piece of land. Which leaves us with a very logical, unemotional solution. I’m really not being a hippie here when I say that ‘Kumbaya’ is really the way forward…

I’ve been following Middle Eastern events very closely. And even with a very hard-eyed view, what’s needed there right now is accommodation. Not blame, not advocacy of one position or the other. It’s all about the real problem that Israel faces today, which is not how to send off a hostile Palestinian state, it’s how to accommodate 4 million Palestinians into the one state of Israel.

Q. It’s surprising that you’re so optimistic that that can work.

I’m not optimistic. and I don’t prescribe the “one-state solution” as a solution. The de facto situation is one state, I’m afraid. The Knesset controls Ramallah much more than Washington, D.C. controls Los Angeles. It’s actually more integrated in the security sense, and the political sense, than the United States are, in a way. It would be wonderful if there were some way of separating them. I don’t think the “two- state solution” is possible. I think the ship has sailed on that. Security can’t be guaranteed on one side, and the gift of the land can’t be made on the other side. Neither side has what the other side needs to come to the table. The best minds, and the worst minds, have been working on how to separate these two people to create two countries on that land, but I feel there’s just no possible way it can happen.

This is not a value judgement. This is not what I want to happen. My analysis leads me to the conclusion that it can’t be separated. Which brings us back to “Kumbaya.” They just have to figure out how to coexist. And I think that rehashing the last 60 years of history—establishing blame, advocating for one side or the other, going over the injustices and the cruelties—that doesn’t move the ball down the field. I think for Israel and the Palestinian people to get to where they need to be, it’s all about “Kumbaya.”…

I disagree profoundly with many of [Israel’s] political decisions, but I understand—I think—why they make them. Their fears are not baseless. And I love them, and I want them to have a better world with the 4 million people who I think they are stuck with. I think most of the Palestinian people don’t want to be part of Israel; there’s national pride involved, and tribalism, and I understand that as well. But, all of that is naught against the reality that they all find themselves in, which is in one country, together.

Q. One reason that this gets so difficult to discuss is that the actions of the State of Israel are often equated with Judaism.

The war of the last 60 years, in my humble opinion, is a war that both sides lost. The Palestinians lost their quest to create a nation of their own. And the thing that it appears that Israel will lose is its exclusive Jewishness. It will still be very Jewish, because it will have the highest proportion of Jewish people in it of any country in the world, but it won’t be only Jewish. The great Zionist dream of a Jewish state, a homeland for the Jewish people, I get it. With the history of the Jewish people, I totally get the dream. But history hasn’t played out that way, and I don’t think that’s attainable or sustainable. It’s not for me to say what happens next, but I think that Israel will be a multi-ethnic state.

Q. The demographics of Israel are changing regardless of the conflict anyway.

That’s not a matter of choice or a desired outcome, that’s just the way it is. I think the sooner we start grappling with the real problem, they will all start singing along with me, “Kumbaya, my lord!”

Read the entire interview here.

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thanks, Peter.

I disagree with quite a few things he says, but appreciate his efforts to provide aid to Gaza through music and collaboration with other artists.

I’ve never understood how “the ship has sailed” on 2SS can imply that 1SS (of the right sort) is possible. What’s current reality (and thus shown possible by demonstration) is the (to me highly unsatisfactory) apartheid 1SS. That is possible. The ship has not yet sailed on that. Perhaps it never wuill, but we can hope. But — *IF* apartheid 1SS ever is overthrown, *THEN* the powers that did the overthrowing will have had to… Read more »

“One world is enough … for all of us,”

Not if your surname is Bond.

Co-existence are working out how to co-exist are mentioned. Sadly much history tells us that there can be terrible, fearsome and miserable relationships between individuals and groups of all sorts, yet both can exist amid all the suffering and injustice for a long time. However, when it comes to moving from mere co-existence to peaceful co-existence it’s more a question of recognising and looking in the face, rather than of discovering or figuring out, the… Read more »