( A four-minute read.)
Are you “pro-Israel” or “pro-Palestine”?
It isn’t even noon yet as I write this, and I’ve already been accused of being both.
These terms intrigue me because they directly speak to the doggedly tribal nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
You don’t hear of too many other countries being universally spoken of this way. Why these two?
Both Israelis and Palestinians are complex, with diverse histories and cultures, and two incredibly similar (if divisive) religions.
After World War II, Britain decided to let the United Nations decide what to do with Palestine.
The common representation of Israel’s birth is that the UN created Israel, that the world was in favor of this move, and that the US governmental establishment supported it.
All these assumptions are demonstrably incorrect.
The United Nations suggested dividing Palestine into two countries, one Arab and one Jewish.
The Arab leaders said no to the plan, but the Jewish leaders accepted it and declared the state of Israel. The American President gave his support to the new state.
In reality, while the UN General Assembly recommended the creation of a Jewish state in part of Palestine, that recommendation was non-binding and never implemented by the Security Council.
The General Assembly passed that recommendation only after Israel proponents threatened and bribed numerous countries in order to gain a required two-thirds of votes.
In 1967 it took still more Palestinian and Syrian land, which is now illegally occupied territory, since the annexation of land through military conquest is outlawed by modern international law.
Israel, which claims to be the “only democracy in the Middle East,” decided not to declare official borders or to write a constitution, a situation which continues to this day.
To this day it has continued this campaign of growth through armed acquisition and illegal confiscation of land.
So where are we?
To come down completely on the side of one or the other doesn’t seem rational to me.
It is telling that most Muslims around the world support Palestinians, and most Jews support Israel.
This, of course, is natural — but it’s also problematic.
It means that this is not about who’s right or wrong as much as which tribe or nation you are loyal to. It means that Palestinian supporters would be just as ardently pro-Israel if they were born in Israeli or Jewish families, and vice versa.
It means that the principles that guide most people’s view of this conflict are largely accidents of birth — that however we intellectualize and analyze the components of the Middle East mess, it remains, at its core, a tribal conflict.
By definition, tribal conflicts thrive and survive when people take sides. Choosing sides in these kinds of conflicts fuels them further and deepens the polarization. And worst of all, you get blood on your hands.
It’s still too early to call Israel an apartheid state, but when John Kerry said Israel could end up as one in the future, he wasn’t completely off the mark. It’s simple math.
Israel was carved out of Palestine for Jews with help from the British in the late 1940s just as Pakistan was carved out of India for Muslims around the same time. The process was painful, and displaced millions in both instances.
There are now only a limited number of ways a bi-national Jewish state with a non-Jewish majority population can retain its Jewish identity.
Let’s face it, the land belongs to both of them now.
Some considerable time ago I wrote a blog on the subject.
Then as now I stated that the two state solution is not possible and that the only solution is for Israel to grant Palestinians full Israeli citizenship, creating one state for all.
Settlement expansion is simply incomprehensible. No one really understands the point of it. Virtually every US administration — from Nixon to Bush to Obama — has unequivocally opposed it.
It’s been almost 70 years since Israel came into existence.
There are now at least two or three generations of Israelis who were born and raised in this land, to whom it really is a home, and who are often held accountable and made to pay for historical atrocities that are no fault of their own. They are programmed to oppose “the other” just as Palestinian children are.
At its very core, this is a tribal religious conflict that will never be resolved unless people stop choosing sides.
With Israel now legalizing land grab is it not time to stop dealing with Israel as a country above the law and to make it responsible for systematic violations of international conventions and the rights of the Palestinian people.
There is no justification for it except a Biblical one which makes it slightly more difficult to see Israel’s motives as purely secular.
Let’s go straight to the point:
To end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, everyone would like a two-state solution.
This solution is impossible.
But if it Israel doesn’t work harder towards a two-state (maybe three-state, thanks to Hamas) solution, it will eventually have to make that ugly choice between being a Jewish-majority state or a democracy.
Nothing in the current situation excuses the abhorrent and immoral attacks on civilians, whether coming from Palestinians or Israelis, and any lasting solution must work to guarantee peace and security for everyone.
It’s high time we recognize that the Oslo Accords are as likely to bring peace to the Middle East as Donald Trump is to unite America.
From its conception, Oslo never required Israel to recognize Palestinian rights to statehood and has instead enabled Israeli encroachment on the West Bank.
Until now, the international consensus has been focused on a state-oriented resolution as a way to confer rights and stability to Palestinians and Israelis.
But what if that equation were flipped, if the focus were instead on enshrining full equality for everyone before even considering the creation of two states?
If this was supported by a larger Arab consensus framework, Israel would have little option as would Palestine but to come together.
This is the only realistic goal at this juncture.
To create interim arrangements to set the ground for a final agreement.
Of course both sides as in any conflict would have to want peace which now seems very unlikely.
On the Palestinian side, a lack of internal consensus remains challenging while security is the most important issue to Israel.
In such a context, nearly seventy years after the creation of Israel and the beginning of the conflict, whether the result of such an approach leads to one state or two states or 21 states on the land is immaterial.
We must put aside the concept of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement in favor of an Israeli-Arab agreement as the only realistic means to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The reality on the ground shows that the search for a two-state solution is a farce that suits those who aim at apartheid.
Although the entire world knows that a durable resolution to the conflict is imperative, not in the interests of justice but also in the pursuit of peace in the region. There is only one solution the creation of a single state, in which the safety and the right to the dignity of each one will be preserved.
There are 2,898,927 Palestinians living in the West Bank, 1,850,559 in the Gaza Strip, 1,471,201 in Israel, and a total of 12,365,761 worldwide.
Palestinian citizens of Israel struggle under a system that accords them fewer rights and opportunities than their Jewish counterparts. And regardless of what one thinks of Hamas, the siege that Israel imposes (with Egyptian collusion) on Gaza affects all of its inhabitants and is unconscionable.
According to the Israeli organization Gisha, over 70% of Gaza’s population relies on humanitarian aid, while 47% suffer from food insecurity. In the second quarter of 2016, unemployment was at 41.7%, and at a staggering 57.6% among young people.
(In fact, slim majorities of both Palestinians and Israelis still support a two-state solution.)
What matters is that we finally wake from the 23-year-old slumber induced by Oslo, the numbing half-century of occupation, and the nearly 70 years of Palestinian dispossession, to see that the only durable resolution to this conflict will be one that protects Israelis and Palestinians equally, with liberty and justice for all.
Israelis “deserve security” (and Palestinians don’t?)
Such a move would break with the political history of the United States and would run counter to the UN position, for which the status of Jerusalem, the Palestinian eastern part was occupied in 1967 and annexed by Israel in 1980, could be settled through negotiation.
A Confederation of Districts according to the historical name, defined by the good geographical and ethnic sense. As homogeneous as possible, they would necessarily include religious minorities.
Each have a Parliament and a Constitution which legislate on everything related to religion, taxation, police and education.
Insurance law, the management of national research institutes, diplomacy and the army remain the prerogative of the Confederation.
Thus, the cantonal tax authorities collect the tax and return a minority share to the central power, the wealth of each canton being largely the result of the labor of its inhabitants.
Each canton freely decides its name (in the image of Switzerland, where the Republic and Canton of Geneva, then the State of Vaud, and later the Canton of Valais, With whom everyone lives in peace).
Each district decides on the religion it wishes to inscribe in its Constitution (if it wishes to inscribe one … In Switzerland, the cases are very diverse).
Thus, Tel Aviv could decide that its official religion is Judaism, with a taxation in support of its religious institutions.
Many issues remain to be negotiated, including the division of districts, the question of return, the participation of the Palestinian populations in the army (with a staggering of the rules over several years), the creation of a national Constitution, a Constituent Assembly, etc.
From the outset, the state would be recognized by all the countries of the Arab world.
According to the initiative of Saudi Arabia in 2002, the benefits would no longer be counted: Disappearance of separation walls and checkpoints, development of very fruitful economic links, and especially the normal life, finally. For everyone.
So you really don’t have to choose between being “pro-Israel” or “pro-Palestine.” If you support secularism, democracy, and a two-state solution — and you oppose Hamas, settlement expansion, and the occupation — you can be both.
Again you don’t have to like what Israel is doing.
If Israel truly wanted to destroy Gaza, it could do so within a day, right from the air.
How can this possibly ever be in Israel’s interest?