Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bottom Line: The Issue is Zionism!

I have no idea why some pro-Palestine activists and intellectuals (including some I greatly respect, like Prof. Norman Finkelstein and Prof. Noam Chomsky) continue to advocate for the two-state solution in Palestine. Actually, I think I know why. I think they see the one-state arrangement as an idealistic solution which will never happen, so one might as well support a feasible resolution, even if it's not perfect. Right? Wrong!

Jonathan Cook's recent article makes some great points on this issue.

Excerpts below:

I want instead to address Neumann’s central argument: that it is at least possible to imagine a consensus emerging behind two states, whereas Israelis will never accept a single state. That argument, the rallying cry of most two-staters, paints the one-state crowd as inveterate dreamers and time-wasters.

The idea, Neumann writes, “that Israel would concede a single state is laughable. … There is no chance at all [Israelis] will accept a single state that gives the Palestinians anything remotely like their rights.”

According to Neumann, unlike the one-state solution, the means to realizing two states are within our grasp: the removal of the half a million Jewish settlers living in the occupied Palestinian territories. Then, he writes, “a two-state solution will, indeed, leave Palestinians with a sovereign state, because that’s what a two-state solution means. It doesn’t mean one state and another non-state, and no Palestinian proponent of a two-state solution will settle for less than sovereignty.”

There is something surprisingly naive about his arguing that, just because something is called a two-state solution, it will necessarily result in two sovereign states. What are the mimimum requirements for a state to qualify as sovereign, and who decides?

True, the various two-state solutions proposed by Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and George Bush, and supported by most of the international community, would fail according to Neumann’s criterion because they were not premised on the removal of all the settlers.

But an alternative two-state solution requiring Israel’s withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders might still not concede, for example, a Palestinian army -- equipped and trained by Iran? -- to guard the borders of the West Bank and Gaza. Would that count? And how likely does Neumann think it that Israel and the US would grant that kind of sovereignty to a Palestine state?


Still, do these arguments against the “practicality” of Neumann’s genuine two-state arrangement win the day for the one-state solution? Would Israel’s leaders not put up an equally vicious fight to protect their ethnic privileges by preventing, as they are doing now, the emergence of a single state?

Yes, they would and they will. But that misses my point. As long as Israel is an ethnic state, it will be forced to deepen the occupation and intensify its ethnic cleansing policies to prevent the emergence of genuine Palestinian political influence -- for the reasons I cite above and for many others I don’t. In truth, both a one-state and a genuine two-state arrangement are impossible given Israel’s determination to remain a Jewish state.

The obstacle to a solution, then, is not about dividing the land but about Zionism itself, the ideology of ethnic supremacism that is the current orthodoxy in Israel. As long as Israel is a Zionist state, its leaders will allow neither one state nor two real states.

Full article here

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