The Right Move
by Israel Shamir on 07 Aug 2010 3 Comments

One State is not an apocalyptic vision of the Last Days. It is a perfectly doable and mutually profitable development. The Jewish nationalist One-Staters should be encouraged by our side.


- “No, you must finish both the meat and the vegetables; don’t pick the cheese off your sandwich and do not leave bread on the plate” - so we tell a choosy kid who tries to take his pick and shortcut his way to dessert. Picking and choosing is a troublesome habit at the family table.


This applies to the Israeli settlers and Jewish nationalists as well. At last, at long last, they have begun to recognise the advantages of One State between the Sea and the River, instead of having a Jewish Ghetto and Arab Bantustans. So we have been told by Haaretz writer Noam Sheizaf in a piece with the telling title Endgame. Among new adepts of the One State, one finds the Knesset Speaker Rubi (Reuven) Rivlin, who said, “It’s preferable for the Palestinians to become citizens of the state rather than for us to divide the country.” and ex-Defence Minister Moshe Arens who is ready to grant Israeli citizenship to the Palestinians in the West Bank. These are heavy guns of Israeli politics, and they are apparently supported by other Likud members like MK Tzipi Hotovely, leading settlers like Uri Elitzur, Rabbis like Rabbi Froman of Tekoa, and to an extent even by the icon of settlers, Hanan Porat.


They speak of granting the two and a half million Palestinians of the West Bank full rights and Israeli citizenship. This is a step in right direction, which should be approved of. This is certainly not enough, but as a first step it would do. However, some of these Jews want to pick and choose. Adi Mintz, a former director general of the Yesha Council, would like Israel to annex 60 percent of Judea and Samaria, whose 300,000 Palestinian inhabitants would be granted Israeli citizenship. This is too little too late. Such a harebrained scheme has no chance of being acceptable to the Palestinians, or to decent people anywhere.


“If you want the land, take it with the people”. This was the answer of Glubb Pasha in 1948. This commander of the Arab Legion was forced to surrender the Valley of Ara to the Jews; the Jews wanted – then as now – to have the land without people. He refused. Eventually the Jews relented, and the people of the Wadi Ara remained in their homes, received Israeli citizenship and prospered. This should be the model – but not “pick and choose”. Otherwise the remainder of Palestine will have a lot of people locked up in tiny enclaves.


All of Palestine and all of the Palestinians living there – this is a doable minimum for the first stage. This is much less than what the Palestinians want, for they reasonably want to see the refugees coming back home from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. The Palestinians also want to regain property lost under racist laws, notably the Absentee Property Law. However, these demands could be more profitably discussed when there are four to five million Palestinian voters in Israel.


Even the most enlightened and accommodating Jewish nationalists do not want to take Gaza, for it has very little land and a lot of Palestinians. This would preclude a true solution, but probably even the absorption of all the West Bank with the full enfranchising of all of its present inhabitants is acceptable as a first step in the right direction. At the same time Gaza’s re-integration could begin and last, say, a year or two; at the end of this period Gaza would be fully integrated and its inhabitants fully enfranchised as well.


Is it possible at all, or do we encounter here yet another example of “Zionist spin that is planted in our discourse in order to disseminate confusion” as our friend Gilad Atzmon has put it? Proceed with caution, I advise. One State is good for Palestinians, and their majority prefers it to “independence” under Mahmud Abbas or even Ismail Hanie. However, One State is good for Jews, not only for Palestinians. It is good for Israeli business. It is good for half-a-million of Jewish settlers who would be able to remain in their homes. It is good for Oriental Jews who would be re-integrated into their native Arabic milieu. It is good for Russians who are anyway considered ‘second-rate Jews’. It is good for honest Jews, for they will find peace of mind. Their persecution mania will hopefully go away. In short, Jews would not regret the change overmuch, just as white South Africans do not miss the days of apartheid. Peace with neighbours will allow full integration in the region, and integration usually is good for Jews.


One State is not an apocalyptic vision of the Last Days. It is a perfectly doable and mutually profitable development. Why it did not occur until now, is a question of psychology rather than realpolitik. Traditionally Jews have been against intermarriage since the days of Ezra, who expelled all mixed-marriage couples from the nascent Jewish state. With the decrease of Jewish religiosity, nationalist Jews have inherited this trait.


Jewish nationalism was informed in the 19th century; the nationalist (or “proud”) Jews share Hitler’s hate of miscegenation and fear of diluting their ‘pure race’. They correctly believe that peaceful coexistence will bring forth intermarriage, thereby diluting precious Jewish blood, or race, or DNA or whatever you call it. Indeed, in the US, Russia and Europe, intermarriage is more than 50%. If war is the only way to prevent intermarriage, let it be war, they conclude. War is good, for “it keeps the Israeli society from falling apart”, said Israeli historian Ilan Pappe.


This National-Socialist, warlike Judaism is outdated, and is being undermined by Americanisation of Israel on one side of the green line and by the influence of the land on the other side of it. The settlers, a rough lot, live close to the most charming and delightful places in Palestine. It is not surprising that for some of them the land has become more important than blood. Not only the blood to be shed, but also the blood to be mixed. Actually, the owner of Ha’aretz newspaper, Amos Shocken, wrote in favour of the full integration and the mutual assimilation of Jews and Palestinians. Shlomo Sand’s pioneering book Invention of the Jewish People, which debunks the concept of a pure and ancient Jewish race, had astonishing success among Israeli Jews, who apparently are ready for this message.


A foreign reader might be surprised by the Jewish Nationalists’ support of this idea so rigidly rejected by the Israeli Zionist Left. However, for us Israelis, it is not surprising in the light of organisational and moral collapse of the Zionist Left in recent years. After all, the Zionist Left gave us the Nakba under Ben Gurion and a lot of settlements under Rabin and Barak. The Zionist Left also invented the Wall and the apartheid slogan “we are here, they are there”.


Ali Abunimah correctly reminded us that “in South Africa, it was not the traditional white liberal critics of apartheid who oversaw the system’s dismantling, but the National Party which had built apartheid in the first place.” Indeed, liberalism leads nowhere, ditto the wishy-washy leftie attitude. Settlers may contain some very unpalatable elements, but they are hardly worse than average Israeli. Many of them are perfectly human. Their Palestinian neighbours are aware of that. Indeed Raja Shehadeh concludes his wonderful Palestinian Walks by a charming encounter with a young settler who came down to a stream to have his smoke. Shehadeh and the settler pass the joint back and forth, as if it were a calumet of peace.


Gilad Atzmon and Ali Abunima both state that Jewish nationalists are committed to preserving a “Jewish democratic state” as opposed to a “state for all citizens”. True enough. A Jewish democratic state means that it is democratic for Jews and Jewish for everybody else. However, Lincoln and his contemporaries who enfranchised the slaves did not expect that a black man would become the US President one day – yet it happened due to the dynamics they unleashed. Likewise in our case, let millions of Palestinians get on the voter roll, and then these small problems will be taken care of.   


The Jewish nationalist One-Staters should be encouraged by our side. Perhaps this is the right time to do a One State Conference like we did few years ago in Lausanne, but this time with settlers and Hamas, and with everybody else who wants to live in One Palestine, Complete, to use the words of Tom Segev.


[Courtesy shamireaders] 

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