Last year I co-edited a book with Ahmed Moor called After Zionism (re-issued this week with an updated introduction). It’s about the one-state solution and the reasons this outcome is the most just for both Israelis and Palestinians.
This piece in Salon discusses, after Barack Obama’s visit to Israel and Palestine last week, the illusion of the two-state equation and the growing voices for a more equitable future:
While the “one-state solution,” however conceived, remains a semi-forbidden zone in mainstream international policy discourse, it keeps cropping up all over the place on both the right and the left. Within a few weeks last summer, leading Israeli settler activist Dani Dayan published an Op-Ed in the New York Times urging the international community to give up “its vain attempts to attain the unattainable two-state solution,” while radical journalists Antony Loewenstein and Ahmed Moor published an anthology of writing by academics and activists entitled “After Zionism: One State for Israel and Palestine.”
Less than a month later came the English translation of eminent Israeli sociologist Yehouda Shenhav’s explosive essay, “Beyond the Two-State Solution,” which imagines a bi-national, bilingual federal democracy of Jews and Arabs that would encompass the entire territory of present-day Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. Shenhav, Dayan, Loewenstein, Moor and the leadership of Israel’s staunch enemies Hamas and Hezbollah might agree about nothing else, including which day follows Tuesday and whether the sky is blue. But they’d all agree that a negotiated two-state solution won’t work. Indeed, Israeli film director Dror Moreh, who made the Oscar-nominated documentary “The Gatekeepers” and falls somewhere toward the pragmatic center of Israeli politics, recently told me the same thing. He sounded rueful about holding that opinion and thinks it’s still worth trying but suspects it’s simply too late.
Obama’s Jerusalem speech was aimed squarely at people like Moreh, who still support a peace deal but are inclined to believe it’s impossible. In a larger sense, the president was also trying to provide a boost to the fading momentum of the two-state cause. He spoke directly to the Israeli people, rather than to a divided Knesset dominated by Netanyahu’s hard-line coalition, precisely because a “one-state solution” (or, more properly, an enhanced version of the current one-state reality) has become the de facto position of the Israeli government. It’s difficult to find much distance between Netanyahu’s actual policies and Dani Dayan’s argument that “no final-status solution is imminent” and therefore all parties should focus on “intense efforts to improve and maintain the current reality on the ground.” Netanyahu’s version of kicking the can down the road works like this: We occasionally pay lip service to the idea of a negotiated settlement, at some distant future date when the Palestinians have essentially capitulated to Israel’s demands in advance, while continuing to build settlements that carve the territory of any hypothetical Palestinian state into Swiss cheese.
Rolling Israel’s borders back to the status quo ante of 1967 seems like a bizarre and impractical project in the first place, and as Ahmed Moor puts it, “the unacknowledged truth is that Palestine/Israel is already one country.” Roughly one-fifth of the people living inside Israel’s current borders are Arabs, and the Jewish population of the West Bank will likely soon reach or exceed that level. Extricating the two entities from each other after all this time will be something like separating conjoined twins who’ve grown most of the way to adulthood.