Thursday, January 24, 2008

National Identity

An article from Ha'aretz, followed by my take on the issue:
Rebranding the left
By Rami Livni (source: Ha'aretz in English or Hebrew)

A worrying change has been evolving among the Israeli left in recent years. The traditional peace-camp solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - two nations, two states - has fallen out of favor, and its supporters' ranks have dwindled. Instead, other voices have been advocating, with increasing confidence, a single bi-national state.

The two-state option is increasingly seen as anachronistic, conservative, overly Zionist and unjust. At the very least, it is seen as an option that has lost its formerly exciting, subversive spirit.

The one-state advocates still don't have a joint program or political front, but the balance within the left is changing. The peace organizations' conference in Madrid exploded last month after radical leftist activists refused to sit in the same hall with Peace Now representatives, claiming they were "an arm of the occupation." They drafted a document focusing on the one-state principle.

The drift toward one state is obvious in the Arab leadership in Israel. The Arab legal organization Adalah has recently revoked its traditional stand and called for the creation of a single constitutional state between the Jordan and the sea. Even Hadash is drawing away de facto from the two-state idea. It is not advocating one state, but it has tucked away what until recently used to be its historical banner.

It would be a mistake to underestimate this process, with the claim that it involves Arabs and a handful of people on Sheinkin and at Tel Aviv University. Even if this idea's supporters are a minority, they are affecting the left-wing's discourse, re-demarcating the borders of what is "just" and "moral" and damaging the sense of justice and inner conviction of a wider left-wing circle.

Granted, even people in the political center, the prime minister and those further right, are already talking about a Palestinian state and dividing Israel, but it is not clear if they are committed to implementing the two-state plan or are merely being dragged toward it due to changing circumstances.

If the two states for two nations vision loses its active, dedicated public of supporters - its activist, ideological engine - its implementation is in danger.

Therefore the two-state solution must regain its inner justification, vitality and moral urgency - or in marketing jargon, it must be rebranded. For only this concept will bring about a radical change in the lives of Israelis and Palestinians.

Its justification derives from being realistic. Advocating one state does nothing more than support the status quo - perpetuating occupation and suffering. The two-state solution is not only more practical, but more just and moral as well.

It is unjust to deny the Jews self-definition in their own state, and immoral to deny the Palestinians self-definition in theirs. Sovereignty, borders, an ethnic-based national identity and an independent government for each nation is the right political order. This is the outline of the historic compromise between the two nations, and the natural and just evolution of the two national movements.

It may appear like a paradox, but only national identity can be a positive force that would save both nations from eternal war. Only an independent Palestinian state, even on a small territory, not a binational state, could channel its people's energies to build a thriving society, a source of identification for Palestinians inside and outside it.

Only such a state would tell the Palestinians' national narrative and process the Nakba memory constructively. It would provide a solution for the Palestinians' identity crisis, which was created following the 1948 war, and end the anomaly of the Palestinian existence without a homeland.

The writer is a journalist.

My two cents? The Israeli One-Staters are still an insignificant minority who don't hold any sway on the sane left. The fear, though, shouldn't be Isratine-supporters in Israel. What I worry more is that foreign governments will start abandoning the two-state solution and try to force Israel into accepting the unacceptable - its own demise. This is why Israeli politicians should move their asses and truly work towards the creation of a Palestinian state beside Israel.


  1. What two-state solution? Did something escape me?

    My point being a "two-state" solution should have been discarded years ago. Israel will go for it. Sure, the Israeli left is ready for suicide. It's the Palestinians who will never, ever give up on the dream of a larger Paleshtin.

  2. The truth is that there are no good options. I'm not crazy about a Palestinian state and I don't trust the Palestinians not to want a Greater Palestine. Continuing the occupation is horrible, too.

    We have to realize the Palestinians aren't going anywhere and the Palestinians have to realize we aren't going anywhere either. So the best solution is the two-state solution - but only after we make sure it won't be a terrorist state that would keep fighting us. That will take a while.

  3. We have to realize the Palestinians aren't going anywhere and the Palestinians have to realize we aren't going anywhere either.

    I agree. And I agree that at this point there are no good solutions. Transfer could work but Israel is in no position to lose American economic aid and have Jordan and Egypt renig on their sides of the peace accords. Giving the Palestinians in Yehuda and Shomron full citizenship is paramount to suicide. But as you say yourself, at this point, the two-state solution is not a viable one.