Saturday, February 23, 2008
A Good Article
By Kathleen Christison
"Michael Neumann makes a strong case against a single Palestinian-Jewish state as the solution for the conflict in Palestine-Israel in his “The One-State Illusion: More is Less” in the January 1-15, 2008 issue of the Counterpunch newsletter. But there are critical flaws in his argument.
Neumann correctly condemns the two-state solution as unjust because it “cements Zionist usurpation of Palestinian land,” perpetuating the existence of Israel as “a state based on racial supremacy.” His problem is that the one-state alternative to this racist two-state solution comes across to him as simply impractical. And why? Because . . . well, essentially because Israelis -- these Israelis whom he accuses of racism, land theft, and dispossession of the Palestinians -- simply couldn’t conceivably accept it. The notion, he says, “that Israel would concede a single state is laughable. . . . There is no chance at all they will accept a single state that gives the Palestinians anything remotely like their rights.”
Apparently this is the bottom line: if Israel opposes the idea of a single state, then a single state simply must be an impossible dream, not worth mentioning and certainly not worth struggling for. The case Neumann puts forth is ultimately an argument for the notion that might makes right. Israel has the power to impose its will and the power to avoid unpleasant concessions, and so one state in which Israel would “give up the reason for its existence” is unthinkable......
His pessimism is understandable. It is obviously much more difficult to imagine militant religious zealots among Israeli settlers listening to moral appeals about the injustice they have inflicted on Palestinians than it ever was to imagine white racists in South Africa giving up their sinecures and their power. But it is just as difficult to imagine those religious zealots conceding anything to a separate Palestinian state. Which makes the two-state solution just as impracticable and unlikely as one state. And since we are all advocating the near-impossible, why not advocate the more just impossibility?
If we discard justice, one wonders where we are left with respect to other critical issues. What use, for instance, is there in ending Israel’s occupation at all? If we care only about practicality and not justice, there is no particular reason for Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories. Bush likes the occupation; all the Democratic presidential candidates and even more so the Republican candidates like it; Israel, of course, loves it. The same question applies to other issues. What except the promise of justice fueled past struggles against oppressive but seemingly immovable systems? Justice may ultimately be the only, or at least the primary, reason for pursuing any political cause. For this reason, discussion and advocacy of all alternative solutions to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict must continue."