"Two State Solution" Equals Racism:
Palestinians and Jews CAN Live Peacefully as Equals in One Democratic State
By John Spritzler
April 23, 2009
In light of Stephen Walt's recent article, "Is Obama turning up the pressure on Israel?" (i.e. pressure for a "two state solution"), it may be good to read (or re-read) this earlier one by yours truly: A New Path For Israel? The "two state solution" means, in reality, a "Bantustan solution" in which the "Palestinian state" would be no more "independent" of Israel than Gaza today is "unoccupied" by Israel. Palestinians would continue to suffer from being the victims of ethnic cleansing. They would continue to be denied their right to return to the land where they were born, and to be compensated fully for the property that Zionists stole from them. Israel would still insist that is is anti-Semitic to oppose the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the part of Palestine now called Israel. Israel would very likely use "making the Jewish state secure against violent anti-Semites" as a pretext to invade the "Palestinian state" and slaughter its people, just as it invaded Gaza after "withdrawing" from it.
There is no reason to believe that the "two state solution" would mean less Israeli violence against Palestinians.
The American upper class that President Obama represents has consistently supported Israeli ethnic cleansing. They have a very strong reason for doing so. Israel's ethnic cleansing foments a violent conflict that the American corporate-controlled media can lie about and use to persuade the American public to believe a Big Lie: "Freedom-loving people like Israelis and Americans are surrounded by irrational, hateful violent anti-American and anti-Semitic terrorists." The conflict that Israel foments provides valuable credibility to the Orwellian "War on Terror," a war that Obama is as determined to keep waging as George Bush Jr. ever was. This is Obama's goal, not any reduction in the suffering of the Palestinians (or of ordinary Jews either.)
What the Palestinian people need from us in countries whose governments support Israel, is for us to persuade our fellow citizens to oppose our government's support for Israel. Palestinians need us to mount a successful campaign of divestment and boycott against Israel that pushes for our governments to apply sanctions against Israel as a rogue state the way the apartheid South African regime was treated. That requires explaining to our fellow citizens that the root of the conflict is the enormous crime of ethnic cleansing required to make Israel a "Jewish state." We must explain that there should not be a Jewish state in Palestine and that Palestinian opposition to Israel is not anti-Semitism, but justifiable and righteous anger at being treated unjustly. We must explain that the two sides in the conflict are not Jews versus non-Jews but rather people who are for equality versus people who are for inequality. Until people understand these fundamental facts, they will be unable to understand why Israeli attacks on Palestinians are unjustified no matter what the pretext.
If the "two state solution" is implemented, our fellow citizens will be told, "Look, the Palestinians now have their state and they still complain--it shows that what they really want is to destroy Israel and drive the Jews into the sea." If we jump on the "two state" bandwagon, we will only have helped the pro-Israel propagandists succeed in this propaganda. We will have implicitly endorsed the racist lie that is the premise of the two-state solution: "Palestinians hate Jews, always have and always will; they can never live in the same state with Jews peaceably, and Jews cannot be expected to let Palestinians live among them as equals."
"Two state solution" equals racism. We need to reject it, not support it.
CAN JEWS AND PALESTINIANS LIVE PEACEFULLY AS EQUALS IN ONE DEMOCRATIC STATE?
Elite leaders like Obama and Netanyahu want everybody to believe the lie that ordinary Jews and non-Jews in all of Palestine (i.e. including the part of it now called Israel) cannot live together in peace and equality. They point to the current mutual fear and distrust between Jews and non-Jews in Palestine as evidence for this. But understanding the situation in context shows us a very different picture.
Firstly, the mutual fear and distrust between Jews and non-Jews in Palestine today is no more innate to these people than the belief in anti-black stereotypes so widely accepted by white Americans in the past was innate to white people. The animosity between Palestinians and Israeli Jews was deliberately fomented by Israeli Zionist leaders with the help of British and American leaders for decades. It was not the presence of Jews in Palestine, per se, that angered the native Palestinians; rather it was the intention (and then the reality) of Zionists removing non-Jews from their homeland to turn most of it into an exclusively Jewish state. Some Jewish leaders who wanted to see a Jewish homeland inside Palestine never wanted to see it take the form of an exclusively Jewish state based on ethnic cleansing. Albert Einstein always opposed the idea of a Jewish state. Judah Magnes, the first Chancellor of Israel's Hebrew University, opposed the "Jewish state" idea because, as he expressed it in his diary in 1942, "The slogan 'Jewish state' (or commonwealth) is equivalent, in effect, to a declaration of war by the Jews on the Arabs."
But the imperialist powers of the United States and Great Britain knew that ethnic conflict in the Middle East made it easier to keep that region and its oil wealth in the hands of privileged elites and not the masses. So they supported Zionist leaders very different from the likes of Einstein and Magnes. Zionist leaders like David Ben Gurion, who wanted to create an exclusively Jewish state, had the backing of first Great Britain and then the United States. Even before the establishment of the state of Israel, at the close of World War II, the United States gave Ben Gurion virtual control over Jews in the American-run displaced persons camps in Europe and allowed him, in 1948, to forcibly draft thousands of Jews from these camps and transport them--very much against their will!--to Palestine to be soldiers in the Zionist Haganah militia and to fight Palestinians.
There was a concerted effort by Zionist leaders not only to create Palestinian anger against Jews but to make Jews fear Palestinians. David Ben Gurion, in February of 1948 when Zionist military forces were expelling entire Palestinian populations from their villages and towns, gave fiery speeches to the Jewish masses in Palestine describing Palestinian resistance this way [pg. 72]: "This is a war aimed at destroying and eliminating the Jewish community." Zionist leaders have been carrying out ethnic cleansing of non-Jews and telling Jews in Israel that Arabs are irrational and violent anti-Semites for decades. Today's mutual fear and distrust between Jews and Palestinians doesn't just arise from any inherent trait of either Jews or Palestinians; it is the result of a vicious effort from above to pit these people against each other.
Secondly, a movement against Zionism can mobilize not only Palestinians but ordinary Jews as well, if it is based on class and not religion. The reason for this is that Zionist leaders are the enemy of ordinary Jews and they have attacked ordinary Jews ever since the Holocaust, when they opposed efforts to rescue Jews. Today upper class Zionist leaders are driving ordinary Jews down with the kind of class oppression that America's upper class is using to drive down most Americans.
It is true that at the present time Israeli Jews fear Palestinians more than their own upper class Zionist billionaires, generals and politicians. But this does not have to be true forever. Working class Jews, like other working class people, dislike inequality and don't want to be ruled by a privileged and wealthy elite. This is why Jewish workers before World War II joined socialist or communist parties and organizations, and why most of them rejected Zionism, whose leaders were rightly dismissed as collaborators with anti-working class governments. After World War II, however, socialism and communism were discredited by their association with the thoroughly anti-democratic regime of Stalin in the Soviet Union. Zionism (Jewish nationalism) came to be seen by many working class Jews after the Holocaust as the only salvation for Jews. These Jews decided to put up with the increasing inequality and elite rule of Zionism in Israel because they believed it was necessary to avoid something much worse, namely being "driven into the sea" by hate-filled terrorists.
There has been virtually no class-based anti-Zionist organizing effort inside Israel since its establishment, which is why Jewish opposition to Zionism seems, on the surface, to be impossible. However, if such organizing took place, aiming to expose the anti-working class lies and oppression of Zionism, and aiming to explain to Israeli Jews the truth about why Palestinians quite rightly do not think there should be a Jewish state in Palestine, there is every reason to believe it would resonate with working class Jews for one huge reason--it would have the truth on its side.
Thirdly, the fact that millions of Jews in Israel live in houses or on land that was stolen from Palestinians by the Zionist movement does not mean that these same Jews will never wish to return this property to its rightful Palestinian owners and live with them peacefully as equals. Here's why. An anti-Zionist movement based on class--and calling for Palestinians to enjoy their right of return and compensation for stolen property and equality with Jews in all of Palestine--would have enormous support from ordinary Israeli Jews as well as Palestinians if--a very big if--it had a revolutionary outlook. With such an outlook it could fight for, among other things, something like this: Take money away from the eighteen wealthiest families in Israel (who earn 32% of the country's revenues) and create a fund with that money that would be large enough to say to every Israeli family living in or on stolen property the following:
"The fund will give you one million U.S. dollars (in shekels) which you must use this way: first offer to buy the property from the rightful Palestinian owner for one million dollars; if the Palestinian refuses, then give the property back to him or her and then use the one million dollars to buy land and build a new house for yourself."
The eighteen wealthiest families in Israel are rich enough to make this work, as spelled out in detail here. This would be a win/win scenario for ordinary Jews and Palestinians alike. It would create a new social environment of equality and trust and solidarity across religious lines. Palestinian anger at being kept out of their homeland and denied compensation for stolen property and made refugees or second class citizens would be a thing of the past. Islamic Fundamentalists who continued to carry out violence against Jewish civilians would be rejected as criminals by most Palestinians. Jewish fear of Palestinians due to knowing that they were living in or on stolen Palestinian houses and land would also belong to the past. At the same time an economic housing construction boom with increased employment for all working people would make life better economically for Jews and non-Jews, in sharp contrast to the days when many people were either unemployed or employed to make weapons or be soldiers in a bloody ethnic war killing innocent people. All of this, and much more, is possible if its revolutionary essence is explicitly recognized and embraced as the movement's goal.
The way to defeat Zionism is by uniting ordinary Jews and non-Jews in all of Palestine against it. But to do this, the goal needs to be more than just the abolition of Zionism; it needs to be the revolutionary goal of abolishing class inequality too. In this revolutionary framework, the "One State Solution" makes perfect sense. But in the absence of a revolutionary class framework, the "One State Solution" can be a trap. Palestinians could continue to be dominated and oppressed by a predominantly Jewish upper class, just as blacks in South Africa continue to be oppressed by a predominantly white upper class after that country's "One State Solution" abolished apartheid. Neither outcome is inevitable and both are very possible. What happens depends on what people decide to do. That is why it is crucial for everyone opposed to Zionism to think hard about the choices that confront us, and to make sure that our decision about what to oppose and what to support is not made for us by upper class agents such as Obama and Netanyahu.
Other articles by this author
John Spritzler is the author of
The People As Enemy: The
Leaders' Hidden Agenda In World War II, and a Research Scientist at the
Harvard School of Public Health.
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