Israel/Palestine and the One-State Solution

Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government plans to host a symposium this weekend entitled “Israel/Palestine and the One-State Solution”.

At first glance, such a vision seems highly attractive. Why not all live together in peace rather than fighting one another?

Indeed, in an ideal world, there would be no national borders, no attempts by nations to keep out illegal immigrants and an egalitarian distribution of resources between all human beings wherever they lived. However, it doesn’t work that way.

It doesn’t even happen in democratic countries, where elected governments pursue their own narrow political and economic agendas even when they run contrary to the interests of those who voted for the parties in opposition. Ultimately wherever you go, it is the strong who dictate the agenda. That’s true not only in government, but also in all human and animal interactions.

Anyone with a sense of history understands that the return to Zion after two thousand years of wandering was primarily brought about because Jews had had enough of being kicked around as a minority, whose wellbeing had been dependent upon the goodwill of the indigenous population and its rulers.

The events of the late 19th century in Eastern Europe, anti-Semitism even in an enlightened country like France as highlighted by the Dreyfus Trial and, of course, first and foremost, the Holocaust convinced most Jews that we needed to be masters of our own destiny (to the degree that that can be true of any of us!)

In an ideal world, there would be a secular state in the Middle East extending from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean – why not also include Jordan, the whole Middle East and, indeed, the entire world? – in which Jews and Palestinians and all religious, ethnic, racial and tribal groups would live together in peace. As the Psalmist wrote: “How good and how pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity.” However, we shall have to wait for the Messiah to come for that to happen!

For the meantime, the establishment of one state between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean would inevitably result in the Jews becoming a minority in their own land. Given Islam’s political and religious agenda, it is not too difficult to imagine the consequences. One need only look at the decimation of Christian communities in Arab lands and the persecution of the Copts in Egypt to understand the picture.

Of course, there are Muslims who remind us of the Golden Age in Spain, forgetting the fact that, more than 300 years before the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella expelled our ancestors, Moses Maimonides had already fled that country for Egypt, because of the forced conversion of Jews to Islam by the Almohads under pain of death.

Therefore, while the One-State Solution may seem like a wonderful idea, it is only seventy years since a very different “solution of the Jewish question” was proposed by Heinrich Himmler with appalling consequences. As the British philosopher and statesman Edmund Burke quite rightly pointed out: “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”

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2 Responses to Israel/Palestine and the One-State Solution

  1. ravkarp says:

    Hi Mickey,
    First off, it was the philosopher George Santayana, and not Edmund Burke, who said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (in his work LIFE OF REASON). The famous Edmund Burke quote that you may be thinking of is “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
    Also, while I see the point you are attempting to make here, I am uncomfortable with your tying too closely the establishment of the State of Israel with the Holocaust. That just feeds into the rhetoric of Israel’s adversaries who claim that the sole reason for the very existence of the State of Israel is the guilt of the West for the Holocaust; that the Palestinians were forced to pay the price for that guilt.
    I think your argument would have been stronger if you kept your focus on the mistreatment of religious minorities in the various contemporary Arab states; a dire situation which has only deteriorated in the wake of the much vaunted “Arab Spring.”
    As far as the 2-state solution over the 1-state solution is concerned, the one argument that you did not make, and I think should have made, is that in a Middle East which is filled with nations who affirm their identities with their Muslim faith, there is nothing wrong, improper, or contradictory with the existence of a nation which affirms its identity with the Jewish faith, particularly since that nation is located in a land which has been considered the homeland of the people of that faith for 4,000 years. That nation, of course, is the State of Israel.
    Chag HaPurim Sameiach!
    Henry Jay Karp

  2. Stuart M. Katz says:

    The only lifeboat for the Jews of the Diaspora and Israel, is a strong and viable Jewish State. Israel, is a nation beset by internal strife and political turmoil. To add a Muslim majority would lead only to the the goal of the Jihadist’s, that of pushing the Jews into the Mediterannean.
    It is not complex, it is simple. Without Israel, Jews have no fall back position to ensure that a 21st century Hitler does not reappear.
    Am I being alarmist? As the Cambodian People, those who are left after Pol Pot.
    Stuart Katz

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