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Middle East political theory question...
December 11, 2007 12:37 PM   Subscribe

Have any well-known Middle East scholars come out in favor of uniting Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank into one multi-ethnic, secular state, with the goal of making all residents equal citizens?
posted by Afroblanco to Law & Government (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
There are many that have said that it is inevitable and that it is the only way for a final resolution. Of course, this would basically be an end to Zionism as the Zionists would be greatly outnumbered and incapable of forming a political block with any controlling power and therefore the only solution they will accept is a partitioned state.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:42 PM on December 11, 2007


Edward Said
posted by raztaj at 12:47 PM on December 11, 2007


Personally, I also believe single unified state is the only lasting solution to this plaguing issues with such enormous rippling effects.

And call it Semiticstan or something.

Two-states wouldn't last more than a generation or two, as the cycle repeats, and new in-groups and out-groups form, fight, and battle it out for being authentic.
posted by raztaj at 12:53 PM on December 11, 2007


Well I admit that I didn't keep up with all of Said's pronouncements, but as far as I know he was a proponent of a two-state solution and not a one state solution. The wikipedia article, for what it's worth, suggests that that was the case.

Tariq Ali in 2007.

There was a conference in London in November exploring the question.

Ali Abunimah from Electronic Intifada.

The problem with the solution is, of course, that one cannot have a "Jewish state" when Jews are outnumbered by Palestinians.
posted by OmieWise at 1:08 PM on December 11, 2007


There are definitely thinkers who believe this. And Pollomacho is absolutely right regarding the reason some Israelis are against this idea. That is also why they're against granting full legal rights to Arab citizens within Israel's borders--greater birthrates in the Arab ghettos dictate even without a unified state the Jewish population would be quickly outnumbered.

This is slightly off-topic, but Bitter Lemons is an excellent source of relatively well-balanced editorials of Israeli and Palestinian writers on the same topic.
posted by schroedinger at 1:14 PM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


OmieWise - sorry, that Wikipedia article wasn't a good source to cite!

For a long time he favored an independent Palestinian state (ie, two state solution) but later, in the late 1990's, retracted that notion.

“…after 50 years of Israeli history, classic Zionism has provided no solution to the Palestinian presence. I therefore see no other way than to begin now to speak about sharing the land that has thrust us together, sharing it in a truly democratic way with equal rights for all citizens.” [link]
posted by raztaj at 1:17 PM on December 11, 2007


Wikipedia entry on one-state solution: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binational_solution.

There's a reference to Said's writing on the subject in there. He originally espoused a two-state solution but, like others, felt the breakdown of the Oslo Accords marked the end of its being a viable option.
posted by anonymous78 at 1:21 PM on December 11, 2007


About Said: Fair enough. I wasn't aware he'd officially changed his position.

That is also why they're against granting full legal rights to Arab citizens within Israel's borders--greater birthrates in the Arab ghettos dictate even without a unified state the Jewish population would be quickly outnumbered.

I'm not sure this statement is really correct. First, although there is substantial and official discrimination against Arab and Palestinian Israelis, all citizens of Israel are allowed to vote for members of parliament. Arab political parties hold seats in the Knesset. There is certainly a good argument to be made that the lack of an Israeli constitution is partly due to the problems of resolving the issues of full rights for Palestinian and Arab Israelis. But, if the fear of birthrates is a fear of democracy displacing Jewish power, Arab Israelis already have that power in their power to vote for Knesset members.

Second, even including those Palestinians who chose not to become Israeli citizens when East Jerusalem was annexed (I believe, but would not swear, that residents of East Jerusalem were offered that choice when they were "made" permanent residents of Israel), there are only about ~1.4 million Arabs living in Israel, of about 20% of the population.

I think it's better to be precise in these matters to which many people have justifiably emotional responses.
posted by OmieWise at 1:38 PM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I may be naive, but wouldn't a unified democratic state pretty much be the whole enchilada for the Arabs and be a de facto elimination of the whole Zionist state that they have sought for so long? Would the Israelis somehow maintain power and create some sort of Bantustans like the failed solution in South Africa? Or would the model be something like modern day South Africa? I can't understand how anyone in Israel could support such an idea.
posted by Lame_username at 1:51 PM on December 11, 2007


Around 24% of Palestinians and 6% of Jews support a binational state. There is a collection of good, if older, Ha'aretz articles on the subject, which represent mainly left-wing Israeli sentiment.
posted by blahblahblah at 1:54 PM on December 11, 2007


OmieWise, you are absolutely correct. My original comment was too flippantly written--what I should say is that the higher birthrate of the Arab Israelites (I think it's almost double the percentage of Jewish Israelites, at 3% compared to 1.7%), the relative youth of the Arab Israeli demographic as compared to the Jewish Israeli demographic, and the potential for political clout (20% of the population is nothing to sniff at) is enough to get Zionist hackles up. Logically with these numbers you won't see a 50-50 split for over a hundred years, but nobody ever said racists are logical (where "racist" is not referring to the entire Jewish-Israeli population, just the subset who think Arab-Israelis don't deserve equal treatment).
posted by schroedinger at 2:10 PM on December 11, 2007


Don't turn this thread into a discussion of the issue itself, please.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 4:31 PM on December 11, 2007


Thanks all for your input. You've given me a good place to start.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:15 AM on December 12, 2007


You'll want to look at Sari Nusseibeh's new autobiography, Once Upon a Country.
posted by felix betachat at 10:55 AM on December 12, 2007


Meron Benevinisti, the former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, has come out in favor of it. He's not too popular in Israel anymore, but he's probably the most prominent Israeli to do so.
posted by j1950 at 7:13 PM on February 21, 2008


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