At the UN, the funeral of the two-state solution
by Ilan Pappe
(The Electronic Intifada
12 September 2011)
We are all going to be invited to the funeral of the two-state solution if and when the UN General Assembly announces the acceptance of Palestine as a member state.
The support of the vast majority of the organization’s members would complete a cycle that began in 1967 and which granted the ill-advised two-state solution the backing of every powerful and less powerful actor on the international and regional stages.
Even inside Israel, the support engulfed eventually the right as well as the left and center of Zionist politics. And yet despite the previous and future support, everybody inside and outside Palestine seems to concede that the occupation will continue and that even in the best of all scenarios, there will be a greater and racist Israel next to a fragmented and useless bantustan.
The charade will end in September or October — when the Palestinian Authority plans to submit its request for UN membership as a full member — in one of two ways.
It could be either painful and violent, if Israel continues to enjoy international immunity and is allowed to finalize by sheer brutal force its mapping of post-Oslo Palestine. Or it could end in a revolutionary and much more peaceful way with the gradual replacement of the old fabrications with solid new truths about peace and reconciliation for Palestine. Or perhaps the first scenario is an unfortunate precondition for the second. Time will tell.
A substitute dictionary for Zionism
In ancient times, the dead were buried with their beloved artifacts and belongings. This coming funeral will probably follow a similar ritual. The most important item to go six feet under is the dictionary of illusion and deception and its famous entries such as “the peace process,” “the only democracy in the Middle East,” “a peace-loving nation,” “parity and reciprocity” and a “humane solution to the refugee problem.”
The substitute dictionary has been in the making for many years describing Zionism as colonialism, Israel as an apartheid state and the Nakba as ethnic cleansing. It will be much easier to put it into common use after September.
The maps of the dead solution will also be lying next to the body. The cartography that diminished Palestine into one tenth of its historical self, and which was presented as a map of peace, will hopefully be gone forever.
There is no need to prepare an alternative map. Since 1967, the geography of the conflict has never changed in reality, while it kept constantly transforming in the discourse of liberal Zionist politicians, journalists and academics, who still enjoy today a widespread international backing.
Palestine was always the land between the river and the sea. It still is. Its changing fortunes are characterized not by geography but by demography. The settler movement that came there in the late 19th century now accounts for half of the population and controls the other half through a matrix of racist ideologies and apartheid policies.
Peace is not a demographic change, nor a redrawing of maps: it is the elimination of these ideologies and policies. Who knows — it may be easier now than ever before to do this.
Exposing Israel’s protest movement
The funeral will expose the fallacy of the present Israeli mass protest movement, while at the same time highlight its positive potential. For seven weeks, mostly middle class Israeli Jews have protested in huge numbers against their government’s social and economic policies.
In order to keep the protest as large a movement as possible, its leaders and coordinators do not dare to mention occupation, colonization or apartheid. The sources of evil for everything, they claim, are the brutal capitalist policies of the government.
On a certain level they have a point. These policies disabled the master race of Israel from fully and equally enjoying the fruits of Palestine’s colonization and dispossession. But a fairer division of the spoils will not ensure normal life for either Jews or Palestinians; only the end to looting and pillage will.
And yet they also showed skepticism and distrust in what their media and politicians tell them about the socio-economic reality; it may open the way for a better understanding of the lies they were fed about the “conflict” and their “national security” over so many years.
The funeral should energize us all to follow the same distribution of labor as before. Palestinians urgently need to solve the issue of representation. The progressive Jewish forces in the world have to be more intensively recruited to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and other solidarity campaigns.
Intifada at the proms
The recent disruption of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra performance at the prestigious BBC Proms in London shocked the gentle Israelis more than any genocidal event in their own history.
But more than anything else, as reported by senior Israeli journalists who were there, they were flabbergasted by the presence of so many Jews among the protesters. These very journalists kept depicting in the past the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and BDS activists as terrorist groups and extremists of the worst kind. They believed their own reports. To its credit, the mini-intifada at the Royal Albert Hall at least confused them.
Putting one state into political action
In Palestine itself the time has come to move the discourse of one state into political action and maybe adopt the new dictionary. The dispossession is everywhere and therefore the repossession and reconciliation have to occur everywhere.
If the relationship between Jews and Palestinians is to be reformulated on a just and democratic basis, one can accept neither the old buried map of the two-state solution nor its logic of partition. This also means that the sacred distinction made between Jewish settlements near Haifa and those near Nablus should be put in the grave as well.
The distinction should be made between those Jews who are willing to discuss a reformulation of the relationship, change of regime and equal status and those who are not, regardless of where they live now. There are surprising phenomena in this respect if one studies well the human and political fabric of 2011 historic Palestine, ruled as it is by the Israeli regime: the willingness for a dialogue is sometimes more evident beyond the 1967 line rather than inside it.
The dialogue from within for a change of regime, the question of representation and the BDS movement are all part and parcel of the same effort to bring justice and peace to Palestine. What we will bury — hopefully — in September was one of the major obstacles in the way to realizing this vision.
The author of numerous books, Ilan Pappe is Professor of History and Director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter.