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Jeff Halper's Conceit

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    Jeff Halper dismisses the idea of democracy in a one-state solution, as a non-starter. If he truly believes that only the opinion of Jews matters, isn t he
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 8, 2005
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      Jeff Halper dismisses the idea of democracy in a one-state solution,
      as a "non-starter." If he truly believes that only the opinion of
      Jews matters, isn't he with the Enemy? He seems to be coddling
      with "Peace" Zionist Michael Lerner getting published in Tikkun. "As
      an option that entails the transformation of Israel from a Jewish
      state into a democratic one (with a Palestinian majority), it would
      be opposed totally by the Israeli Jewish population, Diaspora Jews,
      the U.S. government, and significant sectors of Europe." He seems to
      take for granted that Jews should have the right to keep what they
      stole, even though the majority of the world population would
      disagree. Who cares if Jews would feel indignant? Let them feel as
      indignant as they want while they rot in Guantanamo. -WVNS

      ===

      Comment from Israel Shamir: <info@...>

      Yes, you are right - he is a shit. He also walked out of Deir Yassin
      Remembered. Really, should be attended to :-)

      ===

      Israel in a Middle East Union:
      A "Two-stage" Approach to the Conflict
      Jeff Halper
      http://www.tikkun.org/archive/backissues/tik0501/050112.html


      [W]hen 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it's going to
      be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals
      than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam.
      The pressure at the border will be awful. It's going to be a
      terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill
      and kill and kill. All day, every day. If we don't kill, we will
      cease to exist. The only thing that concerns me is how to ensure
      that the boys and men who are going to have to do the killing will
      be able to return home to their families and be normal human beings.

      —Arnon Sofer, professor of Geography at Haifa University, father of
      Sharon's "separation plan," quoted in The Jerusalem Post weekend
      supplement, May 21, 2004.

      Let's begin by re-framing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The way
      it's presented by Israeli governments (Labor as well as Likud), by
      AIPAC, by all those aparachiks in Hillel and Birthright endeavoring
      to turn Jewish students into unthinking organs of Israel's PR
      machine, is simple and compelling: Israel is "our" country. The
      Palestinians are our implacable and permanent enemies who have
      violently rejected all our "generous offers" of peace. Any Israeli
      action against the Arabs comes only out of self-defense. We are the
      victims, they are the perpetrators. We bear no responsibility for
      what is happening, they are to blame. We need not feel guilty about
      what we do to them, the Palestinians only bring it upon
      themselves. "No other nation in history faced with comparable
      challenges," Alan Dershowitz tells us in The Case for Israel, "has
      ever adhered to a higher standard of human rights, been more
      sensitive to the safety of innocent civilians, tried harder to
      operate under the rule of law, or been willing to take more risks
      for peace."

      If this framing is true, then the source of the conflict is Arab
      terrorism, and security for Israel should be our prime concern. It
      means, of course, that peace is impossible. If the Israeli-
      Palestinian-Arab conflict is at bottom a "clash of civilizations" in
      which fanatical Muslims aspire to drive the Jews into the sea, then,
      yes, we had better build 26-foot walls of concrete around ourselves
      and keep our nuclear weapons at the ready. We are caught not in a
      political conflict, but in a permanent state of conflict that is the
      core of our national existence. This security-based ideology,
      pressed on the public, the media, Congress, and American Jewish
      students too emotionally manipulated to use their critical
      intellect, is neat and compelling indeed. It feeds directly into
      support for Israel's extreme Right. It also dovetails smartly with
      the Islamophobic rhetoric manufactured by Jewish neo-cons who see
      Israel as the "good cop" policing the Middle Eastern theater of the
      American Empire.

      It is also wrong. If the critical Israeli peace movement—what we
      call "left of Peace Now"—has any contribution to make, it is less in
      its resistance to the Occupation "on the ground" than its ability to
      translate its knowledge of "the ground" into a fundamental reframing
      of what the conflict is all about. Without such a reframing we can
      never identify the right way out of the conflict.

      According to this perspective, the conflict between Israel and the
      Palestinians is a political one resolvable only by acknowledging the
      legitimate and recognized claims of both peoples to the country. It
      rejects the claim, pressed by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, that
      Israel has "no partners for peace," noting that the Palestinians
      have formally and repeatedly recognized the State of Israel within
      the 1967 lines (the 1949 armistice line, the "Green Line"), thereby
      relinquishing political claim to 78 percent of historic Palestine.
      It also acknowledges the exceptional significance of the 2002 Saudi
      Initiative, a fundamental term of reference in the Road Map, in
      which the Arab League offered Israel recognition, peace, and full
      integration into the region in return for an end to the Occupation—
      an offer that Israel responded to only by insisting that the Saudi
      Initiative be removed from the Road Map altogether. Clearly
      something else is at work besides concerns for security.

      We know what that "something else" is; since Israel took the West
      Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza in 1967, successive Israeli
      governments have announced their intention to foreclose the
      establishment of a viable Palestinian state forever. Despite his
      image as a clumsy bull in a china shop, Sharon, as Prime Minister,
      has cleverly camouflaged this by professing his support for the
      Quartet's Road Map, yet conditioning it on fourteen "reservations"
      that, though cloaked in "security" concerns, permit only a truncated
      Palestinian mini-state on no more than 10 to 15 percent of the
      country and with no territorial contiguity or economic potential and
      no control over its borders, water, airspace, or foreign policy. It
      would be a country with no meaningful presence in its capital city,
      Jerusalem. It is a state that can never compromise Israeli control
      of the entire country west of the Jordan River, nor jeopardize
      Israel's settlement blocs, nor be truly sovereign and viable. But
      this Palestinian state would serve an important function: to relieve
      Israel of a Palestinian population that it cannot assimilate, while
      leaving Israel in control of the entire country. It is a conception
      shared with Labor, which also rejects any notion of a viable, truly
      sovereign Palestinian state (although Labor does favor a somewhat
      larger Palestine than does the Likud).

      Some Fundamental Elements of a Just Peace

      Assuming that apartheid is neither an acceptable nor a sustainable
      solution to the conflict, what is? Before addressing that question
      we must identify the elements essential for any just and sustainable
      peace. I would suggest five:

      (1) National expression for the two peoples. The Israel-Palestine
      conflict concerns two peoples, two nations, each of which claims the
      right of collective self-determination. This is what gives such
      compelling logic to the two-state solution. The problem is that such
      a solution has been rendered irrelevant by Israel's settlement
      policies. Since Israel insists on permanent control over the entire
      country, it leaves no space for Palestinian self-determination. Even
      if Israel eventually allows a Palestinian mini-state to emerge, that
      will not end the conflict. The progressive Zionist camp (including
      Tikkun) places great hopes on the Geneva Initiative (also called the
      Geneva Accord). While the "22 percent formula" (the Palestinians
      must get 22 percent of the country so that Israel can retain its 78
      percent within the Green Line) might be achievable through
      territorial exchanges, such proposals still have to grapple with
      Labor and Likud's long-shared position that no truly sovereign
      Palestinian state is admissible west of the Jordan River.

      (2) Viability. Whatever form a Palestinian state takes, it must be
      viable as well as sovereign. It must control its borders and its
      basic resources (such as water). It must possess territorial
      contiguity and, above all, the ability to develop a viable economy.
      We must take into account two fundamental elements that cannot be
      dismissed or minimized. First, besides normal processes of
      development, the small Palestinian state will have to accept and
      integrate its refugees. Second, more than 60 percent of the
      Palestinian population in the Occupied Territories and in the
      refugee camps is under the age of twenty-five, a young generation
      that has been brutalized, traumatized, impoverished, and left with
      little education and few skills. The Palestinians' demand for a
      viable state stems not from intractability but from a sober
      evaluation of the enormity of the national challenge facing them.

      (3) Refugees. Eighty percent of the Palestinians are refugees. A
      sustainable peace cannot emerge from technical arrangements alone.
      Beyond self-determination and viability lies the issue of justice.
      Any sustainable peace is dependent upon the just resolution of the
      refugee issue. Contrary to the slogans we all hear, the refugee
      issue is not difficult to resolve, as even the refugees in the camps
      have indicated. It depends on a "package" of three elements: First,
      Israel must acknowledge the refugees' right of return, an
      inalienable right embedded in internal Palestinian law not dependent
      upon Israeli acceptance. Second, Israel needs to acknowledge its
      responsibility in creating the refugee issue so that a healing
      process may begin. No one knows more than the Jews the importance of
      having one's suffering acknowledged. Indeed, this symbolic gesture
      is more important to refugees than is any tangible relief of their
      situation. Third, when these requirements are satisfied—an
      eventuality Israel resolutely refuses even to consider—technical
      solutions must be found that do not compromise the integrity of
      Israel.

      (4) A regional dimension. Despite our almost exclusive focus on
      Israel/Palestine, the main issues facing both peoples are regional
      in scope. Refugees, security, water, economic development,
      democratization—none of these can be addressed effectively within
      the narrow confines of Israel/Palestine. Even if the Palestinians
      and Israelis resolve their differences, the prospect of them
      enjoying a safe and prosperous future in a progressive society is
      dimmed if the region as a whole remains poor, autocratic, and
      seething with unaddressed grievances.

      (5) Israel's security. Israel, of course, has fundamental and
      legitimate security needs. Unlike Israeli governments, the Israeli
      peace camp believes that security cannot be addressed in isolation,
      that Israel will not find peace and security unless it both enters
      into a viable peace with the Palestinians and achieves a measure of
      integration into the Middle East region. We certainly reject the
      notion that security can be achieved through military means.
      Israel's assertion that the security issue be resolved before any
      political progress can be made is as illogical as it is self-
      serving. We know—and the Israeli authorities know, and the
      Palestinians know—that terrorism is a symptom that can only be
      addressed as part of a broader approach to the grievances underlying
      the conflict. Like the United States, Israel uses security concerns
      to advance a political agenda; in our case, to justify repressive
      force intended to compel the Palestinians to submit to an Israeli-
      controlled Bantustan.

      Working Around the Occupation:

      The Two-Stage Approach

      So where does all this lead us? To a point where we can begin to
      critically evaluate the options before us and start thinking outside
      the box. Given the parameters outlined above, it seems to me we are
      left with four "solutions," only one of which, the confederational,
      appears workable. They are:

      (1) The traditional two-state solution in which a Palestinian state
      emerges on all of the Occupied Territories (with minor adjustments).
      This is the position of the Palestinian National Authority and three
      out of the four members of the Road Map's "Quartet" (Europe, Russia,
      and the UN, since the United States has officially joined
      the "Israel Plus-Palestine Minus" option advocated by Israeli
      governments). It is also the option pursued by progressive Zionists
      within Israel, especially those associated with the Geneva
      Initiative, and their supporters within the Diaspora Jewish
      community.
      (2) An "Israel Plus-Palestine Minus" two-state solution, pursued by
      both Labor and Likud governments. This option envisions a semi-
      sovereign, semi-viable Palestinian state arising between Israel's
      major settlement blocs, with the Palestinians compensated by minor
      territorial swaps. Israeli leaders believe that faced with military
      defeat, impoverishment, transfer, political isolation, and its "Iron
      Wall" of settlements and barriers, a carefully groomed post-Arafat
      Palestinian leadership can be coaxed to agree. The critical peace
      movement in Israel considers this option unworkable and
      unsustainable, a sophisticated form of apartheid.
      (3) A "Two-State Plus" solution. This approach, which I will
      describe in more detail presently, proposes a two-stage process in
      which the requirements of national self-determination are
      disconnected from wider regional concerns with economic viability.
      Given the Israeli "facts on the ground," a Palestinian state would
      emerge on as much of the Occupied Territories as possible, thus
      giving the Palestinians their venue for national expression. But
      such a state would not be viable. To address this requirement, a
      second stage would be necessary: the emergence of an Israeli-
      Palestinian confederation in which all of its residents have the
      right to live anywhere they choose within the confederation. It
      would later be expanded to include Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and other
      states of the region to become a Middle East Union.

      (4) A single state, either bi-national or democratic. On the surface
      this seems the most natural and just alternative to a two-state
      solution rendered irrelevant by Israel. Yet, in the realpolitik of
      today, it is a non-starter. As an option that entails the
      transformation of Israel from a Jewish state into a democratic one
      (with a Palestinian majority), it would be opposed totally by the
      Israeli Jewish population, Diaspora Jews, the U.S. government, and
      significant sectors of Europe. Although the one-state solution
      enjoys widespread popular support among Palestinians, the
      Palestinian leadership is loath to shift to a new political program
      with such slight chance of success. The one-state option remains an
      evolutionary hope of Palestinians, however.

      The one-state option offers a way to "work around" the now-permanent
      Occupation and to neutralize it. It simply incorporates the
      settlements and roads into a broader political entity that
      supercedes the Jewish state: a democratic state in the whole of
      Israel/Palestine that extends equal rights to all its citizens. But
      the "Greater Israel" ideology assumes, of course, Jewish sovereignty
      and control; the notion of sharing the country with another people
      is an absolute non-starter. For the Palestinians, the one-state
      approach, though enjoying popular support, has its problems. Sharing
      a state with Israeli Jews means compromising the principle of self-
      determination.

      If a genuine two-state solution has been rendered impossible and a
      one-state solution is a non-starter, and if we eliminate the "Israel
      Plus-Palestine Minus" option as unjust, then only one other option
      remains: a regional confederation. Less elegant than the others,
      more complex, more difficult to present in a sound byte, it is also
      far more workable. Like the European Union, it preserves a balance
      between national sovereignty and the freedom to live anywhere within
      the region. Rather than eliminating the Occupation, it neutralizes
      it by compensating the Palestinians' readiness to compromise on
      territory with the economic, social, and geographic depth afforded
      by a regional confederation.

      In contrast to the two-state solution which is limited in scope,
      technical in conception, and unable to address many of the
      underlying issues of the conflict, the "two-stage" approach
      emphasizes processes—of peace-making, trust-building, economic
      development, the establishment of strong civil societies, and
      reconciliation leading to a genuine resolution of the conflict. Its
      outlines are straightforward and transparent.

      Stage 1: A Palestinian State Alongside Israel

      Recognizing that Palestinian demands for self-determination
      represent a fundamental element of the conflict, the first stage of
      the confederational approach provides for the establishment of a
      Palestinian state. This meets the Palestinians' requirements for
      national sovereignty, political identity, and membership in the
      international community. Statehood, however, does not address the
      crucial issue of viability. If it were only a state the Palestinians
      needed, they could have one tomorrow—the mini-state "offered" by
      Barak and Sharon.

      No, the Palestinians can have their state. Their fear, however, is
      being locked into a Bantustan, a prison-state that cannot possibly
      serve as a vehicle for their national life and challenges. The "two-
      stage" approach offers a way out of this trap, even if the Israeli
      presence is reduced but not significantly eliminated. The
      Palestinians might be induced to accept a state on something less
      than the entire 22 percent of the country conquered in 1967 on
      condition that the international community guarantees the emergence
      of a regional confederation within a reasonable period of time.
      While the first stage, the establishment of a Palestinian state on
      most of the Occupied Territories (including borders with Jordan,
      Syria, and Egypt) addresses the issue of self-determination and
      gives the Palestinians a place in the international community, the
      second stage, a regional confederation, would give them a
      regional "depth" in which to meet their long-term social and
      economic needs.

      Stage 2: A Regional Confederation
      Leading to a Wider Middle East Union
      Following upon the emergence of a Palestinian state, the
      international community would broker, within a reasonable period
      (five to ten years), a regional confederation among Israel,
      Palestine, and Jordan. With a resolution of the Golan issue, Syria
      and Lebanon would likely join as well. Over time, with the entrance
      of Egypt and other countries of the region into the confederation, a
      full-blown Middle East Union might emerge.

      The key element of this approach is the ability of all members of
      the confederation to live and work anywhere within the
      confederation's boundaries. That breaks the Palestinians out of
      their prison. Rather than burdening the small emergent state with
      responsibilities it cannot possibly fulfill, the confederational
      approach distributes that burden across the entire region. It also
      addresses the core of the refugee issue, which is individual choice.
      Palestinians residing within the confederation would have the choice
      of becoming citizens of the Palestinian state, retaining citizenship
      in their current countries of residence, or leaving the region
      entirely for a new life abroad. They could choose to return "home"
      to what is today Israel, but they would do so as Palestinian
      citizens or citizens of another member state. Israel would be under
      no obligation to grant them citizenship, just as Israelis living in
      Palestine (Jews who choose to remain in Ma'aleh Adumim or Hebron,
      for example, former "settlers") would retain Israeli citizenship.
      This addresses Israeli concerns about the integrity of their state.

      In such a confederation, even a major influx of Palestinian refugees
      into Israel would pose no problem. It is not the presence of the
      refugees themselves that is threatening to Israel. After all,
      300,000 foreign workers and an even greater number of Russian
      Christians reside in Israel today. The threat to Israeli sovereignty
      comes from the possibility of refugees claiming Israeli citizenship.
      By disconnecting the Right of Return from citizenship, the refugees
      would realize their political identity through citizenship in a
      Palestinian state while posing no challenge to Israeli sovereignty,
      thus enjoying substantive individual justice by living in any part
      of Palestine/Israel or the wider region they choose. And since a
      confederational solution does not require that the settlements be
      dismantled—although they will be integrated—it is not dependent
      upon "ending the Occupation," the main obstacle to the two-state
      solution. It will simply neutralize it, rendering all the walls,
      checkpoints, bypass roads, and segregated cities irrelevant.

      The two-stage solution will encounter opposition. Israel, perceiving
      itself as a kind of Singapore, has no desire to integrate into the
      Middle East, relinquish its control over the country or, to say the
      least, accommodate Palestinian refugees. But it does offer the
      Israeli people, 70 percent of whom would like to truly disengage
      from the Occupation according to repeated polls, a way out of an
      untenable situation. The autocratic regimes of the region might
      resist such a project out of fear of the democratization it would
      entail, but the advantages of an end to the conflict in the region
      are obvious. International pressures and economic inducements,
      combined with a strong civil-society initiative, should persuade the
      region's countries to participate. And for the Palestinians there
      are only advantages. The two-stage approach offers them much more
      than the traditional two-state solution, and is far more achievable
      than a single state.

      Although such a union sounds like a pipedream in the present context
      of intense conflict, the infrastructure already exists. Israel
      already has far more extensive relations with Arab and Muslim
      countries than people realize. It has formal peace treaties with
      Jordan and Egypt, while Syria has indicated its desire to end the
      conflict, in which case Lebanon would fall into place. Then there
      are its diplomatic and economic relations with Morocco, Tunisia, and
      potentially even Libya; economic relations with the Gulf States; and
      extremely close ties (including military) with Turkey. Israel also
      has long-standing relations with the Kurds of Iraq and, with the
      visit of an Iraqi cabinet minister to Israel in September, prospects
      of formal relations with Iraq as well. To all of these, add
      relations with Muslim countries from Nigeria through Kazakhstan to
      Indonesia.

      The major obstacle to a regional confederation appears to be the
      process of entering into a just peace with the Palestinians. This
      long-suffering group may lack political, economic, and military
      power, but does possess one great source of leverage: its role as
      gatekeeper. Once the Palestinians signal to the wider Arab and
      Muslim worlds that they have resolved their differences with Israel
      and that the time has come for normalization, Israeli integration
      into the region can begin, as can the process of reconciliation with
      the Arab and Muslim peoples. It is the first stage that constitutes
      the real "hump" to be overcome; the emergence of a Middle East
      confederation, even a union eventually, would follow almost as a
      matter of course.

      In all this it is Israel that bears the brunt of responsibility.
      Palestinian failures aside, it is Israel that is the strong party,
      Israel that is the occupying power, Israel that seeks hegemony and
      control of the entire country. There is no symmetry here, not of
      power and not of responsibility under international law. The passing
      of the Arafat era promises new opportunities. The strengthening of
      Sharon and Bush, both strong adherents of the realpolitik of
      military might, domination, and American Empire, should concern
      everyone seeking a world based on universal human rights,
      inclusivity, international law, equality, and development. The
      prospect of an Occupation actually winning, of an entire people
      being literally imprisoned, of a new apartheid emerging—all done in
      the name of Jews everywhere—makes the Israeli-Palestinian issue a
      preeminently Jewish as well as global one. I would hope that the
      organized Jewish community will eventually join with leaders of the
      Palestinian Diaspora to advance the cause of a just and sustainable
      peace for both peoples. No less than the soul of our people is at
      stake.

      The Israeli public, battered, scared, caught in a lose-lose
      situation but convinced by their leaders that there is no political
      solution to the conflict, has taken itself out of the equation. It
      is passive, waiting for outside intervention to resolve things. That
      leaves us—the Israeli peace movement, our partner Palestinian peace-
      seekers, Diaspora Jews, and other members of the international civil
      society—to join together to defeat occupation and displacement, just
      as we defeated apartheid. As the old saying goes: When the people
      lead, the leaders follow.

      http://www.tikkun.org/archive/backissues/tik0501/050112.html

      *********************************************************************

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      Jeff Halper dismisses the idea of democracy in a one-state solution,
      as a "non-starter." If he truly believes that only the opinion of
      Jews matters, isn't he with the Enemy? "As an option that entails
      the transformation of Israel from a Jewish state into a democratic
      one (with a Palestinian majority), it would be opposed totally by
      the Israeli Jewish population, Diaspora Jews, the U.S. government,
      and significant sectors of Europe." He seems to take for granted
      that Jews should have the right to keep what they stole, even though
      the majority of the world population would disagree. Who cares if
      Jews would feel indignant? Let them feel indignant as indignant as
      they want while they rot in Guantanamo. He seems to be coddling with
      Michael Lerner getting published in Tikkun.

      -Maria

      ===

      Israel in a Middle East Union: A "Two-stage" Approach to the
      ConflictDocument Actions
      Jeff Halper

      [W]hen 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it's going to
      be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals
      than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam.
      The pressure at the border will be awful. It's going to be a
      terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill
      and kill and kill. All day, every day. If we don't kill, we will
      cease to exist. The only thing that concerns me is how to ensure
      that the boys and men who are going to have to do the killing will
      be able to return home to their families and be normal human beings.

      —Arnon Sofer, professor of Geography at Haifa University, father of
      Sharon's "separation plan," quoted in The Jerusalem Post weekend
      supplement, May 21, 2004.

      Let's begin by re-framing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The way
      it's presented by Israeli governments (Labor as well as Likud), by
      AIPAC, by all those aparachiks in Hillel and Birthright endeavoring
      to turn Jewish students into unthinking organs of Israel's PR
      machine, is simple and compelling: Israel is "our" country. The
      Palestinians are our implacable and permanent enemies who have
      violently rejected all our "generous offers" of peace. Any Israeli
      action against the Arabs comes only out of self-defense. We are the
      victims, they are the perpetrators. We bear no responsibility for
      what is happening, they are to blame. We need not feel guilty about
      what we do to them, the Palestinians only bring it upon
      themselves. "No other nation in history faced with comparable
      challenges," Alan Dershowitz tells us in The Case for Israel, "has
      ever adhered to a higher standard of human rights, been more
      sensitive to the safety of innocent civilians, tried harder to
      operate under the rule of law, or been willing to take more risks
      for peace."

      If this framing is true, then the source of the conflict is Arab
      terrorism, and security for Israel should be our prime concern. It
      means, of course, that peace is impossible. If the Israeli-
      Palestinian-Arab conflict is at bottom a "clash of civilizations" in
      which fanatical Muslims aspire to drive the Jews into the sea, then,
      yes, we had better build 26-foot walls of concrete around ourselves
      and keep our nuclear weapons at the ready. We are caught not in a
      political conflict, but in a permanent state of conflict that is the
      core of our national existence. This security-based ideology,
      pressed on the public, the media, Congress, and American Jewish
      students too emotionally manipulated to use their critical
      intellect, is neat and compelling indeed. It feeds directly into
      support for Israel's extreme Right. It also dovetails smartly with
      the Islamophobic rhetoric manufactured by Jewish neo-cons who see
      Israel as the "good cop" policing the Middle Eastern theater of the
      American Empire.

      It is also wrong. If the critical Israeli peace movement—what we
      call "left of Peace Now"—has any contribution to make, it is less in
      its resistance to the Occupation "on the ground" than its ability to
      translate its knowledge of "the ground" into a fundamental reframing
      of what the conflict is all about. Without such a reframing we can
      never identify the right way out of the conflict.

      According to this perspective, the conflict between Israel and the
      Palestinians is a political one resolvable only by acknowledging the
      legitimate and recognized claims of both peoples to the country. It
      rejects the claim, pressed by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, that
      Israel has "no partners for peace," noting that the Palestinians
      have formally and repeatedly recognized the State of Israel within
      the 1967 lines (the 1949 armistice line, the "Green Line"), thereby
      relinquishing political claim to 78 percent of historic Palestine.
      It also acknowledges the exceptional significance of the 2002 Saudi
      Initiative, a fundamental term of reference in the Road Map, in
      which the Arab League offered Israel recognition, peace, and full
      integration into the region in return for an end to the Occupation—
      an offer that Israel responded to only by insisting that the Saudi
      Initiative be removed from the Road Map altogether. Clearly
      something else is at work besides concerns for security.

      We know what that "something else" is; since Israel took the West
      Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza in 1967, successive Israeli
      governments have announced their intention to foreclose the
      establishment of a viable Palestinian state forever. Despite his
      image as a clumsy bull in a china shop, Sharon, as Prime Minister,
      has cleverly camouflaged this by professing his support for the
      Quartet's Road Map, yet conditioning it on fourteen "reservations"
      that, though cloaked in "security" concerns, permit only a truncated
      Palestinian mini-state on no more than 10 to 15 percent of the
      country and with no territorial contiguity or economic potential and
      no control over its borders, water, airspace, or foreign policy. It
      would be a country with no meaningful presence in its capital city,
      Jerusalem. It is a state that can never compromise Israeli control
      of the entire country west of the Jordan River, nor jeopardize
      Israel's settlement blocs, nor be truly sovereign and viable. But
      this Palestinian state would serve an important function: to relieve
      Israel of a Palestinian population that it cannot assimilate, while
      leaving Israel in control of the entire country. It is a conception
      shared with Labor, which also rejects any notion of a viable, truly
      sovereign Palestinian state (although Labor does favor a somewhat
      larger Palestine than does the Likud).

      Some Fundamental Elements of a Just Peace

      Assuming that apartheid is neither an acceptable nor a sustainable
      solution to the conflict, what is? Before addressing that question
      we must identify the elements essential for any just and sustainable
      peace. I would suggest five:

      (1) National expression for the two peoples. The Israel-Palestine
      conflict concerns two peoples, two nations, each of which claims the
      right of collective self-determination. This is what gives such
      compelling logic to the two-state solution. The problem is that such
      a solution has been rendered irrelevant by Israel's settlement
      policies. Since Israel insists on permanent control over the entire
      country, it leaves no space for Palestinian self-determination. Even
      if Israel eventually allows a Palestinian mini-state to emerge, that
      will not end the conflict. The progressive Zionist camp (including
      Tikkun) places great hopes on the Geneva Initiative (also called the
      Geneva Accord). While the "22 percent formula" (the Palestinians
      must get 22 percent of the country so that Israel can retain its 78
      percent within the Green Line) might be achievable through
      territorial exchanges, such proposals still have to grapple with
      Labor and Likud's long-shared position that no truly sovereign
      Palestinian state is admissible west of the Jordan River.

      (2) Viability. Whatever form a Palestinian state takes, it must be
      viable as well as sovereign. It must control its borders and its
      basic resources (such as water). It must possess territorial
      contiguity and, above all, the ability to develop a viable economy.
      We must take into account two fundamental elements that cannot be
      dismissed or minimized. First, besides normal processes of
      development, the small Palestinian state will have to accept and
      integrate its refugees. Second, more than 60 percent of the
      Palestinian population in the Occupied Territories and in the
      refugee camps is under the age of twenty-five, a young generation
      that has been brutalized, traumatized, impoverished, and left with
      little education and few skills. The Palestinians' demand for a
      viable state stems not from intractability but from a sober
      evaluation of the enormity of the national challenge facing them.

      (3) Refugees. Eighty percent of the Palestinians are refugees. A
      sustainable peace cannot emerge from technical arrangements alone.
      Beyond self-determination and viability lies the issue of justice.
      Any sustainable peace is dependent upon the just resolution of the
      refugee issue. Contrary to the slogans we all hear, the refugee
      issue is not difficult to resolve, as even the refugees in the camps
      have indicated. It depends on a "package" of three elements: First,
      Israel must acknowledge the refugees' right of return, an
      inalienable right embedded in internal Palestinian law not dependent
      upon Israeli acceptance. Second, Israel needs to acknowledge its
      responsibility in creating the refugee issue so that a healing
      process may begin. No one knows more than the Jews the importance of
      having one's suffering acknowledged. Indeed, this symbolic gesture
      is more important to refugees than is any tangible relief of their
      situation. Third, when these requirements are satisfied—an
      eventuality Israel resolutely refuses even to consider—technical
      solutions must be found that do not compromise the integrity of
      Israel.

      (4) A regional dimension. Despite our almost exclusive focus on
      Israel/Palestine, the main issues facing both peoples are regional
      in scope. Refugees, security, water, economic development,
      democratization—none of these can be addressed effectively within
      the narrow confines of Israel/Palestine. Even if the Palestinians
      and Israelis resolve their differences, the prospect of them
      enjoying a safe and prosperous future in a progressive society is
      dimmed if the region as a whole remains poor, autocratic, and
      seething with unaddressed grievances.

      (5) Israel's security. Israel, of course, has fundamental and
      legitimate security needs. Unlike Israeli governments, the Israeli
      peace camp believes that security cannot be addressed in isolation,
      that Israel will not find peace and security unless it both enters
      into a viable peace with the Palestinians and achieves a measure of
      integration into the Middle East region. We certainly reject the
      notion that security can be achieved through military means.
      Israel's assertion that the security issue be resolved before any
      political progress can be made is as illogical as it is self-
      serving. We know—and the Israeli authorities know, and the
      Palestinians know—that terrorism is a symptom that can only be
      addressed as part of a broader approach to the grievances underlying
      the conflict. Like the United States, Israel uses security concerns
      to advance a political agenda; in our case, to justify repressive
      force intended to compel the Palestinians to submit to an Israeli-
      controlled Bantustan.

      Working Around the Occupation:

      The Two-Stage Approach

      So where does all this lead us? To a point where we can begin to
      critically evaluate the options before us and start thinking outside
      the box. Given the parameters outlined above, it seems to me we are
      left with four "solutions," only one of which, the confederational,
      appears workable. They are:

      (1) The traditional two-state solution in which a Palestinian state
      emerges on all of the Occupied Territories (with minor adjustments).
      This is the position of the Palestinian National Authority and three
      out of the four members of the Road Map's "Quartet" (Europe, Russia,
      and the UN, since the United States has officially joined
      the "Israel Plus-Palestine Minus" option advocated by Israeli
      governments). It is also the option pursued by progressive Zionists
      within Israel, especially those associated with the Geneva
      Initiative, and their supporters within the Diaspora Jewish
      community.
      (2) An "Israel Plus-Palestine Minus" two-state solution, pursued by
      both Labor and Likud governments. This option envisions a semi-
      sovereign, semi-viable Palestinian state arising between Israel's
      major settlement blocs, with the Palestinians compensated by minor
      territorial swaps. Israeli leaders believe that faced with military
      defeat, impoverishment, transfer, political isolation, and its "Iron
      Wall" of settlements and barriers, a carefully groomed post-Arafat
      Palestinian leadership can be coaxed to agree. The critical peace
      movement in Israel considers this option unworkable and
      unsustainable, a sophisticated form of apartheid.
      (3) A "Two-State Plus" solution. This approach, which I will
      describe in more detail presently, proposes a two-stage process in
      which the requirements of national self-determination are
      disconnected from wider regional concerns with economic viability.
      Given the Israeli "facts on the ground," a Palestinian state would
      emerge on as much of the Occupied Territories as possible, thus
      giving the Palestinians their venue for national expression. But
      such a state would not be viable. To address this requirement, a
      second stage would be necessary: the emergence of an Israeli-
      Palestinian confederation in which all of its residents have the
      right to live anywhere they choose within the confederation. It
      would later be expanded to include Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and other
      states of the region to become a Middle East Union.

      (4) A single state, either bi-national or democratic. On the surface
      this seems the most natural and just alternative to a two-state
      solution rendered irrelevant by Israel. Yet, in the realpolitik of
      today, it is a non-starter. As an option that entails the
      transformation of Israel from a Jewish state into a democratic one
      (with a Palestinian majority), it would be opposed totally by the
      Israeli Jewish population, Diaspora Jews, the U.S. government, and
      significant sectors of Europe. Although the one-state solution
      enjoys widespread popular support among Palestinians, the
      Palestinian leadership is loath to shift to a new political program
      with such slight chance of success. The one-state option remains an
      evolutionary hope of Palestinians, however.

      The one-state option offers a way to "work around" the now-permanent
      Occupation and to neutralize it. It simply incorporates the
      settlements and roads into a broader political entity that
      supercedes the Jewish state: a democratic state in the whole of
      Israel/Palestine that extends equal rights to all its citizens. But
      the "Greater Israel" ideology assumes, of course, Jewish sovereignty
      and control; the notion of sharing the country with another people
      is an absolute non-starter. For the Palestinians, the one-state
      approach, though enjoying popular support, has its problems. Sharing
      a state with Israeli Jews means compromising the principle of self-
      determination.

      If a genuine two-state solution has been rendered impossible and a
      one-state solution is a non-starter, and if we eliminate the "Israel
      Plus-Palestine Minus" option as unjust, then only one other option
      remains: a regional confederation. Less elegant than the others,
      more complex, more difficult to present in a sound byte, it is also
      far more workable. Like the European Union, it preserves a balance
      between national sovereignty and the freedom to live anywhere within
      the region. Rather than eliminating the Occupation, it neutralizes
      it by compensating the Palestinians' readiness to compromise on
      territory with the economic, social, and geographic depth afforded
      by a regional confederation.

      In contrast to the two-state solution which is limited in scope,
      technical in conception, and unable to address many of the
      underlying issues of the conflict, the "two-stage" approach
      emphasizes processes—of peace-making, trust-building, economic
      development, the establishment of strong civil societies, and
      reconciliation leading to a genuine resolution of the conflict. Its
      outlines are straightforward and transparent.

      Stage 1: A Palestinian State Alongside Israel

      Recognizing that Palestinian demands for self-determination
      represent a fundamental element of the conflict, the first stage of
      the confederational approach provides for the establishment of a
      Palestinian state. This meets the Palestinians' requirements for
      national sovereignty, political identity, and membership in the
      international community. Statehood, however, does not address the
      crucial issue of viability. If it were only a state the Palestinians
      needed, they could have one tomorrow—the mini-state "offered" by
      Barak and Sharon.

      No, the Palestinians can have their state. Their fear, however, is
      being locked into a Bantustan, a prison-state that cannot possibly
      serve as a vehicle for their national life and challenges. The "two-
      stage" approach offers a way out of this trap, even if the Israeli
      presence is reduced but not significantly eliminated. The
      Palestinians might be induced to accept a state on something less
      than the entire 22 percent of the country conquered in 1967 on
      condition that the international community guarantees the emergence
      of a regional confederation within a reasonable period of time.
      While the first stage, the establishment of a Palestinian state on
      most of the Occupied Territories (including borders with Jordan,
      Syria, and Egypt) addresses the issue of self-determination and
      gives the Palestinians a place in the international community, the
      second stage, a regional confederation, would give them a
      regional "depth" in which to meet their long-term social and
      economic needs.

      Stage 2: A Regional Confederation
      Leading to a Wider Middle East Union
      Following upon the emergence of a Palestinian state, the
      international community would broker, within a reasonable period
      (five to ten years), a regional confederation among Israel,
      Palestine, and Jordan. With a resolution of the Golan issue, Syria
      and Lebanon would likely join as well. Over time, with the entrance
      of Egypt and other countries of the region into the confederation, a
      full-blown Middle East Union might emerge.

      The key element of this approach is the ability of all members of
      the confederation to live and work anywhere within the
      confederation's boundaries. That breaks the Palestinians out of
      their prison. Rather than burdening the small emergent state with
      responsibilities it cannot possibly fulfill, the confederational
      approach distributes that burden across the entire region. It also
      addresses the core of the refugee issue, which is individual choice.
      Palestinians residing within the confederation would have the choice
      of becoming citizens of the Palestinian state, retaining citizenship
      in their current countries of residence, or leaving the region
      entirely for a new life abroad. They could choose to return "home"
      to what is today Israel, but they would do so as Palestinian
      citizens or citizens of another member state. Israel would be under
      no obligation to grant them citizenship, just as Israelis living in
      Palestine (Jews who choose to remain in Ma'aleh Adumim or Hebron,
      for example, former "settlers") would retain Israeli citizenship.
      This addresses Israeli concerns about the integrity of their state.

      In such a confederation, even a major influx of Palestinian refugees
      into Israel would pose no problem. It is not the presence of the
      refugees themselves that is threatening to Israel. After all,
      300,000 foreign workers and an even greater number of Russian
      Christians reside in Israel today. The threat to Israeli sovereignty
      comes from the possibility of refugees claiming Israeli citizenship.
      By disconnecting the Right of Return from citizenship, the refugees
      would realize their political identity through citizenship in a
      Palestinian state while posing no challenge to Israeli sovereignty,
      thus enjoying substantive individual justice by living in any part
      of Palestine/Israel or the wider region they choose. And since a
      confederational solution does not require that the settlements be
      dismantled—although they will be integrated—it is not dependent
      upon "ending the Occupation," the main obstacle to the two-state
      solution. It will simply neutralize it, rendering all the walls,
      checkpoints, bypass roads, and segregated cities irrelevant.

      The two-stage solution will encounter opposition. Israel, perceiving
      itself as a kind of Singapore, has no desire to integrate into the
      Middle East, relinquish its control over the country or, to say the
      least, accommodate Palestinian refugees. But it does offer the
      Israeli people, 70 percent of whom would like to truly disengage
      from the Occupation according to repeated polls, a way out of an
      untenable situation. The autocratic regimes of the region might
      resist such a project out of fear of the democratization it would
      entail, but the advantages of an end to the conflict in the region
      are obvious. International pressures and economic inducements,
      combined with a strong civil-society initiative, should persuade the
      region's countries to participate. And for the Palestinians there
      are only advantages. The two-stage approach offers them much more
      than the traditional two-state solution, and is far more achievable
      than a single state.

      Although such a union sounds like a pipedream in the present context
      of intense conflict, the infrastructure already exists. Israel
      already has far more extensive relations with Arab and Muslim
      countries than people realize. It has formal peace treaties with
      Jordan and Egypt, while Syria has indicated its desire to end the
      conflict, in which case Lebanon would fall into place. Then there
      are its diplomatic and economic relations with Morocco, Tunisia, and
      potentially even Libya; economic relations with the Gulf States; and
      extremely close ties (including military) with Turkey. Israel also
      has long-standing relations with the Kurds of Iraq and, with the
      visit of an Iraqi cabinet minister to Israel in September, prospects
      of formal relations with Iraq as well. To all of these, add
      relations with Muslim countries from Nigeria through Kazakhstan to
      Indonesia.

      The major obstacle to a regional confederation appears to be the
      process of entering into a just peace with the Palestinians. This
      long-suffering group may lack political, economic, and military
      power, but does possess one great source of leverage: its role as
      gatekeeper. Once the Palestinians signal to the wider Arab and
      Muslim worlds that they have resolved their differences with Israel
      and that the time has come for normalization, Israeli integration
      into the region can begin, as can the process of reconciliation with
      the Arab and Muslim peoples. It is the first stage that constitutes
      the real "hump" to be overcome; the emergence of a Middle East
      confederation, even a union eventually, would follow almost as a
      matter of course.

      In all this it is Israel that bears the brunt of responsibility.
      Palestinian failures aside, it is Israel that is the strong party,
      Israel that is the occupying power, Israel that seeks hegemony and
      control of the entire country. There is no symmetry here, not of
      power and not of responsibility under international law. The passing
      of the Arafat era promises new opportunities. The strengthening of
      Sharon and Bush, both strong adherents of the realpolitik of
      military might, domination, and American Empire, should concern
      everyone seeking a world based on universal human rights,
      inclusivity, international law, equality, and development. The
      prospect of an Occupation actually winning, of an entire people
      being literally imprisoned, of a new apartheid emerging—all done in
      the name of Jews everywhere—makes the Israeli-Palestinian issue a
      preeminently Jewish as well as global one. I would hope that the
      organized Jewish community will eventually join with leaders of the
      Palestinian Diaspora to advance the cause of a just and sustainable
      peace for both peoples. No less than the soul of our people is at
      stake.

      The Israeli public, battered, scared, caught in a lose-lose
      situation but convinced by their leaders that there is no political
      solution to the conflict, has taken itself out of the equation. It
      is passive, waiting for outside intervention to resolve things. That
      leaves us—the Israeli peace movement, our partner Palestinian peace-
      seekers, Diaspora Jews, and other members of the international civil
      society—to join together to defeat occupation and displacement, just
      as we defeated apartheid. As the old saying goes: When the people
      lead, the leaders follow.

      http://www.tikkun.org/archive/backissues/tik0501/050112.html

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