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Book review: "The One-State Solution"

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    The One-State Solution by Virginia Tilley Book review by Iqbal Jassat The Electronic Intifada As Israel s apartheid wall colonizes 30-40 percent more of the
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 4, 2005
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      "The One-State Solution" by Virginia Tilley
      Book review by Iqbal Jassat
      The Electronic Intifada


      As Israel's apartheid wall colonizes 30-40 percent more of the 22
      percent of Palestine that remains, an increasing number of analysts,
      activists, and academics have begun to challenge the two-state
      solution designed to bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian
      conflict. With Palestinians eventually ending up with only 12-15
      percent of their land, made up of disjointed ghettoes over which
      they will have no sovereignty- a single, secular polity that would
      encompass both Israel and the Occupied Territories is looking
      increasingly attractive. The One-State Solution written by Virginia
      Tilley, associate professor of Political Science at Hobart and
      William Smith Colleges, lucidly demonstrates why the two-state
      model "is an idea whose time has passed".

      Discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is fired by debates
      over historic romanticism with Zionism on the one hand, and
      occupation, settlements and borders, on the other. However, the most
      controversial debate has been sparked by a reluctant acknowledgement
      of the failure of Israel as a Jewish state. An increasing number of
      incidents of religious coercion by the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish
      minority, coupled with anti-Semitic vandalism have called into
      question whether Israel is really a safe haven for Jews.

      Tony Karon (of Jewish descent), editor of Time.com, once argued that
      Israel is the most dangerous place on Earth to be a Jew. Tilley,
      however, spurs this argument out of the narrow confines of Jewish-
      ethnocism to the wide main-stream of global narratives. In doing so,
      she is quick to point out that her book is not intended to be merely
      an academic study - but deeply rooted in personal experience of
      harsh Israeli measures against the Palestinians.

      Tilley's opening chapter lays out the blueprint of her argument of a
      unitary state in simple, clear terms. Her assessment that if a
      Palestinian "state" is declared in a dismembered enclave, it would
      result in continuing instability, is both accurate and foreboding.

      This is how she explains it: "The resulting Palestinian statelet
      would be blocked off physically from the Israeli economy, its major
      cities would be cut off from each other, and its government would be
      unable to control the territory's water resources, develop its
      agriculture, or manage its trade with neighbouring states". In
      addition it would comprise little more than a "sealed vessel of
      growing poverty and demoralization". Tilley is emphatic that such a
      portent of Palestinian misery, is no accident but a calculated
      Israeli strategy.

      Apart from the one and two-state discourses, the author also delves
      into additional nightmarish alternatives. These reflect subtle
      differences in implementation, yet are recognisable as either "hard
      transfer" or "soft transfer". In the case of the former, it entails
      forced expulsion of the Palestinian population out of the country.
      In the latter, known as the Jordan option, the plan is to induce
      Palestinians to seek political rights across the Jordan River.

      Chapter 2 presents a frightening overview of the ideological
      underpinning of Zionism. The author displays a keen insight of the
      twin grids - settlement and political - which collectively represent
      two of the most powerful Israeli symbols of intransigence. Hence
      settlements are not merely a "few clusters of trailers on windswept
      hilltops". Many are small cities: Ariel, in the center of the West
      Bank, has over 20,000 residents; Ma'ale Adumim, stretching east from
      Jerusalem, houses over 25,000 people.

      Tilley also shows how the Jewish settlements have paradoxically
      become the main impediment to the continuous existence of Israel by
      encroaching on the Occupied Territories to such an extent, that any
      Palestinian state in those areas would remain unworkable, making a
      single-state the only viable solution.

      The various layers of "Jewish diaspora politics" and their interplay
      with state institutions are also scrutinised. The Jewish Agency, the
      World Zionist Organisation, the Israel Lands Authority and the
      Jewish National Fund are deeply embedded in the political equation
      of the state. Tilley also explain why water is "also the silent
      factor driving Israel's full annexation strategy".

      Chapter 4 places external actors such as the US and Europe under the
      microscope. This critical part of the book is key to understanding
      why international involvement has remained unproductive. The author
      does well to incorporate a compelling analysis of contemporary "geo-
      strategic" interests, which does not preclude the dubious roles of
      neo-cons and an array Zionist lobby groups.

      Tilley's persuasive arguments also carries an apt warning: "Looking
      to the South African experience for guidance or inspiration will
      avail little unless policymakers also adopt the principles,
      standards and values that guided that struggle: that is, that ethnic
      supremacy is illegitimate and cannot generate a just political
      system ... ." By incorporating a second comparison with the Northern
      Ireland conflict, the author illustrates how prejudice, fear and
      suspicion were primary obstacles to a stable peace, since doctrines
      of ethnic or racial domination impeded trust.

      Virginia Tilley has made a significant contribution to the one-state
      argument. Not only does her book expand on a number of vexing
      questions, but it also forces the reader to think out of the box and
      unearth an insightful solution to this brutal conflict.

      Iqbal Jassat is the Chairman of the Media Review Network, an
      advocacy group based in Pretoria, South Africa.

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