By Karen Dabrowska
Time has run out for the two-state solution because of the unending and permanent Jewish colonization of Palestinian land.
That is the conclusion of Antony Loewenstein and Ahmed Moor the authors of After Zionism, which brings together some of the world’s leading thinkers on the Middle East question to dissect the century-long conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians and to explore possible forms of the one state solution.
The book shows that although deep mistrust exists on both sides of the conflict, growing numbers of Palestinians and Israelis, Jews and Arabs are working together to forge a different, unified future. Progressive and realist ideas are at last gaining a foothold in the discourse, while those influenced by the colonial era have been discredited or abandoned. Whatever the political solution may be, Palestinian and Israeli lives are intertwined and enmeshed irrevocably.
The background of the two authors is completely different: Antony Loewenstein is an independent Australian journalist, activist and blogger. He is the author of two bestselling books, My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution, co-editor of Left Turn and has written for the Guardian, the Nation, Huffington Post, Haaretz and other prominent publications. He is currently working on a book and documentary about disaster capitalism. He lives in Sydney, Australia.
Ahmed Moor is a Palestinian American journalist, blogger and activist and a Soros Fellow. He has written for the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, the Guardian and Al Jazeera English and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
During the launch of the book organized by the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at London University the two authors concluded that the status quo is no longer sustainable in a moral sense.
Loewenstein said that any kind of two-state solution on a practical or moral ground is unattainable. Within Israel and within Palestine itself the ideology of separation has taken root profoundly. There is increasingly little conversation between both peoples. The Palestinians see the Israeli Defence Force every day in the occupied territories along with the Palestinian National Authority’s troops who are funded by the West.
The idea behind the book was to get a range of different writers from around the world to articulate a message about why a two state solution is not going to happen and why a one state solution is the most ethical way to move forward.
The writers include Omar Barghouti, Dina Buttu, Jonathan Cook, Joseph Dana, Jeremiah Haber, Jeff Halper, Ghada Karmi, Saree Makdisi, John Mearsheimer, Ilan Pappe, Sara Roy and Phil Weiss.
“To me Zionism cannot be reformed, reframed or changed”, Loewenstein said. “To me Zionism is the issue. It is probably very hard to imagine in 2012 a Middle East country called Israel that is not a Zionist state. The truth is that it was equally hard to imagine a country called South Africa that was not wrapped with apartheid. Campaigns that were used against South Africa, such as sanctions, are increasingly being used against Israel,” Loewenstein said.
“The one person, one vote campaign that was very effectively associated with economic pressure on South Africa in the end brought a degree of economic freedom to that country. No one can say it is a utopia, there is now economic apartheid but the situation is not apartheid as it was in the bad old days.”
Loewenstein and Moor worked on the book for a year. They emphasise that it is not a roadmap but an argument from a range of writers, including the authors themselves, about why the conversation needs to change.
“So much of the media coverage is stuck in a very tired narrative. It is almost as if no matter how bad things have been we still have to engage in a peace process and move towards some kind of negotiation. The argument is that if only the two sides got together and talked things would be okay. The reality is that you have two fundamentally opposing sides and the conversation has to change. The book is one way to do that,” Loewenstein said.
In his introduction to the book Moor said nobody really knows what the solution in Israel and Palestine is going to be. “The book suggests that there is never going to be a Palestinian state. I am okay with that. We want to prepare ourselves for that eventuality. Palestine has been colonized out of existence. What is the next step?
“We have arrived at a one state reality without having thought deeply about what we would like that state to look like or the kinds of values we would like to see in the constitution of that state. We would not like to be caught unawares.
“A major criticism of the book is that we do not offer solutions. I think this is a fine criticism. The objective is to get well intentioned people to think about where we go from here. There are 600,000 Jewish settlers – one out of every six people in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is not Palestinian. Within Israel itself one out of every four people is not a Jewish Israeli, one out of every five is a Palestinian Israeli and there are migrant workers. I believe these are basically permanent realities. During the past ten years the Palestinian issue has been side lined and there isn’t really an advocate for the Palestinians. We are going to see the settler issue exacerbated. The exact opposite of what you need for two states.
“There is also the water issue. The Israelis rely a great deal on Palestinian water resources including the coastal aquifer which sits on the Gaza Strip. At no point in time will Israel relinquish control of these resources. As a sovereign state you can’t relinquish control of water resources to someone you think will be hostile. The Jordan Valley is a strategic defence space. It sits in the West Bank. Should the Arab hordes ever invade from the east, which the Israelis believe will happen, 200 nuclear weapons notwithstanding, that strategic space needs to be under Israeli control. The vital strategic interests of Israel will abort Palestine before it is ever established.”
After Zionism is a daring and timely collection of essays. Diana Buttu explains how the Oslo period has entrenched the rot inside the Palestinian Authority and allowed a Western and Israeli backed entity to manage the occupation for the Zionist nation. She offers no particular solution to this issue but states that the challenge for Palestinians especially is to create and imagine a different political reality where dignity and self-determination are central. She implies that neither Hamas nor the PA will ever be able to provide this. The need for an independent Palestinian political movement, with mass appeal, is surely desperately needed.
Sarah Irving who worked with the International Solidarity Movement in the occupied West Bank in 2001-02 and with Olive Co-op, promoting fair trade Palestinian products and solidarity visits, in 2004-06 commented that a volume like this should serve as a stepping-off point, where the reader can be introduced to new ideas and take their curiosity further. To do that, one needs to know where to go for more information. To take one example, Ahmed Moor’s stylish, broad-brush chapter, for example, contains a multitude of interesting points and citations — but scant direction on where they come from.
– Karen Dabrowska is the author of Iraq: Then And Now, and Iraq: The Bradt Travel Guide. She also wrote Bahrain Briefing and a Guide to Addis Ababa and two major reports on the marshlands of southern Iraq and human rights violations in Iraq. She is working on an anthology of short stories. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.