A lot of folks following the intractable, 62-year-old Israeli/Palestinian struggle haven’t even heard of the “one state” solution, because our media constantly puts the “two state” solution forward as the only possible path to peace. But within progressive circles, the idea of a true democracy rising from the ashes of apartheid has steadily been gaining ground. Imagine a state encompassing the present Palestinian and Israeli territories turning into a real democracy with an equal vote for everyone and freedom to practice (or not) the religion of one’s choice.
What is holding up this obvious alternative to the current bloodshed and intimidation? It is that Israel would no longer be an exclusive religious state and would have to share its tightly guarded space with the original inhabitants of that land. It would eliminate the fuss over the right of return. It would eliminate the fight over Jerusalem, as it would become the obvious capital for the whole state. The right-wing Jewish communities which the world has been catering to for all these decades would have to either learn how to live with their neighbors in equality or find another place.
Good people who believe in fairness sometimes scoff at this idea because they say it will never happen. I remember that same “pragmatism” back in the ’50s about Jim Crow laws. I remember in later decades whether white rule would ever give up its hold on power to the majority black popoulation in South Africa. But both of those ideas have come to pass. Both those ideas came from visions based on the basic fairness of a democratic structure. Why is the situation with Israel any different?
Study the history of the Zionist movement from the early 1900s, and you see that there were alternatives to plunking a European culture in the middle of Arab land. If you are a fair and unbiased person, knowing that history just might cause you to rethink and question why your country has been so influenced by AIPAC and other Israeli lobbying efforts. To say they have been successful in brainwashing the American public (especially its elected leaders) is an understatement. Israel made a fundamental mistake when it occupied that land 62 years ago, and the international community was wrong to support it.
Of course people are horrified by the Holocaust, as well they should be. That is no reason for the oppressed to turn into the oppressor. Israel was wrong, and that needs to be recognized. Many residents of Israel have realized this for a very long time, which is why there has always been a peace movement there and why the press in Israel often puts out viewpoints the American press is reluctant to pass on. The international anti-Zionist movement has always been led by Jews—including the current movement in our country.
This month, an all-European Jewish flotilla heads to Gaza with humanitarian goods and Holocaust survivors. Do our representatives understand that it is not anti-Semitic to take a stand for the basic principle of justice? Is it some kind of collective guilt by non-Jews that creates this fear of taking a position that will eventually be viewed as being on the correct side of history?
Since the recent attack on the Gaza flotilla caught the attention of many U.S. citizens, I think public opinion is actually starting to change. I further think that if Americans really started to pay attention to the background and history of this six-decades-long struggle, then public opinion would start to change, because all we have to rely on is the basic fairness of our collective psyche.
Last week, a delegation of North Coast residents met with an aide to Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey in advance of a meeting with Lynn planned for August on this issue. A new network is being formed called the North Coast Coalition for Palestine Support; you are welcome to join.
The long struggle between Palestine and Israel is a basic issue of justice with which we should all be concerned, which is why I’d like to see the one state solution renamed the “democratic solution” for Middle East peace, as that best reflects the only sustainable path to peace.
Mary Moore has been activist for social justice since 1962. She has lived in Camp Meeker since 1974. To join her coalition, write [email protected]
Open Mic is a weekly feature in the Bohemian. We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 700 words considered for publication, write [email protected]