Pandaemonium

A SHARED FUTURE FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEA

Zahi Khamis, “Born among mirrors”
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This essay, on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was my Observer column this week. (The column included also a short piece on cancel culture and hypocrisy.) It was published on 23 May 2021, under the headline “From the river to the sea, Jews and Arabs must forge a shared future”.


“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, runs a Palestinian slogan. Originally a call for a secular state in historic Palestine between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean, it soon became a sectarian slogan, deeply inflected by antisemitism. In the hands of Hamas, it is a call for the driving out of all Jews from the region; at best, a demand for ethnic cleansing, at worst for genocide.

The founding charter of Likud, Israel’s leading centre-right party, and the party of the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, echoes the same words but from the opposite perspective: “Between the Sea and the Jordan there will only be Israeli sovereignty”. It has continually blocked any workable two-state solution.

Since one of the banes of contemporary public debate is the charge of “false equivalence”, often used to dismiss arguments without bothering to refute them, let me make clear that I am not equating Likud and Hamas. However degrading the Israeli treatment of Palestinians, there is freedom and democracy in a Likud-run Israel that would be unknown in a Palestine ruled by Hamas. What I am suggesting is that both Hamas and Likud play to the dangerous fantasy of a single state that caters for the needs and desires of only one group of people living in it.

There is another difference, too. Hamas controls a tiny strip of land that is blockaded by Israel and Egypt, with a barely functioning infrastructure or health service, its electricity and water supplies controlled from the outside. It is a pariah organisation, with little external support apart from Iran. Israel is a powerful state with a technologically advanced economy and military, broad international support and licence to impose disproportionate destruction on Palestinians, as witnessed in successive wars in Gaza.

That power means that there effectively already exists a state “from the river to the sea”, though one that, as writer Ralph Leonard points out, is cut into four regimes. First, there is the Israel of its Jewish citizens, a troubled liberal democracy. Then there is the Israel of Israeli-Palestinian citizens, formally accorded equality but facing intolerable discrimination, from police brutality to land dispossession. As Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, a deputy mayor of Jerusalem, said of the evictions of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah district of East Jerusalem, a spark for the recent war, “laws that some people may consider as favouring Jews” are necessary because “it’s a Jewish state” and only discriminatory laws can “protect the Jewish people.

Third, there is the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Palestinians face a regime of humiliation and brutality and a land shredded by Israeli settlements. And, finally, we have the Gaza Strip, little more than an open-air prison. However odious Hamas, however venal the Palestinian Authority, it is this ferocious asymmetry of power – leading to “apartheid”, in the words of Human Rights Watch – that shapes the lives of Palestinians and galvanises continued resistance.

Many commentators have pointed to the way Hamas and Netanyahu engineered the recent conflict for their own political ends. But Hamas and Netanyahu are as much the products as causes of the conflict. The fundamental problem, as Tony Judt observed in 2003, is that Israel seeks to be both a democracy and “a state in which Jews and the Jewish religion have exclusive privileges from which non-Jewish citizens are forever excluded”. Judt, once a Zionist, came eventually to accept that the only lasting solution would be a single, secular, binational state in which both Jews and Palestinians possessed equal rights.

“A Jew who today may declare, ‘I am a nationalist’ will not be saying, ‘I am a man who seeks to rebuild a Jewish state in Palestine and who dreams of conquering Jerusalem.’ He will be saying, ‘I want to be a man fully free, I want to have the right to my dignity as a man, I want to escape oppression.’” So wrote Bernard Lazare, an early French Zionist, in 1898.

The tragedy today is that on one side in the Israel/Palestine conflict, “escaping oppression” has come to mean rebuilding a Jewish state in Palestine and conquering Jerusalem. And, for too many on the other side, freeing Palestine has come to mean freeing it of Jews and of denying Jews the right to escape oppression. Whatever one’s views on Zionism, the aspirations of the 6.9 million Jews now living in the region cannot be ignored. Nor is corralling Palestinians into their own territories while denying them control over their lives any “solution”. From the river to the sea, “self-determination” in that piece of contested land that is Israel/Palestine can only be the self-determination of all the people who live there, Palestinians and Jews, in a single shared future.

15 comments

  1. “I am not equating Likud and Hamas. However degrading the Israeli treatment of Palestinians, there is freedom and democracy in a Likud-run Israel that would be unknown in a Palestine ruled by Hamas.”
    Does freedom and democracy that applies to one part of the population and excludes vast numbers of others deserve those labels? By that token at apartheid South Africa was free and democratic.

    • Perhaps it would help to read the whole article? Just to recap:

      “First, there is the Israel of its Jewish citizens, a troubled liberal democracy.
      Then there is the Israel of Israeli-Palestinian citizens, formally accorded equality but facing intolerable discrimination, from police brutality to land dispossession. As Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, a deputy mayor of Jerusalem, said of the evictions of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah district of East Jerusalem, a spark for the recent war, “laws that some people may consider as favouring Jews” are necessary because “it’s a Jewish state” and only discriminatory laws can “protect the Jewish people”.

      .

      “Third, there is the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where Palestinians face a regime of humiliation and brutality and a land shredded by Israeli settlements. And, finally, we have the Gaza Strip, little more than an open-air prison. However odious Hamas, however venal the Palestinian Authority, it is this ferocious asymmetry of power – leading to “apartheid”, in the words of Human Rights Watch – that shapes the lives of Palestinians and galvanises continued resistance…

      .

      “The fundamental problem, as Tony Judt observed in 2003, is that Israel seeks to be both a democracy and “a state in which Jews and the Jewish religion have exclusive privileges from which non-Jewish citizens are forever excluded”. Judt, once a Zionist, came eventually to accept that the only lasting solution would be a single, secular, binational state in which both Jews and Palestinians possessed equal rights.”

      It is quite possible to recognize that Israel does not treat its Palestinian-Israeli citizens as equals, and to recognize, too, the brutality of the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza, but also to recognize that life for Palestinian-Israeli citizens, even under Likud, allows for greater freedom and democracy than would life under Hamas rule.

      • Hi
        Of course I read the whole article. I acknowledge the demarcation into four types of society as you describe. This was a clear and succinct analysis.
        I just disagree with you that you can call one part a “liberal democracy” when that part dominates and sets the rules for the other three.
        Troubled liberal democracies are like the UK in which Travellers are excluded, people are marginalised based on class, gender, sexuality etc, asylum seekers are denied basic human rights, and new laws are coming to suppress voting and peaceful protest.
        At best you could say one bit of Israel masquerades as, or has some appearances of liberal democracy, because to marginalise, oppress and exclude people in the other groups takes work, and that dastardly effort surely pervades liberal democratic Israel like writing in a stick of rock.

        • To be honest, given I made the point that one part of Israel/Palestine “dominates and sets the rules for the other three” – I described it as the “ferocious asymmetry of power… that shapes the lives of Palestinians” – it feels like you are searching for something to disagree with, so I’ll just leave it there.

        • It’s fine. I just disagreed with you. I follow your blog. I read you very Sunday in the paper. I’m not looking to disagree. I just disagreed. That’s all. Thanks for your thought-provoking piece anyway,

  2. Jon Dyson

    Dear Kenan

    Your article *A Shared Future from the River to the Sea* was a huge disappointment. Vaguely sharing blame all around and ineffectually calling for *self determination of all the people who live there, Palestinians and Jews,* it seriously underestimates the key obstacle to what you see as an ideal solution and offers no proposals whatsoever to rectify it.

    It has been fairly standard for well-meaning observers to see the conflict as a dispute between two national movements. Sometimes characterised as a matter of *right vs right*, and *justice vs justice* (for example, Amos Oz), this view provides the logical, moral and political basis for an agreement to end the conflict by the simple division of the territory into a state for each party: the Two-State Solution.

    Unfortunately, although this may be a broad understanding of the conflict, it is explicitly contradicted by the consistent Palestinian rejection of any symmetry between two national movements.

    Hamas is devoted to the destruction of Israel. It does not seek a harmonious state of coexistence with it. Neither the boundaries of Israel nor its behavior are the key issue – only its existence. Obviously, this raises the question of how to overcome the problem of Hamas. Do you have any proposals for this?

    In the West Bank, the PA, led by Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah, recognizes Israel as a state diplomatically, but refuses to accept it as a Jewish nation-state. Like Hamas, it claims all of Israel *from the river to the sea* as the land of *historic Palestine.* Thus, its diplomatic recognition of Israel is nullified politically in that insofar as they consider Israel a state, it is not accepted as Jewish, and insofar as it is Jewish it is not accepted as a state – but is instead derisively dismissed as *the Zionist Entity*. How do you see this being overcome?

    It can be recalled that in order to address this refusal, Tony Blair (for the Quartet) proposed and failed to get acceptance of the phrase *two states for two peoples*. According to the PA this was because Jews are merely a religious community and not a ‘people’ – and thus have no independent national rights.

    Simply stated, this persistent and *deadly* denial of Jewish self-determination on any part of what Palestinians claim as exclusively Arab/Muslim territory is the *exact opposite* of the Two-State-Solution. Naturally, this kills stone-dead any prospect the Two-State-Solution would otherwise have for success.

    If the situation were different and a believable Palestinian leadership with popular support abandoned the aim of eliminating the Jewish state, it would experience an irresistible wave of popular support here in Israel and find itself on the lecturn of the Knesset in about ten minutes flat.

    As there is no sign whatsoever of that, the consequence is that the conflict is not currently open to a win-win solution. Instead, it is a zero-sum struggle. Yet this is almost entirely hidden from the international public and appears similarly absent from international diplomatic considerations.

    Therefore, unless you (or anyone else such as the UN, the EU, or whoever) have some practical steps on how to overcome this obstacle, how is it possible to consider that your sentiments in *A Shared Future* have any practical application?

    To put it another way, to persist in commentary and political positions without dealing with the Palestinian rejection of Jewish national rights, is to hide the real core of the conflict. It is to proceed *as if *these Palestinian positions do not exist. In short, it effectively promotes the continuation of the conflict by ignoring the rock against which all peace initiatives have crashed.

    • What you ignore is the determination of the Israeli government in recent decades to block any workable two-state solution, and Israeli policy that has condemned the possibility of such a solution and has effectively created a single state with different degrees of oppression. Even liberal Zionists recognize this now. Hence my point that “However odious Hamas, however venal the Palestinian Authority, it is this ferocious asymmetry of power – leading to ‘apartheid’, in the words of Human Rights Watch – that shapes the lives of Palestinians and galvanises continued resistance.”

  3. Jon Dyson

    Thanks for your response.

    However, your assertion that I ignored what you describe as “the determination of the Israeli government in recent decades to block any workable two-state solution” misses the mark by a mile.

    My argument was, and is, that a workable Two-State-Solution is IMPOSSIBLE as long as the Palestinians refuse to accept a Jewish state on any part of what they claim as historic Palestine – that is, from the river to the sea. Unbelievably you simply ignored this.

    Additionally, you seem to ‘forget’ that “in recent decades” the Jews have been quite prepared to accept an Arab/Palestinian state. From the Peel Commission of 1937 to the UNGA resolution 181 of 1947 (which proposed the partition of the territory) this was the case. Latterly, the efforts of PMs Barak in 2000 and Olmert in 2008 both encompassed a Palestinian state. Yet ALL of these were rejected by the Arabs.

    Moreover, in his famous Bar Ilan speech on becoming PM in 2009, Netanyahu accepted a Palestinian state in return for the reciprocal acceptance of a Jewish state. Remember, mutual recognition was what Oslo was supposed to be about? Yet again, the Palestinians chose not to reciprocate. Surely, the asymmetry of these positions is not too difficult to grasp?

    To put it differently, your assertion is a stunning inversion of reality.

    Further, following the Bar Ilan speech, the Palestinians knew that the matter of acceptance of the Jewish state would take center-stage in any negotiations.
    Therefore, they chose to avoid negotiations like the plague – despite having the most Palestinian-friendly president in the White House for much of the time.

    The sad reality is that Israel faces persistent, consistent, implacable and often deadly Palestinian hostility to its existence. Any Palestinian state refusing to accept a Jewish state and persisting with the aim of eliminating Israel would be a deadly threat to Israel and can hardly be considered a workable solution – at least not in the spirit of two states for two peoples. And any Israeli government that declined such a prospect is surely to be expected.

    Naturally, all this is quite a problem for your supposedly “workable two-state solution” . An important question follows – what can be done about this situation? Do you have any workable ideas to deal with it? Alternatively, if you believe that some plan or other has found a way to surmount the almighty obstacle of the Palestinian refusal to accept a Jewish state, please reveal it to the world immediately.

    Otherwise, all you have is a series of complaints about everyone in which you merely spread blame around but have nothing whatever to offer as a means for bringing about your supposed ‘solution’. In short, your response was a small masterpiece of evasion.

    • OK, let’s look at what is “a stunning inversion of reality”, as you put it.

      You mention Netanyahu’s “famous Bar Ilan speech”. What you fail to mention is that Netanhayu himself has flatly rejected the idea that he meant that he would accept a Palestinian state. And not just once, but again and again: “We are here to stay forever. There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the land of Israel. This is the inheritance of our ancestors. This is our land.” Netanyahu’s father, the historian Ben-Zion Netanyahu, said of his son’s attitude to a two-state solution, during a TV interview, “He does not support it. He supports such conditions that they [the Palestinians] will never accept it.”. And Indeed, Israeli policy has been just that – to impose conditions that it knows Palestinians could not possibly accept. Israel has consistently insisted on a demilitarised Palestinian state without control of its borders, airspace, trade, foreign treaties, and even its own water. This is not an independent sovereign state, or an offer that Palestinians – or any people – could accept – and Israel knows that.

      Tzipi Hotovely, who is now Israeli ambassador to Britain, observed that Bar Ilan was “a tactical speech for the rest of the world”. But in reality “We are opposed to a Palestinian state”. And, as deputy foreign minister, she told diplomats in 2015: “This land is ours. All of it is ours. We did not come here to apologise for that.”

      The Likud election platform (first formulated in 1999, but which has never been rescinded) insists that “The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestine west of the Jordan river. The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state… In matters of foreign affairs, security, immigration and ecology, their activities shall be limited in accordance with the imperatives of Israel’s existence, security and national needs”. The flat rejection of a Palestinian state could not be clearer. As much as Hamas denies a Jewish state, Israeli government policy is to deny a Palestinian state.

      More importantly has been Israeli actions – the mass building of settlements (10% of the Israeli population now live in settlements on the West Bank), land confiscation, housing evictions, the creation of infrastructure, all of which are specifically designed to stymie the possibilities of two states. So, yes, Hamas certainly is both profoundly antisemitic and hostile to the idea of a Jewish state. But even more so Israel has been “persistent, consistent, implacable” to the idea of a sovereign Palestinian state. And unlike Hamas, which rules over a tiny strip of broken, blockaded, barely-functioning land, Israel is, as I observed in the article, “a powerful state with a technologically advanced economy and military, broad international support and licence to impose disproportionate destruction on Palestinians, as witnessed in successive wars in Gaza”. That is why Israel’s policies are the prime obstacles to any workable two-state solution, and equally to any non-oppressive one-state solution. And so, as you yourself put it, “In short, your response was a small masterpiece of evasion”.

  4. Howie

    A few general remarks from someone who once partook in the peace and the war efforts in a humble manner: the Israelis have become a warlike people- I think we came as refugees and many of us idealistic- the Diaspora was a disaster and we were hounded and dogged throughout the world. It is hard to be idealistic about Israel anymore, we are something like Mongols now to the enemy, conquerers. though we came in peace , the Protocols of Zion to the contrarywe only wanted Israel, we had Messianic aspirations and we are not racists but are highly chauvanistic thinking that only Jews get the formula of life right, and we acted like we were the center of the world. I would say the better angels of our ideals almost won the day- but I think that Palestinian maximalism and our condescension to the Palestinians that they were finally growing up and quitting their evil ways blew it. We see the Palestinians as Amalek, the Biblical enemy of the Jews in Exodus from Egypt and the reason why Israelis care not for Palestinian children is that they see them, not as people but as Nazis- the truth is that on our better days we are not Afrikaaners and they are not Nazis- we have to see each other as humans and then it won’t matter what arrangement we select.. All my Muslim friends are just llke my Jewish family and friends. That is not an accident. Islam has learned from the Jewish people and built an admirable civilization partly from what they learned from us- so it would be wiser to respect them as people who are more like us than we care to admit. Ironically Jews may be better at Jihad than Muslims, so we may be close to a settler state- but it is not the state Ben Gurion envisioned when Zionism was more humane and inspiring and it might alienate many people, Jews included who want terribly to root for Israel

  5. Jon Dyson

    Thanks once again for your reply.

    You assert that the demand that Palestinians accept Israel as a Jewish state is merely a ruse to forestall your *’workable 2-state solution’*. You report that this is because Netanyahu and others know that the Palestinians ‘*cannot* accept this. Well, so far they’re bang-on target, aren’t they?

    But *why* can’t the Palestinians accept it? After all, *mutual recognition* was supposedly the heart of the Oslo Accords, wasn’t it? Reiterated precisely in Netanyahu’s Bar Ilan speech it was immediately rejected by the Palestinians. So, what’s stopping them? Well, here’s the outline of an answer for you to consider.

    In the first place, according to initial and later versions of the SPLO or Palestinian Charter (1964 and 1968) Palestine is not a separate nation but part of the *Arab Nation*. Secondly, Arab states have historically not been known for their respect and decent treatment of ethnic and religious minorities. Thirdly, the track record of Arab states shows extreme hostility to the establishment of any non-Arab state in the region (Kurds, Amizigh, Jews, etc).

    That is, the steadfast refusal to accept a Jewish state on any part of what they claim as ‘*historic Palestine … from the river to the sea … the 48 territories’ * (ie Israel) serves a determined supremacist purpose. This explains why they have rejected EVERY opportunity to establish an Arab/Palestinian state (see my earlier response) *alongside a Jewish state. *In short, maintaining this enmity is a deliberate *choice*.

    It seems to be a shock to you that this choice has consequences – including for your list of complaints against Israel. In particular, given the history and context of relentless Arab/Palestinian hostility to its existence, what is Israel supposed to do? Should we sit around twiddling our thumbs while patiently waiting for the next terror attack, intifada or invasion? In failing to acknowledge or address this, nowhere in your ever-growing list of complaints is there the slightest consideration for the aforementioned sound reasons why Israelis fear for their lives and State.

    Likewise, if you and others insist on supporting a Palestinian state when the Palestinians *refuse to abandon the aim of destroying Israel*, you must surely expect Israeli counter-measures which are bound to follow. In this situation, it can hardly be a big surprise that combative language and aggressive attitudes have traction?

    Yet even though you still believe that a ‘*workable two-state solution’ *is achievable without this recognition, you still fail to explain how this is possible. In short, it is a fantasy. As a result, with the help of such obfuscations, the Palestinians will be celebrating the *Nakhba *(the failure of the invading Arab armies to destroy Israel in the war of 1948-9) for many years to come. Well done!

    In the same vein, you seem oblivious to the fact that this policy completely cuts the ground from under those Israeli politicians and policies that you would probably prefer. In other words, without mutual recognition, Israeli politicians pursue policies you dislike precisely because they are forced to deal with the consequences of Palestinian choices that you refuse to challenge and seem to accept as OK. As this shows no sign of letting-up, your list of complaints about Israel and thus your opportunities for ignoring these issues will only grow.

    Additionally, the non-stop deluge of anti-Jewish vitriol and support for the random murders of Jews from the PA and Hamas, aided by their media, mosques and educational system, simply confirms Israeli fears and the irrelevance of any pretense that Israel has a ‘*partner for peace*’.

    Yet had the Palestinians decided differently, say 10, 20 or 50 years ago, the path to the pursuit of peaceful social and economic development would have been wide open. This would also have meant, for example, an end to the pressure for the construction of new settlements that you deplore.

    That is, acceptance of the legitimacy of the Jewish state is the key that unlocks the future you say you desire. With Palestinian acceptance of the Jewish state, any politician in Israel that stood in its way would simply be swept aside in the stampede to establish peace at last. Without it, as long as our so-called *’partner for peace’ *retains the intention of destroying Israel, there is not a chance of popular support for such a misguided ‘solution’.

    Finally, I return to another issue you repeatedly ignore. What actionable, workable, practical measures do you suggest to help resolve this matter? Here is a suggestion for you. Use your *Guardian *column to draw attention to the necessity of Palestinian acceptance of the rights of Jewish self-determination and the right to a Jewish state in Palestine.

    Then use your column to pressure the UK government and the UN to pressurize the Palestinians in turn to implement this solution. Then and only then will you get meaningful and reliable negotiations towards a just peace that you say you favor.

    Will you do this?

    • To be honest, I’m sitting here scratching my head wondering whether you deliberately misread, misquote and misattribute, or whether you simply cannot be bothered to read what someone has written. You claim:

      You assert that the demand that Palestinians accept Israel as a Jewish state is merely a ruse to forestall your *’workable 2-state solution’*.

      I assert nothing of the sort. If you can quote me asserting anything like that, please do so. What I actually did was quote Benjamin Netanyahu’s father telling a TV interviewer that his son “does not support [a two state policy]. He supports such conditions that they [the Palestinians] will never accept it.”. And then I wrote: “Israeli policy has been just that – to impose conditions that it knows Palestinians could not possibly accept. Israel has consistently insisted on a demilitarised Palestinian state without control of its borders, airspace, trade, foreign treaties, and even its own water. This is not an independent sovereign state, or an offer that Palestinians – or any people – could accept – and Israel knows that.”

      I have read that several times and I cannot see which part of it says “the demand that Palestinians accept Israel as a Jewish state is merely a ruse to forestall a workable 2-state solution”. If you can show me, I would be really grateful.

      Then you write:

      You report that this is because Netanyahu and others know that the Palestinians ‘*cannot* accept this. Well, so far they’re bang-on target, aren’t they?

      “This” refers not to the recognition of Israel but Israel’s insistence “on a demilitarised Palestinian state without control of its borders, airspace, trade, foreign treaties, and even its own water.” If you want to pretend that what I’ve written is actually “accept Israel as a Jewish state”, fine, but then there is no point in having any discussion.

      Then you ask:

      But *why* can’t the Palestinians accept it? After all, *mutual recognition* was supposedly the heart of the Oslo Accords, wasn’t it? Reiterated precisely in Netanyahu’s Bar Ilan speech it was immediately rejected by the Palestinians.

      First, I’ve just pointed out that what I observed Palestinians cannot accept is not recognition of Israel but Israeli control over Palestine’s borders, airspace, trade, foreign treaties, etc. Is it you view that acceptance of such conditions would be possible for any sovereign state? Would Israel accept such conditions?

      Second, the whole of my previous reply to you pointed out in detail that Netanyahu does not believe in “mutual recognition”. Clearly, I need not have bothered, given that you have again simply regurgitated the myth about “Netanyahu’s Bar Ilan speech”. But just to reiterate again, when Netanyahu says We are here to stay forever. There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the land of Israel. This is the inheritance of our ancestors. This is our land”; when Tzipi Hotovely says “This land is ours. All of it is ours”; when the then deputy foreign minister Danny Danon said “There was never a government discussion, resolution or vote about the two-state solution … If you will bring it to a vote in the government… you will see the majority of Likud ministers… will be against it”; when the Likud electoral platform says “The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestine west of the Jordan river. The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state”; when Naftali Bennett, the man who may replace Netanyahu as Prime Minister, says that the whole of Palestine belongs to Israel because the Bible says so – that is not “mutual recognition” but a flat denial of any possibility of a sovereign Palestinian state. That is why I wrote that “As much as Hamas denies a Jewish state, Israeli government policy is to deny a Palestinian state.” You haven’t once even begun to address that point. The “all the land is our land” demand is not the result of being “forced to deal with the consequences of Palestinian choices” as you lazily claim, but the product of an ideology that will not countenance a sovereign Palestinian state. It’s there in black and white: “The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestine west of the Jordan river. The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state.” I’m afraid you inhabit a fantasy world in which Israel is all for “mutual recognition” and only the Palestinians prevent it from happening.

      You claim:

      You still believe that a ‘*workable two-state solution’ *is achievable without this recognition

      Again, if you can show me where I make any such claim, please do so. It’s another of your fictional claims. What I actually wrote, in the article, was this: “Whatever one’s views on Zionism, the aspirations of the 6.9 million Jews now living in the region cannot be ignored. Nor is corralling Palestinians into their own territories while denying them control over their lives any “solution”. From the river to the sea, “self-determination” in that piece of contested land that is Israel/Palestine can only be the self-determination of all the people who live there, Palestinians and Jews.” That self-determination can take the form of two states, or it can take the form of a binational state, for both Palestinians and Jews, in which there is equal treatment for both. (It is worth noting there is no equal treatment within Israel as it is now, and there could not be so long as Israel is a Jewish state. That is why I oppose any form of ethnic nationalism, but that’s a discussion for another day).

      I recognize the disaster that is the Palestinian leadership. I wrote in my article “However degrading the Israeli treatment of Palestinians, there is freedom and democracy in a Likud-run Israel that would be unknown in a Palestine ruled by Hamas.” I recognize, too, the rights and aspirations of Jews who live in Israel/Palestine. Again, as I wrote: “Whatever one’s views on Zionism, the aspirations of the 6.9 million Jews now living in the region cannot be ignored.” You, however, refuse to recognize the disaster that has been Israeli policy and Israeli rule, seeking instead to justify it all – the brutality of occupation and blockade, the inhumane destruction of Gaza, the land dispossessions, the housing evictions and demolitions, the deliberate creation of vast numbers of settlements on land internationally defined as Palestinian, the discrimination enshrined in Israeli law – by blaming it all on Palestinians. It is a justification that has echoes of that used by Putin in Chechnya or Assad in Syria. (And, no, before you misquote again, I am not saying that Israel is like Russia or Syria; I am saying that the use of terrorism as justification for brutality echoes similar justifications by Putin and Assad.) Nor do you seem to have any sympathy with the rights and aspirations of Palestinians. Your dismissal of the Nakba, for instance, is both contemptuous and contemptible. Thankfully, many Jews and Palestinians take a more open and mutually respectful view. But too many, especially in power, hold your sort of views – which is why we have reached the impasse that we have.

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