The following article was in Mondoweiss on 31 March 2011 and is of great interest to Israel-Palestine watchers.
The current ‘one state’ reality in Israel/Palestine
By Gil Maguire
The following was published as a comment under David Samel's post yesterday and we thought it merited its own post to keep the conversation moving:
The one point I take issue with is the inaccurate but very common dualistic description of outcomes as future events: a single state or two states. This seems to presume there is currently no state in place and won’t be until some decision between the two possible solutions is finally made. In fact, a single apartheid Jewish state solution has been in place for 44 years.
Israel conquered its Greater Israel in 1967 and almost immediately began moving its civilians onto the conquered lands into exclusive Jewish “settlements”, showing its clear intent to permanently include so-called Judea and Samaria into Greater Israel. It did so in direct contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits such population transfers as well as territorial annexations by an occupying power. It did so in full knowledge of the illegality of such steps as demonstrated by the famous Judge Meron secret legal memorandum.
So, please, if you want to discuss and debate the remote impossibility of converting the current single apartheid state of Greater Israel into two states, one Palestinian, have at it. I have come to see such arguments as little more useful than debates about how many Zionists can fit on the head of a pin. Why don’t we all just cut to the chase and apply Occam’s razor to trim as much non-reality as possible from our arguments. Here are my first proposed two Occam-like issue statement simplifications to be used to better frame our arguments:
1. Is it possible to modify the current single apartheid state of Greater Israel such that the former Palestinian possessors/owners could gain either a separate state of their own, or a modicum of basic and essential human rights that would allow them to share equally in the benefits of Greater Israel?
2. Are Jews entitled to an apartheid state of their own to protect them from perceived future dangers of anti-Semitism, or do past crimes against Jews provide sufficient justification alone for a Jewish apartheid state?
3. If Jews are entitled under international law to an apartheid state of their own for either or both of the above reasons, shall this be a generally applicable international legal precedent for oppressed peoples or is it exclusive only to peoples specifically chosen, such as Jews?
The clear reality is this: a single, apartheid state of Greater Israel has existed since 1967, now 44 years. 10 percent of Israeli Jews now inhabit 40 percent of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and have asserted total oppressive control over the lives of the remaining Palestinians who live there. The numbers of illegal settlers and settlements grow rapidly with no end in sight. Ethnic cleansing and violence toward Palestinians, with the protection and enablement of the Israeli government and military continues and expands in parallel. Arguments need to be framed around that existing reality, not hypothetical future outcomes.
The only remaining question in my mind is what steps can the international community take to reduce the apartheid conditions the Palestinians live and have lived under so that they can have some basic civil rights and liberties within the existing single apartheid state of Greater Israel. It would be nice to see that happen this year as they have been waiting, mostly patiently, for some 44 years (some would say 64 years).
The threshold question in this debate was: Is Zionism compatible with justice for the Palestinians? The experience of 44 years of post-1967 Zionist policies and practices (not to mention the happenings of the prior 19 years) strongly suggest not. The revelations of the Palestine Papers, the failure of President Obama to have any positive effect on the recent negotiations, coupled with his feckless veto of the UN resolution on the illegality of settlements demonstrate how pontless, fruitless and corrupt that whole peace process aimed at achieving a two state solution and justice for the Palestinians really is.
The only remaining question for Israel’s Zionist leaders seems to be how they can best go about cleansing their beloved Judea and Samaria of the remainder of those offensive Arabs, or at least pushing them into the least desirable Bantustan-like sectors of the West Bank and out of sight and out of mind of the heroic Jewish settlers and prosperous Jewish settlements.
The question to me is not whether there should be a one or two state solution, but what should be done about the current apartheid state of Greater Israel that has existed since 1967. Instead of Mandate Palestine becoming an Arab state and a Jewish state, as intended by the United Nations, it became the Zionist apartheid Jewish state of Greater Israel in 1967. It remains that today and we should describe as such in our arguments.
The question is not what to do to prevent Israel from becoming an apartheid state, it is an apartheid state. The question is can Zionist apartheid ever be stopped. I am not optimistic.
One final caveat: when I refer to Zionism or Zionists, I am referring only to the hard core variety who believe in and are committed to a Greater Israel at the expense of the Palestinians, not to the moderate versions which I see as largely powerless and now think of as Zionism-lite. Those with moderate views who believe in some form of justice for the Palestinians and even in a two state solution are welcome to identify themselves as Zionists but please don’t accuse me of including you in the excesses of hard core Zionism.
To the extent my growing frustrations with this issue may have resulted in some rhetorical excess, I apologize, but the 44 year old apartheid state of Greater Israel is what it is. We need to quit beating around the bush.