Short introduction to the topic by Mazin:
All observers know that there has been significant changes in the political, cultural and economic landscape that are forcing a reexamination of assumptions about peaceful outcomes. For example, there are now 500,000 Israeli Jewish settlers in the areas Israel occupied in 1967. Those areas represent about 20% of historic Palestine and these are the same areas envisioned to be the future Palestinian state. There is thus a revival of the consideration of a one state outcome (whether a binational state, a confederation, or a secular democratic state for all its people). The forum is interested in a respectful discussion of the merits of these outcomes (some may call solutions but others disagree with the terminology which implies that there visions are mere solutions to manufactured problems). We urge you to focus discussion on just and peaceful outcomes and we will remove postings which suggest perpetual conflicts as inevitable or that denigrade religions or ethnicities. In your comments please focus on the issues (which are political) and not the persons and try to understand different perspectives. You may start by referring to these questions or as you like, please be aware to group guidelines and help us maintain productive and dignified discussion.
Why do you think people can or can't exist in a unitary state of all people regardless of their religion? What do you think is the biggest obstacle to getting people to recognize the inherent dignity and equality of all other people?
The term Democratic Secular State, when spoken by Yasser Arafat was for me a just lip service to a Western Ideal, covering his basic desire to merely rid the Middle East of the Zionist entity-period. I did not believe he was intent on transforming the present situation into one that would include a multicultural vibrant State as a common home to Jews and Palestinians alike.
After reading Sari Nusseibeh's "Once Upon a Country" I see that maybe the term "Democratic Secular State" actually represented a true vision for some Palestinian nationals. Nusseibeh moved from this vision to the Two State Solution after he realized that his People wanted or were in need of a state of their own to give their national aspirations proper expression.
One recent poster (Mohamad sh) wrote of the problematic situation of today, the tensions between the Peoples and how it makes the idea of a single state unrealistic now.
I would like to hear, especially from Palestinians, how they view the possible effects the internal frictions might have on the possibility of a one state solution. By this i mean that on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides questions of the identity are very complex. The rise of religion in many forms, often linking itself to politics and/or nationalist visions, etc. is creating new challenges within each of our nations. I think that for many members of this group the Democratic Secular State would be one way to "solve" or skirt these challenges I fear that this is merely a way of trying to ignore them, or hid them under the carpet.
Can we ignore the degree that our nationalisms have religious expression or for some, even a religious basis? Can we ignore that the identity of our peoples are being effected by what is happening in the region?
I am interested in hearing from the Palestinian members how they view the role religion plays for their People (not for them personally). How much is Palestinian multi-religious nature still an important factor? Are there strains of Islam developing in Palestine that are effected by modern Islamic religious leadership in the West that are open to modern modes of thought and government? What type of dialogue is going on in Palestine between the various streams?
I doubt that a one state solution will work if it is only a vision of an elite group that is not connected to the grass root gut feelings of the people.
When I try to look at Israel and review the questions I listed above vis a vis Jewish Israelis i know that they are not easy questions to answer and then plug into the equation.
For Israelis, making the leap to a Post-Zionist era also would have its religious challenges ..but i don't think it is to the extent people tend to think. I believe that non-religious Israelis have as serious a problem of going beyond Zionism (or of redefining Zionism in terms of the need for a separate autonomous State). Curiously one proponent of a new kind of bi national state is Rabbi Menahem Fruman....but like i said .curiously (or visionary??)
Myron - what is your definition of Zionism?
Because to me, as long as Jews say "Vetechezenah Eynenu Bishuvsha L'Zion Brahamim" in the Amidah 3 times a day, and grooms keep saying "If I forget you Jerusalem, let me forget my right hand.." under the Hupppah on their wedding day, and say the blessing "Bone B'rahamav Yerushalayim Amen!" every grace after meals,and the prophets language continues to say "The Lord will rule forever, your God, Zion for generation after generation.." and a zillion other similar quotes;
and the prophet Isaiah also even called the Jewish people by the name "Zion" at least once;
and as post-Zionism implies an Israel or Jewish people no longer concerned with Zion,
I think it's not apt terminology for the evolution that is taking place in the Israeli and Jewish consciousness.
Your qualification about redefining Zionism is more on point - except I'd call it a return to a more scriptural
and essential vision - the one underlying the need for a state in the first place.
I certainly agree with Wael about the need for self-criticism, and wish we could get Rabbi Fruman to join our little group here.
And to work, a one-state outcome would absolutely have to be built from the grassroots over a generation.
Zionism is, as i understand, a term connected specifically with the political national dream of the Jewish People to live in an autonomous state of their own. I do not think the Ultra Orthodox classify as Zionists (at least not until recently..and even in recent years I think that only a small percentage are actual Zionists.)
Of course you are right that the vision of rebuilding Zion (with the gathering of the exiles) and not living under foreign rule as second class citizens is central to traditional Judaism.
The use of "Post" in Post Zionism relates to other terms in contemporary jargon that just point to certain changing values in today's world ..some which may be beneficial, others not. I agree that it is a loaded term, especially when referring to values of the collective.
I am happy that you raise this point because it is crucial it be clear that even when we talk about a "One State Solution" the centrality of developing Jewish life in the Land of Israel will always be a concern for Jews worldwide.
As we are in the season of the Autumn holy days it is appropriate to remind ourselves that the vision of "one law in the land" is part and parcel of our vision. Sadly, we are not doing a great job implementing this today.
I understand your point, Myron, about the modern word "Zionism".
What you noted I'm emphasizing is the fact that the thing to which it refers also includes
Judah Halevi's beautiful poems "Zion Halo Tishali.." ("Zion shall I not inquire of you and the welfare of your captives...") and "My heart is in the East and I am at the edge of the West..."
The Ultra-orthodox are not so simple to generalize about either. Some tiny fringe elements reject Israel outright, while it was the ultra-orthodox who maintained the Jewish community in the Holy Land
over the centuries of exile, and who largely wrote the literature which has been the Jewish portable homeland for two millennia. One which focuses pretty acutely on Zion, both as a place and an ideal.
Then there are dati le'umi who are about as observant as most 'ultra-orthodox' but are very modern and Zionist as well as pragmatic in their approach. It is no surprise that Bnei Akiva is one of the organizations I could point to as really growing from a synergy with the Ethiopian Israeli community.
A tremendous accomplishment by them, I should add. Some ultra orthodox yeshivas now have dozens of Ethiopian Israeli students (bochurim), and if that is not Zionist what is?.
As much as I have criticisms of Israel from seeing it up close, and from seeing how people I care for have been affected by it for better and for worse, I still see it as a miracle of coexistence and a fragment, at least, of the fulfillment of some very old prophecies too.
You wrote " I still see it as a miracle of coexistence and a fragment, at least, of the fulfillment of some very old prophecies too"
I once picked up a Korean hitchhiker in Jerusalem who marveled how multi cultural Israel is. I was taken aback, because i simply felt that i live in a Jewish state that at best ignores its minorities.
Then he pointed out the Ethiopians, Russian, Moroccans, Yemenite, Eastern European, etc etc...
If only we could be a "light unto" ourselves and learn how to create a sense of common pride in what all citizens of Israel can do together. There are times when it seems possible.
You're exactly right Myron,
Israel also needs curriculum reform. And not like Limor Livnat's, or Yuli Tamir's.
More like Tony Roberts! A little self-appreciation maybe mixed in with the self-criticism.
A lot better understanding of the significance of the Israelite traditions and people in shaping the modern, allegedly-Western civilization we live and blog in (and this website in in English!) today.
There is a heck of a lot to be proud of.
When I was in Israel last May, I met a roomful (15+) of Ethiopian Israeli yeshiva guys and dati (halachically observant) Rabbis. Some might say haredi, but whatever.
Black kippot, white shirts, tzizit, all learning in some real yeshiva, and working jobs; everyone of them served in - golani, tzanchanim, golani, golani, tzanchanim, golani - like there were no other options!
They love Israel; they have hakarat haTov (appreciation for the good), even with the very real problems they and their community still face.
This is where everything is relative.
One of the Darfurians I know was telling me about his daily issues living in Ashkelon,
I asked him how they compared with what he had to deal with in Darfur.
He laughed out loud, and said it was a joke. That was another world entirely.
In that sense, he was very glad to be dealing with mundane problems and not life-threatening ones.
I am personally frustrated by the extent to which there remain pockets of people in Israel who do not see what the majority at least intuits. Namely, that for Israel to be a place where everyone is treated decently - Darfurians fleeing from violence, Ethiopians who came to fulfil their dream of 2500 or so years, Arabs whose families were there for generations and who wanted to be part of this grand new experiment in society, haredis, seculars, and everyone else who really wants - would mean the realization of the Zionist ideal.
Zion bamishpat Tipadeh, Vishaveha B'Tzedaka.
'Zion with justice shall be redeemed, and those that resettle her with righteousness.'
You wrote "and as post-Zionism implies an Israel or Jewish people no longer concerned with Zion" it is loaded term and everyone see and understand it differently, but for many post-Zionism is the opposite, more Zion and less Judaism, maybe that is one of the topics we need to discuss now here
If there is a coherent group of Israelis who define 'post-Zionism' to mean more Zion and less Judaism, then their ideology should be called "post-Judaism" more than post-Zionism.
You are right that this is an essential topic to be discussed on the Israeli/Jewish 'side'.
It is crucial to Israel's will to community.
I have not read all responses so if I am repeating, please forgive me. Also, I will start with the negative just so the non-Israelis/Jews can gain some understanding into the Jewish/Israeli psyche.
Let me start by saying I feel very threatened by the idea of a solution that doesn’t involve borders (I will call it that because I find the other terms threatening and I am trying to avoid emotional responses) even though I understand why intellectually this probably makes the most sense. Let me outline my concerns:
My biggest concern is human nature and the momentum of war. It is not natural for groups who have dehumanized each other for over 100 years, where so much violence and hatred takes place daily, to go from enemies to peaceful neighbours overnight because a new system is declared. Co-existence takes time and A LOT of work to undo what has been done. It is human nature to be protective of ones self, group and identity. It much easier for us to believe the negative that we hear about each other than the positive. For example, I can give you many examples of Israelis and Palestinians having great relations and living together in peace and dignity. All it takes is one killing and I (and most Israelis I know) regress to a protective place of fear where we FEEL we cannot live together.
Israeli Jewish fear was not created last week or last year. We have 2500 years of history of being an oppressed minority. Our holidays and culture (both Jewish and Israeli) constantly remind us that the world is a dangerous place for Jews. The Holocaust is the best known and most recent catastrophe to affect the Jewish people but it is the largest in a very long history of death and hatred that we have been through. We have taken these aspects and made it a pillar of our culture. When a Palestinian kills an Israeli or a qassam is launched from Gaza, in the Jewish psyche, it is a reminder that the world hates the Jews. Now, intellectually I know this is not true as do many Israelis. But emotionally, it is such a part of our culture to be sure the world hates the Jews, it is a very difficult aspect to give up.
This leads me to my second concern. How can a state where the Jews do not control (because in essence that is what Israel is trying to do), be safe for Jews? Of course, this does not mean that Palestinians should not have control, rights of justice but I am speaking for the Israeli side at the moment.
The third issue is Israeli culture. Although many Israelis I know are willing to give up aspects of their Jewish identity, most have replaced their Jewish identity with an Israeli identity. Under one-state, how can Israeli culture be maintained?
The fourth issue is not my issue at all but is for most Jews outside of Israel. Israel is the focal point of the Jewish world (some 7 million people outside Israel). Zionism and love for Israel as the Jewish state has replaced religion for many Jews. Israelis will be much more concerned with the first three issues outlined above. Jews outside Israel are a separate group who feel they have a say in what happens because they think Israel “belongs” to them as their birthright.
Ok, I let out all my negativity. Here is some positive input:
What if we had a federation where everyone stayed where they are but each group had its own government. So Jews in Israel or the West Bank would be legislated by the Knesset, Palestinians in Gaza, Israel and the West Bank would be legislated by Palestinians (Mukata?). A third legislature and/or court system could be created with equal representation of Jews and Palestinians (plus one international) for coordination. This leaves the very difficult issue of defence/protection of civilians which is a much more difficult thing to deal with (the issue of human nature and the momentum of war). My greatest fear is that this region would turn into another Yugoslavia or Lebanon so if anyone has any ideas on personal protections, please speak up.
I think your take on Federation here is really interesting.
Let's be serious. Any one-state outcome will take ten to thirty years to complete.
Safety will be a big issue, at first.
But we have to look at terrorism, and bigotry, not only from the demand side (security),
but also from the supply side - education.
You will not find a plan that goves you more bang for your shekel than one that teaches the productivity of tolerance and equality to a rising generation of students. But this picture has to be painted from the start, and used as a target and an encouragement. Which will take a huge committment by both Israel and the PA.
But in the long run it will be seen as having been worth it.
I invite the Palestinians here to comment as to whether they think Israel projecting into the public space a firm committment to this idea (in actions and deeds) would in the long run reduce the safety risk peceived by Isarelis.
I am very in line with Corey perspective which has concerns with the "identity" each of the social entities has and that the process of evolution this Identity for a stage that a common Jewish who will live in Israel say "I am Jewish and I live with a country I love who has responsibility to all its citizens and all the nations of the world. I do not feel that I need majority and Jewish prime minister for being Jewish" same goes to the common Palestinian "I am Palestinian and I live with a country I love who has responsibility to all its citizens and all the nations of the world. I do not feel that I need majority and Palestinian prime minister for being Palestinian "
this can be achieved by education, but the processes that the Israelis need to go through till the average Israeliswill see his citizenship in this perspective is different then the process the average Palestinians need to go threw. So we need some level of separation for some time till we build the majority of Israelis can join hands with the Palestinians majority and together create federation that will enhance middle east east ability to go threw global economical crises as the one we have now which will not be the last nor the strongest.
We have global crises that needs our energies for cresting new stability, our conflict is waste of this energies and we can all see that.
That is a brilliant post, Neri.
What can I say? I agree with you.
I'm really not advocating for a one-state outcome.
Just thinking through different combinations, and wish-lists, so to speak.
What you say about the processes that Israelis must go through as opposed to the process it will take in Palestine is really getting down to the essence of the matter.
Clearly, both sides should probably be engaging in massive curriculum reform and publicity campaigns at the same time. But in a coordinated and thought-out fashion, rationally designed to maximize the outcome and synchronize them into the conditions necessary for coexistence to expand, I'm sure you'll also agree.
If it is to be a two-state outcome in the interests of deepening true coexistence and integration, then I'm in favor of that. Whatever will really grow peaceful coexistence on the ground, I'm in favor of.
Did you know that about half of Arab Israelis live below the poverty line?
That even more Ethiopians do.
That all of Kiryat Malachi (36%) had a lower Bagrut success rate than the Arab students of Yaffo (40%), or Sakhnin or Umm al Fahm (both in the 40s) but the Arabs of Yerushalayim got 19% and Jizr el Zarqa got less than 25%?
These are insane numbers!! They indicate an imminent catastrophic system failure if something does not reverse the trend (which has been down to these depths) soon.
Yes, I understand how much could be saved if hostilities really ceased, and how much better those funds could be spent on improving people's lives, ta'amin li.