(I have an interim suggestion, Mr. President: If you disagree with what I just said, don’t throw your iPad in disgust and walk away. Instead, let’s accept that we have a massive disagreement over this one issue, and return to it a little later. Who knows, maybe you’ll agree with some of the other things I have to say? Thank you…)
MY ONE-STATE SOLUTION
Everyone living inside Israel or Palestine is entitled to his or her human rights: The right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, freedom of movement, and everything else that you and I deserve simply for being a person.
Everyone, Jews and Arabs alike, are also entitled to their civil rights: The right to democratic representation, to vote and to be elected to any municipal and national office. The right to equality before the law, the right against unlawful detention, the right to legal representation, protection from unreasonable search and seizure, freedom of assembly, the right to go on strike.
And everyone is entitled to their communal rights, to be free to pursue their cultural and religious ideals and lifestyle as unique communities within the state.
This last right is extremely important, because the notion that there are two nations living side by side between the Jordan River and the sea is misleading. There are, in fact, dozens, if not hundreds of separate, unique communities, among Arabs and Jews, and several that are neither. Forcing all of them to define themselves as either Jewish or Arab is a recipe for frustration and repression. Permitting all of them to flourish is part of the secret to peace and prosperity.
And the state is Jewish.
JEWS AND ARABS USED TO GET ALONG
The sad truth is that from the inception of Jewish resettlement in Israel or Palestine, 150 years ago, nobody was thinking seriously about living side by side in peace and harmony. The Arabs saw the Jewish arrivals as an invasion, pure and simple. European Jews were hardly even aware that there were Arabs living there.
Both communities envisioned a peaceful and prosperous future in which the other side would be expelled from the land for good.
Sure, there were some who considered a life of cooperation between Arabs and Jews, but their voices were often drowned out by the reality of violent skirmishes and a lot of blood.
It’s interesting to note, though, that despite the obvious animosity between Arabs and Jews, the two communities found many areas of cooperation, most notably in business.
The Jews fleeing turbulent Europe brought with them money and resources to create homes and factories, pave roads, grow food. The Arabs from all around the Middle East were drawn to this new prosperity and provided cheap labor for Jewish enterprises.
Nobody was happy, but everybody made out okay.
Just like in New Jersey.
In British mandated Palestine, from 1918 to 1948, many forces were trying to influence events, in order to tip things in their favor.
The British government used the tactics of Divide and Conquer in all the lands under its rule. They pitted Hindus against Muslims, Africans against Asians, Whites against Blacks. In Palestine they fed the flames of hatred between Arabs and Jews. It made it easier to control their subjects. They were truly repugnant people.
Then there were the Germans, who supported anti-British and anti-Jewish sentiments among the Arabs and financed terrorist acts wherever the British ruled.
There’s always someone out there willing to pay a bunch of guys to go out and kill people. So that, no matter how prosperous life could have been for Arabs and Jews living side by side in Palestine, there was always someone ready to pay someone else to ruin things.
This continues to be the case, by the way. The players are different: today they’re Americans, Europeans, Russians, Iranians, Saudis and Egyptians; but they’re all involved to some extent in paying someone to go kill people.