Page 19 - Foreign Service Journal - December 2012

This is a SEO version of Foreign Service Journal - December 2012. Click here to view full version

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »
greatest potential impact on Israel (given
the cultural valuation of education by
Israelis and Palestinians) is the Palestin-
ian Campaign for Academic and Cultural
Boycott of Israel and its American sister
organization (the U.S. Campaign for Aca-
demic and Cultural Boycott of Israel). Te
interest here is in discouraging academic
and cultural cooperation and perfor-
mances with Israel until the occupation
In addition, many of the churches
and civic organizations in the U.S. and
Europe that reafrm Israel’s right to exist
also boycott and divest from companies
providing products or services (including
fnancial) that support Israelis or Pales-
tinians who attack civilians.
Tese nonviolent strategies are paying
of. Many new solidarity groups have
emerged during the last 10 years, such as
the International Solidarity Movement
and Women in Black. Professional orga-
nizations and human rights groups like
Amnesty International and Oxfam, Code
Pink, the U.S. Veterans for Peace and
other peace groups, are also involved.
One State, Not Two
Lastly and most importantly, I am
greatly encouraged by the increasing
discussion of a one-state solution to the
Israeli-Palestinian confict. A Jewish taxi
driver frst introduced me to this idea
in 1988, when I traveled with him from
Hebron to Gaza City.
When I told him what I was doing
there, he told me, “Tere is only one
solution to our problem here, and we
all know it. Te Palestinians know it, we
Israelis know it. Tat solution is one state
with Jerusalem as the capital. You could
call it the United States of Palestine with
perhaps three states: Israel, Gaza and the
West Bank.
“Our problem is that the Palestinian
leadership does not want this solution
and the Israeli government would never
allow it. And even if we could overcome
these two, your American government
would never support it. So we are caught
in a situation without resolution because
our leaders cannot agree on the only
solution that will ever work.”
At the time, I thought to myself, “What
does a taxi driver know?” Still, it was an
interesting idea that I stored in the back
of my mind.
I believe that idea’s time has come. We
now have 20 years of experience demon-
strating the impossibility of a two-state
solution or even of creating an efective
government for the Palestinians. Many
voices are calling for a one-state solu-
tion: a country in which Palestinians and
Jews live together with equal rights and
responsibilities. Tis would not neces-
sarily be the end of Israel, but it would
require a secular state, the end of the
Jewish state.
Tis is a real stumbling block for Israe-
lis and the Jewish diaspora, who have
all seen a Jewish state as a fundamental
sanctuary. It seems to me, however, that
religious states, no matter how benevo-
lent, are simply not viable—not Islamic
states, not a Jewish state, not even a
peaceful Quaker state (think colonial
Pennsylvania). Religious states by defni-
tion discriminate against the minority (or
minorities) and are therefore unstable
and unsustainable. To date, Israel proves
my point.
So, for all the reasons I’ve already
noted, a one-state solution is the only
I am optimistic because I believe the time
has fnally come for a one-state solution
to this long-running crisis.
viable one. Under it, neither the Palestin-
ians nor the Israelis get everything they
want, but both sides get what they need.
(For an excellent discussion of the one-
state solution, read Ali Abunimah’s 2007
One Country: A Bold Proposal to
End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse
Seeking a Win-Win
For all these reasons, I have hope
today. Tere are courageous Israelis and
Palestinians who are getting beyond “us
versus them” thinking and are moving
into real, nonviolent confict resolu-
tion. Te Jewish, Christian and Muslim
peoples of Palestine are learning that we
are all imperfect human beings, and only
through nonviolent means can they bring
about a lasting resolution satisfactory to
all parties. As Moshe Dayan said, the only
way to achieve peace “is not to talk with
my friends but to talk with my enemies.”
We have learned not to rely on the par-
alyzed, self-interested and often co-opted
U.S. and Israeli governments for answers
or even to ask the important questions.
As powerful as these governments are,
people power, with international support,
can still prevail, as it did in South Africa—
eventually even with support from the
U.S. government.
Today I see growing Israeli, Pales-
tinian and international support for
fnding solutions that are winners for all
the parties to the confict. Only such an
approach can fnally end the intolerable
sufering of both the Israeli and Palestin-
ian peoples.