A Two-State Solution

Ali Abunimah is the author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. He is the co-founder and editor of the Electronic Intifada, and recently, of Electronic Iraq and Electronic Lebanon.

In the four years since Ali Abunimah published One Country, the idea of a 'one-state solution' has gained much support. Abunimah, a Palestinian-American journalist, tracks the tortured history of a seventy-year conflict marked between Israel and the Palestinians--wars, ethnic cleansing, human rights abuses, settlement expansion, failed negotiations, and broken treaties. Gathering important lessons from the 1998 Good Friday Agreement reached by the British, the Irish and Northern Ireland parties, the case of post-apartheid South Africa, as well as Belgium's constitutional reforms in addressing the longstanding dispute between the Walloons and Flemish nationalists, Abunimah illustrates the futility of insisting on a two-state solution to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

From the book, One Country:

"It is vital to show both peoples [Palestinians and Israeli Jews] that there is another way: We must insist on a debate over alternatives to the two-state solution that will allow each community to secure its rights, identity, and legitimacy by embracing the other as equal. The debate I propose is not an idle intellectual exercise: By talking of a common future and imagining it, we engage in the act of creating it; we introduce a different prospect to endless war. It is only through shattering taboos, questioning long-held assumptions, and articulating a vision that we can move the idea of coexistence in a single state from the far margins to the center of discussion."

From a recent interview on the Santa Fe Radio Café:

Mary-Charlotte: The big question is if there were one state solution with half Israeli [Jews] and half Palestinians--and of course presumably there would be mixed marriages and so on--what happens to the concept of a Jewish state?

Abunimah: I tell you a story. The other day I was in St. Louis and some observant Jews, very strong supporters of Israel, came to my talk. They didn't say anything during my talk. Afterward they came to talk to me. And they had very similar questions. We ended up having a very interesting discussion, and I asked them a few questions. I said: "You are clearly very religious observant Jews, and you value your way of life as Jews, and you want to bring up your children the way you want to, and educate them the way you want to, and you are doing that here in Saint Louis Missouri."
They said: "Yes." I said: "Is Missouri a Jewish state?" "No!'
So what precisely does it mean to have a Jewish state? If here in the United States we have the protections and the right to live the way we want to, to raise our children the way we want to, respecting the rights of others, why would we need to declare the United States to be a Jewish state, or a Christian state, or a White state, or any other kind of state. And exactly the same applies in Palestine. If the concept of a Jewish state is a state where you have special privileges and special rights because you are a Jew, that is not a concept of a Jewish state that anyone should defend or support, but if you are talking about a country in which there is a large Jewish community that enjoys all the protections of the law, that it gets to live the way it wants like any other community, then that is a good thing, that's what I am talking about.