By Iqbal Jassat – Chairman, Media Review Network
Almost three years on since the horror of Israel’s malicious act of war on the besieged population of Gaza, a new sense of frustration seems to beset the Jewish state.
For one, it appears unable to reconcile its helplessness in striking an effective blow to silence Palestinian demands for justice, despite being the region’s only nuclear power and having resorted to arms in order to defeat and obliterate its “enemy”.
In addition its sense of despair is compounded by voices of former Zionist ideologues now engaged in utterances that unwittingly seek to remind the country’s political elite about the pressing need to change direction.
The current storm over Israel’s future has been sparked by two of the country’s leading personalities. Although on opposing ends of the political spectrum, both grapple with the question of whether Israel needs to collapse from its current religious-political status of exclusivity to an inclusive one.
Though such debates have been evident within sectors of Israeli society, none seem to have acquired the degree of alarm and urgency as expressed currently. It kicked off on the eve of Christmas with an opinion piece in Haaretz by Avraham Burg, a former Knesset speaker and author, who in clear unambiguous terms confronted the question of Israel’s future:
“Meanwhile we must consider how we can enter into the new Israeli discourse. It has intriguing potential. The next diplomatic formula thatwill replace the ‘two states for two peoples’ will be a civilian formula. All the people between the Jordan and the sea have the same right to equality, justice and freedom. In other words, there is very reasonable chance that there will be only one state between the Jordan and the sea – neither ours nor theirs but a mutual one.”
Short but hard hitting, the piece takes a critical look at “all this dirt” created by right-wingers in control of successive governments.
Burg’s anguish also dealt with what he referred to as Netanyahu’s right-wing legislation, simplified nationalism and cruel economics. However, the thrust of his argument centered on the Israeli demon of a single state as opposed to a two-state solution.
Hot on his heels followed an equally devastating yet reluctant acceptance of the terminal condition of Zionism. This critique by controversial Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua is likely to fuel intense debates not only on the future to a binational state which he views as “unwelcome”, but also on whether the blame for the current failure lies entirely in the camp of the right-wing.
In his reservation he relies on the assumption that many political and ideological camps in Israel grasp and articulate the fact that “ a binational state in Eretz Israel is a dangerous and unfavorable possibility…”
Yehoshua wonders whether its still possible to persuade the Palestiniansto mobilize for a two-state solution for in his opinion a binational state represents a “broken dream”.
While the current debate is not a new one, it certainly contains ingredients of alarm and a new sense of urgency to adopt a rapid paradigm shift. Whether this is informed entirely by the revolutionary fervor gripping the region or to do with Zionism’s failure to forcefullysubdue the indigenous majority Palestinian population, Israel knows that its view of itself as a huge American aircraft carrier is intolerable.
Ali Abunimah in his “One Country” makes an impressive case for abandoning an unachievable two-state solution in favor of one state for two peoples. Partition and division will not resolve the impasse. His detailed analysis of this subject coupled with what he refers to as “learning from South Africa”, makes one wonder why its taken so long forkey Israeli thinkers to embrace the ideal of a united single entity?
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