Wednesday, January 4, 2017

One State or Two?

In a front page article by Naomi Craine entitled "UN Israel vote registers blow to Palestinian national fight," The Militant (SWP*) opposes the recent UN resolution condemning Jewish settlements on the West Bank.
The resolution states in part that “the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution.” 
The vote in fact registers a blow to the decades-long struggle of the Palestinian people against national oppression. It reinforces the dead-end course of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas leaderships to rely on Washington and other imperialist powers to pressure Tel Aviv, while shackling the Palestinian masses as passive bystanders. It gives a boost to forces in Israel pushing for greater inroads into Palestinian territory.
This odd reasoning is consistent with Trotskyism, which accepts as a given that nothing United States supports can help the working masses, in this case Palestinians. The solution for Palestine is not reliance on the "imperialist powers," but instead mass action on their own account.

The article then wanders far from traditional Trotskyism.
It [the UN resolution--ed] reflects the absence of any Palestinian leadership fighting for a way forward — a negotiated agreement that includes recognition of the state of Israel, coupled with recognition of a Palestinian state, as it exists today, as a stepping-stone to the fight for a single, contiguous homeland for the Palestinian people. Only this fight can provide the basis for advancing the interests of working people of all nationalities in the region today.
Or in other words: The Militant proposes the following plan 1) recognition of the State of Israel by Palestinians; 2) the recognition of a Palestinian state in a two-state solution; and 3) a long-term, utopian goal of a democratic, secular Palestine/Israel from river to sea.

There are many things to criticize here, not least the mere impracticability. But it gets one, huge, thing glaringly right: it is NOT antisemitic.

All the other grouplets I follow argue that the State of Israel should be wiped off the map. Here's how Socialist Action (SA) puts it.
Only a democratic and secular Palestine extending throughout the historic territory of the Palestinian people, with full rights guaranteed for all regardless of nationality or religion, can effectively replace the current system of settler-colonial domination. 
The resolution also ignores and limits the right of Palestinians to resist the illegal occupation. It calls for confiscation of “illegal” weapons and equates the right of Palestinians to self-defense and military resistance to colonial occupation with “terrorism.”
The first paragraph is the usual prophylactic against charges of antisemitism. After all, how can anybody in favor of a "democratic and secular Palestine" be an anti-Semite?

But the second paragraph puts a lie to the illusion. Palestinians, on this telling, are "occupied", and have an unlimited right to resist the occupation. By any means necessary! Which leads inevitably to supporting Hamas--an archetypal antisemitic organization if there ever was one. Indeed, for me it's a litmus test: if you support Hamas, you're an anti-Semite, whatever else you might say. And SA enthusiastically supports Hamas!

The key difference is this: for the SWP the utopian outcome comes last, and only after both Israel and Palestine are recognized. Or put another way, nobody in the SWP is gonna be driving the Jews into the sea.

For SA, the order is reversed--the utopian solution is a prerequisite before anything else can be discussed. And in the meantime Hamas and allies have unlimited authority to drive as many Jews into the sea as possible. Because, occupation, don't you know.

Since we're speculating on utopian outcomes, let me propose one of my own. The model is my own experience. I moved to New York 32 years ago. I was not born here. By SA's lights I am, therefore, an occupier. After all, what right do I have to live here if I wasn't born here? Indeed, I have even less right than an Israeli Jew has to Israel because not only was I not born here, but neither were my parents or my great-grandparents, or any of my ancestors.

Yet New Yorkers accept me as one of their own. They let me buy a house here, and I'm even registered to vote!

Regarding the "occupation", Ms. Craine provides us with some actual data.
Some 580,000 Israeli Jews now live in these areas beyond the 1967 border, in settlements scattered throughout the West Bank and in housing developments built up around eastern Jerusalem, ringing the city’s Arab neighborhoods. These include 123 settlements authorized by Tel Aviv and about 100 unauthorized outposts, carving up Palestinian land right up to the border of Jordan.
Wikipedia breaks it down a bit further. In 2015 the Israeli population in the West Bank excluding East Jerusalem was 388,000 people. In addition, as of 2003 (the most recent data provided by Wikipedia), the Jewish population in East Jerusalem was 176,000.

Also from Wikipedia, the Arab population in the West Bank (in 2012, not including East Jerusalem) was 2.7 million. That means Jews made up about 14% of the total West Bank population. Jews are no demographic threat to the Palestinian people in the West Bank. By comparison, 20% of Israel's population is Arab.

So here's the utopian dream. Draw a boundary between Palestine and Israel--I'd pick the 1967 border with an exception made for East Jerusalem, but whatever. People who live on the Israeli side are Israeli citizens. As just mentioned, approximately 20% of Israeli citizens are Arab. And people who live on the Palestinian side are Palestinian citizens. We just noted that roughly 14% of Palestinian citizens would be Jewish.

So what's the problem? The only issue is that each state--Israel and Palestine--has to guarantee the protection of its minority citizens' rights and property. Israel has mostly done that for its Arab population. Palestine, meanwhile, is still possessed of murderous passions, requiring large portions of the West Bank be reserved for security.

What's wrong with Jewish settlers being citizens of an independent Palestine? If only Palestine joined the civilized world...oh well. We can all dream a utopian dream.

My utopian dream is not substantially different from that of the Socialist Workers Party. And neither of us are antisemitic.

*The Militant is published by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP).

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