Saturday, August 6, 2011

Two State solution: Dead. Long Live One State!

Dear Friend,

I have long thought the so-called "Two State" solution to the Isr/Pal conflict was DEAD. Our "friend", Sam Bahour concurs (see below).

On the eve of official Palestinian leadership's decision to seek their "independence" inside Israel/Palestine, I send you businessman Sam Bahour's assessment and call for "One State, with liberty and justice for all". Well, that's not a direct quote, but it surely is the full intent of his editorial in the Guardian, (faithfully sleuthed out by our friends at ATFP, who are still, by the way, committed to the "Two State" solution. I give them credit for passing on Sam's critique and call.)

More and more of our "friends" are pressing the Israelis (and US) to widen their view of who a "citizen" of Israel is. Repeated calls to recognize Israel as a "Jewish State" are anachronistic, ethnic-centered, and saturated in religious settlement-driven orthodoxy. Surely this form of "A Jewish Republic" is equally as heinous as their constant criticism of Iran's "Islamic Republic". What's the difference? None. Competing orthodoxies, fused with religious fervor, won't lead any to the Promised Land, "living together equally" (as Sam Bahour puts it at the end of his opinion piece below).

The US model of a secular democracy is still the best model there is for Isr/Pal. We in the US must continue to insist on greater true democracy in that region, even though it means going up against "the Jewish State" of Bibi's Likud party, their sympathizers in the US political action committee AIPAC (and even J Street, still wanting to beat the Two-State Dead Horse). Every "state" has its "neighborhoods", but their must be some form of "confederation" that gives basic human equality to all citizens. Such equality does not now exist and few seem to be working at changing that condition!

BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions movement) should be aimed at Israeli companies who are profiting from the Apartheid-like policies, from confiscated land, depriving Palestinian participation in production and services from "their" land and energies. Read on and ponder, JRK

Palestinians will soon come full circle

Years have been wasted making concessions to their colonisers. Palestinians were right to call for a secular state at the outset

By Sam Bahour

The Guardian - Thursday - August 4, 2011

The Palestinian national liberation movement has reached its end. As the Palestinian leadership – if there is such a legitimate body today – prepares to bring the issue of statehood to the UN this September, the weeks and months ahead will witness the last desperate attempt to get the international community to assume their responsibilities and ensure that a Palestinian state becomes a reality in the occupied territories.

The reasons for the failure of the Palestinian national liberation movement are many. First and foremost, the shellshock that the creation of Israel caused among Palestinians in 1948 has never really gone away. Half of the Palestinian population at the time were displaced from their homes.

Those that refused to flee are today citizens of Israel – a citizenship that was not requested, but rather imposed upon them – and comprise more than 1.2 million people, Muslims and Christians.

As if the forced dispossession from 78% of their homeland was not enough, the Israeli military occupied the remaining parts of Palestine in 1967. Israel had planned for that occupation long before the war. Military occupation is, by definition, regarded as a temporary state of affairs – and one would be stretching the definition to the point of fantasy to consider Israel's presence in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem as still temporary after 44 years. Reality is much more accurately described as the crime of apartheid than that of military occupation.

Beginning in the early 1970s, the Palestinians became, as former Palestinian diplomat Afif Safieh put it, "unreasonably reasonable". Year after year the Palestinian leadership offered concession after concession, trying to reach an equitable resolution to their dispossession and military occupation.

This seemingly never-ending chain of concessions culminated in what is known as the 1993 Oslo peace accords. These accords were a seriously lopsided bilateral agreement between the PLO and Israel, which attempted to bring the parties to a "final status agreement" within five years.

The Oslo accords kept the system of military occupation in place and simply codified the unsustainable imbalance between an occupying power (Israel) and an occupied people (the Palestinians). The accords failed, miserably and multiple times. Not only did a final agreement never happen, but today we are further from a two-state solution than ever before. No amount of 11th-hour wordsmithing by Barack Obama or Binyamin Netanyahu around reviving negotiations by setting a starting point for discussing borders is acceptable. Past procrastination has only created irreparable damage on the ground invoking a dire need for an end game, not yet another starting point.

After struggling to revive the peace process for two decades, the Palestinians have lost faith in the process as well as in those tasked with overseeing it, namely the Quartet – United States, Russia, the EU and the UN. For the entire period of the peace process, Israel ploughed forward with more land confiscations, more settlement building, more death and more destruction.

Any honest observer would reach a clear conclusion that Israel has no intention of allowing the Palestinians to create a new reality on the ground towards a feasible, workable resolution of the crisis. Nor are the powers that be, namely the US and EU, serious about ending the conflict on the basis of international law. Diplomacy has utterly failed the Palestinians, leaving them with less land and less water, more fragmented, poorer, in disunity, and with fading hopes.

The drama unfolding as we head towards September revolves around a simple equation. Those who claim to be the Palestinian leadership have no more tricks up their sleeves to justify remaining in negotiations with their occupier. Thus, they are taking what is being portrayed as a strategic move to apply for membership of the state of Palestine in the UN.

The underlying political fact they are trying to re-establish is that the resolution to this seemingly insoluble conflict is two states, Israel and Palestine, based on UN general assembly resolution 181, which in 1947 partitioned Palestine (illegally, I might add).

This move gets an "A" for effort but is doomed to fail even if Palestine is admitted into the UN this year, next year, in five years or not at all. The realities on the ground have changed drastically since 1947. Israel, with blind US support, has succeeded in removing a two-state solution from the feasible options.

The new Palestinian leaders, those whom the Israeli negotiators have not yet met, see the larger picture and refuse to believe that Israel desires to live in peace when every indication for 64 years has shown the opposite. The emerging Palestinian leaders see Israel for what it is: a settler, colonial, apartheid movement clinging to a racialist, exclusivist ideology that neither wishes nor intends to allow another state to emerge between the Mediterranean sea and the Jordan river, let alone allowing Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and be compensated for their hardships, as was stipulated as a condition when the UN accepted Israel as a member state on 11 May 1949.

Once this foredoomed move toward Palestinian membership in the UN runs its course, a new paradigm will take root, one that Israel dreads because it implicitly views Palestinians and Israelis as equals, as co-citizens, as partners. This new shift will see Palestinians dropping their desire for independent statehood in a fraction of their historic homeland and instead will find them, within a genuinely representative political structure, articulating their desire for self-determination within their historic homeland, even if that homeland today is called Israel.

The Palestinians are about to come full circle. They were correct, painfully so, to call for a secular democratic state at the outset of this conflict. Sadly, they wasted precious time and lost too many lives trying to accept unjust modalities of a resolution.

Now, the sooner Palestinians and Israelis realise that our destiny is to live together as equals, the sooner we can begin to rehabilitate our communities and build a single society whose citizens are all equal under law and equal as human beings.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Here is the complete review of Deb Reich's NO MORE ENEMIES, JRK

A review of Deborah Reich’s NO MORE ENEMIES, available from
John R. Kleinheksel (
Our culture is more and more polarized. We accuse “others” of our woes, unable to see “the enemy” is we. One of the key issues of our time is how to build bridges to “others” instead of walls. How will be refuse to treat persons as “enemies”, turning them into partners? It's true in other cultures. It's true in Israel/Palestine.

With characteristic clarity, Martin Marty skewers the chattering class in re the Anders Breivik massacre in Norway. The world jumped to the conclusion that a Muslim extremist must have done it. O no, wait, he was a Christian extremist! “No, this is not one of us”. Left untended, we demonize Muslims or Christians, or Jews, and keep them at arm’s length, to isolate or even eliminate them. He concludes his “Sightings” column for August 1, 2011 with this illuminating paragraph:
The back-and-forth polemics continues. To what point? Each “side” finds it important and urgent to use a broad brush to paint the “other” most monstrously, in order to deflect criticism from themselves and to assure themselves of their own virtue. That obscures what should be a clear-eyed critique of “self-and-other” among all when clarity is so important. The instant and inaccurate portrayal of “the other” makes the self look good in his or her own eyes. It does not provide the accurate data about. . .the people we need to understand more than we need to fire people up, motivated by Islamophobia and Christianophobia, neither of which needs more heat in our flammable or inflammable world.

I’ve discovered a working mom in Israel, who is determined to do something about it. Somehow (perhaps through Sam Bahour), Deb Reich got on my FPI list (Friends of Palestinians and Israelis) and offered to send me a copy of her recently published book, NO MORE ENEMIES (NME). I’ve read it and recommend it to all persons seeking to advance Israeli/Palestinian reconciliation efforts. She refuses to be anybody’s “enemy”.

Born in Manhattan, educated at Barnard College, Ms Reich is a single Israeli mom, raising two children in Karkur, a small town near the Mediterranean coast. With single-minded determination, she is working to reconcile Israelis and Palestinians Arabs by building lasting friendships with “the enemy”, making them “partners” instead of adversaries. And she’s networking with scores of individuals and groups seeking to transcend literal and relational barriers.

There are four parts to her 383 page book. Part I seeks to explain NME, that “the very notion of enemies is obsolete” (p. 3). In Part II, she seeks to apply her vision to Israelis and Palestinians, giving many “stories” (Part III) of how to “live behind enemy lines”, drawn from her own experiences with friends, neighbors and colleagues between 1981 (when she moved to Israel) and 2010.

Throughout the book, she hammers home her thesis that “the enemies paradigm simply does not promote good solutions. The ‘other group’ is the partner you need in order to fix what’s broken” (p. 212). Part IV gives a smorgasbord of practical suggestions of actions to take, websites to visit, and agencies and entities that are working toward the NME paradigm. She advocates creating a literal “Toolbox” with items/objects to remind us of the many ways we can address “the other”. It is an invitation to a “transformation process” that has taken her “40 years to figure out” (p. 268).

As a fair-minded Christian I truly admire Deb Reich’s wholehearted commitment to “liberate the latent cooperation bound up in dysfunctional relationships [with] ‘enemies’” (p. 271). She knows it takes “energy”, the energy latent in each of us, to get this done (Christians would say it comes from the “one” who helps us love our enemies like he did!) She also knows it is we who are often our own worst enemies. It is we who need transformation.

Here is a typical brilliant flash of insight that sparkles throughout the book:
If you take part in systematically oppressing or disenfranchising or discounting a whole group of people over a long time, you are not merely depriving them unfairly of . . .basic human rights, you are also binding up their vital, mysterious human energy (and much of your own) in a sterile and ugly cycle of joint struggle, suffering and death (p. 270.)

I want my readers to be introduced to just a few of the websites Ms Reich has suggested, as windows into groups that are contributing to turning enemies into partners.

Women Organization for Political Prisoners: This is a group of women united in their opposition to the Israeli occupation. They wish to support (listed) women political prisoners incarcerated for opposing the occupation.

The Madaa Community Center in Silwan: is a Palestinians community center established in 2007. Silwan is just outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, occupied by Israel. They are using nonviolent techniques in the struggle to avoid displacement. They are promoting dialogue and training youth for leadership.

Artsbridge Institute: Artsbridge creates a safe space for shared self-revelation while staying with the language of empathy, curiosity and compassion. It was used productively at Wahat al Salam – Neve Shalom, near Jerusalem in 2010.

Compassionate Listening: teaches listening skills to create powerful cultures of peace. Their next delegation to Israel/Pal is March 18-28, 2012.

School for Peace: Ms Reich has translated their Israeli/Palestinian Identities in Dialogue: The School for Peace Approach, available from their website.
Rabbis for Human Rights: The lead article by Rab Yishai Ron, alone is worth a visit to this site.

Israeli Committee Against House Demolition: Born in the USA, Jeff Halper has long sought to advance a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians based on coexistence and human rights. He patiently, persistently works for an end to the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

When I asked her where she got this deep desire to turn enemies into partners, she referred me to a column she wrote in 2002 to explain it:
Up Xenophilia
Nearly everyone’s heard of xenophobia (fear and loathing of foreigners and their strange ways), but what about its obverse -- xenophilia? I checked an unabridged dictionary, and there it was. Xenophile: someone attracted to things and people strange and foreign… as this columnist has always been.
Well, maybe not always; is it genetic, or learned? To teach us world history, my 4th grade teacher, Miss Ladd, organized a creative multinational food fair -- way to go, Miss Ladd! Every kid in the class chose a country, and the moms pitched in to help (dads didn’t cook yet in 1957). One fine day we must all have gathered in the classroom and eaten our merry way around the globe, though uncharacteristically I have no memory of the repast, or even of my family’s contribution. Still, my xenophilous tendencies seem to have crystallized by the 4th grade.
Xenophilia isn’t an intrinsically Jewish impulse, maybe; but it’s not a sin, either. Most people are evidently happiest sticking with their own kind, without a fuss. Relatively few seem to find foreign ways either irresistibly fascinating or intolerably threatening. Alas, the Philes tend to become anthropologists and the Phobes, politicians. Pick any nation: With its xenophiles safely shipped off to some aboriginal hinterland or busy in academe, the xenophobes in government get busy rallying the masses to make war on the neighbors (and the neighbors likewise, of course). Maybe we need a Society for the Promotion of Xenophilia in Government (unless what passes for our legislature has already made it illegal).
“That there are men in all countries who get their living by war, and by keeping up the quarrels of nations, is as shocking as it is true,” wrote Thomas Paine in 1792; “but when those… in the government… make it their study to sow discord, and cultivate prejudices between nations, it becomes the more unpardonable.” Well said, old boy.

Deb Reich is a courageous Israeli mother, consistently working in her homeland for an end to seeing “the other” as an “enemy”. She is not alone. The cascade of voices, the pounding of feet, the working hands and open arms are increasing, some day to transform the lives and landscape of the present “unholy” land. Dear lady, may your anti-tribal tribe increase!