“Too late for two states?” – US scholar shares his hopes of saving a two state solution, but some remain unconvinced…

gershon Shamir

American/Israeli academic Gershon Shafir spoke on November 14th to a large crowd at the Jewish Community Centre in Ottawa. He was very critical of Israel’s seemingly unstoppable slide towards intolerance and right wing politics, but still held out hope for a 2 state solution. Many in the audience were relieved, but not everyone was convinced. See this report by guest columnist Diana Ralph, of Independent Jewish Voices Ottawa.

Special guest column

Gershon Shafir spins dreams of a two-state solution

diana ralph

Diana Ralph

To mark the 50th year of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza,  Canadian Friends of Peace Now (CFPN) hosted Gershon Shafir to speak  in Ottawa on November 14 about his new book A Half Century of Occupation. His talk, “Too Late for Two States?” attempted to resurrect the dwindling legitimacy of the “two-state solution.”

Peace Now and its Canadian affiliate, CFPN, define themselves as “the Gatekeepers of the Two State Solution”.  As liberal Zionists, they are committed to protecting Israel as a Jewish state.  They have always opposed Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as bad for Israel because it potentially makes Jews a minority (and secondarily because it’s bad for Palestinians).

As Shafir pointed out, Peace Now has done good work exposing the inhumanity of the Israeli occupation, for example, by witnessing IDF abuse at checkpoints.  However, their raison d’être has always been to go back to the 1967 borders, create a token Palestinian state, and return to business as usual inside Israel as a Jewish state.  They ignore the mistreatment of Israeli Palestinians and oppose even discussing the right of Palestinian refugee rights to return, as an anti-Semitic notion, because, it would threaten the Jewish majority in Israel.

So, predictably, Shafir attempted to prove that a two-state solution is still possible, dismissing any other option. Most of his talk focused on showing how bad the occupation has been for both Palestinians and Israelis. He emphasized that it oppresses West Bank and Gazan Palestinians through what he calls “technologies of domination” such as checkpoints, the permit system, administrative detention, torture, deportation, and house demolitions. It has lasted so long, he believes, because Israel can’t legally annex the West Bank, and Palestinian resistance also makes it unfeasible. And, he explained, it has corrupted and “occupied” the entire politics of Israel.shafir top

But Shafir was far less clear about how a two-state solution could be feasible or desirable. He distinguished between 6 types of settlements, military, religious, secular-suburban, Haredi, and unofficial outposts, but didn’t explain in what way this distinction is useful.  He showed data that the growth rate of settlers is declining (but still the settlement population is growing), especially in suburban type settlements. He says that many Israelis are now reluctant to move to settlements.  He also believes that many of the newly announced settlements may never actually be built because of bureaucratic obstacles, and that Israel’s recent draconian laws against even mentioning the occupation reflect its eroding legitimacy. He argued that a few settlements like Ariel could “easily” be removed as part of a land-swap to make a two-state solution work.

Gershon assumes that the goal is a two-state solution as envisioned under the Oslo Accords. But the so-called two-state solution never was a realistic or just solution for Palestinians.   Even in the ‘80s before settlement growth boomed, the proposed Palestinian state would be only 22% of historic Palestine, and it would not have been a true state, because the Oslo Accords would have not allowed it a military,  control over its water, or of its economy.

Now in 2017, a Palestinian state is even more of a figment of imagination. With settlements occupying 60% of the West Bank and all the best land, serviced by Israeli only roads and military check points dividing villages from each other, this so-called state would be a Swiss cheese array of isolated Bantustans. The entire spectrum of Israeli political parties and Israeli  public opinion is opposed to a Palestinian state.  And a two state “solution” also ignores the Apartheid structures inside Israel (which were exported to the West Bank in 1967) and the 5 million Palestinian refugees.

Likely because it’s so unrealistic, Shafir never spells out what he thinks this two-state solution would look like. Would Israel return the land (including land now on the other side of the Wall) to Palestinians or keep most existing settlements in place? Would it withdraw the Israeli military? Would it allow Palestinians to have a military or control over their economy or their water? What about Gaza?

He also declined to discuss how this two-state option might occur, aside from casually assuming that Israel would voluntarily sacrifice “a few” settlements. (Remember the uproar when Sharon removed settlements from Gaza.)  He doesn’t address how the increasingly intransigent Israeli government (with support from over 79% of Israeli citizens) would be convinced to abandon the occupation, or how the US and its European allies, which now uncritically support Israel, would agree. And although he mentions Palestinian “resistance”, he doesn’t approve of its call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions.  In fact, in 2013, he launched a counter campaign of “’personal’ sanctions against ‘Annexationist’ Israelis.

So, is it “too late for two-states?”  Probably.  Is it time to move on to a more realistic, just, and humane option, such as a binational, democratic state which respects the rights and security of both Jews and Palestinians?  Probably.

Diana Ralph is a founding member of Independent Jewish Voices Canada, and a retired Associate Professor, Carleton University

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31 comments

  1. BRAVO, Diana!!! Now it’s been said publicly by a Jewish person with great credentials. The only solution is the one you briefly define in your last paragraph. I would just like to re-emphasize that there must be total equality for both peoples in this bi-national state.

    The issue of right of return (for Palestinians) and right of citizenship for diaspora Jews (our version of ‘right of return’) has been clearly ‘resolved’ for me by a person of Palestinian origin whom I admire and respect: Both peoples get right of return with promised citizenship…equally. Of course all the details would need to get worked out with one crucial guarantee–the guidelines apply totally equally to both peoples.

    Thank you for this very fine response, Diana.

    1. It is always good to read a piece by a member of Independent Jewish Voices who is willing to look at the problems associated with the getting a practical solution identified – evenhandedly. I see the task of envisioning a workable policy that could actually be bought into by both sides, as something that will ultimately require the serious engagement of the world Green movement.

      No one could get enamoured over the picking over of such small and cloistered land areas within the West Bank and Israel as they stand at present. What is needed is a more over-arching vision of the Levant as a place that can be able to use the input of everyone who wants to lay claim to that region – in the process of restoring it as a place where barrenness and conflict may be overcame – and a fertile area of ecological vitality chosen instead.

      The extremely tight time frame on stabilizing the climate is what we need to begin to articulate at the international level. The need to restore forest cover over all barren areas – and enable water tables to become healthy must become international objectives if we are to reach the 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. There is just no time to remain stalemated within myopic views of statehood and too-low-ball negotiation goals – that appear to not be worth bothering with by either side.

      As a hard-core Zionist, I believe that the only thing that will be acceptable to Israel is respect for all its traditional land areas going back to the Biblical times, and the only thing that will satisfy the Palestinians is a viable, contiguous land area that will be able to support its entire people – including diaspora. Therefore, what is going to be essential is for an ecology movement to sweep the Eastern Mediterranean that is able to make viable borders and swapping of enclaves so that minorities like Kurds are able to have security of tenure in the places that they are the majorities. The UN is way behind where it should be on putting a strategy together of this kind – because it has had its blinders on as to the genuine priorities. The destabilization of the climate and the need to derive the benefits of the Global Forest will create a larger and more inclusive opportunity to get people, at last, able to put aside old hatreds and look at what may be possible for building the kind of mature nationhood that is going to be requisite if Earth is to be man’s habitat. https://quillandquire.com/review/the-global-forest/

      1. “As a hard-core Zionist, I believe that the only thing that will be acceptable to Israel is respect for all its traditional land areas going back to the Biblical times,…” Nonsense.

        Bottom line: Foreign Jews had the same right to Palestine as Irish Catholics and Mexican atheists, i.e., none whatsoever. Therein lies the root of the conflict.

        To wit:
        To quote from the 1919 American King-Crane Commission’s report: “….the initial claim, often submitted by Zionist representatives, that they have a `right’ to Palestine, based on an occupation of two thousand years ago, can hardly be seriously considered.” (“The American King-Crane Commission of Inquiry, 1919.”) Or as Lord Sydenham stated before the British House of Lords on 21 June 1922: “If we are going to admit claims on conquest thousands of years ago, the whole world will have to be turned upside down.” (Hansard)

        In their report the commissioners also correctly pointed out that the Balfour Declaration did not call for a Jewish state in Palestine and it could not be achieved without denying the “civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities….” The commissioners also found “…that the Zionists looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the present non-Jewish inhabitants…by various forms of purchase…” and recommended that “Jewish immigration should be definitely limited”, that “the project for making Palestine a Jewish commonwealth should be given up” and Palestine should be “included in a united Syrian state, just as other portions of the country…” (Howard, Harry N., The King Crane Commission, Beirut: Khayats, 1963)

        To quote Gertrude Bell, one of the era’s greatest Arabists, a colleague of T.E. Lawrence and a member of British intelligence in Cairo: Realizing what it could lead to, she wrote the British cabinet of PM Lloyd George advising it that “an independent Jewish Palestine” was impractical because “[Palestine]…is not Jewish; ” the native population would not “accept Jewish authority…. Jerusalem is equally sacred to three faiths and should not be put under the exclusive control of any one….” (Sanders, The High Walls of Jerusalem, p. 585)

        By incorporating the Balfour Declaration the 1922 League of Nations British Class A mandate for Palestine did facilitate Jewish immigration to “secure the establishment of the Jewish National Home,” but it did not call for the creation of a sovereign Jewish state or homeland in Palestine or any form of partition. This was made very clear in the Churchill Memorandum (1 July 1922) regarding the British Mandate: “[T]he status of all citizens of Palestine in the eyes of the law shall be Palestinian, and it has never been intended that they, or any section of them, should possess any other juridical status.”

        Furthermore, regarding the British Mandate, as approved by the Council of the League of Nations, the British government declared: “His Majesty’s Government therefore now declare unequivocally that it is not part of their policy that Palestine should become a Jewish State.” (Command Paper, 1922)

        In May 1939, the British government issued the MacDonald White Paper, which in accordance with the Mandate, ruled out any possibility of a Jewish state, and declared Great Britain “could not have intended Palestine should be converted into a Jewish state against the will of the Arab population of the country.” It called for a Palestinian state in which Jews and Arabs would govern jointly based on a constitution to be drafted by their representatives and those of Britain. The constitution would safeguard the “Jewish National Home” in Palestine and if good relations developed between Jews and Arabs, the country would be granted independence in ten years. Land sales to Jews were to be restricted and the annual level of Jewish immigration was to be limited to 15,000 for five years, following which, Palestinian Arab acquiescence would be required. Hence, Britain’s abstention during the UNGA vote regarding Resolution 181, the Partition Plan.

        For the record:
        Palestinians rejected the Partition Plan (UNGA Res. 181, Nov. 29/47) for entirely justified reasons based on international law. While Jews made up just 31% of the population (90% were of foreign origin, only 30% had become citizens, thousands were illegal immigrants) and privately owned just between 6% and 7% of the land, the Partition Plan (recommendatory only, no legal foundation, contrary to the British Class A Mandate and the 1941 Atlantic Charter, never adopted by the UNSC) outrageously recommended they receive 56% of Palestine (including its most fertile areas) in which Palestinians made up 45% of the population. (10% of Palestine’s Jewish population consisted of native Palestinian/Arab Jews who were vehemently anti-Zionist.)

        In 1947, 48% of the total land area of mandated Palestine was privately owned (‘mulk khaas’) by Palestinian Arabs. As noted, total Jewish privately owned land was only between 6% and 7%. About 45% of the total land area was state owned, i.e. by citizens of Palestine, and it was comprised of Communal Property (‘mashaa’), Endowment Property, (‘waqf’), and Government Property, (‘miri’.) (The British Mandate kept an extensive land registry and the UN used the registry during its early deliberations. It has in its archives 453,000 records of individual Palestinian owners defined by name, location & area.)

        On November 22nd, 1947, the UN rejected the partition of Palestine. A second vote, four days later, also rejected partition, so Truman asked that the final vote be delayed for three days, until after Thanksgiving. Truman had entered the White House because of Roosevelt’s death in 1945 and he needed American Zionist support to win the 1948 election. Over the next few days, he bullied five of the weaker UN members into changing their vote. That is how partition was passed on November 29th, 1947.

        “By direct order of the White House, every form of pressure, direct and indirect, was brought to bear by American officials upon those countries outside the Muslim world that were known to be either uncertain or opposed to partition. Representatives or intermediaries were employed by the White House to make sure that the necessary majority would at least be secured” (Welles, Sumner “We Need Not Fail” Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1948, p.63.)

        To quote James Forrestal, then U.S. Secretary of Defense: “The methods that had been used….to bring coercion and duress, on other nations in the General Assembly, bordered closely onto scandal.” (Millis, Walter [Ed.] “The Forrestal Diaries ” [New York: The Viking Press, 1951] p. 363)

        Although the Philippines initially opposed partition and Liberia and Haiti wanted to abstain, the United States and the Zionists pressured these countries to vote in favour, thereby gaining the necessary two-thirds approval. For example: “Under threat of a Jewish boycott of Firestone rubber and tire products, Harvey Firestone told Liberia that he would recommend suspension of plans for the expansion of development there if Liberia voted against partition.” (Michael Cohen, Palestine and the Great Powers, 1945-1948, Princeton, N.J., 1982)

      1. The details listed by David above do not factor into the massive effect of the Jewish extermination – and the feelings of abandonment by Jews toward many of the major western countries. This created a visceral feeling of retrenchment into the Hebrew identity and reinforcing the urge to assert the homing sense – toward the ancient Judaic lands. This was an ethological response – the biological basis of motivation, something that goes deeper than human administrative records. Islamicist justifiers of violence care nothing of this, as experienced by the Jewish people.

        The Palestinians who were not wanting any acknowledgement what was happening at the existential level within Jewry, and who thought that just refusing to co-operate would stop everything – were sadly mistaken. One can try to construct a historical rationale for claiming that the returning Jews were not paying heed to historical claims by Palestinians – but this is a fallacy on a number of levels. Palestinians who were flatly refusing to discuss Jewish autonomy had no legal basis to refuse this discussion. During Ottoman, then British then UN mandate times, all groups have every right to articulate how much autonomy they are seeking. David appears to believe that the Islamic majority has some superseding right to forbid Jews from developing a discussion of sovereign rights – and for that matter the rights of other minorities to have a pluralist society.

        I fundamentally disagree with the premise that underlays David’s historical narrative. Jewish experience of atrocities, dehumanization and murder created an extraordinary need for this group to engage in a fight or flight response. Lack of empathy toward Jews by certain Islamic leaders taking a NIMBY attitude was wholly inappropriate under the circumstances of the Jewish predicament – and was asking for being swept aside by the forces of history.

        As I said in my response to Diana’s article, the best hope for justice for Palestinians is to expand the horizon of what can be done to address the urgency of climate stabilization – and this could enable enough land for all sides. David has instead went through minutae that the world, and our ecosystem, does not have the time or capacity to examine and resolve; we have to ramp up to a level where real unified action may be possible.

  2. So called “liberal zionists” are in huge denial. Zionism is an exclusive colonial-settler project which is inherently discriminatory. It’s based on a religious and ethnic orthodoxy and removal, by force if necessary, of Palestinians. This is an ongoing process. It is in fact Genocide. This can been seen in Gaza and even the W. Bank.

  3. Excellent commentary,Dianne, Netanyahu stated very clearly that there would be no two state solution. The liberal zionists will have to accept this reality.

  4. Thank you, Diana, for your comments. I wasn’t able to attend Gershon Shamir’s talk, so I can’t comment on that.

    There are two issues here. The first is: which solution is preferred. Clearly, Diana, Sylvia Laale and Idb555 prefer a single, democratic state. Their preference (unless Idb555 is Israeli or Palestinian), like mine, shouldn’t count for much. As I understand it, a large majority of Israelis prefer two states, while Palestinians are more or less split, though increasingly favourable to a single state.

    The second issue is: which solution is more likely. This is not a matter of preference. Opponents of two states often claim that the two-state solution is dead, (“a reality,” according to Miriam Meir) but you can’t prove that. It’s easy to show that the two state solution is very unlikely — even very, very, very unlikely — and getting less likely. But that raises the question of whether a single democratic state is more likely. While Diana explains at length why two states is a long shot, she makes no effort to explain why the single democratic state is “more realistic.”

    Here’s an example: Diana writes that Shamir “doesn’t address how the increasingly intransigent Israeli government (with support from over 79% of Israeli citizens) would be convinced to abandon the occupation, or how the US and its European allies, which now uncritically support Israel, would agree.”

    Absolutely true (I think; I didn’t hear Shamir). But Diana “doesn’t address how the increasingly intransigent Israeli government” would be convinced to accept a democratic single state with a Palestinian near-majority, or how the US and its European allies would be convinced to force Israel to do so.

    Here’s why I think the very unlikely two state solution is considerably more likely that the single democratic state:

    Let us agree that Israel will not accept significant change — ending the occupation, ending the blockade, the right of return, a democratic single state (“the end of the Jewish state”) — unless forced to do so by the international community. (BDS would have to play an important role in this.)

    Right now, practically every country and every major non-government organization in the world supports the two-state solution. (Is there a single outlier?) When the international community gets around to forcing Israel to conform to international law, what are the chances it will suddenly switch to demanding a single democratic state?

    As well, let us imagine that the boycott gets strong enough to convince Israel to accept significant change. Which will it choose, the two state solution or the single state? And if Israel accepts the two state solution (essentially the Arab League Initiative), who will maintain the boycott?

    So if your prefer a single democratic state for moral reasons, make that case — to Israelis and Palestinians. But stop dwelling on the unlikeliness of the two state solution unless you can provide evidence that the single democratic state is more likely.

    Thanks.

    1. While it may yet be preceded by two states, in the long run, there will be one state. As the Zionist zealots die off and young Jews and Palestinian Arabs become the driving force (with the latter probably a majority), they will both realize that their common interests lie in the creation of one state.

    2. Arthur, You made excellent points, I’d like to add another.

      The two state and the one state (right or return) are a dichotomy
      In the two-state camp we have the entire international community, the Arab world and Zionists like me.

      In the other camp there’s a strange aliance between the supporters of the Palestinian right of return as well as the Jewish settlers in the West Bank.
      both working together towards a one state, and against a two state solution

    3. Thanks, Arthur for your thoughtful comments. I was just reviewing the presentation by Shamir whose title was “too late for a two-state solution?” rather than attempting to lay out the argument for feasibility of another solution. In my opinion, Shamir’s case for the remaining feasibility of a two-state solution was fuzzy at best. And he didn’t at all address any other options than two-states.. I do believe that there are some significant ways in which the views of liberal Zionist and anti-Zionist Jews overlap–especially we agree that the Occupation is a bad thing for Jews as well as of course for Palestinians.

  5. Thanks, Diana. It is great to read your take on Gershon Shamir’s talk. It seems that he did not clarify whether (and how) the “technologies of domination”—perhaps a code for the Israeli version of Apartheid in the West Bank—will be eliminated in his version of the 2SS.

    As you said, the 2SS never was a realistic or just solution for Palestinians. In 2017, it is certainly not possible. Looking just at the map of the Settlements in the West Bank (WB) and Jerusalem, anyone with even minimal knowledge of Israel/Palestine can come to this conclusion.

    Any resolution which does not ensure equality of rights of Palestinians in the WB and justice for the 5 million Palestinian refugees cannot be durable. It will also continue to become increasingly incompatible and contradictory to the notions of Justice and Equality of Rights as understood in Canada and other western countries. This is very uncomfortable for the proponents of 2SS such as Gershon Shamir. That’s why holding on to the notion of a 2SS is a source of relief for Liberal Zionists and many well-meaning Canadians who are not too informed on Israel/Palestine.

  6. If 5 million hostile Palestinians will roll into Israel, the Israeli Jews will have two choices, the same two choices that the Jews of Aleppo, Cairo and Baghdad had 70 years ago: leave or die

    Diana Ralph don’t care because she is a privileged Ashkenazi Jew with a Canadian passport and no offsprings to worry about.

    BTW, the name of the lecturer was Shafir not Shamir

    1. Ahik, You and others are welcome to comment on articles on this site and state your disagreements. However, I remind you, as I have in the past, that “ad hominem” attacks, in this case against Ms. Ralph personally, are unacceptable.

      Please stick to discussing the facts or the interpretation of them, and leave aside your speculation as to what makes people think what they do.

      1. Over 50% of Israeli Jews are descendent of refugees from the Middle East.
        If the state of Israel will become just another Arab country these Jews will undoubtedly become refugees again.

          EDITORIAL COMMENT FROM CTIP.

        AHIK, I HAVE DELETED THE REST OF YOUR COMMENT AS A BARELY DISGUISED BUT STILL DISTASTEFUL AD HOMINEM ATTACK. CTIP WILL NOT TOLERATE RACISM OR HOMOPHOBIC COMMENTS.

        CTIP DOES NOT AGREE WITH ZIONISM, BUT OUR PAGES ARE OPEN TO ZIONISTS INCLUDING YOU. HOWEVER YOU ARE NOT FREE TO SAY ANYTHING YOU WANT. IF YOU CONTINUE TO MAKE PERSONAL ATTACKS, I WILL BE FORCED TO BAN YOU COMPLETELY FROM THE WEBPAGE.

  7. @Ahik Apologies for misspelling Gershon Shafir’s last name. Regarding “5 million hostile Palestinians” rolling into Israel, I think your visual is dramatic. Regarding Jews of Aleppo, Cairo, and Baghdad, one view, and I think Gershon Shafir would agree with this, is that it was a reaction to Zionism. Put simply, “pull factor” at work instead of “push factors”.

    Your comment about Diana is grossly impolite. I suppose her writing made you very uncomfortable as it is clear to everyone that the 2SS is a facade, a veil behind which many feel relieved.

    1. I feel that there is a bit of unfairness being directed toward Ahik by this attribution of impoliteness. Independent Jewish Voices often comes from people who are safely holding passports of countries that are safely esconced away from dangers of being over run. As Professor Payam Akhavan said during the 2017 Massey lectures a couple of weeks ago – what is needed in order to deal with acculturation of an authentic protection of human rights is a “Populist Revolution of Empathy”.

      1. West Bank and Gaza Palestinians are denied passports and are “over-run” with a military occupation which brutal punishes them and their families for any acts of peaceful resistance. Because I do hold a passport and have privilege, and because Israel claims to speak on behalf of all Jews, I feel a particular obligation as a devout Jew to stand up for justice for all Palestinians and also for Jews. I completely agree that we empathy is crucial.

      2. Thanks Diane – I do not doubt your credibility and your capacities and I feel that Independent Jewish Voices is a necessary bridge to finding a rational remedy for Israel and Palestinians to achieve their realization as cultures, without any over-running by the other. I personally, even though I am a rabid Zionist, have a lot of admiration for the Refusing to be Enemies organization. I see it as being essential, that everyone give some thought to what is meant by “good faith” in coming to a place where actual negotiation, on any level, may be feasible.

        Would Independent Jewish Voices be interested in looking into an approach to getting over this endless legalistic discovery unending loop? – Of dwelling on things that happened 90 years ago, and nit-picking over whether the idea of “A Jewish Community in Palestine” means the same thing as a Jewish national home. I do not believe that the viability of this planet’s atmosphere has the resilience to wait until all of these technicalities are adjudicated.

        I found out a couple of weeks ago that this week Nov 18-25 is Peace Week – that the YMCA has been hosting for 3 decades. It is supposed to look at areas of social neglect that leads to abuse. I feel that there has been a neglect in the potential for over-leaping the myopia that paralyzes the relationship between Israel and Palestinians – for the simple reason that Palestinians officially – not individually – have an impossible time in identifying any valid role that Zionism has ever played. I feel that the fact that the Jewish Committee became the protector of minorities – in the face of the Arab Higher Committee refusing to discuss any sovereign autonomy for minorities during the period of the UN Mandate – shows that Zionism was more reasonable on this point than the Palestinian leadership – and it should not be like pulling teeth to get Palestinians to acknowledge this. Because they will not – there is not the slightest reason for Israel to put any confidence in any chance of good faith from the Palestinian side.

        If you would be interested in looking at Peace Week as a possibility for getting some communications between the Green Party Network and all those forces within Zionism and the PA who would be willing to work with all the countries of the Levant in addressing the need for massive reforestation and repair of the water table in the whole area – as part of a strategy within the 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 – that could maximize the protection of the planet’s ecological balance – this, in my view, is the only identifiable subject area where it may be possible to transcend the constraints of the political conflict – and begin to look at the deeper level of existence of all parties to the conflict. If it is possible to begin to address this subject as a part of the international effort for the SDGs – then I see hope. Otherwise I feel we are proceeding off a cliff.

      3. Dear Alan, I completely agree that the ecological threats we face require the highest priority. And I admire and agree with the approach of refusing to be enemies. (Did you know that Maxine Kaufman Lacusta, the author of Refusing to Be Enemies, is an active IJV member?) I believe that Jews and Arabs have been set up to treat each others as enemies by the colonial powers, and that the best and possibly only path to true security, peace, and justice for all is to step out of the antagonistic, fear-driven, distrustful stance–as you say–to adopt empathy. I would be pleased to talk directly with you about your ideas and feelings. Diana

  8. CORRECTION: My post had incorrectly named the speaker as Gershon Shamir. In fact, his name is Gershon Shafir. Apologies to Dr. Shafir. I have now made the correction. Peter Larson

  9. Arthur is raising a very legitimate and important question:

    If a two-state solution is not working, why would one-state solution work?

    In my view, the current balance of power and changes in the middle east put Israel in a position that is too strong to accept any solution. The Israeli government is not interested in this discussion at all, and, unfortunately, it is powerful enough to make it irrelevant. They want to change facts on ground: grab more land and push more Palestinians outside the borders of historic Palestine. Some Israeli politicians say that explicitly.

    Under such an Israeli agenda, I think the priority now is to ask: why Israel is a very violent state? What strategies may make this change?

    It seems to me, there are many layers to explain this violence: US support (for strategic interests), economic interests (security in Israel has become a lucrative industry), fear mainly caused by historic trauma, ideological and religious motivation.

    Best strategies to change Israeli violence should include a new Palestinian non-violent popular resistance, international awareness and pressure, engagement with people (on all sides) that are open to discuss inter generational trauma and how to deal with it. Science offers a lot in this area. Here is a new interview with a Jewish scientist about this important subject:

    https://onbeing.org/programs/rachel-yehuda-how-trauma-and-resilience-cross-generations-nov2017/

    Jewish and Palestinian traumas should be approached with a sense of compassion and responsibility. Extremist ideological views (including some comments on this blog post) are working against that. We should work to stop all forms of violence, especially Israeli violence. As we speak, 2 million people are under brutal siege in Gaza, more than 6000 Palestinians are in Israeli prisons including more than 100 children. Millions of Palestinian refugees are in camps. Unfortunately, Israel and its supporters are in a state of denial when it comes to oppression according to this Israeli scholar:

    https://www.haaretz.com/peace/1.685389

    To justify violence using historic suffering or biblical stories is not the right way to move forward. This creates more violence and not safety. We need to work to unlock ourselves from the past. It is not easy psychologically, however, it is worth the effort.

  10. I received some private comments on this guest article. Without necessarily agreeing with the points raised below, (except the first one, which as I have commented above, was my fault) I think these substantive issues deserve discussion and eventual response:

    COMMENTS
    1. His name is misspelled badly.
    2. She says he gives no indication of what a 2ss would look like. But he did: he showed exactly where the land swaps would be, and outlined exactly how many settler households (25K) would have to be removed. Whether this is easy or difficult is something else: but her claim misrepresented what he did do.
    3. She says that the entire Israeli public is opposed to a 2ss. Where’s her data on this?
    4. She says the Israeli government couldn’t be convinced to do so. But this raises the question of whether her alternative — refugee return — would be something the Israeli government would be more amenable to.
    5. She says Peace Now cares about a Jewish state MORE THAN they care about Palestinian well being. She ranking their aims as if it is fact. Where’s her data on this?
    6. She says Gershon is opposed to BDS. She gives no evidence for this. She then uses the tendentious term “counter-campaign” to suggest that Gershon launched a counter-BDS campaign. He did no such thing. The campaign he launched was to politically target certain Israeli officials. This says nothing about whether he (also) supports BDS or whether he opposes BDS.

    Number four is more of a debating point — but the other points I raised are more directly problematic in terms of stating things about the interlocutor(s). The article would be strengthened by actually supporting her points — and fact-checking.

    1. These blog post by Diana Ralph is so off that a person who is not familiar with Diana Ralph might think that she wasn’t even attending that talk.
      But I know she did, because I saw her, which raises the question for you Peter:
      You know as well as I that Diana is not the sharpest knife in drawer, would you publish her nonsense if she hadn’t been of a Jewish ancestry?

      1. Dear Ahik, thank you for your comment. Diana Ralph’s gender, ancestry or intelligence is not the question. You don’t think she is very smart. That is your right. But lots of other people, including me, disagree.

        I would normally have just deleted your ungracious and superfluous comment. But I prefer to leave it for others to see and form their own judgement about you. I think it germane that you are an Israeli-Canadian and a former Captain in the IDF. (I don’t know what your current relationship is to the IDF or the Government of Israel, though you have implied to me that you are still very well connected.)

        If, instead of responding to the substance of her arguments, the best you/the IDF/the Government of Israel can do is launch ad hominem attacks against her, that would seem to reflect more on you and them than on her.

  11. Peter,

    The comment you shared definitely deserves further discussion.

    In my view, the commenter’s concerns are partly overstated and I don’t think Diana Ralph’s statements are problematic. The available evidence, in fact, supports the thrust of her statements.

    Here’s why:

    2. She says he gives no indication of what a 2ss would look like. But he did: he showed exactly where the land swaps would be, and outlined exactly how many settler households (25K) would have to be removed. Whether this is easy or difficult is something else: but her claim misrepresented what he did do.

    This point by the commenter is a bit overstated. Diana wrote: “But Shafir was far less clear about how a 2SS could be feasible or desirable.” This does not equal as the commenter put: “She says he gives no indication of what a 2ss would look like.”

    Although Shafir put forth a number and indicated land swaps, he was still unclear about the settlements, and hand-waved about Jerusalem. I’d say he left many questions unanswered. The fact is that over 330,000 settlers live in the West Bank, and Shafir’s proposal says that moving 25K (less than 10% of the total Israeli population in the West Bank) will be enough. His extrapolation on the weakening settler-influence based on the slowdown in their growth was not particularly compelling for a couple of reasons.

    First, what happens to settlements sprinkled elsewhere in the WB. (https://palestineteachingtrunk.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/17_west_bank_w_settlements__inaccessible_areas.jpg).
    What happens to these settlement dots inside WB shown in the map?

    Second, there exists immense military influence of Israelis from the settlements (example, IDF’s Golani and Givati brigades). More on this settler-influence in IDF is provided in this 2010 article https://www.haaretz.com/has-the-idf-become-an-army-of-settlers-1.289151.

    3. She says that the entire Israeli public is opposed to a 2ss. Where’s her data on this?

    Again, this point by the commenter is not exactly correct. Diana wrote “The entire spectrum of Israeli political parties and Israeli public opinion is opposed to a Palestinian state.”

    Evidence: Likud is certainly not interested in a Palestinian state. Netanyahu has publicly said “not on my watch”. The Zionist Union is also opposed to it (See https://www.timesofisrael.com/herzog-for-now-two-state-solution-unrealistic/).

    Figure 3 shows that the practical Israeli opposition to the 2SS is more than 60%!
    http://icsr.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/David-Reis-paper_proof2017-07-14.pdf
    So, I again think that the thrust of Diana’s statement has factual support.

    4. She says the Israeli government couldn’t be convinced to do so. But this raises the question of whether her alternative — refugee return — would be something the Israeli government would be more amenable to.

    This point is clearly an important one and needs a serious discussion.

    5. She says Peace Now cares about a Jewish state MORE THAN they care about Palestinian well being. She ranking their aims as if it is fact. Where’s her data on this?

    Again, this point by the commenter is not exactly correct. Diana wrote “The entire spectrum of Israeli political parties and Israeli public opinion is opposed to a Palestinian state.”

    Evidence: Likud is certainly not interested in a Palestinian state. Netanyahu has publicly said “not on my watch”. The Zionist Union is also opposed to it: (https://www.timesofisrael.com/herzog-for-now-two-state-solution-unrealistic/).

    Figure 3 shows that the practical Israeli opposition to the 2SS is more than 60%!
    http://icsr.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/David-Reis-paper_proof2017-07-14.pdf
    So, I again think that the thrust of Diana’s statement has factual support.

    6. She says Gershon is opposed to BDS. She gives no evidence for this. She then uses the tendentious term “counter-campaign” to suggest that Gershon launched a counter-BDS campaign. He did no such thing. The campaign he launched was to politically target certain Israeli officials. This says nothing about whether he (also) supports BDS or whether he opposes BDS.

    Evidence: (i) http://thirdnarrative.org/about/ The second paragraph makes it clear that Gershon Shafir who is a founder of the Third Narrative is *highly likely* opposed to the BDS movement.
    (ii) http://thirdnarrative.org/israel-palestine-articles/israel-a-time-for-personal-sanctions/ The fifth paragraph reads very much like a “counter-BDS campaign”.

  12. My response to #5 got repeated from the response to #4. So I have posted my actual response here:

    5. She says Peace Now cares about a Jewish state MORE THAN they care about Palestinian well being. She ranking their aims as if it is fact. Where’s her data on this?

    Evidence: Peace Now’s website http://peacenow.org.il/en/about-us/vision makes it clear: “Peace Now supports the establishment of a Palestinian state as a means of strengthening Israel’s Jewish and Democratic values.” Peace Now certainly does not mention “as a means of strengthening/ensuring Palestinian well-being.” So this is consistent with the thrust of Diana’s point.

  13. Thanks Diana – would you mind if I were to give this to Jessica Nkongolo at the YMCA who is coordinating Peace Week? I feel that we have urgently to get an exploratory task force set up within the Green Network, the Palestinian groups that put ecology as the overriding area where allocation of values is necessary – and Zionists who feel similarly. Feel free to contact me at pharmaworkerco.op@gmail.com.

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