How should the world react when a supposedly democratic state can’t acknowledge a 40-year-old occupation? When US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel during a visit this weekend, he was playing into this mass delusion, and mouthing the official position of the American Zionist lobby. It is a fallacy that runs right through Israel, self-described as the Middle East’s only democracy, where a recent government-backed report by retired Supreme Court judge Edmond Levy found that its decades-long occupation of Palestinian land wasn’t an occupation at all. The report granted quasi-legal justification for illegally moving Jews into the West Bank. There are now at least 600,000 Jewish colonists squatting on Palestinian land in direct contravention of international law. But for the Zionist state, the occupation is merely a God-given right to populate land.
The lie was proved when Israeli officials, leaders and dutiful Zionist lobbyists in the West spent decades claiming the occupation was temporary and arguing that Palestinian land and natural resources for Israeli use were solely motivated by security concerns. The occupation can apparently be ignored forever. Soon enough, a person like Levy will be found to create a legal fiction and legitimise what the whole world knows to be illegal. The US issues muted criticism, while Australia doesn’t have an independent foreign policy when it comes to Israel, meekly following American and Israeli dictates, and colonisation continues apace.
What remains fascinating about the Levy findings – American Zionist organisations still can’t bring themselves to speak clearly and honestly about Jewish housing in the West Bank – is what it implies for Palestinian rights under occupation. If there is no occupation, then there should be no problem granting full voting and civil rights to all citizens of the West Bank and Gaza. If that happened today, Jews would soon find themselves a minority. It’s called democracy and it’s something Zionist leadership fears.
Mitt Romney compounded these lies with his comments about Jerusalem. But peace isn’t served when politicians don’t have their own views on the Middle East issue. What all this means for the much discussed two-state solution is a death knell. It’s beyond time to declare partition of the land both unworkable and unethical. Despite 20 years of this fiction, two decades of dreamers, cynics, Israel lobbyists, politicians, journalists, officials, liberal Zionists and pundits pronouncing the two-state solution the only game in town, it’s over. Finished. Israel killed it by pursuing its natural Zionist, expansionist tendencies.
The result is that Israel has succeeded in conquering the West Bank but ended its chances of remaining a Jewish state. This is something we should celebrate if we believe in the concept of democracy and a rejection of Jewish privilege in a modern age. The only viable alternative, and one gaining increasing traction, is the one-state solution. Sometimes support appears from the most unlikely of places. British conservative MP, Bob Stewart, who spent 28 years in the UK military, visited the West Bank recently and said he was “deeply upset by what I saw.” His response? “Unless the settlements stop, there can be no chance whatever of a two-state solution, and the only alternative…is a one-state solution. One state where Jews and Palestinians recognise one another as equals. Surely that is not totally utopian.”
In a new book I’ve edited with Ahmed Moor, After Zionism: One State for Israel and Palestine, we explain both the justice and sense of imagining a one-state future. One chapter, by Nazareth-based journalist Jonathan Cook, highlights the case of Ahmed and Fatina Zbeidat, a Palestinian couple who face systematic discrimination simply because they’re not Jews. It is one story but the message is universal. Another chapter, by long-time one-state proponent, Palestinian Ghada Karmi, outlines the challenges of achieving true equality in Israel and Palestine, not least the determination of Israel and its supporters to talk peace but entrench Jewish exclusivity over land and rights and the Palestinian Authority who have become financially enriched by being Israel’s occupation manager. Such obstacles once faced the two-state solution until it became corporatised and a convenient ruse to mask colonisation.
The exact outline of a one-state solution is not set. Israelis, Palestinians and interested parties, must decide it. After Zionism features Palestinians, academics, journalists, Orthodox Jews, Arabs and intellectuals, many of whom live, work and breathe with Israelis and Palestinians, and know that Israel must be de-Zionised before it can begin to right historical wrongs of continued ethnic cleansing. A one-state equation isn’t about dismissing or ignoring Jewish history, but recognising the land is shared between two peoples and a soon-to-be minority Jewish population has no legal or ethical right to control a majority Arab people.
On its current path, despite some mainstream Israeli politicians advocating the illegal annexation of the West Bank to create an indefinite apartheid state, Israel will become increasingly ghettoised and militarised, convincing once-proud diaspora supporters to decide between their morality and Zionist loyalties. The time for a one-state solution has surely come.
This article was originally posted in The Conversation.