The Two-State Solution Changes

The prior concensus of what a two-state solution/approach would have looked like, is summarized by Obama’s statements in 2009, while he was committed to putting his personal political capital and the weight of US power and prestige into cementing completion of the deal that then Israeli prime minister Olmert and Palestinian Authority president Abbas started and nearly completed.

That is that based on the pre-1967 war armistice lines (formed in 1949), equal and consented land swaps would be treatied to comprise a permanent and consented border between viable and safe Israel and viable Palestine.

Unstated assumptions in that concensus included that the settlement blocs that were close to Israel proper would likely be incorporated into sovereign Israel and any protruding edges of otherwise consented settlement blocs and the settlement blocs deep within the West Bank (likely including the Jordan Valley settlements) would be incorporated into sovereign Palestine, and the consented assumption is that they would be required to be evacuated.

The settlement bloc of Maale Adumin was a source of contention. It protruded into the West Bank, creating a “waist” similar to the waist for Israel slightly further north.

There is a difference between the two “waists” though. Although there are potential staging areas for militants to cut off Israel at it’s waist, even in the six day and 1973 war, that was not undertaken or probably even conceived militarily. The Maale Adumin “waist” though does threaten to isolate East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. The announcement of the settlement construction in the E-1 area (extending the Maale Adumin settlement bloc and connecting Maale Adumin to Israeli annexed and developed parts of East Jerusalem), did not threaten to completely sever Arab East Jerusalem from the West Bank, as was fairly widely reported, but would make access considerably more inconvenient and militarily exposed. A difficult location for a capital.

The assumed requirement for any of the settlements to be prospectively evacuated is inherent in all of the assumptions that I’ve read, from left and right. The left asserts that the permanence of the settlements’ residents themselves and unwillingness of the Israeli society to remove them, makes a two-state solution impossible, dead. The right site the demand that they be evacuated as reason why they can’t consider undertaking serious negotiation at this point. The numbers prospectively slated to be evacuated are either up to 20,000 in remote outposts, up to 100,000 in the far-flung settlements, up to 350,000 in the non-suburb settlements not so far-flung, or up to 650,000 of all east of the green line.

In contrast, prime minister Fayyad offered an alternative. That was to allow the settlers to remain in Palestine (with whatever border) but renounce Israeli citizenship, and adopt Palestinian. Settlers themselves or the Israeli state would then compensate either individuals or the Palestinian state or parallel land trust agencies for the value of previous extra-legal appropriations, and forego the exclusively Jewish permission to reside in the settlements. The proposal puts an end to the nature of the settlements as Israeli state sponsorship of state expansion.

In interviews this past week, Fayyad further stated his regret that the US had conspicuously used the language of “swaps”, as that led to Israeli liberal hopes that the protruding settlements could be part of Israel (they all protrude some), comprising a common gerrymandered pattern of border, rather than a more rational contiguous region, that accommodated a Jewish minority, in similar scale to the Arab minority in Israel.

Abbas rejects the Fayyad approach of allowing settlers to remain in Palestine, instead insisting on forced removal, or very conditional application for Palestinian citizenship.

From this impasse, numerous “single-state” proposals are being floated from sometimes odd sources. The Israeli proposal comes from Moshe Arens (former likud defense minister), in which the West Bank would be annexed, all residents would be granted citizenship, comprising a 61-39 Jewish demographic majority, with Gaza entirely excluded, presumed to form an independent state. Others from the left include full establishment of one-person one-vote including Gaza, and also including the right of return for diaspora Palestinians to anywhere in the river-to-sea area. Including Gaza would likely comprise a 51-49 Arab majority. Including the right of return, assuming that in a single state, it would be highly exercised (unlike to the likely exercise to a Zionist state), would result in a 60-40 Arab majority, or greater.

There is no consensus for any of these options. And, as there are so many options, with so many affected and primarily distrustful of the other, to sort through them would either take dangerous and bold leadership on partners’ parts, or just won’t happen.

There is a significant danger that aggressions will escalate, that sequences of confrontations would add up to war. There are so many possible scenarios that prediction is difficult, but the range includes war with Iran and Hezbollah, the spread of a third violent intifada into the West Bank, cruel forms of BDS, conflict and possible war with Egypt, civil war in Jordan, WMD war with Syria. Lot’s of horror stories.

Other more benign possibilities include entirely non-violent third intifada in the West Bank, deferral of Hamas to PA authority with a new election and shared government, continued Egyptian role as mediator.

The consequences of increased violence in the West Bank is the likud right’s dream, resulting then in likely annexation of Area C (all of the settlement blocs and Jordan Valley), Israeli removal from areas under Palestinian control, permanently separating West Bank from Gaza, and the West Bank from East Jerusalem, landlocked and surrounded by only Israel (like the Bantustans). Likud regards that as survivable, resulting in temporary isolation from Europe and US, but ultimately creating a new fact on the ground, analagous to a new accepted armistice line.

Faced with West Bank violence, and the complex of “we’re unwilling to accommodate the settlers”, they will consider annexation of Area C their only choice.

My own sense is that the Fayyad proposal is the only two-approach remaining, and that Abbas should adopt it, and the Israeli and western left should adopt it.

As the communities do not think of themselves as one nation, and the various dissenting groups pursuing a single state are sadly NOT undertaking the kind of integration and persuasion efforts that would be necessary for it to be viable and desirable if remotely possible at all, that the two-state approach remains the only one that could be characterized as democratic. All others result in imposition on the governed, rather than consent of the governed. A single state solution would then be very unstable, again with dangerous prospects for all communities should violence result.

(At the same time, the one state accommodating a plebiscite after passage, might be the fastest path to a two-state solution, as the two state solution achieved five years ago, might have been the fastest path to a single state – following calm, then increased transit, then open transit and trade, then multi-national federation.)

A way forward?

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“All My Relations/Tikkun Olam” – Conspiracy of Wholeness

I have a trivial story that I told my children growing up. I’ve revised it here from what I told them. The punchline is the same.

“There once were two brothers around bar mitzvah age who were confused about what their adult life was going to be like. They asked the teacher. What should I do in life? What is a good Jewish life? What is a good human life?

The teacher spoke of the process of creation, that God only went so far in the creation process, and then rested, that the remainder of creation was for us to participate in, and do the best that we can. The boys responded, “What does that mean?” (in not that nice language).

The teacher then spoke about how all things in the world, at whatever scale are in a state of tension, of pulling apart, falling apart. That in a healthy being, those tensions exist in a state of balance, so that they don’t fall apart, and are in fact useful characteristics in a helpful life. But, that inevitably things start to and then do fall apart.

And, that through whatever form, wherever you find yourself, the best that you can is to help people, communities, nature, your family “get it together” (to coin an apt sixties phrase). In a word, that you should work to make things whole, in all your relations, where you find/put yourself.

So, the young men later went out into the world.

The older found that there was MUCH that had fallen apart in the world, that there were many people’s lives that were distressed, even people that were very close to him. He noticed patterns to that distress, that many people had similar maladies, from similar causes, with similar subsequent symptoms.

He got angry about that, and decided that he would put his teacher’s words into practice, and vehemently criticized the system and oppressive regimes that had caused so many such suffering. He went so far as to participate in some borderline violent demonstrations, and came to think of the wealthy, the powerful, authority in general as evil. He decided that he would work to tear down the system, and trust that nature was a self-organizing process, that something organic and better would replace what was.

His brother, did not get angry at social incongruities, as he had already gotten married and was much more concerned with the stability of his livelihood and family. He applied the same teaching differently. He noted that some revolutionaries (somehow he excused his brother) had excessively attacked some of his colleagues work that he knew was benevolently motivated (at least to the market targeted), and came to disregard and even to hate those that rebelled, those that sought to turn the world upside down. He even went so far as to attend rallies furthering the order of the status quo. Some of the rallies focused on the rebels, that they should lock the door and throw away the key. (He didn’t take those remarks seriously, preferring to consider other parts of the message as important. “Personal responsibility”

At thirty, both brothers were invited to a family event in which the teacher was also invited. It was the first time in a decade since they had seen him, and both were eager to tell of their lives and hear the teacher’s comments, endorsement and advice.

The first brother told of his life, of his current attitudes, of his sensitivities and angers, seeking the teacher’s endorsement. The teacher responded, “It is obvious that you have your heart in the right place. You are obviously at root a very compassionate man, to be so concerned with others’ suffering.”

The second brother told of his life, of his current attitudes, of his commitments, sensitivities and angers, also seeking the teacher’s endorsement. The teacher responded similarly, “It is obvious that you are very concerned about the well-being of your family, your community. I can see that at root you are a very compassionate man, to be so concerned with others’ welfare.”

But, then later, the teacher spoke to them together. “You are beautiful young men. I can see why your father is so proud of both of you.” (This confused each of them, as they each thought that the teacher would endorse their approach over their brother’s.)

“But, there is something that you are both doing wrong now. That is rather than making things whole, a lot of what you are both doing now is to make holes.

The difference in actions that you each feel called to, is really not that large.

You who feel concerned for humanity’s suffering should continue working for their restoration, helping them, and where you identify wrongs that suppress them in some way, working to change that. But, you should do so in a way that does not threaten or hurt the people that you believe are doing wrong. In fact, you should be appreciative of what they have accomplished in their lives, what they find important, why, and how. By remaining sensitive to ALL your relations, you will be better able to succeed at improving the lives of those that are harmed, those that you have come to care about.

You who feels the importance of family commitment, hard personal work, should value the efforts of those that speak up for others (and for those that speak up for themselves). They do not threaten your life. They offer you a window to improve your life. If we are successful in this world, but at others’ expense, then what have we accomplished. Have we made anything whole?

Jewish life is both a credo and an association. We have a purpose on the planet, of to serve as “a nation of priests”. Our association, our community, is not an end in itself, but a means to the end of serving as a nation of priests.

Some interpret that purpose as only or primarily the literal instructions for priestly service articulated by Moses for the tabernacle, then elaborated further in the Jerusalem temple worship.

Others interpret the phrase more broadly, meaning to “make things whole” where we stand, not just through sacrifice, or even prayer, but through the composite of our action, our life, our sensitivity.

The term “brit” (society), is in fact a conspiracy of wholeness, a community of people entrusted to make things whole, healthy, to aid in God’s work of creating a coherent, balanced, healthy world, during the period that God rests, now.

This is what I teach my children.”

All my relations.

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“All My Complaints” – Conspiracy of Entropy

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As If

My sources of information are limited. Of newspapers, I read New York Times, Washington Post, Haaretz daily. I don’t have a television hookup, so never see any commercial TV. Of blogs, I read 972, Open Zion, and Mondoweiss (even though I was banned from posting)  to gain a sense of the tenor of the dissenting community.

Among the dissenting community, many consider the prospect of a two-state solution comprised of a healthy and accepted Israel and  Palestine, as practically dead. The left authors that conclude that the two-state is dead don’t often distinguish their reasons. I wish they would clarify whether they regard it as undesirable in its own right, whether they conclude that the physical extent of the settlements prohibit the feasibility of a viable Palestine, or that they believe that the two-state is politically infeasible, that no ratifiable agreement is forthcoming.

Some of the prominent dissenting authors privately convey that they originally hoped for a two-state solution, that it was the most rational solution optimizing self-governance, but that they fear (more than fear, observe) that the likelihood of two states is growing difficult, remote, impossible.

So, if the two-state approach is stressed, potentially failing, dead even, what is the best response?

Absent a two-state solution there are really only two other political options. One option is the current status quo of Israeli control over a marginally independent Palestinian Authority, Palestinian community and West Bank land. The second is some form of federated or bi-national single state.

Internationally, both flavors abandoning the two-state solution, is a repudiation of dozens of UN resolutions, dozens of international court decisions, an utter revolution in the relations between Israel (and the PA) and all individual states that recognize them, rendering also dozens of bi-lateral agreements void. It does imply a comprehensive reinvention of every wheel, with inevitably odd bedfellows.

In the few polls conducted in Israel and in the West Bank on the question of the status quo vs two-state vs single state, the majorities all describe a preference for two separate self-governing states. (I haven’t read of published polls originating from either Gaza, or the Palestinian refugee/diaspora communities.)

I can’t then conclude that the two-state solution is “dead”, but that it is definitely ill, and worse, prohibited by a road-block from getting medicine in a timely manner.

I won’t bury a breathing child, however sick.

My instincts are to attempt to save the child, to work hard to if I can muster the energy and support.

So my next question is two-fold

1. How can change occur? What methods of action can I take that will facilitate the realization of two healthy, accepted self-governing states? What is likely to be effective?

2. What methods of action can I participate in without fundamental moral ambiguity or hypocrisy?

So, I look at the possible actions that I can do myself, enc0urage with words, and/or can facilitate with money and/or time.

1. Communication on behalf of community organizations and direct communication to Congress, and/or President. It seems insignificant, but it remains a good idea to support the efforts of J Street and other similar organizations to convey that there are in fact people that consider Palestinians in formation of US policy, will vote and contribute partially on that basis. But, as Israeli policy is so independent of US influence currently, that is unlikely to change much.

2. BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions efforts) – As much as the South African BDS campaign is promoted as a model of non-violent path to write the wrong of discrimination and suppression, I don’t find BDS likely to be  successful, nor benign. (It’s not non-harming, nor non-punitive. It’s just not harming through guns.)

Given that the Israeli populace lives in a state of low-level trauma, it is more likely that BDS will be perceived as an ethnically defined shunning, reminiscent of the law and “non-violent” support accompanying pogroms, holocaust, terror campaigns. The likely response to a “successful” BDS campaign will be for Israel to hunker down, accompanied by expanded efforts at suppression of Palestinians that won’t break under pressure. The darkness before the dawn, will really be the darkness before the deeper darkness. The slogans of “power can only be transformed by resistance” is a falsehood.

In contrast to the appearance of unanimous and unequivocal support for anti-South Africa apartheid BDS, I regard BDS as ultimately a wrong. It is an action of harming, a punishment, a shunning.

Sometimes wrongs are temporarily necessary to achieve a greater good, so long as the criteria for ending the wrong is clear and there is a path to end the wrong. BDS though is not constructed of clear demands, clear criteria, but instead comprise a set of principles deliberately left vague enough to attract a coalition of Palestinian solidarity support, a coalition of resistance, not of peace.

Inherent in any vehement social movement there is vanity of knowledge, the presumption that I/we know, supported by an effort to discipline to conforming political stances, and also underlying political attitudes.

The determination on the part of BDS proponents is a combination of real compassion, combined with false vanity of knowledge, self-censorship in books to quote for example, and a willingness to trash sanctioned trashable people. (It frankly sickens me to hear abusive generalizations about settlers, or ultra-orthodox, by people that have never heard, read, or met one, made by ideologs pretending to be acting for universal justice.)

Criticism makes sense. But there is a difference between criticism and prejudice.

What does that leave? Milquetoast? Wishing only? Unintentionally supporting the status quo, by my silence?

To my mind, it leaves only one option, that is genuinely non-violent in all respects, and affirms and furthers the prospect of two democratic healthy good neighbor states with much interaction.

That is the “as if” option.

The “as if” option has two themes that on the surface seem to contradict each other.

1. To act “as if” there is a separate sovereign Palestine. Absent an actual treaty, the only internationally consented even temporary border, is the green line.

But, on the ground, noone knows exactly where it is. The fence is not at the green line, except in a few areas. The areas that Israel has annexed are undifferentiated, even in some locales buildings straddling the green line.

So long as the green line is not marked, it disappears. Its not just memory. Its just gone.

The primary political “as if” action then is to physically mark the green line. I recommend that it be done with a symbolic green thread, designating its frailty, its human construction requiring reminder. Jewish Israelis, Palestinian Israelis, ambassadors, activists, can each mark a section, step by step. I recommend that it be conducted entirely silently, no t-shirt messages even. If done entirely calmly, deliberately, it need not provoke, but nevertheless makes its statement of the continued relevance of the green line, assertively.

Accompanying that knowledge of the green line, the second political “as if” action is to treat the land east of the green line as Palestinian territory, requiring formal permission in some form to enter. I would request then that the PA, or designated NGO (even a sympathetic Israeli NGO) process the voluntary equivalent of visa requests to cross from west of the green line to east of the green line.

The third political “as if” action, also requiring the PA or designated NGO to administer, is to collect voluntary taxes on all sales, income, property, meals for all activity east of the green line. So, if an Israeli or European tourist buys a meal east of the green line, they should then voluntarily pay the PA the simulated sales tax. If an Israeli business doing business east of the green line did so, that would be a stronger statement. If an Israeli export business (say Ahava) did so, that would be a stronger statement still.

The second major theme of “as if” is social. That is to enhance the integration/acceptance of Palestinians to Israeli and of Israelis to Palestinians, humanizing the other.

It takes a change in consciousness on the part of both communities to make substantive change. There are intentional respectful actions that each can do that do not imply any fundamental compromise, instead a fundamental affirmation of the respect of all living beings as the primary religious and philosophical value.

For Israelis, the most effective consciousness changing action that I can imagine is to actively affirm the memory of the Palestinian communities that resided on the land prior to Israeli dominance.  They should be remembered, honored, appreciated, not erased even if there is no physical prospect of return to them.

Other actions that can make fundamental change are cooperative efforts in areas of mutual concern. Those that claim to love the land, can only do so by working together to minimally harm it and to restore it where possible. Those that claim to care about public health, must affirm the health of their neighbors. Those that claim to love justice, must evolve means to resolve conflicts inter-personally, and if not resolvable inter-personally, by authoritative inter-communal courts that operate under consented principles, even if solely voluntarily subscribed to.

Cultural interaction should be enhanced, not boycotted. Intellectual and scientific discussion should be enhanced, not boycotted.

They are all doable. I think that these actions will make real change, and quickly.

Leaders will create the paths to. Individuals committed to doing good, will use the paths created to get to know their neighbors, and to honor their neighbors, including by the empowerment to self-determination.

“As if”. Build it and they will come.

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Palestinians Lives and Human Rights

I’ve been watching a number of debates between Peter Beinart and others and more conservative supporters of Israel.

There are two general themes expressed (both Zionist).

The conservative theme is that the status quo is just fine. The presumption is that Palestinians are not unduly burdened, and even if they are a bit, so what? There is a common reference to the need for a Jewish homeland, for that to be a safe homeland, that Israel is threatened (stated in present tense). Many site the vulnerability of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, other large Israeli cities from the presence of any Palestinian sovereign state. Some conservative commentators disregard religious motivations for the status quo. Others invoke the religious motivations.

The reasoning though of desire for Israeli safety preserved by forceful (dominating) military and police relationship with Palestinians is shared by all the conservative commentators, as is a distrust of even negotiated agreement with the PA, even if ratified by Palestinian legislature and plebiscite.

Most have not seen the West Bank or Gaza, nor remaining Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria. Most approve of the PA effort of institution building, but desire that it proceed to preserve the status quo, rather than as proof that the status should and can change.

In contrast, Jeremy Ben Ami of J Street, and Peter Beinart argue that the peaceful status quo is a deception of quiet, inevitably devolving if Israel annexes an iota more of land, and if the demographics in the region as a whole continue on current trends.

They describe that the world is coming to see the conflict through Palestinian eyes, that the theme of “we are under attack and therefore must enact martial law” is thinner and thinner, given Israel’s military dominance. When that incredulity becomes widespread, the world will demand that Israel offer Palestinians equal voting and other civil rights in the jurisdiction under Israeli control (Israel, West Bank, Gaza from a distance – blockade). That is the prospect of a single democratic state. (Some on the Israeli right propose a single federated state even, but limited to Israel and the West Bank, excluding Gaza, and definitely excluding Palestinian refugees.)

Beinart, Ben Ami, others pose the question in two phrases. If Israel chooses to be Jewish AND democratic, then it will actively pursue the proposal for two healthy states. In contrast, if Israel doesn’t choose the #AND# construction, then an #OR# construction of Jewish OR democratic will (d)evolve into apartheid-like (or worse) relations, international condemnation and isolation reminiscent of its first thirty years, civil war in some form .

The further left is jumping on this tension. There is a slowly growing boycott and divestment movement (at about the same speed as settlement expansion). The more idealistic are adopting equal human rights as the theme of their efforts. To the extent that those that approach dissent in those terms hold to the discipline of only speaking and consistently acting for human rights (and universally), they will gain a great deal of credibility and succeed in major improvements.

But, they don’t often. They flirt with proposals that functionally eliminate Israel as Israel (single-state accompanied by unlimited right of return to all descendents of former residents), and don’t think so far enough ahead even to consider the likelihood or actual necessary conditions of such a state remaining “#AND# democratic.

I personally have not been to the West Bank in 26 years, nor to Israel. I don’t know what life is like for Palestinians with the wall, checkpoints, limited right to travel outside of the area. I don’t know Israeli norms and current public opinion. I understand from a wide variety of Israelis and Palestinians that it is not genocidal, more like inconvenient plus, inconvenient about two steps beyond any irritating bureaucracy, but not to the level of active direct harming. Suppressive is the word, glaringly unfair certainly.

Gaza in 2008 was a continental divide in perception. Those that tended to think of Operation Cast Lead as necessary, settled on the view that Israeli policy towards Palestinians was just an irritating bureaucracy, that relative to Gaza, “they had it coming, and when it was over we stopped”. They accept the status quo.

Those that thought of Cast Lead as a sadistic assault on a captive civilian population concluded that Israel is a willingly murderous state (leaders and populace), intent on racial supremacy, annexation and dominance only. Some in the west have concluded to dedicate their lives to resistance of Israel, of which non-violent methods may be a merely a tactic.

Those that thought of Cast Lead as excessive beyond a limited engagement are in a quandry. We are asked by representatives of BOTH of our primary values (Jewish AND democratic) to pick which side we are on.

It is not getting simpler there.

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Homelessness vs Home(FULL)ness

Elaborating on a blog post at my other blog “Loving Home in Practice”

“Home(full)ness” is the concept of living fully in place. Its the basis of indigenous societies (including nomadic), and of ecological social views. It implies a loving relation to home (however defined), loved and loving.

The question certainly applies to Jews and other communities, including Palestinian.

Different similar themes reflect the social justice issues around Israel and Palestine.

For Jews in the early to mid-twentieth century, we realized that we needed a home. We were a coherent people, but without a home place. The former social (rather than geo-social) sentiment of “our family is our home”, or “our community is our home”, no longer sufficed, neither subjectively nor objectively. Cosmopolitan enlightened individualism compelled doubt towards the comfort of family or community as home. MANY Jews throughout the world were not safe. The coherence of continued Jewish community (our home) was not confident.

Between the Balfour Declaration, and the incremental improvement in sympathy towards the Jewish community following pogroms, Dreyfus debacle, holocaust; and the chaos in the Levantine colonized Arab world in the late 19th to mid-20th century, the sentimental dreamed land of Israel was first an ultimately God-promised, then Great Britain promised, then after the San Remo agreements a European promised, possibility of home and state. Israel and Israelis have not yet made the shift to home(full)ness. They are still on home(maybe)ness, some determined by external parties and events, some by the internal adoption of a commercial rather than ecological model of a mature society.

Homelessness to home-maybe-ness. Home(ful)ness comes only after peace and living well and lovingly in place.

For Palestinians, the assertion by solidarity is that the land was always home, always lived home(fully), at least as far as person-person story can convey. The land was home, and the communities were home. (Palestinian and all traditional societies relate to their family and community as home, in similar ways to the Jewish sense of family and community – but with very differing specific characteristics).

Within Palestinian culture, there was confusion as to political degree of pan-Arabic identification and/or pan-Islamic, versus distinctly Palestinian identity. (The identification with Palestine is more prominently an integration of social home with geographic home, whereas pan-Arab identification is of a people more than a place, and pan-Islamic is a human identification – for those that subscribe to the Islamic credo.)

It actually took the emergence, and then victory of Israel and the suppression of Palestinians to convey the more prominent specifically Palestinian national identification over the pan-Arab and pan-Islamic. Palestinians currently identify as Palestinians prominently, socially and politically in affirmation for self-governance, including West Bank refugee and indigenous, Israeli Palestinian, Gazan refugee and indigenous, middle eastern diaspora refugee, and western diaspora.

In some respects, the presence of Zionism is a zero-sum for Palestinian home(ful)ness. So long as Zionists remain, and more importantly, dominate and expand, Palestinians cannot establish the geographic relationship of towns and villages that would constitute coherence as a society.

In other respects, in a setting in which peace is possible, and “enough Israel” is possible and adopted by Zionists, then both communities may have the prospect of feeling that they live in a home space. Home(full)ness – objectively, individually subjectively and as communities.

For Israel, the evolution is internal and fundamental. From “wandering Jew” to living in place.

The transition is psychological, individual and collective. It comes from a weaving of neighbors, from a welcomed web of mutually dependent, mutually enhancing relations. In contrast, the commercial Jewish norm is alienating of person from neighbor, person from deep self, person from place.

Its as if Israelis have not yet decided if they truly intend to live there, themselves indefinitely, in place that is coherent and safe for their children, grand-children, ad infinitum.

I consider the effort to transform from home(less)ness to home(full)ness, to be an important, a progressive effort (in the real meaning of the term progressive – social well-being).

That moderate Israeli home-full-ness seems that it could be compatible with Palestinian home-full-ness is reassuring to me, in similar ways to the hope that Israelis that worship the ONE can acknowledge that Muslims similarly commitedly worship the ONE and that in doing so, the religions should be more kindred than adversarial.

The trick to accomplishing that, is for Israelis to undertake efforts that are home-full, in forms that don’t undermine Palestinian home-full-ness.

Israelis haven’t decided yet though whether they feel that they can co-exist with Palestinians or not. And, in a conspiracy of mutual distrust, many Palestinian solidarity regard Israelis firming up their home-full-ness in even “enough Israel”, even in ways that are independent or reject the occupation of the West Bank and isolation of Gaza, as by definition a destruction of Palestinian home-full-ness.

Better that we are all comfortable, accepted.

For my mind, the fundamental primary divide is not between Israel and Palestine, but between those that conclude that peace is impossible (Israeli, Palestinian and radical solidarity right – even when they call themselves left), and the willing (Israeli and Palestinian moderate and idealists).

It constructs a goal of home(full)ness for both communities, that what is moving forward is what makes each and either community more healthy, more safe, more well-integrated, more lovingly living in place.

No more zero-sum.

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Israeli Settlements in Palestine – Why They Matter

This post is stimulated by a New York Times op-ed authored by Peter Beinart, advocating for the boycott of Israeli settlement products and cultural interaction.

Peter (forgive my first name familiarity) takes a few important stands that make sense to me.

His primary assertion is that the two-state approach based on the last long applied consented functional Israeli/Arab(Palestinian) border – the green line, remains possible, is a desirable goal, and optimizes social justice.

In contrast to the multiple right and the left-wing versions of single state proposals, the two state approach leaves an Israel that has the potential of remaining a Jewish-majority state, resulting in haven and site of self-governance for the world Jewish community. It also has the potential to affirm the democratic values of its founders, citizens, world’s supporters, and international legal and social institutions.

That combination of national and democratic is a healthy tension, requiring persistent reference to ethical ideals to comprise a real Jewish state, an ideal in practice. It’s intimate, of the logic of families, constructed of emotional intelligence, caring as a verb.

To state the obvious, there is a Jewish majority on the west of the green line that desires to self-govern as a coherent Jewish community. And, there is a Palestinian majority on the east of the green line that desires to self-govern as a coherent Palestinian community.

If that is true, then a two-state approach optimizes self-determination, optimizes consent of the governed.

If the confident majority of the population from river to sea prefer a single state, feel that they do not self-govern in a two-state format, then a single state makes sense. To accomplish tangibly, it would require consent of a super-super majority, to the extent that civil values comprise an undeniable social norm.

If on the other hand, more than an insignificant minority in either community(s) felt that a single state format did not represent them, then internal civil strife or war would ensue, which would comprise a MUCH larger tension than the inherent tension/balance of a democratic nation, “liberal Zionism”.

A viable two-state requires two healthy communities that have the capacity to live as good neighbor to good neighbor. That requires universally vibrant economies, genuine democracy in each community, a sense of national pride in governing and social institutions, and respect and appreciation of the other.

Those are tangible constructions, that with imaginative and well-intended collaborative design, can be reconciled.

The monkey wrench is the settlements.

The settlements function as an Israeli state-expansion strategem. The settlers themselves are human beings/civilians, but the settlement enterprise at nut is a state-sponsored expansion effort. The physical pattern of “fingers” extending into desired territory is the chosen strategy for land settlement that began with the efforts of the yishuv in the 20′s. Its no coincidence that that strategy is continued. (The strategy didn’t originate with Zionists, and is nowhere near unique to Zionists.)

The application of the settlement expansion effort betrays the ethical balance of “enough”. If one does not have enough, then one must struggle to not starve or suffer. When one has enough, but continues to expand, and at others’ expense, then that is of a different moral character. And, much more than just an ethical question, suppressed individuals and communities’ natural state is rage, acted.

The settlement boundaries enacted is an old design. They were designed by Begin and Sharon in the late 70′s and early 80′s. The only new settlements designated since that time have been of renegades, the hilltop youth and religiously motivated.

The significance of the current discussion is of the imprinting of the permanence of the settlements as exclusively Jewish, and nationally as part of Israel.

An annexed West Bank is a rectangle and is “easy” to defend (in the language of likud). The green line is a waist and is defensible only with good background relations between the two states, even with clear borders and accountability of states. The wall is a maze, and is defendable only with the suppression of the Palestinians.

The options are:

  • Single Zionist state from river to sea, requiring a maximum of 25% Palestinian population in the jurisdiction at all, and no legal reconciliation of asserted title, sovereignty, and residency rights of Palestinian refugees. That is the path of slow forced ethnic removal, world denunciation, and continued resentment by Palestinians (and continued excuses by Israelis for suppression)
  • Maze two-states at the wall as boundary, requiring odd forms of Israeli military “defense” of the civilians in the settlements, permanently non-peer Palestinian governance, with no prospect of coherent economy. (As the path to the Mediterranean economy is blocked, the only potential economic growth is through Jordan.)
  • Two-states at or near the green line as consented boundary, allowing the settlers to remain in their homes on the east of the green line, as Palestinian citizens, participating in and obeying Palestinian law, without the protections of Jewish exclusivity, and with likely obligation to fund compensation of Palestinian community to perfect title.
  • Single democratic state with unlimited right of Palestinian return of refugees (soon a majority Palestinian state), hopefully permanently guaranteeing full civil rights to all individuals. America in the Middle East.

In a world without historical trauma, the single state might be possible and desirable. But, both the Jewish Israelis and Palestinians exist as coherent communities because of gross trauma. Healing of trauma doesn’t occur readily in a condition of threat or animosity.

“Boycott the settlements” to accomplish a two-state at the green line? I prefer another path.

And, that is also in the use of language and practice. That is to start acting as if the area east of the green line is Palestine.

Examples would include first marking the border, perhaps with a green thread so it is not forgotten, speaking of the land as Palestine (not as Samaria, not as West Bank, not of non-democratic Israel), seeking a visa from the Palestinian Authority to travel across the green line (even in Jerusalem), voluntarily paying a tax to the Palestinian Authority on all meals consumed in East Jerusalem for example.

Other examples of assertive efforts that a liberal Zionist can pursue are to honor the past residents. Rather than erase prior Palestinian villages (in Israel and in Palestine), liberal Zionists should organize learning, honoring and if sincerely felt, apologizing tours (not as shame, but as self-assertive statements of respect of the other).

And, without question, funding the restoration of now new Palestinian life.

Earning sovereignty, earning friendship.

And, conducted until it is completed, not only until the PR war quiets.

Making peace, not talking so much.

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