Friday, March 14, 2008

One State or Two? Neither


The Issue is Zionism
by JONATHAN COOK
March 12, 2008
Counterpunch

If the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the world’s most intractable, much the same can be said of the parallel debate about whether its resolution can best be achieved by a single state embracing the two peoples living there or by a division of the land into two separate states, one for Jews and the other for Palestinans.

The philosopher Michael Neumann has dedicated two articles, in 2007 and earlier this week, for CounterPunch discrediting the one-state idea as impractical and therefore as worthless of consideration. In response, Kathy Christison has mounted a robust defence, neatly exposing the twists and turns of Neumann’s logic. I will not trouble to cover the same ground.

I want instead to address Neumann’s central argument: that it is at least possible to imagine a consensus emerging behind two states, whereas Israelis will never accept a single state. That argument, the rallying cry of most two-staters, paints the one-state crowd as inveterate dreamers and time-wasters.

The idea, Neumann writes, “that Israel would concede a single state is laughable. … There is no chance at all [Israelis] will accept a single state that gives the Palestinians anything remotely like their rights.”



According to Neumann, unlike the one-state solution, the means to realizing two states are within our grasp: the removal of the half a million Jewish settlers living in the occupied Palestinian territories. Then, he writes, “a two-state solution will, indeed, leave Palestinians with a sovereign state, because that’s what a two-state solution means. It doesn’t mean one state and another non-state, and no Palestinian proponent of a two-state solution will settle for less than sovereignty.”



There is something surprisingly naive about his arguing that, just because something is called a two-state solution, it will necessarily result in two sovereign states. What are the mimimum requirements for a state to qualify as sovereign, and who decides?



True, the various two-state solutions proposed by Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and George Bush, and supported by most of the international community, would fail according to Neumann’s criterion because they were not premised on the removal of all the settlers.



But an alternative two-state solution requiring Israel’s withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders might still not concede, for example, a Palestinian army -- equipped and trained by Iran? -- to guard the borders of the West Bank and Gaza. Would that count? And how likely does Neumann think it that Israel and the US would grant that kind of sovereignty to a Palestine state?



Correctly, Neumann repeatedly reminds us that those with power are the ones who dictate solutions. In which case we can be sure that when the time is right Israel and its sponsor, the United States, will impose their own version of the two-state solution and that it will be far from the genuine article Neumann advocates.



No matter. Let us leave aside that particular somersault of logic for the moment and return to the main argument: that the creation of two states is inherently more achievable and practical than the establishment of a single state.



Strangely, however, from all the available evidence, this is not how it looks to Israel’s current leaders.



Prime minister Ehud Olmert, for example, has expressed in several speeches the fear that, should the Palestinian population under Israeli rule -- both in the occupied territories and inside Israel proper -- reach the point where it outnumbers the Jewish population, as demographers expect in the next few years, Israel will be compared to apartheid South Africa. In his words, Israel is facing an imminent and powerful “struggle for one-man-one-vote” along the lines of the anti-apartheid movement.



According to Olmert, without evasive action, political logic is drifting inexorably towards the creation of one state in Israel and Palestine. This was his sentiment as he addressed delegates to the recent Herzliya conference:



“Once we were afraid of the possibility that the reality in Israel would force a bi-national state on us. In 1948, the obstinate policy of all the Arabs, the anti-Israel fanaticism and our strength and the leadership of David Ben-Gurion saved us from such a state. For 60 years, we fought with unparalleled courage in order to avoid living in a reality of bi-nationalism, and in order to ensure that Israel exists as a Jewish and democratic state with a solid Jewish majority. We must act to this end and understand that such a [bi-national] reality is being created, and in a very short while it will be beyond our control.”



Olmert’s energies are therefore consumed with finding an alternative political program that can be sold to the rest of the world. That is the reason he, and Sharon before him, began talking about a Palestinian state. Strangely, however, neither took up the offer of the ideal two-state solution -- the kind Neumann wants -- made in 2002. Then Saudi Arabia and the rest Arab world promised Israel peace in return for its withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders. They repeated their offer last year. Israel has steadfastly ignored them.



Instead an alternative version of two states -- the bogus two-state solution -- has become the default position of Israeli politics. It requires only that Israel and the Palestinians appear to divide the land, while in truth the occupation continues and Jewish sovereignty over all of historic Palestine is not only maintained but rubber-stamped by the international community. In other words, the Gazafication of the West Bank.



When Olmert warns that without two states “Israel is finished”, he is thinking primarily about how to stop the emergence of a single state. So, if Neumann is to be believed, Olmert is a dreamer, because he fears that a one-state solution is not only achievable but dangerously close at hand. Sharon, it seems, suffered from the same delusion, given that demography was the main impulse for his disengaging from Gaza.



Or maybe both of them understood rather better than Neumann what is meant by a Jewish state, and what political conditions are incompatible with it.



In fact, the division of the land demanded by Neumann, however equitable, would be the very moment when the struggle for Israel to remain a Jewish state would enter its most critical and difficult phase. Which is precisely why Israel has blocked any meaningful division of the land so far and will continue to do so.



In the unimaginable event that the Israel were to divide the land, a Jewish state would not be able to live with the consequences of such a division for long. Eventually, the maintenance of an ethnic Israeli state would (and will) prove unsustainable: environmentally, demographically and ultimately physically. Division of the land simply “fast-forwards” the self-destructiveness inherent in a Jewish state.



Let us examine just a few of the consequences for the Jewish state of a genuine two-state solution.



First, Israel inside its recognized, shrunken borders would face an immediate and very serious water shortage. That is because, in returning the West Bank to the Palestinians, Israel would lose control of the large mountain aquifers that currently supply most of its water, not only to Israel proper but also to the Jewish settlers living illegally in the occupied territories. Israel would no longer be able to steal the water, but would be expected to negotiate for it on the open market.



Given the politics of water in the Middle East, that would be no simple matter. However impoverished the new sovereign Palestinian state was, it would lose all legitimacy in the eyes of its own population were it to sell more than a trickle of water to the Israelis.



We can understand why by examining the current water situation. At the moment Israel drains off almost all of the water provided by the rivers and aquifers inside Israel and in the occupied territories for use by its own population, allowing each Palestinian far less than the minimum amount he or she requires each day, according to the World Health Organization.



In a stark warning this month, Israel’s Water Authority reported that overdrilling has polluted with sea water most of the supply from the coastal aquifer, that is the main fresh water source inside Israel’s recognized borders.



Were Palestinians to be allowed a proper water ration from their own mountain aquifer, as well as to build a modern economy, there would not be enough left over to satisfy Israel’s first-world thirst. And that is before we consider the extra demand on water resources from all those Palestinians who choose to realize their right to return, not to their homes in Israel, but to the new sovereign Palestinian state.



In addition, for reasons that we will come to, the sovereign Jewish state would have every reason to continue its Judaization policies, trying to attact as many Jews from the rest of the world as possible, thereby further straining the region’s water resources.



The environmental unsustainability of both states seeking to absorb large populations would inevitably result in a regional water crisis. In addition, should Israeli Jews, sensing water shortages, start to leave in significant numbers, Israel would have an even more pressing reason to locate water, by fair means or foul.



It can be expected that in a short time Israel, with the fourth most powerful army in the world, would seek to manufacture reasons for war against its weaker neighbors, particularly the Palestinians but possibly also Lebanon, in a bid to steal their water.



Water shortages would, of course, be a problem facing a single state too. But, at least in one state there would be mechanisms in place to reduce such tensions, to manage population growth and economic development, and to divide water resources equitably.



Second, with the labour-intensive occupation at an end, much of the Jewish state’s huge citizen army would become surplus to defense requirements. In addition to the massive social and economic disruptions, the dismantling of the country’s military complex would fundamentally change Israel’s role in the region, damage its relationship with the only global superpower and sever its financial ties to Diaspora Jews.



Israel would no longer have the laboratories of the occupied territories for testing its military hardware, its battlefield strategies and its booming surveillance and crowd control industries. If Israel chose to fight the Palestinians, it would have to do so in a proper war, even if one between very unequal sides. Doubtless the Palestinians, like Hizbullah, would quickly find regional sponsors to arm and train their army or militias.



The experience and reputation Israel has acquired -- at least among the US military -- in running an occupation and devising new and supposedly sophisticated ways to control the “Arab mind” would rapidly be lost, and with it Israel’s usefulness to the US in managing its own long-term occupation of Iraq.



Also, Israel’s vital strategic alliance with the US in dividing the Arab world, over the issue of the occupation and by signing peace treaties with some states and living in a state of permanent war with others, would start to unravel.



With the waning of Israel’s special relationship with Washington and the influence of its lobby groups, as well as the loss of billions of dollars in annual subsidies, the Jewish Diaspora would begin to lose interest in Israel. Its money and power ebbing away, Israel might eventually slip into Middle Eastern anonymity, another Jordan. In such circumstances it would rapidly see a large exodus of privileged Ashkenazi Jews, many of whom hold second passports.



Third, the Jewish state would not be as Jewish as some might think: currently one in five Israelis is not Jewish but Palestinian. Although to realize Neumann’s two-state vision all the Jewish settlers would probably need to leave the occupied territories and return to Israel, what would be done with all those Palestinians with Israeli citizenship?



These Palestinians have been citizens of Israel for six decades and live legally on land that has belonged to their families for many generations. They are also growing in number at a rate faster than the Jewish population, the reason they are popularly referred to in Israel as a “demographic timebomb”.



Were these 1.3 million citizens to be removed from Israel by force under Neumann’s two-state arrangement, it would be a violation of international law by a democratic state on a scale unprecedented in the modern era, and an act of ethnic cleansing even larger than the 1948 war that established Israel. The question would be: why even bother advocating two states if it has to be achieved on such appalling terms?



Assuming instead that the new Jewish state is supposed to maintain, as Israel currently does, the pretence of being democratic, these citizens would be entitled to continue living on their land and exercising their rights. Inside a Jewish state that had offically ended its conflict with the Palestinians, demands would grow from Palestinian citizens for equal rights and an end to their second-class status.



Most importantly, they would insist on two rights that challenge the very basis of a Jewish state. They would expect the right, backed by international law, to be able to marry Palestinians from outside Israel and bring them to live with them. And they would want a Right of Return for their exiled relatives on a similar basis to the Law of Return for Jews.



Israel’s Jewishness would be at stake, even more so than it is today from its Palestinian minority. It can be assumed that Israel’s leaders would react with great ferocity to protect the state’s Jewishness. Eventually Israel’s democratic pretensions would have to be jettisoned and the full-scale ethnic cleansing of Palestinian citizens implemented.



Still, do these arguments against the “practicality” of Neumann’s genuine two-state arrangement win the day for the one-state solution? Would Israel’s leaders not put up an equally vicious fight to protect their ethnic privileges by preventing, as they are doing now, the emergence of a single state?



Yes, they would and they will. But that misses my point. As long as Israel is an ethnic state, it will be forced to deepen the occupation and intensify its ethnic cleansing policies to prevent the emergence of genuine Palestinian political influence -- for the reasons I cite above and for many others I don’t. In truth, both a one-state and a genuine two-state arrangement are impossible given Israel’s determination to remain a Jewish state.



The obstacle to a solution, then, is not about dividing the land but about Zionism itself, the ideology of ethnic supremacism that is the current orthodoxy in Israel. As long as Israel is a Zionist state, its leaders will allow neither one state nor two real states.



The solution, therefore, reduces to the question of how to defeat Zionism. It just so happens that the best way this can be achieved is by confronting the illusions of the two-state dreamers and explaining why Israel is in permanent bad faith about seeking peace.



In other words, if we stopped distracting ourselves with the Holy Grail of the two-state solution, we might channel our energies into something more useful: discrediting Israel as a Jewish state, and the ideology of Zionism that upholds it. Eventually the respectable fa├žade of Zionism might crumble.



Without Zionism, the obstacle to creating either one or two states will finally be removed. And if that is the case, then why not also campaign for the solution that will best bring justice to both Israelis and Palestinians?



Jonathan Cook
is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His new book, “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” is published by Pluto Press. His website is www.jkcook.net

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Spitzer's Fighting Speech not Reported in the Media


Spitzer Comes Out Fighting: Speech Not Reported in the Media

by Dennis Morrisseau / March 12th, 2008

Ahem!

The Spitzer Press Conference

SPITZER’S ACTUAL WORDS [Not reported by the media]

[Responding to the first question]

Well … my wife whom I love has been hurt by this, and I am very sorry for that. Very. I never intended to hurt her …

[The Governor, struggling to gather himself for nearly a minute, then continued.]

… But now I have to ask why a man’s or a woman’s sexual peccadilloes have to be splashed all over the media in this country. As though private sexual relations between men and women are news.

You know … the religious NAZIs in this country …. the so-called religious leaders … and the completely corrupt media that are always going on about this sort of thing … maybe it’s time for people to grow up.

See, I’ve got news for you. All humans are sexually active. And most of of us do have sexual relations outside our main family relationships. That may uncomfortable to hear but its true.

So-called “religious leaders,” most of whom are certainly “getting a little” on the side — sometimes with men, sometimes with women (and a LOT of politicians too); even some media moguls know this. Everybody knows this. So why is it NEWS?

I’ll tell you why: Because SEX is used to blackmail and control people by all these so-called “leaders”. They control politics with it. They use SEX for power, the same way rapists do. And that, I grant you, is a slimeball thing to do.

First they lie to convince you that sex outside marriage is always bad. Then they lie again, pretending that they themselves and other so-called “good” people never do such things. Finally, they lie when they tell you all it’s NEWS … that a political figure sought and found a bit of sexual comfort, in privacy.

Humans seek and need a lot of sexual comfort in this screwed up world that these so-called leaders have foisted on us all — every one of you does and every damned one of you knows this.

So if you want to understand our so-called religious leadership in America today … and our so-called political and MEDIA leadership. There is a WORD you should keep in mind … more clearly even than these words: MONEY and BRIBE. The word you should keep in mind is BLACKMAIL.

An awful lot of politics is controlled by blackmail.

Think Bush. Think NSA spying. That’s how they’re running the country.

[Spitzer then abruptly left the briefing room.]

* Editor: The above is, of course, a satire.




Army 2LT Morrisseau actively opposed the Vietnam War in uniform in 1967-68, eventually getting arrested for a one-man, uniformed-stand in front of the LBJ Whitehouse on 3/10/68. A week later he was seized and ordered to Vietnam; he refused, and he was again arrested. Morrisseau and his small legal team defeated the resultant court-martial; he resigned his Commission and was released from further military duty Under Honorable Conditions. Read other articles by Dennis, or visit Dennis's website.


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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Chris Genovali, J9 ( FunDrive '08)

GR 04-44 CFUV 101.9 FM 104.3 Cable 'cfuv.uvic.ca'
Monday, March 10, 2008
FunDrive
5:00:00 8:00 Welcome to GR, etc. And welcome to FunDrive. Today marks Gorilla Radio's tenth FunDrive. Every one of those ten years, the station met its fundraising goals thanks to you. This year we've set our sights high, but we've got a few more days to go...we'll leave the usual format, etc... Janine Bandcroft is with me in the studio, and Chris Genovali of the Raincoast Conservation Society will be here to discuss the B.C. Liberal's budget and its rich diggings for B.C.'s oil and gas industry, and trade unionist and social activist, Roger Annis on the upcoming Parliamentary vote on Canada's involvement in Afghanistan. And there'll be music and more for Gorilla Radio's 2008 FunDrive show today.
5:08:00 4:00 Music
5:12:00 16:00 Welcome back to GR, etc. FunDrive reit. The provincial government released its budget recently, and most notable was the country's first carbon tax. But less publicized than the rise in petrol prices, is the offset benefits offered B.C.'s oil and gas sector. Chris Genovali is a long-time environmental campaigner and founding member of both the Clayoquot Rainforest Coalition, and the Taiga Rescue Network. His past work with the Western Canada Wilderness Committee helped establish the Sooke Hills Wilderness Park and earned him Monday Magazine’s "Person who made a Difference Award." He’s a 2002 Vancouver Island Human Rights Award winner and currently serves as Executive Director for the Raincoast Conservation Society.
"Welcome back to the show, Chris; the Campbell budget has received praise from unusually green quarters; what's in this budget for environmentally-minded folk?" 5:28:00 2:00 Cart(s)
5:30:00 8:00 Janine Bandcroft
5:38:00 4:00 Music
5:42:00 1:00 Cart(s)
4:43:00 16:00 Discussion with Roger Annis
Welcome back to GR, etc. Later this week, Parliament will hold a vote on the Conservative's motion to extend again Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan through 2011. Roger Annis is a trade unionist and social activist and member of Vancouver's Stopwar.ca coalition.
"Welcome to the show, Roger. The Manley Report informs the upcoming government motion, what did Manley recommend?"
5:59:00 1:00 Ad Lib; upcoming; housekeeping, etc.
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Monday, Aug. 5, 2002

5:00:00 2:00 Welcome to GR etc. Canada’s fishery management record is abysmal. Governed by politics, ravaged by cut backs, and rife with incompetence, the Department of Oceans and Fisheries is simply not doing the job Canadians expect. Now, the west coast salmon fishery is threatened. The Raincoast Conservation Society is a non-profit research and public education organization working to protect natural habitat and generate public awareness of the threats B.C.’s land and ocean species face. They’ve just released “Ghost Runs: the Future of wild salmon on the north and central British Columbia” an alarming report whose warnings cannot go unheeded. Chris Genovali is a long-time environmental campaigner and founding member of both the Clayoquot Rainforest Coalition, and the Taiga Rescue Network. His past work with the Western Canada Wilderness Committee helped establish the Sooke Hills Wilderness Park and earned him Monday Magazine’s “Person who made a Difference Award” in 1998. He’s a 2002 Vancouver Island Human Rights Award winner and currently serves as Executive Director for the Raincoast Conservation Society.

Welcome to GR, etc. Some of British Columbia’s highest profile Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (ENGO’s) have spent thousands of hours in tripartite negotiations with the provincial government and major timber interests here in efforts to create protected zones within the Great Bear Rainforest. Last week, Premier Gordon Campbell refused to endorse the deal, effectively nullifying the initiative. But, that may not be as bad a development for environmentalists as it at first appears. Chris Genovali is Executive Director for the Raincoast Conservation Society, a long-time environmental campaigner, and founding member of both the Clayoquot Rainforest Coalition, and the Taiga Rescue Network. His past work with the Western Canada Wilderness Committee helped establish the Sooke Hills Wilderness Park and earned him Monday Magazine’s “Person who made a Difference Award” in 1998. A recent study by Raincoast is highly critical of the unendorsed deal for its failure to adequately protect species’ habitat in the Great Bear. Chris Genovali and taking the bear out of the Great Bear Rainforest in the first half.