Beyond Apartheid: Is The One-State Solution For Israel And Palestine Feasible?

How do we move beyond Zionism – and what comes after Jewish nationalism? The authors of After Zionism try to give us answers

Beyond Apartheid: Is The One-State Solution For Israel And Palestine Feasible?

We are all currently witnessing the genocide taking place in Palestine – mass murder, carnage, starvation and utter hopelessness. Under these circumstances you might be wondering how it is even possible to talk of a one-state solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict – much less advise it in detail. The authors in this book, however, mostly beg to disagree and think that the one-state solution is not only possible but for some of them, it remains the only viable option. Noor and Loewenstein believe that the people of the Middle East deserve hope beyond the two-state solution proposed by Washington DC and the Western media, and this book gives us a look into how such a solution would actually work on the ground.

After Zionism deals with the pertinent questions: How do we put a stop to endless war and apartheid? What will it take to achieve justice in Israel/Palestine? How do we secure the future? How do we move beyond Zionism – and what comes after Jewish nationalism? The authors try to give us answers to all these incredibly relevant and timely questions.

The authors explain that while the events of 7 October 2023 have moved the world in a way never before, they did not take place in a vacuum. They happened because “Gaza has been an Israeli laboratory for almost twenty years, blockaded and surrounded by electronic fences, drones and surveillance equipment. The majority of Gazans are unable to move freely outside the territory to work, study, live or receive medical care.” Hamas’s methods sought to turn the world’s attention to the plight of the Palestinians. At the time of writing 13,000 children and 9,000 women have been killed by Israel in Gaza since October 7, 2023. Sadly, it is the Palestinians who are the losers in this war between the extremist Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Hamas leadership. Today, every leading human rights group whether it be Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International all conclude that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Social media has allowed the Palestinians to show the reality of the brutality of these crimes to the world and this has led to what can be called a ‘global awakening.’ The Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) Movement has now received a great deal of support in many countries all over the world.

This book is a thorough collection of systematic essays on the Nakba, the Oslo Accords, the Zionist view on the one- or two-state solution, the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict and whether or not the one-state solution would be acceptable to Jews and Muslims alike. It even delves into the housing, etc problems of the Arabs living in Israel and discusses them in detail in two chapters. With the news being bombarded with the Palestinian conflict currently, if you wish to learn about the theoretical intricacies of the Israel-Palestine conflict, I would recommend it to you. It is good for the mental learning curve and will keep you abreast on a topical issue. Do bear in mind however that it is an academic text and is in no way a light read.

Palestinian people have far more power than they think they do. Their power doesn’t reside on the diplomatic table or on the battlefield but in the realm of ideas

Two of the essays explained below stand out in the book. Perhaps the most important one is “The Power of Narrative: Reimagining the Palestinian Struggle” by Saree Makdisi. The author explains that Palestinians who hold on to a two-state solution do so out of institutional or party affiliation only. The author’s position on the issue is that the Palestinians are one people, who share one cause and therefore have only one path to a just peace in one that addresses the rights of all the Palestinians, not just a minority who have suffered under occupation since 1967. History teaches us that privileged groups relinquish their rights only when they are given no other option – Israelis will only relinquish their rights when they are compelled to do so and isn’t it more realistic to compel them to accept a single democratic state that guarantees the rights of minorities. By forming an “Israel” with a Jewish minority, which will be one of the results of the total return of refugees, there would be no need to have two separate states to begin with.

Palestinian people have far more power than they think they do. Their power doesn’t reside on the diplomatic table or on the battlefield but in the realm of ideas. The Palestinians have caught the imagination of the world with their struggle and that is a fact of today. In the plane of imagery, the Palestinians must make clear their demands so that they are fulfilled.

In his essay “Beyond Regional Peace to Global Reality,” Jeff Halper explains how to solve the current conflict and the points are as follows:

“1) A just peace must be inclusive. Two people reside in Israel/Palestine and that reality must be accepted and built into the resolution of the conflict. Only then can reconciliation and historic accounting be undertaken. 2) National expression must be provided for both Palestinians and Israelis. These two people are not merely ethnic groups in a larger national society, or merely a collection of individual voters, but national entities in themselves. This constitutes the strongest argument for a two-state solution, though Israel has likely eliminated the option, but it also argues for a bi-national state, which Israel refuses even to consider. Nevertheless, this is the reality and must be incorporated into any workable solution. 3) Economic viability: This principle, enshrined in the Road Map would if implemented foreclose an Apartheid ‘solution’. 4) Conformity to human rights, international law and UN resolutions. 5) The refugee issue must be addressed squarely 6) A just peace must address the security concerns of all in the region 7) A just peace must be regional in scope.”

A single democratic state seems to be the most natural alternative to the two-state solution. “One-person, One-vote”, just as in post-Apartheid South Africa. It is the one-state solution that represents and is the ultimate vision of the majority of Palestinians. It is a wonderful solution since it draws out a unitary Palestine – or the greater land of Israel. By transforming the struggle for national liberation into one about civil rights, similar to that in South Africa, the Palestinians could put Israel in a very difficult spot says Halper. On what basis could such a struggle be opposed, one wonders? However, it is also difficult to see the Israeli Jewish public accepting the transformation of a “Jewish” state into a democratic one with a Palestinian majority. And so, the debate continues.

After Zionism is informative and a must-read for anyone interested in the history, details and theory of the Israel-Palestine conflict. The essays are well-written and the subject matter well-analysed.

If you’re looking to understand the current conflict in greater detail, do give it a go.