Tale of Two States
Last September, just a few weeks before the eruption of the
second Palestinian intifadah, I wandered over to Cinemateque
square in the upscale area of Tel Aviv. In the cool breeze of
late afternoon, a few dozen retirees with their families were
having a nice outing. The old ladies knitted, while kids drew
flags on big sheets of paper. This peaceful gathering was the
commemoration by the Israeli peace camp of the seventh
anniversary of the Oslo accords. The keynote speaker was Uri
This handsome man with a noble head of white hair invoked, as he
always does, his vision of two states coexisting in the Holy
Land, an independent Palestine next to the Jewish state. Every
word sounded right, but it was as exciting as yesterday's news,
as entertaining as a rerun of an old TV serial. Not
surprisingly, there were no young activists, as the traditional
peace camp no longer attracts new dynamic blood. Mr. Avneri is
recycling the same tired speech over the Net these days,
focusing on the latest Israeli bogeyman, the return of the
Please don't misunderstand me, Uri Avneri is a man of good
intentions, a brave supporter of Palestinian rights, an activist
doing more than his share and an efficient organizer. It's just
that his political agenda is dead as a dodo bird.
Let us face the hard facts on the ground: the idea of two states
in Palestine is, and has always been, a bluff. After being
partitioned for only 19 years, Palestine has been united for 33
years. No Israeli or Palestinian under the age of 40 even
remembers the "partition years" from 1948-1967. It is a period
of time that Mr. Avneri latches onto as some kind of Paradise
Lost. No Israeli politician, including the late lamented Mr.
Rabin, has ever seriously considered relinquishing any part of
historical Palestine. The endless negotiations have been a
sideshow designed to mollify the public. Thirty years ago, Arik
Einstein was assuring us that "The talks will be resumed soon."
They are still singing the same old song.
In the meantime, behind the smoke screen of' a 'temporary
military occupation', the hard-nosed Israeli leadership has
confiscated Palestinian fields and houses to make room for
Jewish settlements and imprisoned and killed thousands of
Palestinians. A succession of leftist and rightist Israeli
regimes perpetuated this legal fiction in order to deny the
civic rights of the conquered population. It was a brilliant
idea, worthy of the Jewish genius: to carry on the negotiations
forever, while giving lip service to the idea of two states.
Honesty forces me to tell my Palestinian and Israeli friends:
you've been duped. Our wise men played a cruel game with you,
teasing you with the empty promises like the stale old "tale of
two states" narrated by Mr. Avneri. There has always been only
two paths for the Palestinians to emerge from serfdom. One is to
beat Israel. The second one is to join it. The third option, of
a new partition, is just an illusion; a juicy carrot tied in
front of the donkey.
If I were a fan of conspiracy theories, I could well imagine
that these good people of the Israeli peace movement
intentionally supplied the left leg to our shaky apartheid
structure. By continually repainting the [old armistice] Green
Line, they have endorsed the non-citizen status of the
Palestinians in their own land. By calling the land, "occupied
territories", they exempted themselves from having to battle
against the exclusion of the Palestinians from the country's
political life. By combating the annexation of the territories,
they helped to concoct the fraud of independent Palestinian
But the idea of such a conspiracy is just too mind-boggling. I
do not think Mr. Avneri and the peace camp received their
briefings in the offices of the Shabak. They were just too keen
to believe that the Israeli generals would conclude a fair peace
with the Palestinians.
Even a kid watching James Bond movies eventually understands
that the hero won't be eaten by crocodiles and won't die in the
flames. There is even less reason to expect that an Israeli
government would sign a just peace with the Palestinians. They
will always find exit strategy out of the "peace process".
Exactly what sort of 'peace' might Israel offer? In an article
published in that popular keeper of the Zionist faith, the New
York Times, (15.12.2000), a good American Jew named Richard
Bernstein recommended to President-elect Bush a recent book by
another pundit of that ilk, Robert Kaplan. He discloses the real
Israeli peace plan:
"For decades I have heard that there would be either a Greater
Israel, or a Palestinian state. It turns out there will be both:
a Palestinian mini-state, without control over its skies or main
highways, situated within a dynamic Israel that will continue to
attract workers from across the border, making it the
stabilizing force of Greater Syria."
Thank you, kind Bernstein and gentle Kaplan, for clarifying that
Israel and its American Zionist allies intend to keep the
Palestinians forever locked in the reservations, competing with
their brethren from Jordan and Syria for work for their Jewish
masters. That is the peace that Israeli doves have been cooing
Should it work, perhaps the US could adopt the idea, granting
independence to the Afro-Hispanic US population with a capital
in the South Bronx. The new state would consist of five hundred
enclaves circled by superhighways and miles of reinforced
concrete walls, and would contain all of the US's non-whites. If
that is peace, I choose war.
The more I think about it, the less inclined I become to giving
the Israeli peace camp the benefit of doubt as to their bona
fides. Too often, they keep using that pesky phrase, 'the Jewish
state'. It's easy enough to understand why. Consider that Mr.
Avneri and his comrades came of age in the years of the crude
biological racism that was part and parcel of the ideologies
promoted by Weininger, Nordau, Chamberlain and Hitler. They
actually believe that a person belongs to a nation by a virtue
of blood. For them, a Jew is always and forever a Jew, thus the
notion of 'two states for two nations'. So the peace movement
is, first and foremost, still about preserving a "Jewish state".
The second of these two states, the remnants of Palestine, is
just an incidental byproduct of the process.
Sorry if this hurts anyone's feelings, but the notion of 'a Jew'
is a fiction, a phantom created by Nazi ideologues and
perpetuated by Zionist mythology. The real Jewish people of the
Pale and ghetto are long gone. They have been assimilated in
America, Russia, France and elsewhere. Today we are something
quite different - Americans, Russians and Palestinians of Jewish
origin. Whatever our grandfathers had in the way of a national
culture, we have lost. A Cohen from San Francisco is no more a
member of the Jewish tribe, than a Jones from Atlanta is a
Welshman, or a Mazzoni from New York is a Sicilian. The small,
religious Jewish residual minority of Bne Brak and Brooklyn has
no need for the Zionist state. They do not even consider Israel
This phantom of a Jew survives on an American-made
life-supporting machine. This Zionist fantasy is perpetuated by
a strange and formidable coalition of American Jews burning with
nostalgia for the lost Jewish life, functionaries of the Jewish
organizations, Shoah businessmen, pumping cash out of Germany,
charity collectors, Jewish Mafiosi seeking a safe haven,
right-wing Christian nutcases, who believe in the Elders of Zion
and pragmatic military industry salesmen.
This coalition failed to resurrect the Jewish people of old, but
they created an international Zionist super-Mafia, a
materialized world plot, just like in a Umberto Eco novel. This
monster, however, has nothing to do with the real people in
Israel, where the word 'Jew' has little meaning.
Mr. Avneri, have you visited Maalot or Ophakim lately? In those
towns you hardly encounter anyone whom you would consider to be
a 'Jew'. If you speak Ukrainian or Amharic, you might get by.
The fact is we do not have two nations, but rather, a variety of
communities. The Moroccans of Ramle, the Russians of Ashdod, the
software wiz kids of Hertzliya Pituah, the millionaires of
Caesarea, the settlers of Tapuah, the scholars of Mea Shearim,
the Ethiopians of Ophakim. These wildly diverse communities
constitute a Jewish nation only in the imagination of the
Zionist establishment, the pre-'48 settlers and their aging
children. This 'first Israel' has good reason for clinging onto
this flight of fantasy, as this minority still monopolizes power
over the other communities and retains all its perks.
No outsider has ever succeeded in getting anywhere close to the
center of power. There is hardly a Russian (20% of the
electorate), or a Moroccan (30%) in an independent position of
power and influence in Israel. When an Oriental Jew was elected
to the ceremonial post of President, the 'first Israel' went
An unfortunate problem for the dominant elite is that they have
run out of talent and ideas. They took exclusivity to its
extreme, and turned respect of the military into idolatry. The
farce of general Sharon battling for power with general Barak,
and the ancient murderer of Kana, Shimon Peres as a Great White
Hope, is surely adequate proof of the bankruptcy of 'The First
Israel'. The Zionist idea has collapsed; only blood and war
keeps the Golem in motion.
Behind the smoke of racist illusions, we already live in a
united Palestine. The Green line exists only in our minds. It is
in everyone's common interest to abolish the fiction completely
and establish equality before the law for everybody in all of
Palestine (Israel), from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean
Sea. Then we can enjoy one law for both the native son of the
land and the newcomer, as the Bible commands us. One law for a
kibbutznik from Afikim, and for a fellah from Yatta.
It could have happened years ago, if the Israeli left had not
nurtured the illusions of partition. Jerusalem is the good case
to consider. The Palestinian population of the city - one third
of United Jerusalem - is entitled to participate in the
municipal elections and can send their deputies to the City
Council. But they accepted the silly advise of the Israeli peace
camp and boycotted the elections in order to sustain the Green
Line. It was a ruinous decision and one they should rethink.
Remember that Israel would not demolish houses in Jerusalem, the
Palestinians of the East Jerusalem would live better, if they
would participate in the elections. They may and they should
Without the Green Line, the horrors of occupation would have
ended long ago, in the same fashion that the military rule in
the Palestinian Galilee was ended in 1966. The 40% of the
Knesset elected by the Palestinians would have been able to
cancel all discriminatory laws including the Law of Absentee
Property and the present Law of Citizenship.
In a representative state, the return of Palestinian refugees
does not have to be traumatic. If the refugees from Deheishe
were to return to Sataf and Suba, it would be a short 10 mile
relocation. If the peasants of Deir Yassin would come back to
their ancient homes, nobody will suffer. The peasants of Sheich
Munis will have to settle for hefty compensation, at the expense
of Tel Aviv University, which is built on their land. Maybe they
will use their compensation money to build new houses next to
the university, or just buy flats in Ramat Aviv Gimel. We can
borrow a leaf from the Polish book of law: Poland restored the
property to Jewish refugees, but did not permit the expulsion of
the current tenants.
The removal of the Green line will actually be good for all of
us, even for the settlers. They should be able to remain and
live like equals in our commonwealth. Without the army to
enforce their superiority, they will have to either mend their
evil ways and become good neighbors, or go back to Brooklyn.
So how do we get to the Promised Land? We're already there! We
already have one state. Historical Palestine is unified. Stop
the empty rhetoric of occupation and two states. We need no
tricks, no 'creative solutions', just the good old universal
suffrage, the "One Man - One Vote". We demanded it for our
grandfathers in Eastern Europe. They received it from the
Gentiles 150 years ago; it is the right time to pass this most
basic of rights to the Palestinian natives of this land.
"It is useless to shout to the drowning moneylender "Give me
your hand!" He has never given, and he never will. Instead,
shout: "Take my hand!" and he will clutch at it".
This was the advise of the Sufi sage, Haji Nasr ad-Din. The
Israeli establishment will never give anything. The Palestinians
and their Jewish allies have to say, "Take it!" and demand that
the Holy Land never be divided again.