BRITISH Labour MP and former cabinet minister Peter Hain says a one-state solution could “more easily resolve the deadlock than the two-state solution I and many others have long favoured”. In an article published by New Statesman, Hain says the establishment of a binational state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians – must now be seriously considered
“For close to seventy years the cycle of violence and hatred has ripped the region apart. Stop-start negotiations to achieve a two-state solution – an Israel with secure borders, not living under siege from its neighbours, and alongside an independent Palestine – have led nowhere, despite the fact that a majority of both peoples (Palestinian and Israeli) continue publicly to support it. ”
“I am both a longstanding supporter of the Palestinian cause and a friend of Israel.
As a British Minister for the Middle East in 1999-2001 Hain worked closely with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
“My record of fighting apartheid, racism and anti-Semitism is long and recognised.”
Hain is the first British figure with direct ministerial experience to argue that after decades of failure, a one-state solution to the conflict should be considered.
This comes as both Arab and Jewish Palestinians are engaged in peace talks involving the United States brokered framework agreement.
The latest proposal involves land swaps in which Israel would gain sovereignty over 70% of Jewish settlements on the West Bank in return for the resolution of the Jewish refugee land question involving 100 000 sq/km of deeded property owned by Jews which was confiscated by Arab States following Israel’s declaration of Independence in 1948 and the war which followed after these states refused to accept Israeli independence.
The talks have faltered on the issue of *Jerusalem and the extension of citizenship to some **6 million Jordanian-Palestinians living in Jordan.
NOTE: Medialternatives has already presented the case for a binational “one-state solution” also known as the three-state solution in which two states coexist within the borders of a third on the basis of a constitutional arrangement. Such a plan may involve a strong federal system as in South Africa, or a weak central government as is the case in Belgium.
* The original partition plan for “Palestine” involved the creation of a Corpus Seperatum, in which the UN declared that the city be placed under a special international regime. During the 1948 War, Jordan captured the old city of Jerusalem and the City was effectively partitioned until 1967 when Israel gained control of the West Bank and the East City. Islamic fundamentalists continue to maintain that Jerusalem should be the capital of an Islamic Empire which includes Palestine. However, there are now several such Palestinian entities, including the self-declared “State of Palestine” in the Levant. Its independence was declared on 15 November 1988 and only recognised by the UN in 2013.
**Under the Lausanne treaty following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, a population exchange between Greece and Turkey, occurred whereby 1.1 million Greeks left Turkey for Greece in exchange for 380,000 Muslims transferred from Greece to Turkey. Similarly, under the Belfour Declaration, population swaps occurred between the newly created state of Israel and the new state of Jordan. Because of an ongoing theological and territorial conflict amongst the Arab States, Jordan invaded Israel and occupied the West Bank until 1967.
[Yet another unpublished letter to the Cape Times. DRL]
Cape Times Wednesday, January 9, 2013, Letter to the Editor refers.
Terry Crawford-Brown’s latest apoplexy regarding Arab Jews living in Israel is insightful. The least of which is the lengths to which Anti-Semitic bigots will go in their attempt to explain away the problem of Jewish refugees. Accusing Jews of being responsible for their own persecution in Arab countries after 1945 is really the work of a troubled mind, one which undoubtedly conjures up the dystopian absurdity of a global conspiracy in which Jewish support of Hitler, resulted in World War II and where the creation of the state of Israel is really a massive plot to escape guilt for the murder of 6 million Jews at the hands of International Zionism.
Brown’s half-truths mixed with fable need serious scrutiny since the facts speak for themselves. While he is probably right to suggest that in 1945, roughly 1 million Jews lived in relative peace in the various Arab states of the Middle East, many of them in communities that had existed for thousands of years, he is blatantly wrong in asserting that these refugees were complicit in the confiscation of their own property, some 100,000 square kilometres of deeded property, by Arab governments. It was the Arabs who rejected the United Nations decision to partition Palestine and to create a Jewish state and it was because of the ensuing discrimination, racism and anti-Semitism in Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Iraq. that the Jews of Arab lands became targets of anti-Zionist fervor.
As Egypt’s delegate to the UN in 1947 chillingly told the General Assembly: “The lives of one million Jews in Muslim countries will be jeopardized by partition.” The dire warning quickly became the brutal reality, ” relates Aharon Mor & Orly Rahimiyan, the authors of “The Jewish Exodus from Arab Lands”. The same political brinkmanship can be seen in the remarks of Essam el-Erian, a former adviser to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who recently called on Egyptian Jews to return home to Egypt so they can “make room for the Palestinians to return [to Palestine], and Jews return to their homeland [each group of Jews to return to its respective Diaspora “homeland”] in light of the democracy” evolving in Egypt. “I call on them now. Egypt is more deserving of you.” NOTE: Morsi is on record as referring to ALL Jews as “bloodsuckers” and the “descendants of apes and pigs”.
Like Saddam Hussein in 1974, when he called on Iraqi Jews to return, to have their citizenship reinstated, and their confiscated property returned without any guarantee of human rights, Brown wants to turn the wheel of history back 65 years, in the process also depriving 1 million Russian Jewish refugees “of dubious” origin, of their right to freedom of religion. It is the kind of racist politicking that relegated South Africa’s various ethnic groups to the independent homelands, while denying them basic human rights in the land of their birth. These Russians are no less deserving of human rights and yet Brown would rather support a political movement which has consistently failed to offer any such guarantees. To date, neither the PLO nor Hamas possess a Freedom Charter guaranteeing fundamental human rights.
Whatever ones views on the problematic states of Israel and Palestine, and whether one supports statehood or not, as South Africans it is incumbent upon us to seek out the truth, to expose the lies wherever they may be and to call for a peaceful and just settlement of the dispute, one which has been ongoing for almost three quarters of a century and which has claimed hundreds of lives on either side.
David Robert Lewis
NOTE: Jews were stripped of their citizenship in Egypt, Iraq, Algeria and Libya; detained or arrested in Algeria, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq and Egypt; deprived of employment by government decrees in Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Algeria, and had their property confiscated in all of the Arab lands except Morocco, according to Justice for Jews from Arab Countries. Anti-Jewish riots were widespread.
In 1994 Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty. The treaty normalized relations between the two countries and resolved territorial disputes. There are some 2.7 million Palestinians living in Jordan, including some 1.5 million “refugees”, between 60-80% of the population in a country formed out of the partition of the British Mandate of Palestine.
In 1946 over 70% of the British Mandate of Palestine was granted to the Hashemite Kingdom. The remaining 30% was divided again, between Jews and Arabs, with a new separate entity under a failed UN partition plan simply called “Palestine”. Both Jordan and Palestine have the same flag, with the only difference being the addition of a white star to denote the Hashemite Monarchy in Jordan. Although controlled by the Hashemites, Palestinians are a majority in Jordan, and comprise a diverse culture, “descendants of Christians, Jews and other earlier inhabitants of the southern Levant whose core reaches back to prehistoric times.”
The resulting conflict and ideological battle over Palestinian and Israeli identity has been ongoing since the Israeli War of Independence in 1948. Following the war, Jordan annexed the West Bank and East Jerusalem, occupying the territory for a period of two decades from 1948-1967. Following the 6 day war of 1967, Jordan was forced to relinquish control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The dispute over the borders between Israel and the Palestinian State of Jordan were resolved in 1994. Israel and Jordan agreed to honor the Washington Declaration, signed July 25, 1994, and based on a U.N. Security CouncilResolution, they declared the termination of the state of belligerency between them and established peace between them in accordance with the treaty.
THIS is a war against children being conducted by adults on both sides of the conflict. Over the weekend, we heard of a BBC reporter in Gaza whose 11 month old baby child was killed by incoming IDF fire. A baby injured in Kiryat Malachi, where three people were killed after Palestinian militants fired rockets at the Israeli town, is one of many pictures of children wounded in the conflict which continues to take its toll on infants.
The Middle East conflict is no longer a news story about conflicting national identities. It is an ongoing and tragic tale of infanticide and the psychological maiming of future generations who are no more responsible for the conflict, than today’s generation are responsible for the Second World War.
The brutality with which the Israeli propaganda machine is meeting the naked hatred of Hamas al-Qassam brigades who in turn ring out the now familiar chant of ‘Death to Israel” is really turning the war into an offense against the human spirit. Where is the humanity left on both sides, these brutes who see fit to sacrifice each others children for political gain as if there is some form of moral equivocation, my child for your child, my eyes for your eyes?
In South Africa, where images of children massacred by the apartheid state became common place, we often had cause to remark that an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. For all the slaughter, our Freedom Struggle never stooped to this level of brutality. The only legitimate targets were the state. Care was always taken to avoid civilian causalities.
We therefore need to stand firm in our commitment to peace for future generations by saying no to war and military aggression. No to missiles, rockets, drones, combat aircraft, tanks, collateral damage, siege, bomb vests, landmines, barbed wire and hatred.
The Cape Town World Music Festival (CWM Festival) has begun in the face of a call to boycott the festival. The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS) has released a statement saying “We have recently learned that the Cape Town World Music Festival has crossed and violated the international-boycott-of-Israel-picket-line …Performing on a platform sponsored by Apartheid South Africa, or with a band from Apartheid South Africa, during the 1980s was to be on the wrong side of history. Today, performing on a platform sponsored by Israel, or with a band from Israel, is choosing to be on the wrong side of history. Be on the right side of history, don’t entertain Apartheid, and don’t collaborate with an Occupation regime. ” You can read the full statement on the website.
Aside from the strange assumption that Apartheid no longer exists in South Africa post-Marikana, and following the failure of the government to adopt recommendations of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the unwillingness of the ruling party to prosecute perpetrators of crimes against humanity, one has to question the credibility of the claim that what is occurring in Israel is Apartheid and that merely replicating the anti-Apartheid struggle along with sanctions and boycotts is the correct course of action. (please see my posting on the Apartheid Analogy also Good Jew, Bad Jew and Hadrian’s Flotilla – Zionism and a Free Palestine under scrutiny.)
As a member of ‘Artists against Apartheid’ during the 1980s, I participated in a number of such actions aimed at undermining the power and authority of the Apartheid state. We were guided by the principles enshrined in the Freedom Charter, in particular the promise that the “Doors of Learning and Culture would be opened”, and that all people, regardless of the colour of ones skin would be able to participate in a democratic country. I thus fought against racial segregation in a freedom struggle whose aims and objectives were the creation of a constitutional state with a Bill of Rights.
The Palestinian struggle has yet to produce a Freedom Charter. It has no such democratic goals, and does not aim to accommodate all people regardless of religious and ethnic identity. The illusion of a “Free Palestine” is exactly that, an illusion. It is a beguiling promise of a world free of the conflict that has raged on for the past 64 years, in which hundreds of thousands of people have been slaughtered in the futile search for a new world order. As much as one wishes the conflict were as simple as the black and white patina of the South African conflict, the truth is rather different. Israel is home to both black and white, Jew and non-Jew, it accommodates Arabs including 1 million Jewish Arabs, it is home to indigenous Jews, as well as Jews from the diaspora. In Israel, 75.4% are Jewish, 16.9% Muslim, 2.1% Christian, and 1.7% Druze, while the remaining 4.0% are not classified by religion.
It is easy to forget the expulsion of Jews from the Arab world after 1948 and the issue of Ethiopian Jews (over a quarter of a million of them) and other Africans living in Israel, many of whom have fled their home countries seeking refuge. Israel exists because of ongoing internecine strife in the Arab world, the inability to provide basic human rights, such as gender equality and freedom of sexual orientation. Although 37 000 people have died in Syria over the past year alone, there is no call from BDS for a boycott of Assad’s government. The Palestinian territories on the other hand, have no specific, stand alone civil rights legislation that protect LGBT people from discrimination or harassment. Same-sex acts are ostensibly legal in the West Bank, precisely because of the occupation.
The current dispensation, set in place after the Cold War took its starting point as the resolution of the conflict which began during World War Two. Resolution 242 upon which the current territorial demands of both Israel and Palestine are now based, specifically outlaws the gaining of territory by acts of war and conquest, and yet the Palestinian Struggle, for all intents and purposes, has merely turned into a battle for the conquest and reconquest of territory — current demands by Hamas are for the return of all land in Israel, including Tel Aviv and Haifa in order to recreate the Ottoman Empire, and more specifically to return Jerusalem to Dar al Islam, the Islamic Empire.
Nevertheless, we are told that if we do not support the Palestinian struggle, we are on the wrong side of history. While South Africa struggles to protect the rights of LGBT people in the face of corrective rape, the promise of religious freedom enshrined in the South African constitution has turned into nothing more than an unaffordible and inaccessible dream. One has only to look at the Robbie Jansen Scandal (see here and here) and my 7 year labour discrimination case against an apartheid media company which refused to participate in the TRC and which declined to apologise to the victims and survivors of the apartheid system, to realise that South Africa falls well short of the vision encapsulated by the Freedom Charter. The South African struggle is thus far from over.
NOTE: Medialternatives has proposed a compromise solution called Israelstine. I am also on record as being opposed to the separation barrier, and have actively campaigned for equal rights for Palestinians, Arabs and Jews, as well as being against the War in Gaza. I support UN Resolution 242 and do not support the latest round of claims with regard to the return of land held under the Ottomans.
UPDATE: It appears a redacted version of this letter was published by the Cape Argus, as can be seen from a google search:
alongside a piece written the same day
However, both articles have since been removed from the Cape Argus online edition in an obvious attempt to suppress the contents of the correspondence.
THERE are a number of things which need to be said in regard to the recent action against Reggies, a Jewish-owned business operating in South Africa. Firstly it would appear that children are now being used as political pawns in a war being conducted by adults. Secondly, a boycott of Jewish Toys is ill-considered. It is one thing to tackle an adult beauty product on the basis of a dispute over the borders facing the Dead Sea, but another thing entirely to boycott toys for kids, on the grounds of a businessman’s apparant support of a fund ostensibly being used to plant trees in greater Israel.
The Open Shuhada Street Campaign against AHAVA which conducts some of its business in territories occupied by Israel and which are disputed in terms of international law, is most certainly a well thought out action aimed at bringing the territorial dispute to the attention of the general public.
The Reggies Boycott on the other hand fails to consider the ramifications of a broad boycott against Jewish business. Horwitz’s rationale behind the action is apparently due to Reggies owner Issy Zimmerman’s support of the Jewish National Fund (JNF). The fund is accused by the group of “being used by the Israel government to cover over the villages from which Palestinians were forcibly removed from land they’ve owned since the Ottoman times. And that continues we cannot allow this ethnic cleansing.”
Aside from the vigilantism inherent to this type action — there are legal options which have not been fully explored — the case against the JNF has by no means been decided in South Africa. The evidence referred to by Horwitz in his supposed correspondence with Zimmerman, has not been tested and has not received anywhere near the kind of open intellectual inquiry that would be needed to determine whether or not there is any veracity to any of the claims.
To give an indication of the kind of claims that would need to be tested in a court of law. The Stop the JNF website refers to trees planted on Mount Carmel in the District of Haifa, which is in the State of Israel. A booklet published by the campaign quotes Max Bluthenthal’s description of ” the environmentally destructive role of the JNF-planted pines in last year’s fire in Northern Israel that killed 42 people.”
“The JNF planted hundreds of thousands of trees over freshly destroyed Palestinian villages like al-Tira, helping to establish the Carmel National Park. An area on the south slope of Mount Carmel so closely resembled the landscape of the Swiss Alps that it was nicknamed “Little Switzerland.” Of course, the non-indigenous trees of the JNF were poorly suited to the environment in Palestine. Most of the saplings the JNF plants at a site near Jerusalem simply do not survive, and require frequent replanting. Elsewhere, needles from the pine trees have killed native plant species and wreaked havoc on the ecosystem. And as we have seen with the Carmel wildfire, the JNF’s trees go up like tinder in the dry heat.”
South Africans have no doubt witnessed similar debates about our local fynbos, in particular the controversy over Cecilia Forest, in Cape Town which has now been cut down and replaced with indigenous trees in a programme that aims to rectify water shortages and some of the supposed excesses of colonialism in Southern Africa. Unfortunately, the problem in Israel has absolutely nothing to do with British colonialism. Underlying the environmental issues, is the controversial issue relating to the recapture of land gained during successive periods of conquest.
To make a comparison, an equivalent scenario, would be if a group calling itself the Front for the Return of the Phoenician Empire, were now demanding that all land in the Cederberg be returned to the Phoenicians, since it is clear from historical data, that Phoenicians planted ceders there during their journeys around the African continent. There is a very good reason that people calling themselves “Palestinians” have been removed from Carmel. For starters, the land was gained through acts of colonial conquest, infanticide and outright murder.
Where did it all start? With slavery in the land of Egypt and an Egyptian Empire that murdered workers in order to prop up a tyrannical family posing as Gods? Or the Roman Empire which proceeded to destroy the Jewish State through acts of cultural genocide and expulsion? The province of Syria-Palaestina created by Herod following the defeat of the Bar Kokbah Revolt in 135CE was a concoction of the Roman bureaucracy which sought to destroy Judaism, lest its ideas of tolerance and egalitarianism be allowed to overthrow the Empire. In the end, an offshoot of Judaism known as Christianity succeeded where the Maccabees failed.
The State of Israel keeps reappearing throughout history. A map of the Kingdom of Israel shows the state on both sides of the Jordan River. This state was replaced by the Crusader Kingdom, which was destroyed by the Ottomans and then regained during World War 1. After the genocide of six million Jews during World War 11 and the murder of 100 000 Jerusalem Jews by the Ottomans, demands for the return of Israel to the Jewish people became hard to deny. Despite the Balfour Declaration and attempts by politicians to carve up the land of the British Mandate of Palestine into unequal pieces, with the vast majority of land being given to the Jordanian-Palestinians, the State of Israel was eventually regained by the Jews though a war of Independence. It is this war which Horwitz seeks to undo, in his ill-considered attempt to repatriate property to an illegitimate entity which seeks to destroy the Zionist State by replacing the narrative of Jewish Independence, with an Hamasist fable that ignores the existence of Jordan and other Palestinian entities.
He could do a lot better by simply demanding that Jews and Arabs receive equal treatment in a new dispensation which puts an end to the strife between Palestinian and Jew, and which seeks reconciliation in a new entity based upon fundamental human rights. Furthermore, there is no reason why Palestinians, under the current system should not be treated equally either as Israelis, or receive citizenship as Jordanians, in the land given to them by the British Empire.
UPDATE: An article carried by the M&G now refers to the judeafication of the Negev Desert, as if Jews do not have any right to the land granted in terms of UN Resolution 242. Whatever ones feelings about the plight of the Bedouin, who are now threatened by housing projects, the fact remains that Arabs already have over 75% of the British Mandate of Palestine. This fact is conveniently omitted in the propaganda war, which seeks the delegitimization of the State of Israel, on the basis of previous Empires acquisition of property via acts of conquest, as well as the removal of Jewish rights in the diaspora. Such conquests are specifically outlawed under international law, and is the basis for the dispute over the West Bank, Golan Heights and East Jerusalem.
NOTE: Lewis is an anarchist and progressive Jew, he does not support the state, but rather the idea of universal human rights. He is thus opposed to any dispensation which lacks a Freedom Charter. He wishes to express his outrage at having to reiterate common knowledge merely in order to demonstrate why statism on either side is bound to fail.