Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 193-One State

Dear Mr. President,

The "threat" of the one-state solution has long been tossed about in discussion of the fate of Palestine and Israel. I find myself ambivalent on the subject. In some respects I think it is a good idea; it would end the apartheid system of segregated "Arab" and "Jewish-only" neighborhoods and streets (at least in the law, though, obviously, de facto segregation would likely continue.) It would incentivize working together, learning from one another, and mutual respect, as both Palestinians and Israelis became responsible for the fate of their country. I think it might also mitigate the inequitable resource usage, especially regarding water. It would help both sides, economically and educationally. It would offer legitimacy of each in the eyes of their current enemy's allies.

On the other hand, I worry about the backlash. Ethnic and religious violence on a larger scale. I don't imagine the leaders of the Likud party (or even Labor) being too eager to share their nuclear launch codes (and other military secrets) with the leaders of Fatah, or the PFLP, or Hamas. The military would certainly have a had time adjusting, and the mandatory service for all citizens might need to be reconsidered. It would be ugly, difficult, maybe even bloody, for at least another generation. I, for one, am not confident enough in the outcome to be comfortable calling for a solution that would lead to more lives lost. But doing nothing is also a choice, and the status quo of slow partition is also ratcheting up the body count.

In an International Relations course at Boise State University, one the best professors I ever had gave us an assignment. He divided us into three teams- A, B, and the UN. We were given a map, with different symbols for resources and different concentrations of ethnic groups A and B. He said, every one divide up the map, let's see what we end up with. Needless to say, a heated and unresolved argument ensued. Had we been dividing anything besides land, I would have said, let team A divide it up, and let team B pick their half first. But land is not a heard of cows. Land has history, people's homes, holy sites, cemeteries. I never thought to suggest that we forget the partition all together, and neither did any of my classmates. Looking back, I wonder if, at least in simulation, it would have been a wise idea.

I know that your administration is publicly opposed to the one-state solution. But I'd like to know what your ideal endgame looks like. What outcome can you imagine as best? I think, no matter where you draw the borders, Israel and Palestine will have to work together, rely on one another, trust one another, to a degree that does not yet seem possible. South Africa today did not seem possible during the years of apartheid, either. And it has been a long and bloody road to a present that is yet far from ideal, but I don't think that a South Africa White and a South Africa Black would have been a better solution. What are your thoughts on the one-state solution, Mr. President? I don't believe it isn't something you've given thoughtful consideration. Have you, entirely, rejected the possibility? If so, what was your reasoning for doing so? How do you envision the region, ideally, in 10 years? In 50? What does a solution look like, to your mind?

Respectfully yours,


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