Friday, 3 October 2008

Spanish Variations on the One State Solution

Luz Gómez García is a Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Autonomous University of Madrid. This is what she teaches her students and wrote in El País on the 5th anniversary of Edward Said's death. Does she seriously believe that Israel is an apartheid State or is it just the usual provocation ?

Source: Z Word, article by Eamonn McDonagh

"Luz Gómez García takes the one state solution out for a spin here in today’s [25/09] El País. Channeling the sainted Edward Said as an authority, she quotes him as believing the one state solution, in the form of a single bi-national state, to be both desirable and inevitable for the following unconvincing reasons,

"Firstly, human geography; the settlements and the highways have intertwined the two populations to such a degree that that, save for an impossible Israeli withdrawal from all of the West Bank, any solution based on the segregation of Palestinians and Israelis would be unviable."

I was rather under the impression that the actual situation on the West Bank involved a very great degree of segregation between Palestinians and settlers and far from being unviable, it is a state of affairs that has remained in place for decades now. Also, why should an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank be impossible? If settlements can be removed from Sinai and Gaza it’s hard to see why they can’t be removed from there too.

"Secondly, economic geography; the reciprocal economic dependency (Palestinian labour and Israeli territory and services) precludes the establishment of exclusive frontiers without causing massive expulsions of populations."

Gómez García doesn’t seem to be aware of the extent to which Israel has reduced its dependency on Palestinian labor from the West Bank and Gaza in recent years by importing workers from other countries. Also, even if things were to revert to the pre-intifada situation when large numbers of Palestinians crossed over into Israel every day to work, this would not in itself constitute a reason for the setting up of a bi-national state, anymore than the postwar dependency of Britain on cheap labor imported from Ireland would have constituted a good reason for the abandonment of Irish independence.

"Thirdly, the demographic reality; Said predicted that by the year 2010 Palestinians and Jews living in Israel-Palestine would reach demographic parity so that an apartheid system in such a small territory would be unviable in practice."

I won’t rise to the provocation involved in the use of the word "apartheid" here. I’ll just say that the growing demographic weight of the Palestinians works just as easily as an argument in favor of a two state solution as a one state solution.

"Finally Said argued that secular civil society in Israel was starting to examine the necessity of reconstructing the notion of citizenship on the basis of national rights rather than ethnic ones, given both the advance of the ultra-orthodox in Israel and the demands for equality of Israelis of Palestinian origin."

Gómez García doesn’t seem to realize that access to Israeli citizenship is not only based on ethnicity and that possession of Israeli citizenship hasn’t put an end to discrimination against Israeli Arabs. She could, I suppose, argue that it is the possession of ID cards by Israelis identifying them as Jews or Druze or whatever that sustains discrimination in spite of the possession of equal citizenship; she could, that is, were it not for the fact that this would to go against her idea of one bi-national state.

With regard to the power of the ultra-orthodox; does she really think that secular Israelis, no matter how infuriating they might find the pretensions of their observant brethren, are going to make common cause against them with the Palestinians?

I’m not a fan of the one state solution in general and I like the idea of a single bi-national state even less. I can’t see that two people with such a long history of enmity and mistrust are all of a sudden going to be able to find it possible to determine their own future, as nations, inside one state. And those that like to talk about Israel today as an apartheid state and advocate a bi-national state to replace it should be careful what they wish for; an explicitly bi-national state could only be founded on the basis of the implementation of a thoroughgoing system of political apartheid."


Bennauro said...

Luz Gómez García... yes, I remember you!
Wasn't she the one who compared Bin Laden to Prophet Muhammed?
Wasn't she the one who said that Bin Laden's struggle was the same as that of the first Muslims who left Mecca for Medina? And this she said after only 3 months from 9/11!!!
(El regreso a los orígenes, al utópico modelo islámico primigenio, constituye la médula de la doctrina wahhabí, que toma como modelo la lucha de Mahoma contra los ricos comerciantes de La Meca, de los cuales era miembro y de los cuales se separó para seguir la autenticidad espiritual que Dios le iba revelando a través del Corán. No hace falta insistir en las concomitancias entre este perfil y la conocida biografía de Ben Laden. A lo largo de la charla que se nos ha ofrecido, la lucha de Ben Laden y los suyos se compara con la de aquellos primeros musulmanes que tuvieron que abandonar La Meca hacia Medina huyendo de la represión...)
Link (Dec 2001!!!):

Anonymous said...

What can one expect of a country where villages are still called "Kill-the-Jews" and where, in spite of protests from the Vatican, the annual Holy Week plays sponsored by local authorities give a view of Jews as "Christ killers"? A country where "intellectuals" defend such a state of affairs as "part of our traditional culture"? Spain is a wonderful place in many ways but very anti-semitic. When his class was taught about Anne Frank my grandson contributed to the lesson by saying that his Granny had been like her persecuted by the Nazis. In the playground afterwards children refused to play with him and called him a "dirty Jew". New anti-Israel is old anti-semitism in a new guise.