By Jonathan Power
LUND, Sweden | 19 December 2023 (IDN) — It’s almost unbelievable that 106 years have passed since the Balfour Declaration when the British colonial government decided to give the Jews their own homeland- but also promised that “it be done without infringing on the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish population”.
How can the US, the UK and their Western allies square this with their tolerance of what Israel is now doing. As the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said recently. The present war did not happen in “a vacuum”.
Many now conclude that the much-discussed two-state solution is dead. As the former US Secretary of State, John Kerry, once said, there is a distinct possibility that Israel will now become “an apartheid state”. In terms of population Israelis are about the same as Palestinians but Israel’s military might is omnipotent.
A two-state solution
On the other hand, the Palestinians, liberally minded Jews and much of the international community have strongly argued for a two-state solution for decades, even though, if enacted, that would give the Palestinians much, much, less land than the British colonial power originally countenanced.
Many polls find that Americans are roughly evenly split between supporting a two-state solution and supporting a one state with equal rights for all inhabitants. When asked what they preferred if a two-state solution were not possible, the status quo or one state with equal rights, they chose the latter by a two-to-one margin.
When it comes to the present-day war young American voters, especially Democrats, overwhelmingly support the Palestinian cause and are critical of President Joe Biden’s pro-Israel policy. Young Jewish voters in the US are appalled at what Israel is doing.
Before the war there were some signs that there was movement in the direction of a two-state formula—not so much on the Israeli side but among the two million Arabs who live inside Israel, discriminated against in many ways but possessing the vote.
What would happen if there were one state—the one that Netanyahu and his cohorts fear? In one scenario, since the populations of Jews and Arabs are equally balanced, elections would be breathless runs to the finishing post and the Arabs in coalition with a few liberal Jews would probably be the victor and could create their own majority government. Unlikely.
The South African analogy from the days of apartheid is telling or, rather, its differences are telling. On the one hand there would not be an all-Arab government. The Palestinians would be only half of the population. They could only rule effectively if they had substantial number of liberal Jewish voters on their side. To woo enough Jewish parties into the government the Arabs would have to forsake claiming the role of prime minister and minister of defence. The Palestinians would have to accept a massive birth control program to bring down the Arab population growth to that of Israeli Jews. (For their part, conservative Jewish parties would have to learn how to attract conservative Arab voters, not an impossible task given the common puritanism of much Jewish and Muslim religious practice.)
Israel does not have a constitution. It would have to write one. This would commit Israel to democracy and full observance of human rights.
The new Israel
The new Israel would begin by repatriating Palestinian refugees. It would also accept Palestinians into its military forces (although allowing for conscientious objection in return for doing important civilian jobs such as nursing, ambulance and fire services).
It would use bussing as a tool of integration. As European practice has shown, multiculturalism where the populations are free to live among their own kind does not work over the long run. It produces or reinforces the making of ghettos, and then, a generation later, of crime. Integration is needed- of schools, jobs and housing in particular.
It would need a big program of higher education and technical training so that Arab citizens can upgrade their skills. There would need to be good credit and agricultural/industrial advice to help Arab businesses on their way.
The Jews would come out of this well. They would have their homeland, but they would have to share it, as they have once in the distant past, at the time of Jesus. They would also have the precious quality they don’t have yet—peace. [IDN-InDepthNews]
Copyright Jonathan Power
Photo: Chaim Weizmann and Arthur Balfour on a visit to Tel Aviv in 1925. through their efforts the dream of a Jewish home in the Middle East became reality (AFP / GPO). Source: Deutschlandfunk
IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.