Forty years of occupation have killed the possibility, if not the hope, of a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians, and made one state for two peoples the only viable alternative, argue three writers.
Meron Benvenisti, a Jewish-Israeli political scientist and former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, says the 1967 Arab-Israeli war created a "de facto binational state" dominated by Israeli Jews. The conflict, the author suggests, may have wiped out the 19-year-old partition that preceded it, but it also "gave a new meaning to the Israeli mode of intimate disregard." This gradual process of mental disengagement by Israeli Jews from the "others" has given way to "divorce" proceedings, hastened by the "monstrous phenomenon" of suicide bombings, he writes. At the same time, Israel's decision to erect a "security fence" in the West Bank and other policies have strengthened the fantasy that "millions of human beings" can simply be erased from consciousness.
Israeli Jews are also intent on ignoring the Palestinians within Israel's pre-1967 borders, argues Saree Makdisi, a Palestinian-American who is a professor of English at the University of California at Los Angeles. The realities of Israel's demography -- about a fifth of its citizens are not Jewish -- erode its claim to be the "state of the Jewish people," he writes. Zionism, Mr. Makdisi writes, "has run its course" by uniting "all of what used to be Palestine (albeit into one profoundly divided space)," even as the occupation has failed to extinguish Palestinian ambitions for self-determination.
Brian Klug, a philosopher at the University of Oxford and a British Jew, questions whether Zionism is "caught in a time warp." He argues that Israeli Jews are so beholden to history that they are unable to see the Middle East for what it is: a "region that, for reasons having nothing to do with European anti-Semitism, is hostile to the presence of a Jewish state." Against this history, the 1.4 million Israeli citizens who are Palestinian are trapped in one "limbo," while another is imposed upon non-Israeli Jews around the world, Mr. Klug writes. Far from "coming to the rescue of Jews in distress," Israel's leadership has repeatedly endangered Jews everywhere, he says, most recently with last summer's war in Lebanon, a "military campaign that inflamed the opinion of millions of people around the world."
Mr. Klug urges Israeli citizens and their leaders to "shed the burden of Jewish fears and hopes and pursue its own good for its own people -- all of them equally." Only by envisioning a shared state, Mr. Benvenisti and Ms. Makdisi similarly conclude, can Israelis and Palestinians begin to forge a new future together.
The article -- "Endless Occupation?" -- is available on the magazine's Web site.