A provocative blueprint for peace in the Mideast

Ilan Pappé writes:

The one-state solution has a troubled history. It began as a soft Zionist concept of Jewish settlers, some of whom were leading intellectuals in their community, who wished to reconcile colonialism and humanism. They were looking for a way that would not require the settlers either to return to their homelands or to give up the idea of a new Jewish life in the “redeemed” ancient homeland. They were also moved by more practical considerations, such as the relatively small number of Jewish settlers within a solid Palestinian majority. They offered binationalism within one modern state. They found some Palestinian partners when the settlers arrived in the 1920s but were soon manipulated by the Zionist leadership to serve that movement’s strategy and then disappeared into the margins of history.

In the 1930s, notable members among them, such as Yehuda Magnes, were appointed as emissaries by the Zionist leadership for talks with the Arab Higher Committee. Magnes and his colleagues genuinely believed, then and in retrospect, that they served as harbingers of peace, but in fact they were sent to gauge the impulses and aspirations on the other side, so as to defeat it in due course. They existed in one form or another until the end of the Mandate. Their only potential ally, the Palestine Communist Party, for a while endorsed their idea of binationalism, but in the crucial final years of the Mandate, adopted the principle of partition as the only solution (admittedly due to orders from Moscow rather than out of a natural growth of its ideology). So by 1947, there was no significant support for the idea on either the Zionist or Palestinian side. Moreover, it seems that there was no genuine desire locally or regionally to look for a local solution and it was left to the international community to propose one.

The appearance in 1947 of the one-state solution as an international option is a chapter of history very few know about or bother to revisit. It is worth remembering that at one given point during the discussions and deliberations of UNSCOP (the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, February to November 1947), those members of the UN who were not under the influence of either the United States or the USSR—and they were not many—regarded the idea of one state in Palestine as the best solution for the conflict. They defined it as a democratic unitary state, where citizenship would be equal and not determined on the basis of ethnicity or nationality. The indigenous population was defined as those who were in Palestine at that time, nearly two million people who were mostly Palestinians. When their idea was put in a minority report of UNSCOP (the majority report was the basis for the famous [or infamous] Resolution 181 of November 29, 1947), half of the then members of the UN General Assembly supported it, before succumbing to pressure by the superpowers to vote in favor of the partition resolution. It is not surprising in hindsight that people around the world, who did not feel, like the Western powers did, that the creation of a Jewish state at the expense of the Palestinians was the best compensation for the horrors of the Holocaust, would support the unitary state. After all the Jewish community in Palestine was made of newcomers and settlers, and were only one-third of the overall population. But common decency and sense were not allowed to play a role where Palestine was concerned.

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3 thoughts on “A provocative blueprint for peace in the Mideast

  1. Christopher Hoare

    I’ll draw your attention to another action in support of a democratic One State solution for Palestine, where many of you may be interested in signing on to the Stuttgart Declaration. The link below, to Professor Richard Falk’s blog is the route by which I found it — he has a number of very thoughtful posts on the situation.

    Incidentally, Prof Ilan Pappe is the first signer to the Stuttgart Declaration.

  2. Norman

    And the Israeli’s wonder why the World is turning against them. Reading this, it seems that the attitude of today, went back to the 1920’s, that they said one thing, while in reality, planned another way, that today, they are just being plain blatant about what they want. It may be true that the Jews control just about every major industrial endeavor, but that doesn’t mean that they believe what is happening in Israel today, to be willing to go along.

  3. Dave

    In attempting to discuss a one-state ‘solution’, Pappe strolls down familiar ‘new historian’ alleys, condemning marauding Zionists at almost every turn. The first glaring omission is his reference to the lack of Palestinian enthusiasm to a bilateral state during without any reference to the growing influence of Nazi Germany during the period. Hajj Amin al Husayni, who was largely responsible for the 1920 Nebu Musa Riots, expressed his congratulations to Hitler through the German emissary in Jerusalem as early as 1933. The Arab Revolt (36-39) was financed by Admiral Canaris, whose headed up the Abwehr (German intelligence) at the time. Husayni did go on to head of the Arab arm of broadcast propaganda to the Arab World with Radio Zeesen, near Berlin, met with Hitler and Himmler, recruited SS Divisions, and openly advocated Jewish extermination frequently, to the point of using his diplomatic influence to stop the saving of Jewish children in Hungary. Husayni’s life can be researched in Zvi ElPeleg’s biography, and his influence cannot be minimzed as his highly effective propaganda is still vividly exercised throughout the ME today among its most prominent anti-Israel proponents. While Hitler did temper his support for the Arab side in an attempt not to irritate the British before the war, increasing Axis alignment, up to and including a Nazi coup in Iraq in 1941, was widespread.

    The partition concept was first introduced by the Peel Commission in 1937. While it was rejected by both sides, it did at least propose the option as a legitimate solution. But while no one should be confused as to why the Arab population was not enthused with the idea of a Zionist State, the increasing pro-Axis attitude of the Arab world made any sort of co-existence with Jews anathema, as it continues to be today. The absolute Arab rejection of the compromise solution of a 2 state solution, as submitted by a relatively independant UN Committee, is far more significant than yet one more Islamic country with a thumb on its Jewish minority. There were plenty of those already.

    And his talk of “Western Powers” manipulating the partition vote is misleading almost to the point of being propagandistic. While the US was indeed shameless is its lobbying, its support was purely political, as it had an arms embargo in force against Israel, and didn’t like her prospects in the looking war against the Arabs. England abstained in the vote, and France was shamed into supporting it. The USSR, and in lockstep its satellities, supported it partly with the view of possibly solving its own Jewish problem, although it was slow to allow emigration, but more to counterbalance English influence in the ME. It was the support of South American countries, interestingly the preferred location of exile of Nazis after the war, that helped to push the resolution over the top.

    I agree that “the creation of a Jewish state at the expense of the Palestinians was(n’t) the best compensation for the horrors of the Holocaust”. I would think that would be the result of 60 years of nation building that had revitalized an area that had languished for centuries under Ottoman, and previously, Mameluk rule.

    My feeling is that the nations of the world were very much like the kid who gets caught with his fingers in the cookie jar; they weren’t so much guilty of being exposed as being rabidly anti-Semitic, as many countries contunued to display that even after the war. They were embarassed and ashamed that their largely social parlour anti-Semitism was allowed to spiral out of contol, and escalated to political extermination.

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