Why are only the Jews denied a right to self-determination?

The EUMC working definition of antisemitism is very explicit in its formulation that, taking into account the overall context, denying the Jewish people the right to self-determination is antisemitic. The so-called “one-state solution“, which posits a bi-national secular democracy in Israel and the disputed territories, is one manifestation of this and was being touted in an article yesterday by Mehdi Hasan.

As Alan Dershowitz in the past has stated:

The one-state solution proposal now being made by Palestinian lawyers and some anti-Israel academics is nothing more than a ploy. It is designed to destroy the Jewish state of Israel and to substitute another Islamic Arab state. Those who advocate the single state solution would never do so with regard to India, the former Yugoslavia, or other previously united states which have now been divided on ethnic or religious grounds.

It can only be expected that if the Guardian gives a platform above the line to antisemitic discourse, then the same can be expected below the line.


31 Dec 2009, 12:47PM


I thoroughly agree with this piece. Not only was the two state solution idealistic nonsense pushed by the major powers (exactly because it would never work), but moreover it was a bad idea in the first place – there never can be a two state solution for many obvious reasons.
This all goes to show that what are often presented as the realistic compromises that have to be made are very frequently more idealistic than the solution called for by the logic of the situation.
I have also recently made this argument with regards to the green movement in Iran – that in backing Mir Hossein Mousavi as the so-called realistic, credible option for attacking the Islamic Republic they have lapsed into a dangerous form of idealism:


31 Dec 2009, 1:00PM

Mehdi Hasan
Yours is a well reasoned article, and your links are very useful. I’ve just gone to the Jeff Halper page via the quote you inserted above, and he is right on the button with this.
One State: Preparing for a post Road-Map struggle against apartheid

For the Israelis [too] the prospect of a single state is obviously wrenching. Indeed, since a Jewish-Israeli state already exists, its transformation into a single state including a Palestinian majority is far more threatening to them. It means the end of Zionism, the end of a Jewish state qua Jewish state. But the Israeli public has only itself to blame.

But he goes on to say:

As an Israeli, I must say that the prospect of a single state encompassing our two peoples challenges rather than threatens me. Even without the Occupation, the notion of a Jewish state is demographically impossible, and Israel faces a fundamental transformation. Most Jews some 75% of them never came to Israel. Wherever they had a choice, most Jews preferred to migrate elsewhere. The Jewish majority stands at only 72% and is dwindling in relation to the growing Palestinian-Israeli population, the influx of some 400,000 non-Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union, and large-scale emigration (it is estimated that up to a half million Israeli Jews live permanently abroad). Maintaining a “Jewish” state on such a narrow base is becoming increasingly non-sustainable. The measures Israel must take to ensure its “Jewish character” are becoming progressively more repressive. By law “non-Jews” are forbidden to buy, rent, lease or live on “state lands” 75% of the country. The Palestinian citizens of Israel, almost 20% of the population, are confined to 2% of the land. Only a few weeks ago the Knesset enacted a law preventing Palestinian citizens of Israel from bringing their spouses from the Occupied Territories to live with them in Israel. An Israel belonging to all its citizens and beyond that, a democratic state of Israel-Palestine will finally release us from the preoccupation with the “demographic bomb” and lead us into a productive involvement in the wider region.

And that was written in September 2003 !!!


31 Dec 2009, 12:57PM
You’ve reached the right conclusion, Mehdi. First of all, the “two-state solution” is reactionary, splitting the area up along communal lines won’t accomplish anything. Plus the Israelis are the ones with everything to lose so they won’t give up anything for peace. Palestinians should embrace the one-state solution and build a civil rights movement that demands equal rights and citizenship for all Palestinians in historic Palestine and for refugees that wish to return.


31 Dec 2009, 1:39PM
Amen (in a secular sense!) Mehdi. It’s about time – I know that the haters on either side won’t like it, but it’s time for sanity. One secular state for all – the haters need to grow up.


31 Dec 2009, 1:45PM

Interesting and well argued article, but the fact is as several have pointed out, that Israelis will never accept the one-state solution- so we are back with 2 state “solutions” after all
The fact is the Israelis will never accept a two state solution either. A solution has to be imposed, and a one state is the only one that makes sense.
Yes, we have heard this claim before. Another excuse to call for one-state, “return” Palestinians living oveseas to the area, including children and grandchildren competely settled in other countries
As opposed to the ‘return’ of Brooklyn and similar US Jews, obviously completely unsettled in the US and amongst the most strident of the west bank settlers!


31 Dec 2009, 2:03PM
What advocates of the one-state solution are effectively saying is this: it is more feasible to get Israel to completely and voluntarily dissolve itself as a state than to get it to remove the settlement infrastructure in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Getting Israel to withdraw from its illegal colonies: impossible
Getting Israel to voluntarily self-destruct as a state: practical and achievable.

One-state advocates need to explain how they plan to persuade the Israeli public (which just voted in its most right-wing government ever) that Israel as they conceive it should cease to exist.
Until that’s question’s been answered, repeated statments of the obvious re.the extent of Israeli colonisation will do nothing to advance the case for one-state.


31 Dec 2009, 2:04PM

“the conditions for an independent Palestinian state have been killed off by the inexorable and irreversible advance of the settlements”.

Under International Law that is occupied territory and is still recognised as being Palestinian and not Israeli. So in any peace accord for a two state solution it would have to be returned to the Palestinian authorities and the occupants would be required to accept and recognise Palestinian statehood and citizenship.
Other than that I agree the only real way foreward is the one state solution and two peoples sharing the land as equals in a democratic Israel/Palestine


31 Dec 2009, 3:24PM
What an excellent, clear and refreshing article which cuts to the chase in a straightforward manner which is frequently so glaringly lacking in the majority of articles and discussions on the Issue of Israel-Palestine. I can say nothing less than I wholeheartedly agree with the author.
Also, some really fantastic contributions from the likes of PhillpD and NathanCoombs (having just finished Zizek’s latest, not all of it comfortable reading – I enjoyed the link to your essay – thanks).
I would go further and say that with the current situation as it stands: Lebanon, Gaza, the uber-right wing in Govt. led by Netenyahu and Lieberman, open acceleration of settlement building in occupied E.Jerusalem etc.etc. the State of Israel long ceased to even pay lip-service to the idea of a viable and just 2-State solution. Let’s be honest, hat has never been the intention from the outset.
One thing is certain though the road to the ideal goal of a secular, democratic state for all will be a long and very bloody.
La Rit


31 Dec 2009, 3:45PM
How about a modern democratic multi-cultural, multi-ethnic state? The last thing the world needs is two religious states, either Jewish, muslim or for that matter, christian.
Though that is probably a too radical solution because it means not demonising, ethnically cleansing or murdering anyone.


31 Dec 2009, 4:25PM

An excellent article. And this is a great quote :

“It’s like you and I are negotiating over a piece of pizza. How much of the pizza do I get? And how much do you get? And while we are negotiating it, you are eating it.”

The two state solution has never been a goer, for too many reasons.
Firstly, the land on offer to the Palestinians is the scraps after the best bits were taken.
Secondly, the Israelis are living in the homes that Palestinians of 1948 lived in. People are reluctant to forget that their homes have been stolen from them.
Thirdly, a Palestinian state with an all-seeing, all-powerful, supposedly beneficent neighbour might just find that neighbour has an interest in a status quo something like it is now – a fragile, economically impoverished economy. Who gets the water ?
Fourthly, a state with supposedly high moral standards which is institutionally biased in favour of one race or sect – against a significant proportion of its populace – is setting itself up for long run pain. Minimum standards of housing, education and healthcare need to be equal for all if you wish to build a stable state.
Fifthly, What about the refugees ? They still live in camps around the region, unwanted and, indeed, not prepared to accept the nationality of their place of residence, because that would be to give up their claim to the land they were expelled from. They still believe it is rightfully theirs. Morally, I think they have a point.
There are many more reasons why the two state solution is unworkable.
Against this, above all, the ordinary folk on both sides want homes, jobs and an education for their children. It is not beyond the wit of man to put in place the institutions of a single state designed to promote these things for all members of the state. However, it is beyond the greed of man.
When I read Plato’s story of Gyges and the Ring, I thought it rubbish. The premise is, with apologies to Plato and Socrates, “If a man could do anything he wanted, he would take all for himself and stuff the weak.” This does not reflect man as he really is, I thought. That was then, and this is now. I look at Israel and think, “yes, you have Gyges ring. And look what you are doing with it.” Oh to hear Glaucon and Socrates discuss the ring again, using Israel as the context.
Only an outside influence will change the essential selfishness, which is why we should boycott all Israeli goods until the lot of the Palestinians is improved.


31 Dec 2009, 4:30PM

The one-state ‘solution’ has been implemented already by Israel over the last ten years, except it has refused to give Palestinians human rights or the right to vote. The so-called two state ‘solution’ has been nothing more than a pretext, a cover for the expansion of Israel into the West Bank and the lock down of Gaza. It is there, as the farcical ‘freeze’ on settlement activity is, purely for the benefit of the foreign press and thereby public opinion. It is PR, as the odious Mark Regev proves every time he opens his mouth and lies and his head off to various ‘news’ channels. Israel’s preferred ‘solution’ is the one state version, except without any Palestinians. To achieve this they merely have to continue making life impossible for anybody to live under their ruthless occupation and siege. The answer for them is to just keep building, taking over and wait. Slow expulsion is all they are interested in. Failing that, caged populations living under inhuman conditions. They have done it in Gaza, this is the fate they wish for the rest of the West Bank.


31 Dec 2009, 4:41PM

If Israel was actually interested in a two state solution it could have accepted the Saudi peace proposal which has been on the table for a number of years. Instead, Israel has steadfastly refused to even recognise it or engage with it. That is how much they care about a solution which gave them nearly everything they wanted. They are a gerrymandered rogue state, and they want to stay that way, continually expanding their borders, ruining the lives of people who have done nothing except live there for generations. And their excuse? A mythical fable about people most of them aren’t even related to.


31 Dec 2009, 6:19PM

I couldn?t agree with you more. I have always thought the two-state scenario was the worst possible solution. Here in the US our experiment with segregation failed miserably, and we have since come to learn that integration is the only viable way to live together peacefully. I don?t see why this is not also applicable to Israel/Palestine. If ethnic Jews from all over the world can live together peacefully within Israel, why can?t Jews and Arabs live together peacefully within a single, secular, multi-ethnic state with full political representation? The true enemy is not Jews or Arabs, but religious fundamentalism and political extremism. The situation in Israel/Palestine will never be resolved as long as fundamentalists and extremists are allowed to hijack the political process. In a sense, Fundamentalism was an inevitable response to 20th century events ? the downfall of empires, the drive for national self-determination throughout the Middle East, the Holocaust, and mass emigration to Palestine of people with completely new ideas about how land should be used and labor should be organized. However, we are now entering a new decade in a new century in a new millennium. It is time to strip extremists of their political influence and press on with fair, pragmatic solutions. All Israelis and Palestinians should be given equal rights, including the right to vote and to settle anywhere within the borders of Israel/Palestine. The right of return should be extended to both nationalities for a limited time, then abolished forever. There should be a single government, not parallel governments. Both Hebrew and Arabic should be taught in schools. The name of this new state should reflect both nationalities (as in Bosnia and Hercegovina). Etc, etc. You get the picture. Thanks.

Of course this kind of thread invites those that ascribe one of the worst evils to the Jewish state:


31 Dec 2009, 1:14PM

From 1967 on Israel’s aim was to grab and colonize the rest of Palestine they had missed to conquer in 1948. Now they more or less have achieved this aim and prepare for the next step.
I suppose their next (again: secret) aim will be the expulsion of many, most or even all Arab Palestinians from Palestine.
That would take some preparation and time.
Under what conditions it might be doable? – You need a lot of turmoil around Israel, because the deportation of millions would require some place for the victims – in Jordan and Syria, mostly – and of course this would spell a lot of additional trouble for Europe and the USA, too.
I wonder whether a deportation will turn out to be doable at all.
On the other hand – does anybody expect
– the Palestinians to surrender?
– the Israelis accepting to live with Palestinian resistance for ever?

As China’s role will grow – how will that influence the Palestinian future?

And those that hold the Jews… oops I mean Zionists … responsible for endless war (now where have I heard of that one before?)


31 Dec 2009, 1:26PM
Is a two-state solution still possible? Yes, in theory – but not with borders in any way similar to those that have gone before.
If we accept the premise that self-determination for Israeli Jews cannot be realised at the expense of Palestinian Arab rights, the consequence of this is that if the cloth is to be cut, it has to be cut according to the demographic realities that will obtain after the right of return has been realised.
This means that any future Israeli state will have to be concentrated on the Central, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem districts, as well as coastal areas either side of Tel Aviv, into the Southern district toward the present border with Gaza and north into the Haifa district towards (but likely not including) the city of Haifa itself.
There would still be an Israeli-Jewish majority in these areas even if every single Palestinian chose to return to the district from which they (or their families) were expelled/fled.
The question is whether – given that such an arrangement is the only one that can satisfy both separatist demands on each side and the universal demands of natural justice – this is practically viable.
My feeling is that it is not.
It is important to remember that the right of both nations to self-determination does not have to be realised in the form of two separate states. A right does not necessarily give rise to a duty. The right to seperation is absolute for every nation – there is no duty to exercise it. In the context of Israel/Palestine it may well be entirely irrational to even try.
The same right can be realised just as well, and more realistically, within the context of a federal state, a unitary bi-national state or autonomous cantons within a wider confederation.
None of this augers well for a solution that is ready tomorrow, the day after, a year or even 5 years from now but it is, I believe, the reality that we all have to face for the region.
Either endless war or the voluntary integration of the Israeli-Jewish and Palestinian-Arab nations into a reorganised Mashreq.
Zionism or peace, in other words.


31 Dec 2009, 3:40PM

although as a second-best they might be persuaded to accept a single Islamic state in which Muslims rule over Jews and Christians as a master race.
You’re very nearly describing the current situation!!! I’m glad you think it’s not acceptable! (you don’t do you?)
Of course, for centuries it was effectively one state, Muslims, Jews, Christians living peacefully together. What happened to change things? It begins with Z!

And those that trot out the false Israel-apartheid and Nazi analogies.


31 Dec 2009, 1:37PM


The funny thing is that Israel-Palestine already is effectively one state, but a single state with unequal rights.
All those saying Israel will never accept it, its impossible etc. etc., should learn from history that the impossible has happened before – particularly when the contradictions and immanent possibilities push under the surface whilst no one notices.


31 Dec 2009, 1:59PM
All the anti-one state arguments are uncannily familiar to anyone who campaigned against apartheid – the Afrikkaners used pretty much all of them.


31 Dec 2009, 2:07PM
Israel is a Democratic State and a Jewish State. Its Democratic for Jews and Jewish for Arabs. That is the bottom line. Israel is a manufactured democracy relying on a well tended ethnic majority, its citizens and politicians are waiting for the right time to expel the last of the Palestinians, just look at a recent poll in a right wing Israeli newspaper


31 Dec 2009, 3:30PM

On Monday, the Israeli housing ministry announced plans to build nearly 700 new apartments in occupied East Jerusalem.
A travesty. A grade “A” example of what the Israeli’s really want, there’s no bones about it. All the land. Simple.
The author puts forward logical argument, but he’s still way too optimistic. One state would involve the Israeli’s acknowledging Palestinians as equals, and it just won’t happen. Years of swallowing their own propaganda of “Israel, the permanent victim, assailed on all sides by savages hell bent on it’s mortal destruction” and using violence and misrepresentation as it’s prime weapons make this almost impossible. Imagine the shift in national thinking required. They’ve spent so long dehumanising their enemy can they ever find a way back?
Just look at the second post here
Another excuse to call for one-state, “return” Palestinians living oveseas to the area, including children and grandchildren competely settled in other countries or those kept to refugee status by fellow Arabs in Middle Eastern countries, and, in effect, eradicate the Jewish state, maybe even remove Jewish presence on the land.
No hope of peace will be found in Israel. The 90% support for attacking Gaza was proof of that. Any plan which involves compromise will be presented as a threat to Israel’s existence and rejected outright, but all plans involve compromise, so no plan will ever be acceptable. They’ll just invent some new rules which are designed to be broken and so justify the status quo.
In fact, there’s not one bright light on the horizon. Every single word out of Netenyahu’s mouth is a backward step if peace is his real goal, which it isn’t. The judiciary support evictions while the wall building continues and people continue to die from Israeli bullets on the West Bank and Gaza. Such is the level on paranoia that if an American administration stopped appeasing a nuclear armed religious state (Israel) they might do anything, convinced that some biblical hokum prophecy will come true.

The future is black. The world needs to take the risk and stop the appeasement, and force Israel to behave reasonably through apartheid era sanctions which would really shock Israeli’s, seemingly living in a bubble where attacking a refugee camp and killing 1400 civilians is a “success”. Why do we only have to confront violent religious nuts if they’re Muslims? What happens if they’re Jewish, or Catholic, or Christian? They get given more guns and a UN veto is what.


31 Dec 2009, 3:40PM
The single-state solution favoured by Hamas is one from which the Jews have been ethnically cleansed – although as a second-best they might be persuaded to accept a single Islamic state in which Muslims rule over Jews and Christians as a master race.
As distinct from the current situation where the Jews rule Muslims as though they were the Master Race?
Didn’t the “reap as you sow” cliché come from your neck of the woods?

And those that deny the existence of Islamic inspired antisemitism with the most facile of arguments.


31 Dec 2009, 5:01PM
TomWonacott No question that the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine has raised the temperature of Muslim antisemitism
Anti semiticism is a European phenomena, not a muslim phenomena. The Palestinian-Israel conflict is about land, not race. Jeez, Arabs are semetic.
TomWonacott Of course, and didn’t you just say above that the whole Middle East is the victim to Jewish immigration.
No I didn’t say that, you obviously can’t read.
TomWonacott Why those damn Jews changed the whole Middle East from a tolerant, multicultural society to what we see today – despotic, non democratic states (some failed like Yemen) who even go by a different standard of human rights called the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights In Islam which is just gender and minority discrimination couched in cultural relativism. All this from 600,000 Jews.
You have a way of putting words into people’s mouths to prove your point. I didn’t say the Ottoman Empire was a garden of Eden but there is enough documentatuion written by both Jewish and Arab people living in the region that Jews and Arabs lived peacefulluy in mixed communities before the mass immigration of European Jews. It was the immigration that destroyed the social cohesion as was the purchasing of land by absent Jews and then evicting Arab residents. It is all documented and much written by Jewish historians as by Arab historians.

And while almost all of the above comments were not deleted, here are a couple of examples of pro-Israel comments that were deleted:


31 Dec 2009, 12:52PM

Mehdi Hasan wrote:
Forget the idea of a Palestinian state existing side by side with a Jewish state, and to argue and agitate instead for the only remaining, viable and democratic option: a single, secular and binational state for Israelis and Palestinians. No longer “two states for two peoples”, but “one person, one vote”.
Anywhere else in the world and I would agree, however what happens when the bigger birth rate of Muslims results in a situation where the jewish state becomes a Muslim one.
Will we see edicts where governmental permission is required not only in which to build places of worship for all faiths But permission is even required to fix toilets bar one faith. Which is exactly what happens in every country in the region bar 2 (Israel and Lebanon) How about forbidding Christians and women from office, that is what is the current policy in Egypt and lets not forget that Jews are not allowed to live or own land in Jordan as written in their
constitution .

It’s all fine and dandy playing the democratic card for other people when you live in the UK. But for the peoples of Israel its a matter of life and death.


31 Dec 2009, 1:50PM
Calling Benjamin Netayahu an UBER-hawk is sick mean and nasty.Using Nazi Metaphors for Israeli leaders seems to be the norm on CiF.

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