Jillian C. York

Jillian C. York is a writer and activist.

A Minor Encounter

I was sitting on the bus yesterday morning, reading with headphones in, hood up, lost in my own world, when the woman sitting next to me accidentally elbowed me. She apologized, then in a deep southern drawl, asked, “Whatcha readin’?” I, headphones, still in, flipped the book closed to show her the cover:

She paused to read it, then said, “Wow.  I think that’s just so important.  It’s like one group of people were treated like crap and bullied and then they turn around and do the same thing.”  Her voice was loud, and in my typical public shyness, I could feel the eyes of everyone else on the bus burning into my skin.  I timidly responded, “I’m trying to learn everything I can.”  She said, “Good for you!” then let me get back to my reading.

This book is not my first stop in learning about the history of Palestine and Israel, nor will it be the last–in fact, I read Abunimah’s book a year ago; this is a re-read, an attempt to answer lingering questions.  It is not a simplistic book, whatsoever; Abunimah addresses each possible objection to the creation of one state built on equality and justice, then effectively counters every one.   His is a call for a peaceful solution, an end to violence from both sides.

For those of you to whom the idea one, equal state built on justice and equality, inclusive of Jewish Israelis and Arab Palestinians alike seems self-evident, it is still worth reading–For me, it’s not a matter of being persuaded, but of gaining a more complete understanding of history and of the possible future.

But this post is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a book review, rather, it is a simple musing on a small encounter on a bus that surprised me.  I’ve ordered a second copy of the book, and if I run into that same woman on the bus again, I’ll be handing it to her.

8 Comments

  1. I never believed in the two states solution, not enough land to do that, but also one state can be the answer Israelis want or Palestinians desire. the solution can not be provided by Israelis and Jews alone, neighboring countries should be involved. I like to read about this issue and your mention of that book is greatly appreciated hope I can find it in local bookshops.

  2. a correction:
    also one state can NOT be the answer Israelis want or Palestinians desire.

  3. Incidentally I asked this exact question to Avi Shlaim and other panelists a week ago at the progressive London conference. They were unanimous in considering the one state solution the ideal one, but Avi commented that it may not be practical given Israel’s attitude.

    I just don’t think two states are feasible. Notice the rhetoric that is used when politicians talk about it, you will hear something like “a two state solution with a secure Israel and an economically viable palestinian state” as Gordon Brown said a few days ago. As in, the goal is not a full palestinian state, but only a state just about limping to be economically viable.

    In the end, given the current archipelago like territory that is the West Bank and the Israeli settlements, I think Israel are inadvertently making a one sate solution the only viable solution. The injustice of a solution with a Palestinian state that can’t bring refugees back, can’t have its own arms and doesn’t even have a continuity of land is too great for any people to endure.

    • “I think Israel are inadvertently making a one sate solution the only viable solution.”

      Precisely, Houwari – a two-state solution is no longer viable unless thousands of Israeli settlers are willing to give up their homes. Which a) is unlikely to ever happen and b) is also unjust to their children who have known no other life. A bi-national equal state is the more viable solution for all.

  4. But how would demographics complex of Israel be addressed in the one state solution? After all Israel wants to be a Jewish state not a secular one!

    • And how would the settlements be solved in a two-state solution? For every objection to a bi-national state, there’s a possible solution. Not every Israeli wants a theocratic state.

  5. a two-states solution is a nightmare happening only in the imaginations of the people who advocate it, but still obstacles to the one-state solution should be addressed, like demographics, resources, and stability.

  6. Priapus Wrote:
    “After all Israel wants to be a Jewish state not a secular one!”

    Well, I would disagree with that. As I understand it, most Israelis are secular/irreligious and as Jiliam wrote, don’t want a theocratic state. But remember, being Jewish seems to mean more in an ethnic/national sense than a relgious one. That’s why Jeff Halper said that Israel is really a ethnocratic state.

    Certainly, i see the one state solution as being more ideal, but it’s not without flaws. Jeff Halper said that binational states don’t really have happy endings; at best you would get Belgium which is facing a dilemma as the Dutch and French halves are diverging and we might see a divided belgium soon; and what we’ll most likely get for a one state Israel/Palestine is something close to Bosnia, which isn’t that ideal itself.

    There’s going to have to be a lot of work done to make the foundation of a binational Israel/Palestine, which i think isn’t there at this time. One step is breaking down prejudices and discrimination, and another is economic viability for both peoples. Admittedly i haven’t thought this out fully through, but the two points i made certainly makes sense, right?

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