Sept. 6, 2018
What Palestinians Mean When They Talk about a “Two-State Solution” – Dr. Eric R. Mandel (Forward)
To American ears, the meaning of “two states” is straightforward. The struggle between Israel and the Palestinians, to them, is a struggle between two indigenous peoples fighting over the same space of land in which they share a history.
As Shlomo Avineri, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the Hebrew University, wrote in Ha’aretz, “According to the Palestinians’ view, this is not a conflict between two national movements but a conflict between one national movement (the Palestinian) and a colonial and imperialistic entity (Israel). According to this view, Israel will end like all colonial phenomena – it will perish and disappear. Moreover, according to the Palestinian view, the Jews are not a nation but a religious community, and as such not entitled to national self-determination.”
From my extensive experience speaking with Palestinians, I have come to learn that the Palestinian version of the two-state solution leaves no room for a Jewish state.
This year, I led an in-depth seminar in Israel trying to understand what Palestinian citizens of Israel want. To almost all Palestinian citizens of Israel I spoke with, a state of the Jewish people is illegitimate in their eyes; Zionism is a colonizing enterprise of Jews stealing Arab land. They view the Jewish historical claim to the land as fictional and Zionism as racism.
Their idea of a fair “two-state solution” is one completely Arab state in the West Bank and one democratic binational State of Israel that allows the right of return for descendants of Palestinian refugees.
They said they would not consider Israel a legitimate democracy until the Jewish star is removed from the flag, Hatikvah is no longer the national anthem, and the right of return for diaspora Jews to Israel is rescinded.
The writer is founder and director of the Middle East Political and Information Network (MEPIN).