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One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse 1st Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
As Abunimah himself points out, both sides favor a two-state solution, although many Palestinians support a one-state solution over a two-state solution without full sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza. For Israelis, only the most radical minority calls for what most equate with the destruction of the State of Israel. The book fails to explain how Abunimah's vision could be implemented in spite of the international consensus on a two-state solution and Israel's overwhelming opposition to losing its status as a Jewish state. He also never addresses how such a state could function in the face of such raw tensions without breeding further violence. Finally, while he shows a certain understanding of Jewish fears and insists on maintaining the Law of Return (which grants all Jews the right to immigrate to Israel), he brushes aside the fear that a state with an Arab majority will fail to truly safeguard Jewish rights. It is possible that it would, but at this point, there is not enough trust between the two communities to give Israeli Jews the security to contemplate taking such a risk.
The book provides a rough sketch of what a single state might look like, encompassing either a federalist system or a binational state with two separate government systems (one unified government with seats allocated to each group and separate ones dedicated to cultural/religious affairs). Here, again, there are problems he does not adequately address. In a federalist scenario, what would stop the two sides from continuing to fight over territory and borders? Abunimah's sketch of a binational state sounds good on the surface, but he is essentially describing a confessional government divided along religious/ethnic lines, which has failed disastrously in countries like Lebanon. Power sharing is certainly possible--Abunimah demonstrates this with his description of the Belgian system--but the current situation, with all its explosive tension, more closely resembles Lebanon at present.
Abunimah claims that the failure of Oslo and Camp David are proof that negotiations along the lines of a two-state solution will always end in an impasse. His logic doesn't work, though: the failure of certain flawed proposals does not preclude the possibility of a better proposal appearing in the future.
Still, there is value in reading this book. Unlike many books on the subject, this one devotes a significant part to painting a detailed picture of what true coexistence might look like. Abunimah's vision is unrealistic as an immediate solution to the conflict, but in the very long term, his ideas may become more relevant. As he points out, the demographics are shifting in such a way that Israel will eventually lose its Jewish majority. When that day comes, Israel will be confronted with a very painful dilemma between remaining a Jewish state or a democracy. Binationalism may someday become Israel's only moral option, and in that case, the framework Abunimah lays out is worth examining.
It is beautifully and elegantly written. Ali Abunimah can write like the best. It surprised me that a man who must feel deeply about this conflict was able to write such an truthful and almost blame-free book. Nothing too nasty - this is a classy guy and his restraint is admirable, making this a potent book. Arabs usually indulge in hyperbole which is a big turn-off to Western audiences, but not this author... if anything, the book is understated. But style is the least of it - what he says is worth saying.
What's different about this book is that he starts down the road of implementation. He actually considers what it would take to achieve a unitary state. He made two excellent suggestions for laying the groundwork for peace that immediately come to mind.
He says that the Palestinians need to articulate a vision that the Jews can accept, along the lines that Mandela used in his struggle - that they see historic Palestine as belonging to everyone who lives there, Jews and Arabs. Sharing! Forget the nonsense about pushing Israel into the sea.
And he says that Israel must not be rewarded for its illegal and aggressive behavior but rather, punished. Right on... it's the only way... make the status quo painful, and offer a more attractive and peaceful alternative.
Any person who is thinking about how to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians must read this book. It's the best.