Posted by: noticeable | November 29, 2006

One Country Indeed: Thoughts on Mr. Abunimah’s New Book

The release of Ali Abunimah’s new book, One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse, has given new life to an old idea. Mr. Abunimah, a Palestinian-American who traces his family history to among those who fled Palestine in 1948, is co-founder of the website Electronic Intifada and a Princeton and Chicago graduate. One Country denounces the current effort for a two-state solution in Israel/Palestine and instead argues that one state is preferable, just, and, importantly, practical.

I have not had the opportunity to read this work as my local library has yet to obtain a copy. Nonetheless, I had the honor to meet with Mr. Abunimah last year when he was invited to speak at my law college. While at the presentation he spoke briefly of this idea, it was not until afterwards, over coffee, that he expanded on his proposition.

Listening to his thoughts, I was engaged, yet skeptical. I had just returned from a trip to the West Bank where I witnessed Israel’s institutional oppression of the Palestinian population. I heard stories of unspeakable violence perpetuated by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) against unarmed civilians and experienced an automatic weapon shoved in my face for attempting to protect a Palestinian taxi driver from arrest. An obvious question was on my mind: can they coexist? Mr. Abunimah says yes.

I just finished listening to a talk he gave at the Palestine Center in Washington, DC. I’d like to offer my own thoughts and reactions.

Mr. Abunimah recognizes that the “one state” solution is not his idea, but an “old one” that has been advocated by both sides of the conflict at one point or another. The two state solution remains the prevailing remedy to the situation, but for the wrong reasons believes Mr. Abunimah. Many argue that it is “practical” for two groups of people who seemingly cannot agree on anything. How can they form a government? A state? A collective consciousness? Mr. Abunimah himself, in the past, subscribed to the two state solution not because it was “just” but because it was seemingly the most “practical.” His new vision is based on an acceptance that the premise by which such as argument was rooted on is “false.” Most importantly, he submits that the Palestinian and Israeli populations are much too intertwined with one another to live as separate entities. He cites the example of South African apartheid where there was no serious call for a “two-state” solution as the populations were as intertwined as the Israelis and Palestinians remain. Let us not forget Northern Ireland where religion and oppression drove two people apart. Both of these groups of people now live as one nation. What makes the Palestinian question any more unique?

Mr. Abunimah believes that two states is now the “least workable” option when viewed within the historical context. This is where I find him to be the most convincing. He states that for far too long the idea of two states has been the “dangling carrot” in front of the Palestinian nose, but at no point has there been serious efforts made to implement it. How many U.S. presidents have spoke of two states? The critical question we must ask ourselves is: why has it not been realized? Meanwhile, Israel continues to colonize Palestinian land and build more checkpoints throughout the West Bank. In other words, this proposal has become the least workable because it has proved the least workable. There have not been any concrete steps taken to create it. Indeed, as the Palestinians democratically elected a new government lead by Hamas, Israel and the United States have refused to deal with them. This can only show that they are not interested in dealing with the Palestinians, but who they want the Palestinians to be. All parameters remain defined by Israel and her supporters. Symmetry remains a fiction.

Mr. Abunimah continues by stating that there is no convincing evidence showing that either Israelis or Palestinians support a two state solution. What they collectively support as a political remedy remains a mystery to me. Nonetheless, the Hamas government remains opposed to the two-state answer. Further, any serious discussion cannot ignore that many Palestinians live in Israel as her citizens. What is there destiny in the two-state context?

The One Country proposal by Mr. Abunimah must be considered as a legitimate plan to the current, and enduring, conflict. Drawing on the examples of South Africa, the U.S. and Northern Ireland, he makes a strong and reasoned argument for considering one state for two peoples who not only share a connected past, but a collective future.



  1. Passing through. Nice one.

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