söndag 11 januari 2009

Time is out for Israel?

For 60 years, Israel has tried to become recognized as a legitimate nation in the Middle East. Today, it is clear that this ambition has failed.

The reason for this failure is  the idea that recognition could be achieved on the basis of military supremacy. In the 1940s, at a time when scores of countries  were colonies dominated by European powers this might have been a realistic plan. Today, it is not. English rule in India and across Africa has been abolished. French rule in Algeria and West Africa too. South Africa's attempt to uphold white supremacy has been shattered, as has Soviet dominance over Easter Europe and the Baltic states.

Israel, however, still tries to uphold a system of colonial rule in Palestine. Legitimate owners of land in Palestine are prevented from returning to their home villages.  Instead individuals who are deemed to have a desired ethnic origin are allowed full citizenship.

The legal foundation for today’s Israel is a UN decision made in the late 1940s. At that time, UN was an organization  ruled by European colonial powers: England, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States (Puerto Rico). Although the UN decision gives a strong foundation Western support for Israel, it is questionable if the UN ruling really is binding for states in the Middle East that did not consent.

For 60 years Israel has, supported by the military might of the United States, tried to achieve a recognition by its neighbors, and also an acceptance of continued expansion of Israel territory. This ambition has failed, and in my view, this makes it necessary to consider if the  very idea of ethnically-based Jewish nation in the Middle-East should be abandoned.

For many years, the desirability of a two-state solution of the Palestinian conflict has been dogmatically presented as the only realistic option. Israel's failure to reverse its settlement policies on the West Bank, however, has undone the feasibility of a two-state solution. Instead, it is time for the international community to withdraw it's support for an ethnic Jewish state in the Middle East.

The alterative is an ethnically integrated Palestine. The Israelis fear that an ethnically integrated Palestine would lead to increased insecurity. But is this fear really justified? The abolishment of apartheid did not lead to a racial war.  

Achieving a peaceful ethnically integrated Palestine will not be easy, but there are many examples of situations where  violent ethnic conflict have been transformed into conditions of peaceful co-existence. Why not in Palestine?

For a similar view see:

New York Times OPINION  
Video Library Player:  Bloggingheads: Israel's End?
Glenn Loury of Brown University and Ann Althouse of the University of Wisconsin Law School debate the Israeli-Palestinian endgame.