Friday, 5 June 2009


There are feasible forms of both one state and two state solutions to the Palestine issue, Moshé Machover told the Brent Palestine Solidarity Campaign at its May 28th meeting. The problem was that neither would be equitable. The feasible one state solution would at best be an apartheid state and the two state solution would leave Palestine as a number of powerless enclaves like North American Indian reservations.

He said that the apartheid metaphor was misleading in respect of the power relationship between settlers and the indigenous population as the South African and Israel situations were different types of colonial conflict. In the former the settlers exploited both the physical resources of the country and the labour power of the indigenous population. The 1:7 ratio of settler to population meant that eventual the numerical relationship was unsustainable and the settlers grabbed what could be argued was a generous deal. In the Israel case the idea of a 'Jewish' state needed a Jewish majority population so the indigenous population were excluded by design through ethnic cleansing in order to form a new nation.

Moshé argued that in most similar cases (North America, Australia) the local population had been pulverised. However Palestinians were part of a wider region and linked with it through language and a rich cultural and historical heritage. This is now reinforced by the outreach of modern media such as Al Jazeera across the region. As a result the Zionist ethnic cleansing project had been only partially successful. There was a crucial difference also in the importance of the two countries to the United States. Africa has a low priority in the US but the Middle East is a high priority because of its oil reserves and because it forms a bridge between Europe, Africa and Asia. If oil has reached its peak it will be even more important as a scarcer resource as there are no immediate replacements for oil in the offing and it will increase in value as supplies decline.. The US relies on local regional governments to keep the lid on popular discontent with terrorism being a convenient enemy, useful for propaganda and to justify the denial of rights.
Given this scenario it becomes clear that an equitable solution will only come about through a regional process which would involve the development of popular social movements in Arab countries. The labour unrest in Egypt demonstrated the potential of these movements. An equitable solution could not come about through Islamicist regimes which had their own conflicts with each other and did not take account of the multi-religious nature of the region. The region was potentially rich economically and culturally and the Israel-Palestine conflict served as a block on its development.

A fuller over-view of the ideas on which Moshé based his talk can be found here:

No comments: