Monday, August 9, 2010

A unique solution

A unique conflict requires a unique solution

The Israeli - Palestinian conflict is a unique conflict: there is no other case that a people who sees itself as being in exile during nearly two millennia, and then returns to the land he deems it still owns .This was the cause of an unprecedented conflict of legitimacy with another people who, meanwhile, had grown deep roots in the same land during a long political and religious history, and has too strong claims to territorial sovereignty.
This ability of the Jewish people to live in exile from its land for a so long time must be analysed. Because political solutions do not usually take this dimension into account, they do not address at all the core of the conflict - the peculiar relation of Jews to land - and cannot provide for a sustainable solution.

Our common problem: the territorial nation-state
Judaism and Islam are not mere religions in the western sense, but nations, a people and a Ummah, who have their own traditional legal system which both have produced in the past a state of law, halakhic State in Diaspora, and islamic Caliphate.
The Jewish nation have lived in Diaspora for hundred of years in autonomous communities, who were small, but real, "states within the state", without a territory.
The problem is that there is no room in the modern territorial nation-state for two different nations: because of its territorial character, only one national law is binding for anyone who physically dwell on the territory. As a consequence, all citizens have necessarily to become one single nation, if not, one of the two peoples has to leave the territory, or the territory has to be split between them.

As soon as nation-states were created in Europe, following the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, the Jewish communities lost their legal autonomy and were dissolved.
Zionism, the response of secular Jews  in Europe to their exclusion as a people from the new nationalisms, reacted by creating its own Nation-State for the Jews, on the same European model which had rejected them. Of course, the "Jewish Problem" only turned itself in a "Palestinian problem"!
Following the logics of territorial nationalism, the UN voted a Partition Plan in 1947.  Arab States unleashed the war of 1948 against the new Jewish State and were defeated. As a consequence, a large part of the Palestinian Arabs emigrated or were expulsed; then most of the Jews living in their communities in Arab or Muslim countries had to emigrate.
Both peoples are victims of territorial nationalism.

Abrahamic relation to the land
Western Nationalism is absolutely contrary to the Abrahamic tradition in its relation to land. Abraham heard the divine call asking him to leave his homeland, the Mother-Earth and Fatherland which gave him birth, in order to become the adult creator of his own future, on an other land, still to be discovered and deserved.
Hebrew or Arab true national identity is independent of territory, their land is not Mother Earth, a land-mother, but a land-wife to fecundate and fertilize.

How its possession is justified and legitimized? Not by our past origin, not by "who was the first on the land", but by our future behavior: living by virtue of a debt - not of a right - we have to give back in return, by giving hospitality to the stranger, by giving just charity (tzedaqa/zaqa) to the poor, the widow and the orphan.
By distancing themselves from heathen nationalism, Israelis and Palestinians will return to their true Hebrew and Arab identity, and will be able to live together on the same land. Otherwise they are doomed to kill each other until the last survivor, for who would accept to split his own mother into two pieces?

A special solution
Considering that all previous attempts to create a two-state solution failed, led to bloodshed, and that our both peoples, the Jewish people of Israel and the Palestinian-Arab people, do not want to - and cannot - merge into a single Nation living in a unitary state, we have reached the conclusion that the only solution left is nor separating nor merging, but entering a unique kind of Federal Alliance:
A "three states for two peoples in one land-solution". This is made possible by both peoples recognition of the same supranational Sovereign. It takes the form of a Federal State which has sovereignty over the territory and over two non-territorial nation-states.

The specific logic for this federation is simple: if you want to have two independent nations in the same federal framework, the federation has to be supranational; if you want to eliminate the demographic problem without territorial partition, and without the risk of a future secession, you need to separate national identity from territory. This is achieved by having national laws applying only on individual citizens or communities, and not on the territory. So the national identity will be formed by Law, not by Land.
This non-territorial character of the national states will help preventing any future nationalist fight for the Land.

Those national systems of law can be secular or religious, the crucial point is that they should allow people a real personal autonomy. In that feature, they resemble the traditional systems of law, Halacha and Shari’a , which apply to Jewish or Muslim individuals personally, wherever they live in the world.
The abrahamic relation to the land will be implemented in the special structure of this federal state. Jewish and Israeli identities will be reconciled, and so the Arab and Palestinian ones. And both would have found peace by returning to their Abrahamic heritage.
But was not this alluded to, when the two brothers, Isaac and Ishmael, met together to bury their father Abraham after a life-long separation?

An answer to the religious conflict too
The modern territorial nation-state was built by applying the theological notions of Sovereignty and Alliance to the social realm where they became sovereign people and social contract. It has contributed to a liberation of men and peoples, but at the same time, it has absolutized the person "Nation", who became god-like, knowing no other master than itself, generating nationalist wars, the most lethal than humankind has ever known.
Because of its autistic nature, it is impossible a priori to integrate nation-states in a set of higher order of complexity, which would be supranational. This, the United Nations have demonstrated perfectly.

We can find a deep religious meaning to the Federal Alliance ("Federation" is from Latin foedusfoederis, "alliance") of Israel-Palestine: being necessarily a federation ruling over nations, its Sovereign is potentially made Sovereign of the World - ribono shel olam/rabb el alamin in the language of our traditions - for if its example will be followed,  its Peace will extend to the rest of humanity.

By their reception of the Federation the believers of our respective religions will be tested and judged: will they accept and recognize the Federation and the Sovereign of the World, or will they reject it, thus showing that they actually worship their own nation under the mask of religion, that they bow to their own sovereignty, whether they call it "Jewish" or "Islamic"? So their hideous mask will be lifted, we will prevail on the fanatic religious nationalists!
By this solution - a supranational federation binding together two non-territorial nationalities, we have succeeded to translate into terms of modern politics our common abrahamic roots: a Covenant between two parts, between the monotheistic tribes of a new People of God and the Master of the Universe to whom the Land belongs, for universal blessings.

Yehuda Schwartz

3 comments:

  1. Chantal MorgenbesserAugust 10, 2010 at 1:18 AM

    It is a unique solution and it is the only possible one. In your analysis I especially appreciate the reference to the Abrahamic relation to the Land and the systems of law of our religions - Halacha or Shari'a. I like the concept of 'tribal' identity rather than 'national' leading to 'nationalist' and therefore responsible for not just the Israel-Palestine conflict but a lot of the others in modern, post colonial history.
    However my question is how long will it take to undo the hatred that 3 generations of Israeli Jews and Palestinians have grown up with? How possible is a reconciliation?

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  2. How long will it take to undo the hatred?
    My feeling on the ground here is that there is much less hate between us than what can be seen in the media. Of course, I could be biased by the fact that we meet between peacemakers.

    Though, polls showed, consistently in time, that a majority in both peoples is for a peace agreement.

    Acknowledgment of the sufferings and losses will be important to relieve feelings of hate and revenge.
    And I cannot stop being optimistic when i see the optimism of my Palestinian and Israeli friends!

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