Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Federalism and peace from an Islamic perspective

Federalism and peace from an Islamic perspective

Emphase is mine.

29 April 2013
By Ibrahim Saleh
In the name of God

Your Excellency Arnold Koller, ladies & gentlemen, peace be upon you. The Fribourg peace forum has asked me to deliver a speech about federalism and peace from the Islamic perspective.

However, in order to cover this subject objectively, we must consider the religious, social, and political systems existing at that time especially the question of the relation between men and others – those who are different in color, language and religion. At the emergence of Islam, the two major powers – Persia and Rome – were frequently engaged in wars which took place in the Middle East. The Romans were known for their brutality and the persecution of the Christians. They also used to enslave the defeated and those who were different in color and language. The Arab Peninsula consisted of tribes fighting against each other, they were ignorant, used to burry alive their new born baby girls. The religions prevailing were pagan, with some Jews and Christians.

Before Islam could establish a viable political system, it had to totally uproot the existing pagan, social and political order in the Middle East by taking the following steps:

1. To abolish racism and the rejection of others because of their religion, race and color. For this Islam promoted peace and brotherhood. The Quran says in Surat Al-Hugarat: nr 49, verse 13: Oh people we created all of you from man and woman, made tribes and folks, to cooperate with you …”

Islam stressed that the creation of mankind in different colors, faiths and languages is God’s divine will to make us different surat al rum 30/22 .

And if He wished He could make all of us Jews, Christians, Buddhists or Muslims, this is His will, and for this He created us Hood 11/118

2. Islam declared freedom of religion. It was the first in the history of mankind. Whereas people were usually forced to adopt the religion of their rulers, the Quran states in al kahf 18/29 say the truth from God and al baqqara 2/256- no compulsion in religion al kafiroon 109 last ayat…

3. Also to his credit, Islam banned and dismantled the ugly establishment of priesthood which decided over life and death, misery and happiness of the people. The Quran says anyone could interrelate with God without a broker to ask for forgiveness – and God would accept his prayer…hood nr.11 /3 and ghafer 40/60 pray me and I shall accept your prayer.

4. The Swiss professor Hans Küng once said that there could be no peace between nations before we make peace between people; and there could be no peace between people before we make peace between religions. That is precisely what Islam did when it declared acceptance, respect and peace with and for all previous religions; especially with Judaism and Christianity…sura Imran 3/84… and in al baqqara 2 verse 285 … The Quran also stressed the strong belief and respect of Islam towards Judaism and Christianity. God speaks about the Torah and the Bible as having light and guidance Al Maida 5/44 and 46. It is worth to mention that the Quran is the only book which honored Maria with a complete Sura of 95 verses (Surat Maryam 19). It also honors Jesus and describes him uniquely as being the “soul” and the “word” of God. No other prophet has been described by these characteristics. The Quran also confirms all of Jesus’ miracles such as he was born without a father, that he resurrected the dead, healed the ill and returned vision to the blind.

From this special relationship with the people of the book, the Muslims were allowed to marry their women and to eat their food. From the Muslims belief in the two religions, Jews and Christians enjoyed peace and protection in the Muslim countries facing neither prosecution nor extermination. To date both minorities live in peace and tranquility in Muslim countries. The Jews themselves admit as stated by Professor Israel Shahak in his book “Jewish religion and Jewish history”, that the Muslim always protected the Jews and that those expelled from Spain during the Inquisition were granted asylum in Muslim countries, especially in Turkey.

By this we see that Islam really has eradicated racism and the rejection of others, made peace between the major world religions and their worshippers. Another example of acceptance of the others were the Prophet Mohammed’s companions: Bilal – a freed black slave, Salman – a Persian advisor and Suhaib – a white Roman counselor. In Islam there was no “Clash of Civilizations” as described by Huntington, nor such thing as described in “The End of History” by Fukuyama; and no there was no Holocaust under Islam. There was no such call “as Germany over all”.

5. After Islam uprooted racism, he turned to handle the question of women: the mother, the wife, the daughter. The woman was accused by all the religions to have been responsible about Adam being expelled out of Paradise; hence she is responsible for the suffering of all human beings. She was also accused to be a low, satanic creature who seduced man. It was even questioned whether she had a soul or not. She was persecuted and even buried alive at birth by the Arab tribes.

The Holy Quran reinstated the woman and restored her honor and her esteem. It was Adam who followed Satan and disobeyed God as described in sura Taha 20/120-122. Islam elevated the woman to be equal to man as mentioned in Sura Al Imran 3/ 95. Islam even gave her financial independence: her husband has no right over her fortune and belongings; these rights were granted to European women just a few decades ago.

6. In Islam, life is sacred. Killing a man is considered as killing all mankind. Surra al maida 5/30. War therefore was only allowed in case of self defense or to stop aggression al baqqara 2/90 and by no means to start war or aggress others. The retaliation should be equal and not exceed the damage suffered Al baqqara 2/194.

7. In Islam cooperation between individuals or states is allowed provided they are dedicated to the good. They are forbidden if it is for the evil Al maida 5/2

After all these reforms have been implemented, Islam by then has laid down the foundations of a healthy society and a viable state. Under Islam, the first federation with the Jews was concluded in what was considered or known to be the “Al–Madina-document” which foresees:

"In the name of God. The Jews in Madina are a nation and a community; they have their own religion, rules and customs; and the Muslims are a nation and a community. The Jews are our neighbors and partners with equal rights and obligations. Both parties agree to cooperate against any aggression committed by a foreign power against the other community; they have to work together in good faith and promote trade.”

This treaty or agreement was extended to cover the Christians of Nagran. When they visited the Prophet in Madina, he allowed them to enter his mosque with crosses so as to perform their prayers and ceremonies. Further the Prophet asked the Muslims to allocate money for the repair of the churches and to build new ones. This money was donated by the treasury as a gift and was not to be returned. The Prophet committed himself and the Muslims to defend the Christians against any aggression as if defending their own wife and children. This was the first federation or confederation in the history of Islam.

The same principle of confederation was applied in the Muslim Empire which one day extended from China to Spain. In this confederation each country had its own religion, laws, and languages with open borders and free trade. Their cooperation was in Finance and Defense against any foreign force. They lived in peace and prospered. There was no massacre against any minority. Till now Jewish and Christian minorities in Muslim countries have their own courts to judge upon their own religious and personal affairs.

As an example of such a system we could mention Muslim Spain where Christians, Jews and Arabs lived together in peace and harmony and established a great civilization which greatly influenced the European Renaissance.

However, after the downfall of the Ottoman Empire the remaining countries of this federation were divided on national basis and Turkey became an independent. This arbitrary division of nations caused numerous conflicts, such as the Kurdish question in Iran, Iraq and Turkey; the Arabs in Iran, the Berber in North Africa to mention but a few.

Europe has learned a lot from its bloody and painful history and finally established the European confederation of states. Now we ask ourselves this question: could the Muslims establish the Great Muslim Confederation which could solve all existing problems? We are still waiting for the answer.

Ibrahim Salah, 17 September 2010

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

כי גוי אובד עצות המה

עם טיפש
משחק באש הקודש
בא להיטהר
אינו מבין ששרץ בידו

בימים אלה, אחרי פיגועים רצחנים בהר הבית ובלב ישוב יהודי, איני מוצא טקסט אקטואלי ומתאים יותר למצב מאשר שירת משה, שבפרשת האזינו.

יהודים עולים על הר הבית, דורשים כביכול את ה' מלכם ומשיחם, בניית הבית השלישי במהרה.
אך למעשה הם קיבלו עליהם ריבון אחר, "ריבונות ישראלית".
מיהו אותו הריבון? מדינת לאום: אישיות משפטית פיקטיבית, "פרסונה", מסיכה מעשה ידם, אליל המייצג אותם.

ריבונות יהודית אמיתית היא ריבונות של ריבונו של עולם. היא איננה ריבונות לאומית, אלא ריבונות עולמית.
כי עם ישראל מייצג את כל האנושות:

בְּהַנְחֵ֤ל עֶלְיוֹן֙ גּוֹיִ֔םבְּהַפְרִיד֖וֹ בְּנֵ֣י אָדָ֑ם
יַצֵּב֙ גְּבֻלֹ֣ת עַמִּ֔יםלְמִסְפַּ֖ר בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

הם משתחווים לריבון מעשה ידם, ללאום ישראלי פיקטיבי. וקם נגדם עם פלסטיני פיקטיבי באותה מידה. לאומיות כנגד לאומיות.

הֵ֚ם קִנְא֣וּנִי בְלֹא־אֵ֔לכִּעֲס֖וּנִי בְּהַבְלֵיהֶ֑ם
וַאֲנִי֙ אַקְנִיאֵ֣ם בְּלֹא־עָ֔םבְּג֥וֹי נָבָ֖ל אַכְעִיסֵֽם׃

הפלסטינים הם למעשה חלק מהאומה הערבית הגדולה.
אך לא סתם חלק: החלק היחיד שאין לו מדינת לאום, ולכן הוא יכול לייצג את אחדות האומה הערבית כולה.
ואכן, אם תשאלו אולי את עצמכם, מאיפה הזכות שניתן לערבים הפלסטינים לשלוט על הר הבית, הנה כאן התשובה: הם יכולים לקיים בהר כביכול ריבונות אלוהים, לדבר בשם ה', بسم الله, אפילו אם רובם מתכוונים לריבונותם של עצמם.
לפחות, הם מונעים מריבונות לאומית של מדינת הלאום ישראל, ריבונות מופשטת מעשה אדם, להתקיים בהר. וגם ישראל, מצדה, מונעת הרמת דגל לאומי פלסטיני על הר הבית.
ההר נשאר חופשי מסמלים לאומיים שהיו מטמאים אותו, ברוך ה'...

מחוץ מלחמה אורבת
ופנימה טרור בבית ובישוב
פוגע בנשים, ילדים וזקנים

מִחוּץ֙ תְּשַׁכֶּל־חֶ֔רֶבוּמֵחֲדָרִ֖ים אֵימָ֑ה
גַּם־בָּחוּר֙ גַּם־בְּתוּלָ֔היוֹנֵ֖ק עִם־אִ֥ישׁ שֵׂיבָֽה׃

אנחנו שורדים בינתיים, לא כי טובים אנחנו, או כי מגיע לנו, אלא מפני שאסוננו הגדול עדיין לא נשכח, וכי אויבינו שפלים. הפרסים מאיימים בשואה גרעינית, בזעם של קנאות דתית מזויפת, כאשר למעשה הם רוצים להשתלט על העולם הערבי.

אָמַ֖רְתִּי אַפְאֵיהֶ֑םאַשְׁבִּ֥יתָה מֵאֱנ֖וֹשׁ זִכְרָֽם׃
לוּלֵ֗י כַּ֤עַס אוֹיֵב֙ אָג֔וּרפֶּֽן־יְנַכְּר֖וּ צָרֵ֑ימוֹ
פֶּן־יֹֽאמְרוּ֙ יָדֵ֣נוּ רָ֔מָהוְלֹ֥א יְהֹוָ֖ה פָּעַ֥ל כׇּל־זֹֽאת׃
כִּי־ג֛וֹי אֹבַ֥ד עֵצ֖וֹת הֵ֑מָּהוְאֵ֥ין בָּהֶ֖ם תְּבוּנָֽה׃

ירושלים, ט' באב תשע"ז

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Six-Day war and the Palestinians

Let's remember, 50 years later
An attack by the PLO could have been a trigger of the Six-Day War. This same war lead to the Israeli occupation of the West-Bank and Gaza, the disproportionate reaction of the Israelis being a part of this trigger....

Six-Day War

In early November 1966, Syria signed a mutual defense agreement with Egypt.[23]Soon thereafter, in response to Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) guerilla activity,[24][25] including a mine attack that left three dead,[26] the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) attacked the village of as-Samu in the Jordanian-occupied West Bank.[27] Jordanian units that engaged the Israelis were quickly beaten back.[28] King Hussein of Jordan criticized Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser for failing to come to Jordan's aid, and "hiding behind UNEF skirts"

Samu Incident

The Samu incident or Battle of Samu was a large cross-border assault on 13 November 1966 by Israeli military on the Jordanian-controlled West Bank village of Samu in response to an al-Fatah land mine attack two days earlier near the West Bank border, which killed 3 Israeli soldiers on a border patrol. It purportedly originated from Jordanian territory. It was the largest Israeli military operation since the 1956 Suez Crisis and is considered to have been a contributing factor to the outbreak of the Six-Day War in 1967


Demolition of 40 to 120 houses in the town of Samu; rioting in West Bank against king of Jordan; increased tensions contributing to outbreak of Six-Day War
In Jordan, King Hussein was faced with a storm of criticism for failing to protect Samu, emanating from Jordanians, as well as from Palestinians and neighboring Arab countries. Riots spread throughout the West Bank demanding the king be overthrown. Four Palestinians were killed by Jordanian police as a result of the riots. On 20 November, Hussein ordered nationwide military service.

The West-Bank participated in the war
"Nine brigades (45,000 troops, 270 tanks, 200 artillery pieces) were deployed in the West Bank, including the elite armoured 40th, and two in the Jordan Valley."

Gaza could have remained Egyptian if Palestinians didn't attack the Negev
"With the exceptions of Rafah and Khan Yunis, Israeli forces had initially avoided entering the Gaza Strip. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan had expressly forbidden entry into the area. After Palestinian positions in Gaza opened fire on the Negev settlements of Nirim and Kissufim, IDF Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin overrode Dayan's instructions and ordered the 11th Mechanized Brigade under Colonel Yehuda Reshef to enter the Strip. The force was immediately met with heavy artillery fire and fierce resistance from Palestinian forces and remnants of the Egyptian forces from Rafah.

By sunset, the Israelis had taken the strategically vital Ali Muntar ridge, overlooking Gaza City, but were beaten back from the city itself. Some 70 Israelis were killed, along with Israeli journalist Ben Oyserman and American journalist Paul Schutzer. Twelve members of UNEF were also killed. On the war's second day, June 6, the Israelis were bolstered by the 35th Paratroopers Brigade under Colonel Rafael Eitan, and took Gaza City along with the entire Strip. The fighting was fierce, and accounted for nearly half of all Israeli casualties on the southern front. However, Gaza rapidly fell to the Israelis."

Israel did everything in order not to have to occupy the West-Bank
"In May–June 1967 Eshkol's government did everything in its power to confine the confrontation to the Egyptian front. Eshkol and his colleagues took into account the possibility of some fighting on the Syrian front. But they wanted to avoid having a clash with Jordan and the inevitable complications of having to deal with the predominantly Palestinian population of the West Bank. The fighting on the eastern front was initiated by Jordan, not by Israel. King Hussein got carried along by a powerful current of Arab nationalism. On May 30 he flew to Cairo and signed a defense pact with Nasser. On June 5, Jordan started shelling the Israeli side in Jerusalem. This could have been interpreted either as a salvo to uphold Jordanian honour or as a declaration of war. Eshkol decided to give King Hussein the benefit of the doubt. Through General Odd Bull, the Norwegian commander of UNTSO, he sent the following message the morning of June 5: "We shall not initiate any action whatsoever against Jordan. However, should Jordan open hostilities, we shall react with all our might, and the king will have to bear the full responsibility of the consequences." King Hussein told General Bull that it was too late; the die was cast."

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Emergent World Federation

A paradigm shift for the World Federation

Earth from space

Humanity longs to live in a world of peace and human rights, a world in which the rule of law is maintained and the global community takes responsibility for responding to crises.

“Global problems need global solutions,” wrote Joseph E. Schwartzberg,
But the United Nations has failed to deliver on its promise.
Why? Because global solutions cannot be enforced upon sovereign nation-states. A sovereign, by definition, obeys no one but itself. The world needs a global governance having sovereignty over existing nation states. Therefore, this governance must be a supranational sovereign.
However, the possibility of voluntarily igniting such a global revolution, in which all states of the world would renounce their sovereignty, sounds highly unrealistic. But in fact, the global world is already emerging in front of our eyes, and states are unwillingly more and more dependent of each other.

The process of globalization appears to be both natural and historical

It seems like belonging to two different realms which modern rational thinking had learned to keep tightly separated: Politics and Cosmology. We need to understand this point.
One may ask: if globalization is emerging spontaneously, why should we care about it? New political orders seldom emerge without violent opposition, and in this case, troubles could flare up into a third world war. If we understand that globalization will lead ultimately to a better world, we might be able to bring an easier delivery of this new born.
Moreover, the process is not natural only, it is obviously cultural too, the product of human agency, and humans can err. Global governance will happen, but the way it will depends on us.

I propose a new paradigm to understand globalization

One grounded in complexity theory, theory of evolution and emergentism[1]: Creative Emergence. It sees the whole of the system as more than the sum of its parts, and gives meaning to human civilization by including it in the whole cosmic evolution. What was once characteristic of mythical cosmologies is now achieved on a scientific basis.

We can identify general principles operating at all levels of complexity, from the Big-Bang to living organisms and human societies:

Matter becomes more complex with time

Cosmic evolution has a direction: quarks and gluons form the elementary particles. Particles are assembled into atoms, atoms into molecules, macro-molecules, bacteria, eukaryotic cells, plants, primitive animals, higher animals, animal societies, man, human societies... On each floor, there is a jump of complexity when a system becomes a simple element of a higher order system, to form a hierarchy of nested systems.
We humans belong to the highest level of complexity in the universe. We stand on top of the older sedimented strata, where Creation continues at this moment to reinvent itself in an eventful bubbling: human History.
Humans first grouped themselves into versatile hunter-gatherer bands, then clans; clans into tribes; tribes into ethnic groups or peoples, which evolved into complex societies having highly specialized division of labor. Lastly, ethnic groups and states form the most complex system existing on Earth: federal states.

What will happen further?

We need simply to extrapolate the next step onto the future: the complexifying unification of peoples and nations will evolve into one federated humanity in all its diversity. The World Federation (WF) is necessarily the next step in the cosmic evolution of complexity.
Creating the WF is to engage in Creation proper[2]. Humankind has an immense responsibility. But the general principles of emergence that we are describing will help us. Aren’t they after all the original ‘Creator’ blueprint?

New properties and laws emerge

They emerge at each new level of nesting[3] which are not deductible from those of the lower constituent elements. The properties of water, for example, cannot be simply deduced from those of the hydrogen and oxygen atoms.
When the Hebrews were freed from slavery, they created a federation of multiple tribes bounded by a covenant, brit in Hebrew. As such, they became a system more complex than the totalitarian Egyptian or Babylonian empires. This could explain the ‘revelation at Sinai’ then of a new body of law, constitution of a new kind of republican polity[4]. It would eventually form the basis of both Western and Islamic civilization.
In the same way, the whole of the WF will be more than its national parts. A new world will emerge, with new laws and new properties we cannot really imagine now. Will the Super artificial intelligence[5] announced by some futurologists[6] turn into the perfect world governance?

Once it is formed, the parts of the system are protected by the overall structure

Society exists if it removes individuals from the Darwinian selection pressure applied at the lower biological level. Concretely, it means protecting the weakest: widows, orphans, foreigners, old people, disabled. Ethics is intrinsic to Creation.
The WF alike will removes individual states from the selection pressure of the lower historical level. It means protecting the weakest states from war and poverty. Thus, the World Federation must be supranational, a sovereign UN on the Earth, its indivisible territory.

Each step of the ‘ladder of creation’ is shorter than the previous one

Complexification accelerates. Atomic evolution, molecular evolution, in the physical and chemical domains, Paleolithic, Neolithic revolution, industrial revolution, information revolution, in the cultural domain took less and less time to appear. We can expect the WF to appear in no more than a few decades…

The whole is more complex when it integrates the own internal complexity of its parts 

This can happen when the system does not repress its complexity, and allows for a rich connectivity and diversity.
We understand now why democracy is a better model for society: it promotes maximum complexity by allowing everyone to express their potentialities, and enables free competition between different social and economic models.

The elements organized in a system do not lose their individuality

On the contrary, their own character is strengthened by their complementary participation in the construction of the global whole. The differentiated cells of a multicellular organism are a good example of this individuation.
The whole of the federation will impact its parts in feedback. Each nation and culture will be autonomous and integrated, independent and interdependent. Each volkgeist will find its own identity and role as a unique member of the mankind family.

Only a few are 'elected'

Each more complex level is also quantitatively smaller than the one that precedes it.
One model of civilization will be elected, the most tolerant and integrative federation. We can already see that globalization is led by the more complex western, democratic and technological nations. Who are the candidates? The EU? The US? Germany? The EU is supranational but not a sovereign federation. I doubt it would be able to turn into one. Furthermore, no national power will be able to impose itself onto the world: it would automatically arouse a counter power, just as once the USSR, and now political Islam, rose up against US dominance. Germany had already tried in recent past...

The most likely leader could well be Israel-Palestine

Their conflict is unique, receives an inordinate share of UN attention, and desperately seeks a unique solution.
The Jewish people returned from a worldwide exile to its homeland, introducing a huge diversity. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Arab people formed on the same land. Therefore, they both have a legitimate claim to it, but two national and territorial sovereignties can only cancel each other out. A supranational Israeli-Palestinian federation is the only solution.
Will they be able to reach this solution[7]? Hope is possible: Arab and Jews already share the Abrahamic faith in the Sovereign of the World to whom the Land belongs, and both were born from a federation of tribes… and they have no other choice.
Once a Supranational Sovereign is recognized in the Holy Land, other nations will be able to join freely. The federal capital, Jerusalem, uniting East and West, should then become the seat of the new UN.

Degrees of freedom in interactions with the environment rise with complexity

Consciousness increases, from primitive forms of sentience to animal cognition, human self-awareness, and a future global ‘Noosphere’[8].
United in the World Federation, with the help of the emerging super AI and reaching new levels of consciousness, humanity will be freed from scarcity, diseases, maybe death. Spatial conquest will open new worlds to its creative forces.

[1] Valentin Turchin, The Phenomenon of Science. A cybernetic approach to human evolution.
[2] Stuart A. Kauffman, Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion.
[3] Laughlin, Robert B., A Different Universe (2005).
[4] Eric Nelson, The Hebrew Republic: Jewish Sources and the Transformation of European Political Thought, Harvard University Press, 2010.
[5] Nick Bostrom, Superintelligence, Oxford University Press
[6] Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near, 2006
[7] Yosef Gorny , From Binational Society to Jewish State: Federal Concepts in Zionist Political Thought, 1920-1990.
[8] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man, Harper Torchbooks, The Cloister Library, Harper & Row, Publishers, 1961, p. 253

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Holyland Union Dream

I don't agree with the principle stating that "The two national entities, Israel and Palestine, would enjoy absolute sovereignty". This is a confederation.
The Union should enjoy absolute sovereignty, and the states should have only a large autonomy, being independent and interdependent. This is a federation.
Apart from that, I like the name and have adopted it in my website.

Viewpoint: The Holyland Union Dream
10/05/2010 13:19

With the renewal of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the time is ripe for some out-of-the-box thinking.

Photo by: Avi Katz

WITH THE RENEWAL OF DIRECT PEACE TALKS between Israel and the Palestinians, the time is ripe for some out-of-the-box thinking. Both theoretical solutions of the conflict – partitioning the holy land to create two states for two peoples, or leaving it intact as one state for two peoples, are problematic. One way forward might be to create a grand synthesis between the two by adopting the best of both.

In itself, the one state solution is a non-starter. Despite rumblings by some Palestinian leaders that they might be ready to go for a one state model in which the Palestinians would soon become a majority, most Palestinians are not ready to give up the more realistic dream of establishing an internationally-backed state of their own along the 1967 borders. And despite proposals by some right-wing Israeli thinkers to grant West Bank Palestinians Israeli citizenship in a single state that would somehow retain its Jewish majority, most Israelis won’t agree to put their already existing predominantly Hebrew speaking Jewish state at risk. Nevertheless, the complexity of the situation is such that both sides would be well advised to look beyond the conventional two-state wisdom to an arrangement in which partition of the holy land does not entail a total and possibly unworkable disengagement.

One such model could be that of the European Union. It could satisfy the aspirations of both sides for separate national sovereignty and unique cultural identity in two separate nation states, while creating a common superstructure to promote shared interests and exploit joint resources in all the territory of the holy land they share.

Even if establishing such a model today seems like a phantasmagoric pipe dream without any basis in the conflict-ridden Israeli- Palestinian experience, the very prospect could make it easier for both sides to reach a practical solution to the conflict.

If adopted, the EU-style superstructure would encourage the two nations to work together for the good of the land over which they had been warring for exclusive ownership, by establishing a kind of joint ownership over the territory as a whole.

The two national entities, Israel and Palestine, would enjoy absolute sovereignty, like, say, the French and the Germans, with their own flag, government, parliament, stamps, currency and the like.

But, like the members of the EU, the two separate countries would set up a joint administration, let’s call it the “Holyland Union,” which would be headed by a commission, with representatives from both sides. The commission would, of course, be based in Jerusalem. Its mandate would be to devise and implement joint projects designed to promote an improved quality of life and a solid infrastructure for reconciliation and coexistence, for example in fields like the economy, agriculture, environment, health, education and welfare.

A precondition for the success of the “Holyland Union” would be full recognition by both sides of the holiness of the land for different faiths, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Bahais and others. The commission would be entrusted with the task of preserving, maintaining and developing holy and historical sites, and ensuring free access to them. It would also draft joint educational programs to inculcate a thorough awareness on both sides of the importance of the holy land to all religions with roots there. This inclusive approach would quickly turn the holy land into a magnet for international tourism, providing a huge source of revenue and employment.

The joint framework could also help solve problems, which today constitute potential sources of friction: for example, the notions of “transferring” Israeli Arabs, on the one hand, and Jewish settlers, on the other, could be superseded by more creative solutions, allowing both to remain in their current homes, and to choose between full citizenship in their country of residence, or permanent residence and citizenship in the neighboring “Holyland Union” member state. That would enable Jewish settlers in far-flung settlements that become part of Palestine to stay on as permanent residents, but to choose Israeli citizenship and the right to vote for the Knesset. In other words, in a settlement of this kind, there would be no need for any involuntary uprooting of Jewish settlers.

Jerusalem, as the seat of the commission, would gradually become the capital of the union. According it this status should therefore be discussed in the early stages of any future negotiation.

From the outset, the “Holyland Union” will be open to the incorporation of Jordan. Later, membership could be considered for Syria and Lebanon as well, while strictly adhering to the union’s founding principles that guarantee the separate national, cultural and religious rights of all the contracting parties. The next stage might be to consider expanding the union to the Middle East as a whole, turning the initial “Holyland Union” into a much larger Middle Eastern Union. If all the parties will it, it won’t be a dream.

Eldad Beck, who reports on European affairs and developments in the Arab world for The Jerusalem Report, is based in Berlin.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict refuses to be resolved

"if everyone considers the modern return to Zion a unique event in human history, that means the Palestinian people or the Israeli Arabs have also been forced to face a unique phenomenon that no other nation has confronted."

Yes Mr. Yeshoshua. And that is why we need a unique solution too!

Why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict refuses to be resolved

The author argues that peace remains elusive because the conflict is unprecedented in human history.

By A.B. Yehoshua | Apr.26, 2011 | 1:53 AM | 35

IDF soldiers evacuating Lebanon at the end of the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Photo by Nir Kafri

The question in the headline should ostensibly be directed to a Middle East expert, a political scientist, or even a foreign historian, not a writer whose expertise is his imagination. But because the question is a real one that is painful to everyone in the region regardless of his nationality, I will try to propose an answer.

This question is serious and disturbing for two reasons. First, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the longest-running conflicts in the modern era. If we mark its beginning at the start of Zionist settlement in Palestine in the 1880s, the conflict has been active, in blood and fire, for about 130 years.

Second, this is not a remote conflict in a godforsaken place, but one constantly at the center of international awareness. That means it is one of the most extensively dealt-with conflicts in the world. In the past 45 years alone, the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis has been the subject of serious attempts at mediation by many countries and respectable international organizations. Presidents of the United States have tried to mediate personally between the sides. Heads of government from all over the world devote their attention to it; high-level emissaries come to the region to try their hand at mediation and compromise. All this is on top of tireless initiatives by organizations and individuals on both sides in well-meaning symposia and meetings. Studies, books and innumerable position papers have been written and are being written all the time.

And although the sides have come to partial agreements in direct, secret and open talks, and although the formulas for a solution have seemed clear and acceptable, and even though these are two small nations that are ostensibly subject to international dictates, the conflict still contains an inner core that stubbornly refuses to surrender to peace.

It's true that there have been many mistakes and missed opportunities on both sides throughout the years. And because this conflict is cyclical rather than linear - in other words, time does not necessarily bring us closer to a solution, but peace approaches and recedes at historical junctions in the past and future - there is reason to wonder what makes this conflict unique compared to other conflicts, what causes it to persevere so zealously. I do not presume to intimate that my answer is the exclusive one, but I will try to put it to the test.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict refuses to be resolved because it is a conflict unprecedented in human history. There is no precedent for a nation that lost its sovereignty 2,000 years ago, was scattered among the nations, and later decided for internal and external reasons to return to its ancient homeland and re-establish sovereignty there. Therefore, if everyone considers the modern return to Zion a unique event in human history, that means the Palestinian people or the Israeli Arabs have also been forced to face a unique phenomenon that no other nation has confronted.

In the early 19th century there were only about 5,000 Jews in the Land of Israel, compared with the 250,000 to 300,000 Palestinian Arabs. At the time of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 there were about 50,000 Jews compared with 550,000 Palestinians Arabs. (These numbers are from the Jewish Encyclopedia. ) And by 1948 there were about 600,000 Jews versus 1.3 million Palestinian Arabs.

The Jewish people thus quickly ingathered from all corners of the world. They did not want to expel the Palestinians, and certainly not to destroy them, but neither did they want to integrate them into Jewish society as other nations did with the local residents. Moreover, there was no attempt here to impose a colonial regime, since the Jews had no mother country that had sent them on colonial conquests, as in the case of Britain or France. Here something original and unique in human history took place: A nation arrived in the homeland of another nation to replace its identity with an ancient-new one.

That is why at its most profound level, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a question of territory, as in the case of many historical conflicts between nations, but a battle over the national identity of the entire homeland - every stone and every part of it. For both sides, and mainly for the Palestinians, the size of the nation confronting them is not clear - whether it consists only of Israeli Jews or the entire Jewish diaspora. And the Israelis don't know whether they are confronting only the Palestinian people or the entire Arab nation. In other words, the demographic boundaries of the two sides are not clear either. This is therefore a fundamental conflict that constantly creates primal and profound mistrust between the two peoples, preventing a possible solution.

Is it still possible to resolve the conflict without ending up in the trap of a binational state? I believe so, but because this is a question I haven't been asked, I won't answer it now.

Monday, May 9, 2016

להשוות או לא להשוות? זאת השאלה

להשוות או לא להשוות? זאת השאלה

כן נכון, הימין צודק, עלינו קודם כל להגן על עצמנו ולהיות חזקים. אין לרחם על אכזרים. זה הלקח הראשון שעלינו ללמוד מהשואה.
הלקח השני הוא שחייבים להיות מוסריים ואסור לנו להידמות לרוצחינו. האלוף יאיר גולן צודק, ואשר לביטחון , הרי הוא מקצוע.
מה, אי אפשר גם וגם? גם חזקים וגם מוסריים? חייב להיות או או?

אני תמיד מוחה בצורה שלא משתמעת לשני פנים כשערבים או אחרים משווים בין סבלם של הפלסטיני, היום בשטחים או בנכבה שלהם ב- 1948, ובין השואה. אין דמיון כלל. זה נכון בהווה ובעבר, ונכון עד היום. אך, האם לא קיים סכנה שבעתיד כן יווצר בארץ מצב הדומה לשל גרמניה הנאצית?

איום דמוגרפי, שליטה צבאית על אוכלוסיה אזרחית," שטחים כבושים, שטחים מסופחים, משתפי פעולה וממשל משתף פעולה", אלה הרבה מונחים שמתארים את המצב שלנו בין הים לירדן, וגםמשמשים לתאר את גרמניה הנאצית.
עובדה היא שערביי ישראל מהווים איום דמוגרפי על יהדותה של מדינת ישראל. אם מספרם היחסי יעלה, אם לא גורשו/ברחו/לא אושרו לחזור קרוביהם ב-48, הם היו לסכנה דמוגרפית של ממש.

זאת הסיבה למה ישראל עדיין לא סיפחה את עיו"ש: היא לא הייתה יכולה להבטיח את אופיה היהודי כשהיהודים הופכים למחצית או מיעוט במדינתם. אי אפשר לברוח מהמסקנה הנוראית: יש בארץ מצב פוליטי של עם אחד מיותר בעיני העם השני, מצב בו עצם נוכחותו של הראשון מסכן את קיומו של השני. והדבר גם הדדי עבור שני העמים!

הפיתרון המתבקש אובייקטיבית - כשחלוקה טריטוריאלית אינה אפשרית - הינו טרנספר או רצח עם.
רבים היהודים הישראלים והערבים הפלסטינים שתומכים בטרנספר של העם השני.
בהקשר לזה, צודק נתניהו: תחילה היטלר לא רצה אלא רק בטרנספר של היהודים לאי מגדסקר. רק כשראה שאף מדינה לא מוכנה לקבל אותם - לא אירופה, לא האנגלים והערבים בפלסטין, ואף לא האמריקנים הגדולה - גמר בדעתו להשמיד אותם. עלינו לשאול את עצמינו איך הגענו למצב הזה, דווקא אנחנו, אחרי שהיינו הקרבנות, אחרי שהקמנו מדינה דווקא כדי להינצל ממצבים של גירוש, פוגרום ורצח עם?
איזה צחוק צוחקת עלינו ההיסטוריה? ועוד בהומור שחור בלתי נסבל? מהי משמעות הניסיון הזה האכזרי, שמעמיד את הקרבנות במקום הרוצחים,  כדי לבדוק לכאורה איך יתנהגו במצב דומה?

יש לי הסבר: הקמנו מדינה על המודל האירופאי,  והבעיה נעוצה בכך. אירופה השמידה אותנו ואנחנו מחקים אותה....

המהפכה הצרפתית אמרה ליהודים:  תקבלו הכל  כפרטים, שום דבר כלאום. אין כאן מקום לשני לאומים באותה טריטוריה! תבחרו, להתבולל או להעלם! היהודים בחרו להתבולל בתוך עם ולהפוך ל"צרפתים בני דת משה"...

למה המהפכה הצרפתית גרמה לשינוי כה קיצוני
במעמד היהודים? במשטר הישן היהודים חיו בתור זרים, באוטונומיה קהילתית-משפטית מוכרת על ידי השלטון המרכזי.
הריבונות הייתה שייכת למלך באופן אישי, ושום דבר לא מנע ממנו לשלוט על מספר עמים וקהילות לאומיות או משפטיות שונות.
המהפכה הגדירה מחדש את טיבם של הלאומיות ושל בעל הריבונות: העם, הלאום קיבל הגדרה טריטוריאלית. כל אדם הנולד או חי חיי קבע בטריטוריה שייך ללאום ויוצר אותו. הריבונות שייכת לעם וגם היא טריטוריאלית. היות ו"אין שני מלכים משתמשים בכתר אחד", היות  ויכול לשלוט רק ריבון אחד במדינה אחת, לחול רק מערכת חוקים אחת זהה לכולם, לא יכולים לחיות שני עמים בארץ אחת.

האם יכולים הערבים הפלסטינים להפוך ל"ישראלים בני דת מוחמד"? לא. גם לערביי ישראל נתנה המהפכה הציונית (כמעט) הכל כאזרחים פרטיים ושום דבר כלאום. רק שלהבדיל מצרפת ובדומה לגרמניה הנאצית, אנחנו לא מציעים לערבים להיקלט בלאום היהודי. אנחנו  לא רוצים להתבולל ולהתמזג למעין לאום ישראלי (או פלסטיני) אחד חדש. וגם הם קנאים לזהותם הלאומית -הערבית-מוסלמית, אם כי האיסלאם פתוח וקולט יותר מאשר היהדות.

הנה כאן הדמיון עם גרמניה הנאצית: הנאצים ראו את עצמם כעם-גזע עליון טריטוריאלי שרוצה לשמור על טהרת דמו. ואנחנו היהודים הישראלים רואים את עצמינו כעם נבחר שאינו יכול לשמור על זהותו הייחודית אם ייאלץ לקלוט אל תוכו עם אחר, או להתמזג איתו.
נכון, היהדות לא הבינה אף פעם את רעיון הבחירה כעליונות על אחרים.

נכון היהדות לא מבינה גם כן את עצמה כגזע, כקשר דם בלבד: כל אחד - ללא הבדל דת ולאום - יכול להתגייר ולהפוך ליהודי לכל דבר. אך למעשה קשה להתגייר, וברור שגיור הערבים אינו יכול להוות פתרון פוליטי.

נכון שהגרמנים אסרו על יחסי מין עם "לא ארים" תוך גזענות, ואנחנו, אם  לא מתחתנים עם "לא יהודים", זה רק כדי להמשיך ולהבטיח את קיומנו כעם. מה רע ברצון לשמור על שוני ולא להתבולל?

למרות אלפי ההבדלים - שהאנטישמים לא רוצים לראות ושהרבה אחרים לא מבינים - התוצאה הפוליטית היא מאוד דומה: אין בטריטוריה שישראל ריבונית עליה מקום לשני לאומים. שני העמים לא יכולים להתמזג, ואין אפשרות או רצון לחלק את הארץ ביניהם. מדינת הלאום מחייבת שאחד משני העמים צריך "להעלם" כך או אחרת.

המשמח והמעניין הוא שהדבר לא יקרה, לפחות לא בקרוב.
היהודים לא יתנו לעוד שואה להתחולל, והערבים  למדו את לקח 48. ועוד, העולם שבוחן ומבקר ללא הרף כל חטאון ישראלי לכאורה, יחד עם זכרו של השואה שעדיין כואב לרוב היהודים, לא יאפשרו זאת.

אם כן, מהו הפתרון למצב הטרום שואתי בה שרויה ישראל מאז היווסדה לפני 70 שנה?
הראיתי שבעיה זו נעוצה באימוץ מודל מדינת הלאום האירופאית להקמת מדינת ישראל.
במקום לפתור את "הבעיה היהודית", הפכנו תפקידים עם "הגוים", אנחנו נהיינו הלאום השולט, והפלסטינים הפכו ללאום הנשלט.
עלינו על כן להמציא מודל חדש של מדינה המאפשרת את קיומם יחד של שני לאומים או יותר באותה טריטוריה, תחת אותו הריבון.
המדינה תהיה בהכרח על-לאומית. המדינה תיצור ברית בין העמים החיים בה. והברית החוקתית היא אשר תהיה הריבון היחיד. שני העמים יהינו מאוטונומיה קהילתית ואזורית רחבה, אך הטריטוריה תשתייך רק לפדרציה., וצבא פדרלי ישמור על גבולותיה.
הלאומים ישמרו על זהותם ההסטורית-דתית-משפחתית העתיקה. לכל אזרח תהיה אזרחות דואלית, שתבטיח זכויות שוות לפרט ולכלל.
בקיצור: עלינו להקים יחד, יהודים וערבים, פדרציה על-לאומית של לאומים לא טריטוריאלים. כך נוכל לחיות בשלום, ביחד ולחוד.

Monday, March 14, 2016

עקרונות וקווי יסוד לפדרציה

קווי יסוד ליצירת ברית פדרלית יהודית-ערבית בכל הארץ.

ביחד ולחוד בארץ אחת תחת ריבון אחד

המטרה: לתת ביטוי פוליטי ולאפשר הגדרה העצמית לכל  הקבוצות הלאומיות, ולהשרות שלום ביניהן בארץ הבלתי מחולקת.

האמצעי: יצירת ברית פדרלית בין כל השבטים הלאומיים תחת גג חוקתי אחד, שישליט צדק ומשפט בכל ארץ ישראל-פלסטין.

גישה: יש לקבל את המצב הפוליטי והדמוגרפי כפי שהוא קיים בכל מורכבותו, ולהתחיל את השינוי ממנו.

ניתוח המצב:
לא ניתן למזג את  שתי הקבוצות הלאומיות הראשיות - יהודים ישראלים וערבים פלסטינים - לאומה אחת. זהות שניהם אינה טריטוריאלית. הם עמים הסטוריים עתיקים המוגדרים על ידי קשר של דם ודת.  לאום "ישראלי" או "פלסטיני" כולל נדון להיות פיקציה היוצרת בעיה דמוגרפית ותגרום לדיכוי של צד אחד ומלחמת אזרחים.

לא ניתן להפריד בין הלאומים השונים על ידי מתיחת גבול ביניהם. יהודים וערבים רואים את כל ישראל-פלסטין כמולדת הלאומית ההסטורית שלהם.

קיים היום ריבון אחד אשר שולט על כל הארץ בין הים לנהר: מדינת ישראל וצה"ל זרועה. לא ניתן לפצל אותו לשנים מטעמי ביטחון, אך ניתן לשנות את אופיו לריבון משותף.

הפתרון: דגם ייחודי של פדרציה ישראלית פלסטינית.


1. ריבון על-לאומי אחד על כל הארץ הבלתי מחולקת.
2. ברית בין שווים.
3. הגדרה עצמית לכל הקבוצות הלאומיות.

כדי למנוע סכסוכים או חלוקה טריטוריאליים, הריבונות  תהיה שייכת  למדינה הפדרלית בלבד, והיא תחול על כל הארץ.

פרלמנט  פדרלי יהיה מורכב משני חדרים, עליון ותחתון. העליון ייתן משקל שווה לבני שני העמים וזכות וטו למיעויות הלאומיות, באופן בלתי תלוי בדמוגרפיה: כך ינוטרלו האיום הדמוגרפי ועריצות הרוב!

כדי לאפשר זכות להגדרה עצמית לבני שני העמים ולכל הקבוצות האתניות או הדתיות שירצו בכך, ריבונותה של המדינה הפדרלית חייבת  להיות על-לאומית.

יש להבחין בין ריבונות לעצמאות:
הריבון מעל הכל. כאן הריבון הוא חוקת הברית הפדרלית עצמה.
עצמאות משמע חופש משלטון של עם אחר. הדבר מתקיים כאן על ידי השלטת חוק וצדק על לאומיים על כולם.

היות והטריטוריה תהיה פדרלית, מדינות הלאום  לא יהיו טריטוריאליות.
אולם, יחד עם זכויות האדם, יש לשמור גם כן על הזכויות הקולקטיביות של כל קבוצה לאומית. לכל ישוב ואזור חד לאומיים יש זכות לשמר על ציביונו הלאומי או דתי.
לשם כך יש להכיר בשני סוגי ישובים ומחוזות אדמיניסטרטיבים: חד לאומיים או מעורבים.
חוקי הפרלמנטים הלאומיים יחולו על אזרחי מדינות הלאום עצמם באופן אישי, על יישוביהם ומחוזותיהם הלאומיים. זאת אומרת שהם יהינו מאוטונומיה גם פרסונאלית וגם אזורית.
את הישובים והמחוזות המעורבים יש לנהל במשותף. ניתן להפעיל ניהול לאומי גם ברמת השכונה.
כך האזרחות הלאומית תהיה מנותקת מהשתייכות טריטוריאלית.
הדבר יאפשר לכל אזרח להתגורר במקום שירצה, ויחד עם זאת להצביע לפרלמנט הלאומי שלו.
כל אזרח יהינה מאזרחות דואלית, לאומית ופדרלית.

זכות השיבה של הפליטים הפלסטינים וחוק השבות הישראלי יכובדו באותה מידה. אם זאת יהיה זכות וטו למחוזות וישובים החד לאומיים  לשמור על ציביונם.

לירושלים ולמקומות הקדושים יהיו מעמד מיוחד בתוך עיר הבירה של הפדרציה ומחוז פדרלי בפני עצמו.

ביטחון הפנים יהיה באחריות המשטרה ברמה המקומית, האזורית, הלאומית והפדרלית.

ביטחון החוץ יהיה באחריות צבא הגנת הפדרציה. זה יהיה מורכב מכוחות ביטחון ישראלים ופלסטינים.
המצב האידאלי הינו שוויון ופריטי, אך המאזן הביטחוני האזורי אינו סימטרי: שכני הפדרציה הם ערבים ומוסלמים. לערבים הפלסטינים סולידריות ושייכות לאומה הערבית והאסלאמית הגדולה. עד לכריתת ברית איתה ושלום כולל, הצבא תישאר בהנהגה יהודית.

משמעות מעבר לפוליטי:
לסכסוך הזה משמעות דתית עמוקה. הוא מעמת שני לאומים ושלוש דתות על אותה הארץ ומאלץ אותנו - יהודים וערבים - להכיר בריבון משותף העומד מעל העמים.

לבעלי זיקה דתית ניתן לראות בריבונות העל-לאומית ועל-דתית של הפדרציה מאין השתקפות של ריבנות שמים, של "ריבונו של עולם" - לו הארץ ומלואה.

יצירת ברית שאסלאמית-יהודית-נוצרית מהווה איפוא מבחן אמוני לשלוש הדתות: האם הן משתמשות בדת כדי להשליט את עצמן על העולם, או שהן באמת מכירות בריבונו של עולם / רב אל-עלמין, אלוהי אברהם המשותף להן?

מתברר שמדינה פדרלית יהודית זו איננה איפוא רק פרי כורח המציאות אליו מגיעים אחרי שפתרון שתי המדינות נכשל.
ניתן לראות בו אידאל אליו עלינו להתאמץ להגיע, ושאליו היינו  נועדים להגיע מלכתחילה.

בדומה לסכסוך עצמו, לפתרון זה אין ממש תקדים, אך אם תרצו הוא יהפוך למציאות חיה.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Federalism is original Zionism!

A book by Prof. Yosef Gorny shows that at its beginning, in the 20's and 30's, the Zionist movement was federalist. It is only in the late 30's - after the Arabs violently rejected any sharing of the country with the Jews - that the Movement opted for a separated Jewish state.

Not only the well known Brit Shalom of Buber, Ruppin and Magnes, not only the Shomer Hatzair and the Jewish Agency, but Ben Gurion and even Jabotinski were for a federal Palestine under the British Mandate.

Here is a review published by The Palestine-Israel Journal

The Federal Idea Lives On
The Palestine-Israel Journal
Vol.14 No.4 2007

From Binational Society to Jewish State: Federal Concepts in Zionist Political Thought, 1920-1990 by Yosef Gorny.
by Joel Pollak

Yosef Gorny introduces his concise yet complex description of the history of Zionist federalism by describing his “disillusionment” about the prospects of confederation between Israel and its neighbors. Indeed, one of the most puzzling features about this otherwise informative and enjoyable book — hinting, perhaps, at a kind of agnostic post-Zionism — is its conclusion, in which Gorny claims that Zionism “is beginning its second historical journey” — back to Europe, where “a third-largest Jewish center [after the U.S. and Israel] … may well come into being.”

Gorny, a historian who now heads the institute for the research of Jewish press and media at Tel Aviv University, is not, like former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg, giving up on Zionism and celebrating the diaspora. Rather, he is expressing a deep concern about the fate of the Jewish people if there is no resolution to the Middle East conflict.

At the outset, Gorny defines different versions of the “federal” idea. A “federation” is “a sovereign state composed of autonomous political units that derive their power from one political center”; a “confederation” is “a regional alliance of sovereign states that maintain joint institutions in various domains.” Power devolves down in the former, and up in the latter.

He goes on to demonstrate how different versions of the federal idea have been proposed by various Zionist leaders as a way of bridging the gap between utopian national visions and the practical obstacles to establishing and maintaining a state. Often, federation and confederation were proposed to provide an answer to the fact or potential of a Jewish minority in Palestine and to Israel’s isolation among Arab nations.

Gorny excludes versions of the federal idea, such as certain forms of bi-nationalism, that did not uphold the general Zionist principle of a Jewish majority in the part of Palestine where Jewish self-determination would be exercised. He explores the ideas of mainstream Zionist leaders on both the left and the right, and shows how the federal idea was inspired by various precedents, including federal arrangements in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the United States. Zionist leaders who proposed federal ideas often changed their models as circumstances changed. Thus David Ben-Gurion first proposed (separate) autonomy for Jews and Arabs in Palestine in 1922; a joint federation of Jewish and Arab nations in the mid-1920s; a complex federal arrangement between Jews and Arabs in 1931; and a confederation of a Jewish state within a larger Arab formation in the mid-1930s.

One of the most interesting subjects Gorny addresses is the federal idealism of Vladimir (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky, who is considered a right-wing and militant thinker. Gorny points out that Jabotinsky was in some ways a political liberal, and that despite his view that Jews would have to resort to the use of force, he continued to believe in a federal solution that would recognize the rights of both Jews and Arabs.

Gorny demonstrates that in their deliberations, the Zionist leaders were capable of considering a wide range of different ideas. The idea of “transfer” — which was considered impractical but not “morally illegitimate” in the 1920s, having recently been implemented in Turkey and Greece — coexisted with utopian ideas of shared states and confederations.

Demography played a role in the formulation of the various models, just as it does today. After the Six Day War, Israeli Labor politicians Aryeh Eliav and Shimon Peres proposed different federal models as a way of resolving the moral and demographic challenges of occupation. Today, the “demographic threat” is in doubt, given the Gaza disengagement and questions about the accuracy of Palestinian population projections.

The geopolitical environment has also changed, with Arab states now prepared — at least in theory — to accept peace with (if not the legitimacy of) Israel, in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative.

These two factors, perhaps unforeseen by Gorny at the time of writing, have pushed the federal idea even further to the margins of Israeli discourse. However, it has not disappeared, because the fundamental conflict between Jews and Arabs remains to be resolved.

If the next few years should indeed see some form of Palestinian state emerge, there will also be a need for institutional arrangements between the two states to govern affairs that must be dealt with in common, such as water. The economic success of the Palestinian state will also depend on its ties to the Israeli economy, which will require continued political cooperation. Therefore, Gorny’s pessimism may be premature: For practical reasons, if not for idealistic ones, the federal idea still lives.