This is the plan of prof. Alfred de Grazia for a federation of Israel and Palestine. I don't agree with all the details, but the large picture and rationales of the project are OK for me.
A Lecture prepared for delivery at the University of Bergamo, Italy
As of 7 May 2002, Naxos, Greece
A FEDERATED ISRAEL-PALESTINE
by Alfred de Grazia
Israel and Palestine are my subject. What a chaos!
At this moment of history, the Government of the United States of America is less esteemed by the world than at any time since its Declaration of Independence of 1776. As if to confirm the worst tendencies of the Bush Presidency, the Congress, both Senate and House, as this month of May, 2002 began, voted overwhelmingly for resolutions that praised the cruel behavior of Israel and lashed out against the impotent Palestine authority.
The elite of the World's Superpower is badly confused . The American leadership in both major parties is actively promoting ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians while telling them to desist from all armed resistance to their invaders. Like the Israeli leaders, the American leaders claim to see a decisive moral difference between a bomb exploded by hand in a restaurant and a bomb dropped from the sky on a restaurant.
There are two contrasting opinions about the situation in Israel-Palestine:
The first and, unfortunately, dominating opinion holds these views:
1. It is impossible for Jews and Palestinians to live as neighbors
2. Equal justice and opportunities for all people is anyhow an absurd ideal.
3. Israel can end all violence against itself by ruthless force.
4. Every other proposed solution is well- known and is impossible or disastrous.
5. The U.S.A. must back the Israeli government at all costs.
6. Israel is intended by God to be ruler of Palestine.
It is supremely important that you do not accept this position, which is a formula for self-destruction.
The contrasting opinion, which I endorse, can be stated as follows:
1. The situation in Palestine-Israel is a continuing disaster, with no solution in sight.
2. 4 million Palestinians have been rendered helpless, homeless, destitute, and hopeless unless the outside world intervenes.
3. Israel has become a Garrison State (less and less democratic and more and more militaristic), and most Israelis are adversely affected by this trend and deeply disturbed.
4. The USA has been in charge of this situation for 55 years and bungled, meanwhile losing friends all over the world and provoking war and crisis.
5. Gentiles and Jews of the Western World should unite on a just and determined strategy.
We hold to this second position. And on the basis of this position, we have framed our model of a Federal Government. Let us be clear: We are creating here a utopia, but any considerable plan for a better society is a utopia. And our utopia is feasible under certain conditions.
To be adopted, our plan has to be brought forcibly to the attention of the top leaders of the countries involved: the USA, Israel, Palestine, NATO, the European Union, the Arab League, Russia, and the United Nations. If the plan were known and understood by these leaders, the probability of its being adopted would jump to 20%. Its chances at the moment may be 1%.
In the first quarter of this year the plan has been distributed around the offices of the United Nations and in an Earth Summit meeting in New York to governmental and non-governmental delegates. It has received praise wherever it has been read. Still this is not at all true access to the top leaders of the 30 or so countries that are or might be feeling an involvement in the Near East crisis. Although the United States government has called a summit meeting for the coming summer; it has not said what it wants to do, except to do something. So, as matters stand, our Federation plan hasn't a chance in a hundred of adoption.
Perhaps no useful plan whatsoever can penetrate the cloud of madness that envelops Israel-Palestine.
But all the other plans and all the other proposals for peace that have come to my attention amount only to procrastination, games of terror and war, an interminable slow bleeding of 8 million people, an obstacle that bars us from addressing properly many serious world problems of population, ecology, health, employment and education, civil war, terrorism, racism, invidious discrimination, and human rights. These are the costs already of a preoccupation with the Israel-Palestine maelstrom.
These costs of neglecting the world of the Middle East, and indeed the whole world, must be added to the special monetary expenditures that have gone into handling the situation in the Near East, actually, I should say, mishandling the situation. Such extra costs have been estimated, for the USA alone, at about 350 billion euros, starting back in 1945 and carrying up to the present time. And Congress has just promised Israel more aid.
Never mind the prospects of an armageddon. Even if the situation does not worsen, the chances that this agony and mass mischief will continue on their course are almost certain.
But let me now advance my principal argument today. I argue that the best solution to the terrible conflict between Jews and Arabs in Palestine is a radical seizure of authority over the region by a coalition of powerful concerned nations and international organizations, and the imposition upon Israel and Palestine of a Federal Government over a single territory.
A nation is proposed whose Palestinian citizens will be able to contribute heavily to the modernization of the many Islamic nations of the world, and whose Israeli citizens can assume a leading role in bringing about a world union, with justice, peace and welfare for all.
My plan contains a newly drafted Constitution for the Federation of Israel-Palestine. Like other complete Constitutions, the Constitution that I am offering is a declaration of who is authorized, to decide, and do, what, for whom, when, and with what guiding rules.
I should remind you that neither Israel nor Palestine has a proper constitution.
Israel has not been able to draft for itself a constitution, because of hostilities between secularists and fundamentalists. It has been developing a body of basic legislation. But now it has become a Garrison State, a state dominated by military elements and restricting individual rights.
Palestine has no deliberate constitution. It is a Dystrocracy, that is, a disordered political aggregate.
My Constitution proposes a Federation, a federal state of two states, Israel and Palestine. The Israel-Palestine Federation is to cover the full area now occupied by Israel and Palestine. Within this united area, however, the two states are in the beginning culturally separate -- Jewish and Arab. This implies, of course, that there will be religious and ethnic differences between the two States. But they will operate over the whole territory with respect to their own constituent citizens. They govern their Arab and Jewish citizens in important ways, but important limitations are imposed upon them by the Constitution, and the Federal government has several important powers. They are autonomous states; their powers can hardly be taken away from them without their consent. They are ethnic states, for their power to establish a state religion has been taken away.
I shall now try to give you the whole scheme in a single sentence. It is, of course, going to be a very long sentence. Here it is:
To rescue the Israeli People from a Garrison State, and the Palestinians from a Victimized Impotent Authority, we would transform both systems into a federated, full democracy, in which the Palestinian refugees have returned, to a single territory encompassing all of Israel and Palestine, whose Federation will consist of a State of Israel and a State of Palestine, each State having equal claim to the full land and nation of Israel-Palestine, each governing its own freely-joined citizens, in respect to certain basic functions of law, liberty, and welfare, each State electing its own Council of State from single-member, equally-populous districts using the approval- voting system, with both States mutually counseling, reconciling, and determining matters, by means of a Conference Committee of the two Councils of State, an Advisory Senate, a Supreme Court, a United Nations Temporary Peacekeeping Federal Commission that fades into its indigenous replacement, the Federal Commission, with armed forces that are operated at first by the State of Israel, and police forces that are operated at first by the State of Palestine, and possessing a central bank and common currency, and guaranteeing to every inhabitant a decent minimum subsistence, plus a federal, adequate mental and physical health delivery system for all, plus a universal education system for children and adults, plus the freedom to come and go from Israel-Palestine, plus the right to own and use personal and business properties, plus the right to belong freely to any accepting religion or belief.
Such is the vision of the Federation of Israel-Palestine, FIP.
For such a radical plan to succeed, it must overcome seven challenges:
1. It must be championed by the USA, the Arab League, Turkey, Russia, and the European Union -- which altogether implies UN support. This coalition must be prepared to deliver an ultimatum to the Israel and Palestine governments to accept the plan or else have their countries forcibly sanctioned until they acquiesce.
The American government alone could handle this job. But how can the American government be brought to its senses? This must happen, but how can it happen?
Three things can make it happen. One is the re-education of the 10,000 top leaders of the country, and perforce therefore the several hundred top leaders. Some need only reminders of history, some need counter-pressures, some need brainwashing. But it is difficult to gain access to their minds. Media controls, political contributions, skilled counsel and management aides, mythology of history and the Bible - see to it that American leaders can turn a blind eye to the situation in Palestine.
Three per cent of all Americans are Jews and about half of all American Jews would like U.S. Near East policies to change so as to be fair and just and helpful to the Palestinians. But neither these Jews, nor their gentile counterparts, carry great weight when it comes to putting pressures, both subtle and harsh, on politicians and community leaders.
These weighty pressures come for the most part from organizations and well-placed individuals who practice or favor orthodox Judaism and from their hard-nosed professional staffs. The informed and active political and voting behavior of the ordinary Jew, so unlike most gentiles in these regards, tends to back up pro-Israel policies or, what is very important, keep the society from expressing anti-Israel policies. Jewish organizations are careful to tie the Nazi Holocaust to the fortunes of Israel, and most ordinary Americans have come to believe that Israel is the well-deserved patrimony of the Jews for having suffered the Shoah or Holocaust. And they are led to believe that the Palestinians were in the beginning as scarce as Indians are in the State of Indiana.
A united front by the European Union and the European members of NATO, favoring the methods of the Constitution for the Federation of Israel-Palestine proposed here, would affect the American position strongly, especially if the discordance could be brought home to the ordinary American citizen, or even just to the intelligentsia of America. The Israel government realizes this and is trying to divide Europe from America and to make friends with Russia.
A third reason why the American government might change its policies is terrorism. The terrors being visited upon the Jews of Israel by Arab bombers and gunners are causing many people to change their political positions. The so-called "war against terror" is expensive and may not be decisively won. Thereupon the western world will carry a continual burden of fear. Under certain conditions, terror can be effective, like it or not.
If the Israel government and its mighty armed forces cannot wipe out Palestinian violence by their own immeasurably greater violence, the game is lost for Israel.
The Jewish people cannot withstand terror without end. It does not matter that the Israel military machine is wrecking Arab Palestine and murdering civilians. Israelis will still be terrorized and unable to carry on worthwhile lives. The government will have to make peace on terms that are increasingly favorable to the Palestinians.
The horrors of the present situation conceivably might release the American government from its constraints, as more and more American Jews and gentiles are consternated. Already, on top of the universal Islamic indignation, there has been a growing anti-Israel feeling in many European and South American countries. No matter how hard we may seek to contain this sentiment, it is bound to increase the level of anti-semitism in various countries. So, the U.S.A. government may have to bite the bullet and finally act justly and firmly in Israel and Palestine.
On only one occasion has Israel felt the wrath of the United States. That was when Israel, France, and Great Britain attacked to seize the Suez Canal from Egypt. All three nations, confronted by President Eisenhower's quick, stiff rejection, withdrew their forces and their plan.
2. The Plan must bring back the Palestinian refugees and their descendants to their homeland. Fifty-five years of humiliation, deprivations, and an alien despotism, have descended on some ten million Palestinians over two generations.
Is this comparable to the Holocaust that brought suffering and death to five million Jews? Some Palestinians have spoken of their persecution as their own holocaust or shoah. One thing is certain - comparisons of this kind are difficult and controversial, but both involve an immense widespread suffering that the world should attend to, and that would include especially the USA.
Re-settling two million Palestinians or more presents no grave problem. It would cost an insignificant fraction of the money that has been spent until now on armaments and destructive conflict. Israel has taken in over the past few years a million Russians who have some claim to a Jewish heritage. Very well: with a much expanded territory, in collaboration with the Palestinian part of the Federation, and with American and European help, it can take in two millions Palestinians within the same period of time or less. I have designed a housing and settlement scheme that can handle such numbers of people well and at a low cost. It is a challenge that a million talented and frustrated Jews of the world, never mind their Palestinian counterparts, would be delighted to take up.
3. The Plan must solve the problem of territorial boundaries and of who can live where.
For half a century, and for a century even before then, Jews and Arabs have struggled over property boundaries, dragging many countries into the conflict. They play a nasty game of chess, now snatching a piece here, now there, now claiming one piece then another, drawing all sorts of maps, scheming and dreaming about all kinds of seizures and purchases and boundary lines, blowing up each other to win a foothold.
This surrealist tragicomedy would largely end, if all the territory were consolidated into one piece, and the people in it could settle wherever they would find a place.
A strategy here could be to first announce the boundaries of the two States as they were originally set up by the United Nations, and then, because there would be howls of protest from both Israelis and Palestinians, to convert the two territories quickly into a single territory, much to their satisfaction.
4. The rescue plan must resolve the problem of religious fundamentalism, and, in so doing, the problem of the status of Jerusalem.
Like most large cities of the world, Jerusalem is composed mainly of urban sprawl. Its boundaries are crazy and have no necessary connection with the Jerusalem of the ancient Hebrews, or with any other tribe and nation who have ruled the place. The one thing we can be sure of is that there are a hundred thousand or so Jews and Arabs who will readily kill their neighbors as proof of their claim to any one of a number of holy places in Jerusalem.
The many attempts to decide the boundaries of the city and assign pieces to the parties concerned are ultimately nonsensical. There is no city and there should be no city. There is a cultural center, with many holy places and archaeological digs. Let Jerusalem's sprawl be divided into a number of electoral and administrative districts that are integrated into the larger map of Israel.
Let all Israel-Palestine, the whole Federation, be a single metropolis. It is, after all, smaller in numbers than Greater London, the Metropolitan Region of New York, Mexico City and other urbanized regions. Its area is greater than these places and permits a full measure of truck farming. Highly relevant is the promised ability to travel in all directions, so different from the present cramped quarters of everybody.
Let the religious cults have their sacred places; but where they conflict, let the Federal Government step in and run the site with a commission made up of the disputing cults.
5. Our plan must also give Israel a workable, representative, election system, and the same to Palestine. You would think that Jews would be able to govern themselves so well as to design an enviable election system. Not at all. Their election system is an invitation to anarchy and the Garrison State. What the two peoples need is the so-called "Favored Candidate Voting System" working from single-member districts, whereby the voter gives a vote to any and all candidates for office whom he would accept. The candidate who gets the largest total of favorable votes wins. With this method, a party system consisting of liberal and conservative, or conservative and radical, political tendencies should be able to work well.
6. The Constitution must afford every Palestinian and Israeli full human rights and place the Federation under the jurisdiction of the World Court. This would be part of the advancing trend to world government and not an injury to Israeli-Palestinian pride. It would stop the persecution of Palestinians by Israelis and eventually vice versa.
7. The plan must provide for its own transition into real life. That is, we must provide the means by which the present situation can be transformed into a radical controlled reconstruction. This I have done in the Constitution. If the two authorities of Israel and Palestine do not agree to submit to this just demand, a Commission selected by the United Nations and the Coalition of Nations must take charge of the whole country. Then they must carry out the steps called for by the Constitution. In such a case, within several years, the Commission could turn over its offices and powers to the constitutionally elected representatives of the Israelis and Palestinians.
These, then, are seven challenges to the Plan, with the methods that I would propose for dealing with them.
So now I must leave you with a distressing picture of the present, and a menacing prospect of the future. I leave you, also, with a constructive Federal Democracy of Israel and Palestine -- a plan that will probably be torn to pieces with other good things.
Meanwhile, like fools, we are listening to the words of Shakespeare, uttered in the guttural voice of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel:
"Cry Havocke and let slip the Dogges of Warre!"