Saree Makdisi’s One-State Solution: A Delusive ‘Just Peace’

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Recently, UCLA professor of English and advocate of a single state solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict Saree Makdisi spoke in the student union at the University of Pennsylvania. The lecture, sponsored by the Penn Middle East Center (MEC), the English Department, the Greenfield Intercultural Center, and the Penn Arab Student Society, represented another in a series of events sponsored by the university-funded Middle East Center that brought known anti-Israel speakers to Penn, including UCLA’s James Gelvin, Stanford’s Joel Beinin, artists Reza Kanazi and Radio Rahim, and numerous film screenings.  To get a better sense of the level of bias at MEC, consider the following: in the first four months of 2011, the MEC underwrote eight events co-sponsored by Penn for Palestine and associated groups, but none by the Penn Israel Coalition or other pro-Israel campus groups. Moreover, by inviting an English professor like Makdisi, whose academic specialty is eighteenth and nineteenth-century British poetry, MEC privileges his anti-Israel politics over his lack of specialized knowledge of the Middle East.

Makdisi began his commentary with an attempt “to reset and remember, first of all, that the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem together comprise a very small fraction of all of historic Palestine and only a minority of the Palestinian people actually lives in the occupied territories.” While four million Palestinians live in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, Makdisi asserted, six to seven million Palestinians live either in “forced exile or as citizens of the State of Israel,” and “routinely they are left out of the equation of the status of how to resolve the conflict.”

The point of this demographic discussion, as Makdisi would soon establish, was to lay the foundation of his version of a “just peace” between Palestinians and Israelis:

What I’m interested in…is a just peace, a peace that by definition has to take into account the rights of everybody involved in the conflict; that is to say, all Israelis and all Palestinians, the Palestinians living under occupation, the Palestinians living as second class citizens in Israel, and the Palestinians living in exile…everybody’s rights have to be addressed.

The above quote reveals Mr. Makdisi’s deep desire to erase the Jewish character of Israel. By making Palestinians outside of the West Bank and Gaza required participants any “just” resolution to the conflict, Makdisi proves his belief in the Palestinian right of return, and thus the assured destruction of the Jewish state. He reveals his acceptance of the classic Palestinian mythology of 1948 – which ignores Arab treatment of Jews (and each other) and focuses on what Jews did to Arabs. In a mendacious demonstration of his anti-Israel bias, Makdisi fails to mention the UN agency, UNRWA, which perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem in cahoots with Arab governments who provide Palestinians with pitiable treatment.

Speaking on the two-state solution’s feasibility, Makdisi stated that, “the West Bank, the biggest single chunk of the occupied territories, has been so broken up by Israeli colonization and development, that the idea of trying to create a Palestinian state in this territory under the circumstances seems completely unrealistic and totally unworkable.” Yet he revealed a seemingly different point when he said:

Even if…the Israelis were to withdraw tomorrow…from all of the West Bank… Even if it [said] Palestinians could have a real state with a real army, and real air force, real police, and real all the rest…would that address the rights of all Palestinians? And the answer of course is no it wouldn’t because only a minority of Palestinians lives in the West Bank…. I think we have to think…beyond the occupied territories for a just resolution to this conflict.

The latter point reveals the subterfuge of Makdisi’s earlier argument regarding the one-state solution’s practical “unworkability.” The ill-defined “just peace” of which he spoke that looks “beyond the occupied territories” into Israel proper, would of course destroy its character as a Jewish State.

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  • Bamaguje

    Actually a one-state solution is not as bad for Israel as it might seem, so long as it is on Israel’s terms as it was between 1967-1994 when both West bank and Gaza were under direct Israeli sovereignty.
    Palestinians prospered and Israel was much more secure than after the 1994/95 Oslo accords which handed over control of the so-called “occupied territories” to the dysfunctional Palestinian Authority.
    Oslo accords did not bring peace but only succeeded in escalating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    Instead of succumbing to international pressure about unrealistic “peace process”, Israel could have consolidated its 1967-94 success in West bank & Gaza by increasing Arab representation in the Knesset to about 30% to accommodate Palestinians and formalize their integration into Israel.

  • Bamaguje

    A one-state solution resolves all the thorny issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel wouldn’t have to give up East Jerusalem which houses the holiest Jewish site nor the militarily strategic Samaria.
    Israeli “settlers” wouldn’t have to be uprooted from the West bank which is the ancestral home of the Jewish people.
    Palestinians would have access to East Jerusalem, and more importantly West bank and Gaza would be territorially connected.
    As it is now, one-state solution will only work if due to some provocation Israel re-annexes West bank & Gaza and imposes her will.

    Fears of Arabs demographically overwhelming Jews are exaggerated as it presumes Palestinian birth rate will remain high over the coming decades. With prosperity and education as would be expected in a unified Israel, birth rate tend to fall.
    Furthermore Israel could partially neutralize untoward Palestinian demographics by granting citizenship to immigrant guest workers (Philipino, Thai, Black African) who are mostly Jew friendly.
    Short of expelling Palestinians, me thinks one-state solution might be the best option for Israel.

  • Manni

    Makdisi, Gelvin, Beinin et al should focus on reforming the Arab world. Makdisi should look into Lebanon, his homeland. Why can't Jews, Christian and other freely live in Saudi Arabia? Makdisi have blood in his eyes, literally too. Makdisi, Gelvin et al should take a shower, they stink!!

  • sedoanman

    How about a 58-state solution? Carve a Palestinian homeland out of the 57 Islamic states.

    • Bamaguje

      I concur. That's what I meant by expelling Palestinians…so other Arabs could take them in as Israel took in Jews expelled from Arabia.
      But we all know that isn't going to happen as no solution short of destroying Israel would suffice for Arabs & Muslims.
      3rd & 4th generation Palestinians in neighbouring Arab nations are stil "refugees", since other Arab states continue to deny citizenship to their fellow Arabs from Palestine.

      • generalissimo

        actually, if "palestine" was a state, it would be the 57th, not the 58th. But because what we're talking about here are muslim "countries", then by "state" we mean "state of war" versus anybody that the religion of perpetual offence lays its vermin infested eyes on.

  • Tal Orr

    I'm an Israeli Jew, I was at this meeting. The author of this piece is disingenuous and a liar, whom seems to live to write smear jobs about activists working to build a non-violent palestinian and israeli civil society for Likud oriented propaganda organs like Campus Watch.

    The assertion that anyone who believes in the right of return wants to destroy the Jews or the "Jewish State", can only be made by an ethno-supremacist nationalist. Replace every time the author of this says "jews" with "Aryans" and the blatantly racist motivations become clear

    • Guest

      The only thing you have is a name, left from your Israeli Jew past, which you are neither!

      You prove that one does not have to be a non jew to hate Israel actually jews and Israelis have been doing a fine job at that for some time!


      Israel does not need enemies with ones like you!!!!!!!!!

    • ajnn

      you mean another 8 million muslim arabs who want to kill all the jews in the world in Israel would be good for peace, civil rights, and safety ?

      1. 'right of return' is not a right acknowledged under international law or human rights laws. It is 100% a propaganda construct of the arabs. and, yes, the purpose is to end israel.

      2. countries with large muslim and non-muslim populations generally don't do well. they are filled with civil disorder and violence; largely with non-muslim victims.

      why do you want civil war in israel ?

    • generalissimo

      Sure you are! The "palestinians" are already on their homeland, palestine; by palestine I mean Israel, since that is the name the invading Romans gave to the land once known as Judea.
      The arabs living in Israel have more rights in that single country than in all muslim countries combined! Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq refused to integrate "palestinian" refugees, as they want their refugee status to be a constant sore on the face of any "peace" negotiations. Hey, even Ara-fart once said that the "palestinians" had never suffered so much as they had under the Saddam regime; and he was a fellow muslim. I thought the ummah was an international community of believers, but obviously this only has any meaning when it can be used as a blunt object to bash against Israel or the US.
      Only in Israel were these so-called palestinians allowed to integrate into the society. About 85% of "palestinian-arabs" are actually of jordanian origin. But they get no chance to integrate in Jordan.
      That land was in the grubby little hands of the ottoman empire, AKA 'the caliphate" for around 400 years. After the ottomans had their asses handed to them when they were pwned in WWI, being the losers that they were, had to watch as the victors redrew the map. So, from about 1924 until the creation of the State of Israel, nobody whinned about "palestine". The land that was historically the land of the Jews was given (more or less intact) to its rightful owners in 1948. Then, in the late 60's (1968), suddenly a motley crew of briggands and professional belly-achers with an over-inflamed sense of entitlement began belching the word palestine. At first, the world thought it was just a bad joke; but the crybabies started getting some serious anti-jewish sympathy with very well connected individuals (crime connections, mostly) and next thing you know, even came up with a flag for it (kind of like having a flag for Gotham City, but even more distasteful and violent than the city of the Dark Knight).

  • Brian

    Arab Student Society (A.S.S.) How appropriate

  • 2ndChance

    If it is ever reached, the current and any other artificial “peace agreement” will be illegitimate before it is ever signed because (1) all people living in Palestine regardless of religion, race, origin, etc. (hereinafter “All People of Palestine”) were never given a choice on how they want their land to be governed, and (2) all contracts signed under duress are null and void.
    The biggest problem in Palestine is that the Zionist regime never offered a choice to All People of Palestine on how they want to govern their land because the Zionist regime cannot exist as a democratic entity. If there was ever any democratic process in Palestine, Zionists would have been outvoted and the Zionist regime would have never existed. That is why the Zionist regime is the occupier because it does not offer choice (i.e. democracy), but instead imposes its regime (i.e. occupies). Imagine if Russians would simply occupy a town in the U.S. where they are in significant numbers and attempt to create a Russian state there without giving the rest of the Americans living there a choice. Imagine then if they would try to institute a “peace agreement” that would attempt to legitimize their occupation. The “peace agreement” would logically and legally be illegitimate because the Americans were not given a choice.

    Under all countries’ laws, any contract is null and void if it is signed under duress. The current Palestine “peace agreement” process reminds me of The Godfather movie where the mafia boss (i.e. the Zionist regime) made a guy “an offer he could not refuse” by placing a gun (i.e. Zionist conventional and nuclear arsenal) to his head and making him sign the contract. Like the mafia boss’ offer, any “peace agreement” other than the choice for All People of Palestine is a crime, and the contract is legally null and void.

    The bottom line is that All People of Palestine never wanted to divide their land into artificial two states the way the occupation and this “peace agreement” attempt to divide it. From the beginning of the Zionist regime to its unavoidable end, All People of Palestine and the region never wanted the Zionist regime and they do not want it even more after all the atrocities the Zionist regime committed. I just cannot believe how the Zionist regime can be so ignorant to think that this or any other “peace agreement” that does not allow people to choose how they want to be governed will last and ensure its people’s survival. The Zionist regime fails to realize that no matter if it succeeds in muscling this “peace agreement” by unspeakable historic coercion tens of millions of moral people around the world will oppose it until it is corrected, and until justice and free choice prevail. Also, ever increasing number of Jewish people are realizing that Zionism is becoming a destructive force for them and are leading the global resistance to it.

    Feel free to copy this comment, email it to other bloggers, and repost it on other blogs, newspaper websites, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking websites, and include it in any correspondence/lobbying with senators, state representatives and any other public officials so the public learns the truth

  • Joe Henri

    The only solution for a lasting peace is absolute democratic process (that we Americans cherish so passionately) for the entire territory in question, otherwise, the peace will not last. All people who lived there without regard to religion, race, etc. should vote on how they would like their one country to be run. I favor one state solution because two states would only attempt to “legalize” Zionist occupation that will be remembered in history until it is corrected by future large scale conflicts, so no lasting peace will result. The only issue with the fair democratic process is what to do with all manipulated Jewish people who the Zionist regime imported for decades to increase the Jewish population from around 100,000 to over 5 Million since the start of the occupation. This is obviously an attempt to unjustly manipulate any future democratic process by forcefully increasing the occupier’s population at the expense of others. Any compromise other than the absolute fair democratic process with no manipulated population will be temporary with terrible conflicts looming to correct it in the future.

    The truth is that the Zionist regime will not accept any democratic process even if the manipulated Jewish population is included because it cannot exist as a democratic country as Zionists will be outvoted by all others who live there (Zionists were in an infinite minority before the occupation). The Zionist regime can only temporarily exist through the force of its arms as a one people country where only select ones can vote and where different laws apply to different people.
    The world must stand up against the Zionist regime by cutting all diplomatic and economic relations with it. Many countries have already stopped all relations with the Zionist regime and others are in the process of doing the same. We Americans need to completely distance ourselves from this oppressive regime through urging our state representatives and senators to do what the rest of the world is doing

  • Fourth Of July

    Imagine in the current time if France would want to create its own state in Michigan and separate it from the U.S. French are a minority in Michigan so democratic vote on the separation would not work because they would be outvoted by the rest of the Americans living in Michigan. So imagine if they had a historic opportunity when the U.S. is at its weakest and militarily occupy a part of Michigan and impose a regime where only French can vote and all the others who lived there cannot. Furthermore, the occupiers rename the occupied part of Michigan as the “French State” where not only that Americans are not welcome, but they are systematically expelled over time creating huge refugee camps in nearby states of Indiana and Ohio. Imagine then that at that point in history the artificial organization called the United Nations is full of French supporters and somehow that makes the occupation “legal” and Americans who fight for their homes in the occupied part of Michigan are labeled as terrorists. The occupation is a part of a careful log-term plan (i.e. Zionism) of acquiring land by French, so literally days after the occupation is implemented (what a coordinated plan!) the occupiers import millions of other French from all over the world to increase their population in Michigan from around 100,000 to over 5 Million in a short period. Then Americans resist and fight to regain the occupied part of Michigan, but Russia steps in, sends weapons, cash, and everything else the occupiers need to sustain the occupation.

    What do you think all of us Americans would feel? We would hate French first, and then all of their supporters (Russia in this analogy) that make the occupation of our land possible. Still questioning yourself why people in the Middle East and other parts of the world do not like us? Because Zionist controlled our government, not the people, supported the very exact scenario as described above against our will and with our tax money making us accomplices in this unspeakable crime. The scenario that would outrage all of us Americans and make us fight against it if it happened in Michigan or anywhere else in the U.S.

    This comment is not intended to make derogatory remarks about France and Russia. It is merely used as an example of how Americans would be outraged and fight back in the same situation as the forced establishment of the Zionist regime and its occupation of Palestine.
    Urge your state representatives and senators to immediately stop any remaining support for the Zionist regime. Much of the support already stopped because of the increasing pressure on this issue, but we Americans need to completely distance ourselves from this oppressive regime and start actively opposing it