Nonfiction — print. Metropolitan Books, 2006. 228 pgs. Library copy.
As I mentioned in my most recent library loot, I heard Abunimah speak at my university back in November. I thought I would hear him discuss his “bold proposal to end the Israeli-Palestinian impasse ”, also the subtitle of this book, but he never even touched on it. What I heard from him, though, made me want to read the book.
Time and time again politicians, academics, and so-called experts have argued that the only way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to divide the territory in two, and all efforts to resolve the conflict have come down to haggling over who gets what. Abunimah’s basic premise is that there is no room for both Palestine and Israel, and instead the old idea of one state shared by two peoples is the only way to solve the conflict. Separation cannot lead to the security Israelis need or the rights Palestinians must have.
Abunimah’s proposal certainly is bold as the subtitle suggests, but it made for one of the most interesting reads on the conflict I’ve read to date. His argument is well-founded, thoughtful, clear, and just plain brilliant. He spends some time on the conflict, but the majority of his attention is focuses on the situation he presents. I found his comparisons to South Africa to be most interesting; not derogatory or demonizing but hopeful that the reconciliation that is occurring there can happen in Israel-Palestine.
He makes the case that the “demographic time bomb” Israeli politicians fear will occur (that is, that the number of Arab Palestinians will overwhelm the population Israeli Jews so that Jews become the minority even within the current state of Israel) has pushed Israel into “defensive” actions that include the settlements in the West Bank and proposals for the forced expulsion of Palestinians in order to preserve the Jewish majority of a Jewish state.
In other words, even without their attempts at land grabbing from the Palestinian territories, demographically there is no way that Israel will continue to a Jewish democratic state dominated by a Jewish majority without sequestering the rights of Palestinians. Abunimah states that Israel cannot be Jewish and democratic under these future (and current) conditions.
Like I said, this is one of the most interesting books I’ve read on the conflict in the while and a proposal I wish we had discussed in my class on the Middle East this past semester.