In his latest weekly article, veteran Israeli journalist and peace activist Uri Avnery (83 years old, yet still on the front line) writes again that he believes the “one state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is dead:
“When the first bullet was fired, the possibility of creating the joint, united single country was shattered … I am proud of my ability to adapt rapidly to extreme changes. The first time I had to do this was when Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany and my life changed abruptly and completely. I was then nine years old, and everything that had happened before was dead for me. I started a new life in Palestine. On November 29, 1947, it was happening again – to me and to all of us. As the well-known saying has it, one can make an omelette from eggs, but not eggs from an omelette. Banal, perhaps, but how very true. The moment the Hebrew-Arab war started, the possibility that the two nations would live together in one state expired. Wars change reality. I joined the ‘Haganah Battalions’, the forerunner of the IDF. As a soldier in the special commando unit that was later called ‘Samson’s Foxes’, I saw the war as it was – bitter, cruel, inhuman. First we faced the Palestinian fighters, later the fighters of the wider Arab world. I passed through dozens of Arab villages, many abandoned in the storm of battle, many others whose inhabitants were driven out after being occupied. It was an ethnic war. In the first months, no Arabs were left behind our lines, no Jews were left behind the Arab lines. Both sides committed many atrocities. In the beginning of the war, we saw the pictures of the heads of our comrades paraded on stakes through the Old City of Jerusalem. We saw the massacre committed by the Irgun and the Stern Group in Deir Yassin. We knew that if we were captured, we would be slaughtered, and the Arab fighters knew they could expect the same. The longer the war dragged on, the more I became convinced of the reality of the Palestinian nation, with which we must make peace at the end of the war, a peace based on partnership between the two peoples. While the war was still going on, I expressed this view in a number of articles that were published at the time in Haaretz. Immediately after the fighting was over, when I was still in uniform convalescing from my wounds, I started meeting with two young Arabs (both of whom were later elected to the Knesset) in order to plan a common path. I could not have imagined that 60 years later this effort would still not be over. NOWADAYS, THE IDEA appears here and there of turning the omelette back into the egg, of dismantling the State of Israel and the State-of-Palestine-to-be, and establishing a single state, as we sang at that time: ‘from the sea to the desert’. This is presented as a fresh new idea, but it is actually an attempt to turn the wheel back and to bring back to life an idea that is irrevocably obsolete. In human history, that just does not happen. What has been forged in blood and fire in wars and intifadas – the State of Israel and the Palestinian national movement – will not just disappear. After a war, states can achieve peace and partnership, like Germany and France, but they do not merge into one state [n.b., this is not, however, true of civil wars, such as the one in the U.S.A., or the one in Nigeria, for example] … By the middle of the 40s, the situation of the two peoples had changed decisively. There was no escaping from the partition of the country … Even after 60 years, in which they have suffered catastrophes which few other peoples have ever experienced, the Palestinian people clings to its country with unparalleled fortitude. True, the dream of living together in one state is dead, and will not come to life again. But I have no doubt that after the Palestinian state comes into being, the two states will find ways to live together in close partnership. The walls will be thrown down, the fences will be dismantled, the border will be opened, and the reality of the common country will overcome all obstacles. The flags of the country – the two flags of the two states – will indeed wave side by side. The UN resolution of November 29, 1947, was one of the most intelligent in the annals of that organization. As one who strenuously opposed it, I recognize its wisdom”.
Avnery’s weekly article, which will be published in a number of places, was received by subscription to an email list.