Sunday, August 23, 2015

A book I almost bought (and its review)

I’m lucky enough to be spending a few days in New York City. In a book store yesterday some books were competing for my attention. One of them was “The Two-State Delusion,” by Padraig O’Malley, about the impossibility of implementing the so-called two state solution to Israel and Palestine. I didn’t finally buy it because it was long and expensive, and I thought I would never read it. But spending some time going through its pages I thought I would agree with most of it. It is impossible to keep agreed borders in such a small, disputed and mixed land. I kept looking at the last chapter for an alternative proposal, such as an obvious one state solution, or some federal arrangement, but there wasn’t anything in terms of a constructive plan. That is the criticism that is raised today by Peter Beinart in the New York Times Book Review. But this critic does attack the idea of a binational state. He says: “Binationalism, the most commonly suggested alternative to the two-state solution, barely works in Belgium. The Czechs and Slovaks opted for divorce (...) “Irastine” would be civil war under a common flag.” But the choice of examples is very poor. Certainly many Israelis and Palestinians would accept living in something similar to Belgium. And many not bi-national but multi-national federations work decently enough: would’t India be much worse if instead of being a multi-lingual multi-religious federation it had fallen apart in a collection of ethnocracies? If Muslims and Jews can live decently and peacefully enough in places like New York or London without building walls, why can’t they do the same in the Middle East?

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