Thursday, January 22, 2009

Qaddafi says one state for all: Isratine!

Today's NYTimes features a surprisingly level-headed call by Muammar Qaddafi of Libya for a one-state solution in Israel/Palestine. "Isratine" he calls it, cutely.

Myself, I'm skeptical, because I don't think that two ethnonationalistic polities can coexist, and further I think that only security and dominion over their own sovereign territories can bring about improved relations between them (a la the Balkans). Moreover, a 1-state solution would make Jews the minority in the "Jewish state." When's the last time political power transferred peacefully from one ethnic group to another ethnic group? ... Okay, now forget South Africa for a moment, and answer that question again. It's been a long time.

Now, there's no guarantee the 2-state solution would bring about peace either. Qaddafi ably points out how security would remain an issue for both countries, particularly for Israel, which is a major reason why I remain pessimistic about the future.

The other thing is that Qaddafi takes a moderate position on the creation of Israel in 1948:

It is a fact that Palestinians inhabited the land and owned farms and homes there until recently, fleeing in fear of violence at the hands of Jews after 1948 — violence that did not occur, but rumors of which led to a mass exodus. It is important to note that the Jews did not forcibly expel Palestinians. They were never “un-welcomed.” Yet only the full territories of Isratine can accommodate all the refugees and bring about the justice that is key to peace.

For an Arab leader to take this position seems almost unprecedented to me. What happened to Qaddafi that has made him a moderate in his old age? This is the guy who was terrorist #1 in the '80s and wrote bizarre poetry when not downing passenger jets. Maybe this proves that no one is irredeemable in the end.

Ultimately, I think the 1-state solution is unrealistic. But it's a nice thought... what if we could all just... get along?

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