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Leader: Towards one solution

60 years after Israel's creation, it is time for Einstein's, Gandhi's and Buber's thoughts: We need one state, not two.

(PS. This article is machine-translated from Norwegian)

14. May the State of Israel celebrate 60 years. The Jews got their "national home" in western Asia after the Holocaust, or Shoah, the Jewish exterminations in northern Europe.

15. May the Palestinians can mark that it has been six decades since their al-Nakba, the "disaster" occurred. 800.000 of the Palestinian residents were run away. They have not yet been able to return.

One's death is the other's bread. The same goes for today's Israel and Palestine.

Strong feelings are set in motion when Israel and Palestine are discussed. Not least here in Norway.

In the 1950 and 1960 centuries, Norway was "Israel's best friend", as the pioneering researcher Hilde Henriksen Waage has shown in his books. With the red-green government of 2005, Norway may appear to have become "the best friend of the Palestinians", at least considering such pioneering contacts with the disputed and popularly elected Hamas government.

If you say what you think about Israelis and Palestinians, you also say who you are. And you quickly suggest who you vote for in the Norwegian party flora.

Six decades after Israel's declaration of state, we have experienced a handful of warriors, dozens of unsuccessful peace talks and tens of thousands of lives lost. It's time to ask the unpleasant questions: As if Israel was a legitimate state establishment in 1948? Whether the state as such has the right of life? Or if we should think as much as possible about the entire Israeli-Palestinian complex?

Einstein's wish

Of course, these nasty questions are not about denying Jews the same rights as everyone else on earth. But it is all about jointly being able to come up with the best possible solution for the world community as such when "facts on the ground" speak for it. For every day that goes with today's two-state solution, new civilians and Palestinians die or injured. And international terrorism is justified by pointing to this seemingly insoluble conflict.

The question is therefore whether we can afford not to discuss the most basic and unpleasant topics of our time.

So let's try some new approaches. One could be to look at what the world's leading peace disciples in their time thought about the solution for the British Mandate Territory of Palestine. The Jewish Nobel Prize winner Albert Einstein (1879-1955) spoke out against the division of Arabs and Jews into two countries. Already in a speech in 1938, Einstein warned that he was "afraid of the inner damage that Judaism will bear, especially from the development of a narrow nationalism". In 1952, he refused to become Israel's second president.

Einstein had sympathy for the great Jewish philosopher Martin Buber's (1878-1965) desire for a bi-national state for Arabs and Jews in Palestine. This would better suit his dialogical "I and you" philosophy than a purely Jewish state.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) also had strong objections to a state similar to that created in 1948. Ten years earlier, Gandhi wrote in the Harijan newspaper that he had absolute sympathy for the Jews, "the untouchables of Christianity." But: "Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same way that England belongs to the English and France to the French. It is wrong and inhumane to force the Jews on the Arabs. What is happening in Palestine today can not be justified by any moral code. "

It is easy today to forget how controversial the establishment of Israel was as early as 1948. Even the Balfour Declaration of 1917 stipulated that a "national home" for the Jews should ensure that "nothing would be done to violate the civil and religious rights of the Jews." existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine ».

And even the UN's controversial partition plan of 29 November 1947 was adopted by only 33 out of 56 countries: 13 voted against, 10 abstained. Those who voted were mostly European and American countries. In Asia, only the Philippines voted, from Africa, the new creation received only active support from the apartheid state of South Africa, as well as Liberia.

Countries such as India, Greece and Cuba voted against – including the Arab countries and a belt from Egypt to India. While countries such as Britain, Argentina, China, Mexico and Yugoslavia abstained. If you look at the proportion of the world's population, even the UN's partition plan had limited support.

The transcontinental proposal from India, Iran and Yugoslavia – for a common federal state for both Arabs and Jews – fell in 1948. But that does not mean that a good idea should be buried forever.

It is important to remember that several Jewish groups are opposed to the current Israeli state solution. Not only minority groups such as Satmar and Neturei Karta, who see Israel as anti-religious Zionism which is a violation of the Talmud.

It is worth noting that on November 29, 2007, on the 60th anniversary of the UN partition plan, leading Israeli and Palestinian intellectuals went out and launched "The One State Declaration". Among them are the Palestinian author Ali Abunimah and the Palestinian lawyer Michael Tarazi, as well as the Israeli author Dan Gavron and the Israeli neo-historian Ilan Pappé, who in 2006 published the modern classic The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.

Together, they now call for "a democratic solution that will bring about a just, and thus lasting, peace in one single state." Opinion polls also show that a significant minority are already open to such a solution.

It's time to think radically new. And here Norway can take the lead, even though it will probably take several years before such can be launched. A one-state solution will be able to secure an Oslo agreement that will be permanent.

Dag Herbjørnsrud
Former editor of MODERN TIMES. Now head of the Center for Global and Comparative History of Ideas.

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