Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Reverting to Modernity

As I was debating the decision to write this entry in my head the Palestinian flag that hangs in front of my office window was blown down by an entering breeze. It was at that point when I realized this entry had to be written.

Today I found myself re-reading the principles of the American Task Force on Palestine. The first item on the list was the demand for a solution to the Israel/Palestinian conflict based on “Two Sovereign States- Israel and Palestine”. I stared at this sentence in deep thought for several minutes and remain confused. I found myself wondering why proponents of a two-state solution are obsessed with the ideas of sovereignty and nationalism. I have yet to come up with a good answer.

Starting with this demand is the crux of the problems that face negotiators. Idealism is demanded but political and physical realities continue to make such daydreams unpractical. Yet those who support the idea of a one-state solution are called idealists, apparently for believing in the ludicrous notion that Israelis and Palestinians can live together without continued violence. I argue however that it is proponents of the two-state solution that are fundamentally based on idealism precisely because they continue to recant the Wilsonian principles of sovereignty and self-determination that modernity regurgitated throughout the 20th century.

What has the nation-state done for mankind? Nationalism has brought us the most violent and anarchic century in the history of man. Nationalism has brought us genocides and state sponsored mass killings. Nationalism has brought us the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Nationalism has brought us conflicts like World War I and II and others where millions died- and what did they die for? A flag? Patria? Mother Russia? Because the tall trees had to be chopped?

The creation of the politics of otherness has been the greatest catalyst for violence and war since the rise of modernity. Why is it then that the ATFP and other two-state proponents proscribe modernist solutions to a problem created by modernity? It certainly does not make sense or have any potential to create lasting peace between people.

Israelis and Palestinians have been denied the promises of modernity for decades. Now that the world has taken steps to move past modernity, a solution to the Israeli/Palestinian dispute should not put both peoples where they should have been in a world 60 years ago, but take bold steps to allow the inhabitants of Israel/Palestine to coexists in a world where borders, flags and anthems mean much less than they used to.

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