Is Lieberman’s idea for 2 states ‘racist’?

Is Lieberman’s idea for 2 states ‘racist’?

The distaste expressed overwhelmingly by liberal opinion for Avigdor Lieberman’s long-standing notion that “the triangle” of Israeli-Arab towns and villages, including Umm al-Fahm and Tayibe, be transferred to the new Palestinian state in exchange for Israel annexing the blocs of settlements contiguous with Israel, may have more to do with our disdain for the proposer than the proposal.  Still, there is a moral flaw in this idea: the Palestinian-Israelis (as they increasingly call themselves) who inhabit this area, reportedly prefer to continue living in Israel, as Israeli citizens. 

Michael Lame, a blogger on Middle East issues whom I occasionally refer to, has posted a somewhat sympathetic treatment of Lieberman’s conception.  Lame is especially worth reading for his comparison of Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party with Hamas.  Commenting immediately below his posting, another writer I sometimes feature, Thomas Mitchell, responds much as I would have: 

Precisely because it isn’t voluntary on the part of Israeli Arabs, any change of borders should be for the sole purpose of territorially compensating Palestine for territory lost by incorporating settlement blocs into Israel. It should not be done for the purpose of ridding Israel of Arabs. And the Arab citizens that are put out of the state should retain their citizenship and be given the option of moving elsewhere. …

Israeli Arabs should understand that if they want to remain as citizens of Israel they will be remaining as citizens of a Jewish state, although at least in theory with equal rights. They should struggle to actualize that potential equality. Struggling to turn the state into something other than a Jewish state will only delay their acceptance as equal citizens. The UN Partition called for two states, one Arab and one Jewish. …

I would add that if this were a real option considered in negotiations–an unlikely “if”–that Arab citizens of Israel in the triangle, even if they chose to remain where they are as citizens of Palestine, should be permitted to commute to whatever jobs they may have in sovereign Israel and to retain the social insurance benefits they’ve earned as Israelis.

By | 2010-10-05T15:24:00-04:00 October 5th, 2010|Blog|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Anonymous October 8, 2010 at 6:02 pm - Reply


    Some ideas are beyond the pale and should not be examined even as a starting point for discussion. Redrawing the border to strip citizens of the Little Triangle of their Israeli citizenship is one such idea. The fact that it has been done before in other places does not make it acceptable. It was done to us (Jews) repeatedly in the Balkans and Eastern Europe with murderous consequences. Involuntarily stripping what Lame counts as more than 100,000 Israeli citizens of their civil rights and protections (including voting rights, rights of petition, speech and legal redress of grievances, security protections, health care, pension rights, etc.) and expelling/banishing them from the protection of Israeli law and Tzahal is morally and legally unconscionable. It cannot be the starting point for negotiations.

    Lame is not wrong about the morality and implications of again forcibly removing settlers from their homes and rendering the West Bank Judenrein. The solution should be to reach an accommodation that permits Israeli (and other) Jews who prefer living in the West Bank to living in sovereign Israel to live there as Jewish Palestinian citizens. Israeli Arabs who prefer Palestinian citizenship should be free to move to a sovereign Palestine. Redrawing the maps to relocate the borders amounts to de facto population transfer. Ha’Aretz called it correctly; Lame did not.

    Mark Itzkowitz

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