The first sentence of our Declaration of Independence and the French Revolution's cry of liberte, fraternite, egalite placed a contradiction in the tribal heart of the nation state. A modern democracy is supposed to treat each citizen equally. Few do. Tribal domination is the norm.
We began as a tribal nation: enslaving Africans and their descendants, taking the land of the native Americans, conquering Mexico, and even the Philippines for a time. Our civil war embedded in the Constitution the legal guarantees of citizenship, of life, and liberty. Of course we gave it only occasional lip service for the next 100 years.
The central contradiction of Israel is similar: it formally aspires to treating its Arab citizens like others - but insists that they cannot become a majority, and exempts them from the national bonding experience - service in the army. The dilemma of the occupation is that if it ended, if Palestinians became citizens of a democratic Israel they would be a majority. That would destroy the tribal character of the state. Its Jewish character would be lost and a secular democracy composed of competing ethnic groups would take its place, though the name Israel would probably survive it would no longer be the Zionist enterprise of its founders.
Some, like the late great historian Tony Judt embrace that. Yasser Arafat proclaimed a single state as his goal. But every experience of the fifty years since the Six Day War tells us that this option is not to be. There is little constituency for it. Therefore the two state solution is the only alternative to the occupation, to the domination of one people by another. That necessity is what John Kerry and Barack Obama embrace. - gwc
John Kerry Nails It: Realities of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict | The National Interest Blog
by Paul Pillar
(Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University and Nonresident Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution. He is a contributing editor to , where he writes a blog.)