Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Berman on the Emerging One-State Consensus

March 4, 2010

The “two-state solution” long raised as a way out of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has now come to function as “an apologetic myth for the Jewish mainstream… a refusal to confront the concrete situation… and a means to maintain an unjust status quo,” according to Institute Professor Nathaniel Berman. “One-state” is neither a solution nor a dream nor a nightmare: “it is what we have now, have had for almost 43 years, and likely will have for the next several decades,” he writes in Zeek, a Jewish journal of thought and culture. “Everyone who lives in, or is passionate about, Israel,” should consider what kind of state this is and what it should be.

Berman likens the situation to the twilight of France’s empire, during which French liberals opposed colonial conquest in principle but opposed withdrawal from colonies for pragmatic reasons. Similarly, in the Middle East today, “vigorous reaffirmations of the legality of the occupation, the settlements, and most of the security measures taken to ensure their continuation are offered... accompanied by support for a two-state solution.”

He concludes: “Centrist Zionists… will ignore at their own peril the historical lesson their Gallic counterparts ultimately learned about the tenability of maintaining domination over unwilling peoples.”

Berman is leading research at the Institute on Religion and Internationalism and recently authored Passions et Ambivalences: le Nationalism, le Colonialisme, et le Droit International (Paris: Pedone 2008).