Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Saker interviews Israeli author and speaker Joel Bainerman

I have recently published a very interesting article by the Toronto-born Israeli author and speaker Joel Bainerman entitled "One State Solution is Best". Having posted his article I decided to contact Joel for some follow-up questions which he kindly agreed to answer. Hopefully, our Q&A exchange will provide a more in depth understanding of Joel's views and of the one state vs. two state debate.

From his answers it appears to me that Joel made a number of assumptions about my background and intentions (I can only suppose that some of my questions elicited these assumptions). In light of this, I am particularly thankful to Joel for agreeing to answer my questions.


In your article "One State is Best" you write: "Israel is not a Jewish state- it is a secular, democratic state with an overwhelming Jewish population ". But that is not so. The Law of Return is based on being Jewish, right to purchase "reclaimed" land is based on being Jewish, the laws on marriage are based on being Jewish, even the car licenses are different for Palestinians and Jews and the Israeli ID indicate nationalities, no citizenship. How can that be called "not Jewish" or "Democratic".

Israel is not a Jewish state because it is not run by Jewish law. For lack of an alternative- it is a secular state. Non-Jews can marry each other in Israel. If it were Jewish- it would be run by Jewish law. That is what was meant.

Israeli politicians always speak about "Arab terrorists with Jewish blood on their hands" but never of "Jewish terrorists with Arab blood on their hands" (even though there are plenty of those). Currently, *rabbis* get to decide who is Jewish or not, not the courts. Does that not sound like an ethno-religious theocracy to you?

I won't debate these issues with you- as they have nothing to do with my arguments.

In a recent comment of mine on the possibility of a one state solution I wrote: The problem with that is there is no way in hell most Jews in Israel (or outside Israel for that matter) will agree with that.

You just ran an article from one that does- and my goal is to convince others.

Just imagine the very concept of an Arab Muslim Chief of Staff for the military or a Parliament with an Arab majority!

Who said there would be an Arab majority? The moment the living standards of Arabs on West Bank rise- their birth rate will decrease. If you notice I don't include Gaza in the OSS. Israel can't absorb Gaza- but it can absorb the West Bank.

The Jewish culture as it is today, whether secular or religious, is based on 3000 years of "us versus them" and on at least 2200 years of ethno-phyletistic hostility to the Gentiles.

Nonsense. You are reading too many websites who run articles by people who claim to know what is in the Talmud but can't read it by themselves.

The fact that the Nazis butchered millions of Jews only made that worse. And Arab terrorism (including such niceties as blowing up Jewish kindergartens in Europe or slaughtering entire families in Palestine) pushed that sense even further. So the correct decision seems impossible to achieve as it would require that Israelis embrace the Palestinians as their fellow human beings created by God with the same essence, rights, duties and purpose. From all my readings about Judaism I do not see that happening. Not even among secular Jews. What would you answer to these arguments?

I have lived with Israelis- for 25 years- and know what the majority will accept. I always get a kick of people who claim to know what motivates Israelis but have never lived a day in Israel or spoken to an Israel in Hebrew. Don't worry about Israelis. Worry about Palestinians not realizing that with or without Israeli approval or opposition- it is likely that they will never build a stable, prosperous state. If not- what are the alternatives. The OSS is one alternative. The Palestinians don't have to accept it- but if not- what will they have? More of the same? Military occupation misery and poverty.

In your article you write: "there would be no reason to dismantle Jewish settlements at an estimated cost of tens of billions of dollars. In the eyes of the law- the West Bankers would enjoy the same rights as the Jewish residents of the West Bank/Judea and Samaria. No longer would the Arabs who live near the settlements view them as their enemy but as their neighbors and fellow citizens ." Does this not overlook the fact that Jewish settlers are illegally occupying land which was seized from the Palestinians by violence and terror?

I also said once Israeli citizens- the Palestinians can file claims in Israeli courts for any land they claim was stolen. Try doing that in a military court. Israel seized the land from Jordan in a war in 67. Most of it, 90%, was Jordanian state land. No denying there was private land and Palestinians owned it. As for "violence and terror" I won't debate with you who are worse, horrible people, Israeli army or Palestinian terrorists. Not my issue.

Why should Palestinians ever accept that somebody just showed up one day, demolished their houses and field, expelled them and now lives in racist fortresses as "neighbors and fellow citizens"?

In war- people suffer. The Palestinians suffered. You are interested in scoring propaganda points. I want to build a modern infrastructure for all West Bankers and give them full access to the Israeli economy as well as full access to the Israeli civilian courts. If you would rather they go on suffering- under military occupation- with their lives getting worse every passing decade- then the OSS doesn't suit you. As for "racist" nobody is more racist than Arabs- including Palestinians. I think it is time you guys stopped throwing that one around.

Do you really believe that the settlers would agree to share water resources with the Palestinians.

The settlers do not control the Israeli government. They are an instrument of it. Besides, importing water from Turkey or desalination is a perfect solution for water for all. As Israeli citizens the Palestinians will get as much water as they need. Under military occupation they will continue to get screwed.

Keep in mind that in almost every municipality of the West Bank the Jewish settlers are a tiny minority and that if democratic and civil equality was introduced into the West Bank all the settlers would be at the mercy of Palestinian courts and city councils, some, if not most, of which would be run by Hamas. Do you really believe that these self-described tzaddikims would accept regulations, legal decisions or decrees of goyim Arabs?

You didn't read my article. Both settlers and West Bankers are Israeli citizens. The Israeli police, courts, taxation system and government is in charge. The settlers do not decide what happens in the Israeli government. I know it is convenient for some to think this- but it is not true.

Lastly, what is the status of the One State Solution among Palestinians and Israelis today? Are there any political and civil forces supporting this idea and does the current situation in the Middle-East lead you to believe that the future is conducive to this idea?

I am hoping to find more Israelis to accept it- as it is a good solution for Israel- and considering their options- an excellent, realistic solution for the Palestinians.

Thanks for the opportunity to express my views. I look forward to feedback from anyone. You can tell anyone they can contact me for rebuttal at his email address: