Susie Linfield | Truthdig | June 4, 2009
Whenever I hear people—including people I respect, and like, and might even love—talk about a “one-state solution,” my immediate reaction is: To what?
If you think—as do one-staters like Tony Judt and the late Edward Said—that the very existence of a national state for the Jewish people is problematic if not abhorrent, then the one-state solution, which as every schoolchild in both Israel and Palestine knows means the abolition of Israel as a Jewish homeland, holds undeniable appeal. Especially since it cloaks the suggested extermination of an extant country, which would ordinarily be regarded as a fairly unsavory project, in attractive words like democracy, secularism, equality and justice. But if you believe that an end to the decades of horrific bloodshed in Israel-Palestine can’t possibly be accomplished by wiping out an established country—which would result in even more horrific bloodshed and make the “civil” wars in places like Lebanon, Yugoslavia and Iraq look like skirmishes—the one-state strategy is no strategy at all. Indeed, it recklessly inflames, and reproduces, the very conflict it claims, albeit disingenuously, to solve.
Enter the historian Benny Morris and his new book, “One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict.” Morris is a key member of the revisionist Israeli historians who burst on the scene two decades ago (others in this contentious, far-from-unified group include Tom Segev, Avi Shlaim and Ilan Pappé). Morris has been called “immensely well informed,” “thoughtful and thought-provoking,” “the most influential and commercially successful of the Israeli ‘new historians,’ ” “the enfant terrible of his discipline” and the man who “revolutionized Israeli historiography.” He has also been accused of racism, of using “Zionist categories of knowledge” (whatever those are) and, by the leading Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, of being “a very sick person” and “a case history in the psychopathology of colonialism.”