One of the perks of being Israeli is that people in far-off places seem to take an interest in your problems. For instance, Queen's University and York University of Canada are planning a conference for June 1, 2009, on "Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace." There's already a website that's issuing a call for papers and setting forth the "vision" of the conference.
"The purpose of this conference," the "Welcome" to the website informs us, "is to explore which state model would be the best to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." It refers to the recent "failure" of the "two-state model" to "bring peace to the region" and says: "The conference seeks to systematically measure the two-state model against the promise of alternatives; very specifically the potential in the model of a single binational state."
The "Vision Statement" chimes in: "a number of factors…are generating skepticism about the ability of the two-state model to resolve enough of the outstanding issues…to make a negotiated peace possible…. The conference will thus open avenues for those interested in exploring the possible constitutional dimensions of a single state."
Let's translate this: The "two-state solution" is not exactly news and no one would take the trouble of sponsoring a conference to discuss it. No, the real raison d'être of this conference is the "one-state solution"—i.e., dissolving the Jewish state of Israel into some sort of state combining Arabs and Jews and, while having an ethnic or federal Jewish component, no longer having a Jewish identity as France has a French one and China has a Chinese one.
In other words, there would no longer be a single Jewish state in the world; and in addition to the already existing twenty-two Muslim Arab states, there would be another, "one state" that would presumably have enough of a Muslim-Arab profile to qualify as the twenty-third member of the Arab League. The Jews, after two thousand years of dispersion and a sixty-year experiment in statehood that many of the participants in this conference will undoubtedly judge a failure, would thus revert to statelessness most likely for eternity.
And what would life be like for the Jews in the "one state"? Not to worry—"the conference will explore the potential of a state shaped by federalism, equal citizenship and respect for linguistic, cultural and religious rights to protect the rights and security of its inhabitants and to serve as a political framework for the amelioration or even resolution of protracted conflicts." Canada on the Mediterranean!
The website is also kind enough to introduce the Advisory Committee for the conference. There's Ali Abunimah, cofounder of the radically anti-Israeli website Electronic Intifada and coauthor of the book The Palestinian Right of Return. There's Leila Farsakh of the University of Massachusetts at Boston, author of a 2006 article in Journal of Palestine Studies called "The One-State Solution: A Breakthrough for Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Deadlock"—wonder which side she's on.
And there's Dorit Namaan of Queen's University itself, whose opuses include the article "Brides of Palestine/Angels of Death: Media, Gender and Performance in the Case of the Palestinian Female Suicide Bomber" and a book in progress "on the visual representation of Palestinian and Israeli women fighters" (let's see, that will probably discern equivalencies between female members of the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian women who blow up pizza parlors). And also Elia Zureik of Queen's University, who in 2000 called in a Los Angeles Times op-ed for…the Palestinian right of return.
That's not to say, of course, that the Advisory Committee isn't "balanced"—in addition to the ex-Israeli Dorit Namaan it has four currently-Israeli members: left-wing author and journalist Meron Benvenisti, left-wing research associate Daphna Golan-Agnon of Hebrew University, left-wing law professor David Kretzmer of Hebrew University, and left-wing sociology professor Sammy Smooha of the University of Haifa.
Who knows, some of these might even stick up for the old "two-state solution" where Israel retreats to indefensible borders but at least—for however long it still has to survive—remains the Jewish state. But in allowing themselves to be professionally associated with this conference, these Israelis are affirming that the "one-state solution"—the dissolution of Israel—is a legitimate idea worthy of discussion in the ostensibly civilized world, and that is to their unending shame.