For the past decades arguments have been made for the separation of Jews and Palestinians into two states. Based on strategic, practical, and moral considerations these arguments have been supported by Jews and Palestinians across a moderate to liberal spectrum and have been framed in terms of the rights of the indigenous people, Palestinians, and the rights of a persecuted people, Jews.1
Of course, the two-state solution has always been more complicated than the arguments advanced on its behalf and the last decade has made such a solution impossible. The Oslo process, begun by Yitzhak Rabin and consolidated by Benjamin Netanyahu, has brought the following reality into focus: Israel now extends from Tel Aviv to the Jordan River with millions of Palestinians within that state. There are two remnant Palestinian populations within Israel: Palestinians within the 1967 borders of Israel and Palestinians in the territories conquered by Israel in the 1967 war. There is also a sizable refugee population of Palestinians outside of Israel with claims within its borders.2
This essay seeks to explore these populations of Palestinians within and outside of Israel in terms of rights and possibilities. What is the future of this indigenous Palestinian population and the future of the Jewish Israeli population that also claims a right to the land in a historical and contemporary way? Is there a way beyond mutually exclusive claims or simply the imposition of power of one over another? When do indigenous claims and claims of historical attachment and suffering give way to a new arrangement mindful of the past and attentive to a future beyond the present? Does an understanding of citizenship within a state provide an avenue for the realization of the diverse needs of both an indigenous and a settler population?
Beyond the general situation of indigenous peoples and the particular situation of Palestinians, this essay also seeks to raise the question of the meaning of citizenship in its broadest parameters. What does citizenship portend in the modern era? What is the role of citizenship in the modern stated What protections does it afford? Can citizenship cultivate virtue and justice? Do religious and cultural values influence how citizenship is perceived and pursued? Can the idea and practice of citizenship overcome the cycle of injustice and atrocity? Does citizenship relativize or provide a vehicle for the free evolution of identity
Throughout the world indigenous people find themselves within the larger framework of nation-states, global economies, and modernity. Often indigenous people are beset by many forces, including modernity, capitalism, and expanding world religions, such as Christianity and Islam. Thus a colonialism once defined in terms of military empires and foreign governance has, in large part, given way to a colonialism defined broadly as the power of a relentless modern sensibility that invades through imposed state structures, an economic system that serves a global and local elite, and religions that often follow in the wake of dislocation and destruction. Not the least of this dislocation and destruction is the alienation of land and sacred space, the uprooting of culture and tradition, and the diminishment of specific languages and rituals.
This process of dislocation and destruction is at least five hundred years in the making. The rise of Europe and its subsequent expansion, as well as the globalization of Christianity, can be traced back to the "discovery" of the Americas. So too the globalization of Islam has its own history of expansion, centuries in the making and continuing in the present. Here we see local religions with their roots in the Middle East moving well beyond their own locality as was true, in their own time and cultural milieu, of other world religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. Yet in another sense even these local religions with their specific roots …