What's New about the "New" Binationalism?

By Eddon, Raluca | Tikkun, September/October 2004 | Go to article overview

What's New about the "New" Binationalism?


Eddon, Raluca, Tikkun


Israel and the Binational Idea

When nothing seems to work, anything can pass for an acceptable solution. This is one of the fundamental paradoxes behind the recent revival of the binationalist debate around the IsraeliPalestinian conflict. The target of this debate is the two-state solution: the idea that a just solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians involves the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Proponents of binationalism present their position either as a matterof-fact description of an existing reality, or, on the contrary, as a radical ideal. Thus, while the first group suggests that it may no longer make sense to speak of a two-state solution since the tireless efforts of the Israeli settlers have already created a binational reality on the ground, the second, among them most recently Tony Judt (in the New York Review of Books), claims that binationalism provides the kind of radical vision required to overcome the current impasse and move forward. For Judt the idea of binationalism may be "an unpromising mix of realism and utopia," but the alternatives "are far, far worse."

But are they? As Judt's critics, such as The New Republic's Leon Wieseltier, have noted, the binational state envisioned by Judt "is not an alternative for Israel. It is an alternative to Israel." Further, as Wieseltier also points out, there is nothing new about the binationalist idea. The fantasy of a binational state "is as old as the conflict itself. It has been thought and thought and thought-by Jews in the late 1920s and early 1930s and by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs during the last decade."

Wieseltier is right to emphasize that the idea of binationalism is, in effect, as old as the conflict itself, but he is wrong to lump together the "new" binationalism of the past decade with the "old" Jewish binationalism of the pre-Israel era. The most obvious difference between these two historical periods is the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. While a number of prominent Jewish intellectuals were indeed in favor of binationalism prior to 1948, they voiced their concerns within the context of an internal Zionist debate about the goals of Zionism and the future of the Jewish community in Palestine. Some later changed their position; others didn't. But once the State of Israel was established, the "old" binationalists nevertheless accepted its legitimacy as a matter beyond dispute. In this sense, it is crucial to understand the historical context of the binationalist debate, lest we grant the new binationalism a moral and historical pedigree that it docs not deserve.

I. Brit Shalom and the Ideal of a Binational Society

Binationalism as a coherent ideological program was put forth for the first time in the mid-1920s through the efforts of a small group of Jewish intellectuals in Jerusalem who called themselves the Brit Shalom, or "Peace Association." Most of Brit Shalom's members were German Zionists who had immigrated to Palestine in the first two decades of the twentieth century. The goal of their association, as formulated in the 1927 Statutes, was "to arrive at an understanding between Jews and Arabs as to the form of their mutual social relations in Palestine on the basis of absolute political equality of two culturally autonomous peoples, and to determine the lines of their co-operation for the development of the country." The list of founding members who came together around this platform included Arthur Ruppin, an eminent economist and professor at Hebrew University; Gershom Scholem, then a young lecturer at the Hebrew University and one of the Brit Shalom's guiding lights; Hugo Bergman, then librarian and lecturer in philosophy at the Hebrew University and later its Rector; I. Lurie, then director of the Education Office of the Zionist Executive; Hans Kohn, then staff member of the Keren Hayesod (United Israel Appeal) Head Office and later a prominent historian of nationalism; Isaac Epstein, professor of Hebrew; Jacob Thon, manager of the Palestine Land Development Company; Radler Feldman (Rabbi Benjamin), Hebrew writer; and M. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

What's New about the "New" Binationalism?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.