Seeking a one-state solution
Chaired by former BBC Middle East Correspondent Tim Llewellyn, the debate opened with a panel-wide wave of support for the single state solution. Academic and Middle East commentator Ghada Karmi argued that the reality on the ground is that of one-state whose people are subjected to unequal treatment, comparing the current status quo to that of Apartheid era South Africa.
“Anybody who looks at the map and at reality realises it’s completely impossible so we must stop talking about this two-state solution. What we need to concentrate on is how to turn a reality that is one-state, an unequal state for its citizens, in to one where its citizens enjoy equality.”
Australian journalist Antony Loewenstein sprinkled a touch of humour to make a serious point, stressing the need for the Jewish community to adapt to modern reality.
“The Jewish community establishment is so constipated, knowingly constipated about this question. And until there is a laxative used, forcefully… until there is an understanding that the Jewish community in the US, the UK and Australia has allowed the situation to continue. The establishment needs to realise that by backing blindly what they’ve done for 60 years, they have contributed a view that Judaism and Zionism are the same thing. And they’re not.”
Dismissing the long held idea of a Jewish state in the Middle East, journalist Ahmed Moor argued.
“While the idea of Jewish statehood could be somehow workable on the moon, to the extent that it’s got to occur in Palestine and to the exclusion of Palestinians or whomever, well that’s unworkable. There’s no good argument for that.”
The panel discussed the most recent Arab revolutions, citing strict Israeli security measures as crucial to stifling dissent. However journalist Dimi Reider stated that.
“The Palestinian Spring has been happening for 60 years, especially in the past 20 years. They’ve been struggling continuously…if anything the Palestinian struggle was an inspiration for many of the people that later came out on the streets of the Middle East.”
Critiquing the Western media’s coverage of the Palestinian struggle, Reider suggested that audience fatigue has set in and the conflict now only omits “background noise” in the media. Tim Llewellyn stressed the power of the Israel lobby in the West and argued that this has led to a tame approach from press outlets.
“If you read the best newspapers in the West, we don’t attack the problem in Palestine the way we attack the problem in the Arab world. We should be exposing this.”
Questions from the audience moved the debate on to a discussion of artistic and economic boycotts, raising the issue of “Right of Return” for Palestinian refugees and the contribution of the PA to the on-going hostility. Questions that no doubt continued long in to the hot summer night.