Beyond Nationalism


The Atlantic has reposted an interview it conducted in 1999 with the late Edward Said. It's worth reading for insight into his political views, which sometimes seem to be caricatured more frequently than they're described. Said could be prickly and he could be wrong, but he had a more inspiring vision for the Israeli-Palestinian future than you'll find in official circles on either side of that awful wall:

Said: The genius of the South Africans was that they said, "One person, one vote, and let's have a truth and reconciliation commission."

Atlantic: That is not a two-state solution.

Said: No, it's not a two-state solution. I don't myself believe in a two-state solution. I believe in a one-state solution.

Atlantic: Well you've changed …

Said: Of course I've changed. Reality has changed. Consider the fact that there are now a million Palestinians who are Israeli citizens, who constitute about twenty percent of the Israeli population. They have no interest at all in moving to a Palestinian state because they are in places like Nazareth and Haifa, which is where they belong. Why should they go to the West Bank? There are now Jews and Arabs on every inch of this tiny little country called Palestine, living next to each other and hopelessly intertwined. And how can we talk about anything unless we say something about the settlements, where they're still taking land --

Atlantic: Barak has put a freeze on settlements.

Said: Okay, but there are a lot there. Listen to what I'm saying. I'm saying, let them all stay. But first of all, give the Palestinians who are Israeli citizens the rights of citizens, and let Israel become a state of its citizens and not of the whole Jewish people.