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Haifa Republic
Cover of Haifa Republic
Haifa Republic
A Democratic Future for Israel
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A provocative argument for a new way of seeing Israel, Zionism, and the two-state solution.
Haifa Republic: A Democratic Future for Israel is an urgent wake-up call. The philosopher Omri Boehm argues that it is long past time to recognize that there will not be a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people. After fifty years, Israel’s occupation of the West Bank constitutes annexation in all but name, even as the legitimate claims of the Arab population, soon to be a national majority, remain unaddressed. Meanwhile, daily life goes on under conditions rightly likened to apartheid. For liberals in Israel and America to continue to place their hopes in a two-state solution is a form of willful and culpable blindness, especially now that Israeli leaders across the political spectrum have begun to speak of ethnic cleansing. A catastrophe is in the making.
But Haifa Republic also offers grounds for hope. Catastrophe can be averted, Boehm contends, by reconfiguring Israel as a single binational state in which Palestinians and Jews both possess human rights and equal citizenship. The original Zionists—Theodor Herzl, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, and, early in his career, David Ben-Gurion—all advocated such a federation, and as prime minister, Menachem Begin successfully submitted a kindred plan to the Knesset. A binational federation offers a last chance for the two peoples who call Palestine home to live in peace and mutual respect and to have a truly democratic future in common.
A provocative argument for a new way of seeing Israel, Zionism, and the two-state solution.
Haifa Republic: A Democratic Future for Israel is an urgent wake-up call. The philosopher Omri Boehm argues that it is long past time to recognize that there will not be a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people. After fifty years, Israel’s occupation of the West Bank constitutes annexation in all but name, even as the legitimate claims of the Arab population, soon to be a national majority, remain unaddressed. Meanwhile, daily life goes on under conditions rightly likened to apartheid. For liberals in Israel and America to continue to place their hopes in a two-state solution is a form of willful and culpable blindness, especially now that Israeli leaders across the political spectrum have begun to speak of ethnic cleansing. A catastrophe is in the making.
But Haifa Republic also offers grounds for hope. Catastrophe can be averted, Boehm contends, by reconfiguring Israel as a single binational state in which Palestinians and Jews both possess human rights and equal citizenship. The original Zionists—Theodor Herzl, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, and, early in his career, David Ben-Gurion—all advocated such a federation, and as prime minister, Menachem Begin successfully submitted a kindred plan to the Knesset. A binational federation offers a last chance for the two peoples who call Palestine home to live in peace and mutual respect and to have a truly democratic future in common.
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About the Author-
  • Omri Boehm is a professor of philosophy at the New School for Social Research. He is the author of The Binding of Isaac: A Religious Model of Disobedience and Kant’s Critique of Spinoza. His writings on Israeli politics and culture have appeared in Haaretz, Die Zeit, The New York Times, and elsewhere.
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  • Kirkus

    July 15, 2021
    An Israeli philosopher gives a convincing argument for a return to the Zionist founders' earliest binational one-state solution to attaining peace in Israel, as the two-state dream has long been abandoned. With dreams of peace shattered yet again by recent violence between Palestinians and Jews--and before that, "Trump's so-called Deal of the Century"--Boehm puts forth a bold solution of universal citizenship in Israel and Palestinian sovereignty. The former president baldly supported Benjamin Netanyahu in what his right-wing Likud Party wanted all along yet could not openly espouse--namely, to prevent a Palestinian state and encourage the annexation of territories. The author does not see today's liberals, even the Biden-Harris team, paying "lip service" any longer to a two-state solution in the wake of the right-wing calls for annexation, apartheid, and expulsion. Even so, Boehm urges a return to Zionism's original binational tenets, espoused by founders like Ze'ev Jabotinski and David Ben-Gurion and later codified by Menachem Begin. In this concise, elegant study, the author examines some of the early language calling for a binational state ("the Jews' state was envisaged as a sub-sovereign political entity existing under a multinational political sovereignty") and the reasons why the Zionist agenda changed from a binational one to that of an ethnic nation-state--specifically, the horrors of the Holocaust, which resulted in the expulsion of the Palestinian population, the Nakba. Boehm proposes forgetting these traumas as a way of mutual accord, which is certainly a controversial notion. It's important to note that by "forgetting," the author doesn't mean erasure from memory but rather not allowing the traumas of each side to be used as a cudgel in negotiations. He returns to Begin's "autonomy plan" of the 1970s as a way of establishing what he calls a Haifa Republic, which would recognize the right of both Jews and Palestinians to national self-determination in their own states, separated along the 1967 Green Line. Boehm elegantly synthesizes a tortuous history and offers an imaginative model for Israel's political future.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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A Democratic Future for Israel
Omri Boehm
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