Tuesday, December 30, 2008


The notion of rights is a modern invention, and is based on equality of benefits and obligations for all. Rights-based societies are built upon older ethnically based states, but they can no longer refer to ethnicity as the basis of law without sacrificing any claim to modernity: states still structured politically by the logic of ethnicity can not use the logic of rights to justify their existence. No one has the "right" to be a slave-owner. Indian law does not institutionalize the caste system, the caste system exists now only outside of law.
Saudi Arabia does not have the "right" to deny free association of Jews and Muslims on its territory but it does so. For that and many other reasons[!] it can not be said to have "the right" to exist. The question of rights is rendered irrelevant because ignored.

Israel is built on discrimination less severe than Saudi but it is founded on discrimination nonetheless. It is not merely the Jewish Homeland with citizenship for all, it is the Jewish State. There is no equality between its Jewish and Arab citizens. Demography can not be a central concern under the logic of rights, yet it is the major concern of the Israeli state. That concern is responsible for the miserable fact of Gaza and the West Bank. There are plenty of semi-modern states, but Israel both in government and society claims not just our recognition but our sympathy and loyalty. It deserves neither. Within the logic of rights, and under the assumption that separation and equality will never amount to more than separate and unequal, a bi-national state of Israeli Arabs and Jewish Palestinians is not only the one moral option but is at this point the only option left.

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