Itís just one of a series of high-profile Mideast-related events in coming days, including a joint MIT-Harvard conference on Gaza next week.
The one-state conference at the campus of the University of Massachusetts at Boston on Saturday and Sunday will explore arguments for a single nation with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians within what are now the territories of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The concept has been floating on the margins of the conflict for decades, with roots going back to left-wing intellectuals including Martin Buber in the 1920s and Hannah Arendt in the 1940s. It is adamantly dismissed by most Israelis as a prescription for the destruction of the Jewish state, not least because Arabs will soon outnumber Jews in the combined land areas.
Opinion polls suggest that most Palestinians have also embraced the two-state approach, with Israel and Palestine existing side by side. The United States and Europe have thrown their support behind a two-state solution, as have Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
However, supporters of the one-state or binational solution contend that the massive growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank in recent decades makes a viable separate Palestinian state impossible. They point to the turmoil in Gaza and the cutting up of the West Bank with settlement roads and numerous Israeli checkpoints as evidence that a two-state solution would mean permanent inferior status for Palestinians, and would be fundamentally unjust.
Scores of activists and scholars issued a declaration in 2007 calling for a binational solution, one of a number of recent attempts to revive interest in the one-state approach as progress toward the two-state option has lagged.
Prominent supporters of the one-state solution, including former East Jerusalem deputy mayor Meron Benvenisti and Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti are among the scheduled speakers. The gathering is being organized by the Massachusetts-based Trans Arab Research Institute (TARI), and the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences at UMass Boston.
On Tuesday, the Joiner Center will host a talk by Daniel Taub, Principal Deputy Legal Advisor to Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, about Gaza.
UPDATED: On Wednesday, April 1, Harvard Law School Professor Alan M. Dershowitz will speak at UMass Boston, offering what the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston bills as a rebuttal to the one-state proposal, which the JCRC calls "a plan that would effectively eliminate the Jewish State."
At MIT, on Monday and Tuesday afternoon next week, many of the most prominent Middle East specialists in the area will participate in the second annual MIT-Harvard conference on Gaza. The conference is co-sponsored by MITís Center for International Studies and its Program for Human Rights and Justice, and by The Middle East Initiative at Harvard's Kennedy School, among others.
Topics include assessing the current situation, the status of reconstruction, and prospects for moving forward.
About this blog
About James F. SmithJim Smith came home to his native Boston in 2002 to become the Boston Globe's foreign editor after spending 22 years abroad. He was previously based in Buenos Aires and Mexico City for the LA Times, and in Johannesburg, Tokyo and The Hague for the AP. In 2007 he became the Globe's national political editor, coordinating presidential campaign coverage. He is a Yale graduate, and has an MBA. He is married to Maxine Hart and has two sons, Matthew and Daniel.
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