Rejected in the ’40s, unity plan could be key to Mideast peace now

RE “ISRAELIS, Palestinians under one flag’’ (Op-ed, Feb. 29): The idea of Palestine as a united, democratic country with equal rights for all was advocated in the 1940s by a movement around Martin Buber, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Jehuda Magnes, the president of that university; and others in the Jewish community.

Our movement presented its proposal to the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine in June 1947. Unfortunately, our proposed solution lacked adequate support among Jews and Arabs, and the United Nations decided in 1948 to divide Palestine into Israel and an Arab state.

The current introduction of the notion of Palestine as a united Arab-Jewish country certainly deserves serious consideration, for it could be one way out of the tragic conflict in the Middle East. Had this solution been accepted over 60 years ago, permanent conflict and numeous wars might have been avoided.


David G. Gil

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Emeritus professor of social policy,

Brandeis University


DIANA BUTTU’S most important point is that those privileged by certain political systems, like apartheid or the ethno-centric government of Israel, will resist ever sharing power equally across the ethnic divide.


Many Israeli Jews, particularly the Israeli leadership, detest the idea of a unified state because they have the most to lose in a system of equality. Sadly, the only alternative they’ve put forward has been continued colonization and occupation of Palestinian territory.

There is a simple test to determine if a state system is a closer to democracy or apartheid: Does giving equal rights, including voting rights, to all those governed by a state result in an existential threat to the regime? It did in the Soviet Union, it did in South Africa, and, as Abraham H. Foxman argues, it would in Israel.

Yousef Munayyer

Executive Director, the Jerusalem Fund and the Palestine Center