A.B. Yehoshua on Identity, Zionism and the Two-state Solution: 11 Must Reads

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A.B. Yehoshua
December 2021
Turning on the two-state Solution
The separation barrier near the Palestinian town Anata, near East Jerusalem.
The separation barrier near the Palestinian town Anata, near East Jerusalem.Credit: Emil Salman

It’s not every day that a person of 80-plus changes his opinion, and not every society has experienced a revision of approach like this on the part of its greatest living writer, much less on the issue that has split society from the state’s inception: the conflict with the Arabs.

The astonishment is all the greater if we take into account the fact that in his writing – in his essays and fiction alike – Yehoshua frequently expressed himself fiercely against the idea of blurring boundaries in general, and between Jews and Palestinians in particular.

>> Read the full article

December 2021
'Settlements destroyed the possibility of dividing the Land of Israel'
Settlers marching in the West Bank last year.
Settlers marching in the West Bank last year. Credit: Daniel Bar-On

I believe the plethora of settlements and annexation of East Jerusalem destroyed the possibility of a reasonable and fair division of the Land of Israel between the two peoples. Therefore, we must find a solution in a partnership that is as viable and fair as possible, along the lines of the one that took shape with Israeli Palestinians after 1948 and is forming with East Jerusalem’s Palestinians.

There are a thousand problems in these “partnerships,” but the sides do not appear to be seeking to dismantle them. After all, all the experts believe that even if we were to separate into two states, there would be endless points of contact and friction – as well as partnership – between the two peoples, particularly given that the Palestinian state would be immediately flooded with a million refugees crossing over from Jordan.

>> Read the full article

July 2020
Review: A masterful tale on forgetting in a country obsessed with remembering
"The Tunnel"
"The Tunnel"Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

A.B. Yehoshua’s fictions seldom collapse into the commonplace. They both honor the contract of realism and underwrite that contract with symbolic layers of meaning. His stories plausibly represent ordinary lives and at the same time astutely allegorize. Yehoshua’s 12th novel, "The Tunnel," confirms that no living Israeli writer accomplishes that dual feat with as casual a mastery.

>> Read the full review by Benjamin Balint

April 2018
'Time to say goodbye to the two-state solution'
Illustration: Marina Grechanik.

But above all, the two-state solution is fading because of the constantly expanding settlements in Judea and Samaria. Indeed, according to many experts who are familiar with the demographic and geographic reality, it is no longer possible to divide the Land of Israel into two separate sovereign states. Similarly, the possible partition of Jerusalem into two separate capitals with an international border between them is becoming increasingly untenable.

>> Read the full article

May 2017
'This conflict is so stubborn'
A.B. Yehoshua speaking at Haaretz college peace conference on Monday.
A.B. Yehoshua speaking at Haaretz college peace conference.Credit: Rami Shllush

Speaking at Haaretz conference, A.B. Yehoshua called on Israel to stop preventing the recognition of a Palestinian state, and proposed new ideas that he thinks could lead to a breakthrough in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, including forgoing the Israeli demand for an end to the conflict as part of a peace deal.

“We need to recognize the severity and the uniqueness of the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict. This conflict is so stubborn that it is unique,” said Yehoshua. “No historic precedent exists of a land with 550,000 Arabs and 50,000 Jews, and a people came from all over the world and says they were here 2,000 years ago and they are returning to it.”

>> Read the full report

July 2016
Review: In 'The Extra,' motherhood isn't a path to fruition
Israeli author A. B. Yehoshua, during a trip to Italy in 2012.
A. B. Yehoshua, during a trip to Italy in 2012.Credit: Luca Bruno/AP

Yehoshua’s style of calm control enfolds the reader in the strains and pulls between Israel and the Diaspora, between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, between private decision and the social imperatives of “be fruitful and multiply.”

Out of such tarnished discontinuities Yehoshua has fashioned his art, and from them he has now minted a marvel of a book.

>> Read the full review by Benjamin Balint

September 2014
'The Palestinians are also to blame'
A Palestinian demonstrator waves a Palestinian flag.
A Palestinian demonstrator waves a Palestinian flag.Credit: AP

Are the Palestinians too blind to understand that day after day, their territory is being devoured, territory that is also the first basis of their national identity? Doesn’t the occupation bother them? Don’t they understand that the Israeli moves being made on the West Bank are irreversible? In my view, they understand everything that is being done on their land very well, but the dream of a binational state, the dream of a single state, is what comforts them in their pain and suffering. And this isn’t true only for Palestinians in the West Bank, but also for most of Israel’s Palestinian citizens.

>> Read the full article

September 2013
Who is an Israeli?
Is this soldier Israeli or Jewish?
Is this soldier Israeli or Jewish?Credit: Yaron Kaminsky

Nowadays, citizenship and identity are not identical. It’s true that the vast majority of people who have a particular national identity are citizens of that nation. But many millions of other people around the world (among them many Jews) are citizens of a particular nation, yet see their national identity as something completely different.

>> Read the full article

January 2012
'A binational state represents a broken dream'
A binational state of ultra-Orthodox and secular Jews.

For those who believed in and dreamed of an independent Jewish-Israeli identity which, for better or for worse, stands up to the test of dealing with a national-territorial reality entirely its own, a binational state represents a broken dream, a surefire source of demoralizing conflicts in the future, as was proven by the failure of binational experiments around the world that involved peoples who were closer to one another than are Jews and Palestinians in terms of religion, economics, values and history.

>> Read the full article

April 2011
'The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has no precedent in history'
Israeli soldiers withdrawing from Lebanon at the end of the Second Lebanon War in 2006. A helmeted soldier in a military vehicle with machine guns is in the foreground of the photograph, The background is a blaze of bright-orange flames and of smoke.
Israeli soldiers withdrawing from Lebanon at the end of the Second Lebanon War in 2006.Credit: Nir Kafri

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict refuses to be resolved because it is a conflict unprecedented in human history. There is no precedent for a nation that lost its sovereignty 2,000 years ago, was scattered among the nations, and later decided for internal and external reasons to return to its ancient homeland and re-establish sovereignty there. Therefore, if everyone considers the modern return to Zion a unique event in human history, that means the Palestinian people or the Israeli Arabs have also been forced to face a unique phenomenon that no other nation has confronted.

>> Read the full article

November 2010
'Zionism is not an ideology'
A.B. Yehoshua
A.B. YehoshuaCredit: Moti Milrod

Zionism cannot and should not be considered an ideology. As Zionism is a common platform for various and even contradictory social and political ideologies, it therefore cannot in itself be considered an independent ideology. Zionism hoped for one thing and promised one thing: to establish a state for the Jews. It kept its promise mainly, disastrously, through anti-Semitism. Zionism aspired only to establish a political framework—what would happen in the country and what its character would be, what sort of regime it would have and where its borders would be drawn, what its social values would be, how it would treat its national minorities.

>> Read the full article



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