Married to another man: Israel's dilemma in Palestine
Pluto Press (2007)pp328
Reviewed By Sonia Karkar*
Dr. Ghada Karmi's latest book Married to Another Man: Israel's
Dilemma in Palestine opens with the problem European Zionists faced over
a century ago when they first mooted the idea of a Jewish state in
Palestine. They found then that there was already a well-established
Palestinian society existing in the land they wished to claim as their
own. Hence the message sent back to Vienna by the two rabbis who made
the discovery: "The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another
It is the essence of "Israel's dilemma": how to effect the disappearance
of the ever-present Palestinians so that a purely Jewish state can exist
on Palestinian land? The Zionist program of ethnic cleansing that has
been going on since Israel's creation has not solved the problem.
Neither has the living hell of occupation.
Essentially, Karmi says that Israel should never have been created in
Palestine, but she does not suggest that present-day Israelis must be
removed. Instead, she argues that a single state for two peoples offers
much more hope for peace than a state based on Jewish exclusivity next
to a truncated and utterly unviable proposed Palestinian state under
Israel's vice-like control.
Karmi's book is controversial, particularly since the West is still
talking about a two-state solution that totally ignores the realities on
the ground. Pointing out that all peace efforts have so far come to
nothing, and the two-state solution is now impossible, Karmi argues that
the one-state alternative may be the only chance of resolving the
conflict. Other solutions raised recently, such as federation with Egypt
and Jordan, will further divide the Palestinians living in the West Bank
and Gaza and will only lead to more conflict.
Karmi skillfully guides the reader through the political contortions and
cruelties that have time and again failed to bring peace to both
peoples. She is one of very few writers who have managed to untangle the
mess of hypocritical and devious maneuverings enough for the reader to
grasp the unfairness and tragedy of the Palestinian predicament. Instead
of Oslo being the catalyst for change, the book shows how those hopeful
but flawed beginnings quickly deteriorated as Israel continued to balk
at reaching a fair settlement. One has only to look at Israel's land
expropriations and the illegal expansion of Jewish settlements deep
inside Palestinian territory that went on throughout all the peace talks
and continues even now.
The extraordinary nature of "Zionist machinating and Jewish sentiment"
to preserve the state of Israel is formidable, but all the same, Israel
could not have survived without Western support. This raises the
question, why does Israel receive such absolute support, particularly
from the United States? The book provides some of the answers, showing
just how the Israel lobby has managed to influence both houses of the US
Congress and how Christian Zionism has also been a powerful factor in US
decision-making. It is doubtful though that the ideological hope of
preserving Israel for the return of the Messiah is more influential than
the imperialist agenda. Regardless, says Karmi, maintaining Israel's
existence without justice for the Palestinians will only lead to further
instability and increasing violence between the two sides, which in turn
has serious implications for world peace.
This brings us back to Israel's dilemma -- what to do with some 5
million Palestinians? If it is not to be a democratic state for all
Muslim, Christian and Jewish citizens, then Israel's solution can only
be expulsion and genocide. Alternatively, says Karmi, all efforts should
go into reversing the damage that Zionism has wrought, not just since
1967 as the two-state solution implies, but back to 1948 when Israel was
created. The reader will find it difficult to ignore the appeal of her
argument in light of the harsh reality to which the last six decades
have led us -- from the first realization that "the bride is beautiful,
but she is married to another man" to the reckless decision to take the
"bride" regardless, and the devastating consequences that have followed.
Ultimately, Zionism needs to change because it was always unworkable.
The solution Karmi proposes shows remarkable magnanimity considering the
terrible human cost of Israel's venture. Her vision is to bring
Palestinians and the now-established Israeli Jewish community together
in one state so that justice can be served for both sides. The
challenge, she says, is to change the current paradigm of thinking that
has now become so entrenched in political discourse, yet for which there
is no future at all. Karmi's book allows the reader to look beyond the
grim predictions and to see a solution that may be the only way for
peace and justice to ever prevail in this troubled land.
*Sonja Karkar is the founder and president of Women for Palestine in
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