Wednesday, May 26, 2021

States of Mind

Newsweek, November 13, 1995

Civil War America and post-war Germany are two examples of once divided countries that eventually reunited. Irredentism is the term for reunification of formerly fragmented nations. You might say that Putin has a very strong irredentist tendency in his desire to reconstitute the Imperial Russia of Peter the Great or at the very least the old U.S.S.R with its may satellites. After the fall of Tito, Yugoslavia fragmented into the warring factions that made for grueling Bosnian conflict. When you look at history the prospects for Israel are challenging. The Serbs and Bosnians were carrying literally hundreds of years of historical baggage to the table. In the case of the Palestinians and Israelis literally biblical periods of time, with their consequent legends of grievance, are represented. Since the time of the Oslo accords, two states has seemed like the logical solution, but now it’s beginning to look like something more creative is called for ("I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State" by Peter Beinart, NYT, July 8, 2021). The question is what? Numbers seem abstract but they're at the core of the issue when you deal with the question of according equal rights and full citizenship to all. In the United States you can win the popular vote, but not win an election as was evident in 2016 and famously during the tightly contested Bush Gore race in 2000. The electoral college titrates the notion of a democratic majority as do the senatorial elections in which California with a population of 39 million is allotted the same 2 senators as Wyoming which has a population of 579,000. These disparities are unfair. But can they provide the template for a discussion of how to deal with radically different constituencies with radically differing agendas? Perhaps mathematicians with specialties in imaginary numbers should be added to the negotiating teams when Israelis and Palestinians return to the table. 

Read "Iraquistan" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

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