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Geopolitics

Is Israel Using Brazil To Test Waters Of A One-State Solution?

A showdown over Israel's choice for ambassador to Brazil, pro-settlements leader Dani Dayan, shows the Netanyahu government may be set to abandon the two-state solution that has promised Palestinians a homeland.

A 2014 pro-Israel protest in Sao Paulo
A 2014 pro-Israel protest in Sao Paulo
Clóvis Rossi

-Analysis-


SAO PAULO — A diplomatic battle is brewing in the corridors of power from Jerusalem to Brasilia.

After Israel nominated Dani Dayan to be its new chief diplomatic representative in Brazil, opposition to the appointment has grown in the Latin American state. Dayan is the former head of the Yesha Council, which represents the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Still, the showdown over his nomination is about more than just the job, and it reaches far beyond Brazil.

The activists trying to convince Brazil to reject Dayan's nomination see this is an Israeli attempt to sell the world on the idea of a single, binational state, for both Jews and Palestinians. This would be a direct challenge to the widespread international consensus that says there must be two states: Israel, and a state for the Palestinians. The so-called "two-state solution" is a demand that Dayan has fiercely and publicly opposed.

"Yes, I see Dayan's nomination as a sort of test to put that idea forward, the idea of a binational state instead of two states," says Mossi Raz, a former Knesset member of the leftist Meretz party and head of the Peace NGO Forum, an Israeli-Palestinian umbrella group.

It could of course be just another conspiracy theory, like the many that emerge every day about that part of the world. But this one has a certain logic. Why indeed would Israel suggest a former settlement leader when everybody knows how viscerally Brazil opposes Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories? Why would Israel want the appointment of someone who defends a one-state solution if Brazil — and Israel too, at least officially — still insists on a two-state solution?

Two-faced

What's certain is that this move from the Israeli government is not, as it claims to be, a way to build stronger ties between the two countries.

[rebelmouse-image 27089445 alt="""" original_size="529x667" expand=1]

Dayan was born in Buenos Aires in 1955, and moved to Israel at age 15. Photo: Wikipedia

So could Dayan's nomination fail? From the Israeli side, this hypothesis seems unlikely now that the two main opposition leaders, Isaac Herzog of the Zionist Union and Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid (There's a Future), have called Henrique Sardinha Pinto, the Brazilian ambassador to Israel, to express their support for Dayan's nomination, even though they oppose his stance on settlements

The protocol usually observed is that the host country must give its permission for the nomination. When they happen, rejections are usually conveyed privately.

"Brazil is very afraid of a confrontation with Israel," Alon Liel, a former Israeli ambassador to South Africa, recently told website Arutz Sheva. "It is very hard to oppose Israel on the international front. No country in the world wants a bilateral one-on-one confrontation with the state of Israel."

Liel is one of three former ambassadors who oppose Dayan's appointment, thus running the risk of being regarded as traitors. But like Mossi Raz, he justifies his opposition by saying he fears the potential consequences of a one-state solution.

"We believe that if within the next year or two serious negotiations about two states do not begin, then there will be a binational state here whose Jewish character will be in doubt, as will its democratic character," he says.

In other words, because the fertility rate of Palestinians is much higher than that of their Jewish counterparts, Israel's Jewish character would soon be supplanted. And the only way to stop this would be to scrap the basic rule of majority-rules democracy.

In the context of Dayan's nomination, it's worth noting the result of research conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, which shows that 66% of Palestinians reject the idea of resuming negotiations with Israel without the cessation of settlement construction.

Furthermore, two-thirds of Palestinians surveyed said they no longer believed in a two-state solution, precisely because of settlement expansion, which eats away land that international law says should remain Palestinian.

And now, against its will, Brazil has been placed right in the middle of one of the world's most intractable and explosive conflicts.

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Society

Genoa Postcard: A Tale Of Modern Sailors, Echos Of The Ancient Mariner

Many seafarers are hired and fired every seven months. Some keep up this lifestyle for 40 years while sailing the world. Some of those who'd recently docked in the Italian port city of Genoa, share a taste of their travels that are connected to a long history of a seafaring life.

A sailor smokes a cigarette on the hydrofoil Procida

A sailor on the hydrofoil Procida in Italy

Daniele Frediani/Mondadori Portfolio via ZUMA Press
Paolo Griseri

GENOA — Cristina did it to escape after a tough breakup. Luigi because he dreamed of adventures and the South Seas. Marianna embarked just “before the refrigerator factory where I worked went out of business. I’m one of the few who got severance pay.”

To hear their stories, you have to go to the canteen on Via Albertazzi, in Italy's northern port city of Genoa, across from the ferry terminal. The place has excellent minestrone soup and is decorated with models of the ships that have made the port’s history.

There are 38,000 Italian professional sailors, many of whom work here in Genoa, a historic port of call that today is the country's second largest after Trieste on the east coast. Luciano Rotella of the trade union Italian Federation of Transport Workers says the official number of maritime workers is far lower than the reality, which contains a tangle of different laws, regulations, contracts and ethnicities — not to mention ancient remnants of harsh battles between shipowners and crews.

The result is that today it is not so easy to know how many people sail, nor their nationalities.

What is certain is that every six to seven months, the Italian mariner disembarks the ship and is dismissed: they take severance pay and after waits for the next call. Andrea has been sailing for more than 20 years: “When I started out, to those who told us we were earning good money, I replied that I had a precarious life: every landing was a dismissal.”

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