Photo: AFP
Israel's Netanyahu and Palestinian Abbas. Separate heads, but one heart and lungs
Photo: AFP

Israel and Palestine as Siamese twins

Op-ed: Israelis and Palestinians are separate nations that share a vital organ – one land. Further separation would cause hazardous health complications which are likely to kill both sides.

Theodore Herzl inspired the early Zionists with the call "a land without a people for a people without a land." David Ben-Gurion managed to pacify the rowdy Zionists during World War II by vowing to "fight the White Paper as if there were no war and to fight the war as if there were no White Paper."



In our days, the dovish Left has coined the mantra "two states for two peoples." The simplicity and algebraic beauty of the slogan have convinced many Israelis and virtually all non-Israelis that a Palestinian state is both viable and desirable. The time is ripe for those who beg to disagree and are exhausted of jihadist incitement, suicide bombers and Qassam rockets to establish a more powerful paradigm to represent reality.


The position right-wing Zionists defend is a matter of life-or-death for both Jews and Arabs. A medical metaphor is thus best suited to illustrate the realities of the conflict. It is indeed the case that Israel and Palestine can be compared to Siamese twins. Let us call these Siamese twins Abe and Pal.


Abe and Pal have separate heads, but share a heart (Jerusalem) and lungs (water reservoirs). Surgeons hoped to successfully separate the twins, but their experience separating the lower limbs in a preliminary surgery (Gaza disengagement) resulted in severe gangrene for the separated limbs.


Since this preliminary surgery, surgeons are very skeptical that the bodies can be successfully separated. Unfortunately the Siamese twins’ medical insurance company (the United States) is pushing doctors to perform the surgery, given the great deal of media attention and international sympathy for Pal.


Pal has earned this sympathy as the smaller and weaker of the two twins. As a result of this weakness, Pal has been dependent on Abe for many years. This has bred intense frustration and hatred in Pal towards Abe. Pal has tried to stab Abe several times and has called upon his friends, Hezbollah and Iran, to assail Abe since he believes that if Abe were murdered, he would be freed.


Since Abe is stronger, he has managed to repeatedly subdue and hurt Pal and his friends. Now Pal and his friends hate Abe intensely, while Abe just wished Pal accepted coexistence. The sole alternative to coexistence would be for both lives to be endangered by a separation surgery.


How is this metaphor realistic?


Indeed, just like Siamese twins are separate individuals who share a body, so are Israelis and Palestinians separate nations that share one land. Yet a bi-national state is not possible for the same reasons it is not possible to merge the heads of two Siamese twins.


To separate Siamese twins is possible when no vital organs are intricately shared. In this case they are shared and further separation would cause hazardous health complications which are likely to kill both sides.


The only viable alternative is for both sides to remain together and to start exercising utmost care and consideration towards each other’s needs and concerns. This means that the stronger side should be more respectful and use its material superiority for the benefit of the weaker side and that the weaker side should finally understand that neither conflict nor separation is preferable to coexistence.


The power of this metaphor resides in its immediacy. It illustrates the challenges and hardships that both Israelis and Palestinians face and conveys the life-or-death stakes that characterize the conflict. Admittedly, the metaphor is not perfect: Siamese twins do not experience the Holocaust, nor a Nakba. Yet the parallels to reality overwhelmingly outweigh the differences, thus portraying the constraints and plausible outcomes of the Israeli-Palestinian situation more realistically than the "two states for two people" cliché.


פרסום ראשון: 05.11.14, 00:41
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