Is a Two-State Solution possible?

This post was written by Tim Kelly, Hyun Seung Noh, Allissa Fisher and Ashton Knippenberg

In his 2010 article, “One State/Two States: Rethinking Israel and Palestine”, Danny Rubinstein presents the argument that though some might support a two-state solution, in reality it might not be feasible. For his article featured in Dissent Magazine, Rubinstein uses the example of 50-year-old Palestinian spokesperson Sufian Abu-Zaida, who has recently changed his mind about a two-state possibility after years of work moderating talks between Israelis and Palestinians. By now, most of the world forces are backing the idea of Israel helping the Palestinians create a state of their own. “The Obama administration, the European Union, Russia, those Arab states that still maintain their initiative of almost a decade ago (to establish peace with Israel in exchange for its withdrawal to the 1967 border),” writes Rubenstein. But for some reason, the Palestinians seem to not want to cooperate.

Sufian Abu-Zaida via ALRAY Palestinian Media Agency

Sufian Abu-Zaida via ALRAY Palestinian Media Agency

Rubenstein goes on to describe the current (2010) situation in the West Bank, where Israelis hinder Palestinian progress by controlling major waterways, roads and infrastructure. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is one of the few who continue to work to change this situation, but the decline in the Palestinian nationalist movement in the past few years has pushed the reality of two-states (which both sides seem to want) out of the realm of possibility.

Using several examples, Rubenstein constructs reasoning for this decline in the Palestinian nationalist movement and shows that in 2010, hundreds of thousands of were Palestinians applying for Israeli citizenship without embarrassment because of the fear of losing residency. He concludes, after deeply analyzing the differences between older and younger generations of Palestinian politicians and explaining the thought processes of several refugees, that though perhaps both sides might want a two state solution, trends in 2010 severely hindered this hope.

It seems as though Rubenstein’s opinion on the inevitability of a one-state solution aren’t universally held. Jane Adas also an article in the New York City and Tri-State News as a response to Danny Rubenstein’s “Keeping the Two-State Solution Alive.” In her response she not only sites and explains the main points of his argument but also supplies plausible reasons why the idea of a single state are not so popular. She references a Green Party representative Norman Finkelstein as well as U.S. Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer arguing that, although a single state between Isreal and Palestine seems promising, it may not be a resounding success long term. Finkelstein feels that there is a lack of support for both sides. Adas explains that “he suspects that declining support for Israel has less to do with intermarriage than with the fact that both Israel’s history as we now know it and Israel’s present behavior have become indefensible from a liberal, moral standpoint.” This historical controversy between these two groups has allowed for a lot of mistrust that may not be so easily forgotten in the long run of a developing single state. He further explains that this mistrust has lead to some economic disagreements and sanctions that hinder the Palestinians.

Kurtzer disagrees with the possibility of a unified single state on more of a cultural level. Not only are there economic disputes but there are many social discrepancies. He feels that “both parties not only had histories of bad behavior—Israel’s settlement expansion and Palestinians’ ‘predisposition to resort to violence when things got tough’—and were divided on substantive issues, but each side also was divided internally.” His argument is that their individual differences historically do not allow for the proper cultural diffusion that Rubenstein encourages.

In “Is it too late for a two-state solution?,” written for +972, an online magazine, Lisa Goldman supports the points in Rubinstein’s article, saying that Rubinstein’s claim that the waning of the Palestinian national movement will ultimately be the catalyst for a single state is very much true. She also mentions that the purpose of Rubinstein’s article is not just to show what is happening, but also to warn people that it might not be possible to reverse the process. At large, her article outwardly seems to agree with Rubinstein’s theory by pretending as neutrality. In her writing, Goldman is trying to prove to Rubinstein’s readers that a one-state solution is becoming the more realistic possibility, even though Rubinstein never outwardly spoke of a one-state is solution, implying that she sneakily supports the idea of Israel’s most prominent journalist, Danny Rubinstein, especially in her use of the contradictory title, “is it too late for a two-state solution?.” The purpose of her article is to make people see the Palestinian situation and to justify the argument that a one-state solution might be an inescapable result.

+972 magazine logo via

+972 magazine logo via

According +972 magazine’s webpage, the magazine was found in 2010 to provide fresh, original, on-the-ground reporting and analysis of events in Israel and Palestine. Moreover, the publication is committed to human rights and freedom of information, so it does not represent any one organization, political party or specific agenda, according to the site’s “about” section. +972 allows guest contributors to publish as a fair and credible medium, based on English-language. Differing from the information found on the +972 web page, the print version of +972 magazine is known for left-wing news, sponsored by Israel-friendly-companies and organizations. Lisa Goldman is a cofounder of +972 magazine and is a former journalist of Israel. Her response article toward Danny Rubinstein is a supporting article in accordance with her political viewpoint.



Learning French through Ballet

From age four through seventeen, my world revolved around ballet. Through it, I developed my interest in the French language and my appreciation for culture expressed through performed art. Interestingly, much of the terminology for ballet is rooted in common French verbs. For example, tendu, French for stretched, is arguably the most basic of ballet steps and involves the dancer stretching the foot and leg to a pointed position. Below, I have provided a short glossary of both common and unique ballet terminology. Several of the terms are quite literal; are there any that you’ve heard outside of the ballet context?

Assemblé: assembled – This is a jump that lands on two feet.

Sketch of dancer in croisé position via

Sketch of dancer in croisé position via

Croisé: cross – Instead of facing the audience directly, the dancer will turn slightly toward the corner of the stage.

Battement: beat – A step involving a beating action of the extended leg such as stretching, lifting or striking.

Changement: change – A dancer jumps, landing with the opposite foot in front.

Croisé: cross – Instead of facing the audience directly, the dancer will turn slightly toward the corner of the stage.

Développé: developed – The toe is drawn up the standing leg before bringing the working leg out to the front, side or behind the dancer.

Moving through the steps of a developpé via

Moving through the steps of a developpé via

Échappé: escaped – A dancer moves both feet from a closed to an open position.

Pas: step. A movement where a dancer transfers weight. In ballet terminology, there are several pas…

Pas de deux: dance for two – A duet between two dancers.

Pas de chat: step of the cat – Named for the similarity of the dance step to a cat’s leap.

Plié via

Plié via

Pas de poisson: step of the fish (a lot more graceful than it sounds).

Plié: bent – Known as the mother step of ballet, a dancer simply bends her knees.

Port de bras: way of the arms – Made by passing the arms through various positions.

Relevé: raised – A dancer lifts her body from a standing position to putting all weight on either the toes or ball of the foot.

Sauté: sprung – The same meaning as carried by the popular cooking technique. In ballet terminology, this means simply a jump.

Tombé: fell – Normally not taken literally. The dancer will step from a straight-legged position to a bent position on one leg. This step is generally done as a link between other steps.

Sauté via

Sauté via

European taxi strikes against Uber continue

Yesterday, hundreds of Belgian and French taxi drivers met in Brussels in protest of Uber, the controversial transportation service application. The strike was the direct response to the Brussels city government’s decision of creating plans to allow ride-hailing services like Uber to operate in the open market, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Uber's online presence targets young, trendy and in-the-know audiences. Photo from Uber.

Uber’s online presence targets young, trendy and in-the-know audiences. Photo from Uber.

By now most of us are familiar with Uber, even if we have never personally used the transportation service. Marketed with phrases such as “one tap to ride” and “cashless and convenient,” the American start up was founded in 2009 and  gained its popularity abroad in early 2012. Uber is headquartered in San Francisco and currently is in operation in 53 countries around the world. The application’s website is crisp, modern and user friendly. To use the service, a potential customer simply fills out a short form on the website and includes a credit card account for the company to pull from each ride. Each user and driver has a unique profile and must maintain a certain rating to be allowed to continue riding or driving.

Uber’s business model might be making the company soar (last year the company’s value was a reported $40 billion), but its ethical practices and PR stints have turned many against the organization. Several countries have begun to challenge Uber on its tax structure, which includes registering in countries other than the one in which it is operating, thus avoiding higher taxation in countries such as Belgium, for example. This allows Uber to charge lower rates than the more highly regulated, traditional taxi services in that country. An article in the Wall Street Journal quoted a Belgian taxi driver as saying that Uber has taken more than 50% of traditional taxi’s customers through tactics such as these.

The ride-hailing company is also in the midsts of several lawsuits and controversies including being recently banned from the Indian capital of Dehli after a driver raped a woman whom he was driving home. A segment of the company called UberPop, which allows drivers without a taxi license to drive people in their own cars, is now banned in France. In the immediate aftershocks of the recent hostage crisis in Sydney’s city center, users were faced with much steeper prices when trying to get a ride home. This is because of Uber’s automated pricing system, where more users creates higher prices per ride. The company is now trying to make up for this by offering cheaper rides out of the city center, according to CNBC.

^Above video from Ruptly.

Organized strikes against Uber are not a new phenomenon, unfortunately. Summer 2014 saw several strikes against the transportation application, according to The New York Times. Strikes in large metropolises such as London, Milan and Paris severely hindered normal traffic flow as taxi drivers protested the app. Taxiing services in most cities are highly regulated, with drivers having to become licensed and successfully pass exams that require them to memorize city streets. In the case of Uber, drivers act as freelancers or independent contractors and can avoid such tight regulation. However, in a case brought to the Brussels court last year, it was decided that Uber would be charged 10,000€ for every ride a non-licensed driver provides.

The transportation industry is not the only one to have issues between traditional services and new conveniences. Digital platforms have etched away at print publications’ readerships. Skype and Facebook Messenger have begun to take the place of long-distance calling. However, Uber has often been referred to as the most disruptive of these developing technologies. It’s no surprise that those in the taxiing industry fear what an open market might mean for their future.

Stromae – the maestro of international pop

My high school French teacher was an interesting woman. At the time I knew her, she had beaten cancer no fewer than three times, claimed to have a gift in palm reading, and had an almost uncomfortable obsession cats. She only gave her students one rule: No Bleeding. I learned much from Mrs. Gallagher, though I don’t hesitate to admit that most of what I remember learning didn’t have much to do with our French curriculum. I do however recall a specific lesson about francophone music in which she cooed over a catchy club song called “Alors on Danse” by Stromae (Stroh-my, French slang for maestro), an up and coming Belgian artist she just knew would make it big. I would, years later, come to have almost the same obsession with Stromae as Mrs. Gallagher did with her cats.


Cover of Stromae’s single, “Alors on Danse” from

I forgot about Stromae until the summer of 2013 when I interned and studied in Brussels, Belgium for the summer. I worked for a fashion and lifestyle magazine and once had the assignment of interviewing a young DJ for an article to be published in the next issue. One of my questions for Pierre, said DJ, focused on his favorite artists. Voilà, Stromae was at the top of his list. Remembering the name and the catchy tune my teacher showed my French class, I started asking Pierre about Stromae, and at the end of the interview I had a few song recommendations included in my notes.



Photo from

So, who is this Stromae? His real name is Paul Van Haver, and is part Rwandan, part Belgian. In 2009 he released his first single “Alors on Danse,” which was soon after remixed by Kanye West. Stromae’s  sophomore album, Racine Carée, French for square root, “went platinum eight times in Belgium went platinum eight times in Belgium, held the No. 1 chart spot for several weeks in countries throughout Europe and sold 1.5 million copies in France alone,” according to Time Out Magazine. His song, “Ta Fête,” was the Belgian National Team’s anthem for the 2014 World Cup and was played over and over again at the public match viewings I attended in Brussels this past summer. If you have the time, I also recommend watching this video of Stromae’s quest of having his song selected to be the Red Devil’s anthem. It’s pretty entertaining.


Not only is Stromae a talented performer, but his lyrics are incredibly deep. “Papaoutai,” Belgian slang for “Dad, where are you?” is about his own father who left his family when Stromae was young. He discusses illnesses like alcoholism, AIDS and cancer in a way that somehow still makes the listener want to dance around. He also has a thing for stereotypes. In a live performance of his hit, “Tous Les Memes,” Stromae transformed the left side of his face into that of a woman (quite successfully, if I may). The video for his song “Formidable” was filmed by hidden cameras as he stumbled through the streets of downtown Brussels, apparently drunk and worrying several onlookers. The video now has more than 100 million views on YouTube. Not bad, Stromae.


Stromae as he appears in “Tous les Memes.” From


Slowly, very slowly Stromae is working his way to becoming a household name in the United States. This move was helped when it was announced that he would collaborate with the musician Lorde among others for a track in The Hungergames: Mocking Jay Part I. I can only dream that one day I might see him in concert. Until then, Spotify will have to do.