Ads promoting one democratic state pop up in Ramallah


takamol2These photos are ads in the West Bank promoting the idea of one democratic state. The big wide one says the two-state-solution is impossible and the one-state-solution inevitable. These ads have been popping up in Ramallah for weeks at different billboard locations. The group behind them is indicated as "al-Takamol: for the one state solution". I have been trying to see who’s behind it; I asked people but they don’t know; a friend and I hypothesized that it’s the PA’s idea, a way of blackmailing Israel into negotiating the two state solution with a modicum of integrity and speed. Maybe someone can do the detective work?

Weiss: I asked Ali Abunimah, who responds, "I’ve seen these and posted one on my blog but I do not know who is doing it.

Posted in Israel/Palestine, One state/Two states

{ 54 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Taxi says:

    Methinks it’s the work of the PA, not the work of young ‘graffiti artists’ – it evidently looks too polished with a ‘budget’ behind it.

    Why would they clandestinely do that?

    They wanna put the Bi-nation idea on the negotiating table without their signature on it and as a blunt instrument to beat Natanyahu’s thick skull with.

    Tzipi Livni recommended the boutique advertising agency to Abbas :-)

    • Walid says:

      I agree with Taxi, this appears to be the work of Abbas in trying to spook the Israelis to move on giving him a small state on the WB. It should work with Israelis forever in a state of being spooked by one thing or other. Having to share their country with 5 million Arabs is their worst nightmare.

    • wouldn’t one have thought that the heir to the David vs Goliath story would have conceptualized that brute strength can be outdone by wit, and with that inheritance, have chosen the side of wit not brute?

  2. Tarek Abbas’,Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ son owns an advertising agency. He was behind a campaign a few months ago where similar advertisements posted around Ramallah featured giant pictures of Egyptian-born, but Qatar-based Sheikh Qardawi kissing a Zionist. Qardawi had been very critical of Abbas and his toadying up to Israel. Clashes broke out in a central Ramallah mosque when supporters of Qardawi’s were roughed up and arrested by Palestinian Authority security forces.

    The idea behind Tarek’s advertising blitz was to portray Qardawi as a closet Zionist to counter accusations of his daddy being a puppet of the Israelis. However, it was not lost on the Palestinian street that the Zionist in question being kissed belonged to the Naturei Karta who are anti-Zionism and sympathetic to the Palestinians.

  3. Marian says:

    Au contraire — some of the best clued-in, here in Ramallah, say that this is done by a “fishy” group, at least one of whom is associated with PNGO, and essentially designed to weaken the PLO and the Palestinian (National) Authority. The group has apparently also sent out emails. Their campaign has gained notoriety for its naughtiness in going against the one pillar of the current policy of Fatah (and its leader Mahmoud Abbas, who is also head of the PLO and the PNA). It may also, therefore, be seen as somehow part of the reason for the shocking decision of the current PA cabinet today to postpone, indefinitely, the local and municipal elections that were supposed to be held throughout the West Bank on 17 July. And, the production values of these big posters were not so great — just text, no graphics, no photos, not even a very good layout. But audacious, in the current climate…

    • LOL Aha ..good to know…and good for them. Hope the PA security boys don’t get their hands on them. I know that the Tanzim boys have had a gutfull of Abu Mazen and so have many Al Aqsa Martyrs guys.

      • Marian a couple of questions come to mind. If this naughty group is indeed trying to weaken Abbas with this campaign, how come none of the murals have been painted over? And how come, with the huge presence of istighbarat, mughabarat, al aman waqa’i, police and other security forces around Ramallah, were the paintings not spotted as they were being done as they would have taken quite a bit of time and the owners would have been spotted and possibly questioned? Perhaps they were done in the middle of the night?

        • MHughes976 says:

          Does ‘fishy’ mean ‘with unknown, suspicious backing’ or ‘only pretending to oppose Abbas, really giving him an excuse to postpone elections?’ I hadn’t heard of this latest act of usurpation.

        • Very good question MH. One of the murals is done in exactly the same place as a previous mural done by Abbas’ son Tareq. This is within a stone’s throw of a police station as well as the centre of Ramallah where security agents operate all the time. The other mural is done on another main Ramallah road between the centre of Ramallah and the Muqata or government headquarters. Again crawling with security unless the murals were painted in the middle of the night and even then I have my doubts. Unless there are some within the security forces who are secretly colluding with the “dissidents” against Abbas. The plot thickens.

        • Walid says:

          Even if they would have been put up in the middle of the night, they would have been taken down immediately the next morning but because they are still up, someone in authority does not seem to mind them.

  4. kalithea says:

    Here’s a couple of photos of the real Abbas:

    link to

    link to

    Finally, this is Abbas’s attitude towards Palestinians suffering:

    link to

  5. monad68 says:

    I LOVE the logo of the open hand with the fingers colored red, black, and green and the thumb a nice bright blue.

  6. Oren says:

    okay, I’m pretty much at zero when it comes to politics and democracy, so I don’t know if the following idea will be super offensive to some people, but I’m laying it out because I’m very curious if someone has thought of it or where the caveats exist… anyways, here it is:

    what if…? Israel annexed the west bank/gaza, gave full citizenship to all, equal rights, one state blah blah…. but made it so suffrage was conditional on national service, either through the military or some other kind of work that is based on national allegiance.

    basically, the right to vote is granted upon completion of some kind of national service.

    that way, the “demographic shock” would be abated as 5 million non-jews become part of the democracy.

    just curious, whats wrong with this idea? thanks

    • Shmuel says:


      For a single state to stand any chance of bringing peace, it must be established from the outset on the basis of complete equality. Were the state of Israel simply to “absorb” the Palestinians it currently occupies, without fundamentally changing the character of the state itself, it would be a certain recipe for civil war.

      • Oren says:

        then the problem is how to accomplish this… establishing complete equality without civil war. Thanks Shmuel.

    • Diane Mason says:

      If Israel gave equal citizenship to all, the majority of citizens would soon be Palestinian (if they’re not already a majority). So, in a true democracy of equal rights for everyone, national service is not going to be in the army of a “Jewish state” but in the army of a binational state with an Arab majority.

      How would that ease the “demographic shock” for Jewish Israelis? You seem to be postulating national service as a way of easing Palestinians into citizenship of a Jewish state. But if they’re truly equal citizens then they must also have an equal vote, and the Palestinian majority is hardly likely to vote to keep Israel a Jewish-preferential state.

      Israel’s whole problem with the Palestinians is not that they are a disloyal minority, but that unless you keep expelling them or disenfranchising them in order to gerrymander a fake Jewish majority, they are actually the majority, and given equal rights would simply vote themselves free of the Zionist experiment.

      • Oren says:

        i’m saying that for anyone, arab or jew, to have a vote in the country, they must serve in the army or some other way. that way they are equal citizens. just giving someone a job could be the best solution. as franklin roosevelt said: “I propose to create a Civilian Conservation Corps to be used in simple work, more important, however, than the material gains will be the moral and spiritual value of such work.” also “No Country, however rich, can afford the waste of its human resources. Demoralization caused by vast unemployment is our greatestextravagance. Morally, it is the greatest menace to our social order.”

        • Diane Mason says:

          But first of all, before you find mechanisms to make everyone feel like they’re part of the country, don’t you have to have some kind of basic agreement about what kind of country it actually is?

          It’s as if we’re saying that step 1 is “Israel becomes a binational democratic state of all its citizens”, and step 2 is “Everybody in that binational state performs some kind of national service as a way of integrating everyone”. But the issue that really matters isn’t whether step 2 follows step 1 (and personally I don’t think there’s anything wrong with national service in general so long as it isn’t necessarily military), but how on earth do we get to step 1 from where we are now?

          I’m just not seeing how we jump from Israel now – as a country that exists precisely to reserve the full benefits of citizenship only to Jews – to Israel as a country where everyone is equal and integrated through a shared experience of national service.

          Do you see what I’m getting at?

        • Oren says:

          I think I understand what you are saying. what is the meaning of “Israel”. There is a little bit of ambiguity in the description of Israel as being a “Jewish State”.

          one interpretation, which I think is the current interpretation, is that Israel is a state full of jews.

          the second interpretation, which I think needs to be emphasized, is that Israel could be a state that exemplifies universal jewish values (eg equality, tikkun olam, most of the good american stuff) and not necessarily a state full of jews. after all, no one can agree on who is/isnt a jew.

          interpreting Israel to be a jewish state in the latter context could be a good start to getting to step 1.

          also, i find many parallels between zionism and the palestinian struggle to return. there has to be a way to connect both those struggles together to have a meaning that could exemplify Israel.

          so basically, its a problem of modifying the meaning of Israel, and maybe a company like google could have the resources to provide the marketing necessary to accomplish this.

        • Diane Mason says:

          Yes, thinking of Israel’s Jewishness in terms of Jewish values instead of how many Jewish grandparents you have to have in order to become a citizen would be a big leap forward.

          Though I would add that if Israel is going to be a state of all its citizens, then surely it shouldn’t formally define itself as a state that expresses Jewish values, but as a state that expresses the values of its Jewish and non-Jewish peoples alike.

          Gotta run. Kids screaming to be fed….

        • Oren says:

          yep, i agree with you. thanks for the volley.

        • eljay says:

          >> the second interpretation … is that Israel could be a state that exemplifies universal jewish values … and not necessarily a state full of jews. … interpreting Israel to be a jewish state in the latter context could be a good start to getting to step 1. <<

          Instead of "interpreting Israel to be a jewish state" in any context, a better way would be to create a single, secular, democratic, neutrally-named state which exemplifies all universal values, not just "universal jewish values".

        • Oren says:

          i guess what i meant was that it should be founded on the basis of values that intersect all abrahamic faiths, which comprise the various lenses through which people view the land… the holy land. i suppose it would be more correct to say universal hebrew values.

  7. eljay says:

    >> just curious, whats wrong with this idea?

    Off the top of my head, I’d say it’s the suggestion that only “non-Jews” should have to prove their worthiness.

    • eljay says:

      >> just curious, whats wrong with this idea?

      Off the top of my head, I’d say it’s the suggestion that only “non-Jews” should have to prove their worthiness.

      And then there’s the issue of land and reparations. Or are the “non-Jews” expected to live with the status quo AND have to prove their worthiness?

  8. monad68 says:

    Every major Israeli political party has crazy apocalyptic militants as leaders. Hamas will fit right in!

    • Oren says:

      I may be naive but it seems to me like the 1 state solution is the only way to go. if the jews are going to claim that they are the only ones who get to live in the state of israel, then it should be renamed to the state of judah. otherwise, its time to make room for at least 11 more tribes.
      what i am asking is this: how do we make it a one state democracy with equal rights, and not have it turn into an islamic republic?

      • what i am asking is this: how do we make it a one state democracy with equal rights, and not have it turn into an islamic republic?

        Hi Oren,

        There are a number of reasons as to why a single state in Palestine would most likely not turn into an Islamic Republic.

        1) Of the more than 50 counties around the world with a Muslim majority population, only one of them is a full fledged Islamic Republic where the legal code, bureaucracy, and other state institutions are interpreted through the lens of a particular strain of Islamic thought. This country being Iran, and even in this case the situation is highly nuanced and not so clear cut.

        Thus given that most Muslims have yet to implement Islamic Republics in countries where they are the overwhelming majority, why would a single state in Palestine where the population would be roughly 50/50 Jewish-Arab become an Islamic Republic?

        2) Political parties like Hamas and Hezbollah which campaign on an Islamic premise, are just that – political parties. Neither group has really moved to impose their interpretation of shariah law on the populace. Hamas may have made some superficial moves in this regard (for example asking female judges to wear the headscarf in court) but in reality have not done anything substantial to the legal system, bureaucracy, or limited the rights of non-Muslims in the area under their control.

        The same is true of Hezbollah which has yet to campaign on the premise of bringing their interpretation of shariah law on all the people of Lebanon despite the fact that they are in fact one of the largest political parties in Lebanon who draw their support from the largest sectarian group in the country (the Shia which represent nearly 40% of the country themselves).

        In the end the greatest thing that can happen for the safety of both Jews and Palestinians is a permanent peace solution. Given that the 2 state solution is impossible at this moment, the only real solution would be a single democratic state that guaranteed equal rights to all people living between the river and the sea.

        • Oren says:

          i agree and hope that this can be accomplished soon.

        • Thank you Mr. Bradley, that cleared up things a little for me. It seems that a large part of the obstacle to peace is exactly this irrational fear that a Palestinian majority will somehow translate into an “islamisation” of the country (especially if the RoR were implemented). The trick is to persuade the Israeli Jews that this fear is indeed irrational and ill-founded – but, how to do this?

        • Oren says:

          maybe this is a job cut out for the honest Palestinian leadership, if that is indeed their concern. if i was a palestinian, this would be my #1 fight… to address the fears of my neighbors.

        • “to address the fears of my neighbors.”
          Well the record clearly shows that it’s largely the Palestinians who have something to fear from their neighbors, but yes, this definitely has to be part of the equation. The question is whether the Israelis are mostly cynical about these matters, and are simply going to continue with ethnic cleansing despite the declarations of good intentions, or if their fears are sincerely founded in the menace of an “islamic” state – which could be dispelled with a better understanding. I’m not sure one which it is.

        • Oren says:

          maybe a good first step would be for those of both sides who sincerely agree to a 1 state solution to sit together, list their respective fears and lay out a plan to address those fears. the holy land is a place full of meanings, and in order for the people to live free of conflict, their meanings must be free of conflict. mondoweiss is right when they say “its a war of ideas in the middle east”

        • “to address the fears of my neighbors.”
          And also, putting the burden of proof solely on the Palestinians is dishonest. The fears of the Israelis are largely stoked by the injustices, which, if not addressed, will just continue – so,
          1. do they want peace and justice,
          2. do they want injustice and a military capable of sheltering them from the results of this injustice (violence).

        • “maybe a good first step would be for those of both sides who sincerely agree to a 1 state solution to sit together”

          Yes, but those in power for the moment in Israel do not want this, so either they have do be divested of their functions, or the movement has to be a popular one, which will gain momentum – and for this to happen, the mentalities of the people on the street have to change – how do you do this?

        • Oren says:

          I guess you’re right… my #1 fight, as a jew or an arab, should be to address the fears of my own people. maybe a political party could be established with those goals, addressing the fears of their own people on each respective side. that means, a jew cannot address the fears of the arabs and vice versa, but the group is united in fighting for each other on their own respective sides.

        • Oren says:

          “the mentalities of the people on the street have to change – how do you do this?”

          I think about this all the time. you have to build a bomb that is not made of uranium, but words of truth. its sad… these people are fighting over which story gets to be told. but the story has already become their fighting.

        • “that means, a jew cannot address the fears of the arabs and vice versa, but the group is united in fighting for each other on their own respective sides.”

          Not sure how this would happen.
          I think the opposite heeds to happen, each party needs to get outside of itself to address the fears of the other.

          Think of it as a path, and in the middle is an obstacle – the Israelis can either climb this wall and do it the hard way, or can keep skirting it to go around, and risk being shot at while going around. Until now, they’ve preferred going around, putting their trust in military might to keep themselves from being targeted (the famous “iron wall”) – but some are waking up to the fact that this can’t go on, short of annihilating those at the edges.

          Either the transformation takes place from the interior (“you better free your mind instead”), or it must be forced upon them from the exterior (which is what I think some Israelis are finally wishing for now, in desperation). For this to happen, the UN has to be taken out of the United State’s pocket – they have proven to be untrustworthy, and have no real desire to resolve the conflict. The Palestinians will patiently wait (as they have done remarkably), but they have their limits.

        • robin says:

          For me the principle of reciprocity should be crucial. That means each side says: “Every right I get, you must get too. Every privilege I get, you get too. Every duty I have, you must have too. No matter what happens our rights are tied to your rights.”

          And I like the idea that this be spelled out in a strong constitution that is extremely difficult to change. That is how you appeal to both sides. You guarantee that no matter what happens, there will always be equal rights and respect for both peoples.

          The alternative, which would be similar in a practical sense, is a constitution that has an ironclad “bill of rights” for individuals. This would move everybody’s discourse beyond nationalism a little more, which could be helpful. But it could be too much of a stretch for both sides, and may not really be needed to achieve meaningful equality. The main conflict here is between two nationalisms, which probably don’t need to be abandoned if they can be reconciled.

      • lysias says:

        what i am asking is this: how do we make it a one state democracy with equal rights, and not have it turn into an islamic republic?

        Making it a binational state with constitutionally reserved rights for both nationalities could be part of the settlement that establishes the one-state democracy in the first place.

        I’ve toyed with the idea of imitating John C. Calhoun’s idea of rule by concurrent majority in the constitutional structure established. You could have two houses of the legislature, one for each nationality, both of which have to agree to get anything passed. You could have two chief executives, like the consuls in ancient Rome, each of whom can veto any action by the other.

    • Shmuel says:

      Every major Israeli political party has crazy apocalyptic militants as leaders. Hamas will fit right in!

      I don’t know if Hamas is ready to be considered a “moderate” party.

  9. Marian says:

    These are printed paid advertisements, put on billboards and on sides of buildings rented out as ad space — not murals. It would probably not be too hard to track down where they were printed, or who paid for the space (it is a group, I was told). Nobody seems to have bothered to try to track this down. Everybody has enjoyed all the rumors and speculation. It made some people (the intended targets) squirm. As to why these posters or ads were not torn down: they are an indirect, not a direct challenge. It would have been too brutal and uncouth a way to deal with what is clearly a highly entertaining political game, and would have made the intended targets the clear losers. Advocating a one-state solution is nothing that could be banned, or outlawed — it represents one of the political lines that has been discussed openly for years. The present Palestinian leadership is committed to an alternative, which is the two-state solution, and they are committed to reaching this goal through negotiations. They are also committed, at least formally, to certain democratic ideals. Remember when security forces were spotted putting up posters of Abu Mazen all over Ramallah early one morning (as people were heading to work) last July (in honor of the President’s birthday, shortly before the convening of the Fatah Sixth General Conference in Bethlehem at which Abu Mazen secured his leadership of the Fatah movement, emerging as clear and unchallenged leader of all three main Palestinian political institutions — i.e., Fatah, the Palestinian Authority, and the PLO?) Well, Abu Mazen was annoyed and embarrassed at the initiative to put up his birthday posters last July, and ordered them all torn down within hours. But, later in the year, he did not object to having big printed posters put up at major streets and intersections near the Muqata’a Presidential Headquarters (Abu Mazen walking in the rose garden of the Presidential palace in Bethlehem, verses from the Qur’an), as preparations were supposedly being made for national elections (for PA President + Legislative Council) that Abu Mazen proclaimed on 24 October to take place on 24 January. Then, there was the Goldstone report fiasco. Abu Mazen made a big speech saying he would not run again for office. Then, the national elections were postponed indefinitely. A decent interval later, West Bank local and municipal elections were announced. And then there was the scandal involving the President’s chief of staff. (Two investigative committees were constituted, in turn, one for the Goldstone report, and one for the sex tapes scandal — but no reports were ever published). Today, the West Bank local elections were postponed — a decision that was formalized in Fatah Headquarters in Ramallah yesterday (Wednesday) and announced today, to widespread denunciation and dismay…

  10. matter says:

    Hamas & Shas, sittin’ in the Knesset!

    Before you know it, it will be reality.

    After all, Shas and Hamas are natural allies.

  11. BenjaminGeer says:

    Oren, the idea of a single secular democratic state for Israelis and Palestinians is a perfectly reasonable one, and seems to have been gaining popularity among Palestinians. Please see Ali Abuhimah’s book One Country for an in-depth discussion.

    • Seems like a fine idea

      • I’m going to ask again to please stop moderating my comments, it makes them delayed, and it seems unfair. Naturally I have dissent against some of the more anti-semitic views on this website but I have never violated the comments policy.

        It’s not moral to silense legitimate dissent in such a way
        Thank you

        • Chaos4700 says:

          Tell that to Helen Thomas, you Zionist buffoon.

          And for the record? I am under moderation too. So stop acting like it’s “anti-Semitism” or whatever B.S. you’re trying to frame it as.

  12. RE: “a way of blackmailing Israel into negotiating the two state solution with a modicum of integrity and speed.” – Anees of Jerusalem
    MY COMMENT: Fat chance of that!
    P.S. Although the term ‘blackmail’ is commonly used, I think this would more appropriately be called ‘extortion’ (at least, here in the U.S.). Extortion is threatening to do something illegal unless a demand is met. “If you don’t give me a million dollars, I’ll torch your house (arson, at a minimum).” Blackmail is where one threatens to reveal (make public) something embarrassing or damaging unless a certain demand is met. “If you don’t stop complaining about our settlements in the Judea and Samaria, I’ll tell Matt Drudge what you and that beret-wearing intern have been doing in the Oval Office (blackmail, at a minimum).”
    Of course, since the act being threatened here (the PA demanding the one-state solution) would not seem to be illegal, I would probably avoid legal terms like extortion and blackmail altogether and just call it something like “Machiavellian machinations”. But then, I’m quite enamored of alliteration!

    FROM WIKIPEDIA: Blackmail is the crime of threatening to reveal substantially true information about a person to the public, a family member, or associates unless a demand made upon the victim is met. This information is usually of an embarrassing, socially damaging, and/or incriminating nature. As the information is substantially true, the act of revealing the information may not be criminal in its own right nor amount to a civil law defamation; the crime is making demands in exchange for withholding it. English Law creates a much broader definition of blackmail, covering any unwarranted demands with menaces, whether involving revealing information or not.
    Blackmail is similar to extortion. The difference is that extortion involves an underlying, independent criminal act, while blackmail does not….

    WikiLink – link to
    Extort – to obtain from a person by force, intimidation, or undue or illegal power : wring; also : to gain especially by ingenuity or compelling argument