What Comes Next: We need the courage to do away with existing institutions, policies, and paradigms

ActivismIsrael/Palestine
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This post is part of “What Comes Next?: A forum on the end of the two-state paradigm.” This series was initiated by Jewish Voice for Peace as an investigation into the current state of thinking about one state and two state solutions, and the collection has been further expanded by Mondoweiss to mark 20 years since the Oslo process. The entire series can be found here.

There is no easy way to go about addressing this kind of question. Let me begin by stating that the enclosed words do not represent Palestinians, or any of the groups I am a part of, such as Students for Justice in Palestine and The Palestine Youth Movement. These words are my personal opinion informed by my organizing within such groups and my world-view.

Two fundamental issues must be addressed for a conversation about statehood to even be relevant. First, Israel must end the brutal occupation of Palestine, which will cease the torturous living conditions of Palestinians under occupation, and second, Palestinians need to construct a governing apparatus that democratically represents them. I am under-qualified to make an informed opinion about statehood. Moreover, at this volatile political juncture, my opinion–or anyone’s opinion for that matter– is practically irrelevant because of the countless unknown variables involved. My ideas about justice tell me that there should be a popular movement or uprising – a politically forceful occurrence needs to be actualized then reckoned with in order to accomplish the end of the occupation and a democratic governing structure.

From that departure I say with confidence that I am participating in this forum as a kind of suggestion. Gestures like a Palestinian asked to participate in a forum initiated by Jewish Voice for Peace, and collaborative projects and campaigns in general, are what one hopes will come next. So before approving a state – a nation-state – one must also build an internal structure, must create a state of being built on equal footing. This means we need to build institutions, implement policies, and disseminate work that reverses the roles of oppressed and oppressor, the roles of those who are chosen and privileged over those who are un-chosen, beneath, and subjugated. This means having the courage to destroy existing institutions, policies, and paradigms. This means working against protecting and privileging one people over another. In the process of engaging in this work we should always be aware of the power dynamics, of the implications of our work, and constantly questioning, rediscovering our own intentions.

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