What Comes Next: We need a rights-based movement with a political vision

ActivismIsrael/Palestine
on 18 Comments

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.

If the two-state solution is dead, but nobody dares to declare that, then the alternative is a continuation of occupation, colonization and apartheid. Even though I completely understand the position taken by defenders of the rights-based approach, still I think that there is an urgent need for a political vision that helps put a light at the end of the tunnel for those millions of people living between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean, and more than 5 million Palestinian refugees scattered all over the world.

whatcomesnextverticalI do understand the rights-based approach, but I tend to maintain that the right to self-determination should not entertain a racist solution, i.e., two states which includes a Jewish state, since it ignores the rights of two thirds of the Palestinian people—second-class Palestinian citizens of Israel and refugees. Moreover, if we, rightly, are learning from the anti-apartheid movement then we should recognize that movement had a clear-cut political vision: one person, one vote; equality and the end of apartheid. This framework ultimately lead to a secular, democratic state on the land of South Africa which, according the Freedom Charter, belongs to all South Africans. With this understanding we realize we have to deal with the political framework within which the rights-based movement has to work. The United Democratic Front (UDF) of South Africa was an umbrella under which almost all anti-apartheid organizations fought against apartheid; it had a political vision that made it crystal clear that it wanted a secular-democratic state, a goal that could only be achieved by ending apartheid, Bantustans and ethnic racism.

White-ruled South Africa was a state for Whites only, ruled by them and for them; an exclusively ethnic state. There was no coexistence with its racist nature. Israel is an ethno-religious state that is very much like Apartheid South Africa. The difference is in the fact that Israel has managed to become “far worse” than South Africa.  What boggles the mind is how those who supported the end of apartheid do not see the inherent contradiction in their support for an ethnic Palestinian state that does not fulfill the right to self-determination for all Palestinians, unless they support the right of those who only reside in the West Bank and Gaza! But, then, did they support the “right” of the four infamous Bantustans—Transki, Venda, Bophuthatswana, and Ceskei– to “independence?!”

I fail to understand the logic behind one’s support for an impossible “independent state” on a tiny part of Palestine, while at the same time, claiming that this cannot be achieved at the expense of the basic rights of 6 million refugees whose right of return is guaranteed by international law, and 1.2 million Palestinians exposed to discriminatory laws in Israel!  I strongly believe that the two-state solution is a racist solution par excellence!

We have to move beyond the one vs. two-state solution debate, and try to pursue the more accurate approach — the rights-based struggle coupled with a clear-cut political vision. At one point in time, the BDS movement will be asked to take that stand.

About Haidar Eid

Haidar Eid is Associate Professor of Postcolonial and Postmodern Literature at Gaza's al-Aqsa University. He has written widely on the Arab-Israeli conflict, including articles published at Znet, Electronic Intifada, Palestine Chronicle, and Open Democracy. He has published papers on cultural Studies and literature in a number of journals, including Nebula, Journal of American Studies in Turkey, Cultural Logic, and the Journal of Comparative Literature.

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18 Responses

  1. Hostage
    October 17, 2013, 10:12 am

    I strongly believe that the two-state solution is a racist solution par excellence!

    Of course. The USA has a constitutional system that denies ethnic or religious groups their own states here in our country, but nonetheless demands that Palestinians permit Jews to establish one in their country and extend it formal recognition on that basis.

  2. RJL
    October 17, 2013, 8:03 pm

    Hostage, don’t you have something mixed up? Since when do Palestinians permit Jews a state? It exists, whether you or they like it. Its’ the other way around; Israel has to agree to cede territory it was given-completely-by various internationally approved treaties and resolutions (League of Nations and the U.N.) in order for a Palestinian state to come into its own. They never had a state in 47 or 48 because their stupid leaders REFUSED one; they had to agree to allow Israel some kind of territory, and they refused. Hence, there was never any recognized Palestine, due to their own failures. And they just might goof it up again.

    • Hostage
      October 18, 2013, 7:27 am

      Hostage, don’t you have something mixed up? Since when do Palestinians permit Jews a state?

      I was talking about the fact that the US government voted in favor of adopting the Partition Plan contained in the UN General Assembly resolution on the Future Government of Palestine. It did that on behalf of an ethnic minority.

      they had to agree to allow Israel some kind of territory, and they refused. Hence, there was never any recognized Palestine, due to their own failures. And they just might goof it up again.
      There was never any LoN requirement for any territory to be given to “Israel”.
      FYI, the US government formally recognized the Mandated State of Palestine in 1932. For example, the case of “Kletter v. Dulles, Secretary of State”, the United States District Court District Of Columbia ruled in 1953 that Mr. Kletter had lost his US citizenship when he was naturalized in the Mandated State of Palestine:

      The contention of the plaintiff that Palestine, while under the League of Nations mandate, was not a foreign state within the meaning of the statute is wholly without merit. . . . Furthermore, it is not for the judiciary, but for the political branches of the Government to determine that Palestine at that time was a foreign state. This the Executive branch of the Government did in 1932 with respect to the operation of the most favored nations provision in treaties of commerce.

      link to dc.findacase.com

    • talknic
      October 18, 2013, 8:43 am

      @ RJL “Since when do Palestinians permit Jews a state?”

      They had little choice. PALESTINE was being partitioned against their will in the favour of a minority financed and instigated from outside of the region, not exactly self determination. Even annexation at that time was customary International Law, i.e., law affecting the peaceful relationship and behaviour of nations. For example the US legal custom of annexing territory was by an agreement or treaty, Texas, Hawaii, even Alaska which they bought.

      ” It exists, whether you or they like it. “

      Israel legally exists only as it asked to be and was recognized and was accepted as a UN Member state . Surely you’ve read the Israeli Government plea for recognition! No?

      “MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: I have the honor to notify you that the state of Israel has been proclaimed as an independent republic within frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947, and that a provisional government has been charged to assume the rights and duties of government for preserving law and order within the boundaries of Israel, for defending the state against external aggression, and for discharging the obligations of Israel to the other nations of the world in accordance with international law. The Act of Independence will become effective at one minute after six o’clock on the evening of 14 May 1948, Washington time.”

      “Its’ the other way around; Israel has to agree to cede territory it was given-completely-by various internationally approved treaties and resolutions (League of Nations and the U.N.) in order for a Palestinian state to come into its own.”

      Absolute TWADDLE.

      The LoN Mandate expired 0ne minute (see above) BEFORE Israel was declared link to knesset.gov.il and the Mandate did not say a Jewish ‘state’

      Article 7 The Administration of Palestine shall be responsible for enacting a nationality law. There shall be included in this law provisions framed so as to facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews who take up their permanent residence in Palestine. link to unispal.un.org or for more link to wp.me

      Israel drew clear line in the sand when it was recognized as it ASKED to be recognized and it has not since legally acquired any territory, by legal annexation. (the acquisition of territory by ANY war has been illegal since at least 1933 link to pages.citebite.com

      Israel is not being asked to cede ANY of its own territory.

      The Palestinians ask only for 22% link to pages.citebite.com of the territory the Israeli Government claimed on May 22nd 1948 was territory “outside the state of Israel” .. “in Palestine” link to pages.citebite.com You’ve read the Israeli Govt statement to the UNSC? No?

      Not interested in Israeli Government statements? Not believable enough for you? Is it propaganda? An Arab conspiracy? Bias against Israel? Perhaps it’s just cold hard facts you cannot face or refute

      “They never had a state in 47 or 48 because their stupid leaders REFUSED one”

      Uh? It was Palestine that was partitioned. Already a state under the Lon Covenant (Art 22 link to avalon.law.yale.edu ). Already having the status of being conditionally recognized, confirmed by the LoN Mandate FOR Palestine 1st line link to unispal.un.org

      Under the Mandate Palestine was a state, not yet independent being under British occupation. If the Palestinians wished to declare independence 1947-48, like the Jewish Agency they had to wait until the mandate expired link to knesset.gov.il

      One isn’t independent while one’s territories are under occupation, so one can’t claim to be independent

      But by midnight 14th May 1948 Jewish forces under Plan Dalet were already in territories “outside the state of Israel” (ibid) Israel forces occupied non-Israeli territories

      Palestine has ALWAYS been occupied. From the Roman era to the present day there has never been a time where they could declare independence. Never a chance to miss.

      ” they had to agree to allow Israel some kind of territory, and they refused”

      But UNGA resolution was a non binding according to the Hasbara. Is the olde wholly holey moldy old Hasbara wrong? According to the smelly old Hasbara they didn’t have to any thing if it was as the Hasbara alleges, non-binding….

      “Hence, there was never any recognized Palestine, due to their own failures”

      There was never an independent state of Palestine because it has ALWAYS been occupied.

      “And they just might goof it up again”

      Uh? They have never asked to be occupied. It has been forced upon them.

      Read the information and face up to it …. your rhetoric is nonsense

  3. RoHa
    October 17, 2013, 11:01 pm

    Far better to concentrate on individual rights than dubious group rights like the “right to self-determination”. If there is such a right, it is a right of the group made up of all the people in the territory.

    • Sibiriak
      October 18, 2013, 10:33 am

      RoHa:

      ..the “right to self-determination”. If there is such a right

      The “right to self-determination” is a fundamental principle of international law. No “if” about that. But, of course, you are free to deny the validity of that aspect of international law, and related UN resolutions (link to en.wikisource.org:.), and to deny the validity of any Palestinian *national* rights and aspirations. I’m sure you won’t be alone.

      • Cliff
        October 18, 2013, 11:26 am

        Jewish colonists are already denying that ‘right’.

        The Jewish State and Zionism exercise ‘their’ right by denying the indigenous population’s ‘right’.

        Zionism in practice, means a Jewish majority. There is no Jewish majority if there is a Palestinian majority – hence settlements, hence Jewish Law of Return and no RoR for the Palestinians.

        So your lame citation of ‘international law’ here is dishonest and divorced from reality.

        You – like other Zionist hasbara bots – selectively cite the law – and have been doing so from the start.

        Anyways, try lecturing IHL to the refugees while Jews from Brooklyn STEAL their homeland from them.

        IHL is as much a weapon against the victims of history as it is an ACADEMIC point-scoring tool.

        I recall Chomsky bringing up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and how staunch pro-Israel ideologues would cite it when protesting the Soviet Union’s violation of it w/ respect to Soviet Jews.

        But of course you hypocrites WOULD do that.

        A bunch of Europeans had no business dividing up the Arab world to Jews.

        There was a Jewish minority and they had no right to ‘self-determine’ on land that the Palestinians lived on.

        Over time as Israel steals more and more land and gets rid of more and more Palestinians, LIARS like you and other Zionists will cite the ‘right of self-determination’ to move the goal posts – endlessly – until the Palestinians are fighting over a tent in a closed military zone.

      • Sibiriak
        October 19, 2013, 5:53 am

        Cliff:

        Jewish colonists are already denying that ‘right’

        Yes, that was my point.

      • Sibiriak
        October 19, 2013, 5:55 am

        Cliff:

        A bunch of Europeans had no business dividing up the Arab world to Jews.

        There was a Jewish minority and they had no right to ‘self-determine’ on land that the Palestinians lived on.

        Exactly.

      • RoHa
        October 19, 2013, 1:46 am

        ‘The “right to self-determination” is a fundamental principle of international law.’

        I am interested in moral rights, not legal rights, and I am dubious about the idea of group moral rights.

        If we use the legal version, there is no doubt that the Palestinians are denied the exercise of that right, but phrasing things in those terms raises the spectre of self determination as a right of an ethnic group. This is exactly what the Zionists claim, and exactly what I deny and have argued against – at inordinate length – on this website.

        If we concentrate on the rights of individual Palestinians, and especially the right to full and equal citizenship in the polity which governs them (Israel, for most of them) then we will be a lot closer to a single, unified, state-of-all-citizens in Palestine.

      • Hostage
        October 19, 2013, 8:00 am

        I am interested in moral rights, not legal rights, and I am dubious about the idea of group moral rights.

        Nonetheless, the ICJ has repeatedly affirmed that the denial of the right of self-determination is both immoral and illegal.

        Neither the colonization of Palestine by European and non-Palestinian Mizrahi and Maghrebi Jews nor the establishment of Jewish minority rule can be considered examples of the exercise of the right of self-determination.

      • RoHa
        October 19, 2013, 8:05 pm

        Courts may have opinions on morality, but they are not, of course, arbiters of morality.

        “Neither the colonization of Palestine by European and non-Palestinian Mizrahi and Maghrebi Jews nor the establishment of Jewish minority rule can be considered examples of the exercise of the right of self-determination.”

        Of course not. The right – insofar as there is such a thing – is not a right of ethnic groups. I can only see it as deriving from the individual rights of the people inhabiting a territory. But we have been through this at tedious length before.

      • Hostage
        October 20, 2013, 1:11 am

        Courts may have opinions on morality, but they are not, of course, arbiters of morality.

        No, there are entire bodies of international law devoted to wrongful acts of state and inhumane acts. International courts deal with both legal and equitable remedies. In the Wall case, the Court advised that the consequences of Israel’s illegal and wrongful acts of state involved both the removal of the illegal situations involving the settlements and the wall and payment of just compensation.

      • RoHa
        October 20, 2013, 3:13 am

        “No, there are entire bodies of international law devoted to wrongful acts of state and inhumane acts. International courts deal with both legal and equitable remedies.”

        Undoubtedly, a court can says it thinks x is morally right or wrong.
        I can say that I think x is morally right or wrong.
        But that does not mean x is morally right or wrong.

        (Unless, of course, “right” means “deemed right by a court or RoHa”. However, much as I am tempted by the second option, I am a moral objectivist, and so I do not think that is what “right” means)

      • Hostage
        October 21, 2013, 5:27 am

        Undoubtedly, a court can says it thinks x is morally right or wrong.
        I can say that I think x is morally right or wrong.
        But that does not mean x is morally right or wrong.

        In fact they borrowed the idea from English Courts of Equity. It’s not just international courts. Both the Security Council and General Assembly have authored statutes and adopted declarations that require states and the responsible individuals to restore property and compensate victims for any of a long list of wrongful acts.

      • Sibiriak
        October 21, 2013, 5:36 am

        RoHa:

        I am a moral objectivist…

        Your argument about international law /morality is, of course, correct.

        But why don’t you put all your cards on the table, and tell us what you believe is the objective basis of morality? I guarantee I can prove that whatever it is, it has a fundamental, inescapable subjective element, and logically cannot be wholly objective.

  4. Sibiriak
    October 18, 2013, 10:20 am

    I fail to understand the logic behind one’s support for an impossible “independent state” on a tiny part of Palestine, while at the same time, claiming that this cannot be achieved at the expense of the basic rights of 6 million refugees whose right of return is guaranteed by international law…

    Many hard-core anti-Zionists at MW don’t agree with that notion of an unqualified “right of return”. Six million refugees have a right to return where? According to what law?

    We have to move beyond the one vs. two-state solution debate, and try to pursue the more accurate approach — the rights-based struggle coupled with a clear-cut political vision.

    Finkelstein and others have argued –compellingly, imo– that such a clear-cut political vision–a single-state with the right of six million Palestinian refugees to return and live there–means the end of Israel in practically every meaningful sense, and that is not a vision that will get a lot of global support for the foreseeable future.

  5. Sibiriak
    October 18, 2013, 12:04 pm

    At one point in time, the BDS movement will be asked to take that stand.

    Europe is taking its own stand:

    Report: EU to bypass its own anti-settlements guidelines

    Israeli and European officials are reportedly nearing an agreement that would allow Israeli institutions to continue operating freely in the West Bank while enjoying EU grants.

    link to 972mag.com

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