Trending Topics:

The ‘One Democratic State Campaign’ program for a multicultural democratic state in Palestine/Israel

Israel/Palestine
on 55 Comments

As the Leonard Cohen song goes, “everybody knows” the two-state solution is dead and gone. Zionism’s 120-year quest to Judaize Palestine – to transform Palestine into the Land of Israel – has been completed. Every Israeli government since 1967 has refused to seriously entertain the notion of a genuinely independent and viable Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel. Any possibility of a viable Palestinian state in the OPT has long been buried under the massive “facts on the grounds.” Israel’s Matrix of Control has rendered its control over the entire country permanent.

The two-state solution nonetheless continues to be the solution-of-choice of governments. It provides a perfect vehicle for endless conflict management. Negotiations over negotiations or merely holding out slim prospects of negotiations lead nowhere but can be dragged on indefinitely, which is the point. Indeed, it is a trap in which the Palestinian Authority is caught, since disavowing the two-state solution casts it as the intransigent party.

Needed: A New Political End-Game

As important as protests, activism, BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) and other campaigns and actions may be, there is no substitute for a political settlement that will finally end the oppression and violence. One cannot be in a political struggle without an end-game, and in our case it must address two key processes: achieve restorative justice through dismantling the structures and ideologies of domination on the one hand, while replacing them with structures of social, cultural, political, economic equality, accompanied by a process of reconciliation. For that dual political process to succeed – the first most urgent for Palestinians, the second most important to sell to, or impose upon, Jewish Israelis – we need a plan, a vision of the future, and an effective strategy for getting there. This is the challenge before us, and it is urgent and crucial. If we, the stakeholders, Palestinians and Jewish Israelis together, do not offer our own peoples a mutually acceptable way out, and if we do not offer you, individuals and organizations abroad dedicated to the cause of justice in Palestine/Israel, a political program for which to advocate, we will lose. Justice does not prevail by magic. Unless it is empowered politically, it remains a vague and far-off aspiration. Worse – and this seems to be happening – activists and supporters will simply drift off to other urgent causes if there is no movement or prospect of success. Mobilization over time requires movement, direction and strategy, and only a political end-game provides that.

The time is far overdue to begin formulating a genuinely just and workable political settlement, then follow it up with an effective strategy of advocacy within Israel/Palestine and abroad. Over the past year I have been engaged with a number of Israeli Jews and Palestinians over the formulation of a one-state program. We call ourselves the One Democratic State Campaign, (ODSC), and among are members are Awad Abdelfattah, a founder of the Balad Party and its long-time Secretary General; Ilan Pappe, the well-known Israeli historian; Diana Buttu, the well-known analyst and Palestinian activist; Daphan Baram, a lawyer, comedienne and the Director of ICAHD UK; As’ad Ghanem, a professor of Political Science at Haifa University; Siwar Aslih, a Ph.D. student in Social Psychology; Nadia Naser-Najjab, a doctoral student; Shir Hever, a political economist; Muhammad Younis, a high-tech engineer; Yoav Bar, ad Israeli activist; Mohamed Kabha, a student; Sami Ma’ari, a professor of economics; and others, including myself. We have identified, I believe, the key elements to a just peace and have formulated an approach that bridges them in ways that the “sides” can agree on, or at least live with.

The Vision: A Multi-Cultural Democracy

The ODSC promotes a one-state concept that is both democratic and just but that also acknowledges the multicultural character and the collective rights of the peoples living in the country, Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews. Within a constitutional democracy in which all citizens enjoy a common citizenship, one common parliament and thoroughly equal civil rights, constitutional protection would also be granted to national, ethnic or religious collectivities desiring to retain their various identities and cultural lives if they so choose. Such an approach, acceptable to most Palestinians, addresses a key concern of Jewish Israelis: protection of their collective rights in a future country in which they will be the minority. Parliament, under the Constitution, will have no power to pass laws discriminating against any community.

Return of the Refugees

Key to any solution is the return of the Palestinian refugees and their descendants, or compensation and resettlement for those who choose not to return. But return is only part of the story. Where would they return to? Their homes and communities were demolished years ago. Well, according to the Palestinian geographer Salman Abu-Sitta, 85 percent of the lands taken from the Palestinians in 1948 are still available for resettlement. Although more than 530 villages, towns and urban areas were systematically demolished following the 1948 Nakba, their agricultural lands still exist, incorporated now into Israeli kibbutzim and other rural ventures. Other lands lie under public parks and forests. So refugees could actually return, if not to their former homes, at least to the parts of the country where they originated.

This ties into yet another issue: how do we prevent the refugee population, traumatized, impoverished, severely under-educated and unskilled, from becoming an underclass in their own country? A project run partly by the Israeli-Palestinian organization Zochrot has young Palestinian planners and architects designing modern communities for the refugees in the areas they left – new communities with economic infrastructure and integrated with other segments of the society. That, together with lands redistribution, financial compensation, and equal access to education, training and the economy, bolstered by affirmative action, would enable the refugees, like other Palestinians, to achieve economic parity with Israelis within a fairly short time. We must keep in mind the resources Palestinian enjoy: the high numbers of Palestinians in Israel, the OPT and abroad that have completed higher education, together with the likely investment of their highly-educated and affluent Diaspora. Even in this most difficult of issues, practical, just and workable solutions exist.

The Question of Bi-Nationalism

As I mentioned earlier, our initiative proposes a constitutional democracy in which all citizens enjoy a common citizenship and equal rights. Having said that, we cannot ignore the fundamental reality that two national groups – Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews – inhabit the country. Nor can we ignore the fact that the majority will be Palestinians. The prospect that Jews will live as a minority community contradicts perhaps the fundamental principle of Zionism: that Jews as a national group control their own destiny.

Now the very fact that we must engage in a search for an alternative to the two-state solution arises from the incompatibility of this principle with Israeli policy of settling and annexing Palestinian territory and permanently ruling over a Palestinian (majority) population, even if we call our rule “autonomy.” The minute Israeli decision-makers decided to link the demand for a “Jewish state” with the policy of incorporating a Palestinian population and territory larger than its own, it created an impossible and unacceptable reality: Jewish apartheid. Jewish Israelis would certainly prefer a non-democratic Jewish state over a non-Jewish democratic state. Our program must wrestle with this dilemma. Providing constitutional recognition and protection of the collective rights of Jewish Israelis, enabling them to maintain their community within the framework of a democratic state, addresses their concerns about their security as a minority while dismantling structures of privilege and domination.

A bi-national state would be easier to sell to Jewish Israelis than a unitary one – though barely – as the various schemes of confederation or “one country/two peoples” demonstrate. But here we hit up against Palestinian resistance. While the vast majority of Palestinians recognize the permanent presence of Jewish Israelis, to be forced to acknowledge them as a national group places Palestinians in a position of having to legitimize settler colonialism in its Zionist form, which is a bridge too far. Offering to protect the “collective rights” of groups to maintain any type of community they wish within the framework of a multi-cultural democracy (which may include communities of ethnic Russians, African asylum-seekers, foreign workers who remain, anti-Zionist ultra-orthodox Jews and others) gives Jewish Israelis the collective security they seek as a minority while facilitating the forging of a common civil society. 

The Challenge: Forging a Common New Civil Society

Having ensured the integrity of collective identities and associations, the thrust and primary energy of our vision of a single state is directed towards building a shared civil society. Indeed, it is the breaking of the “bi-“national model that allows people to move out of rigidly bounded ethno-national blocs into a more integrated, fluid and shared form of civil society. As the years pass and both citizens and communities of Palestine/Israel develop a sense of mutual trust, inter-connectivity and security, as younger generations emerge for whom life in a common civil society is normal, a common civil identity will invariably emerge and expand. Attracting primarily the younger generation and the more secular middle classes, an inclusive civil society would take root as a shared national life becomes routinized through common citizenship and political life, collective experiences arising out of daily life, civil marriage, integrated communities and schools (for those who choose them), shared languages, a common media, common holidays and symbols that arose from shared national existence, etc., etc. We aspire not merely to a new political entity but to a new society.

(Image: Jeff Halper)

Decolonization, Restoration and Reconciliation

While achieving a just political settlement is our most urgent task, establishing a just and working state and civil society requires three more difficult processes: decolonization, restoration and reconciliation. Decolonization does not end the moment one people ceases dominating the others. Indeed, that is the moment it begins. It then continues until all forms of domination – economic and cultural as well as political and legal – are rooted out. Decolonization requires a country to be completely reimagined and reinvented so as to be as egalitarian, inclusive and sustainable as possible. This means, of course, restoring to the expelled, excluded and oppressed their rights, properties (actual or through compensation), identities and social position. Only then can the third process, reconciliation, be pursued. We therefore “bracket” the still open wounds of the Nakba, the Occupation and the suffering they have caused so that we may reach an agreed-upon political settlement.

The Issue of Secularism

Virtually everyone involved in the ODSC project supports the idea of a secular state. Yet we recognize that the majority of both the Palestinian and Jewish Israeli populations are not secular: the vast majority of Palestinians can be defined as moderate to strict Muslims and Christians, while 58% of Jewish Israelis define themselves as religious, ranging from ultra-orthodox to “traditional.” “Secular,” then, can be a red-flag term making it even more difficult to “sell” an already daunting program.

Still, we believe that most people will accept a liberal democracy if we make it palatable, if we build in progressive elements but not rub their faces in them. Our program thus avoids the term “secular state,” but presents such a state de facto in two senses. First, it specifies that the authority to govern and pass laws emanates from the electorate, the people; what is left unsaid is that religious law (halakhah, sharia, ecclesiastical law) may continue to pertain within its religious communities – no one will ban religious marriages, for example – but will accompany, not displace, civil law where people choose to observe it. And second, there will be no official state-sponsored religion or religious authority.   

Implications for the Region

Finally, the new state will exist in an extremely conflicted, autocratic and under-developed Middle East, albeit a region with great progressive potential as demonstrated by the massive (yet failed and repressed) uprisings in favor of democracy. It cannot exist in a vacuum. Sovereignty and borders, refugees, water, security, trade and economic development, tourism and the environment – these are only a few of the issues that are regional in scope. We envision a country that will join forces with all progressive forces in the Arab world struggling for democracy, social justice and egalitarian societies free from tyranny and foreign domination. Although this may sound utopian at a time when the region is in a melt-down, the resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict will eliminate a major source of polarization and militarization in the region, thus releasing positive forces of development and conflict resolution.

These are the main issues at stake, in our view, and I believe the approach we lay out here has great potential in bridging the deep differences and mistrust between our peoples. Our overall program, prefaced by a Preamble that sets out the historical context and being strategized by our members, is as follows:

THE ODSC PROGRAM FOR ONE DEMOCRATIC STATE BETWEEN THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA AND THE JORDAN RIVER   

Haifa
April, 2018
PREAMBLE

In recent years, the idea of a one democratic state as the best political solution for Palestine has re-emerged and gained support in the public domain. It is not a new idea. The Palestinian liberation movement promoted this vision in the PLO’s National Charter until it entered the peace negotiations in the late 1980s. In the wake of the Oslo accord and other historical developments, the PLO shifted its support to the two-state solution as the basis for a future peace, a vision endorsed by all the Palestinian parties represented in the Israeli Knesset as well.

The One Democratic State Campaign logo

But the two-state solution is dead, buried under Israeli settlements and other massive “facts on the ground,” the world’s governments unwilling to exert the pressures needed to create a viable Palestinian state. This history clearly indicates that the only way to bring peace and reconciliation to Palestinians and Israelis is through the decolonizing historical Palestine based on granting equal rights, upon the full implementation of the Palestinian right of return and on the creation of a mechanism for rectifying past injustices. This is the urgent need of the moment.

As a result, several organizations and individuals have reintroduced the one-state idea over the past decade with models varying from bi-nationalism to a liberal, secular democracy. They are all united, however, in the belief that a substantially just political settlement can today only be achieved through the creation of a single state – a democratic state to replace the single apartheid state Israel has already imposed on the entire country.

The basic principles of liberation offered by the PLO in its 1968 charter still form an important element in the vision of those now engaged in formulating and advancing the one-state solution. There is a strong consensus among us that only decolonization and the rectification of past sins, in particular the right of Palestinian refugees to return to a democratic country, can bring equality, self-determination, reconciliation, prosperity, peace and justice to the land.

The following program of the One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC) provides a basis for consolidating a one-state solution. In it we seek to garner support from both Palestinians and Jewish Israelis for our joint struggle for this vision. This is the only way we will end the ongoing the ongoing colonization, racism and hatred that are destroying our lives, to prevent and reverse the takeover of Palestinian land and its burial under settlements. Only an inclusive democratic state, thoroughly decolonized, will provide for a future for all our children, a future of peace, justice and equality in all of historic Palestine. 

THE ODSC PROGRAM

  1. A Single Constitutional Democracy. One Democratic State shall be established between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River as one country belonging to all its citizens, who will enjoy equal rights, freedom and security. The State shall be a constitutional democracy, the authority to govern and make laws emanating from the consent of the governed, in which all of its citizens shall enjoy equal rights to vote, stand for office and contribute to the country’s governance.
  2. Individual Rights. No State law, institution or practices may discriminate among its citizens on the basis of national or social origin, color, gender, language, religion or political opinion, property, sexual orientation or other status. A single citizenship confers on all the State’s residents the right to freedom of movement, the right to reside anywhere in the country, and equal rights in every domain. All mechanisms of governance, law enforcement and security shall be thoroughly integrated on the basis of individual merit, including the military and internal security and police forces. The IDF and other Israeli security and police forces will be replaced by newly constituted national forces.
  3. Collective Rights. Within the framework of a single democratic state, the Constitution will also protect the collective rights of Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews to freedom of association – national, ethnic, religious, class or gender – within the framework of a common state and democracy. Constitutional guarantees will ensure that all languages, arts and culture can flourish and develop freely. All citizens shall have equal rights to use their own dress, languages and customs, to freely express their cultural heritage, and to maintain such cultural institutions as universities, museums, theatres, newspapers and all other forms of communication. No group or collectivity will have any privileges, nor will any group, party or collectivity have the ability to leverage any control or domination over others. Parliament will not have the authority to enact any laws that discriminate against any community under the Constitution.
  4. Right of Return of Restoration and of Reintegration into Society. In accordance with UN Resolution 194, the State recognizes the right of Palestinian refugees – those who currently live in Palestine/Israel, all those who were expelled over the past century, their descendants and all others of the Exile/Diaspora – to return to their country and to the places from where they were expelled, to rebuild their personal life and to be fully reintegrated into the country’s society, economy and polity. To the most practicable degree, the private property of the refugees shall be restored and/or compensation arranged. Restoring the rights of the Palestinians will be done while respecting the rights and protections of all citizens under the law. Normal procedures of obtaining citizenship will be extended to others choosing to immigrate to the country.
  5. Constructing a Shared Civil Society. The State shall nurture a vital civil society in which common educational institutions, civil institutions such as marriage, and both the Arabic and Hebrew languages will be official languages. The State will not establish or accord special privilege to any religion, but shall provide for the free practice of all religions.
  6. Economy and Economic Justice. Our vision seeks to achieve justice, and this includes social and economic justice. Economic policy must address the decades of exploitation and discrimination which have sown deep socioeconomic gaps among the people living in the land. The income distribution in Israel/Palestine is more unequal than any country in the world. A State seeking justice must develop a creative and long-term redistributive economic policy to ensure that all citizens have equal opportunity to attain education, productive employment, economic security and a dignified standard of living.
  7. Decolonization, Restoration and Reconciliation. The liberation of Palestinians and the creation of a genuinely equal and inclusive society entails more than just a political settlement or new governmental arrangements. It requires a process of thorough decolonization, a reimagining and reinventing of the country in a way that fundamentally alters relations of domination. This includes what Fanon and Ngugi call the “decolonization of the mind.” Only then will a process of national reconciliation be possible.
  8. The Commitment to Human Rights, Justice and Peace. The State shall uphold international law and seek the peaceful resolution of conflicts through negotiation and collective security in accordance with the United Nations Charter. The State will sign and ratify all international treaties on human rights and its people shall reject racism and promote social, cultural and political rights as set out in relevant United Nations covenants.
  9. Our Role in the Region. The ODS Campaign will join forces with all progressive forces in the Arab world struggling for democracy, social justice and egalitarian societies free from tyranny and foreign domination. In particular, the State shall seek democracy and freedom in a Middle East that respects its many communities, religions, traditions and ideologies, yet strives for equality, freedom of thought and innovation. Achieving a just political settlement in Palestine, followed by a thorough process of decolonization, will contribute measurably to these efforts.
  10. Our Global Responsibility. On a global level, the ODS Campaign views itself as part of the progressive forces striving for an alternative global order that is just, egalitarian, inclusive, pluralistic and sustainable, one in which exploitation, racism, repression, wars, imperialism and colonialism give way to respect for human dignity, human rights, freedom, a just distribution of wealth, equal access to resources and a sustainable environment.

Editor’s Note: This article reflects the author’s personal opinion and not the entire One Democratic State Campaign.

About Jeff Halper

Jeff Halper is the Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). He can be reached at [email protected]

Other posts by .


Posted In:

55 Responses

  1. mondonut
    May 3, 2018, 11:40 am

    Key to any solution is the return of the Palestinian refugees and their descendants, or compensation and resettlement for those who choose not to return

    There is mot much need to read beyond this statement, everything else is nonsense. Dismantling the IDF, Israeli security and police forces; redistribution of wealth (of course it must be seized first); redistribution of private property and a “thorough decolonization”.

    This is no more than a plan for Israel to surrender.

    • Mooser
      May 3, 2018, 6:11 pm

      “This is no more than a plan for Israel to surrender.”

      See you at the Masadadammerung!

    • RoHa
      May 4, 2018, 1:37 am

      And why shouldn’t Israel surrender?

      Israeli plans are for the Palestinians to surrender and go away. This plan doesn’t require the Israelis to go away.

    • Misterioso
      May 4, 2018, 11:39 am

      @mondonut

      In the long run, Zionism will “surrender.” Why? Not enough Jewish babies between the River and the Sea. Time and demographics are with the Palestinians.

      • genesto
        May 4, 2018, 5:43 pm

        Exactly! It’s the Israeli Jews who must accept this fair and just settlement of the conflict, or face dire consequences in the future.

        Ironically, the very existence of the Jewish people as a vibrant ethnic, cultural, and religious group depends upon their ultimately accepting everyone else in the region as equals, starting with their own country.

  2. pabelmont
    May 3, 2018, 12:19 pm

    Wonderful. a lot of work has gone into this. You’ve convinced me.

    Now pressure the Israelis, the American politicians, etc. There will have to be massive BDS-inspired pressure on Israel to get them to abandon, even at all, their beloved apartheid state. Once Israelis even begin to think about a different outcome, this proposal will be standing there to be examined — by them and also by the world community.

    Bon chance!

  3. Sibiriak
    May 3, 2018, 1:38 pm

    Pie-in-the-sky-ism has a certain rhetorical value, if nothing else.

    • Donald Johnson
      May 4, 2018, 7:23 am

      And your solution is what?

      • Sibiriak
        May 4, 2018, 9:37 am

        Why do you assume a “solution” must exist?

        I agree with Finkelstein–internal and external pressure on Israel to force the withdrawal of some 250,000 settlers and a settlement in line with the international legal and political consensus. That wouldn’t be a “solution”– it would be a step forward though.

        (I do, however, think Finkelstein attacks BDS too much. BDS is fully compatible with two states, and, in fact, would directly lead to that outcome if its goals were attained.)

        The realistic alternative to two states is not one state, it’s fragmented Palestinian enclaves aligned politically and/or economically with surrounding Arab states.

      • Donald Johnson
        May 4, 2018, 12:42 pm

        “A step forward” suggests that you are stepping forwards towards something.

        I used to think the 2ss was the pragmatic goal, but there is less reason to think so. People like Finkelstein Salk about an international consensus, but that has had no meaning. If Palestinians want to work for a 1ss, then good for them. The “ realistic” alternative is decades more of meaningless negotiating about negotiations. But it isn’t my decision or yours to make in the end.

      • Sibiriak
        May 4, 2018, 1:20 pm

        Donald Johnson: A step forward” suggests that you are stepping forwards towards something.
        ——————–

        Yes, a better life.

        [Donald Johnson:] If Palestinians want to work for a 1ss, then good for them

        It may or may not be good for them. Time will tell.

        [Donald Johnson:] The “ realistic” alternative is decades more of meaningless negotiating about negotiations.

        Tell me, when do the negotiations about negotiations for a single state begin?

        What Finkelstein has suggested are not more negotiations, but more pressure on Israel.

        BDS does not call for a single state, btw. And if the BDS goal of ending the occupation of lands occupied in 1967 were ever attained, two states, not one, would become a reality.

    • genesto
      May 4, 2018, 5:46 pm

      Real progress doesn’t happen without so-called ‘pie in the sky’ dreams. After all, aren’t these the goals towards which we strive, even if we may never achieve them?

  4. rhkroell
    May 3, 2018, 4:14 pm

    “This is the only way we will end the ongoing . . . colonization, racism and hatred that are destroying our lives, to prevent and reverse the takeover of Palestinian land and its burial under settlements. Only an inclusive democratic state, thoroughly decolonized, will provide for a future for all our children, a future of peace, justice and equality in all of historic Palestine.”

    This is not the only possible way to stop the uninterrupted practice of incremental genocide which has taken place in historic Palestine over the past 70 years and forge — definitively — a long-term peace settlement there. Only an apologist for an incredibly smug, pint-sized ethnic minority group — the Zionists — and their Apocalyptic Christian Dominionist sponsors (who share a similar egoistical perspective) would maintain that an incredibly dubious solution of the sort outlined above is the only way to dismantle the vicious ethnonationalist outpost in the Middle East and resolve, finally, the doomsday crisis there in the near — or even the distant — future.

    Give me a break!

  5. Ossinev
    May 3, 2018, 4:17 pm

    The 1SS Solution is now firmly on the agenda with the Zionist engineered 2SS myth obviously now dead and buried (not that there was actually ever any life in it to begin with).
    Similarly the Iranian deal an the Yahoo`s comical attempts to sabotage it have brought Zioland`s nuclear programme and their refusal to sign up to the NPT onto the agenda.

    BTW Have any MW contributors noticed that Zionists consistently refer to Zioland as being the “only democracy in the middle East”. I for one have never heard them referring to it as being the “only Middle Eastern Democracy”. That of course would stick in their throats as the bottom line in their psyche is that they are a civilised “Western” island populated by civilised “Western” people marooned in an ocean of savages. Not colonists of course.

  6. Keith
    May 3, 2018, 5:54 pm

    JEFF HALPER- “As important as protests, activism, BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) and other campaigns and actions may be, there is no substitute for a political settlement that will finally end the oppression and violence.”

    Jeff, perhaps it has escaped your attention that there is a non-violent protest in Gaza in opposition to the illegal, immoral and inhumane blockade going on. As of April 25, there have been 40 protesters killed and 5511 wounded. https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/40-dead-5-511-wounded-un-figures-on-casualties-in-gaza-mass-protests-1.6030556

    Debating one-state versus two-state while this is occurring is diversionary and extraordinarily counterproductive. If you can’t stop the killing and maiming, you won’t be able to do anything positive. If something this bad can go on, why pretend that anything positive can happen? The time to defer the long term and support the Gaza protests is now. The time to focus on the inhumane blockade of Gaza is now. Any other course of action is an abdication of responsibility.

    As for a one-state long term solution, below I link to a Norman Finkelstein Q & A where he discusses this and the current Gaza situation.

    Finkelstein Q/A #5- http://normanfinkelstein.com/2018/04/15/norman-finkelstein-in-san-diego-segment-5-of-5/

    • Stephen Shenfield
      May 4, 2018, 7:14 am

      From the videos and other info I have seen it appears that the Gaza protests are being conducted under the slogan of the right to return. Perhaps they are also demanding an end to the blockade, but that is not the dominant theme. So although there is much to be said for focusing on the blockade — Norman’s argument is very sensible — it is not the same thing as supporting the protests.

      • Keith
        May 4, 2018, 10:17 am

        STEPHEN SHENFIELD- “Perhaps they are also demanding an end to the blockade….”

        My impression is that they are primarily protesting the blockade. I have difficulty imagining marching on the militarized border and suffering massive casualties in order to demand some diaspora Palestinian be granted the right to return to the West Bank even as they continue to be confined to an area which is practically unlivable and soon will be. I might add that all past cease fire agreements to past Gaza conflicts have specified a loosening of the blockade (which Israel ignores) but no mention of the right of return.

      • Sibiriak
        May 4, 2018, 10:45 am

        @Keith

        Finkelstein in that video says:

        Now unfortunately, the leadership [of the Gaza protests] right now has decided not to focus on the siege, and has instead decided to focus on the right of return. And I think that’s a complete disaster, because you can’t get public opinion behind it.

      • Keith
        May 4, 2018, 3:03 pm

        SIBIRIAK- (Finkelstein quote)- Now unfortunately, the leadership [of the Gaza protests] right now has decided not to focus on the siege, and has instead decided to focus on the right of return. And I think that’s a complete disaster, because you can’t get public opinion behind it.”

        During the video, he doesn’t specify what “leadership” he is talking about and I assumed, based upon his previous comments, that he meant the BDS leadership. Now you say that he is talking about some other “leadership?” If the official demands prioritize the RoR, then this will be a complete disaster. Furthermore, I believe that this so-called leadership doesn’t represent the mass of Palestinian protesters. How could it? I believe that the mass of protesters are protesting the conditions of life in Gaza caused by the blockade regardless of contrary statements by so-called leaders. The quotes I provided to Donald Johnson would tend to support this.

      • Sibiriak
        May 4, 2018, 4:21 pm

        Keith: Now you say that he is talking about some other “leadership?”
        ——————-

        Good points, and I may have misunderstood the “leadership” reference.

        The fact remains, though, that the Gaza protests have been labeled “The Great March of Return“, supposedly by Palestinian organizers.

        Protest organization

        In 2011, Ahmed Abu Ratima (Rteima) whose family originally came from Ramla, conceived the idea of Palestinians going peacefully to the separation barrier and protest for their right to return to the homes from which they had been driven, or had fled, in the past.[54]

        In early 2018, Gazan journalist Muthana al-Najjar, originally from Salamah, pitched a tent near the border, where he stayed for over a month, while others began planting olive tree seedlings in the area.[55] He and others tried to keep the protest unaffiliated with Hamas or any other political group, but were overruled when Hamas took over the protest by mass mobilization of Gazans to join the march. Recruitment included calls on television, local media, social media and by word of mouth to join the protest. Hamas planned to keep the peace by having its security personnel dress in civilian clothes and move among the protesters to ensure no violence would occur, of the kind that might supply Israel with an alibi to assert that it was dealing with a ‘swarm of terrorists’.[56] It gained support from Gazan intellectuals like Atef Abu Saif and graduates of Gazan universities, who are said to have drawn inspiration from the example of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi.[57]

        By March, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the faction of Muhammad Dahlan (who was expelled from Fatah in 2011) had endorsed the protest.[58]

        The organizers of the event, including the local government authority Hamas and various Palestinian factions, had encouraged thousands of Palestinians to converge on the Israeli border for the 42nd anniversary, in what was dubbed the “Great March of Return “.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_Gaza_border_protests

        Okay, Wikipedia is not necessarily a reliable source, but I haven’t seen any Palestinian disavowal of the RoR focus, have you? And that’s certainly the way it’s being portrayed by the media.

        I agree with you, of course, that the protesters are also protesting the unbearable conditions of life in Gaza caused by the blockade, which can only intensify the desire to return.

        (It’s super late where I am; I haven’t digested all your comments yet.)

      • Keith
        May 4, 2018, 6:21 pm

        SIBIRIAK- “Okay, Wikipedia is not necessarily a reliable source, but I haven’t seen any Palestinian disavowal of the RoR focus, have you?”

        Like you, I am a prisoner of the media. “THE GREAT MARCH OF RETURN” has a nice ring to it. The point being that I have not seen any demands being made by the whoever is behind this. The illegality and inhumanity of the blockade is being made by others such as Ramzy Baroud http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/ and Norman Finkelstein. http://normanfinkelstein.com/2018/05/04/finkelstein-on-gaza-his-most-important-speech-ever-dont-miss-it/ Beginning at the 1 hour mark, Finkelstein, almost in tears, laments the current lack of solidarity of almost all of the International Solidarity Movement for Palestine. I am with Finkelstein on this. The emphasis SHOULD be to stop the killing/maiming and ending the blockade of Gaza. That may be doable, at least to some extent. RoR isn’t and won’t be in the near future. The way things look right now, US/Israel is moving toward additional conflict with Iran and is unlikely to compromise on much of anything. And I think that Aviva Chomsky’s observations apply to much of the BDS movement.

      • echinococcus
        May 4, 2018, 6:45 pm

        focus on the right of return. And I think that’s a complete disaster, because you can’t get public opinion behind it./blockquote>

        With all due respect, Finkelstein is full of it re understanding what will “get public opinion behind it”.

      • Kathleen
        May 5, 2018, 9:23 am

        Finkelstein has always seemed to focus on international law , UN resolutions. So how can he say that a focus on “right of return” is a “complete disaster”

      • Keith
        May 5, 2018, 11:35 am

        KATHLEEN- “So how can he say that a focus on “right of return” is a “complete disaster”

        Because the unjustified Israeli violence against these protests highlights the inhumane nature of the illegal blockade and could provide a basis for ending the blockade. This could possibly be a currently achievable demand to create the international pressure to end the blockade NOW. Do you really think that Israel would agree to RoR now? Do you really believe that the dozens of deaths and thousands of woundings in pursuit of unrealizable objectives is not a disaster? You have to have priorities. To emphasize everything is to emphasize nothing. Gaza’s water supply is now 95% contaminated and Gaza is forecast to be unlivable by 2020. Where should the priority be? Right of Return or end the siege/blockade. Remember, these people cannot flee Gaza to become refugees elsewhere.

        You linked to Ann Wright of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla which rightly seeks to end the blockade of Gaza. This is where the priority should be, everything else comes after that, particularly with the demonstrations going on. I should point out that several years ago that JVP withdrew its support of the Free Gaza Movement over bogus charges of anti-Semitism. Mondoweiss supported JVP, a mistake in my view. If you can’t end the blockade, you won’t be able to even dream about the RoR. Israel could end the illegal and murderous blockade now. The Right of Return requires a process which takes time. There is no time.

      • echinococcus
        May 5, 2018, 4:25 pm

        Keith,

        There is no contradiction between doing everything to achieve a forcible lifting of the blockade and, at the same time, educating the world about Zionist aggression, genocide and a right of return sanctioned both by basic international law and the colonial powers’ own UN resolutions. The two, in fact, are complementary. Focusing on the blockade is perfectly possible while making the case for the RoR. Supporters of the first are not necessarily supporters of the second, that’s a given. Not a prohibition to opposing the blockade, though. It’s a bit as with the official “BDS” –it doesn’t lose anything if I go around asking for the restitution of Palestine while the official aim is RoR.

        Good luck with the first, though, if you sincerely believe that it is possible in the short term –when a reactionary wave worse than 36 is sweeping Europe and the US.

      • Keith
        May 5, 2018, 5:57 pm

        ECHINOCOCCUS- “The two, in fact, are complementary.”

        Is the BDS movement pulling out all of the stops in support of the Gaza protests and of ending the blockade? If not, why not? Finkelstein says he is amazed and depressed by the lack of support from the International Solidarity Community. Is he lying? As far as I am concerned, focusing on RoR while these demonstrations and Israeli violence are occurring is an armchair luxury. Over 6000 protesters have shot or otherwise injured already, that is where the priority should be.

      • echinococcus
        May 5, 2018, 7:17 pm

        Keith,

        All correct, and you correctly identify the message heard everywhere as being “stop the blockade”. My point, though, is that this is not and does not have to be exclusive of the middle-term political revendications. In fact this is the only way political movements educate the public, introducing essential goals while fighting for the shorter-term ones.
        The other problem, of course, is that the USZio do not feel any need to compromise in any way nowadays. Europe is entirely their plaything and other pressures are unlikely. So a short-term success against the blockade is not really in the cards.

    • Donald Johnson
      May 4, 2018, 7:27 am

      Didn’t listen to Finkelstein yet— no time at the moment, but isn’t he a 2ss supporter? On supposedly pragmatic grounds?

      Also, why can’t people talk about Gaza and long term solutions simultaneously? The Gaza protests are about the right of return, from what I have read.

      On the other hand, my own feeling as an American is that our role should mainly be to stop American interference in other countries, so it is not my job to push for solutions that other people have to live with. I have come to this point watching much of the so called American left neglect to oppose our intervention in Syria because we have our own notions of what Syria should be like. Beware of Americans of any ideology who get too caught up in choosing solutions for others and not focusing on our own crimes.

      I would try to reconcile my first two paragraphs with the one above, but I am not sure it can be done and anyway, now I have to go.

      • Keith
        May 4, 2018, 10:49 am

        DONALD JOHNSON- “Also, why can’t people talk about Gaza and long term solutions simultaneously?”

        For the same reason you don’t engage in long range planning when the building is on fire. Gaza is on fire, Bro’. Furthermore, if you can’t get the Israeli Jews to stop killing, maiming and starving the Gazans, there is no point in discussing some utopian, anti-Zionist solution 50 years down the road. And what is a long term solution for a Gaza which will be unlivable by 2020?

        DONALD JOHNSON- “The Gaza protests are about the right of return, from what I have read.”

        No doubt that is what Israeli propaganda would like the world to believe, to argue about the right of return rather than the illegal, immoral and inhumane blockade.

        “Gazans are grappling with an economy in collapse. Hospitals are short on medicine and there is electricity only for a few hours at a time. The water is undrinkable and raw sewage is pumped into the sea. While Gaza was poor and crowded to begin with, the 11-year-old blockade by Israel and Egypt has driven it into crisis.
        ….
        “These demonstrations have made the Palestinian people’s voice heard, and made the world hear its scream,” said Ahmed Abu Artema, a Gazan social-media activist who dreamed up the protest. “The aim of the siege is a fatal force targeting us. But we’ve decided to turn this pain into a positive spirit.”
        https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/07/world/middleeast/gaza-protests-israel.html

        Donald, I have come to view this never ending discussion of one-state versus two-states and the right of return as analogous to what was once called the peace process, virtually irrelevant activity. I think the goals should be doable and relatively short term. If you can’t even begin to get the small stuff, why waste time arguing over long term contentious issues? I close with a quote from Aviva Chomsky (Noam’s daughter).

        “Over the years I have come to see more and more of what Adolph Reed calls “posing as politics.” Rather than organizing for change, individuals seek to enact a statement about their own righteousness. They may boycott certain products, refuse to eat certain foods, or they may show up to marches or rallies whose only purpose is to demonstrate the moral superiority of the participants. White people may loudly claim that they recognize their privilege or declare themselves allies of people of color or other marginalized groups. People may declare their communities “no place for hate.” Or they may show up at counter-marches to “stand up” to white nationalists or neo-Nazis. All of these types of “activism” emphasize self-improvement or self-expression rather than seeking concrete change in society or policy. They are deeply, and deliberately, apolitical in the sense that they do not seek to address issues of power, resources, decisionmaking, or how to bring about change.” (Aviva Chomsky) https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/08/21/how-not-challenge-racist-violence

      • Misterioso
        May 4, 2018, 11:55 am

        @Donald Johnson

        “The Gaza protests are about the right of return,…”

        In the long run, the protests are about full implementation of Resolution 194, which, apart from the “right of return,” also calls for financial compensation as an alternative for the refugees.

        Article 11 of Resolution 194:

        “Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so a the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible;

        “Instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation, and to maintain close relations with the Director of the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees and, through him, with the appropriate organs and agencies of the United Nations;”

      • Donald Johnson
        May 4, 2018, 1:03 pm

        Keith, it is Palestinians themselves who are demanding the right to go back home. They aren’t thinking just short term. It is an artificial distinction— if the Israelis are going to keep their stolen property for themselves then some form of coercion against Palestinians is part of the package. If the coercion stops then what will stop Palestinians from creating their own right of return? The Israelis are thugs, but they are logical thugs. Their state in its present form requires them to treat Gaza as a prison.

        But the solution is for Palestinians to hash out. I think I agree that for Americans our job is to stop our government’s policy of helping the Israelis oppress the Palestinians. But pointing to what the alternative could be is part of this. If you spend any time reading people in “ mainstream” circles, you will see some claiming that the Israelis are just defending themselves. Against what? Well, the terrible threat of having to treat Palestinians as people with the right to live in their own homeland. But they won’t put it like that. It is nice to have articles like this to point to when people start screeching about Israel’s right to exist. It shows that this is not the issue. The pro Israel side wants people to think that Israel is fighting for its life and the alternative they wish people to imagine is a bunch of Palestinians slaughtering Jews. Debunking this false dichotomy is in my opinion part of what is needed to persuade Americans that we are supporting apartheid.

      • Mooser
        May 4, 2018, 1:58 pm

        Israel will not permit any solution.

        ” This is no more than a plan for Israel to surrender.”

      • Kathleen
        May 5, 2018, 9:13 am

        Totally agree DJ.

    • catalan
      May 4, 2018, 8:04 pm

      “RoR isn’t and won’t be in the near future. “ Keith
      I am with echin on this and I think that Keith is mistaken. I think that Israel will be forced to agree to the right of return if we implement a complete boycott of corporations such as Starbucks, Nestle or Boeing. That means that you buy coffee from a locally owned chain. And you fly Airbus and Embraer when you go on vacation and skip Boeing. It’s not that hard.

      • echinococcus
        May 5, 2018, 1:40 am

        Our resident sadist Catalan better become the next dictator maximus of the Zionist goons and order them to surrender when boycotted.
        Otherwise boycotts are just the appetizers and we’ll have huge losses on all sides. Something tells me that they aren’t as good-natured as our Catalan and they will need as much as their teachers had to endure before agreeing to something as elementary as the Right of Return.

  7. Ossinev
    May 4, 2018, 8:51 am

    Another surreal development in Zio fantasy land:
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/israel-presents-how-to-legalize-west-bank-settlements-1.6054412

    NB Building tunnels connecting enlarged Zio settlements underneath what is left of Palestinian land in the West Bank. No doubt this would involve having to take over the land above for “security reasons” in order to excavate the tunnels but wait a minute am I missing something here? Do they ever return Palestinian land which they have appropriated for “security reasons”. I don`t think so. So what is the point of having tunnels. Still I am a mere untermenschen so cannot possibly be expected to understand the superior thinking of the great chosen menschen.

  8. catalan
    May 4, 2018, 9:47 am

    “NB Building tunnels connecting enlarged Zio settlements underneath what is left of Palestinian land in the West Bank”
    That’s why I don’t drink at Starbucks any more; I also don’t fly in Boeing and boycott YouTube and Nestle. But I think the big turning point will be the lawsuit against Free Press of Las Vegas, this will be a lesson for the Zios.

    • Maghlawatan
      May 4, 2018, 10:28 am

      If BDS was hopeless you wouldn’t keep mentioning it, would you?

      • catalan
        May 4, 2018, 2:30 pm

        “If BDS was hopeless you wouldn’t keep mentioning it, would you?”
        It’s not hopeless – for instance, it looks to me that both Starbucks and Google have stalled their growth a little bit. Also Boeing is not doing as well as it used to. Add to that a picketing campaign against the Free Press of Las Vegas and the settlers are going to definitely listen. In Bulgaria, we say – Hope always dies last.

  9. Bosnorth
    May 4, 2018, 11:33 am

    This is all missing something: how do we get there? In the ODS movement there was never any shortage of detailed plans e.g. a unitary state with a guaranteed “equality constitution” that could only be changed or overturned by an overwhelming majority i.e. by both communities together. What’s needed is a vehicle to get us there.

    By focusing on the three main demands of Palestinians (as communities that are exiled, occupied or oppressed as a minority in 1948 Israel) BDS has unified the struggle irrespective of the end goal and made huge headway.

    Alongside that, we need to raise or prioritise demands that fit into the BDS movement but link it forward to the goal. To reach ODS it is necessary to switch from nationalist rhetoric and logic (i.e. the mantra of two states) and re-focus onto struggles for rights: rights of prisoners, freedom of movement (as in the current March of Return), democratic rights, equality for all under the law, freedom from arbitrary military or bureaucratic demolition orders, security from armed militias that burn and kill.

    Truly, these have been the demands of the grassroots Villages struggles for many years now. They need to be codified and packaged in the way that BDS has done.

    One other thing that might one day win a single state is the growth of a common struggle for it from both sides, with the same demands and the same methods of struggle. The 2SS has not only diverted the upper echelons up a blind alley, it also distracted and ultimately dissipated a soft opposition in Israel into the re-partitionist “land for peace” dead end. And if we are to hope for one common country, the form of struggle needs to be unifying, not violently divisive. The Palestinians have every right to defend themselves however they can, but strategically some methods are more effective than others.

  10. Kathleen
    May 5, 2018, 9:07 am

    JH Wow….doing some amazing and serious thinking and work for human rights and social justice with your working group. Impressive. While what you have written seems almost impossible got to give it to you folks. Can a group like this present such a plan to the UN in the interest of exposing this work to a wider audience?

    JH ” Jewish Israelis would certainly prefer a non-democratic Jewish state over a non-Jewish democratic state.”

    How to tackle that monumental feat seems close to impossible.

    Seems more impossible than convincing Americans that they should care about the hundreds of thousands of people who have been killed, injured, millions displaced as a direct consequence of the Bush administrations invasion of Iraq, the Obama Clinton decision to push for military intervention in Libya and arming rebels in Syria fueling more death and destruction.

    Always wonder if Americans were really provided with accurate information, pictures of the death and destruction our leaders and military have caused in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Or supported with weapons sales in Yemen would the majority of Americans ever really care.

    If they had a media that actually helped them understood that U.S. violent actions in those parts have undermined U.S. National Security along with all of the death and destruction that U.S. foreign policy decisions have caused

    Wonder about the same in the I/P conflict. Have read that Israeli’s down the road from the oppression and suffering that their leaders, government policies have and continue to cause for Palestinian really do not give a rats ass…..as long as they have theirs.

    Is this absence of compassion and concern for those lives destroyed by their countries policies based on complete and utter selfishness or lack of understanding of the facts?

    Whatever it is both Israel and the U.S. seem to be morally and spiritually bankrupt. Not sure how that can be fixed

  11. Maghlawatan
    May 5, 2018, 10:01 am

    Israeli Jews capture around 95% of the money value circulating in historic Palestine despite being half of the population. The role of the IDF is to keep.this going.

    Israeli Jews won’t give this up willingly even at the cost of the education of their kids . We know this because their kids are cannon fodder for the IDF.

    Given the brainwash probably 80% of Israeli Jews would be unemployable outside the Hebrew bubble. The situation for Israeli Jews is asymmetric – very little upside and huge downside.

    Some insane regimes refuse to accept reality to the bitter end. . Nazism did. The Soviets had to go all the way to Berlin. Imperial Japan did too. The Yanks resorted to nuclear weapons.

    IZionism is also insane.

  12. LHunter
    May 5, 2018, 3:07 pm

    Great work done in practically thinking through some of the salient issues that need to be addressed. I don’t believe complete justice is attainable – namely the return of all of historic Palestine to the Palestinians to do with as they please. The fall back for me is the 1SS. European Jews invaded and violently destroyed lives, land, and culture – to allow these criminals to stay as equals is much more than generous.

    The 2SS is, imo, ridiculous simply because it gives the Palestinians very little and allows for the evil of Zionism to flourish.

    All up to the Palestinians to decide

    • echinococcus
      May 5, 2018, 4:45 pm

      Hunter,

      I don’t believe complete justice is attainable – namely the return of all of historic Palestine to the Palestinians to do with as they please

      I don’t know about “complete” justice but even with resounding successes in history, justice does not happen. More important, though, is that social and geopolitical dynamics have a way of making this kind of detailed planning futile.
      The return of colonies, some of them settler-colonies, has been achieved in a number of places even though the expressed political programs were very different at times. Different African countries, especially Algeria, were freed in a favorable period. South Africa had to accept a heavy compromise –other times, and an early opportunity for peace. You never know, so never say never. Who knows, things may even turn out so that they conform to Palestinian popular will.

      One thing seems sure: it’s not by making plans for an acceptable compromise when the enemy does not need to compromise at all that one gets there.

      • LHunter
        May 6, 2018, 10:35 am

        Echi – never say never and no compromise without pressure – I agree with both statements.

        Having said that I also believe the work that needs to be done in contemplation of the fall of Zionism should be done and now. Although such work may not serve to bring immediate change/compromise, it does get people thinking of alternatives which helps to break down some of the reified ideas/beliefs/precepts that have maintained the status quo for so long. It’s time people started to seriously entertain what might be – that in and of itself is change that may bring more of the same. If we treat the collapse of Zionism as a forgone conclusion (as I always do) then not doing the homework on what’s to follow is lazy, insincere and hurts credibility.

        I understand the need that some here have expressed about being realistic and practical – Finkelstein is one such person. I guess it’s a matter of opinion on what is realistic and practical. 2SS proponents like Finkelstein point to world consensus (which includes the current stance taken by formal Palestinian leadership) on this solution as the primary reason for marshalling forward. Forget for a minute how futile this has been or how insincere the Zionists are about bringing this about. The 2SS was created by the invaders and their compatriots/supporters and force fed to a jailed dispossessed innocent people (not much unlike the dynamics of procuring a forced confession from an innocent accused) – that’s a reality. The fact that the Palestinians have had little to no opportunity to plead their case (their innocence) to the common person through the use of MSM is also a reality. By understanding that the 2SS was accepted under extreme duress and by championing the Palestinian cause through alternative media outlets (Mondo) reality will – is – changing in favour of the Palestinians. These changes, as slow as they may be, need to be guided by or anchored in a desired solution. As wisely noted in the article, people need to know what the end game may be – what the prize is – what their efforts will usher in/achieve.

        For me championing the 2SS is like championing a more lenient sentence handed down to someone wrongfully accused based on a forced confession that was provided to prevent a longer harsher prison term – it’s wrong and will lead to continued suffering. A more just solution is available and hopefully the Palestinians and the world will seriously considered it.

    • Mooser
      May 5, 2018, 6:18 pm

      “I don’t believe complete justice is attainable – namely the return of all of historic Palestine to the Palestinians to do with as they please”

      Don’t say that. The Israelis will hold you to it. At your own expense.

      Once the Zionism fad is over with, do you have any way to make them stay?

      • LHunter
        May 6, 2018, 7:26 am

        Yes – prison

  13. Jeff Halper
    May 6, 2018, 5:34 am

    Thanks to all for the comments on our ODSC one-state initiative. The truth is I wasn’t asking for support — at least yet — since it is the stakeholder’s role to formulate an acceptable political settlement and then recruit and mobilize all of you abroad to support us. Our formal launch in the Fall will be accompanied by a Call to support our program, and if we can mobilize a critical mass of Palestinians and Israelis behind our initiative, we expect organizations and individuals to heed it.

    I want to address what I see as two fundamental misunderstandings about political change, especially obvious in the Palestine issue. First, the notion that seeking a political settlement is merely a “long-range” exercise that, to quote one of the respondents, “is diversionary and extraordinarily counterproductive,” or “pie-in-the-sky” according to another. No one is suggestion suspending on the ground protests, BDS campaigns or any other form of resistance and attempt to influence government policy and public opinion. Many of us here in Palestine/Israel do that 24-7. But without a political end-game you are merely fighting a rear-guard action, allowing Israel and it allies to dictate where policy is going (towards permanent apartheid) and the repressive measures it must take to get there. The oppressor becomes the only pro-active force with a vision and a strategy, while we doom ourselves to reactive (and, to be honest, completely ineffective) protests and gestures of outrage. True, focusing on a political settlement and organizing towards it does not address the immediate crimes being perpetrated in Gaza — again, we ALSO keep up the resistance — but without it we are faced with decades of ongoing oppression, killing and displacement. The only effective push-back to oppression is a political plan to end it, and that is something we do not have today. Now it is not your responsibility abroad to formulate that plan and what you are doing to oppose the Occupation is necessary and important. But in the end your efforts must be in support of the stakeholders striving to end the oppression and not simply jumping from one outrage to another.

    There have been 54,000 demolitions of Palestinian homes in the OPT since 1967. Every one should be protested, but that is impossible. So we rise one level to protest the POLICY of house demolitions, using specific instances as “hooks.” Ultimately, however, demolitions, which are an integral part of the “judaization” of Palestine, will end only with a political settlement. When your member of Congress asks: OK, what do you want? – what do you answer? End the Occupation? Human rights? These are pieces of the puzzle, but a political end-game you can actually advocate for they do not make.

    Which brings me to my second point. A “rights-based approach” to resolving the Palestine/Israel issue is not a political program. Human rights are not designed or intended to resolve political conflicts or unjust situations; they are merely (though crucially) GUIDELINES for resolving them. They provide parameters, not solutions or structures. BDS is a powerful and necessary tool, and it is one of the few instruments at the disposal of people abroad who want to support the Palestinian cause and keep the issue on the international agenda. But in the final analysis BDS is a tool that must be linked to an end-game. Its three principles, again, do not a political program make. (The three principles themselves are out-dated; formulated 2 years ago, they suppose a two-state solution, being based on the dichotomy of occupation on one side and equal rights within Israel on the other – but that is a matter for another discussion.) Our one-state plan may not be the only or even the best political end-game, but it fills a political vacuum that, if just filled with protest activity and BDS, will not significantly alter the situation.

    So where do we go from here? Well, our ODSC program is a work-in-progress; I only presented the outlines of our thinking. There’s a lot more work to be done among Palestinians and Israelis before we can present an actual plan. And then there’s the need to develop an effective strategy for implementing it. This will not be easy and, its true, the vast majority of Jewish Israelis will oppose it, just as the majority of whites in South Africa would not have pro-actively supported the end of apartheid or the whites in the American South would have voluntarily dismantled Jim Crow. We’re not naive, but as those and many other examples show, once unthinkable social change is in fact possible with a clear and just political vision and plan, effective organization and strategy. To dismiss a difficult political struggle as “pie-in-the-sky” is not only an anti-political view, it actually works to perpetuate the crimes and oppression. So we have begun to strategize — I know that is a missing piece I what I wrote — but we’re still in the early stages.

    (I have to say that, unlike the Right, we of the Left tend to marginalize ourselves. Maybe we don’t really believe we can be political actors and so we satisfy ourselves with sputtering rage and reactive protests that don’t take up too much of our time, rather than jumping aggressively into the political arena like the Right does. At the height of the Sixties — 1968 — Nixon was elected. So much for demonstrative politics vs grassroots organizing. But, again, that’s a discussion for another time.)

    Envision, plan, organize and strategize. Those, I would argue, should be at the core of our collective discussion.

  14. Jeff Halper
    May 6, 2018, 6:07 am

    P.S. Yoav Bar-Haifawi asked not to be referred to as an “Israeli” activist.

  15. eisaacs
    May 6, 2018, 11:38 am

    As an American anti-Zionist who has visited the West Bank and Israel quite a few times over the last 13 years and attended 2 ODS conferences, one in Ramallah and one in Dallas, I am glad to see that the movement is being revitalized. Indeed any movement to battle injustice, nowhere greater than in the Occupied Territories, must have an overall goal and strategy as well as a program of immediate resistance. That goal helps to define how one fights in the present, ie the hope of uniting oppressed Palestinians, progressive Israelis and international allies in fighting together against military occupation and murderous racism. Other possible long range goals of two states, for example, would not attempt to build fighting unity between Israelis and Palestinians.
    However, I would raise for consideration that simply because a nation is supposedly democratic and espouses equal rights on paper, that does not guarantee equal rights or quality of life in reality. In the US, over 150 years since the end of slavery, racism remains an overriding fact of life. It is not just a result of prejudice, but I would posit it is an economic necessity for American capitalism, saving untold billions in wage and service differentials, enough billions to be a significant portion of the GDP. Israel and Palestine both have economic inequality indices (GINI) in the same ball park as the US, some the highest in the world. Both are dominated by small economic elites that control much of the wealth. I think therefore that one cannot achieve equality by simply creating a new capitalist state in One State, but must consider a whole economic reordering of society. (And the rampant racism of most Israelis will justify an ongoing inequality.) This, indeed, may be the hardest area to struggle over.

  16. peter
    May 6, 2018, 8:02 pm

    The 1SS is clearly a lot harder to sell to Israelis, than a 2SS – which itself has proven almost impossible to sell.

    But, i think the idea of one democratic state, with equal rights and protection for minorities, will be a lot EASIER to sell in North America… on one condition.

    The condition is that North Americans have to believe that Palestinians really mean it when they say that the Jewish minority will be equal and their collectuve rights protected.

    If we believe the Palestinians really mean this, there is little reason to support the idea of a Jewish State.

  17. Yani
    May 16, 2018, 3:38 pm

    You can’t cure lung cancer if you haven’t stopped smoking no matter how advanced the cure. I suggest we forget the grand plans and focus on dealing with the habits that make any progress impossible.

Leave a Reply