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Putting the solid into solidarity to prevent the Steal of the Century

on 33 Comments

My own political experience was shaped by the international struggle against Apartheid in South Africa. Teenage weekends were often spent at huge anti-apartheid rallies and smaller demonstrations. I didn’t really understand the politics of settler colonialism, the minutiae around land reclamation, or even the wider socialist goals that many within the movement espoused. I did, however, connect easily with “one person one vote!” One of the simplest yet most powerful slogans in history has brought deep changes to every society that has genuinely adopted its simple principle. 

Do we have an opportunity to present a similarly powerful message in Palestine? There  is little doubt that, in contrast to the global cacophony to transform South Africa, what is happening internationally around Palestine is but a whisper. There are two clear reasons why, in contrast to the anti-apartheid campaign, the current movement to support Palestine appears so anodyne and ineffective.

The first is a leadership issue. Those deeply involved in the international struggle against Apartheid in South Africa all describe how they willingly accepted the ANC’s leadership. In comparison, we still wait for a Palestinian leadership that is sufficiently visionary, united, innovative and organized to harness the huge potential of a global community of activists that could be prepared to do much more, if told what.

The second is about the clarity of the call to action. What does ending occupation really look like? Activists appear caught between the immediate urgency to address daily injustices and longer term visions for a Palestinian state of various flavors. The struggle lacks anything like the ANC’s Freedom Charter; this presented a united, and in places deliberately imprecise, call for immediate action as well as a longer term vision, and one simple democratic ask.

Whilst the need is clear to sustain both the short term resistance, and build the longer term vision, this is insufficient. At this precarious moment, with Trump’s Steal of the Century looming it’s time to  put the solid into solidarity through a pragmatic medium term demand: one powerful enough to disrupt the Israeli electorate’s complicit complacency, and the international diplomatic community’s stasis. One that can, at least on a temporary basis, unite various factions within the movement – one staters and two staters; BDS and softer campaigns. That demand should be one person, one vote.  

The recent Israeli election marked the moment when more than three quarters of its 21 elections have been based on a highly selective interpretation of democracy. Since 1967, the adult Palestinian whose lives are controlled by occupation have no say in the political make up of their occupiers. Their right to vote in elections within the territories, as well as not occurring since 2005, offers the chance only to have a say on local issues. The key politics that determine whether Palestinians can travel, work, marry or access electricity and water are decided by a group of politicians in Jerusalem who neither claim to nor wish to represent them.

Today, almost 5 million Palestinians live in territory controlled by Israel but do not have the right to vote for the representatives who govern their lives.    

Demographically, Israeli elections have an increasing double-democratic deficit; first, by both numbers and percentage, the number Palestinian adults denied the basic political right of suffrage has increased. Second, the numbers of Israelis living in the West Bank has also are growing faster than ever but, in contrast to their neighbors, these settlers are given the right to vote. There is no theory or practice of democracy that can justify this situation. In years to come, it may be seen as immoral and unsustainable a practice as denying women, black Americans and South Africans the vote.

The international community, wherever possible led by an emerging new generation of Palestinian and Israeli activists and leaders should now coalesce amongst a simple, temporary demand – that all adults Palestinians living under occupation should have the right to vote in the forthcoming  Israeli election. The temporary nature of this demand is vital for two reasons. First, many Palestinians would not be prepared to participate in any process that normalized the current reality of and suggested any de facto change to their political status (something the Geneva Convention prohibits). Second, those who  advocate a two state solution would not be prepared to support a demand that appeared to accept the permanent death of a sovereign Palestinian state. Keeping this demand as temporary can disarm Israel through a simple choice: either provide full sovereignty through enabling a genuine Palestinian state in West Bank and Gaza, or accept the consequences of full annexation and give all adults living in the occupied territories the full range of civil and political rights available to Israelis.

Of course, Israel is highly unlikely to do either, even if international pressure transforms again to something more conspicuous (and the announcement of the so-called deal may concentrate minds and action).  This is where any sustainable campaign should already be planning for defeat. During the next election, ideally with the blessing of the various official elements that make up the Palestinian leadership, a DIY unofficial election should be organized and properly monitored enabling every Palestinian to cast a vote. Only those represented in the Israeli Elections should be on the ballot paper (including, vitally, the Arab parties in the Knesset). Votes should be counted and reported on as a valid addition to the official election. If the messaging was coherent and persistent this could disarm any Israeli claims about the health of its own democracy. No occupation without representation. 

The situation in the region is, of course, too complex to be solved by granting Palestinians the right to vote in what Netanyahu has called the “Jewish Knesset.” A global campaign that demands one occupied Palestinian, one vote, may help to end the current stasis. It’s time to occupy the occupation through the power of the ballot box.

Joe Hallgarten

Joe Hallgarten works in education. He is also an organizer in the UK for the One State Foundation and an advocate for a form of bi-national Zionism he calls Bionism.

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33 Responses

  1. mondonut on July 1, 2019, 2:39 pm

    Shorter Version: The international community is supposed to demand that non-citizens, non-residents be permitted to vote in national elections.

    Good luck with that. Where else in international community is this permitted?

    • Misterioso on July 2, 2019, 9:44 am


      We get it! Like all your fellow Zionist fascists/racists, you want to keep your boots on the throats of indigenous Palestinians whom you have illegally and brutally occupied since 1967 (e.g., in gross well documented violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention). The consequences were aptly described by the eminent Israeli journalist, Bradley Burston:

      “Occupation is Slavery”
      “In the name of occupation, generation after generation of Palestinians have been treated as property. They can be moved at will, shackled at will, tortured at will, have their families separated at will. They can be denied the right to vote, to own property, to meet or speak to family and friends. They can be hounded or even shot dead by their masters, who claim their position by biblical right, and also use them to build and work on the plantations the toilers cannot themselves ever hope to own. The masters dehumanize them, call them by the names of beasts.” (Haaretz, Feb. 26/13)

      • LiberatePalestine on July 3, 2019, 9:56 am

        → whom you have illegally and brutally occupied since 1967

        Typo for 1947?

      • gamal on July 3, 2019, 10:55 am

        “Typo for 1947?”

        Typo for 1917?

      • echinococcus on July 3, 2019, 4:34 pm

        “Typo for 1917?”

        Typo for 1897?

      • gamal on July 3, 2019, 4:55 pm

        “Typo for 1897?”

        Typo for 1517

  2. Eva Smagacz on July 1, 2019, 4:10 pm

    Alas mondonut, calling bantustans “nations” and calling residents of bantustans as “non-citizens” “non-residents” did not prevent people boycotting apartheid South Africa.

    And talking about international community, WHERE ELSE is there long term occupation /annexation where natives are withheld right to vote?

    Even in Crimea, people have right to vote in Russian elections.

    So you see, the Israel is quite unique in its democratic shortcomings – and BDS is spreading.

    • mondonut on July 1, 2019, 5:15 pm

      @Eva Smagacz, Alas mondonut, calling bantustans “nations”

      Israel is not a bantustan. If you need help with your reading comprehension, this is a call for Palestinians in the West Bank to vote in Israeli national elections. Non-citizens and non-residents.

      And BTW, Crimea was annexed in 2014. If the residents of the West Bank wish for annexation so they can vote in Israeli national elections, they should just say so.

    • JWalters on July 1, 2019, 6:34 pm

      Israel is the most blatantly segregationist nation on the planet. But it spikes all such stories in the American press. (And British press, and Canadian,…)

      • mondonut on July 1, 2019, 6:51 pm

        @JWalters But it spikes all such stories…

        Is that because you know who controls the American, British and Canadian press?

      • eljay on July 1, 2019, 7:34 pm

        || mon donut: @JWalters But it spikes all such stories…

        Is that because you know who controls the American, British and Canadian press? ||

        Zionists? Sure, that makes sense.

        I certainly hope you weren’t going to suggest quite anti-Semitically that it’s “the Jews”.

      • JWalters on July 1, 2019, 10:38 pm

        All these presses repeatedly act in unison to omit significant information about Israel. That is powerful evidence.

      • Jon66 on July 2, 2019, 7:51 am

        “All these presses repeatedly act in unison to omit significant information about Israel. That is powerful evidence.”

        Correlation does not imply causation.

      • Mooser on July 2, 2019, 1:08 pm

        “Correlation does not imply causation.”

        Yes, it does. It may not prove it, but it certainly can imply it.

      • RoHa on July 3, 2019, 1:53 am

        That’s “imply” in the sense of “make it seem likely” or “lead a person to think”, not in the strict logical sense of necessity.

      • Jon66 on July 3, 2019, 8:12 am

        I didn’t bother to respond.
        It’s not even a debate

      • Keith on July 3, 2019, 10:31 am

        JON66- “Correlation does not imply causation.”

        Correlation does not prove causation, however, it constitutes strong statistical support for the common sense observation that the media are strongly influenced by both the doctrinal system and the agenda of the institutions/individuals with significant power.

      • RoHa on July 3, 2019, 7:42 pm

        When you see a correlation you are justified in suspecting a causal relationship, and looking for one.

      • Mooser on July 3, 2019, 7:45 pm

        “I didn’t bother to respond. It’s not even a debate.”

        And what are we supposed to infer from that?

      • Jon66 on July 3, 2019, 8:46 pm

        I agree
        A correlation is is the first step in screening for causation. But it’s erroneous to make the leap from that to actual proof. It’s simply an interesting observation until then.

      • RoHa on July 3, 2019, 10:06 pm

        But when we can add a putative causal mechanism, and then provide evidence that such a mechanism exists, we are are in a stronger position to suggest causation.

      • Sibiriak on July 4, 2019, 12:08 am

        @RoHa Excellent point about the need for plausible causal mechanisms when moving from mere correlation to possible causation.

        For example, Hong Kong has recently been reported to have the world’s longest life expectancy.

        Hong Kong also, it turns out, has the highest meat consumption of any country in the world.

        Are researchers trying to prove a causal connection between the HongKongers’ high meat consumption and their long lifespans?

        No, not at all– because a large body of scientific evidence already exists indicating that high meat consumption is not a plausible causal mechanism for increased longevity.

        Instead, “[t]he researchers are testing their core hypotheses that this is because of universal health care, improved childhood care, economic migration and reduced smoking rates among women compared with other parts of the wold, resulting in fewer smoking-related diseases. ”

        The Hongkongers’ high meat consumption, however, is arguably one cause of the increased destruction of Brazilian rainforests:

      • Jon66 on July 4, 2019, 12:22 am


        “But when we can add a putative causal mechanism, and then provide evidence that such a mechanism exists, we are are in a stronger position to suggest causation.”

        JW stated, “All these presses repeatedly act in unison to omit significant information about Israel. That is powerful evidence.”

        It’s unclear whether or not these presses are acting in unison or if the events portrayed are coincidental due to a common set of values or views.

      • Keith on July 4, 2019, 12:17 pm

        JON66- “…or if the events portrayed are coincidental due to a common set of values or views.”

        Are you not aware of what you said? If the events portrayed are influenced by a common set of values or views then it is hardly “coincidentaL.” This is what I meant by the media are strongly influenced by the doctrinal system. As for my additional contention that the media are influenced by those with significant power, that is a rather obvious truism. In fact, it is practically inconceivable that the media could/would deviate significantly from either the societal doctrinal system or the needs of powerful elites unless outside forces are engaged in a destabilization campaign (CIA, Soros, etc) supported by a media funded by the forces of destabilization. Deviations from the norm within empire itself only occur when there is a struggle for power among the imperial elites.

      • Jon66 on July 4, 2019, 1:51 pm

        By coincidental I mean it’s not coordinated. I don’t believe that reporters get together and decide how to portray events or which events to portray. I do think that reporters in each geographic area or a nation are more interested in certain topics and can’t help but be influenced by the culture

      • LiberatePalestine on July 4, 2019, 2:37 pm

        → By coincidental I mean it’s not coordinated.

        Coördinated or not, the result is the same.

        → I don’t believe that reporters get together and decide how to portray events or which events to portray.

        Of course it doesn’t happen in that way. Noöne has suggested anything so naïve. Instead, reporters know what is expected from their corporate employers, which in turn know what is expected from their governments.

        There is active coördination, just of a different sort. Where do you think the Podunk Gazette gets its information about events in some distant part of the world? Read this:

      • Mooser on July 4, 2019, 3:40 pm

        “Are you not aware of what you said?”

        Don’t be too hard on ol “Jon 66”. He constantly gets things back-assward. He’s got a prize case of intellectual and moral dyslexia, which he’s decided to exhibit here.

      • Keith on July 4, 2019, 3:42 pm

        JON66 – “By coincidental I mean it’s not coordinated.”

        Three comments. One, by establishing a common frame of reference and bias the result is a form of de facto coordination of reporting. This is particularly evident in the strong Jewish Zionist bias in the media, both the news media and entertainment media. Two, the CIA has hundreds of Journalists on their payroll to spin the news. The imperial newspaper of record, the New York Times, has extensive contacts with the Mossad which has supplied interns in the past (present?). Three, most of the “news” is supplied by outside sources to the media. It is simply much more cost effective to re-write State Depart and DoD press releases than hire reporters. Much of the “news” is supplied by PR firms. And yes, it is frequently coordinated. Perhaps the reporters don’t get together, but the government and PR flacks who feed the media sure as hell do.

  3. VQTilley on July 1, 2019, 10:13 pm

    “One that can, at least on a temporary basis, unite various factions within the movement – one staters and two staters; BDS and softer campaigns. That demand should be one person, one vote. ”

    Sorry, this doesn’t work. You can’t just throw all these camps into one basket as though their differences on this don’t matter.

    The demand for “one person, one vote” in South Africa was based on Black, Indian and Colored residents being citizens. I know of no country in which non-citizens have the right to vote. A decision to abandon a separate Palestinian state and insist on citizenship in Israel (redefined) must therefore come first. It’s unavoidable.

    Aside from the internal forces against this (the PA, which is a Bantustan government and stands to lose everything by unification, and romantic nationalists and mere racists who simply can’t bring themselves to give up the long-dreamed state), one serious opponent of this move is international lawyers. The laws of “belligerent occupation” that apply in the WB&GS PRECLUDE a claim on citizenship because that would mean Israel has “acquired territory by war.” That’s why the whole paradigm has to change and why change s proving tougher than it should be.

    You accurately identify the problem that the movement currently lacks a clear goal. Yes, a new Freedom Charter is needed. But that goal won’t be helped by muddling the situation and sidestepping what is necessary. “One person, one vote” took its moral power not so much from rejecting racial segrgation as from rejecting “race” itself. Truly grasping that power means redefining the nation. Zionism hijacked Palestine Mandate to create an ethnic state. Time for “Palestinian” to become what it was meant to be: one secular democratic nation, which has been wrongfully divided by a racist doctrine.

    • LiberatePalestine on July 2, 2019, 1:00 am

      Also, there was no real disagreement over the borders of Azania (except perhaps for the occupation of Namibia, which wasn’t central to the question of voting).

      There are states in which non-citizens have the right to vote. Some of the Commonwealth’s member states, for example, allow resident citizens of other Commonwealth states to vote, and even to run (stand) for election.

      That said, I agree that the issue of what we’re seeking has to come ahead of any tactical discussion. Advocates of the so-called two-state solution won’t want the Palestinians to vote in the Zionist entity’s elections. Nor do I, an advocate of the one-state solution, for those elections are Herrenrasse elections organised around Zionist interests. No participating party, for instance, may question the allegedly «Jewish and democratic» nature of the Zionist entity.

      • gamal on July 2, 2019, 8:32 am

        “There are states in which non-citizens have the right to vote”

        Ireland for example I am able to vote on a whole range of things including Dail (General Election), European and Local elections while not a citizen of the state and am not subject to any legal impediments as far as I can tell, both local Muslims (Clonakilty) and “Blow Ins” stand for election (but I guess they must be citizens one would assume so), also I may apply for citizenship after a decent interval and the meeting of some reasonable conditions. If we ever had summers everyone would want to live here.

      • RoHa on July 3, 2019, 2:44 am

        Irish citizens and resident citizens of a number of Commonwealth countries are entitled to vote and to stand for Parliament in the UK.

  4. JaapBo on July 2, 2019, 8:30 am

    Good diagnosis, lack of leadership, and lack of a clear goal. But I think the goal should be “full equality”. BDS should be a very important part of this, including the BDS-leadership.
    I like the idea of extending the Israeli elections with occupied Palestine, mainly to get publicity for the call for full equality, and what that would mean in one possible scenario.

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