First Thursdays - international updates on ODS on the 1st Thursday of every month
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2 April 2020 3 items
1) First a historical item – One Democratic State in 1938: In July 1937 the Peel Commission recommended a two-state solution for Palestine, of course under the old name of Partition. The Palestinians thereupon intensified the Rebellion they’d begun in April 1936. By summer 1938 it was dawning on the British Government that partition was a bad idea. Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald invited the Palestinian who was in London running the Arab Centre, Dr. Izzat Tannous, for private talks. What did Tannous, resp. the mass of Palestinians, want? “There were now 450,000 Jews in the country, and the Arabs are reconciled to accepting this large Jewish population in their country, and to giving them full rights as citizens. They could do this without partition. … Would not the British Government be prepared to let Palestine remain one country, with Jews and Arabs living peacefully together?” As he’d said already at a May 1938 meeting, “The only solution of the problem was one State for the whole of Palestine based upon the present position as regards the population” – i.e. normal democratic proportional representation. From 1920 until the mid-1970s ODS was the cantus firmus of the Palestinian Resistance.
2) Al-Monitor reports the February 2020 polls from Khalil Shikaki’s Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) – see links within linked article. Among “Palestinians”, which PSR absurdly defines as the perhaps one-third of all Palestinians residing in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, support for the two-state solution has sunk to an all-time low of 39%, with 59% opposing it. Shikaki tweeted that “before the release of the deal of the century,… only 28% of Palestinians supported the idea of a single-state solution, but that number skyrocketed to 37% after the plan was released.” Another poll said that 18% of Jewish Israelis support a “federation” (think Switzerland, I guess) rather than two states. For his part, Mahmoud Abbas said he would support a “federation” of Jordan and Palestine “only if Israel is a part of it”. This normalises Israel.
3) In the U.S. Palestine-solidarity arena, neither major group supports ODS. Both the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights and the 4-times-larger Jewish Voice for Peace frame the issues in terms implying that Israel is ‘occupying’ only the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and both state explicitly that it is Israel’s ‘policies’ that are the problem, not Israel as such. USCPR for instance has “resolved to adopt the language of apartheid and Jim Crow segregation in describing Israeli policies towards Palestinians.” They further “reject the charge of antisemitism when it is used spuriously to silence legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies and practices.” (What would ‘illegitimate’ criticism of Israel look like?) The JVP site, for its part, carries strong statements against Zionism, but goes missing-in-action on the debate between One Democratic State and Partition: “We support any solution that is consistent with the full rights of both Palestinians and Israeli Jews, whether one binational state, two states, or some other solution.” While both ‘one binational state’ and ‘two states’ are Zionist solutions, ‘some other solution’ just might perhaps include ODS, the oldest, most just and most democratic solution. Who knows? While both groups unequivocally support BDS, JVP’s statement illegitimately edits the BDS Call by inserting into the Call’s first condition the four words “occupied in June 1967”. That very different version entails that the 1948-occupied territories are not occupied. This normalises Israel.
5 March 2020 5 items
1) In praising Rashid Khalidi’s new book, The Hundred Years' War on Palestine: A Century of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017, Robert Malley writes that in the book "There is also his tenacious conviction that 'there are now two peoples in Palestine, irrespective of how they came into being, and the conflict between them cannot be resolved as long as the national existence of each is denied by the other.'" Ian Black in the Guardian quotes also Khalidi’s next sentence: “There is no other sustainable solution, barring the unthinkable notion of one people’s extermination or expulsion by the other.” Assuming Malley and Black are quoting Khalidi correctly, Khalidi adheres to the faulty, if not fatal, parity paradigm that the Zionist immigrants and the indigenous Palestinians are – at least applied to the present – on equal ethical and political footing. Khalidi is a historian, but this view is a-historical. I could not yet get ahold of the book, and perhaps more context would cast the quotation in a reasonable light.
2) In an article entitled ‘The Palestinian Authority is a sinking ship’, Al-Shabaka analyst Zena Agha wrote on 5 February in the New York Times and on Al-Shabaka’s site: “Many Palestinians, including millions of refugees, are no longer willing to wait for piecemeal negotiations over scraps of land. … [E]xciting is the opportunity to recalibrate at a grass-roots level. Palestinian organizers have been returning to the anticolonial principles of the 1960s and ’70s, and Palestinian rights are increasingly folded into a global progressive agenda. … [T]he past century has illustrated that Palestinians will abandon neither their rights to return, equality and freedom nor their demand for dignity.” Agha is a writer for whom the Palestinian diaspora is front and center, and the last sentence paraphrases the 3 indispensable BDS conditions.
3) German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in South Africa having to answer a question about BDS. The utter intellectual bankruptcy of the Western two-state position is there, in these 3-4 minutes, for all to see and hear: the conflation of Germany’s treatment of the Jews with Palestine, the idea that a Jewish state is justified in Palestine, the ignorance of the Bantustan project rejected by the South African majority. Empty.
4) In Das Magazin (Swiss weekly) of 22 February Israeli writer Doron Rabinovici states his support for 1) two states “side by side” on the 1967 (not the 1937 or 1947) borders and 2) equal rights for all in each state. Wow, the ‘TDS’ solution (two democratic states). But he also rejects the return of the exiled Palestinians and rejects repeal of the Law of Return, holding as well that within the larger of the two states, Israel, there is a necessity for a Jewish majority and Jewish armed forces. The interview’s main subject being an alleged tension between anti-semitism and criticism of Israel, he and his interviewer, journalist Bruno Ziauddin, get around to expressing their opinion that those of us who fight for Palestinians’ rights, but who are neither Palestinians nor, like Rabinovici, “born in Israel”, evidence a “surplus of engagement” and “have bad breath” – i.e. are actually anti-Semites. A libelous attempt, that is, to silence pro-Palestinians.
5) Wonderful news to close: Hebron/al-Khalil resident Laila Awawda is on her second speaking tour in Europe and at Café Palestine in Zürich on 23 February gave a talk showing that, if she were on a debate stage with such as Rabinovici (as Bernie Sanders said of Michael Bloomberg’s chances in a presidential debate with Trump) she would ‘chew him up and spit him out’: Her message and experience is what the term ‘authentic’ was invented to describe, in both content and tone. For Laila, all of Palestine is occupied, and while the Palestinians are very sorry over what happened against Jews in Europe, they are not the guilty party, and Europeany were and are still obliged to solve whatever ‘Jewish problem’ it created. Concerning ODS, she says that first, let’s see the Right of Return realised, and equality and dignity for all Palestinians between the river and the sea, and then we can talk about a final, definitive, political solution.
6 February 2020 4 items
Asa Winstanley on electric intifada writes of the anti-semitism definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance: “Among other stipulations, the document prohibits denying ‘the Jewish people their right to self-determination” by criticizing Israel as “a racist endeavor.’ This potentially forbids Labour members from advocating for a unitary democratic state for everyone in historic Palestine.” Although mysteriously under-mentioned recently by Ali Abunimah, the ODS banner still flies at electronic intifada.
Ignore the details of the Trump-Kushner-Netanyahu Surrender Plan. It is merely the worst of the two-state deals proposed since Peel’s binned partition fantasy of 1937. Throughout the Mandate the British Zionists – Balfour, Samuel, Churchill, et al. – tried to buy the Palestinians’ nationalism with purported material-economic benefits of European-Jewish investment and immigration. The Palestinians – Musa Kazem, Amin and Jamal al-Husseini, Musa Alami, Awni Abdul Hadi, Henry Cattan, et al. – said No thanks, give us our freedom and we’ll take care of our material standard of living ourselves. The Anglo-American Commission in the summer of 1946 got it: “The Arabs declare that, if they must choose between freedom and material improvement, they prefer freedom.” Parity-Zionist Judah Magnes also got it, saying before UNSCOP in 1947: “We know that a nation does not sell its national birthright for a pot of lentils of economic development.” The present generation of colonialists doesn’t get it. For Palestinians, as Al-Shabaka policy advisor Tariq Dana in Al Jazeera puts it, the issue is “national rights and dignity. [But] Trump's plan may have a silver lining: It could help Palestinians dismantle the Oslo order and push for a paradigm shift in Palestinian political thinking towards a long-term struggle for equal rights for all within the framework of one state.”
Robert Fisk in the Independent praises Sanders’ Palestine position but warns that it is still very much in the mainstream: two states, a nicer Israel, etc. He quotes Norman Finkelstein, who is probably closer to Sanders than to ODS: “If Palestinians in the occupied territories are to be denied self-determination in a state of their own, will they receive full citizenship and equal rights in a single state, potentially meaning the end of a Jewish majority state? These are very serious questions with significant implications for America’s broader regional partnerships and goals.” The ‘end of a Jewish… state’: exactly – it’s not democratic and by definition violates the rights of people of other ethnicities and religions.
On 2 February something calling itself the ‘State of Palestine’ condemned the Kushner plan because it is worse than their preferred two-state solution, namely the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 which was re-presented by President Abbas to the Security Council in February 2018. This PLO ‘Department of Public Diplomacy and Policy’ agrees with the occupations of 1948 and 1967 and cherry-picks the “international law” that is on its side, but at least objects to further “ethnic cleansing by way of transfer” and pays lip-service to the Right of Return and undefined “Palestinian national rights”.
2 January 2020 4 items
1) The Methodist Church of South Africa, according to the BDS South Africa newsletter of 9 October, has adopted a blanket boycott of Israel, i.e., of “all businesses that benefit the Israeli economy”. It apparently has no truck with the partition of Palestine which leads some organisations, including some churches, to limit B, D and S only to businesses busy in the so-called ‘occupied territories’. Their target thus includes a vast number of businesses!
2) Two decades-long champion of ODS Ghada Karmi, author of the 2007 Married to Another Man, in the London Review of Books of 5 December argues that “the only way of addressing” the one-apartheid-state reality in Palestine “is to demand civil and political rights on an equal basis with the rest of the population under Israel’s jurisdiction.” Like many others in recent years, she argues that a Palestinian quasi-state alongside the Israeli state is a solution both ethically unjust and unreachably far away, and that the latter reality advises re-framing the fight as one for political and human rights within Israel. But she goes farther than the others in explicitly including the majority of Palestinians who live outside of Palestine in her vision: If achieved, “full citizenship” and “equal representation in parliament” would mean that “legislation on refugee repatriation could open the way for progress on [sic.] the right of return”, a way “eventually to repatriate those of their compatriots who were expelled in 1948 and thereafter.” If indeed we assume that equal rights for all now living in Palestine really wouldn’t have to come at the price of sacrificing right of return, her proposal is describing a principled step towards the practical realisation of a single democratic state. But, she frankly notes, there is a price to the Palestinians: “The sovereignty they have aspired to and fought for would have to be sacrificed, and with it the end of resistance to Israel.” But wouldn’t such a path, the more so as right of return entails a Palestinian majority, be an even deeper form of “resistance to Israel”? She also writes that “The primary aim of a campaign for equal rights for Palestinians is not the creation of a single state in Israel-Palestine: that already exists.” True, but ODS never aimed to create “a” single state in Palestine, but rather a democratic one.
3) If the state of Israel is necessarily the state of Jews only, with all the anti-democracy that entails (and it is), then like all other pro-democracy groups, ODS must be opposed to the state of Israel, i.e., is compelled to be anti-Zionist. The New Yorker of 12 December (online) carries a good examination by Masha Gessen of Trump’s recent Executive Order adopting the IHRA definition of anti-semitism, the purpose of which isto silence whoever “targets the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity” or denies “the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a [sic.] state of Israel is a racist endeavor”. According to Gessen, these “examples perform the same sleight of hand: they reframe opposition to or criticism of Israeli policies as opposition to the state of Israel.” The author doesn’t challenge the faulty premise that opposition to the state of Israel is opposition in principle to the Jewish people’s right to self-determination. He is moreover mistaken in somehow thinking that rejecting all states that are by definition racist does not entail “opposition to the state of Israel”. How could it not? To ward off charges of anti-semitism, or indeed to ward off the whole conflation of Palestine with either anti- or philo-semitism, ODS should take care not to be Judeo-focussed, but rather begin with and develop the positive case for all the rights of all the Palestinians; if the achievement of those rights means, as an unintended side-effect, the replacement of the state of Israel, then so be it. Were Israel a Hindu, Christian, Moslem, or White, or Black state – rather than a Jewish one – it would likewise have to make way for a democratic state.
4) In the Winter 1977 issue of the Journal of Palestine Studies (Vol. 6, No. 2), Shafiq al-Hout, author of the posthumous 2011 My Life in the PLO, published his 3-page article, ‘Toward a Unitary Democratic State’. ODS was still the position of the PLO, whose co-founder and senior member al-Hout was. The PLO’s secular democratic state stood tall against “the Zionist solution, which negates the existence of the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination” (see entry just above), whereas the unitary democratic state vision shows that the PLO “believe in the right of the individual Israeli Jew to live in peace and security…” and “that the aspirations of the common people and their right to a secure and dignified life is a sacred cause. These aspirations belong equally to the Muslim, the Christian, the Jew and the non-believer.” The idea of accepting “a partition plan” by accepting a Palestine on the 1967 borders was, however, in the air, and al-Hout writes that one could see it as “a necessary transitional phase leading one day to the establishment of a unified democratic state.” He also cryptically says that “Revolutionary wisdom… compels us not to reveal all of our cards.” Perhaps he meant that the Palestinians shouldn’t admit that the small quasi-state was only a phase?
5 December 2019 5 items
1) On 20 November an article in Countercurrents by Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, ‘Occupied Palestine: From BDS to ODS’ right off the bat ditches the usual notion that ‘occupation’ refers only to “the West Bank and Gaza”: “We call Israel Occupied Palestine because [it occupies] all of historic Palestine”. They laud and link to the ODS Campaign and do not forget the millions of exiled Palestinians’ right of return. “We titled this article ‘BDS to ODS’ because while this solution must come from the Palestinian people, along with Jews, people in the United States and throughout the world who support peace and justice have an important role to play through the growing BDS campaign to pressure Israel into accepting ODS.” Some would say BDS implies only TDS – Two Democratic States not also de-partition.
2) Also in Countercurrents, on 24 January 2018, Rima Najjar published an article called ‘The Palestinian struggle is not about rights within a legitimized Israel: It’s about liberation and self-determination’. She adds that “it’s fundamentally about return and self-determination in the homeland.” She seems to be quite directly rejecting the popular 'rights-based' approach of focussing only on individual rights, saying the “rights-based, apolitical approach” of BDS logically “leads to a ‘solution’ to the problem of the Jewish state in Palestine. Once the Palestinian rights [that BDS] highlights are restored, the Zionist project, by definition, will be dismantled.” That is, the issues of rights and solutions cannot be separated. “It is now up to Palestinians to push for that political “solution”, whether in the form of one state or two. Two is dead and buried. One democratic state means the end of the Jewish state.”
3) A view significantly different from Najjar’s was propounded by Sam Bahour on 22 November 2019 on the 8-minute Public Radio International broadcast ‘The end of the two-state solution’. He supported [minutes 2:00-3:30 & 6:40-8:00] the view of “a lot of the younger generation of Palestinians” are saying that “the two-state solution is over.” They contemplate “converting this to a civil-rights struggle between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, [saying] OK, Israel, you win. You get it all. You get Israel, the West Bank, and us.” Then the demand will be for “free health care” from the Israeli state. Asked would he accept “a single state called Israel, but a state that guarantees equal rights?” he replied, “If the Palestinian community voted to change their definition of self-determination away from self-determination and to a civil-rights struggle, I would.” But where do the over 7 million Palestinians not living “between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River” fit into this?
4) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is rhetorically one of the best when it comes to supporting the Palestinians and criticising – or laughing at – Israel. Unfortunately, as in this article in Daily Sabah, he stays locked up in the two-state paradigm. Unlike most Turks, he thinks it is OK that there is an Israel in Palestine.
5) Saeb Erekat, Secretary General of the PLO Executive Committee and Palestinian Authority-proclaimed ‘Chief Negotiator’ for some Palestinians, agrees with Erdoğan (and e.g. Jeremy Corbyn): In Haaretz on 22 November – ‘Don’t label Israeli settlement products. Ban them.’ – he says the two-state solution he so loves is not made “impossible” by the West Bank settlements and their creeping international legitimacy, but only “more difficult to achieve.” For him only the West Bank is “occupied” and the only (illegal) “settlements” are in the West Bank rather than in the entirety of ‘48’. But his description of the wrong fork in the road taken in 1988 is fairly accurate: “November 15 marks 31 years since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence. A courageous document of national sentiments mixed with pragmatism, in which the Palestine National Council, the PLO's legislative body, declared the State of Palestine's independence on the 1967 borders, and its commitment to international law and all United Nations resolutions.” 'All UN resolutions' include, of course, the two-state 181 and 242. The 1988 document was “courageous” only over against the many Palestinians who opposed it and still oppose it; over against all others, it was the opposite. And the refugees are as usual left out in the cold.
7 November 2019 5 items
1) ODS isn’t the topic of Noura Erakat’s 2019 book Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine (Stanford U. Press), but the reviews of it on her website and interviews with her show its relevance to ODS. She is for going ‘behind’, or deeper than, international law: the Palestinian case for sovereignty in the homeland is historical, political and ethical, while the law is written by the powerful, albeit with a dosis of ethics here and there. She also compares the two rival approaches ‘rights-based’ and ‘solutions-oriented’, avoiding the trap, so popular at the moment among Palestinians, of abandoning the latter. While ODS is at first glance solution-based, its solution is justified by, and follows logically from, the realisation of Palestinians’ rights; this is a false dichotomy. Erakat’s view, however, that BDS (namely its 3 conditions) is only rights-based, doesn’t hold up: BDS’s 3 conditions strictly imply the Two Democratic States solution, and their merger would most likely take place immediately thereafter. Erakat’s analysis seems to be a cut above all else on the market at this time.
2) MEMO and Palestine Chronicle author Ramona Wadi has noted that the two-state lobby is mis-using the fate of abused Palestinian children for two-state propaganda. UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, for instance, calls the two-state “peace process” rhetoric a “rhetoric of hope” and implies that if that framework is dropped, UNRWA will be weakened or destroyed – and a weakened UNRWA means worse health and education for children. But since, as Wadi puts it, one cannot “reconcile democracy with the colonialism inherent in the two-state paradigm”, and colonialism in the long run is the problem, that rhetoric and framework should after all be discarded.
3) A panel discussion held on 25 October 2019 by the soft-Zionist, two-state U.S. Middle East Policy Council, which supports the 2002 ‘Arab Peace Initiative’, is a perfect example of the lamentable intellectual level of debate among those, like the moderator and like panelists Lara Friedman and Jake Walles, who still support two states and even think that solution is possible. Friedman and James Zogby both belittled the two-state/one-state discussion as such – a tactic designed to avoid discussion of ODS – because in their view, as in the view for instance of Al-Shabaka’s Nadia Hijab, is that it’s a waste of time and effort to talk solutions (dubbed “ideology”) and that all effort should be on “practical” relief for Palestinians in the here-and-now. Friedman, just after arguing that “because the two-state solution has [regrettably] been taken off the table”, we should focus on “the immediate” and “the rights issue”, admits that she is a supporter of the two-state solution (like most people who are playing “rights” and “solutions” off against each other). The panel’s default position is that the Jewish state in Palestine is OK, but it’s a shame that under Trump and Netanyahu Usraeli policy no longer regards the “the Palestinians” as a “bi-lateral partner” – the false position, that is, that two ethically equal sides are slugging it out. Ironically, while all agreed on the “rights-based” as opposed to the “solution-based” approach, about half the discussion time was about… two-states vs one democratic state. Walles, an incredibly boring former Ambassador, even said the two-state solution “realises the aspirations of the Palestinians”. A collector’s item of an incoherent, headless chat among well-paid establishment friends.
4) On the same panel pollster Shibley Telhami, the only panelist who perhaps does not deserve the accusation of two-state soft Zionism, reported the answers of US-Americans when asked whether, if the two-state solution is no longer possible, they support a Jewish state or a democratic state even if it means there is no longer a Jewish majority. A large majority opted for the latter. He however also recited the new mantra of working on “the humanitarian issue and the occupation issue” to the neglect of principles.
5) On 10 September 2019 Jerusalemite Hamada Jaber wrote on the website of his employer, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, that “The continued determined adoption and promotion of a two-state solution by Palestinians or other parties contributes to the perpetuation of the suffering of the Palestinian people.” Albeit within the framework of “the death or the impossibility” of the two-state solution, rather than its core immorality and unjustness, he says without any ifs and buts “the two-state solution is dead and gone.” To reach one democratic state, the PA must be dissolved, but deliberately and carefully, not chaotically or imposed from the outside, in order to avoid Israel’s taking advantage of the chaos to effect a second nakba. Leadership should revert from the PA to the PLO, which should hold democratic elections and promulgate a “Palestinian plan” including both the fulfilment of rights – e.g. equality, right of return – and the ultimate goal or solution of ODS. “It is time for [Palestinians] to rely on ourselves, to impose what we want.” This enables “the exposure of the one-[undemocratic-]state reality” and might well embarrass the EU into supporting ODS.
3 October 2019 4 items
1) Knesset Member Ayman Odeh came out in the NY Times of 22 September for two states in the name of the Joint List which he leads: “[W]e insist on resuming direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians to reach a peace treaty that ends the occupation and establishes an independent Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 borders.” About the Palestinian returnees he writes nothing. He also uses the phrase “shared homeland”, thereby granting the Zionist premise that Palestine is the homeland of ‘the Jews’ (or some Jews, by the fact of being Jewish? who knows?). The National Democratic Assembly, called ‘Balad’, its Hebrew acronym, belongs to the Joint List and has 3 Knesset members. They have refused to go along with the other 10 Joint List MKs in endorsing mass-murderer Benny Gantz to form a government, but have not distanced themselves from support for the two-state solution. The always excellent Yara Hawari analysed the dilemma of the Palestinians in Israel in Foreign Policy on 28 September, pointedly using the correct phrase “the 1967 occupied territories” rather than the tired, misleading phrase ‘the occupied territories’ which erases the 1948 occupation. Amjad Iraqi’s similar analysis on 25 September, sanitised and weakened for the Guardian readership, still treats only the rump-Palestine of the West Bank as occupied.
2) Zochrot Director Rachel Beitarie on 16 September spoke before the Jerusalem Fund and Palestine Center in Washington. Her focus is on right of return, but given that most Zochrot supporters are at least tacit ODS supporters, and that her and Zochrot’s vision of the 48-occupied territories is fully secular-democratic, then all the way up to the question of re-unification, on which Zochrot takes no official stand, the overlap with ODS is more or less perfect. She cites this “Vision Document” of 29 November 2018, written by the Return Council, which in its own words is “a forum of Israeli Jews who support the right of the Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons to return…” Taken together, these are the strongest statements on RoR/ODS to emerge since the concise Munich Declaration in 2012.
3) Yousef Munayyer, Director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights back in June 2018 wrote in the Forward in an appeal to “liberal Zionists” that the two-state solution is “dead” and “is no longer an option”. The good part of the article from an ODS point of view is his statement: “I’m not saying there is a problem with desiring a Jewish state per se. If Israel were indeed created in a land without a people for a people without a land, it would be no more or less problematic than any other ethnic nationalism. The issue with Israel is that its creation and maintenance as a Jewish state necessitated – and continues to necessitate — the denial of another peoples’ rights.” This point, showing that replacing Israel with a democracy cannot be ‘antisemitic’, was also made here in 2017, and is a crucial defensive argument. (The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights was formerly the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation – an intriguing name-change for several reasons.)
4) Farther back, in January 2018, Ramzy Baroud posted on Al-Jazeera short statements from 14 Palestinians, all but one of them for RoR, BDS and ODS and condemnatory of Oslo and its Palestinian perpetrators: Salman Abu Sitta, Lamis Andoni, Mazin Qumsiyeh, Samaa Abu Sharar, Ibrahim Saad, Samah Sabawi, Sam Bahour, Yousef M. Aljamal, Iyad Burnat, Randa Abdel-Fattah, Haidar Eid, Rawan Yaghi, Mohammad Nofal, and Ahmad Khaleel Al-Haaj. One invokes the phrase ‘What is taken by force, can only be redeemed by force’ while another endorses armed resistance – views too seldom aired. Another calls the two-state solution “racist”. Most promising are calls for “reconstruction of the PLO” and “a newly elected PNC”.
5 September 2019 9 items
1) The UK’s only Palestinian MP, LibDem Layla Moran, for whom the “occupation” is a mere 52 years old and who fears being called “antisemitic”, wrote in the Guardian on 21 July 2019 that she “believes in Israel’s right to exist” and: “I believe in a two-state solution.” Switching to the definite pronoun: “The two-state solution is at best in stasis, at worst it is teetering on the brink of a precipice. It needs a lifeline.” With friends like these…
2) In Al-Jazeera on 14 June Ghada Karmi proposed a normal democracy for everyone living between the river and the sea, of whom roughly half are Palestinians. This “strategy” of demanding “equal civil and political rights… can pave potentially the way for the return of the refugees.” That is, she is not advocating this step as a final solution but as a stage to reaching both equality for those present and return for those not. The question, as always, is what the price of this One Democratic State (for all but the refugees) would be: accepting the refugees' non-return, and/or accepting the Jewish nature of the resulting single state? Since realisation of Right of Return means the end of the Jewish state in Palestine, it is impossible to imagine such a thing being agreed to by the present powers that be. Therefore to peacefully obtain this result one would have to officially give up Right of Return. This price, presumably, would be deemed too high by the vast majority of Palestinians, so why not just directly advocate, as Karmi has done in many essays and talks and in her book Married to Another Man, a solution that by definition includes Right of Return – ODS?
3) The intellectual weakness of mainstream supporters of Palestinian rights within the U.S. House of Representatives such as Ilhan Omar, Betty McCollum, Ro Khanna, Ayanna Pressley, John Lewis, and Barbara Lee (along with 170 others exclusively from the Democratic Party) is revealed by their support for HRes 326, introduced on 25 April 2019. It fears for the survival of Israel and resolves that “only the achievement of a two-state solution that enhances stability and security in the Middle East can both— (A) ensure the State of Israel’s survival as a secure Jewish and democratic state; and (B) fulfill the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a state of their own.” Although the Palestinians are thus given a bit of lip service, the main justification for the two-state solution is the Zionist one that without it, Israel’s existence (on 80+% of Palestine) is endangered. On 10 June MEMO reported Congresswoman Omar’s clear support for the two-state solution. Congress’s two Palestinian Representatives, Rashida Tlaib and former Republican, now Independent Justin Amash, as well as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, laudably did not co-sponsor the bill. But how will they vote if it comes to the floor?
4) US House of Representatives support for the two-state solution is also an explicit part of the text of HRes246 which condemns BDS. This summer it garnered only 17 opposing votes (including Omar, Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez, Betty McCollum and Barbara Lee but not for instance Ayanna Pressley, John Lewis or presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard). The Resolution stops short of criminalising BDS, but in spirit does violate free speech. Mondoweiss has a good overview of this issue, while the Palestine Chronicle has this analysis of the actual text showing that Zionism Headquarters knows perfectly well that BDS means the end of the Jewish state in Palestine. Thus the no-holds-barred attack on the motives and activities of us who unequivocally support BDS or what BDS implies, namely ODS.
5) In order to oppose the One Undemocratic State which is the status quo and which will be further cemented if Israel officially annexes all or part of the West Bank a host of U.S. Senators are supporting resolutions in favor of the two-state solution – including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Merkley and Chris van Hollen.
6) Speaking for the ODSCampaign, made up almost exclusively of Israeli citizens, Jeff Halper presented once again in Mondoweiss on 17 July 2019 the Campaign’s program and successfully refuted arguments against ODS brought by two-state supporters such as the UK’s Tony Klug. While no longer mentioning the bi-nationalism he long supported, his article is still tied to the concept of ‘peoples’ rather than individual human beings, and he is evidently not satisfied that in a future single state the principles of freedom of expression and association would suffice to protect the “collective rights” or even “collective identities” of individuals with respect to religion, culture, language, sports-club affiliation, etc. He also still restricts the concept of “occupation” to the “oPt” rather than to all of historic Palestine, and too often leaves the word “democratic” out of “one state”, thus conflating the present One Undemocratic State and ODS. The Campaign’s call unfortunately remains negatively framed, namely in terms of “decolonization” rather than fulfilment of all the rights of all the Palestinians while protecting the individual equal citizenship of all Israeli Jews – viz. ODS.
7) Ramy Shaath, son of Nabil Shaath and resident in Cairo since 1977, was arrested for his BDS work on 22 July and remains in prison.
8) In a press release from “the Palestinian leadership” [sic.] the PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi continues the tradition of placing the focus on the West Bank settlements, which are to be sure illegal and for individual Palestinians criminally brutal. One would be excused for thinking that if only Israel would give up these settlements and leave East Jerusalem alone, all would be OK. Commenting on this press release, the influential and relatively pro-Palestinian analyst John Whitbeck brings the usual argument: The two-state solution would be quite good, but the present facts on the ground – the more so after an outright annexation of the West Bank settlements – would unfortunately bury it forever, and if during the few days remaining before the coming Israeli elections the Palestinians don’t present their own “win-win” two-state solution, “the time will have come to launch a peaceful and ethically impeccable ‘pro-democracy’ movement for equal rights and human dignity for all in the effective single state which now exists in all of historical Palestine.” No word as to the place in this “ethically impeccable” vision of the majority of Palestinians who live in forced exile – and the Palestinians can at this last minute pull no such rabbit out of the hat, because the rabbit – a good and just two-state solution – does not exist.
9) Another group supporting One Democratic State, calling itself the ODS Assembly, has been formed and the statement on its website has been signed by a bit over 600 people. There seems to be a connection to the California-based Free Palestine Movement which is not associated with the group of the same name in Syria/Lebanon. We are seeking more info on this group and wonder how it intends to relate to existing ODS supporters and groups.
1 August 2019 ferragosto
4 July 2019 6 items
1) Because the re-distribution of land to Palestinians in the single democratic state is central to ODS, a must read is the article by Ariel Levy in the New Yorker of 13 May, ‘Who owns South Africa?’. The parallels to the Palestine situation are exact and numerous, the familiar issues being restitution, expropriation, compensation (or not), eviction and the usual confusion over what counts as a ‘legal’ land title – now that that country has its ODS. A bonus is Levy’s interviewing on the subject lawyer Tembeka Ngcukaitobi [I don’t yet know how to pronounce his surname] who in 2018 published his book The Land Is Ours: South Africa’s First Black Lawyers and the Birth of Constitutionalism. YouTube has many appearances by this remarkable man.
2) Peter Beinart’s ‘Long Read’ of 7 March 2019 in the Guardian is ostensibly and laudably against the conflation of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, but since Beinart regards the two-state solution as dead, and since ODS implies the end of Zionism and Israel, he necessarily rebuts the argument that ODS is anti-Semitic: “But it is not bigoted to try to turn a state based on ethnic nationalism into one based on civic nationalism, in which no ethnic group enjoys special privileges. … [T]here must be room for serious debate about other options to guarantee the rights and security of Israelis alongside justice for the Palestinians – including ideas of a confederal, federal or multi-ethnic democratic single state.” He also reports that “three Palestinian members of the Knesset [from the National Democratic Assembly] introduced a bill to turn Israel from a Jewish state into a “state for all its citizens”. See next entry.
3) MK Jamal Zahalka expanded on the bill – introduced exactly a year ago in the context of the Knesset’s passing the Basic Law on the One Jewish Nation-State – in Mondoweiss. Zahalka walks the tightrope between the implicit but obvious end of the Jewish state if the National Democratic Assembly's proposed law were passed and the need to explicitly say things like “We do not deny Israel or its right to exist as a home for Jews.” Both Beinart and Zahalka wallow in the language of ‘collective rights’, but from the ODS point of view this is progress.
4) A decade-old debate in Counterpunch on ODS vs two states saw anti-Zionist Canadian philosopher Michael Neumann reject ODS, although granting its moral superiority, in two articles, of 15 May 2007 and 10 March 2008. Replies were printed by Jonathan Cook, Kathy Christison (which I can’t find) and Assaf Kfoury, followed by Neumann’s reply to those replies. None of the participants are Palestinians, and somewhat ironically Neumann and Kfoury argue the nonsensical point that outsiders have no business ‘telling the Palestinians what to do’ – nonsensical because it is impossible for people without power to tell the Palestinians anything: they don’t have to listen, and like Neumann and Kfoury, all of us in solidarity can legitimately support one or the other solution. But the exchanges contain the whole gamut of concepts ranging from ‘practicality’ to ‘ideally’. And how can the struggle to find a unified, inspiring vision be "sterile" or "snake oil", in the words of Kfoury and Neumann, respectively? Shall the Palestinian liberation movement just keep stumbling along without a vision?
5) Ex-Senator Mike Gravel (of Alaska) on 19 June in Mondoweiss repeats arguments that the two-state solution has been “killed” by Usrael, then: “The most obvious and humane path forward is the creation of a secular, democratic, binational state with equal rights for all. That is the model of the U.S. [and it] would disappoint many, both those who want an official Palestinian national homeland and those who want an official Jewish homeland. But this is necessary. Both visions serve an abstract nationalism rather than the actual needs of Israelis and Palestinians living in the area…” To move towards acceptance of ODS he proposes “restricting” AIPAC, ending U.S. financial aid to Israel, and protecting the rights of BDS supporters – rights undermined, for example, by Democratic Presidential candidates Senators Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar.
6) On 2 June Gideon Levy wrote an inspiring democratic tract in Haaretz. He says, “Israel will have to become a democracy because it doesn’t have the right to exist otherwise.” This is strong tobacco, but again, it is a shame that Levy still refuses to grant the Palestinian diaspora its right of return: For him it is only “democracy for everyone, for everyone living under Israeli rule. … of everyone living in the country.” If you are one of the 7 million Palestinians not allowed to live in Palestine, you are excluded. So, sadly, Levy’s otherwise laudable vision is also not democracy.
6 June 2019 4 items
1) Palestinian Authority (PA) ‘Prime Minister’ Muhammad Shtayyeh, co-ruling over only about one-third of all Palestinians, on 5 June told the New York Times that if Israel forces the “collapse” of the PA by cutting off its funds, “the PLO will run the show”; this will, according to reporter David Halbfinger, “roll… back the clock to before the Oslo peace process began. Even [Shtayyeh added] Palestinian recognition of Israel could be called into question if that happened”. The Trump-Israel axis is “saying no to Jerusalem. They are saying no to two states.” “Security co-operation” would be endangered. Thus, on the political level there would be a thick and bright silver lining to the financial collapse of the PA: no more Oslo, no more PA, and the pure visibility of the racism of Israel.
2) Ben White writes with his customary insight and depth, in the Middle East Eye on 2 May, that the two-state solution is dead not because of too many Jews-only West Bank settlements but because “the Israeli maximum on offer does not come close to the minimum Palestinians can accept”: “it’s politics not practicalities”. In criticising the common focus on what Israel will accept (the “de facto, single apartheid state”), White points out that in the debate over apartheid South Africa, “the ‘need’ of white South Africans to retain their structural privilege was not treated as a veto on transitioning to a post-apartheid era.” He also laudably calls not only for economic but also for “diplomatic pressure on Israel” – i.e. the Sanctions part of BDS.
3) Ben White links critically to the ‘federation plan’ of Emanuel Shahaf, Shalom Kweller and Aryeh Hess which revives the old idea (mainly in the Anglo-American and Morrison-Grady plans of 1946) of splitting “the State of Israel [sic.] into (30) cantons (empowered provinces) which enjoy a great degree of independence”. The Jewish State would take over all of historic Palestine but grant citizenship, and freedom to reside where they want, for all who live there. Israel would then have “security” and “economic prosperity” – “foiling plans for [sic.] economic boycotts” – and would so generously mean that “West Bank Palestinians will be able to work in agriculture, industry and construction”. It would remove one of the Achilles’ heels of the two-state solution by enabling all Jewish settlers in the West Bank to remain where they are. False and repeated comparison is made to the Swiss system, which unlike this racist system makes no reference at all to religion or ethnicity. “It is important to emphasize that the transformed federal state will continue to exist as the State of Israel. Its military force will be the IDF, its parliament shall be the Knesset, and its flag and national anthem will be the flag and anthem of Israel. It will remain open to Jewish immigration in accordance with the ‘Law of Return.’ The Gaza Strip would be excluded from the federation. Jews will comprise about two thirds of the population.” That is, the Palestinians who do not live in Palestine but who comprise a majority of Palestinians are once again excluded from residence and citizenship in Palestine, and the most incredible part of the plan is the creation of an Israeli “national-service” army of refugee-rehabilitators to achieve instead of Return “the rehabilitation of refugee camps in the West Bank and Jerusalem” as well as in the camps in the countries surrounding Israel. The propagators of this proposal are “an NGO for regional government in Eretz Israel” run by three politically high-placed men who nevertheless predict its success!
4) Ronnie Kasrils in the Guardian on 3 April compares the former South African Apartheid with what he calls the “apartheid-like” Israeli regime. Kasrils was a key actor in the fight against Apartheid and offers an inspiring summary of that boycott-and-sanctions struggle. However, like so many sincere friends of the Palestinians he neglects to mention the half of the Palestinian people who are refugees. He writes only of “Israel’s repression of Palestinian citizens [of Israel], African refugees and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza”, moreover mistakenly implying that the roughly 80% of Palestine called ‘Israel’ is not “occupied”. Indeed, one of the two or three decisive differences in the two cases is that in South Africa there was no such enormous body of ethnically-cleansed black people outside South Africa’s borders and barred from re-entering. He also disappointingly speaks only of “critics of Israel’s brutal policies”, not of the state which by its nature causes and must cause those policies. He even feels compelled to write the usual disclaimer that “This is not about destroying Israel and its people…” Aside from the terrible conflation of “Israel” (a state) and “its people” (live human beings), this fails to realise that without its intrinsic racism and apartheid there would be nothing left to call “Israel” – it would revert to being ‘Palestine’ as it was for millennia. That said, Kasrils describes the South African ODS they successfully achieved: “a unitary, non-racist, democratic society”.
2 May 2019 6 items
1) First something positive – ODS supporter Palestinian-Canadian lawyer Diana Butto talking courageously on Turkish TV against two states in November 2018. Abbas and the PA “have no vision”. (The two-state solution is not a ‘vision’.) She praises the Great Return Marches. She calls the ‘Nation State Basic Law’ of summer 2018 the ‘Jewish Supremacy Law’.
2) Equally positive is Zochrot’s recently intensified focus on right of return. The Zochrot site is worth visiting anyway – you can sign a petition of support – and its founder and many of its members publicly support ODS. Small warning: Zochrot advocates return under the principles of ‘transitional justice’, which is often a euphemism for compromise, meaning ‘partial’ rather than ‘full’ or ‘simple’ justice. The idea in the Palestine case seems to be that Jewish Israelis living and working on land actually belonging to the returning Palestinians do have some acquired rights to remain on that land and in those buildings. In plain English this means that certain Palestinians would not be allowed to return to their ‘homes’ (UNGA Resolution 194’s term). This is the trickiest issue facing ODS. The ethical and even legal clarity of the right of the Palestinians to property restitution (if they choose that over compensation) comes up against the humanitarian principle of the needs (rights?) of Jewish Israelis who were born in Palestine, whose parents and grandparents might have been born there.
3) A (non-binding) Resolution (Senate Res. 120, House Res. 246) is before the U.S. Congress condemning BDS, because: “[T]he Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS Movement) targeting Israel is a campaign that does not favor a two-state solution and that seeks to exclude the State of Israel and the Israeli people from the economic, cultural, and academic life of the rest of the world.” This is true: BDS is incompatible with the two-state solution and rigorously implies ODS. The Resolution text then continues with two falsehoods: “[T]he BDS Movement does not recognize, and many of its supporters explicitly deny, the right of the Jewish people to national self-determination.” Not true: BDS and all fighters for all the rights of all the Palestinians can remain blissfully neutral on this question; it is ‘the Jewish people’s’ self-determination in Palestine at the cost of wiping out Palestine that is the problem. Further: “[T]he BDS Movement promotes principles of collective guilt, mass punishment, and group isolation, which are destructive of prospects for progress towards peace and a two-state solution.” The only true thing here is that yes, BDS would destroy the two-state solution – gladly, because one of those states is an ethnocratic one contradictory to BDS’s principles and goals. By the way, Democratic Presidential candidates Senator Cory Booker and Representative Tim Ryan are co-sponsors.
4) The U.S. TV series ‘Boston Legal’, starring James Spader, now of ‘The Blacklist’ fame, in its very last episode 5:13 , at about minutes 43, 48, and 52, has great comic dialogue between a priest and a rabbi and between two lawyers who are about to get married, Shirley (Candice Bergen) and Carl (John Larroquette), who is Jewish. It’s one of the only times when Israel’s “right to exist as a Jewish state” gets a mention in mainstream TV. (Spoiler: They do end up getting married, and all ends well; see minute 1:02.)
5) ODS supporter Saree Makdisi, a Palestinian and professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California Los Angeles, who wrote one of the best books ever on Palestine, Palestine Inside Out, commented on the Israeli elections in the L.A. Times. According to him Netanyahu’s promise to annex large parts of the West Bank probably deals “a final blow to the moribund two-state solution”. Again, from the ODS perspective this is the Netanyahu cloud’s silver lining. Makdisi is a welcome exception to most who write commentary on Palestine because he underlines the right to citizenship (in whatever state rules Palestine) not only of all residents between the river and the sea, but of all Palestinians wherever they live – and over 50% live outside Palestine. He closes: “The two-state solution is dead. What remains is a single racist state whose beneficiaries are satisfied with their government and whose victims are deeply unhappy and desperate for something new: a transition from an apartheid state to a genuinely democratic one in which Palestinians are treated as equal citizens with Israeli Jews, not disenfranchised brutes.”
6) Helena Cobban in Mondoweiss https://mondoweiss.net/2019/03/state-solution-planning/ argues for ‘planning for a one-state solution’. Her last sentence puts cart (ODS) before horse (Right of Return), and her grasp of the history is not flawless, but her support is important, as she is the renowned author of The Palestinian Liberation Organisation: People, Power and Politics (Cambridge U. Press, 1984), CEO of Just World Books and a long-time fighter for Palestinian rights.
4 April 2019 5 items
1) In preparation for the bad news of items 2-5, first a quotation from the 1988 book The Palestine Question by Henry Cattan, concerning the equally great Fayez Sayegh, who like Cattan always supported ODS: “The insignificant ‘rights’ which are recognized by the Camp David Accords in favour of the Palestinians were ridiculed by Fayez Sayegh, then a member of the Kuwait delegation at the UN, in these terms: ‘A fraction of the Palestinian people (under one-third of the whole) is promised a fraction of its rights (not including the national right to self-determination and statehood) in a fraction of its homeland (less than one-fifth of the area of the whole); and this promise is to be fulfilled several years from now, through a step-by-step process in which Israel is able at every point to exercise a decisive veto-power over any agreement. Beyond that, the vast majority of Palestinians is condemned to permanent loss of its Palestinian national identity, to permanent exile and statelessness, to permanent separation from one another and from Palestine – to a life without national hope or meaning!’” [from Sayegh’s Camp David and Palestine, 1978] Already in the 1950s Sayegh exposed Israel’s ethnic cleansing and put Right of Return at the center of Palestinian strategy as the Gazan March of Return is doing today.
In the following 4 items compare Cattan and Sayegh with the likes of the EU, the UN, all Democrats in the USA including Ilhan Omar, and even even the Republic of South Africa. ODS is in an uphill battle.
2) The EU and its ‘Representative’ in Jerusalem, German diplomat Ralph Tarraf, not only still support Camp David’s and Oslo’s two-state charade but, in the words of MEMO staff writer Ramona Wadi, have put a price on the EU's coming to the financial rescue of UNRWA, namely Palestinians’ adherence to the two-state compromise. Stepping in to fund UNRWA, Tarraf said, “should be seen as an inseparable part of the EU’s efforts to reach a negotiated two-state solution” and end “the occupation that began in 1967”. But get this: The EU spokesman went on to justify Balfourian, Churchillian colonialism by announcing (mit beeindruckender geographischer Unbedarftheit): “Europe is part and parcel of this land, its past and its future. Undoubtedly for the past. But also for the future. … Palestine is part of our common space, mare nostrum as the Latins called it.” Wadi adds that since “the two-state imposition does not endorse the return of Palestinian refugees to historic Palestine, … [t]ying UNRWA funding to the two-state compromise… is equivalent to forcing Palestinians into perpetual refugee status.”
3) The UN likewise still supports the two-state non-solution. (Already in 1938, although wanting a two-state solution, the British decided it was a non-solution when its Woodhead report and the MacDonald White Paper overturned Peel’s Partition Plan of 1937.) Again it is Ramona Wadi who shows that Nickolay Mladenov, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (the title resembles that for a university Chair of Contemporary Alchemy) is de-politicising Palestine and turning the issues into humanitarian ones.
4) All Democratic candidates for the presidency of the USA support the two-state solution: O’Rourke, Gabbard, Sanders, Harris, Warren,… Guess who else? Ilhan Omar. Her op-ed in the Washington Post on 16 March 2019 contains these gems: “The founding of Israel 70 years ago was built on the Jewish people’s connection to their historical homeland, as well as the urgency of establishing a nation in the wake of the horror of the Holocaust and the centuries of anti-Semitic oppression leading up to it.” “A balanced, inclusive approach to the conflict recognizes the shared desire for security and freedom of both peoples.” “My goal in speaking out at all times has been to encourage both sides to move toward a peaceful two-state solution.” “I support a two-state solution, with internationally recognized borders, which allows for both Israelis and Palestinians to have their own sanctuaries and self-determination.” After the similar retreat by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, perhaps Palestinian Rashida Tlaib is the only hope. [If you can’t get to Washington Post try Huffington Post or Jerusalem Post or jta]
5) The Republic of South Africa, despite foot-dragging [see item on this page from 1 March 2018], might still downgrade its embassy in Israel to some sort of consular office, but it, and the governing ANC at its 54th Conference, still firmly supports the solution of one or more Bantustines which it rejected during its own anti-Apartheid fight. [listen from minutes 0:58 and 7:08 in the video, where President Ramaphosa defends Israel’s statehood in Palestine to considerable heckling and jeering from MPs] Neither President Ramaphosa nor BDS South Africa, which reported Ramaphosa’s parliament speech in its email circular of 12 March with the words “The NFP, ANC and ANC-led government are indeed showing practical solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against Israeli Apartheid”, mention that South Africa’s position on two states in Palestine is equivalent to support for the Bantustan solution the ANC rejected, with eventual success, in its own homeland.
7 March 2019 7 items
1) Good news: In the electronic intifada of 24 January Riri Hylton reviews the film ‘Palestine Underground’. Important for ODS is the film’s announcement emphasised at the very beginning that “Most Palestinians – including those in this film – refer to Israel as Occupied Palestine, 1948 Territories or ’48”. “It was very important for us that the name flipped,” DJ and producer Makimakkuk told The Electronic Intifada. “It was great to recognize the local name that we’ve been calling it for the past 70 years.” This great film documents Palestinian musicians’ efforts to link themselves across the Green Line, without forgetting the “like 7 million refugees all over the world”. One rap line: “Fuck them for declaring independence, the cowards that govern us” – which I guess refers to Algiers 1988 and the PLO. Another, in only-half-ironic tone, “We’re the revolution.”
2) In Ali Abunimah’s article on 4 March about résistance in France against Macron’s efforts to criminalise BDS and criticism of Israel, the real issue comes out, expressed by one of France’s leading Zios. Abunimah quotes: “What we want to outlaw is denying the existence of Israel,” Sylvain Maillard, a lawmaker from Macron’s La République en Marche party, said. “Of course one can continue to criticize Israeli governments.” This is what it’s all about, the survival, if it’s legitimate, or death, if it’s illegitimate, of Israel. The argument which has to be refuted is that being against Israel as such is being against Jews as such and thus anti-semitic, because if Jonathan Freedland & Co. win this one, ODS loses, implying as it does, by means of reasoning from all the rights of all the Palestinians, the disappearance of the colonial, apartheid (i.e. illegitimate) construct called Israel. If its occupation of all of Palestine and unequal treatment of Jews and Palestinians and refusal of refugee return all changed (the 3 BDS demands), anything remotely resembling ‘Israel’ would be… gone.
3) The electronic intifada of 12 February also has an analysis by Omar Karmi proving the death of the two-state solution, stating the safe and a-ethical truth that “With more than 620,000 settlers now in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, creating a viable, contiguous state for Palestinians has simply become physically impossible. … There is only one state on the ground.” Refreshingly, the article is mostly about, and very critical of, the Palestinian actors in the peace-process farce, and it does include at least a phrase supporting right of return. But for Karmi “occupation” is still only of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, rather than all of Palestine, and instead of coming out for the replacement of Israel by one democratic state he says the present single state is “badly run”. The article is solid, but unfortunately does not shift the discourse.
4) Karmi’s piece should be contrasted with an article by Nadia Hijab written a year earlier on the Al-Shabaka site, where she tries to rescue allegiance to the two-state solution by arguing that “either state outcome [i.e. one state or two states] can be made to achieve Palestinian aspirations and rights, and that, moreover, fulfilling Palestinian rights requires some of the sources of power associated with the [two-]state system, … legal, diplomatic, or through participation in international organizations.” She gives an accurate, even inspiring, picture of ODS, yet defends the 1988 Algiers decision of the Palestinian National Council for two states, saying that if right of return could have been realised, TDS (two democratic states) would have emerged. (Hijab has argued before against framing and discussing Palestinian strategy in terms of political solutions, i.e. one state, two states.) But she does not ask the World Powers what the Palestinian mini-state will cost. Whether or not the benefits of statehood, or quasi-statehood, are what Hijab says they are, the issue has always been the price of a WBGS state. No right of return? Accepting forever Israel as a Jewish state? I.e., fulfilment of only one of BDS’s three goals? Hijab calls for a “forward-looking narrative”, but how can such a narrative not be framed in terms of a ‘forward’ political goal?
5) Motasem A Dalloul in the Middle East Monitor on 24 December wrote an excellent piece including a lot of history and reminding us that not only Hamas and Fatah exist, but also the DFLP, the PFLP, the Popular Resistance Committees, Al-Ahrar Movement, and Al-Mujahidin Brigades, who “are all committed to the liberation of all of the occupied lands”, i.e. ’48 as well. He rehabilitates Fatah a bit by noting its anti-two-state currents, e.g. high Fatah official Nabil Shaath who says, “The story of ‘two-states for two peoples’ means that there will be a Jewish people over there and a Palestinian people here. We will never accept this… We will never agree to a clause preventing the Palestinian refugees from returning to their country.”
6) More good news: Ofer Cassif is running in the Knesset elections of 9 April in the third-placed “Jewish slot” on the Hadash list headed by Ayman Odeh, who is also head of the Joint List. A true radical whose every statement shakes things up, over thirty years ago he “forsook the Zionist left”. Zionism is irredeemably “colonialist” and “racist”. Also: “Peace will not be established without a correction of the crimes of the Nakba and [recognition of] the right of return.” He even says the unsayable: that right of return entails some Jews’ having to be evicted from Palestinian property! He agrees with the National Democratic Assembly (Balad) that Israel should quit being a Jewish state and become a “state of all its citizens”, but as a communist disagrees with their “nationalism”. He also however says, but perhaps only to stay out of jail, “We in Hadash say explicitly that Israel has a right to exist as a sovereign state. Our struggle is not against the state’s existence, but over its character.” This is as ‘ODS’ as a politician can get in Israel, a constraint which hopefully the ODS Campaign can break.
7) A last piece of good analysis, from The Economist of 2 February, p 85, ‘Facts on the ground’: Israel faces a “trilemma”: “It cannot have at the same time a strong Jewish majority, all the land and a full democracy that does not discriminate against Arabs. In the end it must sacrifice either land in a two-state solution; or a Jewish majority in a big ‘binational’ state; or the claim to being a proper democracy. It has tried to avoid such stark choices through messy partial withdrawals. But the more permanent its occupation becomes, the more it risks sliding towards apartheid.” "Sliding towards"? And right of return isn’t on The Economist’s radar, but still…
7 February 2019 6 items
1) The Israeli Minister of Aliyah and Integration Yoav Galant is the latest of a growing number of powerful Jewish Israelis who openly reject (World Israel News, 14 January) any Palestinian state in Palestine, and thus reject the two-state solution. But they instead want the One Undemocratic (Jewish, Zionist, apartheid, whatever) State solution (which de facto now exists), not ODS. This shows that we should avoid the shorthand ‘one-state solution’ as it includes these opposites. Even within ODS there is the ambiguity of whether one is including as citizens only those now residing between the river and the sea, or all Palestinians, i.e. also the majority (!) of Palestinians who live outside Palestine.
2) Which brings us to an otherwise excellent piece in Mondoweiss on 20 January by Yossi Gurvitz, who pleads for ODS but in naming its citizens forgets the Palestinians in exile (the ‘refugees’ or better: the ‘returnees’): “The goal is one state, a democratic one, in which all people living under the Zionist regime participate as equal: Israeli Jews, Israeli Palestinians, East Jerusalemite Palestinians, Palestinians of the West Bank and Palestinians living in Gaza.” This omission is crucial. Gurwitz also makes the claim that “The destruction of a state invariably entails a massive bloodshed amongst its residents.” Surely not – a state can go, can be replaced, while all its citizens and residents remain.
3) Another writer who refrains from embracing the right of return to their homes for all Palestinians, but who otherwise towers above all other Jewish-Israeli writers in standing up and risking life and limb for Palestinian rights, namely Gideon Levy, wrote an article in Haaretz attacking Benny Morris’s ideas, to which Morris wrote a reply which all ODS supporters should carefully read, and Levy replied in turn with another article. Morris, who confirmed in his academic books indigenous Palestinian knowledge that from early 1948 on the Zionists ethnically cleansed most of the Palestinians in what is now Israel, holds fast to the two-state solution as he believes that any ODS solution would mean Palestinians would slaughter and ethnically cleanse the Jews.
4) Rare good news is that Michelle Alexander is a New York Times columnist and thus has influence, for she recently explicitly supported all three BDS demands: end of the outright military rule of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, equality for the discriminated Palestinian citizens of Israel, and full Right of Return. In that article she also promotes newly-elected Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, who support something very close to BDS and ODS.
5) Richard Falk blogs the message that the two-state solution is dead – while to be sure implying that it was never a solution anywhere close to justice for the Palestinians – and describes the choice as between ODS and One Undemocratic State. In using the plural “peoples” (“the full equality of its various distinct peoples”) he unfortunately implies parity between the Jewish-Israeli and the Arab-indigenous collectives in Palestine, but he is right on in writing that “The most credible response [to the impossibility of two states] would be to admit the incompatibility of a democratically constituted one-state solution with the reality of a Jewish state, which effectively means the end of the Zionist Project as it has developed since 1947, that is, full participatory equality for Palestinians.” The “end of the Zionist project” means the end of Israel, leading us back to the phrase “destruction of a state” in Item 2 above and reminding us that we don’t have to be afraid to say that yes, ODS means that Israel will no longer exist.
6) Khalaf al Habtoor, head of a business conglomerate in the United Arab Emirates, writes in Haaretz: “Whereas I have championed a two-state solution throughout most of my life, organizing fundraisers and conferences, I am a realist. The chance of two states happening is gone, other than the creation of another enclave like Gaza, a demilitarized entity with no control over its own borders. I can only conclude that Israelis and Palestinians must coexist in one state as equal citizens with the same rights.” The interesting twist he gives this is to say that working for this ODS solution means no longer working for a “Palestinian state” or “Palestinian liberation”, but one can also regard ODS as either of these things – merely with a large Jewish minority.
3 January 2019 3 items
1) On 26 November the Palestine Solidarity Campaign posted some videos of the speakers at its 3 November day-long seminar titled ‘Justice in Palestine: Ending Apartheid, Achieving Freedom and Equality’. The fantastic talk by Hazem Jamjoun is loaded with history and analysis implicitly supporting ODS, focussing on the illegitimacy of settler-colonialism and the right of return rather than the fad of focussing on apartheid, saying that the big issue is the “erasure” of Palestine and Palestinians, and that “the enemy Palestinian statehood” – i.e. if it’s the pathetic ‘state’ foreseen by the two-state solution.
2) A poll shows growing support for ODS in the USA, but still only 35% support it – over against 55% who support the two-state solution or the present apartheid status quo (with or without formal annexation). A link to the actual ‘questionnaire’ and its exact questions and results is inside this article in Foreign Policy of 11 December written by the pollster, Shibley Telhami, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute (where Haim Saban’s Zionist institute is also housed).
3) Just today Counterpunch brought an article on ODS by Blake Alcott which has some history but is mainly a reply to Jeff Halper’s very-soft-Zionist version of ODS which appeared on 12 October, also in Counterpunch. Alcott also, in the Palestine Chronicle on 17 December, criticised using the term ‘occupation’ to refer only to the areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip because this implies that the other 80% of Palestine known as ‘Israel’ is not occupied, i.e. it is legitimately ruled by Israel. Limiting the term is firmly within the Zionist two-state narrative, while acknowledging that there’s no difference between Britain’s and Israel’s occupations beginning in 1917 and 1948 respectively, and the one in 1967, is key to the ODS narrative. (Likewise, almost all Jewish Israelis are ‘settlers’.)
6 December 2018 4 items
1) US Congresswoman-elect Rashida Tlaib, whose family hails from Beit Ur al-Foqa, maintains the support for ODS and BDS she expressed in August which caused US hardcore-Green Line lobby group J Street to withdraw its initial support for her. The paths through US Israel-Palestine policy being walked by Tlaib and fellow Congresswoman-elect Ilhan Omar are still being closely followed on certain blogs and at the electronic intifada and the Middle East Eye. Stay tuned also to the positions of Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Paletinian-American Congressman Justin Arash and other possible members of a potential pro-Palestinian caucus which will have to struggle for a clear position on one or two states.
2) Philadelphia Professor Marc Lamont Hill’s 21-minute keynote speech before the UN the day before Palestine Solidarity Day (29 November, the date of the UN’s own disastrous contribution to Palestinian dispossession in 1947) brought the 70-year-old Universal Declaration of Human Rights to bear on Palestine – including its Article 13.2 codifying “everyone’s right to… return to his own country” [at 6:28]. It also prominently described the nakba, listed Israel’s crimes in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel, supported BDS, and ended by stating “What justice requires [is] a free Palestine, from the river to the sea. [at 20:55]” CNN therefore promptly fired him with the usual argument that this denies Israel’s right to exist and is therefore anti-semitic. Hill’s additional, debatable claim that BDS was advocating “a return to the pre-1967 borders” actually left his position ambiguous as to Israel’s legitimacy. In any case on 1 December in the Philadelphia Inquirer Hill called inconsistently for both “a single bi-national democratic state that encompasses Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza” and “a redrawing of borders to the pre-1967 lines”. Al-Jazeera on 30 November already reported that at the UN Hill had called for “a single secular democratic state for everyone” and “championed a one-state solution”. Although Hill said no such thing at the UN [see the video or the unofficial transcript], this mistake was repeated in many other media. Al-Jazeera also quoted at length Omar Baddar of the Arab American Institute saying "Israel's rejection of the historic Palestinian compromise of a two-state solution, and its insistence on building illegal settlements throughout the Palestinian territories, is the reason why a one-state reality has been imposed on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict" - a typical confusion over whether the two-state solution is not possible or simply not good and just. One professional Zionist told the truth: “Those calling for ‘from the river to the sea’ are calling for an end to the State of Israel.” Until we pro-Palestinians can publicly stand by this truth, the hard-Zionist narrative will retain the upper hand because it has the courage to follow its immoral premises completely to their logical conclusions. ODS has a lot of work to do to show that a free Palestine from the river to the sea is consistent with the continued presence and citizenship of Jewish Israelis and that advocating a solution which entails the end of the Jewish state is in not anti-semitic.
3) The 17,000-strong Quakers in Britain recently decided that it “will not invest any of its centrally-held funds in companies profiting from the occupation of Palestine,” stating that the “military occupation of Palestine by the Israeli government” is “now in its 51st year.” That is: 1) perhaps funds not “centrally-held” will continue to support Israel; 2) only the West Bank and Gaza Strip, rather than all of Palestine, are “occupied”; and 3) it is the Israeli “government”, not simply “Israel”, doing the occupying. While this is bare-minimum action in accordance with BDS, it does not reflect a position supporting all the rights of all Palestinians, and deftly avoids the necessary debate over whether it is Israel itself – its nature, its raison d’être – or merely a given Israeli “government” that is guilty. The Quakers’ use of the term “occupied Palestine” rigorously implies that the rest of Palestine – the 80% of Palestine ‘within the Green Line’ – is not occupied, that there are there no “settlements”, and that a non-Palestinian regime there is basically allright. Their declaration also implies that Israel itself – despite being an ethno-religious state established by settler-colonialists through ethnic cleansing – can be reformed and merely needs to elect a different “government”. Finally, the Quakers “reaffirmed their 2011 decision to boycott goods produced in Israeli settlements built in occupied Palestine ‘until such time as the Israeli occupation of Palestine [i.e. WBGS] is ended.’” Should Israel allow a sovereign mini-Palestine, that is, they would cease boycotting Israel because, presumably, things would then be more or less OK, whatever the fate of the returnees (or ‘refugees’) or the Palestinians in Israel.
4) Dutch TV comedian Sanne Wallis de Vries presented a parody of the Eurovision-winning Israeli entry. It distinguishes itself positively from much pro-Palestinian activism by making it clear that the problem is the entire "70 years" of Israel, the entire Israeli country, not just the Green Line and the 50 years of occupation of the 20% of Palestine that is the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The problem is that "no Palestinians are welcome." This is criticism unambiguously consistent with ODS's take on things.
1 November 2018 2 items
1) Counterpunch ran an article on 12 October wherein Jeff Halper, an Israeli activist, expresses his soft-bi-national take on ODS - avoiding treating Jews as an indigenous group with collective political rights in Palestine yet at the same time accepting “the fact that Jews constitute a nation that even has rights of self-determination [in Palestine].” (Halper implies he is speaking for the ‘ODS Campaign’ whose participants are all Israelis.) In this paradoxical version of ODS, “A kind of ‘deal’ or ‘swap’ becomes possible: We the indigenous will grant ‘belonging’ (legitimacy) to you settler colonists – which you will never get any other way – in return for your recognizing our indigenous sovereignty, narrative and rights.” Paraphrasing the Balfour Declaration, the deal is “settler legitimacy for native rights” - a formulation presumably at odds with its reverse, namely ‘native legitimacy for individual settler rights’ (as the Munich Declaration has it). His claim that “Parts of the settler narrative may be integrated into a new representative one” remains unelaborated. He also qualifies support for right of return by adding “to the degree that it is possible”. His negative overreaching concept is of “decolonization”, and moreover “Any approach to ending settler colonialism in historic Palestine must begin with Zionism.” This is not true: One can also begin positively with the Palestinians and their rights, from which one democratic state automatically follows. Finally, as doubters of “political Zionism” during the Mandate the article names half a dozen Jewish figures and a lone Palestinian, Musa Alami (misspelled “Alawi”); they urged Zionism “to avoid colonialism by acknowledging and accommodating Palestinian nationalism.” Once again, the group designated as ‘Jews’ is in the primary powerful position, doing the “acknowledging and accomodating” and present in Palestine “by right, and not on sufferance” (to quote the Churchill White Paper of 1922). Halper’s discussion thus ends up succumbing to the Zionist narrative.
2) Speaking of the history of the ODS idea (a bog-standard democracy applied to Palestine): Ever since the British trotted out their Balfour Declaration and admitted that therefore independence and self-determination could not be granted to the indigenous people, who were at least 95% anti-Zionist, most Palestinians have pled for ODS. Only one of the hundreds of times they expressed this clearly to the colonial masters was in the spring of 1922 when invited by Colonial Secretary Churchill and High Commissioner Herbert Samuel to comment on their draft constitution whose cornerstones were tutelage by a so-called civilised Western Power and building the Jewish National Home. An Arab Delegation travelled to London, staying at Hotel Cecil, consisting of Musa Kazem al-Husseini, Fuad Bey Samad, Haj Taufik Hammad, Muein Bey el-Madi, Amin al-Tamimi, Ibrahim Shammas, and Jamal al-Husseini; its secretaries were Ruhi Bey Abdul Hadi and Shibli Jamal. They preached the same democracy the British enjoyed at home: “A National Government is the only authority that is competent to decide what is good and what is bad for these people. … Jews dwelling in Palestine will have their share of representation in proportion to their numbers. … [R]epresentative government is not foreign to the People of Palestine.”
4 October 2018 8 items
1) Ahed Tamimi gave an interview to Vogue Arabic on 4 October, saying that the whole situation is terrible, “Yet, we still aspire that one day we will live in a free Palestine. Two states will never come to pass. We believed that the Oslo Accords (signed in 1993 and 1995) would serve as a step to eventually achieve this – but look at the situation today.” Her father Basil told me at one of the Nabi Saleh Friday demonstrations, in 2013, that he firmly supports ODS, as does apparently the entire Tamimi family.
2) Diana Bhuttu in Haaretz sort of comes out for ODS, writing that it was wrong to negotiate with Israel at all and we now recognise its futility, so “it is only a matter of time before we begin struggling for equal rights in a single state, rather than press for statehood.” Except that she writes as if Oslo’s sort-of two-state deal would have been good but unfortunately failed – from an ODS viewpoint one must be glad that it has failed/is failing/will fail – it is good to see this principled position giving up the quest for any false and humiliating ‘Oslo’ ‘statehood’.
3) Jeremy Corbyn at Labour Conference (at 46 minutes) on 26 September: “We support a two-state solution to the conflict with a secure Israel and a viable and secure Palestinian state. … In order to help make that two-state settlement a reality we will recognise a Palestinian state as soon as we take office". He and his party thus support Zionism, because the two ‘states’ in question are: 1) an Israel which defines itself as a state for Jews and refuses over 8 million Palestinians the right to return to their homes, and 2) a tiny non-sovereign Bantustine disregarding the unanimous opposition of Palestinians to partition of their homeland. The two-state solution is simply incompatible with the right of return and Palestinian self-determination. In addition to supporting a racist state, Corbyn and Labour are moreover continuing the British tradition that started in 1917 of telling the Palestinians what to do. See also this in the Palestine Chronicle and don’t forget that Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry is, or was until last May, a Labour Friend of Israel.
4) Like the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats Corbyn is thus caught in the narrative which ignores the 1948 occupation and the millions of returnees. Other leaders he joins in the two-state chorus, which performed at the UN during the same week as the Labour Conference, were Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron, and Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Benjamin Netanyahu came out more elliptically for the two-state solution, as did the liberal-Zionist Haaretz, which called it “the only solution”! What will the PA do if Trump and Russia lean hard on it and Israel to accept some deal that sees Palestine stripped even of East Jerusalem?
5) Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry again, according to an obfuscationist BBC article: "There are sickening individuals on the fringes of our movement who use our legitimate support for Palestine as a cloak and a cover for their despicable hatred of Jewish people and their desire to see Israel destroyed.” She does not see that the end (the “destruction”, yikes) of the ethnocratic state in Palestine is merely a consequence of the implementation of all the rights of all the Palestinians, not a “desire”. And by including “despicable hatred of Jewish people” and anti-Zionism in one sentence she amplifies the conflation at the heart of the trumped-up ‘antisemitism crisis’ within her party. A Labour government would undoubtedly include this staunch defender of a racist apartheid state’s right to exist.
6) Returning to Palestinian voices, on 8 September Hanan Ashrawi speaking for the PLO Executive Committee wrote: “The Palestinian people never chose to have the state of Israel created on their land; it was the decision of the international community which caused us great hardship and deprivation.” It would be a short step from this to a flat denial of Israel’s right to exist, because the right to say what state rules in Palestine has always rested with… the Palestinians rather than the League of Nations, the British, the UN or a group of European immigrants. As so often, the PLO delivers good analysis but derives no logical and inspiring consequences.
7) The long-forgotten book Debate on Palestine (1981, Miftah Press), edited by Fouzi el-Asmar, Uri Davis and Naim Khader, contained reactions to the three’s earlier pro-ODS 1976 book Towards a Socialist Republic of Palestine. In it Philip Mishalani pens these words: “I do not believe that the PLO has really abandoned the Secular Democratic State in Palestine. But when faced with multiple pressures from four dimensions it could not but adapt. Survival is the first duty. (p 121) … The type of colonialism which Zionism embodies has operated by expelling a large number of people from Palestine. It has been these refugees who have constituted the main popular base of the PLO. They have been putting their life in danger since 1948. A separatist solution offers them nothing. They cannot participate in a West-Bank state.” (p 124) Hopefully the Palestinian diaspora can unify – perhaps in the group Palestinians Abroad – behind ODS, the only solution that doesn’t forget them.
8) Hastings College of Law professor George Bisharat in a 2011* book chapter called ‘Maximizing rights: The one-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict’ writes two great things: 1) “There is nothing in principle that would bar the United Nations Security Council [UN Charter Art. 39] from declaring the continuing plight of the Palestinian refugees a threat to peace and to impose sanctions, or even resort to force, to compel Israeli compliance. This action, alone, would bring about a result tantamount to imposition of a one-state solution.” (p 316) 2) In the end, perhaps one of the weaknesses of the two-state solution has been its inability to excite anyone, on either side of the conflict, as it clearly involves deep compromises to justice. The one-state vision, by contrast, can be far more morally compelling, and has the capacity to unite both Israelis and Palestinians…” (p 318) *[emphasis added; from Akram, Susan, Michael Dumper, Michael Lynk & Iain Scobbie, 2011. International Law and the Israel-Palestinian Conflict: A Rights-Based Approach to Middle East Peace. Routledge, London.]
6 September 2018 5 items
1) The debate explicitly over ODS got richer by two Mondoweiss articles in early August: Samir Abed-Rabbo, Blake Alcott, Yousef Aljamal and Ghassan Olayan named their points of agreement and disagreement with the earlier contribution of Jeff Halper [see also our July entry], who is a driving member of the ODS Campaign. We argued for a run-of-the-mill secular human rights-based democracy which avoids any suggestion of ethical or political parity between the often-invoked two communities or even ‘nations’, namely recently-immigrated Israeli Jews and indigenous Palestinians, noting that while the former group is defined in terms of genes and religion, the latter is defined in terms of place, history and uninterrupted citizenship. Yoav Haifawi wrote a report of the meetings and development of the Campaign and their intention of opening their group up to non-Israelis this fall. Aside from questions about the structure of decision-making within the Campaign, a question is whether it wants to be a member within an umbrella group of all ODS groups or whether it wants to be that umbrella.
2) Tala Alfoqaha wrote an article in Palestine Square on three vocally pro-Palestinian women poised to become Democratic-Party members of the U.S. Congress after winning the primary elections in their districts. First, the well-known 28-year-old Puerto Rican-American Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City, who, under pressure for condemning the Israeli “massacre” of Gazans, first re-assured the public that she supports the two-state solution but when later asked the one-state/two-state question laudably “did not rush to declare her allegiance to” the two-state solution. Second, Somali-American Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and third, Palestinian-American Rashida Harbi Tlaib of Michigan who, “after clarifying that she absolutely opposes aid to Israel to fund injustice, later announced something wholly unprecedented in mainstream U.S. politics; upon declaring that ‘separate but equal does not work,’ she came out in support of a one-state resolution and for the right of return for Palestine refugees, two third-rail issues that no member of Congress has dared to touch.” (Another Michigan district is now represented by the only Palestinian-American in Congress, Justin Amash, a Republican libertarian who is critical of Israel.)
3) The Long Read on BDS in the Guardian by Nathan Thrall succeeds in shifting the discourse towards ODS’s position that it is not right that Israel, defined as the state in Palestine that privileges Jews at the expense of the indigenous Palestinians, exists: “The emergence of the BDS movement has revived old questions about the legitimacy of Zionism, how to justify the privileging of Jewish over non-Jewish rights, and why refugees can return to their homes in other conflicts but not in this one. Above all, it has underscored an awkward issue that cannot be indefinitely neglected: whether Israel, even if it were to cease its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, can be both a democracy and a Jewish state.” The article openly discusses the delegitimisation of Israel, and that is great news.
4) Two examples that the relatively good is not good enough: In Prospect former Speaker of the Knesset Avraham Burg regrets that the two-state solution is no longer “viable” and therefore peddles the vision of equal rights for all now living between the river and the sea. The article’s title, claiming Burg now advocates the “one-state solution”, misleads because Burg not only throws in some vague and complicated bi-nationalism (“two self-identifying collective groups in the form of two self-governing polities”) but fudges on Right of Return, kicking what he calls the “immigration policy” of the new "federation" into the future, in a way reminiscent of the Oslo Accords. Like the past visions of for instance Jeff Halper this assumes political parity for the coloniser-oppressors and the colonised-oppressed. In the same issue Donald MacIntyre covers the death of the “hope of” a two-state solution in solid but tedious detail, emphasising non-viability rather than non-desirability, i.e. the injustice of the two-state solution. (Raja Shehadeh in the same issue even denigrates the one-state solution to a mere “slogan”.)
5) Well-meaning Jewish-Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim goes one worse in the NZZ am Sonntag of 26 August by still supporting the two-state solution and explicitly denying right of return to all but perhaps several tens of thousands of Palestinians, for a-political reasons of “family reunification”.
2 August 2018 6 items
1) Dug up from last January: the story ‘Gaza youths speak out’ reports that the December poll by the institute Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR), of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, shows that two-thirds of them no longer view the two-state solution as “practical”. The author, Pam Bailey, found almost universal support for ODS amongst the Gaza members of the group ‘We Are Not Numbers’. It is logical that Gazans hold ODS in higher esteem than West Bankers. It would by the way be good if the PCPSR in Ramallah would self-critically note that they are polling only one-third of Palestinians and should not therefore write about what ‘Palestinians’ or ‘the Palestinians’ think. Its polls take place every three months, the latest of June 2018 stating that 30% support ODS. Its leader, Dr Khalil Shikaki, is said to have sympathy for ODS, and one of the three co-founders of the One State Foundation, Hamada Jaber, works at PCPSR.
2) Also in Mondoweiss in January was this video documenting Palestinian scepticism that the January meeting in Paris of Powers trying to resuscitate the two-state solution would (should?) succeed, featuring Dr Shikaki and the President of our sister organisation the Popular Movement for ODS, Dr Radi Jarai, identified as a “Fatah dissident”. Unfortunately, the video confuses ODS with bi-nationalism.
3) From early June, the news that the Knesset refused to consider a bill introduced by the three MKs from Tajamoa (National Democratic Assembly) because it called for equality of all citizens. The Knesset legal advisor said it couldn’t even be discussed because it “includes several articles that are meant to alter the character of the State of Israel from the nation-state of the Jewish people to a state in which there is equal status from the point of view of nationality for Jews and Arabs.” It is good to see Tajamoa (also known as BALAD) courageously moving so close to an unequivocal ODS position.
4) July saw passage of the Zionist Entity’s notorious new Basic Law (= constitutional provision) declaring Israel the state of Jews, not of its citizens. The collaborationist Druze community then objected to their being placed a rung lower than Jews: “The Druze leader asked that the Druze community's status will be fixed and be constitutionalized, and that equal rights will be afforded to all citizens as per Israel's Declaration of Independence.” Even in the unlikely event that the Druze mean the last part seriously, and don’t just want special equal status for themselves, I wonder how the ZE and its leader Bibi the Buffoon will square this circle, making only Druze, but not other 'Arabs', equal to the Jews.
5) South Africa is a one-democratic-state success story. Check out this ‘Daily Show’ with South African comedian Trevor Noah on the occasion of Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday. Much is familiar to ODS advocates: one person, one vote (of course); not accepting any Bantustans; defending the legitimacy of fighting violence, if necessary, with violence; calling it Apartheid; and building a South Africa for all, former oppressors and former oppressed alike. Hopefully Noah will one day do a similar sketch on Palestine.
6) Karl Sabbagh’s short recent book on the history of the Zionsim-Palestine conflict A Modest Proposal, argues for his ‘proposal’ – One Democratic State. In it Karl prints his draft of a UN General Assembly Resolution calling for Palestine’s re-unification into a secular, democratic state with equality for all citizens. While it “recalls” UNGA Res 194 “on the repatriation of the Palestinian refugees displaced in the hostilities of 1949-49”, it unfortunately does not call explicitly for Right of Return. Sabbagh also believes nobody at all should be evicted from reclaimed Palestinian property and that the state should be called ‘Palestine and Israel’ or ‘Israel/Palestine’. It is published by his Skyscraper Publications Ltd which also published Tom Suarez’s State of Terror: How Terrorism Created Modern Israel, Ofra Yeshua-Lyth’s Politically Incorrect: Why a Jewish State Is a Bad Idea, Gilad Atzmon’s Being in Time and J.M.N. Jeffries’ 1938 classic Palestine: The Reality. Karl’s family comes from Safad.
5 July 2018 3 items
1) In early May Jeff Halper in Mondoweiss wrote about the new ‘ODS Campaign’ (mentioned in our entry of 3 May) wherein it is not clear whether he is speaking for himself only or for the group of mainly Israelis which has been meeting and developing a Preamble and Program for the last eight months or so. In the article the soft-Zionist bi-nationalism that Jeff has advocated over the years has almost, but not quite, disappeared, as it is still asserted that Jewish Israelis (notabene not all Jews anywhere) have some sort of collective political rights in Palestine – a position which ODS rejects. The ‘Program’ printed in the article furthermore plagiarises the Munich Declaration, in six places lifting without attribution word-for-word or with slight changes our declaration’s key passages. As for organisation, the group has proceeded on the (debatable) premise that – in the words of one group member – it is ‘logical’ for the movement to ‘begin inside Israel and then expand’. It evidently wishes to open up and seek allies sometime during autumn 2018. A strong voice within the Zionist entity is an essential part of ODS’s moving forward, and this group contains many thinkers and activists with long experience in developing visions of democracy within Israel’s 1967 borders. And their insight that there is no hope at all without the clearest possible vision of a solution is a needed counter-weight to arguments that we should desist from talking about solutions altogether. Congratulations to them, and we hope we can work together. There are indeed different constituencies working for ODS, and they should start talking to each other.
2) Long-time ODS supporters Ofra Yeshua-Lyth and Naji El-Khatib then on 25 June in Mondoweiss wrote a critique of Halper’s May article, successfully refuting Halper’s idea that the future re-unified democratic state should grant any legal or political status whatsoever to any ethnically- or religiously-defined groups. Ofra and Naji are members of the new group ‘The Popular Movement for One Secular Democratic State’ who have declined to join the Popular Movement for ODS (our sister organisation) because its title and the Munich Declaration do not explicitly employ the word ‘secular’ – although the secularity of the state is clearly stated in the Munich Declaration’s articles 4 and 5.
3) Since its first General Assembly in Istanbul in February 2017, attended by over 5,000 Palestinians, the ‘Popular Conference of Palestinians Abroad’ has held frequent meetings of its smaller issue-oriented committees, and has now held the second meeting of its General Authority (or ‘Assembly’), again in Istanbul, on 28-30 June. Its press statement holds much between the lines of interest for ODS. While curiously not mentioning the re-unification of Palestine – perhaps this is taken for granted – its clear position for right of return and against the Oslo path implies firm rejection of any two-state solution. Its President, Salman Abu Sitta, and some other members such as Ghada Karmi, are of course on record for ODS. The (potential) strength of the Conference is indicated by the fact that Mahmoud Abbas has several times attacked it and its prominent members.
7 June 2018 2 items
1) Journalist Tom Segev is, after Ilan Pappe, Israel’s best historian. In Zürich’s newspaper Tages-Anzeiger on 12 May, p 41, he says “The two-state solution is no more.” Asked then if a “one-state solution with a ‘federal’ structure” is an option, he says perhaps, but probably not because the Palestinians and the Jewish Israelis are “two very different peoples” and if they are to be equal the federation would have to choose between their two sets of basic values, “the Islamic ones or the modern Israeli ones. Do we cut off thieves’ hands, or live like we do in Tel Aviv?” This statement shows the ocean of difference between Segev and the high-quality Pappe. At any rate Segev then contradicts himself by continuing to follow the 1937 Peel Commission’s argument that these differences require a two-state solution. Finishing off his thoroughly pro-Zionist statements he says the Palestinian so-called state should be incorporated by Jordan.
2) The UK Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s all-day conference on Right of Return (RoR) in London on 20 May shone some, but not enough, light on the question of what political solution is most compatible with RoR, most speakers who addressed the issue at all holding that obviously the two-state solution can be ruled out since return means the possible return of more than 8 million Palestinians to within the 1967 boundaries of Israel, thus ending the Jewish majority and the Jewish state in Palestine and, ipso facto, the two-state solution. As UN General Assembly Resolution 194 says, it means return to their homes, where they or their recent ancestors came from. However, Al-Shabaka policy fellow Tareq Baconi supported the argument of that organisation’s Director Nadia Hijab that we should avoid all talk of solutions – in an attempt to shut down debate even on assessing the relation between RoR and the various political solutions. Their arguments can be gleaned from their online writings.
3 May 2018 4 items
1) A new one-democratic-state group made up mainly of Israeli citizens, both Jewish and Palestinian, launched itself in late April. Most members of our affiliated group, the Popular Movement for ODS, know most of them – indeed some people are involved in both groups – and hope to work closely with them. However, they seem to be going it alone til now, not having co-ordinated their founding with other well-known ODS supporters or having sought input from outside a select group. We will be able to report more soon, e.g. whether one can join as a member and whether they want to affiliate, on the basis of the Munich Declaration, with the Popular Movement and ODS England. However that may be, we wish them good luck! We share the notion that without a clear vision of a solution, of an end state-of-affairs, the movement for all the rights of all the Palestinians is fighting with one hand tied behind its back, the other working non-stop on more concrete issues and taking the limited ‘rights-based’ approach.
2) The shenanigans of the British press (without exception), the Tories, the LibDems and the Labour right wing with respect to bogus anti-semitism have reached the point of deepest injustice – and absurdity – with the ejection of Marc Wadsworth from the Labour Party. Unless Jeremy Corbyn gets a spine transplant, uproars over smalltime stuff like a picture of a Rothschild alongside WASP bankers will make way for what the Zionists really want, namely bigtime legislation criminalising denial of Israel’s right to exist. Believing it should be replaced by a decent, normal democracy, would according to their wishes constitute a crime of racism against Jews. This would criminalise advocacy of democracy, just like BDS advocacy is being criminalised in France and the US. This would kill ODS advocacy. The lesson for ODS is that we need to drop everything and focus more on the fact that any state in Palestine that does not fulfil Palestinian self-determination is illegitimate.
3) Gideon Levy at Oxford Union arguing against the two-state solution: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5zw3Yz-yas But he says the two-state solution is (was) a fair solution, with which ODS firmly disagrees. It was never a good solution, whether or not it is or was ‘feasible’ or ‘practicable’ or genuinely desired by Usrael.
4) 71 years ago: The U.S. State Department on 4 June 1947 took an unequivocal stand for ODS. The UN Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP) had been formed in May and was set to visit Palestine and make recommendations at the end of August on what should happen now that the British, in February, had said they were giving up the Mandate. Their ‘Plan for the Future Government of Palestine’ held: “Palestine should become neither an Arab State nor a Jewish State but a single independent Palestine State in which all its people, of whatever religion or blood, may dwell together [and share] a common Palestinian citizenship. … The Government of Palestine should represent all Palestinian citizens and should protect their human rights and fundamental freedoms.” The UN Trusteeship Council should “prepare Palestine for its ultimate establishment as a single, independent state. … The Constitution of Palestine, which should include a bill of rights, and a new legal system—equally applicable to Jew, Christian, and Moslem alike—should be in harmony with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and with the practices of advanced democratic countries.” Because President Harry Truman deemed himself in need of the Jewish vote during the presidential-election year of 1948, he rejected this superb State Department position and later overruled a similar stand taken by the State Department at the Security Council on 19 March 1948, reverting to support for the creation of the Zionist state in Palestine.
5 April 2018 2 items
[On and just after Land Day and the March of Return on 30 March martyrs have fallen in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and even inside 48. Add to these murders hundreds of wounded. Administrative detention of Palestinian citizens of Israel continues.]
1) Nevertheless organising for ODS goes on. Our affiliated group the Popular Movement for ODS held its annual general meeting on 17 March in Ramallah. Guests were Angelique Eijpe and Hamada Jaber, two of the three Directors of the new One State Foundation. Membership grew and a larger Board was elected: Radi Jarai (Chairman), Blake Alcott (Vice-Chairman), Imad Saed and Eddie Thompson (Co-Treasurers), as well as Ramzi Nasir, Sabine Blum, Ibrahim Saad, Munir Aboushi, Sameer M. Sbaihat, Walid Abu Tayeh, Ilan Pappe, Mousa I. Faroun, Ghada Karmi, Mohsen al-Khatib and Mohammad Khalid Faqeeh. Uri Davis and Mohammad El-Helu have resigned.
2) An ODS Campaign, initiated by Jeff Halper, continues to draft its Preamble and Program. Its mailing list (with one exception) consists of Israelis, both Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the language of its drafts seems tailored to appeal more to an Israeli than a Palestinian public. Its principles, aside from the recognition of the collective political rights of Palestinians and Jewish Israelis, tally 99% with those of ODS in Palestine and the Popular Movement; indeed it has apparently adopted almost word-for-word eleven passages from the Munich Declaration, albeit without attribution. Hopefully the Foundation, the Campaign, and those insisting that the word 'secular' must be in a movement's title will co-operate with us.
1 March 2018 6 items
1) Back on 1 January Awad Abdelfattah – long-time Secretary General of the Joint List political party Tajamoa/Balad Party (National Democratic Assembly) – wrote in +972: “Now is the time for one-staters to unite and build a movement.” The Usrael removal of Jerusalem from the fictitious bargaining table ends the “illusion of the two-state paradigm.” The “colonial agent” which is the PA has frozen united (one-state) Palestinian resistance at the stage of influential writings and conferences, but now we must organise in a coalition of binationalists and secular-state supporters of the pre-Oslo PLO ODS position. Awad has long worked for this behind the scenes and at our invitation gave several talks in England in May 2016 alongside Karl Sabbagh.
2) On 5 January Jerusalem correspondent David Halbfinger wrote in the NY Times: “As a 2-state solution loses steam, a 1-state plan gains traction.” For the article he interviewed Radi Jarai, President of the Popular Movement for ODS, our ‘sister’ or perhaps ‘mother’ organisation based in Ramallah. The article as usual is blind to the 6,000,000+ refugees, but covers the One Undemocratic State option well, and states briefly that yes, ODS means the end of Zionism’s state.
3) 27 January saw Roger Cohen writing in the NY Times: “It’s Time for Mahmoud Abbas to Go.” Cohen is the hard kind of soft Zionist who is sometimes touted as relatively Palestine-friendly. In the middle of an accurate portrayal of the failures of Mahmoud Abbas he drops this: “In the current vacuum, a dream of one state with equal rights for all peoples — a kind of United States of the Holy Land — has gained some traction. It is pure, if seductive, illusion — flimsy code for the destruction of Israel as the national homeland of the Jews. It will not happen.” ODS would replace the Jewish homeland IN PALESTINE, yes, but not “destroy” or deport a single human being. It is what all Zionists fear the most.
4) For his part Abbas at the UN Security Council fell back as expected on the business-as-usual, joint PA/Usrael two-state charade, looking merely for other sponsors to replace the U.S. That said, the speech is good on history and even mentions the refugees prominently before falling back on the preferred PA Zionist position for two states, 67 borders and the Arab Peace Initiative etc etc. So much for the promising, anti-two-state utterings of Saeb Erekat and Nabil Shaath just after the Trump announcement. [The link is to the full text at Times of Israel, which of course should be boycotted, but Al-Jazeera, MEMO, etc. fail to give full texts.]
5) Good news on 20 February from South Africa: “South Africa to cut diplomatic ties with Israel.” Great, because the ‘S’ in BDS must be strengthened now that the ‘B’ and ‘D’ are off and running. However, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said, “The majority party has agreed, that government must cut diplomatic ties with Israel, given the absence of genuine initiatives by Israel to secure lasting peace and a viable two-state solution that includes full freedom and democracy for the Palestinian people.” Even the ANC, which itself rejected Bantustans, is too weak or treacherous to reject the Bantustine two-state solution. S.A. President Ramaphosa added that he is for the “equal rights of both people to self-determination, freedom and security.” For him the Zionists are a “people” with exactly as much right to Palestine as the Palestinians.
6) South Africa-born ex-MP Lord Peter Hain recently timidly asked: “Is it time to talk about a one-state solution?” Well, yes, it’s way past time, but his first sentence: “I am both a longstanding supporter of the Palestinian cause and a friend of Israel.” £1000 to whoever can reconcile these two things. However that may be, Hain totally ignores the refugees, envisioning only those Palestinians (about equal in number to Jews) now between the river and the sea, and emphasises how a democratic single state would be good for Israelis.
1 February 2018 5 items
1) The 18 January 2018 issue of the New York Review of Books includes not only a middle-of-the-road essay by Raja Shehadeh but a cutting-edge piece by Sarah Helm called ‘Homeless in Gaza’. Both pieces plug ODS-advocate Ramzy Baroud’s new book The Last Earth. Monitoring trends outside of Gaza as well, she writes, “The one-state idea is already being discussed within senior ranks of the moderate Palestinian Authority.” Heralding the shift of attention away from the two-state plan and its reduction of Palestine to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, she quotes Baroud: “At a popular level Palestinians everywhere including the citizens of Israel are resurrecting… 1948 values in response to divisions of their leadership. It is an issue that unifies everyone.” Right of return, anti-Partition, anti-Zionism, not just the end of the 67 occupation.
She also quotes Birzeit politics professor Ghassan Katib: “ Palestinians always claimed their rights to historic Palestine. Then someone came along and convinced them that this was utopian and would not happen, offering a trade-off to go for the possible instead. Now people realize the possible and the impossible are both impossible, so they might as well stick to the impossible.” ODS is utopian and ‘impossible’, like most successful movements – anti-slavery, women’s suffrage, anti-Apartheid and… Zionism. The utopian succeeds. Katib adds, “But [ODS advocates] have no strategy, no plan.” I believe our NGO and the Popular Movement for ODS are baby-steps in moving from idea to plan.
2) According to the PA website the Palestinian Central Council, meeting on 14-15 January 2018 in Ramallah, stuck with its contradictory principles: divide Palestine along the 1967 borders – while at the same time demanding refugee return according to UNGA Resolution 194; accept the real Israeli ethnocracy in ‘Israel’ – while at the same time refusing to recognise Israel “as a Jewish state”. The PCC, after damning Israel and the U.S. for not fulfilling their Oslo obligations, rather than itself revoking those accords it merely and opaquely writes, “the transitional period stipulated in the agreements signed in Oslo, Cairo and Washington, with its obligations no longer stand.” Trump’s burial of the two-state solution has gone unnoticed by the Central Council, for it has merely chosen to beg other countries to pick up the U.S. role of burying Dignified Palestine.
3) Jeff Halper, founder of the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions and proponent of bi-nationalism, as opposed to ODS, writes in Haaretz on 19 January 2018 that he actually prefers the two-state solution: “Although many of us still support the two-state solution as a workable, if not just, solution, it cannot mean apartheid. If the ‘hard’ left has indeed moved to a one-state solution, it is simply because we have had the courage to recognize political reality and the ‘facts on the ground’: The two-state solution died when the settlement enterprise reached a critical mass, when the fragmentation of Palestinian territory rendered a viable and sovereign Palestinian state no longer possible. … The ‘hard’ left must now lead the battle for a single, democratic, bi-national state in Israel/Palestine, not because we wanted to, but because it was [the] ‘sane’ Zionists that left us with this as the only possible option to apartheid. It is the only way to prevent Jews becoming the Afrikaaners of the Middle East, or worse.” He “still supports” the “unjust” two-state solution, but alas, it’s been rendered impossible. The “reality” forces him, with a heavy heart, to advocate something close to ODS. It is curious that his bottom line seems to be that the main problem with apartheid is that it tarnishes the good name of the “Jews”. I believe that nevertheless ODS and those who subscribe to bi-nationalism, whatever their motivation, can work together. Jeff adds: “We need a state which offers equal rights to all of its citizens – one citizenship, one vote, one parliament – but which constitutionally ensures the right of both Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs to their identities, narratives and institutions. … Palestinian refugees can come home;…”
4) Richard Falk also comes out for bi-nationalism in Middle East Eye and in his blog on 8 January. His summary of Edward Said’s seminal 1999 article advocating bi-nationalism [internal link]: “Following the lines prefigured 20 years ago by Edward Said two overriding principles must be served…: Israelis must be given a Jewish homeland within a reconfigured, and possibly neutrally renamed Palestine and the two people must allocate constitutional authority in ways that uphold the cardinal principles of collective equality and individual human dignity. Operationalizing such a vision would seem to necessitate the establishment of a secular unified state maybe with two flags and two names, which would have a certain resemblance to a bi-national state. [There must be] strong existential respect for the equality of the two peoples…” ODS, by contrast, rejects the approach in terms of collectives, peoples, nations or other ethno-religiously-defined groups (of which there are more than two in Palestine), and in any case rejects the idea that the Zionist colonists and the indigenous Palestinians in any way have collective moral or political “equality”. Palestine belongs to the Palestinians, but all residents can be equal citizens.
5) Finally, this panel of speakers gives us a chance to compare the views of the author of the best book on ODS, Virginia Tilley, with those of Al-Shabaka Executive Director Nadia Hijab which are much closer to a two-state solution; like the Palestinian Central Council, Hijab supports BDS without realising that the fulfilment of its demands are not compatible with any two-state solution, i.e. a Zionist and a Palestinian state living ‘side by side’.
4 January 2018 6 items
1) In the name of the PLO Bureau of Culture and Information, Hanan Ashrawi on 1 January reacted to the Likud Central Committee’s support for a Knesset bill to outright annex “all the areas of liberated settlement in Judea and Samaria” (i.e. West Bank Jews-only settlements). Together with the US’s ripping Jerusalem out of the hands of Christians, Moslems and Palestinians the camel’s back was finally broken. Presumably this is the official PLO view: “This is the final demise of the two-state solution and previously signed agreements. … Israel’s violation of all agreements and commitments has nullified Palestinian obligations and destroyed the chances of peace.” The PLO/PA has the power to withdraw from Oslo and clear out PA offices, leaving apartheid naked for the world to see. Will it?
2) On 31 December Daoud Kuttab in Arab News picked up on the English press release of our affiliated organisation, the Popular Movement for ODS, whose membership is based mostly in the West Bank and is legally a Swiss Association. After the Popular Movement Board meeting in Istanbul on 8-10 December, where guest Ilan Pappe agreed to join, Arabic news outlets as well reacted to our take on the changed situation. We never found Oslo or two states desirable, and now many more people are finally finding it unfeasible; in many new quarters the search for an alternative is on, and what alternatives are there other than ODS or single-state business-as-usual apartheid Israel?
3) On 28 December Gideon Levy in Haaretz reported the debate in Adelaide, South Australia, between Ali Abunimah (via video from Chicago), long-time ODS advocate, and long-time PA ambassador to various countries Afif Safieh, who spoke for the old guard which has been compromising Palestinian rights for decades. The Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/pg/AustraliaPalestineAdvocacyNetwork/videos/ “Abunimah wants one state and the right of return; boycotts, divestment and sanctions; the end of Zionism and a halt to racism.” Safieh, also a long-time member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, stuck with the unrealistic “realistic” but bankrupt position of the PA that brought “fifty years of occupation and zero achievements”. Safieh did scream the hardest question to Abunimah, though: “We weren’t able to get two states, how will we get one?” Answer: Quit negotiating with an empty chair, apply pressure and more pressure. It’s not a question of “getting” but of taking back.
4) Hamid Dabashi in Al-Jazeera on 22 December celebrates the landslide U.N. votes against recognising Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s capital: “The miserable failure of Nikki Haley at the UN - both at the Security Council and the General Assembly vote - puts an end to the Oslo peace charade and with it the ‘two-state’ delusion. From now on anyone who utters the words "two-state solution" is a traitor to the cause of Palestinian national liberation movement, partaking in and promoting the wicked Israeli charlatanism to cover their continued theft of Palestine with no intention whatsoever ever to allow the formation of an independent Palestinian state.”
5) On 9 December Gideon Levy, that greatest, warmest, most perceptive of Israeli writers, again came within a hair of fully supporting ODS. Although as usual virtually neglecting the half of the Palestinians living outside Palestine, he once again welcomes an end to the “two-state mantra” and supports Saeb Erekat’s most likely not-quite-sincere call for “One person, one vote. One democratic state for two peoples.” Two “peoples” is an improvement on two “nations”, this is unfortunately the parity fallacy, the idea that there are two groups vying for Palestine with equal ethical and historical justification: “Trump declared that there aren’t two nations with equal rights in this land of two nations. There is one nation with one capital and all the rights, and another, inferior nation with no rights. There can be no solution on the premise of collective, ethno-religious political rights for non-indigenous Jews, for that case cannot be made. All individual Jewish Israelis, though, should remain citizens of the single state.
6) On 8 December on Al-Jazeera TV Mehdi Hasan engaged Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Husam Zomlot in a shouting match over two states vs one state: Zomlot first follows PA protocol in calling for equality only for those Palestinians living between the river and the sea (fully neglecting the diaspora). What if the world ignores the U.S., says ‘We want a two-state solution.’ Hasan is right to press Zomlot – to press the PA – for a clear statement, rather than mere hints, that two-states is for them off the table. Zomlot hides behind “I am a diplomat.” Ditched by the U.S., the puppet Ramallah government (through Nabil Shaath) is meanwhile shopping around for other foreign sponsors for their preferred Zionist two-state solution (Russia, EU countries, China), according to a report in Al-Monitor. Another death-bed revival of Partition, first declared dead in 1938 by the Woodhead Inquiry into the Peel plan.
7 December 2017 4 items
1) Saeb Erekat has declared "the two-state solution is over. Now is the time to transform the struggle [into one] for one-state with equal rights for everyone living in historic Palestine, from the river to the sea." Of course this isn't good enough because, as always, it ditches the diaspora - no mention of right of return. But Trump and Netanyahu are evidently secret ODS supporters. If calling Jerusalem the capital of Israel and moving the embassy there helps prevent the two-state solution and raises Arab and Moslem solidarity with Palestinians, this is good news. The danger that Trump would really force Israel into a two-state solution seems to have passed. It has been written that “Trump’s peace plan has died on the rocks of Jerusalem.” Good. It was never a peace plan anyway.
2) What price is Hamas paying for integration with the PA? https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/1.818235?utm_source=smartfocus&utm_medium=email&utm_content=www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/1.818235&utm_campaign=Jack+Khoury&utm_term=20171019-23:46&writerAlerts=true On the one hand Hamas security chief Yahya Sinwar, meeting with Palestinian youths, declared "The discussion is no longer about recognizing Israel but about wiping Israel out." On the other hand they are giving the PA Quislings, who are ready to accept Israel as a Jewish state, more say in Gaza. He said Hamas would disarm "when Satan enters paradise," and that no one can force it to disarm. “There’s not one minute of the day or night when we aren’t building up our military might.”
3) Anecdotally, in Lebanon most Palestinians seem to favour ODS. It seems to go without saying that ODS is the best solution because it is the only one consistent with Right of Return. The PA, and the PLO since 1988, has largely forgotten those in Lebanon.
4) Mohammed Dahlan, Fatah strongman in exile in Abu Dhabi, has said the two-state solution is impossible. https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/1.815818
2 November 2017 2 items
1) 100 years ago today Arthur Balfour sent his letter - Declaration - to Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild as leader of the Jewish Zionists in Britain promising 'the Jewish people' political rights and presence in Palestine. The biggest UK event supposedly critical of the Balfour Declaration, held on 31 October 2017 at Methodist Central Hall Westminster, attended by 1,200 people and organised by the Balfour Project, unfortunately had at most one Palestinian speaker, the rest being the elite of Britain's two-state lobby. That Declaration affected all of Palestine, yet the Balfour Project prominently approves of a statement by prominent Israelis who, in the interest of preserving the Zionist state, support "two states, living side by side along the 1967 borders". Leaving the Palestinians one room of their 5-room house is good enough, it seems.
2) A piece of good news is that S. Michael Lynk, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967,
has in strong language called
for international government-level sanctions against Israel. It is time for the 'S' in 'BDS' to be strengthened. The bad news is that, as his job title says, the whole thing is limited to the
West Bank and Gaza Strip, leaving the rest of Palestine ('Israel') and most Palestinians off the remit. If sanctions and boycotts led to Israeli abandonment of its West Bank settlements, would
all then be OK? Lynk himself in his report bemoans that Israeli actions have "put the two state solution on life support, with fading pulse..." From an ODS long-run point of view that's good
5 October 2017 5 items
1) Mahmoud Abbas reportedly ‘threatened’ Israel with a ‘one-state solution’ if the two-state solution is not given to him mighty soon. What did Abbas actually say at the UN on 20 September? Throughout he sticks hard and fast to the two-state solution and correctly asserts that it is Israel that never wanted this solution. Then, “if the two-state solution were to be destroyed due to the creation of a one-state reality with two systems – apartheid – [then] neither you, nor we, will have any other choice but to continue the struggle and demand full, equal rights for all inhabitants of historic Palestine.” The last paragraph’s apogee repeats this: “It will either be the independence of the state of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security with the state of Israel on the 1967 borders, or equal rights for all of the inhabitants of the land of historic Palestine from the river to the sea.” This as usual ignores the half of the Palestinians in exile.
2) A few days later Haaretz weighed in supporting the “simple, fair” two-state solution in which land is traded for peace and cementing a “free and strong Israel alongside an independent Palestinian state” (perhaps not quite so free and strong). “The gates are closing on the two-state solution” (let's hope); Abbas has rung “a wake-up call” and has “warned” that Israel will be faced with the “one-state solution”. The downside for Israel is that the apartheid within its de facto borders (all of historic Palestine) would be unavoidably visible to all. Haaretz, too, ignores the refugees.
3) To witness the present condition of two-state advocates in Ramallah check out these short videos on the site of the Geneva Initiative: http://www.geneva-accord.org/mainmenu/-i-am-your-partner-are-you-my-partner For these people, again, neither the refugees nor the Palestinians in Israel are worth a word.
4) The bi-national as opposed to the ODS approach is having a slight renaissance, witness a long article in the summer 2017 issue of the journal Middle East Policy. First Ian Lustick argues for the “equal legitimacy of both Jewish and Palestinian aspirations” (in Palestine). Co-author Hady Amr next opines that only the two-state solution can “fulfill both the joint national aspirations of the Jewish and Palestinian peoples.” On the US Academic Boycott site, similarly but without supporting the two-state solution Richard Falk argues for solutions “embodying the overlapping rights and self-determination of these two long embattled peoples.” Problems: 1) The 'peoples' are here ethno-religiously defined (at least the Jewish one), opening various cans of worms involving identity politics and collective rights - a regression from the Englightenment. 2) There might be an abstract Jewish collective, ethno-national right to self-determination somewhere, but not in Palestine because that necessarily happens at the expense of the Palestinians. 3) The language moreover implies a false ethical parity between the two groups.
5) The Palestinian group closest to ODS ideologically remains the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine). No, ODS is not Marxist like the PFLP, but rather focuses on Palestine’s reunification and liberal democratisation. However, the PFLP fully embraces Right of Return, rejects the non-sovereign West Bank/Gaza Strip statelet being pushed harder than ever by the Palestinian Authority (PA, led by Mahmoud Abbas), and will never recognise Israel as a legitimate state. Early leaders were George Habash, Nayef Hawatneh, Ghassan Kanafani, Leila Khaled and Abu Ali Mustafa. Current leader Ahmad Sa’adat has been in Israeli jails since 2002. Here is a sample: http://pflp.ps/english/2016/12/27/barakat-call-to-action-for-ahmad-saadat-and-the-palestinian-prisoners-supports-the-true-leaders-of-palestinian-struggle/
6 September 2017 4 items
1) From the History Department: Shafiq al-Hout in his posthumous 2011 book My Life in the PLO writes of the PLO's clear ODS position throughout the 1960s and 1970s: "
The PLO presented a democratic solution in the shape of a single, democratic, and secular state for
Arabs and Jews, where all citizens would live with equal rights and duties. It was a blow to the Zionists and their allies, as who could possibly refuse coexistence rather than adhering to the option
of war? What could be more magnanimous than this position, where the victims, the dispossessed owners of the land, called for coexistence with the aggressors, forgetting all the tragedies of the past
and looking forward to a new future? Israel was cornered." (pp 128-29) While "forgetting" is not really necessary for ODS, it is unfortunately the case that, by 1988, with the adoption of its sad
Declaration of Independence, the PLO had totally abandoned the ODS position. (p 232)
2) In Counterpunch Shlomo Sand replied to French President Emmanuel Macron's recent libelous assertion that we democrats are antisemitic, concluding that "being a democrat and a republican [as the French President is supposed to be] I cannot - as all Zionists do, Left and Right, without exception - support a Jewish State.... I am a citizen who desires that the state he lives in should be an Israeli republic, and not a Jewish-communalist state." If Sand would go along with 'Palestinian' republic, and support unconditionally the Right of Return, he would be an asset for ODS.
3) Rasmea Odeh, the Palestinian woman and US citizen now being deported from the US for not revealing during her naturalisation process that she had been "a political prisoner who was brutally tortured and raped by Israeli soldiers and prison authorities", thanked all those from Black Lives Matter, the Women's March, and Jewish anti-Zionists who "support me as a survivor of torture and injustice, but also because they support the much more important cause of the liberation of all of Palestine—a democratic, secular Palestine for all." (her emphasis)
4) There is apparently a US-based group called Jews for Palestinian Right of Return who on their Facebook page publicise amongst other things the Nakba Tour of the US undertaken by Palestinian refugees who want to correct the fact that the solidarity scene is aware only of the injustice done to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (and perhaps Israel). Since ODS follows rigorously from RoR, this group will perhaps become allies.
3 August 2017 3 items
1) The Jewish State vs One Democratic State: Back on 10 May the Knesset passed by a vote of 48-41 the ‘Jewish State’ law which finally put down in so many words, black on white, what was til now only in Israel’s Declaration of Establishment, that Israel is Jewish. If passed it will become Israel’s 12th ‘Basic Law’. ‘Basic Laws’ are in effect Israel’s constitution. Along with the recent amendment to the “Basic Law: The Knesset”, enabling the banning of political parties and candidates for public office who do not pledge loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state, this new ‘Basic Law’ will provide the legal basis for expelling hundreds of thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel, who must either sign on the dotted line to declare allegiance to the Jewish state, or get out. The silver lining is that this makes ODS look sane; as with the West Bank settlements and the creeping take-over of the ‘Temple Mount’, this makes things clearer to the watching world. The Knesset as of 3 August had not yet voted on this law.
2) According to Joel Beinin’s 1990 book Was the Red Flag Flying There?, in the 1940s the Jewish-Arab Palestine Communist Party (PCP) fought within itself over a binational state vs one democratic state. Most of the Jewish members, led by Shmuel Mikunis, believed in the national (collective) rights of the Jewish people in Palestine. But they opposed territorial partition (until the Soviet Union supported it in late 1947!) and wanted that unclear thing called binationalism, “an independent democratic state with equal national and civil rights for both peoples; neither an exclusive Arab nor an exclusively Jewish state…”. (p 45) That is, parity – like the non-communist IHUD group led by Judah Magnes.
3) Some Arab PCP members led by ‘Abd Allah Bandak, Ay’qub al-‘Armani, and Emile Habibi, supported by Tawfiq Tubi and Emil Tuma, formed the National Liberation League with a pure ODS programme: “a democratic government guaranteeing the rights of all inhabitants… without distinction’ and opposed Zionist immigration, settlement, and a Jewish state, while distinguishing between the Zionist movement and the Jewish inhabitants of Palestine.” (pp 42, 43) At a London conference in March 1947 Tuma “advanced… an independent democratic Palestine with neither partition nor parity arrangements between the two communities.” (p 44) At the March-April 2017 Cork conference on Israel’s illegitimacy the binational scheme was presented by Jeff Halper and opposed by several audience members. Halper never replied to a post-conference letter explaining ODS’s objections to his vision.
6 July 2017 4 items
1) According to Jonathan Cook’s analysis the strengthening Usrael-Egypt-Saudi alliance aimed against Iran is also against Palestine because it means even stronger support for the two-state solution than that of the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002. And especially if Trump/Kushner/Greenblatt really lean on Israel and the PA to do a two-state deal, we have no time to waste putting the one-democratic-state narrative on equal footing with the two-state one. I think we need to be bolder and talk clearly: Israel should be replaced by a democracy. By contrast:
2) By contrast, even strong supporters of most of the rights of some of the Palestinians feel compelled to assure the world that they affirm Israel’s right to exist, that there should be a Jewish state in Palestine – which ODS by definition does not because it prefers a democratic state. According to blogger Robert Cohen’s account the Church of Scotland is one such group. It was pressured by the Board of Deputies of British Jews to withdraw its relatively pro-Palestinian view of the Balfour Declaration, although the Church’s report “makes it very clear that the Church has no intention of denying the right of the State of Israel to exist and it also remains committed to ‘two States’.” One of those states happens to be a colonial-apartheid one...
3) Same theme again: Jonathan Cook’s superb long piece on Marwan Barghouti shows him as the best of Fatah, yet even he supports the Zionist two-state solution. Cook: “Barghouti’s wife, Fadwa [says]: ‘My and Marwan’s generation still harbors a spark of a hope that the conflict will end with a two-state solution. My children don’t believe in that; they aspire to a single, democratic state.’ Indeed, many young activists have come to view the two-state solution as an illusion, one that derailed the national struggle for more than two decades. They are increasingly interested in a one-state solution, harking back to the original aims of the Palestinian Liberation Organization under Arafat.”
4) Straight anti-Zionist talk as always from current member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council (and the Palestinian National Council) Uri Davis, who describes himself as “a Palestinian of Jewish descent.” He is a Board member of the Popular Front for One Democratic State on the Land of Historic Palestine who decades ago wrote pioneering works on right of return, the Jewish National Fund and, already in 1987, Israeli apartheid. And about the term ‘occupation’, today absurdly used only in reference to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Back in 1972 in both the Village Voice and the Journal of Palestine Studies (vol 1, issue 4) Uri wrote that when he was Vice-Chairman of the Israeli League for Civil and human Rights (Israel Shahak was Chairman) he “first had to come to grips with [the fact] that, essentially, the right-wing Zionist contention that there was no essential difference between the colonization of Tel Aviv and Jaffa prior to and immediately after 1948, and the colonization of Hebron in 1967, was correct.” One Occupied Territory.
1 June 2017 7 items
1) On 2 May 2017 in Middle East Eye David Hearst wrote a great analysis of last month’s Hamas document wherein he embraces ODS. http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/palestinian-state-1967-borders-hamas-going-hajj-everyone-leaving-2072066433 Hearst, Ali Abunimah, Omar Barghouti, the PFLP, and Hamas and Tajamoa more or less explicitly, support ODS. Let us hope for a broad, organised front.
2) On 3 May 2017 Dena Takruri interviewed Bernie Sanders on Al Jazeera TV: “Do you support BDS?” Our hero Sanders: “No, I don’t.” Takruri: “Hopes for a two-state solution are almost dead. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza increasingly support the one-state solution, with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians alike, and equal citizenship. Is that something you support?” “No, I don’t. If that happens then that would be the end of the state of Israel, and I support Israel’s right to exist.” So Sanders and the British Labour Party see eye to eye. http://www.timesofisrael.com/why-bernie-sanders-defending-israel-on-al-jazeera-is-a-big-deal/ US Congressmen Justin Amash, whose father is Palestinian, and Keith Ellison, a Moslem who is critical of Israel, might do better on these questions.
3) On 5 May 2017 Gideon Levy quoted Marwan Barghouti in 2002 quoting a friend: “You Israelis have a present but no future, and we Palestinians have a future but no present. Give us the present and you will have a future.” Probably true, and certainly in line with the ODS vision. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.787244?utm_source=smartfocus&utm_medium=email&utm_content=israel-news/.premium-1.787244&utm_campaign=Gideon+Levy&utm_term=20170505-00:36&writerAlerts=true Unfortunately, Barghouti joins the PA, Sanders, Corbyn, Tzipi Livni, Ari Shavit, Jonathan Freedland and, most likely, Trump, Jared Kushner and Jeremy Greenblatt in supporting the two-state solution.
4) In May Shibley Telhami and Stella Rouse of the University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll published their poll of 2,138 US-American “panelists” in April 2017: 37% for two states, 31% for one democratic state, 9% for one undemocratic state, 15% for the status quo, 9% who “refused”. Removing the two-state option from the poll got: 63% ODS, 10% OUndemocraticS, 27% status quo. 1/3 of US voters for ODS!
5) On 10 May 2017 the Palestine Chronicle reported that the Dublin and Sligo city councils will fly the Palestinian flag this Nakba Day. The Dublin statement said this was “a gesture of our solidarity with the people of Palestine living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, with the Palestinian citizens of Israel denied basic democratic rights, and with the over seven million displaced Palestinians denied the right of return to their homeland.” All 3 groups of Palestinians! http://www.palestinechronicle.com/ireland-capital-votes-to-fly-palestinian-flag-above-city-hall-for-nakba-day/ Another solidarity action also explicitly mentioning ALL Palestinians and embracing with no ifs and buts the Right of Return was an Open Letter to US NFL footballers persuading them to cancel their visit to Israel. https://www.thenation.com/article/open-letter-to-nfl-players-traveling-to-israel-on-a-trip-organized-by-netanyahus-government/ Are you listening, PSC?
6) Back on 12 April Al-Shabaka writers Nadia Hijab and Ingrid Jaradat Gassner argued that we should not talk about solutions at all, but about rights, using approaches emphasising Israel apartheid and BDS, and we should by no means erase the Green Line. This deserves an exact critical reading for anyone who believes democracy in historic Palestine needs a motivating vision captured in a single idea, as was done by anti-slavery, women’s suffrage, the ANC and… Zionism. https://al-shabaka.org/commentaries/talking-palestine-frame-analysis-goals-messages/
7) Alas, we come to ODS’s rival, the Two States, One Homeland “initiative”. While its positions are are somewhat vague, the idea seems to be two Green-Line states with exclusive citizenships but free movement, employment and residence, but no Right of Return. http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/The-perfect-deal-to-end-the-conflict-492363 Their site is here.
4 May 2017 5 items
1) Hamas's new A Document of General Principles and Policies is very close to ODS: Hamas aims for 1) official reunification of Palestine, 2) return and restitution for the externally and internally displaced, and 3) an end to the "Zionist entity" (the Jewish state in Palestine). §20 says that the "establishment of a... Palestinian state" bordered by the 1949 armistice lines is "a formula of national consensus". Most of the press is inaccurately calling this an acceptance of the two-state solution, just as it inaccurately says this Document replaces the 1988 Hamas Charter. (ODS is however not religious and our Munich Declaration takes no position on the tactic of armed resistance.)
2) The Reut Group and the Anti-Defamation League wrote a January 2017 update to the Reut Institute's 2010 report on how to combat the denial of Israel's right to exist. The new report's title, 'The assault on Israel's legitimacy: The frustrating 20X question: Why is it still growing?', refers to the fact that although Israel is spending 20 times as much on the PR battle against us than in 2010, "results remain elusive". BDS and ODS are demonised, and §39 correctly says that BDS entails ODS. Reut/ADL's main tactic is to "drive a wedge" between "hardcore de-legitimizers" of BDS and ODS and those who don't object to Zionism in principle but merely to Israeli policies.
3) The One Undemocratic Staters have become stronger within Likud and in the Jewish Home and Israel Is Our Home parties, and for instance within Ramallah's Jewish-only settlement Beit El. They oppose the two-state solution and want to annex the West Bank to make a clear-cut apartheid state - which, intriguingly, would be easier for us to fight because the world knows how to deal with unhidden apartheid.
4) Trump and his team in taking the two-state solution down off its pedestal might be also going for One Undemocratic State, but who knows? There are signs this businessman-led team is sick of losing money on Israel and might pressure it towards the two-state solution. This would be a game-changer, also for ODS. At any rate the PA - Abbas and Saeb Erekat - have since February not stopped screaming against abandoning the two-state solution. Funny that it was Erekat who in 2009 said that "the two-state solution is no longer an option" and that Palestinians should "refocus... on the one-state solution where Muslims, Christians and Jews can live as equals".
5) Several analyses of the Cork Conference: by Haim Bresheeth in BRICUP Newsletter 109, by Andy Simons available at email@example.com, and by Blake Alcott in the Palestine Chronicle. The messages of most of the speakers are in line with ODS and against Zionism in principle.
6 April 2017 5 items
1) More and more and more one reads that the two-state solution is dead. One reason given is that the fictional Palestinian state made up of the Gaza Strip plus a few Bantustans in the West Bank is too small and fragmented to be 'viable' or 'feasible'. Whereas the point is that it was never desirable. But if the partition option is closed, at least the 'One' in One Democratic State is agreed. Next comes the 'Democratic' part.
2) The Cork Conference from 31 March - 2 April 2017, which the Zionist lobby twice forbade at the University of Southampton, was a success. Most of the 38 speakers brought evidence that Israel is indeed illegitimate - because it is a European colony, because it is racist, because it is an apartheid state, because its creation went over the heads and hearts of the indigenous who were thus denied their self-determination, etc. Many lawyers spoke on which documents of international law render Israel illegal. Not just its actions, but its essence. And illegitimate states don't have the right to exist, so the territory will be freed for some version of One State - an unpartitioned Palestinian homeland
3) Ramzy Baroud, editor of the Palestine Chronicle, recently wrote an analysis of the two-state solution, which was never alive, and calls for One Democratic State without any ifs or buts.
4) In September 2016 about 56% of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip thought the two-state solution was no longer an option. In early 2017 the percentage had risen to 66%. Warning: reports of these polls by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research consistently claim they are revealing the opinions of 'the Palestinians'. This is rubbish, because the Palestinians in Israel (1.7 million) and in the diaspora (6 million) are not even surveyed!
5) On 24 March 2017 in Washington D.C. quite a few supporters of ODS spoke at a conference on the Israel lobby, including Ilan Pappe who said living with the idea of a two-state solution 'is like sleeping with a corpse'. Hanan Ashrawi said, 'There is zero time for the two-state solution.'
2 March 2017 4 items
1) Billboards advocating One Democratic State in Palestine have been erected in the West Bank town of Kafr Aqab, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, according to this Ma'an News report. Who is behind it is unknown.
2) Donald Trump's declared indifference over the two-state/one-state debate is making the world realise the two-state solution is (fortunately) dead and making it ask the question: What kind of single state? Democratic (ODS) or Undemocratic (OUS, the status quo, apartheid)?
3) Saeb Erekat and the PA are still publicly supporting the two-state solution, even if Erekat's comments on Trump's statement have been reported differently by different news outlets. The Guardian's clueless reporter, Peter Beaumont, has Erekat speaking bluntly against democracy, while Haaretz, probably more accurately, has him both advocating ODS and warning direly of any abandonment of the two-state solution.
4) The Popular Movement for ODS, founded May 2013 and with its Secretariat in Ramallah and Bethlehem, registered itself in 2016 as a Swiss Association, Handelsregisteramt Number CHE-390.290.948. It held its first General Assembly on 14/15 January, in Istanbul, where it elected a 10-person Board. The only condition for membership is support for the Munich Declaration and being nominated by 2 present members. To join get in touch through the link above or the ODS England contact page.