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Monday, December 31, 2007

The One State Solution Is An AMERICAN Value

The piece in Comment is Free "Democracy: an Existential Threat?" by Ali Abunimah and Omar Barghouti is bringing much debate. As an American who by virtue of birth was raised with so-called American values (I'm speaking here of the "lofty" ones-those we ASPIRE to, not at all those put in to practice sufficiently in my own country and CERTAINLY not applied in our foreign policy) "democracy" as shouted from our rooftops and hallways of justice is SUPPOSED to mean as stated in our own Declaration of Independence, ""We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..."

AMERICAN laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion, yet we continue to support Israel's right to exist as a "Jewish nation"-an entity which was IMPOSED upon an indigenous people who had lived on the land for milenium. This is quite simple terms, a contradiction of AMERICAN "values". I am NOT suggesting that Jews be chased to the sea in Israel, I am suggesting that the one-state solution with EQUAL rights for all is the ONLY proposal which falls within our OWN values. Furthermore, the Right of Return for Palestinians as guaranteed them in the Declaration of Human Rights, MUST be implemented, and that Aliya as a practice to bring people to a land who have NO inherent rights to it other than religious claims based on their OWN writings be abolished. Zionism is simply a WRONG HEADED ideology which has imposed itself on an innocent people, embroiled the Middle East in decades of war, and caused the United States in it's support to be drug in to a conflict which has gone against our OWN principles.

From Jewish Peace News: (the beginning is comment by JPN, then the essay by Ali Abunimah and Omar Barghouti follows)

A number of important points are made in the essay below.  Among them:
* If transforming a regime based on racism into a democracy was seen as a
triumph for international law and human rights elsewhere, it should be seen as
such in regards to Israel, too.
* Embracing a one-state solution need not, and should not, keep people from
working to end the appalling (and ever worsening) conditions in the Occupied
Territories. To that end, the authors call all activists - regardless of whether
they support a one state or a two state solution, to unite behind the 2005
Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) of

* As part of their concluding remarks, Abunimah and Barghouti write: "Hand in
hand with this strugggle it is absolutely necessary to begin to lay out and
debate visions for a post-conflict future. It is not coincidental that
Palestinian citizens of Israel, refugees and those in the diaspora, the groups
long dis(en)franchised by the "peace process" and whose fundamental rights are
violated by the two-state solution have played a key role in setting forward new
ideas to escape the impasse". The issue underlying this comment is that a two
state solution ignores the rights of some key Palestinian constituencies
(refugees, Palestinian citizens of Israel, and diaspora Palestinians), and
therefore - even if it was a realistic option, it's not a sufficient one.

Racheli Gai.

Ali Abunimah and Omar Barghouti: Democracy: an existential threat? / The
December 30, 2007

As two of the authors of a recent document advocating a one-state solution to
the Arab- Israeli colonial conflict, we intended to generate debate.
Predictably, Zionists decried the proclamation as yet another proof of the
unwavering devotion of Palestinian - and some radical Israeli - intellectuals to
the "destruction of Israel". Some pro-Palestinian activists accused us of
forsaking immediate and critical Palestinian rights in the quest of a "utopian"

Inspired in part by the South African Freedom Charter and the Belfast
Agreement , the much humbler One State Declaration, authored by a group of
Palestinian, Israeli and international academics and activists, affirms that
"the historic land of Palestine belongs to all who live in it and to those who
were expelled or exiled from it since 1948, regardless of religion, ethnicity,
national origin or current citizenship status". It envisages a system of
government founded on "the principle of equality in civil, political, social and
cultural rights for all citizens".

It is precisely this basic insistence on equality that is perceived by Zionists
as an existential threat to Israel, undermining its inherently discriminatory
foundations which privilege its Jewish citizens over all others. Israeli prime
minister Ehud Olmert was refreshingly frank when he recently admitted that
Israel was "finished" if it faced a struggle for equal rights by Palestinians.

But whereas transforming a regime of institutionalised racism, or apartheid,
into a democracy was viewed as a triumph for human rights and international law
in South Africa and Northern Ireland, it is rejected out of hand in the Israeli
case as a breach of what is essentially a sacred right to ethno-religious
supremacy (euphemistically rendered as Israel's "right to be a Jewish state").

Palestinians are urged by an endless parade of western envoys and political
hucksters - the latest among them Tony Blair - to make do with what the African
National Congress rightly rejected when offered it by South Africa's apartheid
regime: a patchwork Bantustan made up of isolated ghettoes that falls far below
the minimum requirements of justice.

Sincere supporters of ending the Israeli occupation have also been severely
critical of one- state advocacy on moral and pragmatic grounds. A moral
proposition, some have argued, ought to focus on the likely effect it may have
on people, and particularly those under occupation, deprived of their most
fundamental needs, like food, shelter and basic services. The most urgent task,
they conclude, is to call for an end to the occupation, not to promote one-state
illusions. Other than its rather patronising premise - that these supporters
somehow know what Palestinians need more than we do - this argument is
problematic in assuming that Palestinians, unlike humans everywhere, are willing
to forfeit their long-term rights to freedom, equality and self-determination in
return for some transient alleviation of their most immediate suffering.

The refusal of Palestinians in Gaza to surrender to Israel's demand that they
recognise its "right" to discriminate against them, even in the face of its
criminal starvation siege imposed with the backing of the United States and the
European Union, is only the latest demonstration of the fallacy of such

A more compelling argument, expressed most recently on Cif by Nadia Hijab
and Victoria Brittain, states that under the current circumstances of
oppression, when Israel is bombing and indiscriminately killing; imprisoning
thousands under harsh conditions; building walls to separate Palestinians from
each other and from their lands and water resources; incessantly stealing
Palestinian land and expanding colonies; besieging millions of defenceless
Palestinians in disparate and isolated enclaves; and gradually destroying the
very fabric of Palestinian society, calling for a secular, democratic state is
tantamount to letting Israel "off the hook".

They worry about weakening an international solidarity movement that is "at its
broadest behind a two-state solution". But even if one ignores the fact that the
Palestinian "state" on offer now is no more than a broken-up immiserated
Bantustan under continued Israeli domination, the real problem with this
argument is that it assumes that decades of upholding a two-state solution have
done anything concrete to stop or even assuage such horrific human rights

Since the Palestinian-Israeli Oslo agreements were signed in 1993, the
colonisation of the West Bank and all the other Israeli violations of
international law have intensified incessantly and with utter impunity. We see
this again after the recent Annapolis meeting: as Israel and functionaries of an
unrepresentative and powerless Palestinian Authority go through the motions of
"peace talks", Israel's illegal colonies and apartheid wall continue to grow,
and its atrocious collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza is
intensifying without the "international community" lifting a finger in

This "peace process", not peace or justice, has become an end in itself --
because as long as it continues Israel faces no pressure to actually change its
behaviour. The political fiction that a two-state solution lies always just
around the corner but never within reach is essential to perpetuate the charade
and preserve indefinitely the status quo of Israeli colonial hegemony.

To avoid the pitfalls of further division in the Palestinian rights movement, we
concur with Hijab and Brittain in urging activists from across the political
spectrum, irrespective of their opinions on the one state, two states debate, to
unite behind the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and
sanctions, or BDS, as the most politically and morally sound civil resistance
strategy that can inspire and mobilise world public opinion in pursuing
Palestinian rights.

The rights-based approach at the core of this widely endorsed appeal focuses on
the need to redress the three basic injustices that together define the question
of Palestine - the denial of Palestinian refugee rights, primary among them
their right to return to their homes, as stipulated in international law; the
occupation and colonisation of the 1967 territory, including East Jerusalem; and
the system of discrimination against the Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Sixty years of oppression and 40 years of military occupation have taught
Palestinians that, regardless what political solution we uphold, only through
popular resistance coupled with sustained and effective international pressure
can we have any chance of realising a just peace.

Hand in hand with this struggle it is absolutely necessary to begin to lay out
and debate visions for a post-conflict future. It is not coincidental that
Palestinian citizens of Israel, refugees and those in the diaspora, the groups
long disfranchised by the "peace process" and whose fundamental rights are
violated by the two-state solution have played a key role in setting forward new
ideas to escape the impasse.

Rather than seeing the emerging democratic, egalitarian vision as a threat, a
disruption, or a sterile detour, it is high time to see it for what it is: the
most promising alternative to an already dead two-state dogma.

Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Shlensky
Alistair Welchman

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