First Thursdays - international updates on ODS on the 1st Thursday of every month

For previous blogs see our First Thursdays archive posted by year.


6 January 2022   5 items


1)  Henry Cattan (1906-1992) of Jerusalem, lawyer and advisor to the (Palestinian) Arab Higher Committee and the Arab UN-member states while UNSCOP was other-determining Palestine’s future in 1947, upheld before the General Assembly’s ‘First Committee’ the ODS position espoused by the Palestinian leadership ever since at least 1921. This 11-minute video captures the essence of what he told them on 9 May, not a week before Israel’s usurpation of Palestine. His full testimony (search for ‘Kattan’) contained a remark relevant to today’s non-sensical conflation of Palestine liberation with antisemitism: “The problem was not an Arab-Jewish problem. Arab opposition to Jewish immigration would be equally strong against any group attempting to force immigrants into the country against the will of the Arabs.”


2)  Mondoweiss founder and editor Phil Weiss on 2 January 2022 wrote a heartfelt plea for his fellow internationals, specifically in his own Jewish community, to support “one democratic state”. The article’s title is ‘If you had a Palestinian child – could you support the “2-state solution”?’ He answers, “I’m sure the answer is No.” Further: “I wonder if this is the year when the two-state solution finally dies in Washington.”


3)  350,000 Palestinians live in Chile, most of them presumably supporters of Club Deportivo Palestino football team and also of newly-elected President Gabriel Boric. The Palestine Chronicle on 22 December 2021 reported this good news: “The 35-year-old – who called Israel a “murderous state” – has previously campaigned for a boycott of goods, services and products from illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.” He has called on Israel “to return the illegally occupied Palestinian territory.” But can Boric go farther than this partition rhetoric, perhaps joining U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib for the actual end of the murderous state (see our entry for June 2020)? Will he even stick to his soft-Zionist position in the face of the Zionist lobby?


4)  Speaking of Rashida Tlaib, her fellow Michigan Congressperson Andy Levin has introduced a bill called the ‘Two-State Solutions Act’ to officially back the destructive partition of Palestine. Despite that, so this article, the two are friends although Tlaib “opposes Israel’s existence as a Jewish state”.


5)  Is the UN ‘Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process’, who is firmly stuck in the UN’s two-state paradigm and allied with the so-called ‘Middle East Quartet’ (the U.S., the U.N, the EU and Russia), part of the solution or part of the problem? The ‘peace process’ is after all an Oslo term which incorrectly presupposes two legitimate and equal combattants facing off against each other. In this briefing given by Coordinator Tor Wennesland to the Security Council on 19 October 2021, the penultimate paragraph implores the world to return “back to genuine negotiations and end the occupation and allow for the realization of a two-State solution, on the basis of 1967 lines, international law, UN resolutions, and previous agreements.” This is the solution?



2 December 2021   3 items


1)  The ideology of the new Palestine-Liberation movement Masar Badil (Alternative Path), which was simultaneously founded on 30 October in Madrid, Saõ Paolo and Beirut, is almost identical to that of ODS. On 29 November, the 74th anniversary of UN General Assembly Resolution 181 giving faux-legitimacy to a Jewish state on 55% of the land of historic Palestine, Masar Badil wrote this letter to the UN Secretary General. A report on the Madrid conference of this new organisation appeared in the Palestine Chronicle of 10 November, and another one appeared in Middle East Monitor of 17 November.


2)  On 14 November at Bethlehem University a panel discussed ‘The Struggle for a Democratic State in Historic Palestine – consisting of Munir Nuseibah, Jonathan Kuttab, Lamis Deek, Miko Peled, Jeff Halper and Claudia Chaufon. It was organised by the International Manifesto Group, which perhaps will upload a recording of the discussion.


3)  Check out this one-democratic-state group which is abbreviated as ODSP and since 2018 works for “One Democratic State of Palestine for its indigenous people, the refugees who we were forced out of the country and its current citizens.” They urge a re-unification of Palestinian forces under a single-democratic-state ideology before the single state can be founded, and “believe in the need to withdraw completely from farcical negotiations with the colonial entity” which “the old Palestinian leadership” continues to do, serving only “regression”.



4 November 2021   5 items


1)  Mahmoud Abbas spoke to the UN on 24 September pleading with the international community to save the two-state solution, which Israel is torpedoing. He said if the Zionist world powers don’t free the West Bank and Gaza Strip soon, ‘Palestinians’ (not necessarily he himself) would demand a normal democracy between the river and the sea. Of course he didn’t mention the refugees. And why does he want the Palestinian state to be on the 1967 borders, not the 1947 ones?


2)  Ghada Karmi back on 16 July 2020 wrote in Open Democracy that the next step in the liberation of Palestine should be exactly what Abbas ‘threatened’ the UN with: equal rights for all those now living in Palestine. She originally advocated for this in her chapter in the 2012 Loewenstein & Moor anthology After Zionism and at the 2013 Stuttgart ODS conference, and will expand on it in her chapter in the forthcoming anthology edited by Ramzy Baroud and Ilan Pappe. The idea seems to be that after that is achieved, new majorities can start to work on enabling the return of the refugees as citizens.


3)  Blake Alcott wrote an appeal in the Palestine Chronicle for a Call for ODS, patterned on the 2005 Call for BDS, to be sent out by Palestinians only. The ODS vision, already popular among international solidarity activists, could resound within general Western opinion, leading the pro-Zionist governments on which Israel still depends to re-think things. The article asks Palestinians whether they really mean it when encouraging activists to chant the well-known slogan at rallies, ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ – a slogan blatantly inconsistent with any two-state solution.


4)  Back to the bankrupt mainstream, just to check the pulse of power and watch its oh-so-reasonable face: the Middle East Policy Council interviewed one Perry Cammack, apparently a high-up in Washington policy circles, who argues that in Palestine ‘both peoples are equal’, mentions ‘one state’ ambiguously without mention of Right of Return or ODS, defends Israel’s right to defend itself and co-opts the ‘rights-based approach’ for the goal of a two-state solution.


5)  For hope and refreshment, take a look at this 2012 report by BADIL and Zochrot on their research-on-the-ground into the modalities of Return. Working with both indigenous Palestinians and colonial settlers, they ask the tough questions: ‘How, for instance, is return to materialize to a village whose inhabitants numbered less than two thousand before the Nakba, and who now number in the tens of thousands? Are the descendants of large landowners to return to bountiful properties, while the many more descendants of workers, sharecroppers and tenant farmers to return to no property at all? Is what remains of Palestine’s terraced hillsides to be turned into concrete jungles of parceled out houses over which present and future heirs can differ? What will be the fate of a productive factory that lies on the land of Palestinian returnees?’ We need answers if we are to explain ODS (+ RoR) to the public.