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

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



7 October 2021   7 items


1)  Palestine Chronicle TV’s discussion on ODS with Awad Abdelfattah, Ilan Pappe, Romana Rubeo and Ramzy Baroud of 30 December 2020 deserves revisiting. (See First Thursdays of January 2021.) The video starts at 3:00. At 33:00 – 37:00 Pappe brilliantly demolishes two-state (partition) solutions by reference to White South Africa’s offering Bantustans to the African National Congress on the reasoning that Whites would not accept a one-state democracy; for Palestine, likewise, the strategy cannot be based on changing Israel, but rather starting with what the colonised want and getting the world outside Israel to force change. From 47:15 on he makes the case for a political vision, the fight for rights to be carried on within this vision or “end-game”. Baroud and Abdelfattah agree, and add at 50:00 – 58:00 that the international solidarity movement, as well, must also get on the ODS bandwagon; it’s not enough to just work for the negative strategy of de-colonisation.


2)  Our ODS organisation did a Zoom webinar on 20 September with Ghada Karmi and Ramzy Baroud on ‘What is ODS?’, attempting to cover the basics for those new to the idea. Our first such discussion was non-virtual, at St Catharine’s College in Cambridge, in December 2013, with Ghada Karmi and Ilan Pappe, the Q-and-A part of which is on Vimeo. We also invited those two to be the keynote speakers at the May 2014 ODS conference in Zürich (here and here), and co-organised the discussion with Ruba Salih, Gideon Levy and Ilan Pappe at Westminster University in May 2016. Many further videoed discussions are planned.


3)  From the archives: Omar Barghouti in Mondoweiss in 2013 made an air-tight case for ODS, well worth re-reading. He makes the point, which is only apparently banal, that the negative work of de-colonising and exposing Zionism’s racist nature must go hand in hand, “simultaneously”, with pursuing this vision. He also demolishes the premises of bi-nationalism. He points out the sheer magnanimity of the Palestinian/ODS offer to Jewish Israelis to remain as normal citizens in the re-united, democratic Palestine, realising how hard it is for many Palestinians to imagine living as equals with the people currently oppressing them. Justice is a precondition for the noble goal of reconciliation.


4)  In the Guardian of 10 June 2021 Ghada Karmi showed what ODS (the fight for all the rights of all the Palestinians) – or for that matter any expression of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination – is up against: the “silencing” of Palestinians revealing mainstream “anti-Palestinian racism”, one expression of which is the two-state solution which legitimises a Jewish state on stolen land.


5)  Dimi Reider’s article in the New Statesman of 24 May 2021 against the two-state solution is a barometer-reading of mainstream thinking. While it is positive that ‘everyone’ is abandoning the two-state “mantra”, the argument is still couched in terms of Realpolitik rather than ethics, the ‘occupation’ is still only of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and not one word is wasted on the refugees. Still, another drop of acid on Western Zionist dogma.


6)  Colin Patrick Mangan, blogging on 16 August at ‘The Organization for World Peace’, presents an well-thought-out ODS cocktail: that “the only truly just solution to the conflict is… the establishment of a unitary, democratic, and secular binational state, with a full Palestinian right to return” and that a “confederal or federal proposal to the conflict would factionalize Israelis and Palestinians and only lead to further power struggles for socio-political influence”. Some local “autonomy” would exist within “a unitary government [which] would guarantee proportional representation and the universal protection of the rights of all citizens” (presently “6.4 million Israeli Jews”, 6.3 million Palestinians currently living in the occupied territories” and “6.4 million Palestinians living in diaspora”). He however speaks of Israel’s “transformation” rather than its replacement, and advocates the continued “open-ended Jewish immigration”.


7)  The bi-monthly establishment bible Foreign Affairs, put out by the Council on Foreign Relations, on 24 August printed the answers (all very brief) of 64 “experts” to the question ‘Is the two-state solution still viable?’ Despite the framing in terms of viability rather than justice, alongside the usual Zionist suspects such as Martin Indyk, Hussein Ibish, Dennis Ross, Derek Penslar, and Aaron David Miller, as well as Palestinian pollsters Khalil Shikaki and Shibley Telhami, many staunch ODS supporters or sympathisers speak their minds. Philip Weiss in Mondoweiss on 1 September covers this meaningful if unrepresentative (about half the respondents are Israel-lobbyists, many not even Israeli) survey, naming and quoting, from the latter group, Diana Buttu, Zaha Hassan, Youssef Munayyer, Nadia Abu El-Haj, and Haidar Eid. He also notes that the answers are almost strictly according to the experts’ camps: “The conviction that the two-state solution is viable is chiefly held by Israel advocates. Palestinian and Arab experts and Realists doubt that a Palestinian state can ever emerge.”



2 September 2021   5 items


1)  On the Vox site on 26 May 2021 Zack Beauchamp wrote a thoughtful argument for the Zionist two-state solution in an attempt to refute the positions taken in the New York Times by Yousef Munayyer and Peter Beinart. It however deals almost exclusively with what is possible rather than what is desirable, i.e. with feasibility rather than justice. Where Beauchamp does reveal his values it is to treat as equally valid the collective claims of two different ‘nations’ to Palestine – although the amount of territory for each, based on the Green Line (not even on the Resolution 181 borders) is far from equal. This emphasis on (allegedly) ethnic collectives shows once again that bi-nationalism is closer to the two-state solution than to the one-democratic-state solution.


2)  BDS is chalking up successes, as a BDS-Movement report of 27 July 2021 shows. Some of the 16 concrete “impacts” so far in 2021 do pertain to Israel as the apartheid ruler over all of Palestine, but the emphasis is on on boycotting and divesting from companies active in the 1967-occupied territories. There, Israeli presence is an “illegal occupation”, but one wonders about Israel’s presence in the 1948-occupied territories – a debate that goes on within the BDS movement.


3)  BDS co-founder and co-leader Omar Barghouti wrote about BDS recently in the Journal of Palestine Studies (Volume 50, Number 2). He, too, although a supporter of the one-democratic-state solution, emphasises the targeting only of firms working in the “illegal Israeli settlements” in the West Bank, referred to as the locus of “Israel’s occupation”, and says that “BDS calls for ending Israel’s 1967 occupation” rather than, as the 2005 BDS Call has it, “ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands”. Nevertheless, the article is an inspiring call for Palestinian self-determination. Barghouti moreover brooks no compromise on the Right of Return and rightly notes that BDS is scaring Israel to the extent that in 2017 it budgeted $75 million to fight BDS – real proof of success! He also spells out the neutrality on the one-state/two-state question maintained by the BDS movement, which “does not advocate for a particular solution to the conflict” but “instead… focuses on the realization of basic rights and the implementation of international law” – international law which arguably regards the presence of the Zionist state in Palestine as justified, or at least legal. In footnote 53, Barghouti reacts to out-of-context use by BDS opponents of his statement in a talk that “we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine”.


4)  It is well worth re-reading Noura Erakat’s 1 February 2012 Al-Shabaka article on the debate between rights- and solution-based approaches, as well as her reply to her critics wherein she does take a stand for the one-democratic-state solution: “Palestinians should adopt a one-state solution as a political vision that aims for the equality of all persons irrespective of nationality, ethnicity, religion, or race. By endorsing a one-state solution, we are calling for the dismantlement of institutionalized racism that privileges Jewish nationals above their non-Jewish Arab Palestinian counterparts rather than supporting the creation of two ethnically homogenous states.”



5)  Also from ODS’s history, the pioneering ‘London One State Group’ back in 2007 wrote and published a statement which provided the basis and some of the wording for the Munich Declaration – the slightly shorter statement of principles of our ODS group which was adopted at a 2012 ODS conference in Munich. The 2007 declaration was agreed on at conferences in Madrid and London and signed by “Ali Abunimah, Naseer Aruri, Omar Barghouti, Oren Ben-Dor, George Bisharat, Haim Bresheeth, Jonathan Cook, Ghazi Falah, Leila Farsakh, Islah Jad, Joseph Massad, Ilan Pappe, Carlos Prieto del Campo, Nadim Rouhana, the London One State Group and many others”.