6 December 2018

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

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

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: i) an Israel which defines itself as a state for Jews and refuses over 8 million Palestinians the right to return to their homes, and ii) 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

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”.


5 July 2018

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

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

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

[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

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

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 also 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

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.