5 December 2019
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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…
3 January 2019
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’.)