3 December 2020  


1)  The unelected Palestinian ‘leadership’ under Mahmoud Abbas, according to a short item dated 29 November from WAFA, the ‘Palestine News and Info Agency’, apparently still wants a small non-sovereign State of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza Strip alongside a permanent Zionist state – i.e. it wants the two-state solution, and so does King Abdullah of Jordan. On the same date WAFA reported that the Swiss Government also wants that Zionist solution, with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh beseeching Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis “to protect the two-state solution by recognizing Palestine”. This confirms the danger that recognizing the State of Palestine in today’s reality means accepting once and for all that Palestine will never be bigger than what the hoary 1967 borders limit it to. Shtayyeh also said ‘Palestine’ wants “to return to a political path that would be based on clear terms of reference based on international law”, confirming that reliance on ‘international law’ rather than principles of justice means giving up 80% of Palestine forever.


2)  The BDS movement also continues to focus on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the majority of its boycotts hitting companies dealing with the “illegal settlements”, i.e. those in the West Bank, not the illegitimate settlements in the 1948-occupied areas. Its language also implies that for it, only the West Bank is under “military occupation”. Its website is unclear as to how it defines Israeli “apartheid”, which may or may not include the Palestinians in the diaspora who make up the majority of all Palestinians.


3)  Good news was a press release by the One Democratic State Campaign dated 15 November, signed by 54 Palestinian and Israeli ODS supporters, six of them members of our group, ODS in Palestine (England) Ltd. It links to the ODS Campaign’s Manifesto, a 10-point program with a preamble and showing a link to the names of another approximately 100 supporters. While longer, their manifesto is almost identical to our 10-point Munich Declaration and can certainly be supported, although the Campaign regards “a bi-national state” to be consistent with its vision. Another small hair in the soup is the Manifesto’s embrace of the concept of “collective rights” as something different from “freedom of association” – a point to be debated in the future in light of the danger that one or more “collectives” will be ethno-religiously defined. Positive also is that the Campaign describes itself as “Palestinian-led”.


4)  The illogical and politically-motivated definition of anti-semitism propagated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which says that criticism of the Israeli state (as such) is anti-Jewish, was well-attacked by a letter to the Guardian signed by “122 Palestinian and Arab academics, journalists and intellectuals”. The group strongly and at length supports “the fight against antisemitism”, but unfortunately does not explicitly offer its own definition of what that is. Its last paragraph does call positively for “full support of Palestinians’ right to self-determination, including the demand to end the internationally acknowledged occupation of their territories and the statelessness and deprivation of Palestinian refugees” – stopping short, that is, of supporting the Right of Return. The letter also states that “the current state of Israel has been an occupying power for over half a century” – stopping short, that is, of affirming that all of Palestine is occupied. The 1 December Guardian printed a letter criticising this letter which gets to the gist of the matter: (denying) Israel’s ‘right to exist’.


5 November 2020  


1)  The European Union doesn’t budge. On 15 August it stated: “The EU remains firm in its commitment to a negotiated and viable two-state solution built upon the internationally agreed parameters and international law…” For the EU this entails approval of “the normalisation of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates…” Recognition of Israel by Arab states would all but ensure Israel’s permanent presence on the lion’s share of the territory of Palestine, precluding one democratic state and return of the refugees.


2)  Al-Jazeera ran an excellent article by a Palestinian professor in Canada, Mark Muhannad Ayyash, in which he documents and is outraged by the erasure of Palestine by Western politics and media. He speaks of “liberation” and against “colonialism”, strong terms that are not consistent with a two-state solution, because de-colonisation, after all, means the colonial power must relinquish control, and that colonial power, originally enabled by Great Britain, is Israel. He opens up: “That Palestinians do not give up is precisely what is so historic and inspiring about their resistance. For more than 100 years, the Palestinian people have been resisting and fighting for Palestine, holding on to what they have left of it, clinging on to the hope of one day reclaiming what they have lost.” What they lost is political sovereignty over all of Palestine, and reclaiming it amounts to ODS.


3)  Mondoweiss on 13 October carried a snapshot of the Palestinian Authority’s present position, plus recommendations for the PLO’s reform, by Hamada Jaber, a founder and board member of the One State Foundation. He notes that although “around 58% of Palestinians [in the West Bank and Gaza Strip only!] oppose the two-state solution [and] 37% said they prefer a one-state solution over a two-state solution… not a single Palestinian political party has adopted one-state solution in their platform.” The PLO should return to the situation “as it was before the Madrid Conference and the [two-state] Oslo Accords”, “withdraw recognition of Israel”, and “abandon the two-state solution, and adopt the strategy of establishing a single democratic state in historic Palestine.” Given such clarity, the last sentence of the article is utterly baffling: “This is a path to establishing a single democratic state in historic Palestine, or alternatively, a path to reaching a two-state solution that is built on of the promises of international law, where Palestine will be based on 1967 ceasefire lines with a capital in East Jerusalem.” Huh? Mondoweiss, moreover, gave the article the unintelligible headline, “One state or two states, there is only one way”. What? 


4)  Another baffling document is ‘Palestine 2030’, 64 pages written by the Palestine Strategy Group (PDF accessible on that site) which is headed by Husam Zomlot and Sam Bahour. It seems to advocate de-recognising Israel, binning the Oslo Accords and the Arab Peace Initiative, ending security co-operation with Israel, dissolving the Palestinian Authority, and “one state, from the river to the sea”. However, these are merely “potential scenarios”, with the Group taking no clear stands for or against. The non-specific phrase “self-determination” is often invoked, and UN membership for the State of Palestine is advocated, but that state is only “[the] West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza Strip”, i.e. the areas “under occupation” (the 1948-occupied areas are not “occupied”). Return suffers ambiguous, marginal treatment. Read only the Summary, as the rest is mainly a sophorific survey of current Israel and a few observations about alliances in the region and the West. Sponsored by the EU and Norway, and with Zionist Tony Klug playing a key role in this organisation, the report is actually better than could have been expected.


5)  Christopher Helali is a communist running for Congress in Vermont. He says: “Israel is an apartheid state. The Palestinian people have been subjected to a brutal settler-colonial regime and occupation. … United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379 declared that the political ideology of Zionism is a form of racism. … While the two-state solution is still supported by many of the Communist and Workers’ Parties around the world, it has become all two clear that the two state solution has been dead for some time. I envision the creation of a bi-national state that is secular, democratic, and socialist with the right of return and reparations.” Too bad he uses the term “bi-national”, because this means the Jewish people – either those now in Palestine or, as Zionism has it, all Jews – have a collective political right in Palestine. There’s simply no case for that. A communist should be able to abandon such ethnicist concepts.


6)  Two Guardian articles concerning support in the West Bank and Jordan for a one-state solution should be read together: one dated 13 March 2019 and one 21 July 2020. The first quotes Bassem Tamimi of Nabi Saleh and a physicist named Fadi Quran of Ramallah in favour of equal rights for all between the river and the sea, while the second quotes Jordanian Prime Minister Omar Razzaz to the same effect. Neither mentions the returnees/refugees. They say the Palestinians “might” become a majority, while the demographic fact is that they already outnumber Israeli Jews, and if even only a few hundred thousand Palestinians did return, they’d be a large majority. (But note that if the state were truly secular, as envisioned by these people, demographic majorities would be irrelevant anyway.)


7)  On 30 June 2020 Time magazine ran an opinion piece by Salam Fayyad, former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, who with safe neutrality says the Palestinians ought to either go all out for the two-state solution or give that up: “The PLO must with haste rethink its 1988 peace initiative – specifically, the willingness to accept a Palestinian state on 22 percent of historic Palestine, under a so-called “two state solution.”


1 October 2020


Autumn vacation. There is a lot of good stuff on the Al-Shabaka site, some on the basic, constitutional issues ODS in Palestine Ltd. focuses on. The think tank steers away from arguing for ODS - and in fact has a soft spot for the two-state solution - but it is reclaiming Palestine from its erasure and is open to new ideas.


3 September 2020 


Now, as Trump, Pence, Biden and Harris vie for the Christian-Zionist and Jewish-Zionist vote, remember the time when Truman did the same, in March and April 1948. At the Security Council the U.S. State Department, with Truman’s approval, submitted a full-blown, 47-Article proposed Constitution for Palestine which departed from ODS principles in only one respect, but an important one: the Senate branch of the bi-cameral legislature would be “elected in equal numbers by the registered members of the Arab and Jewish communities in Palestine.” This is our old enemy parity, which has no basis in ethics or history but was offered – as it is today by some ODS supporters – only as a practical means of hopefully gaining Jewish-Zionist support. Invoking Articles 75 and 77 of the UN Charter, a Trusteeship would be set up to ensure Palestine’s “territorial integrity”, define as citizens all residents between the river and the sea as well as the “children of Palestinian citizens, wherever born”, guarantee standard individual rights, Under pressure from the falsely-named ‘Jewish lobby’ – namely U.S. Zionists Felix Frankfurter, Dean Acheson, Senator Vandenberg, Governor Dewey and British Zionist Chaim Weizmann, inter alia – he caved and returned to supporting General Assembly Resolution 181 of 29 November 1947 recommending the two-state solution. You’ll find part of the lobbying story in Walid Khalidi’s anthology From Haven to Conquest, pp 731-43.


6 August 2020 


1)  The electronic intifada on 6 July ran a great article by a student in Boston, Chance Charley, triggered by lame two-staters’ opposition to West Bank annexation: “Those who stand with the Palestinian freedom struggle must… not be tricked by the fig leaf condemnations of politicians and high-ranking international figures that try to hide their support for Zionism behind the rhetoric of anti-annexationism. [T]rue solidarity with the Palestinian people means refusing to accept anything less than the complete liberation of all of historic Palestine from Zionist occupation.” Finally, someone who unabashedly observes that all of Palestine is ‘occupied’.


2)  Peter Beinart, a non-Israeli Jewish intellectual, has made waves by edging ever-closer to supporting a normal state in Palestine. In the long version in Jewish Currents on 7 July or the abridged version in the NY Times a day later, this long-time two-state advocate proclaimed: “I no longer believe in a Jewish state.” He makes “a Jewish case for equality in Israel-Palestine”. Why the case is “Jewish” as opposed to simply ‘human’, I don’t know. Beinart is Judeocentric, not Palestinian-centric; the state is “Israel-Palestine”, not ‘Palestine-Israel’ or, what it should be, ‘Palestine’. He is as usual thinking only of the present residents of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – the refugees have not yet really registered on his radar. Where he is right on, though, is in saying that “changing the status quo requires a vision powerful enough to create a mass movement. A fragmented Palestinian state under Israeli control does not offer that vision. Equality can.” The only motivating vision is ODS.


3)  Beinart appeared on a webinar on 13 July, called “Imagining together a shared, one-state reality”, along with the excellent Yousef Munayyer and the excellent moderator Lara Friedman of the Foundation for Middle East Peace. (Is there no Foundation for Middle East Justice?) At 1:08:30 in the video comes the crucial, if ultimately incoherent, claim by Beinart that the historical and religious “authentic” connection of the Jewish people with Jerusalem and the ‘Land of Israel’ (i.e. Palestine) gives them a political claim in Palestine such that one can’t say Israel has colonised Palestine. Munayyer in reply vaguely acknowledges a Jewish “connection to the land” without giving up the charge against Zionism of settler-colonialism. These 7 minutes are the gist of the matter: Once the political relevance of that historical connection, whatever its truth or extent, is granted, the Zionist foot is in the door.


4)  Beinart, Michelle Goldberg and Ross Douthat did a NY Times podcast (30 minutes) on 23 July in the ‘The Argument’ series with the title 'The Case for a One-State Solution' - unfortunately leaving out the word 'Democratic'. Beinart falsely claims that before the 1940s Zionism didn’t necessarily want a Jewish state, and shows no awareness of the history of his alternative phrase – made famous in the words of the Balfour Declaration – a ‘Jewish home’. Goldberg makes the boring objection that a bi-national state “can’t work”; it would trigger a civil war and eventually two states. Beinart does very briefly mention “the refugee question”, and again makes the valid point that one democratic state is motivational, but falsely calls “Israel-Palestine” presently a “bi-national state”; it is a mono-national state. He admits: “I’m not a pure universalist. For me being a Jew is at the core of my existence.” Fine, but what does that have to do with Palestine? In 3 or 4 years Beinart, obviously a good guy, will have moved farther.


5)  Good news: The claim of the Muscogee (or 'Creek') Indians to possession of the land taken from them in Oklahoma has been upheld in a 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Of course the Creeks were ethnically cleansed from the southeast of the U.S. in the 1830s, and were forced to walk to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears. That land in the southeast is what really belongs to them. But back to Palestine: Maybe someday the title to about 94% of Palestine, which rests with various Palestinians and waqfs, will likewise be recognised. A longer article covered it in The Intercept.


6)  Bad old news: Mahmoud Abbas said before General Assembly September 2017: “[I]f the two-state solution were to be destroyed due to the creation of a one-state reality with two systems – apartheid – from the unchecked imposition of this occupation that is rejected by our people and the world, this would be a failure, and neither you, nor we, will have any other choice but to continue the struggle and demand full, equal rights for all inhabitants of historic Palestine.” Only for the inhabitants of Palestine; the 55% of Palestinians who are not inhabitants of Palestine do not interest him. He called on the UN to “Actively pursue efforts to bring an end to the Israeli occupation of the state of Palestine within a set timeframe.” “State of Palestine” for the PA is code for ‘West Bank and Gaza Strip’. The 1948-occupied territories for him are not ‘occupied’. Nothing has changed Abbas’s mind in the last three years as head of the ossified PA.


7)  Seth Rogen has also joined the ranks of prominent Jewish North Americans giving up on the Jewish state, saying the State of Israel “makes no sense” to him. Google that and you’ll get a lot of sanitised versions, e.g. in the Guardian, which don’t quote this bombshell. Anyway, he says that his whole life he was told “lies”, e.g. that there weren’t any Palestinians living in Palestine when Zionism arrived. Go, Seth!


2 July 2020


1)  One Democratic State in Palestine was proposed in early 1921 by the 3rd Palestine Arab Congress, representing the Moslem-Christian Societies all over Palestine, within a 39-page booklet called Report on the State of Palestine. It was signed by Musa Kazem al-Husseini, President of the Executive Committee of the Congress, and handed personally to Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill on his first visit to Palestine on 28 March 1921. Churchill and his fellow Zionist Herbert Samuel, as High Commissioner, had for three years been implementing Zionism against the will of the 93% of the inhabitants, and Syria had already been partitioned into northern (Lebanon and Syria) and southern (Palestine and Transjordan) parts. In an attempt at dialogue with the colonial Power the Palestinians said what they wanted: “Palestine… is in inalienable possession of the nation, and neither England nor any other Power can bring a foreigner in to share this inheritance. … A National Government [should] be created which shall be responsible to a parliament elected by the Palestinian people who existed in Palestine before the War.” The “Palestinian people” included Moslems, Christians and Jews, and this was the political one-democratic-state solution of the Palestinians up until 1988.


2)  On 25 June Diana Buttu gave an interview (10 minutes long) to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. Asked if the annexation of 30% of the West Bank will be the final nail in the coffin of the two-state solution, she said Israeli settlement of the West Bank has for 53 years already been that final nail. Amanpour uses the phrase “democratic two-state solution” – an oxymoron – and Buttu says that Israel cannot be both democratic and Jewish. Buttu says the Palestinians have two options: “pushing for economic sanctions… against Israel” or “pushing for an end to apartheid,… pushing for one state, one person, one vote, rather than pushing for this fiction of two states”. She is implying, realistically, that international economic sanctions would aim at saving the two-state solution, not ending apartheid. Amanpour, after a several-second pause, realises Buttu’s vision of one state, but falls back into suggesting that it doesn’t have much support internationally. Nevertheless… (The cameo by Jared Kushner, at minute 6:40 from an earlier interview, is priceless.) Buttu, although emphaising international illegality, wonderfully says: “The Palestinians are not for sale.”


3)  In the Jerusalem Post of 3 June Gershon Baskin calls the two-state solution “dead”, and weeps over its death. He and fellow ‘liberal Zionists’ wanted it so badly, in order to save their beloved Israel (albeit only on about 4/5ths of Palestine). He rightly calls the pro-annexationists the “anti-partition camp”, interesting given the hoary history of the term ‘partition’, against which so many Palestinians have given their lives. But Baskin is for partition. Since, unfortunately, that vision has been killed, he is for absolute political equality for all living between the river and the sea, and even adds that “Refugees will not be excluded in the deal.” Not bad, what what does this last claim mean? Can they return to their places of origin in Israel?


4 June 2020  


1)  The impending ‘legal’ annexation of the territory upon which some settlements are built as well as the eastern parts of the West Bank has awakened about 120 British politicians to the availability of a tool: British sanctions against Israel, the ‘S’ in BDS. This is a costless opportunity for pro-Zionist two-state supporters – including CAABU, the Council for Arab-British Understanding – to call in a letter to Boris Johnson for a tiny shred of justice and dignity for Palestinians. No mention of Return, Jerusalem, the Jewish nation-state Basic Law, or equal rights for Palestinians in Israel. Conspicuous non-signees: MPs Cat Smith, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Richard Burgon, Dawn Butler – and Lisa Nandy, the staunchly pro-Israel MP who, is surreally the Chair of the Labour Frieds of Palestine and the Middle East (LFPME). But then again, also members of LFPME are 24 of the 55 MP-members of Labour Friends of Israel, including signees Margaret Hodge and Lilian Greenwood and Lord Peter Hain. All British politicians support the two-state solution. Much ado, same ol’ two-state mantra.


2)  More on the pro-two-state letter and the dire situation for Palestinians within British politics appeared in the Palestine Chronicle article by Blake Alcott called ‘With Friends like These’. Isn’t there one single MP who is open to the ODS solution? In the U.S., on 6 December 2019 (sorry, missed this at the time) Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib – sensation – had come out in support of ODS, saying in the House that “she opposed separate states, instead favoring one state where Israelis and Palestinians would be equal.” Joining Tlaib in voting against House Resolution 326 (supporting the two-state solution) were also Justin Amash (the other Palestinian in Congress), Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar (i.e. the 'Squad').


3)  The Times of Israel of 3 May sells the recent position of one of Israel’s famous writers as: “Peace activist author A.B. Yehoshua now pushes for a one-state solution’. Yehoshua makes the usual pragmatic, amoral, ahistorical argument that the West Bank ‘settlements’ “are making the possibility of the creation of a Palestinian state no longer possible.” That is, the Zionist two-state solution, which ignores the Palestinians in Israel and the diaspora, would have been great, as he has propounded for decades, but oh, so unfortunately it is no longer to be had. Not a word about restitution of Palestinian property, and a bet of any size says there is no room for the diaspora Palestinians in his ‘one-state solution’.


4)  Gideon Levy writes on 6 May in Haaretz that because many non-Israeli Palestinian workers are now allowed to spend the night in Israel, and Palestinian medical personell are at the forefront of efforts to contain the virus, and Israelis are experiencing lockdown as Palestinians have for decades, “the coronavirus has moved us an inch closer toward a one-state solution, which appears to be the only solution left.” Unfortunately, the argument is couched in terms of “the territories” (West Bank, Gaza) as opposed to “Israel proper”. But hopefully Levy is right, and thousands more Jewish Israelis will realise that Palestinians are human. Levy, however, in this article does not say whether his ‘one-state solution’ would include the Palestinian refugees/exiles, who have the right to return to their places of origin inside ’48.


7 May 2020  


1)  Yara Hawari on 26 April in Al-Jazeera asked the burning question of how Palestinians should react if/when Israel outright annexes large parts of the West Bank – which might happen in July. She expects nothing from the ‘hand-cuffed’ and financially dependent Palestinian Authority, and makes another time-honoured appeal for all Palestinians to form their polity, organise and, implicitly, hold elections. Mahmoud Abbas himself said “We will not stand hand-cuffed if Israel announces the annexation of any part of our land”.


2)  Others believe the PA’s threat to ditch ‘Oslo’ and the two-state solution in the event of annexation might be more than mere words. The logic is that with Jerusalem already the capital of Israel and no improvement in sight whatsoever for Gaza, official rather than merely de facto annexation of another large chunk of the West Bank could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Omar Karmi in the electronic intifada on 29 April lays out the post-annexation situation and writes that as a matter of fact – whatever your opinion on the justice or desirability of the two-state solution, “annexation marks the end of any chance of a two-state outcome”.


3)  Due to his privately expressed sympathy for ODS, the reported rising prominence of Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh is good news. On the other hand, in mid-February he did not go farther than to say that if Israel annexes, it strengthens the argument for international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders.


4)  Since BDS’s Call is for two democratic states (TDS) which would undoubtedly merge into a re-united Palestine, and since it supports the implementation of the all-important right of return, it is good news relevant to ODS that the U.K. Palestine Solidarity Campaign has just won in the U.K. Supreme Court its case against the creeping de-legitimisation of BDS.


Palestinians supported the idea of a single-state solution, but that number skyrocketed to 37% after the plan was released.” Another poll said that 18% of Jewish Israelis support a “federation” (think Switzerland, I guess) rather than two states. For his part, Mahmoud Abbas said he would support a “federation” of Jordan and Palestine “only if Israel is a part of it”. This normalises Israel.


3)  In the U.S. Palestine-solidarity arena, neither major group supports ODS. Both the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights and the 4-times-larger Jewish Voice for Peace frame the issues in terms implying that Israel is ‘occupying’ only the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and both state explicitly that it is Israel’s ‘policies’ that are the problem, not Israel as such. USCPR for instance has “resolved to adopt the language of apartheid and Jim Crow segregation in describing Israeli policies towards Palestinians.” They further “reject the charge of antisemitism when it is used spuriously to silence legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies and practices.” (What would ‘illegitimate’ criticism of Israel look like?) The JVP site, for its part, carries strong statements against Zionism, but goes missing-in-action on the debate between One Democratic State and Partition: “We support any solution that is consistent with the full rights of both Palestinians and Israeli Jews, whether one binational state, two states, or some other solution.” While both ‘one binational state’ and ‘two states’ are Zionist solutions, ‘some other solution’ just might perhaps include ODS, the oldest, most just and most democratic solution. Who knows? While both groups unequivocally support BDS, JVP’s statement illegitimately edits the BDS Call by inserting into the Call’s first condition the four words “occupied in June 1967”. That very different version entails that the 1948-occupied territories are not occupied. This normalises Israel.


2 April 2020 


1)  First a historical item – One Democratic State in 1938: In July 1937 the Peel Commission recommended a two-state solution for Palestine, of course under the old name of Partition. The Palestinians thereupon intensified the Rebellion they’d begun in April 1936. By summer 1938 it was dawning on the British Government that partition was a bad idea. Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald invited the Palestinian who was in London running the Arab Centre, Dr. Izzat Tannous, for private talks. What did Tannous, resp. the mass of Palestinians, want? “There were now 450,000 Jews in the country, and the Arabs are reconciled to accepting this large Jewish population in their country, and to giving them full rights as citizens. They could do this without partition. … Would not the British Government  be prepared to let Palestine remain one country, with Jews and Arabs living peacefully together?” As he’d said already at a May 1938 meeting,The only solution of the problem was one State for the whole of Palestine based upon the present position as regards the population” – i.e. normal democratic proportional representation. From 1920 until the mid-1970s ODS was the cantus firmus of the Palestinian Resistance.


2)  Al-Monitor reports the February 2020 polls from Khalil Shikaki’s Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) – see links within linked article. Among “Palestinians”, which PSR absurdly defines as the perhaps one-third of all Palestinians residing in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, support for the two-state solution has sunk to an all-time low of 39%, with 59% opposing it. Shikaki tweeted that “before the release of the deal of the century,… only 28% of Palestinians supported the idea of a single-state solution, but that number skyrocketed to 37% after the plan was released.” Another poll said that 18% of Jewish Israelis support a “federation” (think Switzerland, I guess) rather than two states. For his part, Mahmoud Abbas said he would support a “federation” of Jordan and Palestine “only if Israel is a part of it”. This normalises Israel.


3)  In the U.S. Palestine-solidarity arena, neither major group supports ODS. Both the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights and the 4-times-larger Jewish Voice for Peace frame the issues in terms implying that Israel is ‘occupying’ only the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and both state explicitly that it is Israel’s ‘policies’ that are the problem, not Israel as such. USCPR for instance has “resolved to adopt the language of apartheid and Jim Crow segregation in describing Israeli policies towards Palestinians.” They further “reject the charge of antisemitism when it is used spuriously to silence legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies and practices.” (What would ‘illegitimate’ criticism of Israel look like?) The JVP site, for its part, carries strong statements against Zionism, but goes missing-in-action on the debate between One Democratic State and Partition: “We support any solution that is consistent with the full rights of both Palestinians and Israeli Jews, whether one binational state, two states, or some other solution.” While both ‘one binational state’ and ‘two states’ are Zionist solutions, ‘some other solution’ just might perhaps include ODS, the oldest, most just and most democratic solution. Who knows? While both groups unequivocally support BDS, JVP’s statement illegitimately edits the BDS Call by inserting into the Call’s first condition the four words “occupied in June 1967”. That very different version entails that the 1948-occupied territories are not occupied. This normalises Israel.


5 March 2020  


1)  In praising Rashid Khalidi’s new book, The Hundred Years' War on Palestine: A Century of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017, Robert Malley writes that in the book "There is also his tenacious conviction that 'there are now two peoples in Palestine, irrespective of how they came into being, and the conflict between them cannot be resolved as long as the national existence of each is denied by the other.'" Ian Black in the Guardian quotes also Khalidi’s next sentence: “There is no other sustainable solution, barring the unthinkable notion of one people’s extermination or expulsion by the other.” Assuming Malley and Black are quoting Khalidi correctly, Khalidi adheres to the faulty, if not fatal, parity paradigm that the Zionist immigrants and the indigenous Palestinians are – at least applied to the present – on equal ethical and political footing. Khalidi is a historian, but this view is a-historical. I could not yet get ahold of the book, and perhaps more context would cast the quotation in a reasonable light.


2)  In an article entitled ‘The Palestinian Authority is a sinking ship’, Al-Shabaka analyst Zena Agha wrote on 5 February in the New York Times and on Al-Shabaka’s site: “Many Palestinians, including millions of refugees, are no longer willing to wait for piecemeal negotiations over scraps of land. … [E]xciting is the opportunity to recalibrate at a grass-roots level. Palestinian organizers have been returning to the anticolonial principles of the 1960s and ’70s, and Palestinian rights are increasingly folded into a global progressive agenda. … [T]he past century has illustrated that Palestinians will abandon neither their rights to return, equality and freedom nor their demand for dignity.” Agha is a writer for whom the Palestinian diaspora is front and center, and the last sentence paraphrases the 3 indispensable BDS conditions.


3)  German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in South Africa having to answer a question about BDS. The utter intellectual bankruptcy of the Western two-state position is there, in these 3-4 minutes, for all to see and hear: the conflation of Germany’s treatment of the Jews with Palestine, the idea that a Jewish state is justified in Palestine, the ignorance of the Bantustan project rejected by the South African majority. Empty.


4)  In Das Magazin (Swiss weekly) of 22 February Israeli writer Doron Rabinovici states his support for 1) two states “side by side” on the 1967 (not the 1937 or 1947) borders and 2) equal rights for all in each state. Wow, the ‘TDS’ solution (two democratic states). But he also rejects the return of the exiled Palestinians and rejects repeal of the Law of Return, holding as well that within the larger of the two states, Israel, there is a necessity for a Jewish majority and Jewish armed forces. The interview’s main subject being an alleged tension between anti-semitism and criticism of Israel, he and his interviewer, journalist Bruno Ziauddin, get around to expressing their opinion that those of us who fight for Palestinians’ rights, but who are neither Palestinians nor, like Rabinovici, “born in Israel”, evidence a “surplus of engagement” and “have bad breath” – i.e. are actually anti-Semites. A libelous attempt, that is, to silence pro-Palestinians.


5)  Wonderful news to close: Hebron/al-Khalil resident Laila Awawda is on her second speaking tour in Europe and at Café Palestine in Zürich on 23 February gave a talk showing that, if she were on a debate stage with such as Rabinovici (as Bernie Sanders said of Michael Bloomberg’s chances in a presidential debate with Trump) she would ‘chew him up and spit him out’: Her message and experience is what the term ‘authentic’ was invented to describe, in both content and tone. For Laila, all of Palestine is occupied, and while the Palestinians are very sorry over what happened against Jews in Europe, they are not the guilty party, and Europeany were and are still obliged to solve whatever ‘Jewish problem’ it created. Concerning ODS, she says that first, let’s see the Right of Return realised, and equality and dignity for all Palestinians between the river and the sea, and then we can talk about a final, definitive, political solution.


6 February 2020 


Asa Winstanley on electric intifada writes of the anti-semitism definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance: “Among other stipulations, the document prohibits denying ‘the Jewish people their right to self-determination” by criticizing Israel as “a racist endeavor.’ This potentially forbids Labour members from advocating for a unitary democratic state for everyone in historic Palestine.” Although mysteriously under-mentioned recently by Ali Abunimah, the ODS banner still flies at electronic intifada.


Ignore the details of the Trump-Kushner-Netanyahu Surrender Plan. It is merely the worst of the two-state deals proposed since Peel’s binned partition fantasy of 1937. Throughout the Mandate the British Zionists – Balfour, Samuel, Churchill, et al. – tried to buy the Palestinians’ nationalism with purported material-economic benefits of European-Jewish investment and immigration. The Palestinians – Musa Kazem, Amin and Jamal al-Husseini, Musa Alami, Awni Abdul Hadi, Henry Cattan, et al. – said No thanks, give us our freedom and we’ll take care of our material standard of living ourselves. The Anglo-American Commission in the summer of 1946 got it: “The Arabs declare that, if they must choose between freedom and material improvement, they prefer freedom.” Parity-Zionist Judah Magnes also got it, saying before UNSCOP in 1947: “We know that a nation does not sell its national birthright for a pot of lentils of economic development.” The present generation of colonialists doesn’t get it. For Palestinians, as Al-Shabaka policy advisor Tariq Dana in Al Jazeera puts it, the issue is “national rights and dignity. [But] Trump's plan may have a silver lining: It could help Palestinians dismantle the Oslo order and push for a paradigm shift in Palestinian political thinking towards a long-term struggle for equal rights for all within the framework of one state.”


Robert Fisk in the Independent praises Sanders’ Palestine position but warns that it is still very much in the mainstream: two states, a nicer Israel, etc. He quotes Norman Finkelstein, who is probably closer to Sanders than to ODS: “If Palestinians in the occupied territories are to be denied self-determination in a state of their own, will they receive full citizenship and equal rights in a single state, potentially meaning the end of a Jewish majority state? These are very serious questions with significant implications for America’s broader regional partnerships and goals.” The ‘end of a Jewish… state’: exactly – it’s not democratic and by definition violates the rights of people of other ethnicities and religions.


On 2 February something calling itself the ‘State of Palestine’ condemned the Kushner plan because it is worse than their preferred two-state solution, namely the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 which was re-presented by President Abbas to the Security Council in February 2018. This PLO ‘Department of Public Diplomacy and Policy’ agrees with the occupations of 1948 and 1967 and cherry-picks the “international law” that is on its side, but at least objects to further “ethnic cleansing by way of transfer” and pays lip-service to the Right of Return and undefined “Palestinian national rights.”


2 January 2020 


1)  The Methodist Church of South Africa, according to the BDS South Africa newsletter of 9 October, has adopted a blanket boycott of Israel, i.e., of “all businesses that benefit the Israeli economy”. It apparently has no truck with the partition of Palestine which leads some organisations, including some churches, to limit B, D and S only to businesses busy in the so-called ‘occupied territories’. Their target thus includes a vast number of businesses!


2)  Two decades-long champion of ODS Ghada Karmi, author of the 2007 Married to Another Man, in the London Review of Books of 5 December argues that “the only way of addressing” the one-apartheid-state reality in Palestine “is to demand civil and political rights on an equal basis with the rest of the population under Israel’s jurisdiction.” Like many others in recent years, she argues that a Palestinian quasi-state alongside the Israeli state is a solution both ethically unjust and  unreachably far away, and that the latter reality advises re-framing the fight as one for political and human rights within Israel. But she goes farther than the others in explicitly including the majority of Palestinians who live outside of Palestine in her vision: If achieved, “full citizenship” and “equal representation in parliament” would mean that “legislation on refugee repatriation could open the way for progress on [sic.] the right of return”, a way “eventually to repatriate those of their compatriots who were expelled in 1948 and thereafter.” If indeed we assume that equal rights for all now living in Palestine really wouldn’t have to come at the price of sacrificing right of return, her proposal is describing a principled step towards the practical realisation of a single democratic state. But, she frankly notes, there is a price to the Palestinians: “The sovereignty they have aspired to and fought for would have to be sacrificed, and with it the end of resistance to Israel.” But wouldn’t such a path, the more so as right of return entails a Palestinian majority, be an even deeper form of “resistance to Israel”? She also writes that “The primary aim of a campaign for equal rights for Palestinians is not the creation of a single state in Israel-Palestine: that already exists.” True, but ODS never aimed to create “a” single state in Palestine, but rather a democratic one.


3)  If the state of Israel is necessarily the state of Jews only, with all the anti-democracy that entails (and it is), then like all other pro-democracy groups, ODS must be opposed to the state of Israel, i.e., is compelled to be anti-Zionist. The New Yorker  of 12 December (online) carries a good examination by Masha Gessen of Trump’s recent Executive Order adopting the IHRA definition of anti-semitism, the purpose of which isto silence whoever “targets the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity” or denies “the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a [sic.] state of Israel is a racist endeavor”. According to Gessen, these “examples perform the same sleight of hand: they reframe opposition to or criticism of Israeli policies as opposition to the state of Israel.” The author doesn’t challenge the faulty premise that opposition to the state of Israel is opposition in principle to the Jewish people’s right to self-determination. He is moreover mistaken in somehow thinking that rejecting all states that are by definition racist does not entail “opposition to the state of Israel”. How could it not? To ward off charges of anti-semitism, or indeed to ward off the whole conflation of Palestine with either anti- or philo-semitism, ODS should take care not to be Judeo-focussed, but rather begin with and develop the positive case for all the rights of all the Palestinians; if the achievement of those rights means, as an unintended side-effect, the replacement of the state of Israel, then so be it. Were Israel a Hindu, Christian, Moslem, or White, or Black state – rather than a Jewish one – it would likewise have to make way for a democratic state.


4)  In the Winter 1977 issue of the Journal of Palestine Studies (Vol. 6, No. 2), Shafiq al-Hout, author of the posthumous 2011 My Life in the PLO, published his 3-page article, ‘Toward a Unitary Democratic State’. ODS was still the position of the PLO, whose co-founder and senior member al-Hout was. The PLO’s secular democratic state stood tall against “the Zionist solution, which negates the existence of the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination” (see entry just above), whereas the unitary democratic state vision shows that the PLO “believe in the right of the individual Israeli Jew to live in peace and security…” and “that the aspirations of the common people and their right to a secure and dignified life is a sacred cause. These aspirations belong equally to the Muslim, the Christian, the Jew and the non-believer.” The idea of accepting “a partition plan” by accepting a Palestine on the 1967 borders was, however, in the air, and al-Hout writes that one could see it as “a necessary transitional phase leading one day to the establishment of a unified democratic state.” He also cryptically says that “Revolutionary wisdom… compels us not to reveal all of our cards.” Perhaps he meant that the Palestinians shouldn’t admit that the small quasi-state was only a phase?