7 October 2021
1) Palestine Chronicle TV’s discussion on ODS with Awad Abdelfattah, Ilan Pappe, Romana Rubeo and Ramzy Baroud of 30 December 2020 deserves revisiting. (See First Thursdays of January 2021.) The video starts at 3:00. At 33:00 – 37:00 Pappe brilliantly demolishes two-state (partition) solutions by reference to White South Africa’s offering Bantustans to the African National Congress on the reasoning that Whites would not accept a one-state democracy; for Palestine, likewise, the strategy cannot be based on changing Israel, but rather starting with what the colonised want and getting the world outside Israel to force change. From 47:15 on he makes the case for a political vision, the fight for rights to be carried on within this vision or “end-game”. Baroud and Abdelfattah agree, and add at 50:00 – 58:00 that the international solidarity movement, as well, must also get on the ODS bandwagon; it’s not enough to just work for the negative strategy of de-colonisation.
2) Our ODS organisation did a Zoom webinar on 20 September with Ghada Karmi and Ramzy Baroud on ‘What is ODS?’, attempting to cover the basics for those new to the idea. Our first such discussion was non-virtual, at St Catharine’s College in Cambridge, in December 2013, with Ghada Karmi and Ilan Pappe, the Q-and-A part of which is on Vimeo. We also invited those two to be the keynote speakers at the May 2014 ODS conference in Zürich (here and here), and co-organised the discussion with Ruba Salih, Gideon Levy and Ilan Pappe at Westminster University in May 2016. Many further videoed discussions are planned.
3) From the archives: Omar Barghouti in Mondoweiss in 2013 made an air-tight case for ODS, well worth re-reading. He makes the point, which is only apparently banal, that the negative work of de-colonising and exposing Zionism’s racist nature must go hand in hand, “simultaneously”, with pursuing this vision. He also demolishes the premises of bi-nationalism. He points out the sheer magnanimity of the Palestinian/ODS offer to Jewish Israelis to remain as normal citizens in the re-united, democratic Palestine, realising how hard it is for many Palestinians to imagine living as equals with the people currently oppressing them. Justice is a precondition for the noble goal of reconciliation.
4) In the Guardian of 10 June 2021 Ghada Karmi showed what ODS (the fight for all the rights of all the Palestinians) – or for that matter any expression of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination – is up against: the “silencing” of Palestinians revealing mainstream “anti-Palestinian racism”, one expression of which is the two-state solution which legitimises a Jewish state on stolen land.
5) Dimi Reider’s article in the New Statesman of 24 May 2021 against the two-state solution is a barometer-reading of mainstream thinking. While it is positive that ‘everyone’ is abandoning the two-state “mantra”, the argument is still couched in terms of Realpolitik rather than ethics, the ‘occupation’ is still only of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and not one word is wasted on the refugees. Still, another drop of acid on Western Zionist dogma.
6) Colin Patrick Mangan, blogging on 16 August at ‘The Organization for World Peace’, presents an well-thought-out ODS cocktail: that “the only truly just solution to the conflict is… the establishment of a unitary, democratic, and secular binational state, with a full Palestinian right to return” and that a “confederal or federal proposal to the conflict would factionalize Israelis and Palestinians and only lead to further power struggles for socio-political influence”. Some local “autonomy” would exist within “a unitary government [which] would guarantee proportional representation and the universal protection of the rights of all citizens” (presently “6.4 million Israeli Jews”, 6.3 million Palestinians currently living in the occupied territories” and “6.4 million Palestinians living in diaspora”). He however speaks of Israel’s “transformation” rather than its replacement, and advocates the continued “open-ended Jewish immigration”.
7) The bi-monthly establishment bible Foreign Affairs, put out by the Council on Foreign Relations, on 24 August printed the answers (all very brief) of 64 “experts” to the question ‘Is the two-state solution still viable?’ Despite the framing in terms of viability rather than justice, alongside the usual Zionist suspects such as Martin Indyk, Hussein Ibish, Dennis Ross, Derek Penslar, and Aaron David Miller, as well as Palestinian pollsters Khalil Shikaki and Shibley Telhami, many staunch ODS supporters or sympathisers speak their minds. Philip Weiss in Mondoweiss on 1 September covers this meaningful if unrepresentative (about half the respondents are Israel-lobbyists, many not even Israeli) survey, naming and quoting, from the latter group, Diana Buttu, Zaha Hassan, Youssef Munayyer, Nadia Abu El-Haj, and Haidar Eid. He also notes that the answers are almost strictly according to the experts’ camps: “The conviction that the two-state solution is viable is chiefly held by Israel advocates. Palestinian and Arab experts and Realists doubt that a Palestinian state can ever emerge.”
2 September 2021
1) On the Vox site on 26 May 2021 Zack Beauchamp wrote a thoughtful argument for the Zionist two-state solution in an attempt to refute the positions taken in the New York Times by Yousef Munayyer and Peter Beinart. It however deals almost exclusively with what is possible rather than what is desirable, i.e. with feasibility rather than justice. Where Beauchamp does reveal his values it is to treat as equally valid the collective claims of two different ‘nations’ to Palestine – although the amount of territory for each, based on the Green Line (not even on the Resolution 181 borders) is far from equal. This emphasis on (allegedly) ethnic collectives shows once again that bi-nationalism is closer to the two-state solution than to the one-democratic-state solution.
2) BDS is chalking up successes, as a BDS-Movement report of 27 July 2021 shows. Some of the 16 concrete “impacts” so far in 2021 do pertain to Israel as the apartheid ruler over all of Palestine, but the emphasis is on on boycotting and divesting from companies active in the 1967-occupied territories. There, Israeli presence is an “illegal occupation”, but one wonders about Israel’s presence in the 1948-occupied territories – a debate that goes on within the BDS movement.
3) BDS co-founder and co-leader Omar Barghouti wrote about BDS recently in the Journal of Palestine Studies (Volume 50, Number 2). He, too, although a supporter of the one-democratic-state solution, emphasises the targeting only of firms working in the “illegal Israeli settlements” in the West Bank, referred to as the locus of “Israel’s occupation”, and says that “BDS calls for ending Israel’s 1967 occupation” rather than, as the 2005 BDS Call has it, “ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands”. Nevertheless, the article is an inspiring call for Palestinian self-determination. Barghouti moreover brooks no compromise on the Right of Return and rightly notes that BDS is scaring Israel to the extent that in 2017 it budgeted $75 million to fight BDS – real proof of success! He also spells out the neutrality on the one-state/two-state question maintained by the BDS movement, which “does not advocate for a particular solution to the conflict” but “instead… focuses on the realization of basic rights and the implementation of international law” – international law which arguably regards the presence of the Zionist state in Palestine as justified, or at least legal. In footnote 53, Barghouti reacts to out-of-context use by BDS opponents of his statement in a talk that “we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine”.
4) It is well worth re-reading Noura Erakat’s 1 February 2012 Al-Shabaka article on the debate between rights- and solution-based approaches, as well as her reply to her critics wherein she does take a stand for the one-democratic-state solution: “Palestinians should adopt a one-state solution as a political vision that aims for the equality of all persons irrespective of nationality, ethnicity, religion, or race. By endorsing a one-state solution, we are calling for the dismantlement of institutionalized racism that privileges Jewish nationals above their non-Jewish Arab Palestinian counterparts rather than supporting the creation of two ethnically homogenous states.”
5) Also from ODS’s history, the pioneering ‘London One State Group’ back in 2007 wrote and published a statement which provided the basis and some of the wording for the Munich Declaration – the slightly shorter statement of principles of our ODS group which was adopted at a 2012 ODS conference in Munich. The 2007 declaration was agreed on at conferences in Madrid and London and signed by “Ali Abunimah, Naseer Aruri, Omar Barghouti, Oren Ben-Dor, George Bisharat, Haim Bresheeth, Jonathan Cook, Ghazi Falah, Leila Farsakh, Islah Jad, Joseph Massad, Ilan Pappe, Carlos Prieto del Campo, Nadim Rouhana, the London One State Group and many others”.
5 August 2021
1) The Alternative Palestinian Path Conferece will be held in Madrid 31 October – 3 November 2021, organised by Masar Badil, a group whose basic principles differ from those of ODS only in remaining open on the issue of the status of current Jewish Israelis. In the intellectual tradition of Ghassan Kanafani, Majed Abu Sharar and others, the movement states (>Principles) that historic Palestine shall be a single country, that the Madrid/Oslo process is null and void, and that Palestine’s destiny – including who will be its citizens – is to be determined by the Palestinian people. That is, it unequivocally rejects the two-state solution and of course supports “the full right of return of refugees and displaced persons to their original homes, restoration of their properties and compensation for their damages and losses”.
2) Lana Tatour in Middle East Eye on 18 January 2021 welcomed but criticised the B’Tselem conclusion that Israel is an apartheid state: “The report received widespread international media attention and was described as a “watershed” moment. But it was only a watershed moment for B’Tselem, which was using the term “apartheid” for the first time in its three-decade history, and for an international community that is so infatuated with Israeli voices. For Palestinians, none of this is new.” Tatour rejects the “distinction between 1948 and 1967 territories” and points out that B’Tselem totally ignores the settler-colonial nature of Israel. She also asserts the primacy of the political over the legal. (See our similar criticism in our entry of 1 July 2021.) More on this in an Al-Shabaka podcast.
3) We ask ourselves what all Palestinians want – one state, two states, what? While the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (an Oslo-framework organisation) polls only Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, an outfit called the Washington Institute claimed in February 2020 to have polled Palestinians living everywhere and found that a majority rejects the two-state solution, while residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are “much more pragmatic… about the impracticality of a one-state solution, the return of refugees, or armed struggle against Israel”.
4) Khaled Meshaal of Hamas was interviewed by Middle East Eye on 25 May 2021. He regards all of Palestine as “occupied” and like Masar Badil (see just above) speaks not of ‘Israel’ but of the ‘Zionist entity’. The job is to “regain Palestine” and more, to work for the interests of the entire Arab Ummah – not to just fight Israeli policies but to fight Israel as such, which will soon “be part of the past”. At the end he also makes the true point that in supporting Israel the U.S. is harming its own interests (the Mearsheimer & Walt thesis).
1 July 2021
1) Yara Hawari on 29 June wrote for Al-Shabaka about the signs of Palestinian unity within the recent uprising, quoting from a recent popular manifesto: “We are one people and one society throughout Palestine. … Zionism controls us, disperses our political will and prevents us from a united struggle against the racist settler colonial system throughout Palestine.” But those in the “Oslo Prison” of the West Bank, the “citizenship prison” of the “lands occupied in 1948”, and “those in permanent exile” are feeling and working in common. Her writing of “colonized Palestine” is a refreshing shift from the days a few years ago when most Al-Shabaka writers wrote as if only the West Bank and Gaza were ‘colonized’ or ‘occupied’. She attests that the two-state-supporting “PA in the West Bank has been totally sidelined throughout the uprising”, with “Palestinians… reclaiming a shared narrative and struggle from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”
2) The incomparably more conservative Rashid Khalidi also wrote on 30 June in Foreign Affairs about the need for the revivification of the Palestinian organisations representing all Palestinians as opposed to the Oslo-created PA, which must be “superceded”. Needed is “a strategic agenda that they can clearly communicate globally” which is in his view definitely not the two-state agenda of the PA. Khalidi, to be sure, in this mainstream publication calls the recent Israeli onslaughts merely recent “intense violence”, and his reasons for getting on the bandwagon hurtling away from the two-state solution have nothing to do with the injustice of that solution: it has merely been made “impossible” by Israeli West Bank settlements and “formidable structural impediments, both physical and administrative.” He writes of a “new paradigm is taking shape, based on equal rights for all in Palestine and Israel, both collectively and individually, whether via an increasingly improbable two-state solution, a single state or binational entity, or a federal, cantonal, or other framework.” He leans towards bi-nationalism rather than ODS, writing of “a new postcolonial political structure shared with their Israeli neighbors”, and moreover erects his own hurdle for all non-two-state plans by demanding of their advocates that they show “how these options would work in practice”.
3) B’Tselem’s calling out Israel on its apartheid rule between the river and the sea has the good effect of reaching a wide public with this message – which of course the Palestinians have known and named for the last 40 years. While their report is good in defining apartheid and documenting concrete examples of its Israeli version, it is disappointing in four ways: 1) It continues to accept the legitimacy of Israel and the two-state paradigm by writing of the ‘occupied territories’, meaning only the areas taken over in 1967. 2) It studiously avoids applying the attribute ‘apartheid’ to the Israeli state as such, applying it only to the (present) Israeli ‘regime’ – as if there were some conceivable ‘regime’ that could be meaningfully called ‘Israel’ or ‘Zionist’ which was not an apartheid one. 3) They don’t mention the more thorough 2017 study demonstrating Israeli apartheid by Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley, covered in our entry of February 2021. 4) The majority of Palestinians – those involuntarily in the diaspora – are not mentioned at all, whereas Falk and Tilley showed that the ‘apartheid’ concept applies to them as well.
4) Chris Rose of the Amos Trust (UK) on 10 June interviewed Sabeel-Kairos’s Phoebe Rison, a British-Palestinian from Jerusalem, and Jonathan Cook, the journalist who has lived and worked in Nazareth for 20 years, on ‘What Next for Palestine and Israel?’ Minutes 20-30 are about full right of return (to their places in Israel) and about how, finally, Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem have at long last adopted the ‘apartheid’ analysis. Cook later hopes that eventually the mainstream will similarly adopt the language of settler-colonialism, and at about 51 minutes says that we in international Palestine solidarity have ‘been a brake on’ the Palestinian cause by for too long giving credence to the unfair and impossible two-state idea. At about 55 minutes he says we’ve been ‘wasting time’ discussing things within the Western-colonialist two-state framework. At the very end Rison puts the unelected PA in its place and pleads for Palestinians to quit speaking ‘politely’.
5) Concerning the actual One Undemocratic State, Shibley Telhami on 11 June on the Brookings Institute website cogently criticised the U.S. Administration’s defense of Israel’s “Jewishness” at the expense of a true citizen-based democracy.
6) A hint of the possibility of deriving ODS from BDS was made by Yara Hawari back on 23 July 2020 on Al-Shabaka. “BDS itself is not a political party nor is it a representative body of the Palestinian people. But as a political movement it demonstrates well the possibility of achieving consensus among Palestinians over core issues which could be revitalized into a political agenda and a future vision.” She links to an explicit call by the excellently radical Hazem Jamjoum, dated 12 September 2018, to re-politicise the Palestinian narrative around Palestinian human ‘rights’. In Jamjoum’s extremely important essay, ‘Reclaiming the Political Dimension’, he says the “rights-based” approach of Palestinian “civil society”, centered around the BDS demands, has “come at a cost: By shifting the emphasis to legalist frameworks, the Palestinian struggle, at least on an international scale, risks losing sight of its fundamentally political nature.” It has moreover “ceded” the “political” to the PA. He contrasts this with the needed political narrative of liberation, linking to examples such as the work of the Dream Defenders and the Gaza-based Return Marches.
7) Speaking of return, which is non-negotiable, ODS supporters should re-visit the Right of Return Coalition site. It is worth asking why the Palestine Return Centre, based in London, is not a member of the Coalition.
3 June 2021
1) Peter Beinart, ex-Zionist and editor-at-large of Jewish Currents, is making waves. In the 12 May NY Times and, longer and better, the 18 May Guardian, he came out for Right of Return and envisioned, however briefly, a single secular state. Beinart (see also our ‘First Thursdays’ entries of 4 July 2019, 6 August 2020 and 4 February 2021) asserts the justness and necessity of “acknowledging and beginning to remedy” the 1948 and later expulsions of Palestinians “by allowing Palestinian refugees to return”. Beinart to be sure underestimates the problem of “large-scale” eviction of Jews living in stolen Palestinian homes and neglects mention of those living on stolen Palestinian land: in 1947 at most 7% of Palestinian territory was in Jewish possession. But hats off to Beinart, who has now overtaken Rashid Khalidi on the left (see next entry). Remarkably, Beinart violates the rule of not conflating ‘Jews’ and ‘Zionists’ by twice writing of “the Israeli government and its American Jewish allies”. He also incorrectly claims that in the Jewish state recommended by UN General Assembly Resolution 181 “47%” of the population would be non-Jewish; the correct percentage, arrived at by counting the nomadic or semi-nomadic Bedouins, was slightly over 50%. Finally, to show that in 1948 “Arab forces also committed atrocities”, he gives three examples of Arab violence against Jews done just after and in retaliation for Jewish violence against Arabs, Zionist transgressions which he explicitly mentions but fails to likewise call ‘atrocities’. He has thus not yet freed himself from painting a picture of a non-existent symmetry – either in ethical or power aspects – between the two sides. May the day come when a Palestinian is given space in the Times and the Guardian to write similar things.
2) Rashid Khalidi weighed in on 31 May before the UN Security Council with a statement which throughout bemoans international failure to implement UNSC resolutions – specifically Res. 242 of 22 November 1967 which notoriously stripped Palestinians of 78% of their homeland and in effect denied Right of Return. Moreover, his mention-in-passing of “the right of refugees to return and compensation” incorrectly says this was part of UN General Assembly Res. 181 of 29 November 1947, rather than the real source, UNGA Res. 194 of 11 December 1948. He calls somewhat vaguely for recognition of Palestinians’ “inalienable rights as a people” and supports, also somewhat vaguely, “the principle that in any projected solution in Palestine-Israel, all citizens of both the Palestinian and Israeli peoples, and both collectivities, must enjoy rights and security on a basis of complete equality.” He does laudably denounce the “false equivalence” given in politics and public opinion to the two sides, request a UN-backed end to the siege of Gaza, and call for “UN-mandated and -supervised elections” among the “Palestinian people” (also those in the diaspora?) However, himself asserting false equivalence at a more abstract level, he clings to the language of the ”two peoples”, saying their presence “in Palestine/Israel” is an “indisputable principle”: “whether on a two state, or on some other basis – the weaker cannot be left to the mercies of the stronger…” A good case can be made that it is this language of “collectivities” and “peoples” – giving in particular the Jewish one political rights in Palestine equal to those of the indigenous Palestinians – which has played a part in prolonging the Zionist-Palestinian conflict.
3) Pankraj Mishra slipped some radical wording by his editors at the New Yorker, writing in his review on 19 May of a new biography of Edward Said something unprecedented in the pages of this staunchly Zionist weekly, namely that “the state of Israel [was created] on Palestinian land.” ODS, moreover, gets a mention, Mishra noting that after the damage done by ‘Oslo’ became clear, Said “daringly and, it now seems, presciently [advocated] for a one-state solution: a secular democracy guaranteeing equal rights to Jews and Arabs.” (This is not quite accurate: See Said’s 1999 NY Times Magazine article on this website.) Unfortunately, Mishra gets Said dead wrong concerning the (ir-)relevance of the Holocaust to the ethics of the 20th-century history of Palestine, implying that Said – apparently like Mishra – thought Jewish persecution in Europe made the Israeli Zionists not “just another white colonial power”.
4) Off-topic, sort of, is this tremendous monologue of 19 May by
Krystal Ball on the show she
co-hosts, ‘The Rising’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ob1SzKP1MlQ Ball is one of a group of intelligent and often funny YouTubers in the USA who speak out without fear about Palestine, Israel and Zionism in ways unheard of in
Europe – e.g. Jimmy Dore, Katie Halper, Chris Hedges, Aaron Maté, Abby Martin, Max Blumenthal, Kyle Kulinski, Briahna Joy Gray, Mike Figueredo, Matt Taibi and, of course, Glenn Greenwald.
6 May 2021
1) Philip Weiss in Mondoweiss on 2 May rejoices in Human Rights Watch’s recent report calling Israeli apartheid by name and points out that the trigger for HRW’s finally taking off the gloves when it comes to Israel was its 2018 Basic Law defining Israel as the state of the Jewish people (only). That law was a milestone due to its honesty, now closely followed by the next honest step, namely Israel’s openly claiming sovereignty over not just the 1948-occupied territories, Jerusalem and the Golan, but over the West Bank as well – i.e., One Undemocratic State in all of historic Palestine. (The Gaza Strip is a special case.)
2) Weiss in his article lauds the Carnegie Endowment’s recent report, ‘Breaking the Israel-Palestine Status Quo’, for “urging the United States and other countries to abandon the two-state peace process, which has been an utter failure, in favor of using its levers of power to call for equal rights for Palestinians”. But alas, he mis-reads this wordy document, which is only marginally different from their report ‘Two States or One?’ of September 2018 (covered in our entry for March 2021). The Carnegie thinkers still want two states, saying that their proposals for the Biden Administration – which center around the tired, a-political ‘rights-based approach’ – are “compatible with reviving a two-state dispensation” and that unless the U.S. inches towards more pro-Palestinian policies “the the door on peaceful conflict resolution and a two-state outcome will further close”. The two-state solution is, unfortunately, “waning”. The authors moreover only want “full equality and enfranchisement for all those residing in the territory under Israeli control” – but not for the majority of Palestinians, namely those who do not reside there but rather in the diaspora.
3) In the electronic intifada of 23 March Josh Ruebner reviewed Jeff Halper’s new book, Declonising Israel, Liberating Palestine: Zionism,
Settler-Colonialism and the Case for One Democratic State. Apparently, aside from the largely negative framing – i.e., opposition to and overcoming colonialism, Zionism, Settlerism, apartheid
– the book presents ODS, and the ODS Campaign, with which Halper is involved, comprehensively, including the fact that ODS was always explicitly the Palestinian position during the years of the
British Mandate in addition to being the position of the early PLO. Of interest to non-Palestinian supporters of ODS, Halper evidently goes lucidly into some detail of his own “positionality” as
a Jewish immigrant from the U.S. ODS in Palestine Ltd. sees itself as supporting those Palestinians and Jewish Israelis who want ODS to become a reality, mainly educating world opinion on
what ODS is.
1 April 2021
1) 31 March saw the introduction of General Assembly Resolution A/RES/75/273 which would repeal UNGA Resolution 181 of 29 November 1947 as well as urge the Security Council to repeal UNSC Resolution 242 of 22 November 1967. It also includes a clause demanding the immediate and unconditional return of Palestinians to their homes as resolved by UNGA Resolution 194 of 11 December 1948. Supporting the new resolution are 48 countries, about a quarter of the membership of the GA: Afghanistan, Algeria, Albania, Angola, Bangladesh, Greece, Bolivia, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chad, Chile, Costa Roca, Cuba, Finland, Ghana, Haïti, Iceland, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Ireland, Jamaica, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Norway, Qatar, Pakistan, Rwanda, Seychelles, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, and Yemen.
2) 31 March also saw the introduction in the U.S. House of Representatives of two resolutions concerning Palestine. The first, H.R. 4817, urges the U.S. to work in the U.N. General Assembly for a) the repeal of UNGA Resolution 273 of 11 May 1949 admitting Israel to the U.N. and 2) the expulsion of Israel from that body based on Articles 1.2, 2, 2.3, 2.4, 4, 6, 55 and 56 of the UN Charter. The other, H.R. 4818, would commit the U.S. to support the return of Palestinian refugees and the establishment of a constitutional democracy in historic, pre-1948 Palestine – which it notably refers to as the Occupied Palestinian Territories – based on the constitutions of Switzerland, India, South Africa and the U.S. Chief sponsor is Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan; co-sponsors are Reps. Grijalva of Arizona, Reps. Bass, Lee and Huffman of California, Rep. Johnson of Georgia, Reps. Davis, Rush and García of Illinois, Rep. Carson of Indiana, Rep. Massie of Kentucky, Rep. Pingree of Maine, Rep. Dingell of Michigan, Reps. McCollum and Omar of Minnesota, Rep. Watson Coleman of New Jersey, Reps. Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman of New York, Rep. Blumenauer of Oregon, Rep. Jayapal of Washington, and Reps. Moore and Pocan of Wisconsin.
3) In an opinion column in the New York Times of 12 February Sam Bahour and Bernard Avishai present the old ‘federal’ version of bi-nationalism put forward by various Britons in the years 1934-36 and by the British Government in 1946-47, as well as by a handful of Jewish-Zionist intellectuals – mainly Judah Magnes – in Palestine during the 1930s and 1940s. They write, “To live and thrive, Israel and Palestine must… arrive at both independence and interdependence – two states sharing what must be shared, and separating only where they can.” A two-state solution, not a federation, after all. They focus on the intertwined character of present-day Palestine, arguing mainly in terms of practicalities and economics, and start with the premise that the two-state solution as apparently conceived in the Oslo agreements, while not necessarily unjust, has no political future. “Some people argue that… the Palestinians ought to argue for equal rights in a single secular democratic state. But every argument that purports to make the two-state solution implausible makes a one-state future ludicrous…”
4) Off-topic but spirit-lifting, the Jimmy
Dore Show recently featured Cornel West and Max Blumenthal talking mainly about Palestine. Many progressives in the U.S. speak with a freedom and honesty unknown (to me) in
either the U.K. or continental Europe. They seem ready to embrace the idea that the Zionist enterprise is basically illegitimate or, in other words, that Palestine belongs to the Palestinians.
Keep your eye on The Grayzone and Useful Idiots as well.
4 March 2021
1) Exactly 100 years ago ODS began to be advocated by Palestinians in their diplomatic battle to avoid the implementation of Britain’s planned Zionist Mandate for Palestine. First, in their groundbreaking ‘Report on the State of Palestine’ of March 1921, some details of which are found in the First Thursdays entry for 2 July 2020. Second, in August 1921 when a Palestinian Delegation went to London and Geneva made up of Musa Kazem al-Husseini, Ibrahim Shammas, Tawfiq Hammad, Amin al-Tamimi, Shibly Al-Jamal and Muein El-Madi, probably joined by Ruhi Bey Abdul Hadi, Fuad Bey Saad, and Jamal al-Husseini. They argued for a normal representative legislature and executive as was the case in, say, England, but this was explicitly refused them by top Colonial Office officials and by Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill, who argued either for an eventual straight-out Jewish-majority state or the bi-national or ‘parity’ solution. Then on 2 September the Delegation sent a polite yet piercing and perceptive letter to the League of Nations arguing for “a National Government responsible to a Parliament elected by those Palestinians who lived in the country before the war – Moslems, Christians and Jews”. (Search for ‘C.372.M.260.192 Palestine’.) This remained the Palestinian demand until the sell-out of 1988 and the Oslo Accords a few years later.
2) In May 2021 a book should appear by Jonathan Kuttab, Beyond the Two-State Solution. With endorsements from John Quigley and Miko Peled, it is sure to be good, although the publisher’s blurb says the two-state is not “viable” rather than that it is not fair or just. Again, let’s be glad it’s not ‘viable’, because if it happened it would cement the entire injustice of the theft of Palestine by Britain and international Zionists.
3) The long-winded, 40+-page report ‘Two States or One?’ from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Rice University’s Baker Institute should be read by connoiseurs, especially its second half. Published on 20 September 2018, it its academese avoids stepping on Zionism’s toes, but does offer an overview of the one-state alternatives – ODS, bi-nationalism, shared sovereignty etc.
4) What is Marwan Barghouti’s position on ‘two states or one?’? Does anybody know? He originally supported the Oslo Accords, but later became wishy-washy. Either way, his election as, or even candidacy for, PA President would mean a lot for the future of ODS, as it would mean the replacement of hard-core two-stater Mahmoud Abbas. Democratic forces within Fatah might finally win the upper hand.
5) Speaking of the Palestinian leadership, the ‘Focus on’ installment at Al-Shabaka, dated 23 February, is worth reading, especially the contribution by Noura Erekat and the replies to it. Questions addressed include whether a motivating end-goal is necessary, whether BDS should remain on the fence in the two-state/ODS debate, whether ‘rights-based’ politicking is sufficient… There’s some good history, too.
6) Despite the absence of any Palestinian speakers, this 9 March event sponsored by Independent Jewish Voices on the question-with-an-obvious-answer – Can a state be both Jewish and democratic? – might be worth registering for.
4 February 2021
1) U.S. Congressman Gregory Meeks is the new Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, replacing Eliot Engel, whose arch-Zionism could not be topped. Still, according to the Palestine Chronicle on 7 January, Meeks said: “I’m a firm believer in the two-state solution, providing both parties with self-determination… So we may need to restart the US assistance to Palestinian people, demonstrating that the United States is ready to lead again.” Two-staters’ last-ditch offensive includes as well not only the Biden Administration’s Antony Blinken but figures in Israel such as Yehuda Shaul, one of the founders of ‘Breaking the Silence’, and Maya Rosen, who in their report ‘Highway to Annexation’ [googlable] fear that new Israeli roads in the West Bank will undermine the two-state solution, which, according to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Shaul adamantly supports.
2) B’Tselem Director Hagai El-Ad on 12 January in the Guardian described the apartheid system in Palestine accurately but incompletely, since he frames the discussion as concerning only the people living between the river and the sea – not mentioning with a single word the majority of Palestinians living in exile. In this he falls behind Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley’s groundbreaking 2017 report including the 6-7 million returnees in the number of people who, in an extended sense, live under Israeli control and thus under Israeli apartheid.
3) In Counterpunch on 13 January Ramzy Baroud and Romana Rubeo summarised their episode on Palestine Chronicle TV of 30 December 2020 featuring ODS advocates Awad Abdelfattah and Ilan Pappe, which First Thursdays covered in its 7 January entry. ODS is a “game changer… gaining momentum among Palestinian youth”.
4) On 27 January in Jewish Currents Peter Beinart argued that the recent and intense push for a widespread adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-semitism “is the American Jewish establishment’s response to the death of the two-state solution”. Citing inter alia the views of Fadi Quran (covered in our entry of 5 November 2020), Beinart perceives since around 2014 an erosion of support for the two-state solution within the Palestinian mainstream. While of value in taking apart the concept of “national self-determination”, Beinart in this article remains legalistic and even ethnicist, arguing in the case of “Israel/Palestine” for “autonomy” within “a binational state” for “national”, i.e. ethno-religious, groups. While basing his argument on the “impossibility” of the two-state solution, rather than its abject unjustness, he does deny the Jewish nation’s right to a state of its own and offers an excellent analysis of Israel’s unequal rule over all Palestinians – in full alignment with the study by Falk and Tilley mentioned just above.
5) Back on 8 August 2019 the two excellent Al-Shabaka analysts Yara Hawari and Ahmad Amara suggested framing the discussion in terms of the Palestinians’ indigeneity, thus shifting the focus away from those living between the river and the sea to all Palestinians and implicitly to the right of return of well over half of them. The logical connection between right of return and ODS is that the former implies the latter and complements ODS’s focus on democracy and the unity of Palestine. They write of “the process of settler colonialism, also known as the continuous Nakba, or al-Nakba al-mustimirrah” and that “Indigeneity demands that Palestinians refocus their struggle on decolonization and liberation for all Palestinians.” They criticise “the Palestinian political representation within Israel” and the Palestinian Authority, both of whom “have failed not only to achieve their political goals, but also to adequately incorporate the Palestinian refugees and their right to return and restitution.”
7 January 2021
1) On Palestine Chronicle TV on 29 December 2020 Romana Rubeo and Ramzy Baroud interviewed Awad Abdelfattah and Ilan Pappe, two pillars of the new One Democratic State Campaign which for the moment is based in the 1948-occupied territories. They all agree that ‘the Palestinians’ need a vision, an end-game, a clear and inspiring goal, if they are to have any success mobilising world, or for that matter Palestinian, support for a full realisation of all the rights of all the Palestinians – as opposed to the approach that one should quit talking about solutions and just focus on rights, important as concretely working for rights is. The group distinguishes itself from other ODS support groups like ours in aiming to create a grassroots movement for ODS within historic Palestine, and should be “Palestinian-led”.
2) By contrast a bit of milquetoast: On 31 December Noam Sheizaf wrote for +972 journal an article called ‘We are all one-staters now’. One-staters in the sense that Israel has long ago “already annexed” the West Bank and that any viable solution must treat Palestine as a single unit: “Other ideas are completely hypothetical.” The author however holds the Zionist belief that the “occupation” started in 1967, and the article is devoid of any concept of justice, any mention of the refugees or any vision for the post-two-state future. I mention it as an example of how far behind the curve most of the Israeli left is.
3) For masochists only: The Brookings Institute’s Haim Saban Center on 18 December 2020 published a study called ‘On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, practical steps are more important than grand visions’. It is written by intellectuals in the policy circle that will have influence in the Biden Administration as it tries to keep the two-state solution alive – running cover for Israel, managing the status quo, maybe giving a few more calories per day to Gazans. Sadly, their approach of ‘practical steps’ instead of ‘final deals’ reminds one of the approach of many Palestinians and solidarity people in fashion a few years ago – of conceptualising and fighting only for ‘rights’, never for ‘solutions’.
4) Omri Boehm, a philosopher working in New York, was interviewed back on 26 July 2020 by Tilo Jung on the show ‘Jung & Naïv’, with remarks specific to Palestine beginning at about 1:38 and going to the end at 2:09. Under excellent questioning by Jung, Boehm argues for bi-nationalism, not ODS, believing in one ethno-religiously neutral (secular) state but with a constitution protecting not only individuals but the 2 “nations” – the old idea of the 30s and 40s of the liberal Zionist Palestinians. He ignores the majority of Palestinians – the returnees living in the diaspora – and would not call the new single state ‘Palestine’. He is also against “de-legitimising” Israel or Zionism and will not call Israel an “apartheid state”, merely a state with certain apartheid “practices”. Still, a snapshot of the thinking of someone who a few years down the road will get behind ODS. On 17 December 2020 he wrote an excellent article in Die Zeit Online defending Israel criticism and BDS from the charge of anti-semitism – in German (I haven’t found the original English version) – called ‘Gleichheit ist nicht antisemitisch’.