Solidarity with the Legitimacy Struggles of Arab Palestinians & Jewish Israelis


As Richard Falk wrote in the concluding paragraphs of his latest article (which I’ve reblogged), Apartheid and the Palestinian National Struggle (the emphases below are mine):

The Palestinian struggle is about far more than the ‘end to occupation,’ although the concreteness of the Israeli occupation of Palestine lends itself to visualization, as would Israeli withdrawal, and this partly explains why so many liberal activists equate peace with ending the occupation. Yet conceiving the conflict in this territorial manner is profoundly misleading. It ignores the depth and complexity of what is at stake for both Jews and Palestinians, but especially for Palestinians. I consider the Palestinian national struggle within its broader scope and less distinct parameters as a persisting struggle to achieve the right of self-determination. Self-determination is the solemn promise of common Article 1 in the two international human rights covenants made to all peoples in the world, in effect, a legal, moral, cultural, and frequently a political entitlement to determine collective destiny so long as the equal right of other peoples is not encroached upon. These 1966 covenants set forth the content of international human rights law in their most authoritative treaty form. The extended inability to realize this right is the core tragedy of the Palestinian people, informing the hardships and humiliations of daily life.

In some respects, even describing the Palestinian goal in the language of self-determination is too restrictive, and by itself, not very clarifying. Ultimately the preconditions and contours of a just and sustainable peace is what should concern us most. It is an outcome that controversially also addresses the overlapping and conflicting right of self-determination enjoyed by those of Jewish identity who are now long enough resident in Israel to possess their own legitimate basis for claiming self-determination. The key strategy of accommodation is to find the best formula for reconciling these basic competing claims of self-determination, and to reject as unacceptable contentions of their fundamental incompatibility or their resolution by force of arms. It is important at this stage to recognize that Israeli unilateralism and Zionist maximalism are making it increasingly difficult for the affected parties to find such a formula, much less give it life.

Falk goes on to summarize “the basic drift of [his] argument”:

             – UN authority was not able to obtain a solution;
– armed struggle and international statecraft were tried, but both failed to resolve the conflict or improve the Palestinian position;
– what this leaves is either Israeli unilateralism, carrying out the Zionist endgame of incorporating the whole of Jerusalem and the West Bank into Israel, and claiming to be the state of the entire Jewish people, or a Legitimacy War victory by the Palestinian people that induces a cycle of ‘new diplomacy’ on a level playing field;
– in the interim, any further attempts to revive the Oslo diplomacy, even should they enjoy the cynical support of the Netanyahu government should be resisted as a dead end that is more harmful to the Palestinian struggle than is facing the realities of Israeli expansionism.

I agree with almost everything that Falk writes, except that it isn’t self-evident to me that the claims to legitimacy & self-determination of Arab Palestinians & Jewish Israelis need to be conflicting &/or competing. & it occurs to me that the necessary “accommodation” or “formula for reconciling” these claims is to see them both as legitimate, to encourage both the Arab Palestinians & the Jewish Israelis who seek a peaceful resolution to see themselves as partners in a common endeavor to create a bi-national state that assures self-determination to both national groupings.

In an earlier part of his article, Falk pointed out that with the first Intifada, the Palestinian national struggle had become a movement “from the bottom up”. I made a meme of this part of his article, & posted it on Facebook:

My hope is that the “bottom-up” seekers of peace and accommodation of both national groupings will find ways to support one another’s struggles for legitimacy, & of working together to draw up a blueprint for a just bi-national solution. Which is why I feel there is a need for solidarity with both.



One thought on “Solidarity with the Legitimacy Struggles of Arab Palestinians & Jewish Israelis

  1. Hi Richard,

    I thought the Falk piece was pretty good too. I think your comments about not seeing the two sides as a necessarily conflicting, but rather as embodying respective truths, is a brave but probably the only way of progressing a just solution. Thanks for sending these pieces out.




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