I would have loved to attend, but my health condition prevents me from traveling to Melbourne. So I’m posting this note on how I see this subject, in the hope that some of those attending may read it & may want, in the course of the workshop, to relate to points made here.
Talking about a just solution may seem utopian in the present circumstances.
Yet making this the subject of our contemplation is surely a most important moral choice: it is, first of all, taking a clear stand: What we seek, above all, is a just solution.
& articulating what is necessary for a just solution is surely a precondition for achieving as much of it as is achievable at any given stage.
If the goal is a just solution, it must be just to all concerned, no matter what their racial, ethnic, religious, national, or gender identity.
It seems to me that of “the topics to be covered” only the third, the right of return, really touches on the main subject. The second, BDS, is a question of strategy, not of a solution. The first, one state or two states, addresses the question of a just and equitable arrangement for the future harmonious co-existence of Palestinians & Israelis. But a just solution must surely also address past & present injustices. Not only for moral reasons, because otherwise the solution cannot be just, but also for pragmatic reasons: for people to believe in the possibility of a just future co-existence, they must also feel that justice will be done with regard to the past.
Thus any just solution must first of all acknowledge & attempt to redress the injustices that have been done and are still being done by Zionism and the Zionist State to the Palestinians whose homeland they have colonized.
Injustices perpetrated by people dispossessed or oppressed by colonization, in acts of resistance or revenge, cannot be justly considered as equally unconscionable as the acts of dispossession or oppression that prompted those responses.
The dispossessors & oppressors will need to acknowledge that
• The Zionist colonization, oriented to turn Palestine into “the Jewish State”, was from the outset unjust.
• The Balfour Declaration was unjust.
• The ethnic cleansing begun after the UN GA’s November 1947 recommendation for partition, & extended with the implementation of “Plan Dalet” on 1 April 1948, was unjust.
• The establishment in 1948 of the Zionist “Jewish state in Palestine, to be called Israel” was unjust.
• The continuing existence of the Zionist State ethnocracy in Palestine within the “Green Line” is unjust.
• The continuing military occupation, since 1967, of the West Bank and the continuing blockade of the Gaza Strip are unjust.
Each & all of these general injustices entails countless particular injustices to individual people: to non-Jewish Palestinians, obviously – but also, if less obviously, to “Israeli” Jewish Palestinians who have grown up in a regime that indoctrinates them to Zionist nationalism & forces them to serve in &/or be complicit in the continuing unjust occupation &/or exclusion from residence &/or full citizenship rights of non-Jewish Palestinians in their homeland.
Responsibility for all these injustices rests firstly on the Zionist movement & all its agencies & supporters, but also on the powers that have made the Zionist colonizing enterprise possible – from the Ottoman Sultanate, through Great Britain, the League of Nations, the United Nations, all the countries that have recognized, accepted &/or supported the Zionist State as a legitimate entity in Palestine, &above all the USA, & the multinational corporations that profit from the status quo….
All these injustices must be acknowledged before a viable solution can even be considered.
What must be guaranteed in a just solution?
• People who were exiled must be allowed to return to their homeland, & together with people now living in Palestine who were dispossessed &/or unjustly oppressed by the Zionist state &/or its “Israeli” settlers, must be allowed to repossess their homes or be adequately compensated.
• People who have no moral right to become residents of the country must no longer be granted automatic citizenship on their arrival there. The Zionist “Law of Return” which allows all Jews automatic citizenship must be revoked.
• The country, named Falastin in Arabic, & Eretz Yisrael in Hebrew, is by now the homeland of people who identify with two distinct nations & speak two different (if related) languages. In any just solution it can no longer be the state of only one of these nations. It can no longer be called Israel – a name that the present “State of Israel” was never entitled to, since the name “Israel” has for millennia been a name for all Jewry, all Jews in the world.
• In any just solution each of these nations must have equal rights to cultural autonomy, with educational & cultural institutions in the country’s two equal official languages.
re the two-state vs one-state solution:
Two states may then be an option, if majorities on both sides still want that. But that would be a kind of Grand Apartheid, & an anachronistic enhancing of conflicting nationalisms. It seems much more just & advanced to advocate for a binational state that grants full cultural autonomy to both nations.
re BDS: in terms of strategy, I think Ran Greenstein (Facebook, March 29 at 4:01pm) nails it:
‘Yes, a boycott definitely will help. But no, in South Africa boycott helped because it was triggered by and in turn amplified the mass struggle of millions on a daily basis, in the streets, factories, communities, schools, churches. Boycott without mass struggle is good, but let’s not delude ourselves that it could force change without an internal uprising.’
This doesn’t answer whether BDS is a just strategy.
But whether it is or isn’t, it will continue as long as the unjust Zionism regime continues to rule Palestine.
& Ran is right, it alone cannot bring about change: there needs to be an internal uprising.
But not of the non-Jewish Palestinians alone.
Without a change of heart among the “Israeli”-Jewish populace, a just solution cannot come about. There needs to be an internal uprising of this populace’s conscience, & it is towards this that the advocacy of Diaspora Jewry needs to be oriented: ‘Pursue justice, justice!’: Tzedek, tzedek tirdof!צֶדֶק צֶדֶק, תִּרְדֹּף
My ‘desired fate/solution for half of the Jews living on earth today – those who live in Israel?’?*
Desired fate: I wish them peace, I wish them life, I wish them freedom from being oppressors, exilers, occupiers, besiegers & dispossessors of another people in their homeland.
Desired solution: a free, secular, democratic Palestine (Israeland), as I described it in lines I wrote about a year and a half ago & am now publishing here as a meme:
That’s my desired solution, still, but of course it depends on enough people wanting it, on both sides.
& if they don’t, well then, each individual “Israeli” Jew in Palestine will make their own decision: whether or not to continue living as a citizen of the colonialist Zionist State whose very existence depends on the continuing dispossession & oppression etc of the country’s native population; whether or not to continue living in false consciousness, bad faith, denial that there is an occupation, that there are Palestinians, that there is a Palestine that for non-Jewish Palestinians is not “Israel”…
I’m not religious, but I’m with the rabbi who said that when there is persecution we should be on the side of the persecuted, not on the side of the persecutors. Or, to bring that down to basics: if your privileged life depended on your having to abuse and oppress someone else every day, would you choose to continue with that, or give up your privileged position?
You may think that because I’m a Jew my solidarity should be with the state where ‘half of the Jews living on earth today’ live. Well, it isn’t, not as long as that state continues to be an oppressor. My solidarity is with the oppressed & their struggle. Palestine must be free. & when the Arab Palestinians are freed from the Zionist oppression, the Hebrew Palestinians too will be freed from having to be the agents of that Zionist oppression.
* I was asked this question in a comment to a comment I made to another post: ‘The Zionist State that occupies Palestine is based not on dignity & compassion but on Israeli-Jewish (& still primarily Ashkenazi) supremacy & privilege. & it can have no “democratically elected leader” when around half of the population of the country does not have the right to vote.’
I’ve just now shared the post below on Facebook:
& I want here to relate to & to take issue with what Professor Blatman says in the second of the following four paragraphs:
In Israel, as in other places that developed through colonialist settlement and dispossession (North America, Australia, South Africa, Namibia), this colonialism did not begin with aspirations of sovereignty. The early Jewish settlers came here for economic reasons, to escape anti-Semitic persecution, or out of some romantic fantasy of building a new society.
But their descendants, as well as other groups that arrived over the years, saw the place as their homeland and wanted to be sovereign there. This Jewish demand received support and recognition after the Holocaust. Today no international body, including the Palestinian leadership, denies the legality and historic legitimacy of this sovereignty within the pre-1967 borders.
But since that year there has developed a colonialist project of dispossession in the occupied territories; it is still unfinished because it has not yet used the most extreme tools of colonialist dispossession, namely ethnic cleansing or genocide. It has, however, reached some very advanced stages that characterized similar efforts in the past – uncontrolled land seizures, economic, political, and cultural strangulation of the local population, terror and violence to which state officials turn a blind eye, ethnic separation and in particular, the conveying of an unequivocal message that this colonial presence is not temporary but permanent.
The local population gets the message and is waging a desperate struggle to reclaim what it senses it is about to lose forever. It resists, rebels and uses terror. In Namibia, North America and Australia, the response to this resistance was genocide.
No, it’s not untrue that ‘Today no international body, including the Palestinian leadership, denies the legality and historic legitimacy of this sovereignty within the pre-1967 borders’. Not untrue. But surely not right! Not moral! What motivates this almost universal non-denial is not justice or morality but Realpolitik. No humanitarian concern for the fate of Holocaust survivors & the fate of endangered Jews anywhere survivors can justify such universal non-humanitarian unconcern for the fate of Nakba survivors & the fate of exiled & displaced Palestinians everywhere. What is ‘legality’ but the making of laws by not-disinterested parties? What does ‘historic [I think the word intended was ‘historical’] legitimacy’ mean? Only that it has been in the interests of those who by recognizing a state accord it ‘legitimacy’ to do so. Being possibly (no more) a distant descendant of someone who was exiled from a country some two millennia ago can by no moral criterion be seen as according ‘legitimacy’ to the forcible dispossession and usurpation of the land of someone else, or to the sovereignty of the “returning” Jews over the native non-Jewish population of Palestine.
& I could add to Professor Blatman’ first par that many of the first & later Jewish settlers came because of deep emotional feelings for Palestine, with a profound sense of self-fulfillment as Jews if they could live in Eretz-Yisrael, the Land of Israel, Israeland. That has been the country’s name in Hebrew for millennia, & it is an important element in Jewish identity. But this too is not a justification for sovereignty. What evidently swayed many of the Jews in the Yishuv to accept the Zionist leadership & to support their unilateral declaration of “a Jewish state in Palestine to be called Israel”, was the argument “If we don’t drive most of them out & rule over the rest, they will kill us all”. Which, by the way, may have been a fair estimation at the time, given how the Zionists had been relating to the non-Jewish Palestinians until then.
You colonize, you displace, you dispossess, you deprive of jobs, you disrespect, you humiliate, you provoke resistance, & you have your pretext of self-defense.
No, the Zionist State, which has occupied Palestine by military force, first the greater part of it in 1948-49, & the rest in 1967, has no moral right to its sovereignty ‘within the pre-1967 borders’. The only right it has is the right of might: its own coupled with that of the powers that support/ed it.
& Israel’s sovereignty over Palestine is only the latest of hetero-male patriarchalist colonizations that (among their other crimes against humanity & the ecology of our planet) have wreaked & are still wreaking destruction & oppression to indigenous populations worldwide.
& Israel’s sovereignty over Palestine is – with Indonesia’s sovereignty over West Papua, & China’s over Tibet – one of the three major military occupations that today are continuing the dehumanization, dispossession & disenfranchisement & more of many millions of subalterned human beings, & this is all morally wrong!
Can these right by might sovereignties & occupations be ended?
Not until enough people choose to go with what is moral rather than what is or seems to be good for themselves even if it’s at the cost of the others’ suffering. choose right tather than might, humane rather than inhumane – good rather than bad.
As I’m thinking of saying in a post I’m preparing (you can take this as a teaser):
how do we do this? I haven’t the faintest idea, but I do think it has to begin with some kind of reVOLITION: enough of us have to WILL A WORLD THAT IS GOOD TO & FOR EVERY BEING IN IT, & to find ways to spread this volition, this willing. to more & more of us – because we all do have good in us, somewhere…
Felt a need today to meme & highlight these excerpts from Jeff Halper’s post, which I shared in its entirety on Facebook yesterday:
& here, for perhaps easier reading, is the text in the meme:
#EndGame: #NixZionism #FreePalestine (& #FreeIsraelisFromBeingOccupiers)
Jeff Halper: “[…] events in Israel/Palestine are proceeding at a fast and momentous pace — and we, the Left and progressive Palestinians and Israel, for all our protests and BDS involvement, are completely unprepared, self-marginalized and irrelevant. Putting it bluntly: you cannot be in a political struggle and not have an end-game […] EVERYONE on the Palestinian and Israeli left knows the two-state solution is gone and the imprisonment of the Palestinians is on the way — but we remain silent […] What do we want? What are we BDS-ing about?[…]
If we progressive Palestinians and Israelis do not begin to strategize immediately, to work together to formulate and articulate what we think is a just solution (my well-known view is that means a single bi-national, democratic state, but we haven’t even begun the process of talking about it), we are dooming ourselves to irrelevancy and the Palestinians to warehousing. We are the ONLY force that will formulate a truly just and workable solution based on human rights, national rights and international law — concepts completely foreign to governments. We are the ONLY force that can give political direction to the Palestinians’ sole powerful ally, the millions of people supporting and thousands of organizations working for Palestinian national rights and a just resolution […]. People are saying to me: we’ve heard you and other Palestinian advocates for the past 20 years or so. We are with you, we support the Palestinian cause. We are mobilizable far beyond BDS. But what do you want? Where are you going? Give us our marching orders. And we are not doing it.
It has been the historic tragedy of the Left that we see clearly where events are leading, we have critical analyses and are very articulate — but do not know how to organize or how to mount genuinely effective political campaigns and movements. If we don’t get our act together fast on Israel/Palestine — by which i mean Palestinians and Israelis having their own internal discussions over what a just peace would look like, then coming together to advocate for it and to mobilize our legions abroad — then we will simply lose. Not because we couldn’t come up with the outlines of a just solution, not because we lacked the political power, but because we just didn’t do it. We abandoned the field to governments and to the right-wing, which IS serious about promoting its visions and programs.”