“Israel/Palestine, what is a just solution?” This is the subject of a workshop that the Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS) is holding in Melbourne on Sunday 30 April. The announcement says the following topics will be covered: the two state versus one state solution; the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign; and the right of return of Palestine refugees.
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