“Israel/Palestine, what is a just solution?” – a note for the coming AJDS workshop on this subject

“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.

palestine hor bottomup

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

Some Facebook Posts from Yesterday & Today (It’s that kind of day…)



I’m sharing these posts mainly for followers of this blog-site who are not Facebook friends. But I don’t know if you can see them if you don’t have a Facebook account. So this is also an experiment. I’d be grateful to receive a comment telling if all the posts open fully to you, or are even visible. (& if they do, I’d also be happy to hear if anything here speaks to you…)

The posts, from earliest to latest:

What IS Zionism? – a definition, some corollaries (& 2 personal disclosures)

1  A definition

The clearest, most comprehensive (& simplest) definition of Zionism, as an ideology & as a movement that has spanned & still spans many political parties &/or organizations & has been & is still supported or opposed by many individuals, is, to my mind, this:

Zionism aims at maintaining a Jewish state in Palestine.
(Until May 14, 1948, its aim was to establish such a state.)

I derive this from the key first sentence of the “Basel Declaration”, as resolved at the First Zionist Congress, held in Basel, Switzerland (1897) [see excerpt from Wikipedia at end of post, after my 2 personal disclosures. Note: all emphases in bold type are mine.]

“Zionism aims at establishing for the Jewish people
a publicly and legally assured home in Palestine.”

A few days after the congress ended, Herzl wrote in his diary (September 3, 1897):
“Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in a word – which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly – it would be this: At Basel I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today l would be greeted by universal laughter. In five years perhaps, and certainly in fifty years, everyone will perceive it.”

& to clarify the different terminology we find in the Basel Declaration & in Herzl’s diary entry, I add this quotation (also from Wikipedia):

” […] when Theodor Herzl who in 1896 wrote Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) giving birth to the modern Zionist movement, he envisioned a state based on European models, which included religious institutions under the aegis of the state. In order to avoid alienating the Ottoman Sultan, there was no explicit reference to a Jewish state by the Zionist Organisation that he founded. The phrase “national home” was intentionally used instead of “state”.


2  Some Corollaries

– Support for a binational state is not Zionism – because a secular, egalitarian & democratic binational state will not be a Jewish state. Even if one views oneself as a Zionist when supporting such a solution. Many who call &/or called themselves Zionists sought &/or seek to fulfill the romantic dream of Jews being able to live in Palestine (Eretz-Yisrael, Israeland) again & to build a Jewish Hebrew community there – without feeling or thinking there needed or needs to be a Jewish ethnocratic state with sovereignty over all of Palestine while half or so of its inhabitants are denied basic civil rights & held under the Zionist State’s military occupation &/or blockade, & millions of Palestinian refugees & their descendants are denied return to their homeland… & though most of them have accepted the realities established in 1948–49–67, this does not mean that they would not accept or even prefer a binational state which assured equal rights to all citizens & cultural autonomy to the two nations & languages of Palestine/Israeland today, were it not for their fears & the absence of any positive blueprint for such a state that is agreeable to significant persons from both nations….

Zionism, if not declaredly, aims for a “Jewish” state in all of Palestine. As Ali Kazak, a former Palestinian ambassador to Australia, wrote in 2015:

‘The aims of Zionism since its creation in 1897 […] was never for coexistence, nor was it to establish a Jewish state on part of Palestine. Instead, the aim of Zionism has been to colonise all of Palestine and parts of the neighbouring Arab states, and ethnically cleanse the Palestinian people. / In his Diaries, Theodor Herzl writes that the area of the Jewish state stretches: “from the brook of Egypt to the Euphrates.” / The Zionists’ acceptance of the partition of Palestine was tactical, to gain international legitimacy. David Ben-Gurion, Chairman of the World Zionist Organisation and Israel’s first Prime Minister, wrote as much in a letter sent to his son explaining his reaction to the Peel Commission Report:
“From our standpoint … How can this land become ours? The decisive question is: Does the establishment of a Jewish state [in only part of Palestine] advance or retard the conversion of this country into a Jewish country? My assumption is that a Jewish state on only part of the land is not the end but the beginning. / “We will admit into the state all the Jews we can … We shall organize an advanced defence force – a superior army which I have no doubt will be one of the best armies in the world. At that point I am confident that we would not fail in settling in the remaining parts of the country, through agreement and understanding with our Arab neighbours, or through some other means. / “We must expel Arabs and take their place … I am confident that the establishment of a Jewish state, even if it is only in a part of the country, will enable us to carry out this task …”‘

Kazak’s article “Justice, not Deceit, will achieve Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Response to Alan Johnson” is a bit long, but basically gets it right. I think. Well worth reading in its entirety:
http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2015/07/31/4284463.htm – A “Jewish state” is of necessity an ethnocracy, not a democracy. In a Jewish state, non-Jews are not equal to Jews.
– Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism. & Zionism itself fosters anti-Semitism

Zionism, both overtly & covertly, represents itself as representing all Jews. This is Zionism’s “big lie”, which if repeated frequently enough gets to be believed by more & more people. It is implicit in the false & arrogant claim that Israel is “the nation state of the Jewish people” (false, because a people is not a nation; the Jews of the Diaspora are all citizens of other nations, & being Jewish is not their nationality; arrogant, well, that needs no explanation). This lie is spread in every reference in the world media to Israel as “the Jewish state”  —  another misnomer.

Israel is not & cannot be “the Jewish state”. Israel is a Jewish state, or, more precisely a, & the, Israeli-Jewish state. It is an ethnocratic nation-state, the state of the Israeli-Jewish nation. This is a distinct nation, in which vigorous nation-building has been active since the early 20th century, producing a national entity that is different from all other Jews in the world in that it has its own language, culture, economy, government, public & social institutions, armed forces, etc etc.”
[The two pars above are quoted from a response of mine published in 2015: https://medium.com/@thepalestineproject/a-response-to-is-anti-zionism-really-anti-semitism-39b7095ef5a6#.69yxggc2o]

To oppose the Israeli-Jewish Zionist oppression, dispossession, expulsion and occupation of native Palestinians, i.e. to be anti-Zionist, cannot be anti-Semitism (if we continue to use this inept term for what we can’t grammatically call anti-Jewsism). Committing &/or being complicit in such crimes is no more characteristic of being a Jew than it is of being any other kind of person, of whatever race, nation, or religion – so opposing an ideology & a state for committing such crimes cannot be deemed anti-Jewish, anti-Semitic. Actually, the opposite is true: Zionism, by committing these crimes in the name of “the Jewish people”, implies to all the world that all Jews are responsible for them, & thus itself fosters anti-Semitism, more grist for its mill.

– Zionism is (religional/ethnic) racism. In the Jewish state, a Jew is someone born of a Jewish mother: this is thus a matter of race. & I agree with all four statements by Asa Winstanley that I quoted in this meme a couple of months ago.


3  Two Personal Disclosures

I was a Zionist, from 1949 when I was 13 until 1967 when I was 31. & thanks to Zionism I “ascended” to “Israel” in 1959, where I met my wife of now 53 years (she was born in Tel Aviv before there was a State of Israel, to parents who had come to Palestine from Poland/Ukraine because they were Zionists), & we raised our three sons there, & we lived there (though with some years in other countries) until 2001. So that personally, like many other Jews & perhaps more than a few non-Jews, I have much to be grateful to Zionism for. Yet I cannot silence within me – & I also feel I need to share – how I see what Zionism is & does, & my view that only the abolition of Zionist rule in Palestine can bring justice & peace to this tragically tortured country & its tormented & tormenting inhabitants.

What triggered this post was a question I was asked by Sol Salbe, who indefatigably continues posting on Facebook (among other interesting items) significant analyses of the situation in & related to Palestine/Israeland, in English translations & sometimes Hebrew updates. Two days ago I shared on Facebook an article from the English Haaretz, with an intro that prompted his question:

Sol asked: Out of curiosity Richard, do you have a definition of Zionism?
& another Facebook friend, Tom Pessah, commented:  R. Binyamin defined himself as a Zionist.
I replied:
Good question, Sol. I’ll have to get back to you on that one. & to Tom’s comment too.
So yes, I do have a definition of Zionism. & some corollaries (there’s more, nut these will have to do for now)  – & this post… (Sol added in another comment that I don’t have to answer, & I accept that for him I don’t but I had to, for me…)


The First Zionist Congress


The delegates at the First Zionist Congress, Basel (1897)

The First Zionist Congress (Hebrew: הקונגרס הציוני הראשון‎‎) was the inaugural congress of the Zionist Organization (ZO) (to become the World Zionist Organization (WZO) in 1960) held in Basel (Basle), Switzerland, from August 29 to August 31, 1897. It was convened and chaired by Theodor Herzl, the founder of the modern Zionism movement. The Congress formulated a Zionist platform, known as the Basel program, and founded the Zionist Organization. It also adopted the Hatikvah as its anthem (already the anthem of Hovevei Zion and later to become the national anthem of the State of Israel). (Wikipedia)

How Zionists justify their unilateral & ethnocratic sovereignty over Palestine: “The Jews” are the indigenes & the Arabs are the settler colonists!

Here, in a post I found in my Facebook feed, shared by some friends who are evidently still taken in by such pro-“Israel” distortions, is a blatant example of how Zionists justify their unconscionable unilateral & ethnocratic sovereignty over Palestine (I have quite frequently come across such “arguments” put forward by apologists for the Zionist occupation of Palestine, but never quite so blatantly: “The Jews” are the indigenes & the Palestinian Arabs are the settler colonists!

“[…] when taking into account 3,000 years of history and context, Palestinian Arabs, not indigenous Israeli Jews, become the offending party”. [???!!!] / Around 1,300 years ago, descendants and followers of the Prophet Mohammad from Arabia poured out of the Peninsular in an orgy of conquest, expansionism and colonization. They first annihilated ancient Jewish tribes in places like Yathrib (known today as Medina) and Khaybar before sweeping north, east and west, conquering what is today known as the Middle East, North Africa and even southern Europe. / The Jews, the last people to hold sovereignty and independence in the land, were subsequently harassed and unequally treated by a series of Roman, Byzantine and Muslim conquerors, whether Fatimid, Ayyubid, Mamluk or Ottoman. / Still, the Jewish presence never disappeared”
The  description of the Muslim conquest more than a millennium ago may be correct, but “the Jewish presence never disappeared”? Not true. A (small) Jewish presence never disappeared. There is a difference!

“When many Jews started returning to their ancestral land in the late 19th and early 20th centuries after an extremely difficult dispersion, they never sought to disrupt or disturb those whose ancestors had conquered and occupied the territory while they were in their long exile.”

!!! This is perhaps the most offensive lie. The history of Zionist immigration to Palestine is filled with acts by Jewish settler colonists that did much more than merely “disrupt or disturb” the lives of the native Arab Palestinians (& the Nakba is still ongoing!).

“Unfortunately, today, in most people’s view of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians – a self-identity barely two generations old – the colonized have become the colonizers and the role of the native Jewish population turned upside down.”

This takes the lie a step further: now all the Jews born in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East & elsewhere who have immigrated to Palestine are called “the native Jewish population”, & “the colonized” (by the Arab Palestinians!), while the actual native Arab population (some of whom may indeed be descendants of the colonizers of 1300 years ago) are called “the colonizers” & are not considered native!

& the final distortion:

“In this conflict, only one people – the Jews – meet the criteria of indigeneity, while it is abundantly clear from a cursory understanding of history that the Arab Palestinians do not, as their origins, language, culture and religion came from elsewhere. / This is the long misunderstood historical context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is absolutely a conflict between an oppressed people [“the Jews”] fighting every day for the freedom to live in their ancestral and indigenous homeland against settlers and occupiers [the Arab Palestinians]. If the lens of history is widened, it becomes clear that the current paradigm of the Jewish people as settlers and colonizers and the Palestinians as native to the territory is the opposite of the truth.”

Really? Firstly, it is not “the Jewish people” – it is the Zionist State of Israeli Jews (who constiture a distinct nation among the Jews in the world, the majority of whom are not Israelis) which has occupied & oppressed & dispossessed native Arab Palestinians for almost 70 years. Secondly, this Zionist State was established by Zionist Jews, to be settled & colonized by Jews who were not native to Palestine.

& here’s the link to the offensive post: http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/international-affairs/312895-heres-how-were-getting-it-wrong-on-the-israeli

#NixZionism #FreePalestine Memes from 2015–2016


I think it’s time for reflection. & recollection. Yes, & in tranquility. I’ve published some 60 memes on & for this in almost two years.
Very few likes, almost no shares. My Israeli friends either don’t like them (some think it’s hateful Israel-bashing, which it isn’t) or if they agree, may not want to risk liking or sharing.& it may well be ridiculous, the idea that a meme could make a difference, could perhaps go viral & actually work as a wake-up call that will muster support for the struggle to abolish Zionist rule in Palestine & establish a free bilingual state with equal rights for all citizens, & the right of return for all expulsees & refugees born in Palestine since 1917, & for their descendants…

First step, I’ve collected the memes here, for what that’s worth. I find there’s not a little repetition. Perhaps more clarity in the more recent ones. I do think #NixZionism pretty much nails it…

& during this time I’ve also created two Facebook pages, https://www.facebook.com/Imagining-a-Binational-State-of-Palestine-Israeland-1428279400824975/, & https://www.facebook.com/EndOcc/(“End the Occupation of Palestine”), which have also not had much traffic…

Collecting these here, & perhaps next my translations from these two years of writings in Hebrew on these matters, will at least help for the reflecting ahead…

Click on any of the images below to enlarge it; you can then use the arrows on either side to see the other memes enlarged.