Today, May 15th, is Nakba Day, the 72nd anniversary of the expulsion of about 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and homeland, in 1948. But there’s a feeling in the air this year of resurgence, of anticipation that this is not another anniversary, but that we are on the cusp of something new and dramatic in the seemingly interminable Palestinian/Israeli conflict."
It’s still only a feeling, an incipient inhaling of some political breath, but it’s there. The trigger is the upcoming annexation of large swathes of the West Bank threatened/promised by the new Netanyahu/Gantz government, with the blessing -- indeed, a push -- by the Trump Administration.
Now annexation on its own is not a good thing. No one wants to see an oppressive apartheid regime strengthened and expanded, with all the suffering it will bring to the Palestinians. But it has finally produced an irreversible break-through: whether or not annexation actually happens, it has revealed as clear as day that the "two-state solution" is dead and gone (or, more accurately, that it never existed).
I hear governments, especially in Europe, wringing their hands. If the two-state illusion cannot be maintained, how will we be able to manage the conflict, to protect Israel and its settlements while still giving lip-service to Palestinian human rights? More disappointing to me are all the supposed support groups for Palestinian rights who are also wringing their hands at the prospect that the two-state solution may be over.
The option is and always was between two stark alternatives: apartheid in the full meaning of the term (and much more violent than that in South Africa; the South African air force never bombed Soweto with F-16s and artillery) or a single democracy from the River to the Sea. The struggle, the transition, can be scary, of course. The apartheid South African government, who, like all colonial governments, saw freedom fighters as “terrorists,” long warned against the bloodbath that never happened. But liberation is overwhelmingly hopeful, a challenge before us, not a threat.
As a member of the One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC) – and, of course, of ICAHD, which has played a key role in the ODSC – I can feel the ground moving under our feet. Palestinians and internationals are responding to our call for a single state, and conferences, discussions and activities are underway to make it a real alternative. If together, all of us (including as many Israeli Jews as we can muster, although we understand that the vast majority of Israeli Jews, like the whites in South Africa, are not our partners and will have to brought in through internal and international pressures) make this movement one of transparency, mass participation, good faith and strong and focused politics, we can succeed. We can turn the evil of colonization, occupation, apartheid and annexation into something good for all our peoples – what began as colonization and oppression transformed into a single democracy equal rights for all.
It’s happening, annexation is the trigger. But we, Palestinians, their Israeli Jewish partners and all our allies abroad, must come together in a political movement. Going fast are the days when you can be a Palestinian support group and not advocate for a political program. Going are the days when vague and unattainable "rights-based approaches" stand in for political programs and action. Our 10-point political program, formulated with a wide range of ODS and activist groups, provides a comprehensive, just and workable political option. It will evolve and become more detailed over time, of course. The ODSC is supremely aware of the need for as broad-based participation in our campaign as possible. We are now in the process of gathering endorsements of our program from Palestinians and Israeli Jews. Soon, when we can show that we represent a significant voice, we will turn to the Palestine support groups abroad and demand of them to do what ICAHD UK has done: come our publicly and vigorously for a one-state program. The time has come.
Let's all stop wringing our hands at the “death” of the fictional two-state solution and join an international movement against colonialism, against apartheid and FOR democracy and self-determination. For a new, shared, pluralistic civil society and polity.
The ODSC program is posted on the ODSC website (onestatecampaign.org).