IN SEARCH OF A NEW STRATEGY: PALESTINIANS AND COMPARATIVE LESSONS FROM BLACK AMERICA AND SOUTH AFRICA
Elaine C. Hagopian, Professor Emerita of Sociology, Simmons College, Boston
Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine Annual Conference
HE LEGITIMACY OF RESISTANCE: OPTIONS FOR PALESTINIAN SURVIVAL
Friday, September 11, 1998
Back to the Beginning
After more than fifty years of Zionist effort to transform Palestine into Eretz Israel, the Oslo fiasco has brought the question of Palestine back to square one. The question was and still is “in what way and form will Jews and Palestinian Arabs live in Palestine?”. The Zionists answered "no" to sharing Palestine, and established a Jewish state there. Nonetheless, Palestinian claimants have not disappeared nor given up their national rights in Palestine. In fact, Palestinians constitute approximately 42-45% of the total population in Israel and the 1967 Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories of Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem, i.e., 3.5 + million (some, internal refugees) to 4.8 million Jews. An additional 2.5 million Palestinian diaspora refugees — along with their internal counterparts — have not jettisoned their legal identity as Palestinians and their right of return in spite of the many schemes hatched to melt them into other Arab countries.
By reducing the Palestinian-accepted historic compromise of a two-state solution to a set of suffocating mini-Bantustans under Oslo, the Israeli Government has forfeited that solution. The two-state solution compromise was to replace the Israeli occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the removed settlements with a fully sovereign Palestinian state while leaving pre-1967 Israel intact. It was also implicitly premised on seeing the lot of the Palestinian citizens in Israel improve significantly since the security issue rationale for discrimination would have been eliminated, as well as on an equitable solution for the rights of all Palestinian refugees. None of this has happened after five years of Oslo. In fact, the condition of Palestinians has worsened in all three jurisdictional areas. Having failed to dissolve or resolve Palestinian national claims, the inadequacy of Oslo has also taken us back to individuals such as Martin Buber, Noam Chomsky, I.F. Stone, Judah Magnes and others who argued that only a binational state in Palestine would be just, humane, and hence viable.
At a time when mutual hatred and distrust are so intense — as was predicted by those who argued against an exclusive Jewish state in Palestine — , it is ironic that a democratic secular state with constitutional guarantees for binational cultural and religious expression in all of Palestine/Israel now presents itself as seemingly inevitable, although immediately unimaginable and utopian. The reality is nonetheless that pre-1967 Israel is already a binational state although the Palestinian citizens do not enjoy equality. And since Israel has ultimate control over Palestinian economic and political life, as well as borders, resources and land in the 1967-occupied territories, it is the government of real power and authority there as well, in spite of the intermediate layer of the Palestinian authority. Hence, the whole area is a binational state, but with Jews enjoying full rights and democracy, and Palestinians restricted and oppressed.
The existence of large Jewish settlements, the maze of bypass roads, the surgical apartheid sculpting of the landscape and resource use (especially water) requiring constant Israeli military enforcement, encourages Palestinian rage. These facts on the ground do not speak to a two-state solution. Although they also do not speak to a one-state solution for two peoples, they create the conditions on the ground for one. Emotionally, however, the one-state solution is off the radar screen. Nonetheless, any future Palestinian resistance/solution strategy must recognize that Palestine/Israel is already one jurisdictional area and aim to convert it from a Zionist racist one to a democratic secular state for both peoples on an equal basis. This goal would also encompass the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
The question is then, how to proceed to achieve this goal. Israeli policy to date has always denied the legitimacy of Palestinian national rights in Palestine. Under Oslo, Israel adopted a residual policy toward Palestinians and limited actual “negotiations” to the occupied territories where they faced an immediate demographic problem. Not wanting to give up the territories, Israel reserved the right to define what it would keep for itself, and the rest could be “leased” to the Palestinian Authority under an autonomy formula. Diaspora refugees would not be allowed to return, and Palestinian citizens of Israel would continue to experience a steady pattern of decline and land space strangulation, as well as implicit pressure to leave.
Combining with the Israeli residual policy was Arafat and the PLO’s self-confinement to negotiating within the terms set by Israel and the United states. The reason for the self-confinement stems from the failure of the Palestinian leadership to develop a comprehensive resistance/resolution strategy strongly rooted in the Palestinian people capable of withstanding pressures to capitulate. Hence, a new leadership with a clear, humane, inclusive vision, rooted in the people, must start anew. It will be confronted with Israeli resistance and repression as well as Palestinian Authority efforts to cling to its empire of sand castles, but there is no alternative to starting over. That is again where the question is — back at the beginning.
Assuming that a new Palestinian leadership is identified and recognized, its most immediate and pressing problem will be to reunite the fragmented Palestinian community itself and to convince it that a democratic secular state with binational cultural and religious rights is the only real solution for Palestine/Israel. This will definitely not be easy. There is a major stumbling block. The Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories, but especially the West Bankers, tend to drive and dominate public thought on a future solution. Their thinking reflects only their immediate depressed condition — a condition which cries out for relief — , but it does not include redress for the other two segments of the Palestinian people. Most cling to a two-state solution although it has been bypassed, and others contemplate federation with Jordan, and perhaps Israel as well. Most cannot envision a future of equitable coexistence with their Israeli Jewish tormentors in one state. They believe that Israel would never let it happen. Therefore, this segment of the Palestinian population tends to dismiss the vision and goal of a democratic secular state with binational rights as utopian at best, and naive in reality.
On the other hand, the Palestinian citizens of Israel tend to be in the forefront of thinking about a one-state solution for all Palestinians with cultural and religious binationalism. Already living in a binational state, and unable alone to convert it into a democratic secular state for all of its citizens, they understand that this can only be achieved in the future, if at all, by a cohesive, and determined united Palestinian community. Whereas earlier, the Palestinian citizens supported a two-state solution in the occupied territories, believing this would erase the Israeli security excuse for refusing them equal rights in Israel, today they recognize neither will happen . Hence, only a unified Palestinian program and strategy can address comprehensively the grievances of all segments of the Palestinian people.
The Palestinian refugee population is the most alienated and distanced from any of the suggested solutions. Neither the emasculated two-state solution, nor the broadened vision of a one-state solution seems to offer them imaginable solutions for normalizing their political status and social conditions now or in the next decade. Some, worse off than others, find that they are only able to relate to their daily survival needs and “negotiating” with their host countries and UNRWA for continued services and limited employment opportunities. Nonetheless, Refugee leaders in the occupied territories are organizing around the “right of return,” and are reaching out to diaspora refugee populations elsewhere seeking to unify their efforts to promote their rights. The fact that the question of Palestine and Palestinians is back to the beginning offers an opportunity to include refugees in a solution that accommodates their full rights. However, the new beginning calls for serious thought about how to include refugees and the refugee issue, in a concrete and meaningful way, in a program in which they see a better outcome for themselves as part of a total Palestinian effort. The difference between the beginning more than fifty years ago and now, is that there were no Palestinian refugees. The population then was only one third Jewish. Zionist leaders sought to bring in Jewish refugees from Europe while expelling Palestinians. The Palestinian program envisioned here would call for equal citizenship, return of Palestinian refugees with full reparations for their losses and compensation of the years of exile and hardship, and no expulsion of Jews.
The first task at hand is to conceptualize a strategy of resistance to the intended effort by Israel and the United States to dissolve Palestinian national claims. The process of defining a new resistance/solution strategy can be informed by the failures of the Black American and South African experiences.
Black American Experience
Black Americans have alternated between two strategies in pursuit of equal political, social and economic rights in the United States: 1) communal self-development that would allow them to project their case powerfully from a unified position and would be sufficiently compelling to argue for real change in American institutional structures; and 2) to demand immediate civil rights by eliminating legal impediments to full integration in the existing American system. There are three components of self-development: 1) a cultural vision of self (identity and values) and future society capable of bonding community members; 2) a communal resource base to sustain uncompromised pursuit of the vision; and 3) a political strategy to gain support for the societal vision. Self-development was not conceived as an answer to racism, but as a tool to alter the system that produced racism. The assumption was that the whole society would benefit by the recognition that the system that generated racism (and other discriminatory “isms”) required significant change, not simply legal patchwork. The civil rights/legal integration approach, which has dominated Black efforts for redress, did not aim to change the system, but rather to gain full and equal participation in it by removing legal discrimination and lobbying for affirmative civil rights laws to remedy past discrimination.
The self-development approach has never been fully formulated by African Americans. Booker T. Washington called for Black economic development by securing opportunities in the system, but his was not a communal self-development program aimed at systemic change, nor did he call for immediate civil rights. The Nation of Islam has a communal self-development program, but it is narrow and isolationist, not a tool for transformation of society. The NAACP was the representative of the civil rights/legal integration approach, and Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference/Council leadership role in the civil rights movement of the 1960's was the leveraging power for this approach, notwithstanding his later efforts for more radical change.
Black scholars and communal leaders have been re-evaluating the results of the civil rights movement . They note that laws limiting African American participation in American political, social and economic institutions were indeed negated and affirmative action laws enacted although they are now being modified. Further, the Black community has witnessed the growth of a Black middle class. Nonetheless, the core communal problem of disproportional unemployment and poverty remain for the majority with all the social handicaps attendant thereto. The leaders and the community have come to understand that it is possible to have integration without equality. Whereas, African Americans used to believe having black faces in high places meant power and equality, they have come to understand that those black faces have to yield to the concerns of their respective parties. Moreover, laws related to redressing the inequities of racism have reached their limits within the American system and are now meeting with right wing reaction, a seemingly perpetual cycle in American society.
These events have caused a number of thoughtful Black leaders to return to the self-development approach. They now understand that they lacked a cohesive vision of identity and of American society appropriate to a true democracy, and a communal economic base that could sustain a political strategy to promote the vision. Two major factors obstructed Blacks from achieving this comprehensive strategy in the past: 1) they allowed themselves to be diverted from this course by white liberals and radicals who provided the funding, strategy, and leadership. The white liberals who led the early NAACP pushed for individual civil rights through integration. American communist leaders insisted on treating the Black problem as a class problem only, and failed to deal with racism from which some of them suffered; and 2) Black leadership suffered from cultural differences among themselves. West Indian Blacks felt themselves to be superior to American Blacks, and the latter were themselves divided by their experiences in the North and South. These differences obstructed the development of a bonded community and a comprehensive strategy that might have been able to confront American society more effectively with the fact of its racism. The newly formed Black Radical Congress is attempting to address these failings. Interestingly enough, Zionist leaders understood the importance of self-development. They rallied the Jewish community around their vision for a Jewish state in Palestine. They drew on a cultivated communal resource base to mobilize their forces and actualize their vision. Unfortunately, their vision was chauvinistic.
Palestinians and Lessons from the Black American Experience
Palestinians can learn from the historic failure of African Americans to promote a non-chauvinistic self-development as a prerequisite for pressing their case with the public. To date, Palestinians have not provided a compelling cultural vision, a sustaining internal economic resource base (such as existed during the Intifada), and a political strategy to gain international support and Jewish cooperation.
Culturally, the PLO was able to preserve the Palestinian sense of identity with the land. However, it was a still-life identity based on symbolic markers — clothing, names, villages, pottery, jewelry, and slogans. It held the people together, but it did not embody an internalized vision beyond the abstract ideal of liberation. Nor did it ever really encompass the Palestinian citizens of Israel who were left to fend for themselves in the Israeli system.
Economically, the PLO was significantly dependent on the Arab regimes for funding. When the regimes terminated financial aid in the 1990's, Palestinian political action collapsed. Not only that, but the political action itself was already lacking in direction and vision.
Politically, as American Blacks, Palestinians have suffered willingly from the alleged good intentions of others, both Arab and non-Arab, by allowing them to define Palestinian goals and inform PLO strategy. In so doing, their cultural development was stunted, and strategy reduced often to incoherent, spasmodic tactical moves. Moreover, as African Americans, the various segments of the Palestinian national community have developed cultural and ideological differences which need to be bridged. Hence without comprehensive self-development, the PLO had neither a cohesive strategy nor a strong foundation rooted in a bonded community. Consequently, a weak PLO accepted self-confinement to negotiating within the terms set by Israel and the United States.
Palestinians and the Black South African Experience
Israel has often been compared to pre-1994 South Africa. In so many ways, that is true. Yet Israel and pre-1994 South Africa are different in several important ways: 1) the white settlers had no historical roots in the area; 2) they were a numerical minority in South Africa; 3) they did not systematically attempt to transform the country demographically, in spite of attempted Bantustans within; 4) while the West had significant interests in South Africa, they were not committed ultimately to an Afrikaner-dominated white state; and 5) the West had an internationally respected, popular and strong Black leader in Nelson Mandela on whom Western and domestic white interests could depend not to threaten their existing interests and investments in South Africa.
On the other hand: 1) Jews have historical roots in Palestine; 2) Israeli Jews are now a majority in Palestine/Israel; 3) they did transform the country demographically but not decisively, given the demographic reality resulting from the 1967 war; 4) the West, especially the United States, has a strong coalescence of interests with Israel, although its existence is not based on that alone. The international community to date has been strongly committed to Israel as a Jewish state, and to preserve this, the only solution embraced by the community has been some form of Palestinian separation from Jewish Israel; and 5) given US/Israeli power in the area along with cooperative Arab regimes, an internationally weak Palestinian leader was desired, one nonetheless capable of controlling Palestinians in the territories on behalf of Israel and the U.S.
Additionally, some have argued that Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress never accepted the principle of physical separation as a solution, and they criticized the PLO and its leadership for accepting that principle. But here also, the two cases are quite different. As already noted, the international community supported the physical integrity of South Africa, equality and de facto Black majority rule. However, in Palestine, the international community supported only the principle of Jewish/Palestinian separation by partition, by a negotiated two-state solution, or by an autonomy arrangement with some sort of symbolic “state” in the future. The international community did not support the idea of a democratic secular state in all of Palestine when it was the PLO program in the early 1970's. However, with the obvious failure of Oslo and the politically volatile conditions it has wrought, the international community may now be willing to listen to a democratic, one state for two peoples-alternative. That however depends on how well the Palestinians are able to combine the components of self-development and project a credible and compelling message to the world and to Israeli Jews open to an alternative to their present untenable national life.
One final lesson must also be learned from the South African experience. Nelson Mandela and the ANC spent much of their energy assuring Afrikaners and other whites that Blacks would treat them equally. They had not expended sufficient effort early on to bond Black communities in the way that Steve Biko had attempted through his Black consciousness movement. As Black majority rule in South Africa neared in the 1990's, Mandela and the ANC leadership made every effort to develop policy commonalities with the traditional chiefs, and especially with Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi and his Inkatha Freedom Party. Buthelezi and his Party had earlier been well funded by the Afrikaner National Party and had accepted the Kwazulu Bantustan. Mandela and the ANC’s efforts to draw in Buthelezi came too late and came at the leadership level. Given the tribal structure of South Africa and the years of white dominance, it may well have been impossible for the kind of Black African self development that would have provided greater leverage to transform South Africa. Hence the South African system remained in tact and continued to serve the previous domestic and international interests. The lack of Black communal unity based on self-development has led to today’s class discrimination, corruption, tribal conflicts, individual competitiveness at the expense of grassroots development and political participation.
Palestinians need to take note of this result in South Africa. To simply struggle for equality in the existing Israeli state and occupied territories, or to cry “apartheid” in the occupied territories and Israel proper, while important, will not alone produce a just solution. Only when Palestinians recreate themselves through self-development and act with the clout of a whole community with a better vision of society for the peoples of the area than now exists, will they be able in the end to attract support and begin the transformation into a democratic secular state for both peoples. Unfettered as they are by any serious linguistic differences, they nonetheless suffer today from significant class and cultural divisions which result in different perceptions of each other and of their common problem. Bridging the major differences will require long-term efforts and the rebuilding of trust.
The only real similarities between Israel and pre-1994 South Africa lie in the ideological underpinnings of Jewish and Afrikaner nationalism, and in the consequent apartheid systems of each to assure demographic purity and nationalist power. For the reasons noted above, Black Africans were able to replace white domination with their own majority rule. Palestinians have a more complicated task. They are not seeking to replace Jewish Zionist domination with Palestinian domination, but with equality in coexistence. Hence, they have to work rationally, credibly, and employ long-term persuasion regionally and internationally to transform the exclusivist Israeli system so that equality in coexistence can actually emerge.
The question of Palestine/Israel has played out and exhausted all the scenarios premised on a Jewish state in Palestine for Jews, the dissolution of Palestinians and their national claims by absorption into the larger Arab world, and the Oslo-produced apartheid separation. After fifty plus years, the question is back to the beginning, albeit more complicated. Both peoples are on the land and neither will concede its national rights there. Given the disparity of power and entrenched chauvinism, Israel will not willingly consent to a democratic, binational state where Palestinian Arabs are equal. Yet, Israel has not been able to eliminate Palestinians from the solution equation, nor have Palestinians been able to reverse the Zionist takeover of Palestine. As such, there seems to be no viable alternative to a one-state solution for both peoples, and indeed it is apparent that there never really was one.
The obvious one-state solution is now recognized by a number of political thinkers, but how to achieve it remains to be answered. Two observations need to be made first: 1) the burden is on the Palestinians to initiate an enabling process and program. It is an unfortunate truism that it is the oppressed who must confront the oppressors with their heinous deeds, and in the process change the character of the oppressor; and 2) the actual legal form of the one state is yet subject to study. While some think of it in terms of separate binational institutions, others see it as a federation of two nations. Still others, including myself, think of it in terms of one set of democratic and secular political institutions, with constitutional guarantees for binational cultural and religious expression. However, feasibility studies of optional forms need to be conducted before adopting any form. Therefore, Palestinians need to focus most immediately on the following:
1. Self-Development. This involves recreating the Palestinian nation from its fragments in Israel, the occupied territories, and the diaspora as the first and highest priority. Palestinians must develop a cohesive cultural vision, a sustaining economic resource base, and a political strategy, which while recreating the Palestinian nation, must not be chauvinistic. This will take much political educational effort considering the fact that the West Bankers dominate thinking on the Palestinian question, and they are unable to embrace a vision of a one-state solution at this point.
2. Cooperate and Coordinate Activities with Other Arabs. Palestinians must articulate their efforts with Arab groups and individuals resisting economic normalization with Israel while it remains an exclusivist state bent on economic hegemony in the area.
3. Form Coalitions with Israeli and Other Jews. Palestinians should work closely, and form coalitions with Israeli and other Jews who are open to the idea of a democratic one-state solution in Palestine/Israel. A fundamental starting point in the region would be around the issue of settlements. While it may be impossible to redeem the specific Palestinian land and properties seized in 1948, the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are recognized as illegal, and their evacuation would be important to clearing the slate for beginning anew toward coexistence. A number of Israelis within the green line recognize the settlements as breeding grounds for extremism backed by accumulated and accumulating power, dangerous as well to Israelis as to Palestinians. In place, they claim, settlers would continue to reinforce their ultra-nationalist position, and would continue to use their power and subsidized resources to derail new efforts for a just solution. Hence, joint efforts related to removal of settlements and undercutting their power is a future possibility.
4. Reach Out to the International Community. When Palestinians have recreated themselves and articulated a vision and strategy that offers something better for Jews and Palestinians, formed coalitions, and demonstrate an openness for consideration of reasonable international interests in the region, they must secure support from significant sectors of European, Asian, African and American societies.
5. Undertake Empirical and Critical Studies to Inform Political Action. The new Palestinian movement must be based on a foundation of comprehensive studies, and with the realization that it will be a long-term effort.
Palestinian/Arab-Americans in Support of the New Beginning?
There have been two basic approaches to organizing Palestinian/Arab-Americans each time a crisis occurs in Palestine/Israel and regionally causing reassessment of given thought:
1) reorienting existing organizations to new goals and assumed better strategies of advocacy of Palestinian and other Arab rights; or 2) creating new organizations to apprehend new conditions. Neither approach has been particularly productive. Existing organizations have their own agendas and personalities as well as vested interests in maintaining their groups. Some may add or subtract from their agendas on an ad hoc basis, but they tend to keep their original personalities. Creating new organizations leads to competition for the existing pool of Palestinian/Arab activists and resources. As organizations multiply, they weaken each other, and they speak with too many tongues, almost none of which in the end is taken seriously here or abroad.
If the idea of a democratic, secular binational state has been recognized by a respected core of Palestinian/Arab thinkers as the solution to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, a different organizational approach in support of this solution is required, but one that does not succumb to the flaws of the past. To do this, the roles of the Palestinian/Arab-American community must be defined clearly as well.
Roles and Organizational Approach. These need to be divided into roles among the community in North America and those relative to the Palestinian/Arab community abroad.
North America Palestinian/Arab-Americans. First, the most important task is to engage the community here in support of the idea of a democratic, secular binational state. Community support for the latter will encourage Palestinians and other Arabs abroad to open their thinking beyond failed ideas and daily problems. Second, another important role is to promote cooperation with the various American Jewish groups and individuals in North America who also support a democratic, secular binational state. A number of these groups and individuals already exist. At a later point, they would participate in workshops with Palestinian/Arab Americans and Israeli Jews and Palestinian/Arabs abroad to support and encourage their efforts for the one-state solution. Coalitions and/or relations with other domestic and international parties would also come later as self-development consolidates.
Organizationally, none of the existing Palestinian/Arab organizations would be asked to change. Nor would a new membership organization be created. Rather a co-ordinating committee formed as some sort of Institute would contact existing groups and ask to address their members at conventions, through newsletters, etc. to open the discussion and debate on the idea of one-state. Video discussion of the idea could also be sent to groups for viewing and discussion. Articles in Arab-American journals, newspapers, and other media would put the idea “out there.” Members of the committee would be available for meeting with any members of the community to discuss and debate the idea. The organizations would continue doing what they do. What is expected over time and with sustained efforts to promote the one-state idea is that a significant portion of the community as individuals, would come together around the idea and make their support for it known here and abroad. The committee would also identify and connect interested community members with anti-Zionist Jewish groups and individuals. The committee would attempt to facilitate workshops between these various parties and their counterparts overseas.
Regional Palestinians/Arabs. Palestinian/Arab-Americans cannot ensure the needed self-development of the Palestinians abroad. However, the projected coordinating committee, “housed” as an Institute, would facilitate several things important to encouraging self-development. First, the committee would organize workshops for Palestinian community grassroots leaders and other Arabs resisting economic “normalization” with Israel, similar to the workshop held in Sicily in January 1998. Frequent meetings would focus on bridging Palestinian differences politically and culturally, as well as encouraging articulation of efforts with Arab supporters. At a later time when sufficient numbers of Palestinians/Arabs have unified and have embraced a one-state solution, workshops with like-minded Israeli Jews whom they identify, and with anti-Zionist Jewish-Americans and Palestinian/Arab-Americans would also be held to give momentum to the idea and to develop a strategy for bringing the idea to the international community for support.
Second, the committee would identify, seek funding for, and commission the studies needed to undergird construction of the one-state solution. Example studies are: Israeli society and politics; a critical analysis of Palestinian strategies and failures; refugee rights and how to accommodate them; regional geopolitics; foreign interests in the area; and feasibility studies for optional solutions drawing on history and legal considerations. This effort would also require the development of research data banks.
Third, the committee through its Institute would seek to educate and train young leadership within the North American and overseas community. The goal would be to create a leadership with critical analytical skills, an understanding of diplomacy, and a disciplined psychological strength rooted in patience and capable of withstanding frustration and simultaneously sustaining efforts for rationale discourse in pursuit of a just solution.
. Finally, for those looking for more immediate means to resolve the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, what has been suggested here will appear too long term, and without rooting in reality.
To the contrary, there is no quick fix, and the search for one in the past fifty years has only made the situation more difficult to apprehend. What is suggested herein is rooted in reality, the reality brought into relief by Oslo. More importantly, it should never be forgotten that one hundred years ago, another people put forward a plan for the transformation of Palestine. Fifty years later, they have achieved significant, but not complete success. The next decades will decide if their victory will be total and Palestinians will fade into history, or if Palestinians supported by other Arabs have the foresight to use their critical faculties to project their case for sharing Palestine/Israel equitably. Persuading Israeli Jews — as earlier Magnes spoke of persuading Palestinian Arabs — and their supporters of the feasibility and rightness of a one- state solution, undergirded by cultivated international support, would be the basic approach. No doubt violence will occur to block efforts toward a one-state solution. While allowing for self-defense, the constant of Palestinian efforts must remain persuasion.
. See for example, I.F. Stone, Underground to Palestine and Reflections Thirty Years Later, London, Hutchinson and Co., London, 1979, p. 235 where he notes: “How can we Jews talk of human rights and ignore them for the Palestinian Arabs? How can Israel talk of the Jewish right to a homeland and deny one to the Palestinians? How can there be peace without some measure of justice?” He concluded: “This a binational state is the path to reconciliation, ...”
See also Judah L. Magnes, “A Solution through Force?”, in Gary V. Smith, Editor, Zionism:
The Dream and the Reality, A Jewish Critique, New York, Barnes & Noble Books (a division of Harper & Row Publishers, Inc), having noted on p. 111 that “... a Jewish state cannot be achieved, ..., except through violence and warfare.” goes on to argue on p. 114 for the establishment of a binational state:
“We want to get the binational state through, as far as possible, argument, persuasion, not through the use of force; certainly not through the use of Jewish force; not through warfare. And we think we can get that.
“The reason we think we can get it is because we know of Arab circles in Palestine who favor it. We know there are Arab circles outside of Palestine who favor it.”
No one in the contemporary period speaks more eloquently and forcefully to the notion of equal co-existence than Professor Edward Said in his many writings. And no one but Edward Said speaks so clearly to the need for a Palestinian humanistic, inclusive, democratic, secular vision to enable that goal.
. Magnes, Ibid, p. 117 notes: “The day we lick the Arabs, that is the day, I think, when we shall be sowing the seed of an eternal hatred...”
. In a May 29, 1998 interview in Ha’aretz Magazine, transmitted by electronic communication (August 1998) binational state advocate, M.K. Azmi Bishara was quoted as saying after being asked “Are you talking about a single political entity, which would be binational between the Mediterranean and the Jordan?” His response, “Yes.But I don’t rule out a temporary solution of two countries for two peoples. But this solution can only be temporary ...” Given the intent and determination of the geographical surgery Israel has perpetrated in the occupied territories, accepting a “temporary solution” of two countries would retard and complicate efforts to promote the only just solution of a democratic binational state. This may happen anyway as a result of Arafat accepting an emasculated “state” or by declaring on in May 1999.
. Bishara, Ibid. Also see Nadim Rouhana, “The Test of Equal Citizenship: Israel Between Jewish Ethnocracy and Binationalism,” Harvard International Review, 20:2, Spring 1998.
. A recent Israeli Government report submitted to Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed concern about the large number of Palestinian Arab citizens, and offered several scenarios under which these citizens would pose an alleged threat to Israel as a Jewish State and its control over the land and resources. In an electronic communication (August 19, 1998) from The Alternative Information Center in Jerusalem, it was noted, based on an article by Shalom Yerushalmi in Maariv (August 16, 1998), that “The Palestinian citizens of Israel are ‘a potential strategic threat’ for Israel.”
“... as the new report shows, the basic Israeli strategy never changed, and the rationale behind it remains the same: the Palestinian population of Israel is a foreign body in the Jewish State, and as such, a collective threat, an enemy. And enemies must be treated as enemies, not as equal citizens. It is no accident that among the six ministers composing the committee, four are former generals.”
. See for example, the “Recommendations and Decisions Issued by the First Popular Refugee Conference in Deheishe Refugee Camp/Bethlehem” reproduced in Article 74, Issue No. 17, September 1996, Alternative Information Center, Jerusalem.
. For a history of Black thought, see August Meier, Negro Thought in America, 1880-1915, Ann Arbor, University Of Michigan Press, c. 1963; and Harold Cruse, The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, New York, William Morrow & Co., 1967.
. See in particular, Manning Marable, Beyond Black and White, London, Verso Press, 1995; and Harold Cruse, Plural But Equal, New York, William Morrow, 1987.
. For a discussion of Mandela/Buthelezi relations, see Nelson Mandela, Nelson Mandela Speaks: Forging a Democratic Nonracial South Africa, New York, Pathfinder, 1993, passim.
. In His recent Op Ed in Al Ahram Weekly, “What Cabinet Reshuffle,” Edward Said directs attention to the need for independent institutional development among Palestinians to begin to rebuild their shattered society and to renew the struggle of democracy and equality. He notes:
“We need to shift the bases of our struggle now away from the long-moribund peace process — by which Arafat assures his centrality, ... — towards institutions like schools and universities, health cooperatives, vocational schools, and above all support for groups inside the Occupied Territories who are willing to stake a stand against Israeli settlements.”
. A number of Jews in America who have questioned the Zionist vision are slowly beginning to emerge and organize. Among them is a group known as Jews for Justice in the Middle East who have published a booklet entitled The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict, P.O. Box 14561, Berkeley, CA 94712. Additionally, a group of basically, but not exclusively secular Jews in the Boston area have organized under the names of Visions of Peace. They presented a well-attended alternative program at the April 1998 Boston celebration of Jubilee.
. Dr. Ruchama Marton, founder and former Chairperson of the Israeli/Palestinian Physicians for Human Rights, expressed this view to me forcefully in two conversations held August 29-30, 1998. She argued convincingly that the financial drain caused by settlements through subsidies and the deployment of Israeli Defense Forces to protect settlements, are a source of resentment among a number of Israelis. She noted that the resources and protection services allow settlers freedom to consolidate their right-wing power within Israel. She stated that settlers and settlements would be challenged by segments of Israeli society once they are fully educated to the facts. Further, if Palestinians could organize themselves credibly around this immediate issue, they would be able to engage Israelis in the effort. This, she noted, is an important prerequisite to a broader program aimed at coexistence. She feared that if settlements remained, they would continue to derail any resolution that would give equal (or any) rights to Palestinians. Answering the question of “how?”, she suggested the following first steps: 1) boycott all goods produced in the settlements; 2) find ways to support Palestinians who are now dependent on employment related to the settlements; and 3) develop an information campaign to expose the cost of settlements financially for Israel (and the USA) and for real peace in the area. These, she admits, will not remove settlements in the short run, but they bring world attention to them and create discontent in Israel that may galvanize political action against supporting and protecting them. The actual removal of settlements would require long-term effort, and sacrifices. Leaving settlements intact and trying to work around them toward equitable coexistence will not work, Dr. Marton asserts emphatically.
. A number of the Muslim-American organizations have a large Palestinian/Arab membership. It is assumed here that they would be approached as well to discuss and debate the democratic, secular, binational state solution. Hopefully, they would understand that those who advocate replacing a Jewish state that draws on Judaic symbols with a Muslim state, could only result, if at all, from violence and would itself be an exclusivist and unjust state.
. A May 1998 interview with Drs. Nadim Rouhana and Naseer Aruri reviewing the lessons of the Nakba and projecting a one-state solution has been circulating among a number of Palestinian/Arab individuals, and could be available to others.
. Magnes, op. cit., p. 114.