[News] Re-imagining Palestine - Self determination, Ethical De-colonization and Equality

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jul 29 11:20:46 EDT 2009

Re-imagining Palestine

Self determination, Ethical De-colonization and Equality[1]

July 29, 2009

By Omar Barghouti


With Yassir Arafat's departure, the doubling of the population of 
Jewish-Israeli colonial settlers in the occupied Palestinian 
territory, the latest Israeli slow genocide in Gaza and the fast 
disintegration of the last vestiges of Israeli "democracy," the 
two-state "solution" for the Palestinian-Israeli colonial conflict is 
finally dead. Good riddance! This was never a moral or practical 
solution to start with, as its main objective has always been to win 
official Palestinian legitimization of Israel's colonial and 
apartheid existence on top of most of the area of historic Palestine. 
It is high time to move on to the most just, morally sound and 
sustainable solution: the secular, democratic unitary state.

Blinded by the arrogance of power and the ephemeral comfort of 
impunity afforded to it by its US partner and a complicit Europe, 
Israel, against its own strategic Zionist interests, failed to 
control its insatiable appetite for ethnically cleansing more of the 
indigenous people of Palestine and for expanding its control at the 
expense of their lands, devouring the very last bit of land that was 
supposed to form the material foundation for an independent Palestinian state.

With its latest siege of Gaza which culminated in its televised 
massacre of more than 1,500 Palestinians, the great majority of whom 
are civilians, Israel has entered a new phase in its relentless 
policy of making life for the indigenous Palestinians so intolerable 
as to compel them to leave: the slow genocide phase.

I shall argue in this essay that a secular, democratic unitary state 
in British Mandate Palestine is the most just and morally coherent 
solution to the century-old colonial conflict, primarily because it 
offers the best hope for reconciling the ostensibly irreconcilable -- 
the inalienable rights of the indigenous Palestinians, particularly 
the right to self-determination, and the acquired rights of the 
colonial settlers to live in peace and security, individually and 
collectively, after ridding them of their colonial privileges.

To establish such a state there is critical need for a long, 
intricate process of what I call ethical de-colonization, or 
de-zionization, involving two simultaneous, dialectically related 
processes: reflection and action, to borrow the Brazilian educator 
Paulo Freire. [2]

Ethical decolonization anchored in international law and universal 
human rights is a profound process of transformation that requires, 
above everything else, a sophisticated, principled and popular 
Palestinian resistance movement with a clear vision for justice and a 
democratic, inclusive society, as well as an international movement 
supporting Palestinian rights and struggling to end all forms of 
Zionist apartheid and colonial rule and de-dichotomizing the conflict 
in parallel. Without vision and reflection, our struggle would become 
like a ship without a skipper. Without resistance, our vision would 
amount to no more than arm-chair intellectualism, if not irrelevant 


Among the most discussed alternatives to resolving the question of 
Palestine, the democratic state solution lays out the clearest 
mechanism for ending the three-tiered regime of injustice that 
Palestinians have suffered from since the creation of the state of 
Israel in 1948 on the ruins of Palestinian society: the occupation 
and colonization of the Palestinian - and other Arab -- territory 
occupied by Israel in 1967; the system of institutionalized and 
legalized racial discrimination, [3] or apartheid, to which the 
indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel are subjected to on account 
of being "non-Jews;" and the persistent denial of the UN-sanctioned 
rights of the Palestine refugees, especially their right to return to 
their homes of origin and to reparations.

A two-state solution cannot adequately, if at all, address the second 
injustice or the third, the core of the question of Palestine. A 
bi-national solution, also, other than its inherent logical and legal 
flaws, cannot accommodate the right of return as stipulated in UNGA 
resolution 194, not to mention the fact that it infringes, by 
definition, the inalienable rights of the indigenous Palestinians on 
part of their homeland, particularly the right to self determination. 
Recognizing national rights of Jewish settlers in Palestine cannot 
but imply accepting their right to self determination, other than 
contradicting the very letter, spirit and purpose of the universal 
principle of self determination primarily as a means for "peoples 
under colonial or alien domination or foreign occupation" to realize 
their rights, may, at one extreme, lead to claims for secession or 
Jewish "national" sovereignty on part of the land of Palestine. A 
Jewish state in Palestine, no matter what shape it takes, cannot but 
infringe the basic rights of the land's indigenous Palestinian 
population and perpetuate a system of racial discrimination that 
ought to be opposed categorically.

Accepting the colonial settlers as equal citizens and full partners 
in building and developing a new shared society, free from all 
colonial subjugation and discrimination, as called for in the 
democratic state model, is the most magnanimous offer any indigenous 
population, oppressed for decades, can present to its oppressors. For 
such a reality to be attained and sustained, however, the settlers 
must shed their colonial character and privileges, accepting justice, 
the Palestinian refugees' return and reparations, and unmitigated 
equality. The indigenous population, on the other hand, must be 
ready, after justice has been reached and rights have been restored, 
to forgive and to accept the settlers as equal citizens, enjoying 
normal lives -- neither masters nor slaves.

As the One State Declaration [4], issued by several Palestinian, 
Israeli and international intellectuals and activists states:

"The historic land of Palestine belongs to all who live in it and to 
those who were expelled or exiled from it since 1948, regardless of 
religion, ethnicity, national origin or current citizenship status;

"Any system of government must be founded on the principle of 
equality in civil, political, social and cultural rights for all 
citizens. Power must be exercised with rigorous impartiality on 
behalf of all people in the diversity of their identities; ..."

Feasibility aside, there are several key issues that ought to be 
scrutinized when raising the slogan of a "Democratic State in 
Historic Palestine." For the most part, these questions revolve 
around how, even whether, such a vision purports to deal with the 
following questions. Any exhaustive answer will undoubtedly demand 
massive research; I shall only propose, then, brief answers that lay 
out the morally-consistent principles that I believe are required to 
address the issues at hand, keeping in mind, throughout, the 
pre-eminence of the principles of de-colonization, justice and self 
determination as minimal conditions for achieving relative justice.

The Right to Self Determination and the Palestinian People

But why is the right to self determination an essential legal 
instrument in the quest for Palestinian rights and a just and 
sustainable solution to the settler-colonial conflict in historic Palestine?

The United Nations has called the right to self-determination a 
prerequisite to the enjoyment of all other human rights. This right 
entered international law, formally at least, in the United Nations 
Charter, Article 1(2), which states:

"The purposes of the United Nations are to develop friendly relations 
among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and 
self-determination of peoples."

Note that equal rights of all people always proceeds the right to 
self determination and all other rights as the most fundamental 
principle in the UN Charter.

By 1960, with the adoption of the Declaration on the Granting of 
Independence to Colonial Peoples, GA Res 1514, the principle was 
elevated to the position of an unconditional right for peoples under 
"alien, colonial or oppressive domination" and called for a "speedy 
and unconditional end to colonialism in all its manifestations."

In the following decades, the scope and applicability of the right to 
self determination expanded to include indigenous peoples suffering 
from consequences of past colonial rule, unrepresented peoples, and 
national minorities oppressed by national majorities within the 
boundaries of a state.

UNGA Resolution 3236, of 22 November 1974, elevates the applicability 
of the right to self determination to the people of Palestine to an 
"inalienable" right. The Resolution:

1. Reaffirms the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in 
Palestine, including:

(a) The right to self-determination without external interference;

(b) The right to national independence and sovereignty;

2. Reaffirms also the inalienable right of the Palestinians to return 
to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and 
uprooted, and calls for their return;

3. Emphasizes that full respect for and the realization of these 
inalienable rights of the Palestinian people are indispensable for 
the solution of the question of Palestine ... .

A morally-consistent, rights-based approach to resolving the question 
of Palestine, therefore, necessitates addressing the three 
inalienable rights of the indigenous people of Palestine, in harmony 
with universal human rights and international law.

Reconciling the inalienable Palestinian right to self determination 
with Jewish-Israeli individual and collective rights

Other than the fundamental issue of the inalienable Palestinian right 
to self determination, there are several key rights-related questions 
that ought to be scrutinized when raising the slogan of a Democratic 
State in Historic Palestine:

(1) Equal & Democratic Citizenship: This precludes any privileged 
status for citizens on account of their ethnic, religious or other 
forms of identity, beyond the initial requirements of justice and 
reparations for the dispossessed Palestinians. This citizenship ought 
to encompass all Palestinians inside historic Palestine as well as in 
exile and refugee camps; it also encompasses all current Jewish Israelis

(2) The right of return and reparation for Palestinian refugees: How 
can repatriation and reparation be implemented in such a state? What 
should be done with current Jewish-Israeli colonies or settlements 
built on Palestinian lands and homes illegally expropriated during 
and ever since the 1948 Nakba?

The general rule, as stipulated in international law, is the right of 
every Palestinian refugee to return to his/her home of origin and to 
receive full, retroactive reparations. This must be done while 
avoiding the infliction of any unnecessary or disproportionate 
suffering on the Jewish community in Palestine. There is a need, 
then, to make a distinction between two types of pillaged property: 
(a) private or collectively-owned property; and (b) property that was 
designated as state owned prior to the Nakba.

In the first case, private and collectively-owned property, in 
accordance with international law, should be returned to its rightful 
owners. When doing so is reasonably expected to cause unjust harm to 
a large number of citizens -- fair criteria need to be developed, 
inspired by similar ones adopted in Bosnia and elsewhere, to decide 
what degree of harm and number of those affected is considered unjust 
-- compensation in the form of property of comparable location and 
worth should be offered to the original owners.

In the second case, that of state-owned property, current buildings 
and structures can remain intact, provided they benefit all the 
democratic state's citizenry, without discrimination.

(3) The Jewish community in a democratic Palestine: Has a "national 
Jewish-Israeli identity" evolved over the past six decades? If yes, 
who is included in it? Regardless, are Jewish Israelis, as a separate 
community, entitled to the right to self determination in Palestine?

(a) Some researchers, particularly Zionist ideologues and those 
influenced by Zionist assertions, have claimed an inherent or 
acquired Jewish right to self determination in Palestine that is 
equivalent, even morally symmetric, to the Palestinian right to self 
determination, thereby blurring the essential differences between the 
inalienable rights of the indigenous population and the acquired 
rights of the colonial-settler population. Even if we ignore the 
formidable body of evidence refuting the seminal Zionist historical 
claim to the land of Palestine, there is no moral parity or legal 
symmetry between the modern colonizers and the people that was 
subjugated to colonialism, and there has never been in any case of 
settler colonialism throughout modern history. The right to self 
determination, as defined and applied by the UN, was never intended, 
after all, as a tool to perpetuate colonial privileges and reinforce 
discriminatory regimes of settler-colonial communities. After more 
than 300 years of European settler-colonial domination in South 
Africa, for instance, the settlers never made a credible claim to a 
right to self determination as a separate people.

(b) A UNESCO conference of experts on the implementation of the right 
to self determination, held in Barcelona in 1998, [5] reaffirmed that 
the right to self-determination applies to all peoples under 
contemporary international law, but emphasized its particular 
applicability to "peoples under subjugation suffering colonial, 
racist and occupying regimes, whole populations of states, in terms 
of the right to determine their political status and their economic, 
social and cultural development, as well as groups within the 
population of states, indigenous or otherwise, that are considered 
'peoples' and suffer under contemporary forms of colonialism, such as 
settler-colonialism, which do not fit into the traditional and 
arbitrary concept of 'salt water colonialism'."[6] In other words, 
the right to self determination is an instrument of promoting a just 
peace and ending oppression, not entrenching it.

(c) "Self-determination is achieved by fully participatory democratic 
processes among the people who are seeking the realization of 
self-determination, including referenda where appropriate. ... It is 
imperative to prevent all actions by any relevant actors, which 
include governments, international and other organizations, 
individuals and corporations, which may result in the denial of the 
exercise of the right to self-determination, such as demographic 
aggression or manipulation, cultural assimilation and the destruction 
of the natural environment of importance to the survival of peoples."[7]

The holding of a referendum is a widely accepted act of 
self-determination. However, in areas which the community wishing to 
exercise self-determination shares with other peoples and 
communities, conflicts may arise. Where those other inhabitants are 
settlers, specifically, many experts at the UNESCO conference felt 
that "they should not be entitled to take part in such referenda." 
"This is particularly true," a conference report adds, "where 
settlers have been moved to indigenous regions or encouraged to do so 
under a government program aimed at changing the demographic 
composition of the region in question. Such practices, whether overt 
or covert, have caused many peoples to be reduced to a numerical 
minority in their own homelands."

A case in point is the UN-endorsed referendum in the Western Sahara 
in 1975. Setting an important precedent, "The United Nations has 
decided that persons transferred to the region or encouraged to move 
there by the Moroccan government, since 1975, do not have the right 
to vote in the referendum."[8]

(d) Settler colonialism aside, do Jewish Israelis constitute a 
people, in the sense of entitlement to the right to self 
determination? The widely accepted "Kirby definition," adopted at a 
UNESCO International Meeting of Experts on the Implementation of the 
Right to Self-Determination as a Contribution to Conflict Prevention 
in 1989,[9] may suggest an affirmative answer to the question. It 
identifies a people as "a group of individual human beings who enjoy 
some or all of the following common features: history, ethnic 
identity, culture, language, territorial connection, etc.

However, UNESCO experts further underline that "the group as a whole 
must have the will to be identified as a people or the consciousness 
of being a people," as the key subjective element common to other 
legal definitions of peoples. This subjective element is considered a 
necessary condition that is lacking in the case of Jewish Israelis, 
who predominantly recognize only a "Jewish nation," not an Israeli, 
or even a Jewish-Israeli nation. The Israeli Supreme Court refuses to 
recognize Israeli nationality as well. Jewish "nationality," as 
embodied in the Israeli Law of Return, is an extraterritorial 
construct that includes the entire population of Jews around the 
world, in contravention of international public law norms pertaining 
to nationality.[10]

(e) Other than being a war crime and infringing the right to self 
determination of the indigenous people of Palestine, Israel's 
establishment through the premeditated and systematic destruction of 
Palestinian society and the forcible transfer of a majority of the 
Palestinian people, which Zionist leaders considered a necessary 
condition for establishing a Jewish-majority state, cannot give rise 
to a right of self determination for the community of Jewish 
Israelis, who currently form a majority in the state. This is 
according to the general international law principle, "ex injuria non 
oritur ius," or no right can be derived from injustice or the 
commission of a wrong.

(f) But even if, for the sake of argument, we ignored all the above, 
would Jewish Israelis as a group be entitled, then, to the right to 
self determination in Palestine? Among other moral and legal factors, 
since the right to self determination entails, at one extreme, the 
right to separation in an independent state, it cannot apply to a 
settler colonial community as that would inherently violate and 
conflict with the right of the indigenous population to self determination.

But the realization of self determination can assume one of many 
possibilities in a spectrum. After all, international instruments, in 
particular the Declaration on Principles of International Law 
concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States, state 
that the modes of implementation of the right to self-determination 
extend beyond the right of secession. The Declaration states[11]:

"the establishment of a sovereign and independent State, the free 
association or integration with an independent State or emergence 
into any other political status freely determined by a people 
constitute modes of implementing the right to self-determination by 
that people ... ."

Although there is no universally acceptable distinction between 
"internal" and "external" self-determination, it may be instructive 
to investigate the differences between them in the context of the 
colonial conflict in Palestine. Internal self determination largely 
entails participatory democracy: the right to decide the form of 
government and to elect rulers by the entire population of a state as 
well as the right of a population group within the state to 
participate in decision making at the state level. Internal 
self-determination can also mean the right to exercise cultural, 
linguistic, religious or (territorial) political autonomy within the 
boundaries of the existing state.

External self-determination (described by some as "full" 
self-determination), on the other hand, means "the right to decide on 
the political status of a people and its place in the international 
community in relation to other states, including the right to 
separate from the existing state of which the group concerned is a 
part, and to set up a new independent state," according to van Praag.

In all cases, since the choice is left to the people entitled to 
exercise self determination, one cannot accede to a group's right to 
self determination and at the same time restrict that right to 
exclude the possibility of separation into an independent state. Even 
if we set aside the extremity of secession, any exercise of self 
determination by Jewish Israelis in any part of historic Palestine 
that excludes the indigenous Palestinians, whether citizens living in 
that part or refugees uprooted from it, cannot be legal, as it would 
infringe the inalienable right of that part of the Palestinian people 
to self determination; nor can it be moral, as it would deny those 
Palestinians their basic rights, including the right to equality, the 
most fundamental of all rights in the UN Charter and human rights conventions.

(4) The Zionist "Law of return" and the rights of Jewish refugees 
from Arab and other states

Being an explicitly racist law that is in contravention of 
international law and that has played a key role in the Zionist 
settler-colonial project, the Law of Return and all other similarly 
discriminatory laws must be abrogated in a democratic state.

As for Jewish refugees from Arab states, they are entitled, according 
to international law, to the same rights as refugees everywhere, 
including Palestinian refugees: the right to repatriation and reparation.

(5) Ethnic and Cultural Particularities of Palestinian Arabs and 
Jewish Israelis

Cultural particularity and identity should be nourished, not just 
tolerated, by society and protected by law. Palestine was for 
centuries a fertile meeting ground for diverse civilizations and 
cultures, fostering communication, dialogue and acculturation among 
them. This heritage, almost forgotten under the cultural hegemony of 
Zionist colonial rule, must be revived, nourished and celebrated, 
regardless of any power asymmetry in the new state. We also must keep 
in mind that half of the Jewish Israeli population, the Mizrahi Jews, 
have their cultural roots in Arab and other Middle Eastern cultures.

Regardless of the above vital components of the vision, perhaps the 
most nagging question that one state advocates face is whether our 
vision is feasible, whether it can be realized, and, if yes, how. 
Many commentators and analysts, even among supporters of the one 
state solution, seem to be obsessed with one question in this regard: 
how do you convince Israelis to accept this vision?


There is a basic problem in the assumed premise in this question -- 
that a colonial society can or should be persuaded to give up its 
racist domination and colonial privileges. Throughout the history of 
colonialism, the colonized were only able to end their oppression 
through sustained resistance, whether armed, civil, or both -- never 
through begging, appeasing or otherwise persuading through 
"dialogue." Only after a common ground is reached based on equality, 
universal human rights and international law can there be genuine 
dialogue and reconciliation. The South African experience is an 
important source of inspiration in that regard.

Besides developing and effectively promoting a morally consistent and 
compelling vision, organizing for a secular, democratic state 
alternative primarily entails developing a corresponding strategy of 
resistance aimed at ending all forms of Zionist oppression while 
creating fertile grounds for future reconciliation and peaceful 
coexistence based on unmitigated equality, justice and universal 
human rights. This is what I call the ethical 
de-Zionization/decolonization of Palestine, a process that entails a 
de-dichotomization of the two main groups' identities involved in 
this colonial conflict.

Moral reconciliation between conflicting communities is impossible if 
the essence of the oppressive relationship between them is sustained. 
The objectively contradictory identities of the oppressor and 
oppressed cannot find a moral middle ground. So long as the relation 
of oppression obtains, only coercion, submission and injustice are 
possible outcomes. Reconciliation and coexistence, then, can only 
result from ethical decolonization

What form of resistance and action is needed to bring us closer to 
realizing the secular, democratic state solution? I think there are 
three central pillars that a Palestinian-led, one democratic state 
movement needs to be founded on:

The Palestinian Pillar: The main vehicle that can carry this process 
forward must be a unified, democratized and revolutionary Palestinian 
movement that represents Palestinians everywhere, includes all 
political parties and grassroots unions and institutions, upholds the 
democratic state vision, and leads the resistance, in all its forms, 
to achieve it. A progressive Palestinian movement upholding equality, 
universal principles of morality and international law is more 
crucial than ever, particularly given the steadily growing 
disillusion with the two-state solution among Palestinians, in all 
three segments -- in exile, in the 1967-occupied Palestinian 
territory and inside Israel.

The right of return movement, representing the largest Palestinian 
constituency, the refugees, has been among the most fervent 
supporters of the one democratic state solution, realizing that the 
right of return and the two-state solution are basically 
incompatible. Palestinian citizens of Israel, in the three historic 
documents[12] issued by leading institutions, political leaders and 
intellectuals among them, have largely adopted the slogan of "a state 
of all its citizens," which lends credence to the one state vision 
approach and principles. Even Palestinians in the OPT, recent polls 
reveal[13], have been expressing a steadily growing support for one 
state, despite the fact that no political party is calling for it.

A thorough and critical reassessment of the entire Palestinian 
strategy of resistance is urgently needed, in order to creatively 
mobilize Palestinians from all sectors and geographic locations in 
the struggle. To this end, promoting civil resistance, as in the 
campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, is a top priority.[14]

To this end, the PLO needs to be reconstructed from the bottom up 
with mass participation, particularly by democratic grassroots 
unions; it must be governed by unfettered democracy, upholding the 
principle of proportional representation.[15]

The Arab Pillar: Any reading of the history of the Arab region tells 
us that transformations cannot be sustained or developed in one part 
without the maturity of nurturing conditions in its surrounding 
context. Being part of the Arab nation, with all its geo-strategic 
importance, is one of the basic factors that has spared the 
Palestinians the fate of Native Americans and other aboriginal 
populations that were subjected to full-scale genocide in the "new 
world." And although most Arab regimes today are autocratic, 
despotic, unrepresentative of their respective peoples, and mostly 
reliant in their survival on Western protection, the Arab masses are 
more aware of and committed to the Palestinian struggle than ever, as 
evident in the -- admittedly mostly emotional -- outpouring of 
support during the Israeli criminal war of aggression on Gaza.

The Palestinian factor is largely regarded as a domestic factor, not 
just in the countries surrounding Palestine, but also in Arab 
countries as far as Morocco, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates. The 
emergence of a Palestinian leadership that advocates a democratic 
state solution, therefore, has every potential to mobilize wider Arab 
grassroots support, eventually becoming a political force to be 
reckoned with. Already, boycott of Israel and of companies that are 
viewed as perpetuating its oppression is spreading throughout the 
Arab world, albeit without an organized leadership, for the most 
part. The so-called "peace dividend" that Israel has banked on since 
Oslo without conceding any land or rights in return is quickly 
disappearing. Israel is again being viewed as the Arab nation's 
strategic enemy and as an inherently belligerent, artificial entity 
whose existence as a racist and colonial outpost cannot be tolerated 
or normalized.

The International Pillar: As in the struggle against South-African 
apartheid, connecting the struggle for Palestinian rights with 
international social movements, trade unions, faith-based 
organizations, cultural and academic groups, among other civil 
society bodies, is indispensable. If international civil society 
solidarity groups, committed to BDS to isolate Israel have started to 
emerge ever since the UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban in 
2001, now, four years after the Palestinian Civil Society Call for 
BDS was launched, these groups are starting to look and act like a 
movement that is guided by the Palestinian Call and that is taking 
root in several countries, from South Africa to Sweden, and from 
Australia to Canada, not to forget the United Kingdom, of course.

This resolutely anti-racist, diverse movement is guided by the 
principles of inclusion, gradualness, sustainability, 
context-sensitivity and the primacy of international law and 
universal human rights. And although the West, owing to its 
overwhelming political and economic power as well as its complicity 
in perpetuating Israel's colonial and apartheid domination, remains 
the main battleground for this nonviolent resistance, the rest of the 
world should not be ignored. The boycott movement should reach China, 
India, Malaysia, South Africa, Brazil, and Russia, among other states 
which seek to challenge the West's monopoly on power. Zionist 
influence in those states remains significantly weaker than in the 
West. Indeed, South African civil society is today the single most 
committed supporter of the Palestinian BDS struggle.

Can BDS change anything on the ground, though, given Israel's 
formidable influence over Congress, the White House and, by 
extension, the EU? The still-young Palestinian BDS campaign, modeled 
after the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, has already shown 
ample evidence that it has the potential of unifying Palestinians and 
international solidarity movements in a resistance strategy that is 
moral, effective and sustainable. In the last few years alone, many 
mainstream and influential groups, unions and institutions have 
heeded the Palestinian BDS Call and started to consider or apply 
diverse forms of effective pressure on Israel.

During and ever since Israel's war on Gaza, Palestinian civil society 
has stood more united than ever in urging people of conscience all 
over the world to hold Israel accountable for its crimes by treating 
it as South Africa was under apartheid rule. In response, unions, 
academic groups, faith-based organizations, political parties, social 
movements and others have adopted creative, context-sensitive and 
sustainable BDS campaigns, from South Africa to Norway, from 
Australia to Canada, from Britain to Venezuela, and even from the 
podium of the President of the UN General Assembly.

Israel's state terrorism in Gaza, enabled by virtually unlimited 
support from the US and Western governments in general, was a key 
catalyst in spreading and deepening BDS around the world, prompting 
advocates of Palestinian rights to feel that our South Africa moment 
has finally arrived. Israel is now widely perceived, at a grassroots 
level, as an international pariah that commits war crimes with 
impunity and that needs to be held accountable to international law 
and basic principles of human rights.

With every achievement that the BDS movement charts, the long path to 
the one democratic state solution becomes shorter. After all, 
although the BDS movement has never taken a position in the 
one-state/two-states debate, being a rights-based movement, the only 
solution that can logically accommodate the three basic rights stated 
in the BDS Call is a one democratic state solution. The spread of the 
compelling BDS message around the world is inspiring new sectors in 
international civil society to join the struggle for Palestinian 
rights; it is quite effectively raising awareness about Israel's 
three-tiered system of oppression of the Palestinian people; and it 
is unintentionally convincing many that only a democratic, unitary 
state is worth fighting for.

By emphasizing equal humanity as its most fundamental principle, the 
secular democratic state promises to end the fundamental injustices 
that have plagued Palestine and, simultaneously, to transcend 
national and ethnic dichotomies that now make it nearly impossible to 
envision ethical coexistence in a decolonized Palestine, based on 
equality, justice and freedom.

[1] Based on two presentations, the first to the International 
Conference on the One & Two State Solutions for Palestine/Israel, 
Boston, 28-29 March 2009, sponsored by the Trans Arab Research 
Institute (TARI) and the Joiner Center for the Study of War and Its 
Social Consequences of the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and 
the second to the conference titled Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models 
of Statehood and Paths to Peace, Toronto, 22-24 June 2009, sponsored 
by Queen's University and York University, Canada.

[2] Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum Books, 1993.

[3] Even human rights reports issued by the US State Department have 
condemned Israel's "institutional, legal and societal discrimination" 
against the indigenous Palestinians. For example, see the 2008 

[4] http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9134.shtml


[6] Amy Maguire, Law Protecting Rights: Restoring the law of 
self-determination in the neo-colonial world. In Law Text Culture, 
Volume 12, Issue 1. 2008. 

[7] UNESCO conference of expert, ibid.



[10] For more on this see: United against Apartheid, Colonialism and 
Occupation - Dignity and Justice for the Palestinian People. 
Palestinian Civil Society Strategic Position Paper. October 2008. 

[11] http://www.whatconvention.org/en/conv/0703.htm

[12] The Democratic Constitution (2007): 
The Haifa Declaration (2007): 
The Future Vision 

[13] http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10497.shtml

[14] <http://www.bdsmovement.net/>www.BDSmovement.net

[15] For more on this see: 

From: Z Net - The Spirit Of Resistance Lives

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/news_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20090729/7132db24/attachment.html>

More information about the News mailing list