The Next Intifada

With his latest statements and unrestrained violence, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, has once again confirmed that the occupation, the oppression and the slow genocide of Palestinians by the Israeli war machine he heads will not stop. Any talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders are meaningless he says, and as far as he is concerned there will be no relief for the Palestinians, not even symbolic relief for people trying to cross the checkpoints. After all, even a short delay at the checkpoint can put an end to the life on an innocent Palestinian. Barak who has earned the dubious distinction of Israel’s most decorated soldier, by killing mostly unarmed Palestinian civilians, will do nothing that might hinder the liquidation of Palestinians, young or old. With Barak in control of Israel’s security apparatus Israelis and Palestinians can expect more violence and more losses of innocent lives.

Barak and his generals all have innocent blood on their hands and should be tried at The Hague for violations of international law and crimes against humanity. But instead they direct Israeli soldiers, government-trained assassins, secret police, and so-called border patrolmen to shoot and kill innocent Palestinians. Because in Israel all “security” personnel are all above the law and none of the perpetrators of these crimes, their commanding officers or the government ministers in charge are brought to justice.

At the same time thousands of Palestinian political prisoners are continually thrown into Israeli prisons for daring to resist the unlawful crimes of the Israeli occupation and since they are categorized as “security” prisoners they have no real protection under the law. Many of these prisoners are political activists and leaders who would otherwise be hailed for daring to resist Israeli apartheid. One can say with certainty that “defense” Minister Barak will block any attempt to change this situation, thus guaranteeing that the conflict will go on with no end in sight.

Rather than brace for the next Palestinian uprising of which there is already talk, it is time to consider a joint, non-violent struggle to end the occupation for good. As an example, we should note the courage, persistence and the determination of the unarmed, joint resistance that has been taking place in the small Palestinian town of Bil’in in the West Bank. For several years now Bil’in residents, together with Israeli peace activists and others have conducted a non-violent, joint struggle against the confiscation of Bil’in lands and the erection of the separation barrier.

Besides the regular weekly resistance, Bil’in has already hosted two international conferences on the non-violent struggle against the occupation and both were well attended. One would hope that the next conference would seriously discuss the means of expanding the struggle against the occupation to all parts of Palestine/Israel.

The term “occupation” gives the false impression that the situation in the West Bank and Gaza, and indeed in all of Palestine/Israel is somehow temporary. It is common to speak of 40 years of occupation but in reality the occupation of Palestine has been going on for 60 years and there will be no end to it without well-planned, joint, non-violent resistance. From its very creation Israel has been an apartheid state in which the Palestinian population that survived the ethnic cleansing of 1948 have been living under occupation, as prisoners in their own land.

At its very inception Israel had developed a brutal system to enforce the occupation and the state of apartheid. This system, conveniently but disingenuously referred to as the “defense” or “security” apparatus has for 60 years been in charge of policing the Palestinians as they fight for their rights as a nation. Using collaborators, the internal secret police or Shabak, the so-called Border Patrol (which is made up of mostly disenfranchised segments of Israeli society) and the Israeli Army, this massive Godzilla has been sucking the marrow out of Israeli society and destroying Palestinian life.

It is interesting to see how this Behemoth of a “defense” force reacts to the rather small non-violent protest in Bil’in; disproportionate number of forces being used; rubber coated bullets and tear gas canisters are shot into the crowd even though children are present; all this disproportionate violence is an indication that even though they are large and armed to the teeth the Israeli “defense” forces view the non-violent struggle as a threat. Violence is the life-blood of the Israeli “defense” forces and the notion of a non-violent, joint struggle is threatening its very existence.

There are two characteristics of Israeli life that the Israeli “defense” system, or security system, whichever cynical name it chooses to go by, needs to preserve at all cost. The first is the racist character of the state of Israel, and the second is the occupation that allows it to suck the life out of both nations. By keeping these two alive, the “defense” department receives its pound of flesh in the shape of an estimated $30 billion per year.

It is therefore of the highest national priority for both Israelis and Palestinians to defy this massive monster and to defy the occupation that it is protecting. Any future organized resistance must follow the lead of Bil’in and be joint and non-violent and it must have clearly defined objectives. Among these objectives should be the complete elimination of the racist segregation and discrimination against Palestinians within Israel/Palestine.

It would be a serious mistake to think that cosmetic changes like the Oslo Accords could bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The era of cosmetic changes together with the two-state solution is gone forever. Only full equal rights for both people in their historic homeland will bring an end to this conflict. And while there are those who will claim that this it is a naive dream and will never become a reality, we would do well to remember that the success of any struggle depends on the determination of its leaders and the clarity of its purpose, not the doubts of naysayers.

According to the Zionist narrative a Palestinian State may exist only if it neighbors a state that has a Jewish majority and which occupies most of the land of Israel/Palestine. When Israeli governments speak of a Palestinian state they mean a walled off Bantustan like Gaza. But as we see in Gaza, enclosing and starving people and depriving them of hope solves nothing. In Gaza, besides the violent power struggles, which one might expect under the circumstances, there are close to 1.4 million people, more than half of who are under 18 years of age. In other words over 700,000 children live in Gaza completely exposed to the unrestrained violence of the Israeli military.

If the violence would cease there could be a chance to protect these children and give them a better life and perhaps even a future. But as it stands, with Barak at the helm only resistance similar to the Bil’in example, which is non-violent and includes Israeli-Palestinian cooperation can provide hope for children in Gaza.

In a recent article that was published in the United States, Dr. Mona El Farra from Gaza wrote that, “This may seem an unlikely time to discuss the prospect of one state with equal rights for all, but the fighting in Gaza makes clear that a cordoned-off Gaza Bantustan is no solution.” The question that Dr. El Farra raises is monumental: Why is it right to speak of equal rights everywhere except for Israel and Palestine? Indeed, it may be an unlikely time but it is never the less the right time to discuss the establishment of a secular, democratic state in Israel/Palestine in which human and civil rights are guaranteed to all its citizens.

Clearly it is time for Israelis and Palestinians to rise and defy the highly decorated General Barak and the violent system he heads. It is a system that through the use and manipulation of violence has kept the two nations captive within the conflict for 60 years. It is time for a joint, non-violent struggle that will finally free the two peoples from the violence imposed on them, and bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Writing on the Wall

The Writing on the Wall 
Miko Peled, The Electronic Intifada, 12 June 2007 

As I write these words, I realize it is 5 June 2007. I remember that day in June 40 years ago vividly; I was five years old and my father, Matti Peled was a general in the IDF, my brother a lieutenant in the armored corps. We believed that they were part of a long line of Jewish heroes that includes Joshua, King David, the Maccabees and now the IDF; they all had God on their side and were destined to be victorious. Today people around the world talk about the day that the war “broke out,” as though war is an entity with a life of its own. But wars rarely break out; they are meticulously planned and carried out by people with the worst intentions. This particular war completed Israel’s domination over Palestine, domination for which there seems no end in sight. And today, as my father and several other concerned Israelis predicted forty years ago, young Jewish boys who were raised on the principles of the Jewish democracy, willingly carry out the despicable duties of an occupation army.

The difficulty a writer faces in writing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that it is buried in decades of mythmaking. Most writers and readers are still in awe of the Zionist narrative and are either afraid or lack the tools with which to challenge it. Even people with experience in Mideast politics like Zbigniew Brzezinski and Dennis Ross, still claim that if only America pursued the right foreign policy or the Palestinians had different leaders then the Palestinian people would have a state of their own and Israel would be living in a state of peace and security. Clearly they do not see the writing on the wall.

Jamil Hilal’s book Where Now for Palestine, the Demise of the Two State Solution(published by Zed Books) is like the biblical Daniel interpreting the writing on the wall. Thorough and compelling, this book contains eleven illuminating essays with razor sharp analysis on the current state of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the demise of the two-state solution. 

“The policy imperatives of political Zionism have been oriented towards occupying land with no, or the minimum of, Palestinians.” Hilal writes, and indeed, from the earliest days of the Zionist enterprise Zionist strongman David Ben Gurion made it clear that this was a zero sum game: Us or them, there will be no compromise on the issue of land. To guarantee the success of his plan to win the land and get rid of its people he orchestrated Israel’s massive military buildup. 

Today’s policies of aggression and expansion are part of the legacy of Ben Gurion, and as Ilan Pappe writes: “occupation proceeds from the same ideological infrastructure on which the 1948 ethnic cleansing was erected.” The last 40 years have provided ample opportunities to move forward with the creation of a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, but no Israeli government was ever willing to give up the land. Instead, Israel continues to allocate massive resources to further its military buildup and expand the settlements in the West Bank. Jamil Hilal sums it up when he writes: “Israel’s policy has amounted to a systemic negation of the basic conditions necessary for a viable and sovereign Palestinian state.” As the layers of myth are uncovered we are struck by the realization that it is inconceivable that a Zionist government will be willing to share the Land of Israel. 

The debate regarding the future of Israel/Palestine is becoming more widespread but unfortunately this is happening mainly outside of Israel. In as much as any discussion exists within Israel it is on the fringes of the Israeli left and among Palestinians, but rarely together. The recent debate between historian Ilan Pappe, who also contributed to this book, and veteran peace activist Uri Avneri, is noteworthy. During the debate, Pappe argued that the two-state solution is neither a viable nor a desirable solution and that effort needs to be exerted to create a secular democratic state in Israel/Palestine. Avneri, in an effort to support his claim that Israelis and Palestinians cannot possibly live as citizens with equal rights under one democratic state resorted to the following argument: “The inhabitant of Bil’in will pay the same taxes as the inhabitant of Kfar-Sava? The inhabitants of Jenin will enact a constitution together with the inhabitants of Netanya? The inhabitants of Hebron and the settlers will serve in the same army and the same police force, shoulder to shoulder, and will be subject to the same laws? Is that realistic?” If history has shown us anything it is this: It is not realistic to expect that any Zionist government will ever give up land, so we find the two people living in one state but governed by very different laws. 

To gain control of the enemy and rally its own troops, so to speak, Israel set out and accomplished two major tasks: The fragmentation of Palestinian society on the one hand and the alienation of Israelis towards Palestinians on the other. Sharif Elmusa explains it like this: “Rationalization of the necessity for a Jewish majority in Israel requires the Arabs to be pictured darkly, bent on the annihilation of the Jews, and as culturally incapable of forming democratic, pluralistic systems”. Indeed, recent research by Nurit Peled Elhanan substantiates this claim. She has shown that the trend in Israeli textbooks is to show the “Arabs of Israel” as the Palestinians are called, as poor, uneducated, untrustworthy and bent on killing Jews. 

However, the reality is that the Palestinians in Israel, as in other countries, have always been peaceful, hardworking, educated, and socially and politically active. For decades Palestinian leaders have repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to reach a negotiated agreement with Israel; Palestinian democratic institutions have proven themselves effective and representing the people’s wishes both before and after Oslo; and the most striking example to contradict the stereotype of Palestinians in Israel is Gaza: 80 percent of the people live below the poverty line, the government is incapacitated, and with little help from the outside world the literacy rate remains well over 90 percent. 

For several decades Israel has been using extrajudicial assassinations and other, less lethal means to destroy and to delegitimize the Palestinian leadership. One of its biggest achievements in this regard is the Oslo agreement. Karma Nablusi writes that prior to Oslo the PLO represented Palestinians who live within Palestine and those in Al Shatat, outside Palestine. Today there is no representation and no body within which Palestinian voices outside of Palestine can be heard. By containing the PLO within the PA, Oslo succeeded in diminishing the representation for Palestinians outside Palestine and by doing so in effect took the refugee problem and the right of return off the negotiating table. Now the very future of the PA is unclear and Israel is on the verge of yet another victory: the complete destruction of Palestinian political representation.

One point which all the contributors to this book raised is that the so-called peace process, rather than lead to a resolution, is enabling Israel to destroy Palestine. So the question that begs to be asked is what now for Palestine? Hilal writes: “Neither Fatah nor Hammas has put forth a strategy for a national struggle that deals with the situation after the collapse of Oslo.” According to Ziad Abu Amr: “The PA is becoming a facade hiding an actual Israeli occupation, and a tool helping Israel regulate its occupation.” These are serious charges and they are being laid at the feet of today’s Palestinian leadership. Jamil Hilal further suggests: “The Palestinian movement should articulate a detailed proposal for a bi-national state, and begin to canvas for such an idea among Palestinians, and, more importantly, among Israelis.” But, in its daily struggle to stay alive, the Palestinian leadership too fails to see the writing on the wall.

People in the West buy into the Israeli narrative because Israel has created an almost fool-proof system that keeps it in control of the Palestinians and of the media. As Husam Mohamad states: “The present peace efforts lay most of the blame for the violence on the victims rather than the perpetrators.” Israeli violence is never seen as the cause for the impasses. Qassam rockets falling in Israel are terrorist attacks that cannot be tolerated, whereas the devastation caused by Israel in Gaza and the loss of innocent Palestinian lives is reported as justifiable retaliation. As long as the relations between the two sides are characterized by the imbalance of power, there can never be meaningful negotiations. Only once the occupation is dismantled and the continuous threat of Israeli attacks is lifted, can Israelis and Palestinians work together and resolve the conflict peacefully. 

If Israel has its way things will get progressively worse for the Palestinians as well as the Israelis. This book suggests a clear and courageous direction by which both people should move forward together: Dismantling the PA and establishing a democratic, secular state in all of Israeli/Palestine that will protect the national rights of all its citizens and will focus on human rights. 

For sixty years Israelis have been living as occupiers in Palestine. From the day it was established, Israel has been governed by an extremist, uncompromising political movement with a colonialist agenda. In this book, Jamil Hilal and ten other brilliant writers offer Israelis a way to be liberated from the daunting, self-destructive task of policing an occupied nation: “A secular democratic state with no distinctions between citizens according to religion, ethnicity or national origin.”

Transforming Israel

Now that Kosovo is the newest independent state to emerge out of the ruins of the former Yugoslavia parallels are being drawn between the Balkans and the Middle East. One response to this development came from Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni who said that as she does not mind if the Palestinians follow the Kosovars and declare statehood; what worries her is that Palestinians will demand equal rights with Israelis.

Adding to Israeli fears of the impending demand for equal rights, in an article published recently in The Guardian, Ahmad Khalidi wrote that the state now being offered to the Palestinians is less attractive than ever and that Palestinians may just opt to “evoke Olmert’s worst nightmare” and call for a “genuine partnership of sharing the land.” Both Livni and Olmert have stated that the possibility of equality keeps them awake at night, and with good cause. Once the discourse moves from “self determination to that of freedom and democracy” as Ahmed Khalidi puts it, the Zionist brand of apartheid will have to fold and a secular democracy will have to emerge in its place.

Three things will be argued here regarding the issue of transforming the racially segregated state of Israel into a secular democratic state on all of historic Palestine/Israel:

1. In order to achieve a lasting resolution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict, Israel’s domination over the land, the people and the discourse must be brought to an end, and the parties must negotiate as equals. At the same time, any effort to bring about such a solution needs to take into account that Israel will not permit such paritywillingly and will use all of its power to maintain its domination.

2. As long as the main efforts to resolve the conflict focus on the partition of historic Palestine/Israel there will never be a resolution. The idea of partition has become bankrupt and promoting it allows Israel to dominate the discourse and to continue its brutalcontrol over Palestinians and their land.

3. What is known as the one-state solution is no longer one option out of several, it has become a reality; the efforts and the discourse must now focus on transforming the racist, segregationist system in place today into a secular democratic system of government. The resolution of the conflict lies not in partition and more segregation but in severing the institutions of government from the single identity of either side. The state needs to serve and represent all Israelis and Palestinians who live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

In order to reach a sustainable resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, parties representing the two sides need to be able to negotiate as equals and to decide together which solution would best serve the ten million inhabitants of Palestine/Israel. But Israel’s success in maintaining domination over the discourse has blocked any serious attempt at meaningful discussion. Israel refuses to allow any parity between itself and the Palestinians, and will not permit any serious discussion on the transformation of the racist segregation thatexists today into a real democracy.

Israel has from its very founding worked relentlessly to trivialize everything that took place between the destruction of the Second Temple and the founding of the state of Israel. This effort is focused particularly on erasing the 1,400 years of Arab and Muslim presence in Palestine. As far as Israelis are concerned, that presence was nothing but an historical misfortune that was remedied upon the establishment of the Jewish state and the return of Eretz Israel to its rightful owners in 1948. This effort was hugely successful: Even with the existence of major Arab and Islamic monuments still standing, and a significant Palestinian presence, both Muslim and Christian, few Israelis know or care to know about the historical and cultural significance of the last two millennia. From an Israeli viewpoint the moral, historical and religious superiority of the Jewish claims to the land are absolute.

Since the notion of Israeli supremacy is deep rooted among Israelis and it is a major factor in Israel’s position vis-a-vis the Palestinians we can see why Israel has never agreed, and it is not likely that any Zionist government will ever agree, to negotiate with the Palestinians as equals. The following example demonstrates that irrespective of political party and even among the Israeli peace camp, parity is frowned upon. On the core issue of the use of force, Israel maintains that Palestinians must refrain and refuse to use what meager military means they posses in their struggle for their rights, and has succeeded in painting the Palestinian struggle for freedom as terrorism. (Hence the absurd question repeated often by people in Israel and the West: “Where is the Palestinian Gandhi?” hinting that the problem is the Palestinians predisposition to resort to violence). Since there is no parity, and Israel maintains that it holds the moral high ground, it has the right to use military force against Palestinian “terrorism.” Israelis who refuse to serve in the armed forces are not recognized by the state as conscientious objectors but treated like common criminals; and even the so-called “peace camp” does not recognize the right of those refusing to serve in the Israeli military (since Israel possesses the moral high ground there is no need for an Israeli Gandhi).

Israel’s approach towards any resolution of the conflict is based on the premise that Israel will determine the nature of the solution, and the Palestinians must be resigned to accept it or suffer the consequences. Israel will permit the Palestinians a level of independence that Israel will determine based on its own perception of Palestinian compliance with Israeli interests. The best Palestinians may expect is that Israel will at some point permit a limited autonomy on selected areas of historic Palestine, areas selected by Israel alone. The possibility that the two parties need to reach a solution as equal partners is, as was mentioned earlier, not acceptable. Why the Palestinians have thus far agreed to be led by Israeli interests and to be dominated by Israeli politics is beyond our scope here, but what is amply clear is that the best interests of the Palestinians count for nothing. Israel has no intention of willingly allowing for a solution that is good for both parties, and insists on pushing its own narrow and shortsighted interests to the limit.

The absurd situation where partition is regarded as the only viable solution to the conflict, and at the same time it is clearly not a viable solution, allows Israel to continue to impose its will on all ten million inhabitants under its rule, and it renders any struggle to end Zionist domination over Palestine useless. When the efforts to bring an end to the conflict focus on transforming the militant Zionist regime currently in place into a free and pluralistic democracy, it is likely to develop more impetus and eventually succeed, even in the face of Zionist resistance.

History has shown that as long as the effort to end Israeli domination over Palestine remains focused on the notion of partition, or the two-state solution, it is doomed to be ineffective. The two-state solution is a fig leaf that Israel uses to cover its policies of land confiscation and brutal oppression. Israel’s policies of segregation are firmly linked to the chauvinistic notion that Israel should remain in control of the land and its resources. We would do well to note that the notion of partition serves only the shortsighted Zionist policies of power and domination, but does not take in to consideration the long term interests of Israelis and Palestinians.

Since Israel claims security to be its top priority, it will always claim that for security reasons it cannot give up a certain hill or valley only to secure more land for its illegal settlements in Jerusalem or the West Bank. Israel also maintains the sole right to determine who will represent the Palestinians as Israel’s negotiating partner, using once again so-called “security” considerations. Israel has and in all likelihood will continue to delegitimize (not to say assassinate or at least arrest) anyone who is unwilling to accept its right to total domination of the land and the discourse. This is at the root of the why real, good faith negotiations are yet to take place.

The arguments against a single state may have their merit, but they fail to acknowledge one thing: that the single state is not one of several options to be considered in the future; the single state is already a reality. Even though the state of Israel denies it vehemently, all ten million people who live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea are subjects of the Jewish state. Israeli insistence that a Palestinian state is in Israel’s own best interest and that Israel is committed to the creation of a Palestinian state is a poor smoke screen and in light of the facts on the ground this argument barely holds water. The different sets of laws and the travel restrictions that separate Palestinians from Israelis, allow Israel to create the illusion that there are two (or perhaps three, counting Gaza) political entities that govern the two people. Sadly, the reality is that different arms of the Israeli government, not separate independent governments, govern the two people. Palestinians are governed by the behemoth called the Israeli security system that Israel has created and maintains at high cost for the sole purpose of governing a population against its will. Israelis are governed by a radical, chauvinistic and racially discriminatory regime that pretends to be democratic.

In order to avert the possibility of losing its power, Israel has in effect placed a veto on any discussion of the transformation of the Jewish state into a secular democracy that would serve all of the people living within it. Furthermore, Israel will not engage in any discussion on the atrocities it committed during the war of 1948, nor will it engage in discussion on the reversal of the exile forced upon Palestinians in 1948. Israelis have been taught that even mentioning the refugees and the events of 1948 constitutes treason, and few are willing to discuss this, much less place the responsibility on Israel. The official line is that the “Arabs” rejected the UN partition and the “Arabs” convinced the Palestinians to leave their homes and their land and none of this has anything to do with Israel.

By ignoring the refugee issue, Israel has in fact deliberately shut the door on a solution that is both pragmatic and just. But it is hard to imagine that any resolution regarding Palestine can be reached and sustained unless the refugees are represented and unless they are part of the solution.

The oppressor-oppressed relationship between the two nations takes a heavy toll on both Israelis and Palestinians, albeit in different ways. Only once the two sides are freed from this burden will they be able to find a solution that is acceptable and has a chance to withstand the test of time. This is a tough challenge and to overcome it will require both people to defy the occupation and demand that the occupation apparatus, the Israeli “security system,” be dismantled. As things stand today, Israelis are either oblivious to Palestinian suffering or they condone it. The Palestinians for their part are overwhelmed by the magnitude of the brutal force used against them.

The nature of the solution must naturally be linked to the efforts to reach it. As things stand today, Israel makes sure that any efforts placed towards the resolution of the conflict are targeted towards the partition of Palestine, which in all likelihood will never occur. Even though these efforts yield no results the West stands behind Israel and mention of a secular democracy is deemed anti-Semitic. While the official stand of the two parties is in favor of this solution, in the case of Israel at least this stand is clearly disingenuous. While Israeli rhetoric claims to favor the partition of the land, Israeli governments have clearly acted in a way that negates the possibility of a Palestinian state to ever emerge, and has in fact sealed the fate of the two nations to live in one state, ruled by a single government.

Israel has acted quite deliberately to achieve this, and it has done so in two ways: education and infrastructure. If one takes a look at textbooks taught in Israeli schools, one will be hard pressed to see a map of Israel in which any Palestinian territory is delineated. Israeli students learn, and quite accurately so, that the whole of “Eretz Israel” is included in the state of Israel. Palestinian monuments and institutions are rarely marked and Palestinian towns, the ones that are found in these books, are described simply as “non-Jewish.” The Palestinians are portrayed as either refugees or as poor, backward people who are not modern and educated like the Israelis and the proof for their backwardness: they are unable to step out of their own dusty and congested villages into the modern world. Palestinian national aspirations are ridiculed and their identity as a nation is, so the official line claims, a new phenomenon that emerged only after the 1967 War.

Palestinians who are citizens of the state are referred to as “the Arabs of Israel,” a term that serves two purposes: to disassociate them from the Palestinians who live in the lands occupied in 1967, and from any national aspirations they may have. The second purpose is to portray the Palestinian citizens of Israel as people who have no unique national identity other than being Arabs whose existence in “our” country is coincidental. This lends itself to the claim that the “Arabs” have 22 states and Jews only one, therefore if they don’t like it they should leave and go live in some “Arab” country.

As for the infrastructure, just as Israel had done in the aftermath of the 1948 War, towns, neighborhoods and highways are being built for Jews only on Palestinian land. Having continued this policy of major expansion into the West Bank, Israel has blurred the lines that used to delineate between the West Bank, where a possible Palestinian state might have been established, and the rest of Israel. Towns with massive housing projects, and industrial complexes along with modern highways connecting them to each other and to Israel proper were built at a huge expense and represent a massive investment. Although the mainstream Israeli-left still holds that these may be removed one day when the illusive peace is achieved through partition, they give permanent status to the existence of the Jewish settlements on land occupied in 1967.

In order to avert any attempt to cut these areas off from Israel, Israel also invests in a massive defense apparatus on the one hand and public relations campaigns on the other. The two work in unison to protect, legitimize and as mentioned before give permanent status to this expansion. The Zionist education system and the massive investment combined have been a huge success, but now the Jewish state has to deal with a segregated, disenfranchised “minority” that makes up half of the population.

Accepting the transformation the Israel into a democratic state as the preferred solution to the conflict will allow for a more effective struggle to end the occupation, which is the de facto apartheid regime that Israel has in place. There is a need to move away from the default position of so many peace groups that claim the two-state solution is the ultimate solution. Even if at one point this was a realistic solution it is no longer the case; and even if it is, as many sincere peace activists claim, the preferred solution, because of Israel’s shortsighted expansionist policies it has become defunct. Peace activists would do well to recognize this and unite behind an anti-apartheid movement to transform Israel into a secular democracy.

One constantly hears talk of ending the impasse in the peace process, talk that is based on the myth of the existence of such a process, the end of which will be a Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel. But what is it about this seemingly perfect solution that makes it so elusive? From the 1947 UN resolution to Partition Palestine, to the more recent Road Map, every plan to separate the land into two political entities has not only failed but also fueled more bloodshed. As we look at the various proposals we see that each one has allowed for greater Israeli domination of the discourse and of the land at the expense of Palestinians while demanding Palestinian acceptance. In other words, every so-called “peace plan” has deepened the Zionist hold on the land and its resources. The 1947 partition plan was a poorly designed plan that had no chance of ever surviving forcing a solution that would give the majority of the land to what was then the Jewish minority. As though this was not folly enough, close to 400,000 Palestinians would have had to live within the boundaries of the state designated for the Jewish population. As it turned out, the Zionist leadership had a plan and at the first opportunity the Israeli militia began to force these people, who had no say in determining their future, out of their homes and away from their land.

The more recent proposals offer the Palestinians, who today comprise about 50 percent of the population somewhere between 10 percent to 15 percent of their historic homeland. The latest census published in Haaretz in February 2008 states that the total population of the West Bank and Gaza combined is now up to four million; the Palestinian population within the state of Israel proper is close to 1.5 million. The total population of Israel without the Palestinians citizens is around five million. Still the five million Jewish citizens are given domain over more than 90 percent of the land and resources, and if the Palestinians want “peace” they must settle for the rest. Besides all of this there are the Palestinian refugees whose voices and their rights have been silenced with brutal force over the years, but without whom no resolution can be achieved.

A mutual struggle for equality within a single state holds the promise of a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The bloody conflict between Israel and the Palestinians who they rule with brutal force, can be brought to an end through defiance of the Israeli security apparatus that is charged with enforcing the oppression. The defiance of the occupation through a joint struggle with a dedicated focus towards the transformation of Israel into a secular democracy holds the promise of a great future for both nations.

The idea of Israelis and Palestinians living in a single democracy is considered by many people to be naive, and perhaps it is. But one has to wonder: Does the current Zionist brand of apartheid, breeding as it does fear and suspicion, offer any future at all? The transformation of Israel into a democratic, pluralistic, secular state that will offer equal citizenship to all ten million people who reside within historic Palestine can provide a sound solution to the conflict. Furthermore, though morality is seldom mentioned as a political objective, it is morally right to turn Israel into a state that is a function of the will of the people rather than it being the enforcer of its own will on the people. It is morally right to bring the two nations to a place of equal opportunity and give them an equal voice in determining their shared future.

When Israelis and Palestinians work together for the benefit of their own future and the future of their children there will be no problem they cannot solve. Both people have proven that they are capable of great things, and one may expect that the democracy they create will serve them both well. Together the two nations will secure their mutual rights, their shared destiny and their rich heritage.

On a personal note I want to add the following thoughts: As an Israeli that was raised on the Zionist ideal of a Jewish state, I know how hard it is for many Jews and Palestinians to let go of the dream of having a state that is exclusively “our own.” In my opinion there is something that is greater than that dream: living in peace and raising our children in our shared homeland; teaching children about the rich traditions of this land and the heritage left to them by their ancestors. Every church, mosque and synagogue across the country tells a story; ancient cities and citadels are everywhere, and every corner in the land bares the mark of great kings and philosophers. All of these make up the rich mosaic of our homeland, and I emphasize our homeland, whether we are Palestinian or Israeli, Muslim, Jewish, or Christian.