Israel’s Elections Reveal its Racist Nature

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But fail to solve the state’s political crisis

(The following article appeared in “The Left Berlin”)

On March 23, Israel’s citizens elected a new Knesset, the fourth such election in just two years. The most painful issue under Israel’s control— the fate of Palestinians deprived of their most basic human and national rights— was not even discussed in the campaign. Millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which has been under Israel’s military rule for the last 54 years, don’t have the vote. For many Israelis, their fate is a “non-issue.”

In fact, the Israeli media constantly attacks Arab Palestinian Knesset members for caring too much about the fate of their voteless brothers and sisters. According to Israel’s mainstream media, by defending the rights of the disenfranchised, Arab MKs (and not the racist state) are somehow responsible for the continued systematic discrimination against their voters, Palestinians in the areas occupied by Israel since 1948 who have formal Israeli citizenship.

Open racist wounds

Though the Palestinian issue was not discussed, it is still the invisible force that played havoc with Israeli politics and caused the unprecedented anomaly of four subsequent elections. The central issue of contention, as everybody knows, is the fate of Binyamin Netanyahu (AKA “BiBi”), Israel’s longest serving prime minister, who is standing trial for multiple cases of corruption.

In previous elections, Bibi succeeded to distract Zionist public opinion from his corruption by inciting against the “danger” of Arab voters. In the last previous round, in March 2, 2020, the anti-Bibi forces united around General Gantz, the “hero” who, as Israel’s chief of staff, commanded over the massacre of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza in 2014. They thought that the general’s war credentials would protect them from Bibi’s description of his opponents as “leftists” and “weak on the Palestinians.”

The Arab parties also united in those 2020 Knesset elections and brought unprecedented representation of 15 seats, raising the traditionally low voting percentage between disillusioned Arab Palestinian voters by promising that with their unity they could gain real influence in Israeli politics. In an attempt to materialize the promised influence, they joined the Zionist opposition in recommending Gantz for the post of prime-minister. That caused panic in the Gantz camp, as the “hero” himself and many of his supporters preferred to join a government led by Bibi, the same person they promised never to support, rather than form a government supported by Arab parties.

Finally, it was Bibi himself who caused the collapse of his own coalition government, trying to utilize his success in rolling out anti-Corona vaccines (but not vaccinating Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza) before any other country, in order to form a government of true believers that would, hopefully, abolish his corruption trials.

Bibi’s true believers, in addition to Likud enthusiasts, are mostly religious nationalists.

The two Haredi (Religious Orthodox) parties, one for Jews of European descent and one for Jews from the Arab countries, are hooked on monetary transfers from the state, and adopted extreme anti-Arab positions just as they skilfully defend the right of their youth not to serve in the army.

In addition, Bibi personally worked hard to unite all sorts of “national religious” elements to a single election list named “Religious Zionism,” which includes the most extreme far-right “Jewish Power” (Otzma Yehudit) party, the new home of the followers of Kahana after their original party was declared a terrorist organization. Likud, at Bibi’s insistence, even gave a slot in his own list to a member of “Religious Zionism” in order to make sure that Itamar Ben-Gvir from “Otzma” will be in the Knesset.

Political Chaos

The collapse of the anti-Bibi camp after the last election and the crawl to join his government, followed by Bibi’s reversal of all his promises, left the “camp” in disarray. There are hardly any real parties, as candidates’ lists change in each election like the colored plastic in a kaleidoscope. Most lists are popularly, or even officially, called by the name of their current leader. In many such lists, “the leader” personally positions his servile followers in the rest of the slots.

The media often describes Bibi as a magician, in an attempt to explain his prolonged control over Israeli politics. A much more honest explanation is the total impotence of the opposition. He was exposed in an endless array of small and big corruption cases, from begging for cigars and champagne from friendly tycoons, through taking his family’s dirty laundry (literally) on visits to the white house to be washed for free at the expense of USA hospitality, to big bribes paid by German submarine producers to his close aides for their effort to sell the Israeli army expensive hardware it doesn’t need.

The value of his political shares inflated as his admirer Donald Trump was elected for the job of US president, but his staunch support for Trump undermined the bi-partisan support for Israel in the US and damaged Israel’s relations with its Jewish community. Meanwhile he filled his Likud party with noisy henchmen and continued to lose the party’s “more serious” politicians, the latest of them, Gideon Sa’ar, led another Anti-Bibi list composed of ex-Likudniks, which prevented the pro-Bibi camp from gaining outright majority in this election.

The general political chaos didn’t spare the Arab “Joint List.” In its unanimous recommendation for Gantz, it crossed all the red lines of Palestinian solidarity without showing any tangible achievement for its voters. This led one component of the Joint List to try to go one step farther.

MK Mansour Abbas, the leader of the Islamic Movement’s “Southern” faction, started engaging in a series of courtship steps with Bibi himself, explaining that he is ready to cooperate with any side that can deliver real advantage to his voters. (The “Northern” faction of the Islamic Movement, where most of the mass movement is, was outlawed by Israel and its leaders were thrown into jail.)

This division led to a split in the Joint List. Abbas is now leading “The United List” with his Islamic Movement and some more traditional local leaders. As I write these lines, according to the current (not final) election results, Abbas and his list are considered “the wild card” between the pro-Bibi and anti-Bibi camps. But as Israeli politics go, racism is the most prevalent common denominator, and it is unlikely that either camp will be ready to build a government based on Arab parties.

Thus, by the delegitimization of the Arab Palestinian voters, the two Zionist camps would find it hard to command the “Jewish majority” that they aspire to for building a “legitimate” Zionist government. Many commentators assume that the most likely result of the election would be yet another election sometime soon.

The Case for Boycott

It was symbolic that at the time of the Knesset election campaign, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza were preparing to vote for the “Legislative Council” of the Palestinian Authority. The ethno-geography of the elections clearly explains the failure of the Palestinians to gain their rights on both stages.

All Jews, everywhere in Palestine, from the river to the sea, are privileged citizens of the state of Israel and take part in deciding not only their own fate but also the fate of the Palestinians. Meanwhile, Palestinians are divided. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza vote for the PA, which has no real control under the occupation. Any Palestinian, including elected MPs, that engage in political activity that is regarded “hostile” by the occupation, is arrested by Israel.

A poster produced by South Africa’s United Democratic Front (UDF) resistance movement calling on white, coloured and Indian people to boycott elections held by the apartheid regime.

Palestinians in the areas that were occupied in 1948 are formally citizens, but they are subject to systemic discrimination, including land confiscation and house demolition that amount to ethnic cleansing. Palestinian MKs have no real influence, and they are subject to constant demonization in the Israeli media. On the other side, the Israeli propaganda machine uses the presence of Palestinian MKs in the Knesset as a “proof” of the false claim that Israel is a proper democracy.

The majority of the Palestinian population was expelled from their homes, villages and cities in 1948 and in the 73 years that lapsed since. Actually, their expulsion was the essential condition for creating the “Jewish Majority” in 1948. Thus, the claim that Israel is a “democratic state” is based on the endorsement of ethnic cleansing. No wonder that this “Jewish Majority” is voting again and again to deny the right of return of millions of Palestinians.

Over the last decades, especially since the Oslo agreement, Israel and its Western and Arab supporters succeeded not only to divide the Palestinian people physically but also to divide them politically. Each part of the Palestinian people is directed to look for his special rights within some special enclave. In each part there is a local leadership that adjusted to these conditions and grew to benefit from them.

Over the last years, we have witnessed the development of new Palestinian protest movements, mostly among the younger generation. Many of them call for boycott of the Knesset elections as well as the elections of the Palestinian Authority. They aspire for the rebuilding of a united Palestinian movement, in all parts of Palestine and throughout the diaspora, as the first step toward liberation and the establishment of real democracy in a free, united Palestine.

Images from Herak Umm al-Fahm Demonstration

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(The following article was published in Mondoweiss)

The combined problem of hostile racist government and the growing prevalence of organized crime are haunting the Palestinian Arab society within the 48 occupied Palestine. The lack of personal security is multiplied by the feeling that there is no one to turn to for protection when your life is in danger. In the last years there were many struggles against organized crime and against the Israeli’s police giving free hand to the criminal gangs to terrorize the Arab population while the same police acts with excessive violence against people that struggle for their rights or even against ordinary Arab citizens.

The masses of demonstrators closing the main Wadi ‘Ara highway on the entrance to Umm al-Fahm – March 5, 2021

Today, Friday, March 5, I took part in one of the biggest demonstrations of this kind. It was held in Umm al-Fahm, the main Palestinian town in the northern Triangle area. It was a high point in a long struggle of the people of the region, led by “al-Herak al-Fahmawi al-Muwahad” – “The United Fahmawi Movement” – after regular shooting at local citizens by armed gangs, and a murder attempt against Dr. Suleiman Aghbaria, a former mayor and one of the leaders of the Islamic Movement, arose tension and anger.

The previous Friday, February 26, Herak demonstrators tried to block the main road and were violently attacked by the police. One was dangerously wounded. The city’s mayor Dr. Samir Sobhi Mahamid and Knesset member Dr. Yousef Jabareen (also Fahmawi), that were trying to cool down the confrontation, were physically attacked by the police in front of the cameras. Four of the demonstrators were arrested. As a response, “The High Follow Up Committee”, the united leadership of the 1948 Palestinians, gathered in Umm al-Fahm and declared a national demonstration for this Friday.

Palestinian and Black Flags were raised on the traffic lights

Hours before the time of the demonstration, the police already closed the main highway leading to Umm al-Fahm, several kilometers away, on both sides. We, like thousands of others that were coming from out of the town, had to make our way on unmapped mountain roads through neighboring townships. When the crowd, that was estimated to be between ten and twenty thousand, finally marched to the main street it was already closed and deserted. Palestinian and black flags were hung on the traffic lights and the masses freely poured into the central junction, the same junction from which they were chased violently the other week.

The wall speaks: The latest poster against the killing of innocent victims with the key of return to villages destroyed in 1948

Al-Herak

Officially the demonstration was called by the follow-up committee, which is composed of all the 48-Palestinians’ parties and movements. But on the ground, it was clear that the demonstration was organized and led by al-Herak. On a central wall in the first circle of the town, in front of the municipality, a big billboard signed by the Herak waited the demonstrators. It declared “I will not wait until my son will be the next one… Umm al-Fahm started on the road”. It added a short cry in English and Hebrew: “Who’s next?”. Herak activist with specially printed yellow vests took control of the streets, turned away traffic and organized everything, including distributing water and halvah to the demonstrators.

Herak activists with special yellow vests took control of Umm al-Fahm’s streets, organizing everything

The role of women in the demonstration very significant. Many of them marched in a special block, but most sections of the demonstration were mixed. Women carried Palestinian flags, led and chanted slogans and closed streets.

Women played a major role in the demonstration
Young demonstrators: We don’t negotiate with the police, the police is the problem

Al-Herak distributed to the participants a special, elegantly edited, 8-pages pamphlet explaining the background for the struggle. Its title was “The Police is The Problem”. It starts with the demonstrations of the second intifada in the year 2000 and the killing of three demonstrators in Umm al-Fahm by police fire. They relate to the colonialist approach of the Israeli government toward Arab Palestinian citizens and the government’s “justification” that internal violence is part of “the Arab culture”. They contrast the prevalence of violent organized crime in 48 Palestine to the relatively lower level of internal violent in the West Bank society. They show in graphs, numbers and details of police activities how the police systematically fail, or, rather, doesn’t even try, to defend Arab crime victims.

The Herak’s pamphlet ends with a slogan that was also repeated many times in the demonstration: “Revolutionaries, free people, we will march on”.

Internal political conflict

The demonstration was held two and a half weeks before the Knesset elections – the fourth election within two years. This time there is very little interest in the Palestinian society in the elections. The reasons for this lack of interest stems from two-way disappointment: On one side, the Israeli society looks like becoming ever more right-wing and anti-Palestinian, and almost nobody has an illusion that anything good can come from another elections. On the other side, the traditional Palestinian leadership that participates in the Knesset elections disappointed their voters first by supporting Gantz to head the Israeli government (and getting nothing for it) and then by splitting “The Common List”.

United Arab List election advertisement on the entrance to Umm al-Fahm: “Realistic, Influential and Conservative Voice”

Near the entrance to Umm al-Fahm, this junction that was flooded with demonstrators, stands a big board with green election advertisement. It said: “The United Arab List – A realistic, influential and conservative voice”. The “united” list is the conservative alternative to the “common” list – led by Knesset member Dr. Mansur Abbas from the “Southern” (legal) branch of the Islamic Movement. Its slogans about “realism” and “influence” are understood as pointing to the group’s readiness to support Netanyahu, in his effort to remain in government spite of his indictment for corruption, in return for some material benefits. The reference to “conservative” might imply the attempt to use homophobic prejudice to discredit the other, relatively progressive, Arab parties.

In the demonstration, Dr. Abbas “realistic” politics were not welcomed. He was surrounded by angry demonstrators that called on him to go home. Activist from the Herak and other parties helped to drag him out safely in order to prevent farther embarrassment.

Hundreds of demonstrators massed in a side street leading to the police station

Herak Haifa: Free Muhannad Abu Ghosh!

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Palestinian activists in Haifa and around the world are demanding the release of Muhannad Abu Ghosh, who was taken into custody on Monday and is being denied access to an attorney

(The following article was published in Mondoweiss on January 27, 2021)

(You may find the original declaration of Herak Haifa here.)

On Monday morning, January 25, Israeli police invaded the home of Muhannad Abu Ghosh, 44, in the center of Haifa and carried him away. As a long-time activist for Palestinian rights, he is almost used to this type of encounter, if you can ever get used to it. As a teenager in the 1980s, he was arrested for several years for taking part in the activities of the first Intifada in his native Al-Quds. The last time he was interrogated by the Shabak was only a month ago. Then he was kidnapped in a raid of his home in front of his kids, but he went home free by the end of the same day. Over the years, he was interrogated by Israeli “security services” many times. He even was detained in Ramallah, under the “Palestinian Authority,” in the year 2000, after, as a student in Bir Zeit university, he took part in a demonstration against France’s anti-Palestinian policy.

This time on Monday Abu Ghosh was not taken to regular interrogation. Shortly after being detained he was brought to the Haifa court where his detention was remanded for a whole week. He has not been arraigned or charged with any crime. He was prevented by a special decree from meeting a lawyer, a measure regularly used against Palestinian activists who are interrogated by the Shabak. While his lawyer was not informed where he is presently being detained, I have good reasons to believe that he is in the Shabak section in Jelemeh – where harsh conditions and the usage of all kinds of psychological and physical torture are the standard.

Herak Haifa vigil in front of the occupation court in Haifa, January 26. 2021: Free Muhannad Abu Ghosh!

On Tuesday his lawyer, Khaled Mahajna, appealed both Abu Ghosh’s detention, and the decree preventing him from meeting with counsel. Before the appeal hearings started in the Haifa district court, some 20 activists of Herak Haifa gathered on short notice for a solidarity vigil in front of the court’s building, calling for the release of their comrade. 

All the court’s proceedings were held behind closed doors. Only the detainee’s wife was allowed into the court building, but she, also, was not allowed even to see him in court.

In a procedure common in Israeli courts, during the appeal hearing Shabak agents met the judge alone, without the presence of Abu Ghosh or his lawyer, to present him with their “secret evidence.” Neither the detainee, nor his lawyer, were allowed to know what it is all about. Finally, “surprise! surprise!”, both appeals were rejected.

Muhannad Abu Ghosh is a writer and an artist. His poignant satirical writing earned him many followers on social media. His book of short stories about the first intifada was printed by a publisher in Beirut. He is also known as one of the founders of Herak Haifa, a movement that played a pioneering role in the struggle for both Palestinian national rights and progressive social agenda over the last 10 years.

Muhannad Abu Ghosh – Image from Facebook

Looking at his Facebook page after his detention I found he was one of the relatively few dedicated activists who commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Arab spring with a promise that its message of freedom will never die. Over a picture of snow on Jabal al-Sheikh, he agonizes for the suffering of the Syrian people and the Palestinian people on both sides of the mountain.

Haifa is supposed to be the most “progressive” place under Israel’s apartheid. It is supposed to give an example of “coexistence” between Arab and Jews under Zionist rule. But it is only a thin disguise to the continuing rule of Jewish supremacy over the native Palestinian population. The secretive and lawless Shabak is the utmost authority in all that is connected to the Arab population. They hold a “file” for each citizen and regularly invite young Palestinians (activists and others) for “interviews” – designed to keep them away from any political protest. Around five activists from Herak spent weeks under harsh interrogation in the Shabak dungeons in Jelemeh. Some previous examples of such arrests were reported here and here and here.

In a declaration demanding the immediate release of Abu Ghosh, the Herak warned that by preventing him from meeting a lawyer, “his jailers aim to isolate him from the world and exert the utmost illegal pressure to break his steadfast spirit.” They mentioned that “he suffers from chronic back pain as a result of torture during previous arrests.”

The Herak’s declaration ends by calling “on all Palestinian national and democratic forces, all human rights institutions and all people with a live conscience, to act quickly for the release of comrade Muhannad Abu Ghosh.”

* * *

Added on Thursday, January 28

Persecution for keeping Palestinians connected

The detention of Abu Ghosh was widely reported in the Palestinian and Arab press. Even though he was not officially charged, the press reported that he is detained on the background of contacting “a foreign agent”. Many writers noted that, for Palestinians under the 1948 occupation, to keep connection with Palestinians in other localities can easily be regarded by the occupation forces as “contact with foreign agents”. One writer titled his response to the detention “Muhannad Abu Ghosh is detained for contacting Muhannad Abu Ghosh”.

United solidarity action across borders

Herak Haifa and other groups of Palestinian activists from around the world called for a united solidarity action in social media on Friday, January 29, at 19:30 Al-Quds time. The common activity of Palestinian activists from different geographies is design to protest the detention of Abu Ghosh and to prove that the connections between Palestinians is their natural right and would never be broken by the occupation, walls, borders and persecution. The invitation in Arabic is posted below.

Israel’s Medical Apartheid begins with the numbers

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(The following article was published in “The Left Berlin” website.)

The Covid-19 pandemic posed a harsh “surprise test” for many states as well as local and global organizations and human societies in general. The arrival of the vaccine, though it was long expected, posed another harsh test for our ‘one-but-unequal’ worldwide society.

The first weeks of the distribution of the newly available vaccines exposed the incompetence or indifference of many states in caring for their citizens. But, above all, they exposed the international system of apartheid, where all the supposedly “premium” vaccines from western manufacturers are divided between the western capitalist states. One striking example is the case of Ukraine, that tried to buy vaccine from manufacturers like Pfizer, only to be blocked by an executive order from the USA administration banning its export.

Israel was late to contact Pfizer, which happened to be the first producer to succeed to license its Covid-19 vaccine in the EU and the USA. Israel’s prime minister Netanyahu boasted that he talked 17 times on the phone with Pfizer’s president Bourla over the past weeks. Netanyahu secured enough vaccine for all Israel’s citizens above the age of 16 before the end of March. Needless to say, this bargain, one that puts Israel’s citizens before those of the vaccine’s inventors and producers in Germany and the USA, was not blocked by Trump.

This came just in time for embattled Netanyahu’s personal ambitions, as he tries to avoid a pending trial on several counts of corruption. He caused his divided government to fall by preventing the adoption of a budget, and set elections for March 23. He is hoping to ride the vaccine wave and get a majority in the Knesset that will provide him with legal immunity.

But Israel not only gets top priority in the world-wide apartheid order. It also has its internal deeply established apartheid system. When Israel speaks of vaccinating “all its citizens”, it completely ignores millions of Palestinians who live under its rule as subjects with no rights. Actually, the whole world is adopting this racist Israeli approach. When, for example, we read in the papers that “25% of Israel’s population was already vaccinated”, this percentage is computed out of the some 9 million “citizens” – leaving aside more than 5 million Palestinians that Israel didn’t even think about their need for the vaccine.

Even independent data providers like “ourworldindata.org” (see figure below), buy into this Israeli Apartheid statistics. The excuse, of course, is the artificial division between the territories that Israel occupied in 1948, performing ethnic cleansing of most of the native population, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip that Israel occupied in 1967. The first, 1948 occupied areas, are regarded by many as a legitimate and “democratic” Israel, as the ethnic cleansing and the prevention of the return of the Palestinian refugees ensured Jewish majority in those areas. The 1967 occupation is regarded as “temporary” – even as most of the population there is a second generation to live under this “temporary” rule that deny them all basic human rights.

Vaccination rate as of 15 Jan 2021, from ourworldindata.org –
The statistics for Israel ignores millions of Palestinians that till now are not planned to be vaccinated.

The reality on the ground has no connection to this illusionary view, in all aspects of life, healthcare and vaccination included. Jewish settlers in the West Bank, and there are more than half a million of them, of course get the Covid-19 vaccine like any other citizen and are part of the official Israeli statistics. So, the denial of rights, and the wiping out from the statistics, is just in case you happened to be Palestinian.

On December 23, 2020, as Israel started its vaccination campaign, 20 human rights organizations published a call to the Israel government to respect its obligation under the international law to take responsibility for the health of the population under its occupation. They wrote: “The Israeli Ministry of Health has not yet publicly formulated an allocation policy that includes reserving specific amounts for Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), nor has it established a timeline for the transfer of these vaccines. However, Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention specifically provides that an occupier has the duty of ensuring “the adoption and application of the prophylactic and preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics”. This duty includes providing support for the purchase and distribution of vaccines to the Palestinian population under its control.

The situation in the Gaza Strip, a densely populated area with 2 million people, most of them refugees from the 1948 ethnic cleansing, is even much worse than in the West Bank. After the bloody oppression of the second intifada (2000-2005) failed to break the resistance, Israel changed tactics and withdrew from within the strip, converting it to a huge open-air prison, controlled from outside by snipers, artillery and drones. This enabled the only semi-democratic elections in the history of the Palestinian Authority in 2006, which was won by Hamas. Under strict siege by Israel and Egypt, the pandemic was late to invade the strip, but lately it flared there, where there is hardly any space for social distancing and the health services are deprived of resources due to poverty and the siege.

Israel is cynically trying to use the pandemic to press the Hamas government in Gaza to agree to its terms for a prisoners’ exchange deal. Hamas captured two Israeli soldiers during the invasion of the strip in a bloody massacres campaign in 2014 and two Israeli citizens that entered the strip. Israel claims that both soldiers are dead, after doing its utmost to make sure it is true. Hamas wants the prisoners’ exchange to release as many as possible of the some 5000 Palestinian prisoners that are held by Israel. Now Israel is seeing the pandemic as “an opportunity” to lower the number of Palestinians to be released.

The family of one of the soldiers appealed to the Israeli “high court” to prevent any supply of the Covid-19 vaccine to the Gaza strip until the soldiers are released. In their reply, the Israeli state representatives promised the court that there is no intention to let vaccine to the strip anytime soon. They even claimed initially that the whole Palestine Authority (PA) has no vaccine, but on January 13 “admitted” that Israel passed to the PA 100 doses(!) “for humanitarian reasons”.

It is worth noting that the lawyer that is demanding in court, in the name of the soldier’s family, to prevent vaccination from 2 million people in Gaza is the Dean of Sha’arei Mishpat Law School, Professor Aviad Ha’cohen. He is doing it as part of his university’s “pro-bono” program.

Another especially vulnerable population are the thousands of Palestinian prisoners, many of them old (as Israel imprisons Palestinian to ultra-log periods, with no proportion to what they were accused of) and many of them already suffering from other diseases due to harsh conditions and systematic medical neglect. Israel’s minister of internal security, Amir Ohana, which is responsible to the Prisons’ Authority, is a former Shabak operator. He tries to gain popularity with racist public opinion by loudly refusing to vaccinate Palestinian prisoners. He was told by official legal and health experts that public health policies (like vaccinating all people over 60) should be applied also to all prisoners. Lately he seems to have hardened his stance and now objects to the inoculation of all prisoners. The fate of the prisoners is still hung in court while the pandemic is spreading in the prisons.

While Israel’s advanced health services (for those that are entitled to receive them) rely heavily of Palestinian doctors and nurses, the service itself is not equally administered in the Arab Palestinian communities (within the green line) from with most of these doctors and nurses come. Human rights organizations complained of lack of explanatory materials in Arabic, lack of vaccination centers, etc., this on top of the chronic problems of poverty, bad infrastructure, lack of public transport and the situation in dozens of unrecognized villages that are not receiving services at all.

All this is a stark demonstration of the nature of the Israeli regime, which B’Tselem recently declared to be a proper Apartheid State. The Covid-19 pandemic exposes this regime in its most ugly manifestations. The struggle for equality and social justice will probably stay with us long after the virus will be defeated.

There is no “US Democracy” – only Worldwide Apartheid

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Like billions of people around the world, I was following closely the USA elections’ drama. I must even admit that, as it became clear that Trump is going to go off the stage, I felt some relief. Having a completely ego-maniac unpredictable moron holding the console and playing with the buttons that can blow up the world is quiet unnerving. But what about the system that brought him to that position? And is Joe Biden really any better, or would he just carry on the same destructive policies in a more consistent way?

The view from Haifa, Palestine

Living in Palestine and struggling against Israeli Apartheid give you special insights into the mechanisms of international politics. Israel is regarded by the western powers as their dearest soul-mate and the bearer of western democratic values in the “barbarian” Middle East. Yet Israel controls the historic land of Palestine from the river to the sea and the majority of the population, the original Arab inhabitants, are completely devoid of any voice in determining the country’s and their own destiny.

The people most affected by Israel’s rule of Palestine are the millions of Palestinian refugees who were expelled from their homes, all their property was confiscated and they are not allowed to come back. But even those Palestinians (in the territories that were occupied in 1948) who gained formal Israeli citizenship and are allowed to vote to the Knesset are completely marginalized, to the level that the Zionist opposition preferred to join the hated and corrupt Netanyahu government rather than build a government that would be supported by Arab MPs.

“How is all this connected to the recent US elections?”, ask my impatient readers. Yes, it is true that there is “voters’ suppression” and that not all votes have the same weight in the US “electoral college”. But, in the end, wasn’t Biden elected by Black and other minority votes, against the surge in white supremacist support for Trump? And, isn’t the election of Kamala Harris another proof of the development of the US democracy toward being more inclusive?

Well, we learned some things while opposing Apartheid in Palestine. In order to really understand the nature of the regime – you should count all the people that are under its rule, not only those that are eligible to vote.

Believe me, we were watching so closely and nervously the US elections not because we care so much for the fate of some strange people in North America, but because we care about ourselves. Actually, those elections are likely to have a much bigger impact on people all over the world than they do over the citizens of the USA. And I speak about the daily consequences of US policy, not about climate change, where the USA was sabotaging any attempt to prevent the burning of the world.

More than half the 1438 billion dollar of the US Federal Budget discretionary expenses are dedicated to military expenditure (see attached chart) – those “lovely” bombs and “smart” missiles that are likely to fall on our heads, we the worlds citizens in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Iran and elsewhere. And they were approved in the famously divided Congress by a vote of 377–48 in the House of Representatives and by a vote of 86–8 in the Senate. This is only part of the budget that the US spends to develop the weapons that enable the continuation of Israeli Apartheid, to sustain military dictators like A-Sisi of Egypt and to defend the “freedom” of the feudal emirs of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to cut the heads of their subjects and bomb poor Yemenis.

So, if we are the main “beneficiaries” on the receiving end of this government, why don’t we have the right to vote?

There is only one world

We live in a global capitalist society. You can hardly find any product that was created in a single country, without ingredients from many others. We breath the same air, so the pollution in any country is dangerous to all of us. Climate change is an imminent danger to all of us and it requires worldwide effort to confront and to mitigate its damages. The 2020 Corona pandemic proved that also our health can be protected only by a world-wide effort.

The companies that rule our economy are global companies. Most of them are registered in the US, but they operate all over the world. “The Economist” published recently a graphic illustration of “selected global platform by market capitalisation”, showing how US companies in the technology sector overshadow all the rest. Only some Chinese companies are recently starting to compete for a place in the world economy – what provoked an outcry all over the western “free” world: “how dare they eat from our cake?”

The United States’ government is the political tool of these global companies. They need to keep their political hegemony and military superiority in order to assure that the world is open for them to invest, exploit, pollute, make profits and avoid taxes. The US government try to bully and punish even their allies in the European Union when some of its countries try to tax the profits that US companies make in their countries. Most third world countries would not even dare to think about it.

We pay the taxes

While claiming their independence from the British Monarchy, the North American colonialists settlers, the would be “USA”, raised the slogan “no taxation without representation”. Once again, we witness the situation in which the real rulers, now in the form of the big US companies, are not paying almost any tax. And those who are paying most have no voice at all.

By their control over the world economy, US companies, by the force of the US government and army, force all of us to pay by the best fruits of our hard work for the building of their empire. This is done in many overt and covert ways. I will mention just some of them:

  • US companies hold direct ownership or financial stronghold over much of the worlds’ enterprises and governments.
  • They dictate the conditions that force the third world to pay high interest or dividend to imperialist owners, financiers or holders of “intellectual rights”. At the same time everybody is forced to hold reserves in dollars for which they actually receive no interest at all.
  • Whatever is produced in the third world, by the world’s proletariat and peasantry, is sold damn cheap, while everything that is monopolized by the imperialist companies is sold at an exorbitant price.
  • The third world bourgeoise are practicing super-exploitation in order to survive in neo-liberal markets, but are afraid to leave their money in the countries that they exploit. So, they channel it to the imperialist economies (and “America First”) enriching and develop the same system that farther undermine their competitive position.
  • Big part of the brightest sons and daughters of the third world, that their families and states invested their most precious limited resources in educating, are tempted by higher salaries to emigrate and use their education to work for and farther empower the imperialist centers.
  •  The US uses its control of the world financial system to strangle other states, companies and banks. Foreign banks were forced to pay “fines” worth billions of dollars for “offences against US law” like trading with Iran. This money is finally paid by the banks’ customers and their customers’ customers – mostly poor people all over the world.
  • Defense of “patents” and “intellectual property” became a major political and commercial tool to suppress the sharing of technological progress and allow owners to extract fees that amount to usurpation, not least against the most vulnerable people all over the world who need medical treatment, millions of them die as they can’t afford to pay for life saving treatments.
  • Last but not least, as the world reserves are held in the US, its policy of printing huge amounts of dollars to finance its government’s deficits and prop its big companies is actually depreciating the value of the assets of the rest of the world, the savings of the world’s poor for the hard times ahead. Actually, today’s US banks, shares and government bonds are the biggest Ponzi scheme in history.

Like the British imperialists at the time, it is clear why the US is doing whatever it can to devoid the people of the world from participating in deciding our small world’s destiny. They wouldn’t be able to live in our expense otherwise.

No democracy and no rights in Apartheid

To my North American comrades and fellow citizens, I must say: Don’t be sorry for the inevitable fall of “your” empire. The US became great not only by robbing the rest of the world, but also by making you, the people of North America, small and enslaved.

How come you don’t have the right to health and education that people in so many other countries, not only the rich but many poor countries also, take as their basic rights?

The bourgeoise in the third world is weak because it lives out of a fraction of the added value from what “their” countries and “their” workers produce. Most of it goes to the imperialist masters. Because they are weak and afraid, they may resort to draconian and dictatorial measures. But when the workers and the rest of the working people unite and struggle for their rights, they may produce real change.

You are weak in front of “your” capitalist class because they own the added value from the work of people all over the world. In fact, you are almost “dispensable”, except from some services that can’t be outsourced or mechanized. You should unite with the workers and oppressed nations of the rest of the world in the struggle to put an end to North American imperialism in order to regain your strength and acquire control over your destiny.

ODSC statement on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

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(Translated from the original Arabic text)

On the occasion of the forty-third anniversary of the declaration of the United Nations General Assembly on November 29 as an occasion for global solidarity with the Palestinian people and with their heroic struggle that continues for more than a century, “The Campaign for One Democratic State in Historic Palestine” calls on all freedom-loving people of the world to strengthen and expand their solidarity with the cause of Palestine.

These days, a dangerous liquidation scheme, represented by “the deal of the century” and the rush of Arab regimes to normalize their relations with Israel, threatens the just cause of the Palestinian people.  This scheme is more dangerous than any other scheme since the 1960’s, when the Palestinian national movement was rebuilt as a national liberation movement.

We have already lived through 72 years of ongoing Palestinian Nakba, and Israel is still practicing systematic crimes of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people, under the eyes of the international system, which granted legitimacy to the establishment of this colonial regime. We, in the Campaign for One Democratic State, ask, on behalf of the Palestinian people: How long can the official international community continue to turn a blind eye to the crimes of ethnic cleansing and apartheid that Israel is practicing, in flagrant violation of the international law on which it was founded?

Palestine is subject to a brutal colonial apartheid regime that does not respect international law. We have all recently witnessed the collapse of the illusion, cherished by the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization, about the possibility of establishing an independent Palestinian state on 22% of historic Palestine. Therefore, despite the consistent absolute US imperialist support for Israel, and the complicity and inaction of the international community, global civil society is rising again, in sympathy with the Palestinian people and in support of oppressed peoples against oppressive capitalist regimes. In the context of the convergence of peoples’ struggles for freedom, justice and equality, a new horizon opens for the Palestinian struggle and for the return of the Palestinian cause to its natural place on the world’s agenda as a cause of national liberation and social justice.

Our struggle is inspired by the legendary struggle of the Palestinian people and by the movement against the South African apartheid regime. In response to the call by South Africa’s liberation movement, global civil society organized, in the late nineteen-eighties, an effective and influential boycott campaign against the apartheid regime. Israel is a settler colonial entity, and an oppressive apartheid regime, implementing a more brutal version of the defunct South African regime. We believe that the struggle against this racist regime must combine popular resistance on the ground with global civil resistance, represented by the boycott campaign. Civil society, people of conscience and people struggling for freedom all over the world can force Israel to comply with international law and to abandon its colonialist policy.

Just as South Africans called on international civil society to boycott goods and institutions of their oppressors, so do Palestinian institutions, trade unions and mass movements call on all people of conscience in the world to support the Palestinian civil campaign to boycott, divest and impose sanctions on Israel, until it complies with international law and the Palestinian people regain their basic rights. On this occasion, we turn to all the solidarity committees and freedom-loving people in the world to pressure their governments to impose sanctions on Israel, so that it stops its crimes and violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people.

The “The Campaign for One Democratic State in Historic Palestine” believes that the struggle of the Palestinian people should not divide between Palestinians in the territories that were occupied in 1948, areas occupied in 1967 (the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) and the diaspora. The time has come to bury the illusion of a “two-state solution” and restore the unity of the Palestinian people around a vision of national liberation and democracy and to develop a strategy for a phased and long-term struggle. The Campaign believes that achieving justice in Palestine requires the establishment of a single democratic state that would guarantee the return of the Palestinian refugees and grant equal rights to all its citizens, regardless of religion, ethnic affiliation, color and gender, on the ruins of the existing colonial apartheid regime.

“The Campaign for One Democratic State in Historic Palestine”

Palestine, November 29, 2020

The Pseudo-Judicial Execution of Maher al-Akhras

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(The following article appeared today in Mondoweiss)

Tuesday, November 3rd, will be the 100th day of the hunger strike of Maher al-Akhras. That is, if he will still be alive. His body, deprived of all the vital ingredients for life except for water, is betraying him ever more. He shivers and trembles, suffers from all kinds of pains and sometimes loses his consciousness.

Israel is now waging a deadly campaign, over al Akhras’ decaying body, to rob the Palestinians of their weapon of last resort – hunger strikes. This weapon, which involves endless suffering and dangers, is anyway only used against the harshest and most brutal cases of injustice, like, in al-Akhras’ case, against administrative detention, a detention without indictment, without trial and without an expiration date.

Maher’s challenge to his torturers constitutes a uniting focus for Palestinian struggle in these dark days when it seems that the world hardly notices. Solidarity events were held all over Palestine, on both sides of the green line, and for tomorrow there is a central demonstration planned in front of the Kaplan hospital, where he is held against his will.

As he explained all through his hunger strike, al-Akhras is not striking for his personal freedom but as part of the Palestinian people’s struggle for liberty. The readiness of the striker to suffer, to scarify and to put his life in danger, help to draw solidarity and to concentrate minds. But the goal of the hunger striker and of his supporters is to get him free and alive. For this reason, as his medical condition is deteriorating, Maher is ready to stop his trike with a symbolic step to freedom by being transferred from the Israeli hospital to a Palestinian hospital, still under the same occupation. But, in a twist of events, it seems that the Israeli authorities are trying to use the opportunity and push Maher to his death as a “lesson” for Palestinians in general that their lives have no value at all.

The hierarchy of the Shabak state

The people that decided to put Maher al-Akhras under administrative detention, like many other hundreds of Palestinians every year, has no names and no faces. They are the agents of the all-powerful “Shabak” – the Hebrew acronym for General Security Service (GSS) – which, as far as the Palestinian population is regarded, is running the show unimpeded like a criminal gang.

I read the official protocol of what is called Israel’s “high court of justice”, in its hearing on October 28th, hearing al-Akhras’ lawyer appeal against his detention. The judges describe how “after hearing the arguments of the parties, we held a hearing with one side, with the consent of the petitioner, beyond closed doors, looked at the material presented to us by the security elements, we had a conversation and views-exchange with them.” To describe this “conversation and views-exchange” they use a very special Hebrew phrase, “sig va-siah” (שיג ושיח), that is sometimes translated to “powwow”, implying a special closeness. Unlike “the parties”, whose names appear at the head of the protocol, those “elements” that the judges throw everybody out of the court for a “get together” with them, are not mentioned by name, not even by the name of the organization that sent them.

And what did the “honorable” judges learned from their get together with those nameless elements? In a previous hearing they were presented with a false translation (as exposed in Haaretz) of an interview that al Akhras gave from his hospital bed. On the last hearing, they only say that “in the bottom line we have come to the conclusion that there is not in the petitioner’s arguments any medical advantage in transferring him to al-Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem, over leaving him at Kaplan Hospital.” And this conclusion comes at the continuation of the very same sentence describing the “get together” with the “elements”!

So, as far as Israel’s “high court of justice” is concern, the Shabak is not only responsible to know how “dangerous” Palestinians are, but also what is best for their health… No doubt, the Shabak “medical” experts found that it is better for Maher al-Akhras to die in confinement at an Israeli hospital (where he refuses any treatment) than to have his life saved at a Palestinian hospital (even if under occupation).

You are not detained so you can’t be freed

The “legal” pretext that is supposed to justify administrative detention is that it is not a punishment for any offence, but a preventive measure against imminent “danger”. In an attempt to save face, the same court decided, on September 23, to suspend al Akhras’ detention as “in his current medical condition he doesn’t constitute a danger, so that the preventive intent of his detention doesn’t currently exist.” But they also decided that he should “stay in the same hospital where he is” and that in case that his medical conditions will improve his administrative detention may be resumed.

On September 30, the court refused another appeal to abolish al Akhras’ detention claiming that he is not under detention. So, on what basis is he held against his will in the Kaplan hospital? They claimed that, as his detention might be resumed, it will be hard for the all mighty occupation to bring him again from his home or from a Palestinian hospital. So, he is not detained but must stay in the Kaplan hospital just in case the faceless people would decide to detain him again.

On Friday, October 23, (as we reported in Mondoweiss before) the hospital management tried to get rid of the uninvited ghost and release itself from the role that was imposed on it as a jail keeper for a potential detainee. The security apparatus renewed the administrative detention, even though al-Akhras’ medical condition has much deteriorated since the court decided to suspend it, and declared its intention to drag him back to Ramleh prison.  This intention was blocked by the court on the same day – and the status quo of limbo leading to slow death was restored.

The punishment for hunger strike is death

On October 12, during another appeal against al-Akhras’ detention, the judges suggested a “compromise”. As his detention was initially set for four months, ending on November 26, they suggested that the detention order will not be renewed after this date. They left an open door for a common Israeli cheat, as they added “if there would not be new information about the danger that he constitutes.” But they demanded that, in order not to renew the detention, al-Akhras will immediately stop his hunger strike. They actually stated, written black on white in the “high court of injustice” protocols, that al-Akhras may be punished with another administrative detention for the crime of starving himself as a protest against his detention.

Armed with more medical evidence about the imminent danger to al-Akhras’ life, lawyer Ahlam Haddad appeared again in the “high court of justice” on October 28. This time, to prevent any excuses of possible hardship to supervise or re-arrest her client, she suggested to transfer him to (the Palestinian) al-Makassed hospital in East Jerusalem, that is under strict Israeli occupation and, according to Israeli annexation laws, an integral part of Israel proper.

Contrary to all logic and law, the judges didn’t bring any reason why Maher al-Akhras should not be allowed to choose the hospital in which he will be treated. In the reverse – the very fact that he is putting his life in danger for his right to get out of the hospital where he was brought and held against his will is their main reason to keep him there. They write: “The petitioner’s claim that in one hospital he “chooses” to go on a hunger strike but not so in another hospital, does not justify granting his request. The petitioner did not bring any reason why the respondent should be required to transfer him to another hospital”.

The judges, or, as we can understand from their own description in the protocol, in fact the Shabak, were stubborn in their insistence that Maher al Akhras should die rather than have even the smallest symbolic achievement to show for his hunger strike.

Save Maher al-Akhras!

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New Israeli aggression puts the life of Palestinian hunger striker in immediate danger

(The following article was published in Mondoweiss)

Maher al-Akhras, on hunger strike since his administrative detention on July 27, is waging an uneven battle against the mighty Israeli occupation apparatus.  Every quite day brings him closer to death, with Israel trying to prove through his case that the life of Palestinians, like their freedom and human rights, are worth nothing. But the formidable insistence of Mr. al-Akhras that his hunger strike is against the principle of administrative detention, and that he would stop his strike only when free or martyr, is mobilizing more and more people to his support. Last Friday, on the 89 day of his hunger strike, it seemed that his Israeli torturers lost their nerve.

Short History

On the August 27, after he completed the first month of his hunger strike, Maher was transferred from the Ofer military prison to the central clinics of the Israeli “Prisons Service” in Ramleh prison. It is an institute with a very bad reputation called by the prisoners “a graveyard for the living”. On September 9, after farther deterioration in his medical condition, the prison’s doctors said they can’t treat him anymore and he was transferred to Kaplan hospital, a civilian institution in the town of Rehovot.

As Mr. al-Akhras continues his hunger strike, and as his body becomes ever more fragile, his lawyer Ahlam Haddad applied several times to Israel’s High Court to demand his immediate release. As usual in such cases, the high court judges heard the “secret accusations” against Mr. Akhras from the security services officers behind closed doors, without disclosing them to the prisoner or his lawyer, and refused to void the detention decree. However, on September 22, taking into account Mr. Akhras’ medical condition, they decided that in his current situation he couldn’t constitute any “danger to state security”. On this basis they suspended his detention, but said that even as he is not a detainee, he can’t go back home or to a hospital in the West Bank, so that if his situation will improve and the security services will want to renew his detention, he will be easy to get.

Still actually detained as “potential-administrative-detainee” in Kaplan hospital, Maher’s wife joined him in the hospital, there were several demonstrations in solidarity with him from of the hospital and his hospital bed became a point of attraction and pilgrimage for solidarity activists.

Prisoner Re-Arrested

On Friday, October 23, the occupation authorities informed Mr. Akhras’ lawyer that the Kaplan hospital is not ready to keep him, due to the fact that he refuses their medical treatment and claiming that his visitors endanger other patients with viruses. They renewed his administrative detention and said Mr. Akhras was transferred again to the Ramleh prison clinic. This contradicts the High Court decision given on September 22, more than a month ago, that in his current medical situation Mr. Akhras doesn’t constitute any danger. Since then he was on hunger strike and there are clear medical reports about his deteriorating health to the level of imminent danger to his life or to permanent damage to his body systems. It also contradicts the prison medics themselves that stated on September 9 than they can’t treat him.

Lawyer Haddad immediately turned to the high court again, asking both to stop the prison authorities from moving Mr. Akhras to the prison clinics (it came out that he was not transferred yet), to abolish the renewal of the administrative detention and to order his immediate release based on his deteriorating health. On Friday their struggle won a small victory in the court, which ordered to suspend Mr. Akhras’ transfer and leave him in Kaplan hospital until the deliberations. The main plea is expected to be heard on Sunday, October 25.

Torturing the family

On Saturday afternoon, Maher’s family, his mother on wheelchair, his wife and three of their six children arrived in the Kaplan hospital to see their beloved son husband and father. They couldn’t come from their home in Silat a-Dhahr, near Jenin, in the permanently sieged West Bank, without special security clearance.

But, as they came, the prison guards now surrounding the patients’ room prevented them from entering even to have a glance of their dear one. The mother and the kids didn’t see Maher since he was arrested three month ago. Now, as there is an immediate danger to his life, this stubborn insistence by the guards was heart breaking.

The family and some of their supporters, including Knesset member Ofer Cassif from the “Joint list”, announced that they will be on hunger strike in the hospital until they will be allowed to meet Maher.

Widening Solidarity

Despite the harsh political conditions and powerful distractions, there is a growing wave of solidarity actions with Maher al-Akhras.

The previous Saturday (October 17) there was a demonstration in Haifa, called by prisoners’ support activists and by Herak Haifa. The main street of the German Colony was closed and one activist was arrested. On Monday there was a central demonstration called by the “high coordination committee” – the united leadership of all Palestinian parties and movements in the 48 territories – near the Megiddo prison in the north.

When the news came of Maher’s transfer to the Ramleh prison clinics, activists immediately declared a vigil for Saturday in front of the Ramleh prison. When the news came later that Maher is actually still in the Kaplan hospital, the demonstration was extended – after finishing in Ramleh the demonstrators gathered again in front of the hospital.

Maher’s Will

On Saturday morning Mr. Akhras’ lawyer, Ahlam Haddad, visited him in the Kaplan hospital. She wrote down his words, describing Friday’s events and expressing his last wishes for his funeral and for the future of his people. Here is a translation to English of his words as she wrote them:

“This report that I write is in the words of prisoner Maher al-Akhras, who has been on hunger strike for 90 days, when I visited him today, Saturday morning, he says: “Yesterday 23-10-2020, 12 o’clock a force of prison guards, security service agents and hospital guards entered. They forced my wife to exit the room so I was left alone. Three prison guards got me out of the bed. I don’t know if it was on purpose or not, but they removed their grip and I fell on the ground on my face. Then they carried me and took me in a wheelchair to room 303 in the same department.

“At around 2pm, from the intensity of anger of what happened, I felt a strong headache, stress in my heart and severe pain throughout the body, the first time I felt these aches. My whole body shuddered and I did not hear anything and did not see anything. The medical staff gathered around me. According to what I remember, I told them not to touch me, I do not want you to treat me, and not to approach me. I don’t know what happened after that. I just woke up with the doctor next to me trying to wake me up and it was five in the afternoon. Three hours passed while I was unconscious.

“Today I feel very weak, my body shivering and trembling. I hardly can focus, talk or see. I feel stress on my heart.

“Maher’s message and will:

“I ask that my mother, my wife and my children will visit me.

“I do not want to die in Kaplan and I do not want them to help me. If they want to help me, let them take me to a hospital in the West Bank. I want to die among my family and my children.

“I do not want them to put me in the refrigerator and not to dissect my body at all, neither here nor in the West Bank.

“I want the veteran prisoners who wages the battle through hunger strikes and the families of the martyrs to carry my coffin.

“My will to my people is to protect the homeland.”

On Normalization and the Meeting of Palestinian Movements

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Declaration of “The Campaign for One Democratic State in Historic Palestine”

Palestine, September 6, 2020

(The following is an unofficial translation of the Arabic original declaration. With the translation I expanded some terms to make them understandable to the foreign reader. Thanks for all the people that helped with this translation.)

On September 3rd, leader of different Palestinian movements, overcoming deep divisions, met in Beirut and Ramallah, at the invitation of the president of the Palestinian Authority, to discuss a common response to the normalization agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel. What made this meeting possible is the American-Israeli imperialist alliance’s total and aggressive denial of the Palestinian people’s basic rights. The imperialist alliance’s cynical approach removed any remaining illusions about a settlement to the conflict, illusions that became prevalent since the Oslo Accords and even before.

The imperialist powers are violating international law and humanitarian and ethical standards, disappointed all those who gambled on them. With “The Deal of the Century” the USA is repeating the injustices of the British 1917 Balfour Declaration, by giving the Zionists Palestinian land over which they do not have any rights.

Now they drag corrupt and blood-stained Arab dictatorships into this rogue alliance. Those Arab regimes go beyond normalization to become accomplices in the aggression against the Palestinian people, who are exposed to the most heinous crimes by the colonial Western regimes, through their proxy in the region.

All of this has forced the Palestinian leadership to choose between two clear options: surrender or resistance. As to our Palestinian people, they continue resisting, for more than a century, the Western-Zionist plot to uproot and replace them by foreign settlers and form a bridgehead for European colonization in the heart of the Arab region.

The meeting of the factions was an important step towards the national unity yearned for by our Palestinian people since the disastrous division (between Gaza and the West Bank) in 2007. During this period, Israel waged three atrocious wars and committed numerous crimes against humanity, imposed a blockade on two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, intensified its settlement and “Judaization” activities and the killings in the West Bank and Jerusalem, in addition to colonialist oppression of a million and a half of our people in the Galilee, the Triangle Region and the Naqab. And then, of course, we should not forget the plight of the millions of refugees who were displaced and uprooted from their homeland, and whose right of return Israel continues to deny, thus embodying the brutality of Zionism and the lack of justice and ethics of the so-called international community.

National unity, based on a comprehensive, emancipatory vision and a correct resistance strategy, is an essential condition for joint work and a precursor to defeating oppression and achieving freedom and justice. It is also an essential condition to restore and enhance popular Arab support, and to mobilize for our cause all advocates of freedom around the world. Ours is a just cause, that should concern all the peoples of the world, especially the oppressed, of which the Palestinian people is a part, who are struggling to achieve freedom, justice and human dignity.

The question remains: does the movements’ meeting, and its resulting statement and decisions, constitute a real turning point in the march of the Palestinian people, and redefine the way towards freedom and independence? Are the current leaders, who bear the responsibility for the division, and for the failure to rebuild the Palestinian national movement and to achieve liberation – with the national, political and moral devastation that all this has entailed – qualified, capable, and even willing to break with the era of fatal illusions? Is it possible to move and advance the national liberation project towards a new era of true liberation struggle without the youth and without the participation of new leaderships? Our people are asking these questions, people from all the layers of society: workers, peasants, intellectuals, detainees and many others.

Accordingly, the One Democratic State Campaign in Historic Palestine asserts that, in order to fulfil the purpose of the meeting, the following conditions should be provided:

First, we should start from the fact that the Palestinian people, wherever they are, all 13 million, are one people, and that Palestine includes all the land located between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean, not merely the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Second, affirming the right of return of Palestinian refugees whom the Zionist movement expelled from Palestine, seized their properties, pursued in their places of refuge, waged wars on them and assassinated some of their leaders. It is a natural and sacred right, recognized by an international decision since 1948.

Third, liberating the Palestine Liberation Organization, which has become subordinated to the Palestinian Authority and its “security coordination” with the occupation. It should be liberated from the grip of bureaucracy and the restrictions of the Oslo Accords. It should be rebuilt on democratic foundations to represent all components and communities of the Palestinian people, wherever they are, including the Palestinians of 1948, and based on a program of return and liberation.

Fourth, the withdrawal of the PLO’s recognition of Israel, which continued expanding its colonial settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem and imposed a siege on the Gaza Strip. Israel ignores all international laws that prohibit settlements in the occupied territories and criminalize the existing apartheid system. It adopted the so-called “Nationality Law” – a blatant colonial apartheid law – to grant false legitimacy to its colonization of all of historic Palestine. Israel has unambiguously stated, together with its patron, the United States, that the country located between the river and the sea belongs to the Zionist movement. According to them the Palestinian people have no right to their homeland, which they have not left for thousands of years, except under the pressure of the colonialist Zionist movement and its crimes of ethnic cleansing perpetrated in 1948, and still being perpetrated against the Palestinians, even the holders of its citizenship.

Fifth, responding to this colonial expansion and the new “Balfour Declaration” by stating that the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination applies to all of historic Palestine. This means reviving the PLO’s program, represented by the return and liberation of Palestine from Zionism, its colonial regime and apartheid. The One Democratic State Campaign in all of Historic Palestine revives this solution in a modern form, in which Palestinians and Israeli Jews live in a human, democratic, egalitarian system, after dismantling the Israeli colonial apartheid regime, in the context of the removal of colonialism from the entire Arab region. The one state project is not merely a vision, but a resistance project, in which participate also Jewish anti-Zionists who oppose the system of colonialist settlement and its crimes.

Sixth, holding elections for the Palestinian National Council, with the participation of all the Palestinian people, without exception. The limitation of the elections for the Legislative Council and the Palestinian presidency to the West Bank and Gaza Strip cements the Oslo Accords which divides and fragments the Palestinian people and erases the universal Palestinian identity. It keeps the majority of the Palestinian people, especially those in 1948 areas and the refugees, outside the scope of representation, the conflict, the national unity project and the right to self-determination. Further, this exclusion prevents the participation of all Palestinians, without exception, in the Palestinian struggle for the right to self-determination.

Seventh, cancelling all the punitive measures taken by the Palestinian Authority against our people in the Gaza Strip since March 2017, and compensating them for all their dues. It is completely unacceptable to talk of national unity and reconciliation between the movements while, at the same time, imposing sanctions on a key component of our noble people.

Eighth, the adoption of the Palestinian boycott movement in a practical and clear way as a pioneering means of struggle. Acting resolutely against all forms of normalization with apartheid Israel, primarily through the abolition of security coordination with the occupation and the dissolution of the so-called Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society.

Ninth, the formation of a broad, popular front that adopts an effective popular resistance strategy, from all aspects, including the struggle in the streets, cultural, social and economic resistance. This front would establish a path towards a new, free society that is capable of steadfastness and cohesion while it achieves its interim goals, then its ultimate goal of dismantling the colonialist apartheid system and the establishment of the democratic state in all of historic Palestine.

The One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC) in Historic Palestine

Document: The Madrid and London One State Declaration 2007

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The following statement appeared in “the electronic intifada” site on November 29, 2007.

Editor’s Note: The following statement was issued by participants in the July 2007 Madrid meeting on a one-state solution and the November 2007 London Conference.

For decades, efforts to bring about a two-state solution in historic Palestine have failed to provide justice and peace for the Palestinian and Israeli Jewish peoples, or to offer a genuine process leading towards them.

The two-state solution ignores the physical and political realities on the ground, and presumes a false parity in power and moral claims between a colonized and occupied people on the one hand and a colonizing state and military occupier on the other. It is predicated on the unjust premise that peace can be achieved by granting limited national rights to Palestinians living in the areas occupied in 1967, while denying the rights of Palestinians inside the 1948 borders and in the Diaspora. Thus, the two-state solution condemns Palestinian citizens of Israel to permanent second-class status within their homeland, in a racist state that denies their rights by enacting laws that privilege Jews constitutionally, legally, politically, socially and culturally. Moreover, the two-state solution denies Palestinian refugees their internationally recognized right of return.

The two-state solution entrenches and formalizes a policy of unequal separation on a land that has become ever more integrated territorially and economically. All the international efforts to implement a two-state solution cannot conceal the fact that a Palestinian state is not viable, and that Palestinian and Israeli Jewish independence in separate states cannot resolve fundamental injustices, the acknowledgment and redress of which are at the core of any just solution.

In light of these stark realities, we affirm our commitment to a democratic solution that will offer a just, and thus enduring, peace in a single state based on the following principles:

  • 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;
  • There must be just redress for the devastating effects of decades of Zionist colonization in the pre- and post-state period, including the abrogation of all laws, and ending all policies, practices and systems of military and civil control that oppress and discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, religion or national origin;
  • The recognition of the diverse character of the society, encompassing distinct religious, linguistic and cultural traditions, and national experiences;
  • The creation of a non-sectarian state that does not privilege the rights of one ethnic or religious group over another and that respects the separation of state from all organized religion;
  • The implementation of the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees in accordance with UN Resolution 194 is a fundamental requirement for justice, and a benchmark of the respect for equality;
  • The creation of a transparent and nondiscriminatory immigration policy;
  • The recognition of the historic connections between the diverse communities inside the new, democratic state and their respective fellow communities outside;
  • In articulating the specific contours of such a solution, those who have been historically excluded from decision-making — especially the Palestinian Diaspora and its refugees, and Palestinians inside Israel — must play a central role;
  • The establishment of legal and institutional frameworks for justice and reconciliation.

The struggle for justice and liberation must be accompanied by a clear, compelling and moral vision of the destination — a solution in which all people who share a belief in equality can see a future for themselves and others. We call for the widest possible discussion, research and action to advance a unitary, democratic solution and bring it to fruition.

Madrid and London, 2007

Authored By:

Ali Abunimah, Chicago
Naseer Aruri, North Dartmouth, Massachusetts
Omar Barghouti, Jerusalem
Oren Ben-Dor, London
George Bisharat, San Francisco
Haim Bresheeth, London
Jonathan Cook, Nazareth
Ghazi Falah, Akron, Ohio
Leila Farsakh, Boston
Islah Jad, Ramallah
Joseph Massad, New York
Ilan Pappe, Totnes, UK
Carlos Prieto del Campo, Madrid
Nadim Rouhana, Haifa
The London One State Group

Endorsed By:

Nahla Abdo, Ottawa
Rabab Abdul Hadi, San Francisco
Suleiman Abu-Sharkh, Southampton, UK
Tariq Ali, London
Samir Amin, Dakar
Gabriel Ash, Geneva, Switzerland
Mona Baker, Manchester, UK
James Bowen, Cork, Ireland
Daniel Boyarin, Berkeley
Lenni Brenner, New York City
Eitan Bronstein, Tel Aviv
Michael Chanan, London
Lawrence Davidson, West Chester, Pennsylvania
Uri Davis, Sakhnin
Raymond Deane, Dublin
Angelo D’Orsi, Turin
Haidar Eid, Gaza
Samera Esmeir, Berkeley
Claudine Faehndrich, Neuchatel, Switzerland
Arjan El Fassed, Utrecht
As’ad Ghanem, Haifa
Jess Ghannam, San Francisco
Ramon Grosfoguel, Berkeley
Laila al-Haddad, Gaza
Haifa Hammami, London
Alan Hart, Canterbury
Jamil Hilal, Ramallah
Isabelle Humphries, Cambridge, UK
Salma Jayyusi, Boston
Claudia Karas, Frankfurt
Ghada Karmi, London
Hazem Kawasmi, Ramallah
Joel Kovel, New York City
Ronit Lentin, Dublin, Ireland
Malcolm Levitt, Southampton, UK
Yosefa Loshitzky, London
Saree Makdisi, Los Angeles
Nur Masalha, London
Ugo Mattei, Turin
Sabine Matthes, Munich
Walter Mignolo, Raleigh-Durham
Yonat Nitzan-Green, Winchester, UK
Gian Paolo Calchi Novati, Pavia, Italy
Kathleen O’Connell, Belfast
Rajaa Zoa’bi O’mari, Haifa
One Democratic State Group, Gaza
Gabriel Piterberg, Los Angeles
Claudia Prestel, Leicester
Mazin Qumsiyeh, New Haven
Michael Rosen, London
Emir Sader, Buenos Aires/Rio de Janeiro
Guenter Schenk, Strasbourg
Jules Townshend, Manchester, UK
Danilo Zolo, Florence

Each individual has authored/endorsed this statement in a personal capacity.