ODS groups: On 72nd anniversary of the Nakba we bury illusions and rise up

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(The following declaration was published on May 15, 2020, on the site of the One Democratic State Campaign – ODSC)

For the past 72 years, the Zionist project has not ceased its colonial campaign of expanding, grabbing land, ethnically cleansing and killing, a campaign that has accompanied Israel since its recognition as a legitimate state by the United Nations in 1948. A product of settler colonialism, Zionism was an inherently violent and brutal project. Settler colonialism, after all, is founded on the elimination of the native and their replacement by the settler state. “Peace” in such a colonial project is an illusion. It comes only with the destruction of the indigenous population, whether physically or culturally.

Since the Nakba, Palestinians have found themselves faced with colonial expansion that Latuff for Nakba Dayproceeds systematically, ripping the land into fragments, segregating and imprisoning the native communities through an intricate infrastructure of highways and settlements heavily guarded by the Israeli military apparatus – and today fortified by the apartheid wall. Recent years have seen the transformation of ethno-national extremism and “incremental genocide” into official state policy, formalized by the infamous “Jewish Nation-State” bill and the impending annexation of large swathes of the West Bank, all supported by Imperial governments and made possible by collaborationist Arab regimes.

The Palestinian people have nobly defended themselves and resisted their oppression from the start, utilizing all the tools at their disposal. The sacrifices that this nation has made are limitless and ongoing, their continuous defiance of subjugation in the pursuit of liberation and a dignified life inexhaustible. Our movement for national liberation, embodied in the PLO, placed the Palestinian struggle at the center of global attention. Our struggle as a colonized people fighting for liberation occurs not only against Zionism and the imperial governments that support it, but exists alongside dozens of other struggles in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, all still fighting the forces of neo-colonialism and capitalism. The Palestinian liberation movement is part and parcel of this global struggle.

Pressures on the PLO to compromise the ambitions of the Palestinians by erecting a truncated, impoverished and non-sovereign Bantustan in Gaza and pieces of the West Bank in the name of “peace” is merely an attempt to deflect the Palestinian people from its liberation efforts. This is the meaning of the catastrophic Oslo Accords and its two-state illusion, which today everyone sees as a ruse. In the meantime, the colonial project cemented its settler reality throughout the country and, by institutionalizing Palestinian division, undermined the PLO as the tool for emancipation.

Today, in historic Palestine, the struggle continues against a determined Apartheid regime that is poised to extend its rule formally over all of Palestine. On this 72nd anniversary of the Palestinian and Arab Nakba, we renew our call to reinvigorate the Palestinian cause and its institutions of liberation. We call not only for the defeat of Zionism’s colonial apartheid project, but for the establishment of a single democratic state between the River and the Sea, one which ensures security, equality and prosperity for all its citizens, regardless of nationality, race and religion, and the return of the refugees. We call on all civil society actors – trade unions, university groups, religious institutions, intellectual and cultural figures, political organizations, grassroots groups and others – to join with us in our joint struggle for liberation, democracy, equality and social justice in historic Palestine.

 

May 15, 2020

(On May 11, activists from different groups supporting one democratic state in Palestine, met over Zoom to discuss common work. The immediate result was a publication of a common declaration on the eve of the 72 Nakba commemoration. To read the original Arab declaration you may follow this link. The English version is somewhat abbreviated.)

 

ODSC calls for international support against Israel’s annexation plans

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A CALL AGAINST APARTHEID OVER PALESTINE; ONE DEMOCRACY FOR ALL

One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC)

April 29, 2020

(This declaration is also available in Hebrew)

Israel is racing to complete its project of institutionalizing a colonial apartheid regime over all of historic Palestine. The next step is planned for July, when the coalition government of Benjamin Netanyahu intends to formally annex large swathes of the West Bank. The expansion of Israel onto 85% of historic Palestine leaves the Palestinian majority imprisoned in dozens of impoverished enclaves on just 15% of the land, under permanent Israeli rule, bereft of any civil or national rights. This is apartheid, pure and simple.

Having “given” occupied East Jerusalem to the Israelis, Trump’s “Deal of the Century” allows Israel to take possession of the rest of the West Bank. Israel’s unilateral annexation of its massive settlement blocs has been waiting on a green light from the Trump Administration, the only international authority Israel cares about. In a public statement on April 21st, American Secretary of State Pompeo gave that green light. “As for the annexation of the West Bank,” he said in a public statement, “the Israelis will ultimately make those decisions. That’s an Israeli decision.”

A single apartheid state already exists de facto between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River: Israel. There is only one possible response, one “solution,” one way out. That is to replace the apartheid regime with a democratic state of equal rights for all its inhabitants, including the returning refugees.

We call on you, the people of the world, to support our struggle for democracy in historic Palestine. Our vision is a democracy that will give all the inhabitants of our country equal rights, will finally bring home the refugees and will respect the cultures, religions and identities of all the peoples that comprise our society – a return to the tolerant multi-culturalism long characterizing the Arab world, the Middle East, and Palestine in particular.

Governments, unfortunately, are not the friends of peoples struggling for their rights. We, Palestinians and progressive Israeli Jews alike, call on you, the international civil society, to mobilize in support of a democratic state between the River and Sea. True solidarity with the Palestinian people means supporting a political program that liberates historic Palestine from colonialism, occupation and apartheid – a democratic state for all between the River and the Sea, and a return of the refugees. Raise your voices against apartheid! Support our struggle for liberation, democracy and peace for all!

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email: contact@onestatecampaign.org

 

Apartheid in the time of corona

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(The following article appeared today in Mondoweiss)

I have to disagree with Dr. Azmi Bishara. Trying to defend the disastrously late response of western capitalist states to the pandemic, he claimed in Arab 48, that governments should not be assessed by their conduct at emergencies. I find just the opposite to be the case. We have seen, in many cases, that in normal times a country can just about manage itself without a functioning government. But a major crisis exposes abruptly many things about the nature of each regime, exactly at the time that we desperately need a good government to protect us, and everybody is taking note.

“The Economist” reports that in the United States, lifesaving PPE (personal protective equipment) that is imported by the government (through FEMA) is given to private distributers to make a buck at the expense of the lives of medical staff on the frontline. We have seen all rich countries stop exporting essential medical goods and outbidding everybody else to get whatever is on the market. When Italy was at the worst of the crisis, Germany banned export of medical supply, but when China sent needed life-saving equipment EU leaders warned that China was doing so “for propaganda purposes”.

Reading the local Corona news in Israel is yet a very different story. Israel’s Apartheid regime is showing itself to be absurdly abnormal even in the most abnormal of times. Here are some heart-breaking examples of what Apartheid looks like at the time of Corona.

Ready to die like Samson

There are many stories how each state and each medical institution is looking today for any opportunity to buy PPE. Turkey is one of the biggest producers worldwide and one of the few that is still ready to sell, in spite of a worsening epidemic on its home front. Bloomberg reported that Turkey was supplying personal protective equipment to Israel, including surgical masks, overalls and sterile gloves.

On Thursday, April 9, 3 Israeli planes had to collect medical supplies from a Turkish military airport. But then it was reported that Turkey requested that Israel would reciprocate by allowing the passage of similar amount of Turkish anti-corona aid contributed to the Palestinians.

As of Friday, April 10, according to both “Times of Israel” and “Arab 48”, it seems that Israel refused to surrender to Turkish “terror” and the equipment was not supplied. As the hero “Samson” said: “Let me die with the Palestinians” …

Then yesterday, April 12,  Haaretz reported about new negotiations between Israel and Hamas concerning steps toward prisoners’ exchanges. Hamas signaled that it is ready to compromise on its previous conditions in order to protect old and sick Palestinian prisoners from the danger of succumbing to corona while in prison. What is significant for our subject is that, according to Haaretz, the Palestinians implied that part of the deal is that Israel will supply to the Gaza strip, which is under siege, an unspecified number of ventilators to treat corona patients. What is even more significant is that, according to the same report, Israeli sources denied (out of all the reported details about the planned deal) that ventilators would be allowed into Gaza!

Does Mossad steal PPE?

Yeshayahu Leibowitz warned long time ago that Israel would become “A Shabak State” – referring to Israel’s all-powerful “general security service” (General Security Service, Shabak). An article in Maariv from July 27, 2019, estimates that the Shabak and the Mossad (its twin responsible for operations out of the state’s borders) each employs about 7,000 people and has a budget exceeding a billion dollars. While Israel investment on health is low relatively to other OECD countries, it has these two monsters, and it decided to utilize them to fight the pandemic.

Start with Mossad. It was assigned the task of acquiring medical equipment. According to “the Marker” it requested a budget of 7 billion shekels but was given 2.5 billion to start with (about 700 million $US). But it had no professional knowledge of the medical field, not any special experience or the infrastructure to perform large scale purchases and import operations.

The Mossad soon boasted of bringing in 100,000 virus tests from an unspecified source, only to be rebuked by an Ministry of Health official who commented that these were not the tests that were needed. After the remark was published the official hurried to apologize, and the Mossad promised to check again what is needed and continue the hunt.

On April 6 Haaretz reported that Israel’s “defense” minister Naftali Bennett failed to deny, and actually implied, that the Mossad stole medical equipment from other countries. When asked during an interview on the army radio if the Mossad stole medical equipment related to the coronavirus pandemic, Bennett answered: “I will not answer this question. We are all acting in an aggressive and smart ways.” (It was reported also in English in Middle East Eye.)

It is not surprising that the Mossad, which specializes in assassinations, espionage and all sorts of under-cover activities, will resort to illegal means in its new role. But you could expect from Mr. Bennett, who is supposed to be a respected businessman, to be, at least, smart enough to deny it. However, he might have a good reason to make his Israeli audience believe that the Mossad is stealing for them. Some commentators in the Israeli press mentioned that giving billions of shekels to a secret organization like Mossad means that there is no supervision about how the money is spent. Now, when questions would be asked, Bennet might whisper “Shhh…” and wink: “you would not want to disclose the state’s secrets”.

(After the initial publication I found a more direct self-evidence of stealing medical equipment from other states in a TV interview in Israeli TV from a senior “security” official. Here in Hebrew and Arabic.)

Besides, Israel is used to being above international law for all its war crimes, so why should it fear stealing medical equipment from around the world?

On the receiving end of Shabak

On the home front, Shabak was assigned the task of identifying the routes of people infected by the Corona virus and instructing those who were in their proximity to be in self-isolation. For the first time it became public knowledge that Shabak can follow (now it is officially doing so) the whereabouts of each person, at least as long as people are moving around with their smartphones.

For the Palestinians, both in the West Bank and inside the green line, constant inspection by Shabak is nothing new. Even in Haifa, the most peaceful place under Israeli Apartheid, any Palestinian youth may be invited to intrusive “conversations” with Shabak officers for no reason at all. For political activists the military governor (yes, there are military governors on both sides of the green line) may issue an administrative detention order, based on Shabak secret “evidence”, so that the detainee or his lawyer are not allowed even to know what he is accused of. Shabak officers appear in courts under false names and the defense is not allowed even to see their faces. Their words in court are regarded as undisputable.

As soon as Shabak started to target Jewish Israelis, admittedly not sending them to prison, only to self-isolation, suddenly the press was full of reports about its errors.

One woman arranged for her husband to be in self isolation in their home after he came from abroad, and stayed with her parents so she could continue to work. But after she passed in the street near her house to wave hello to her husband, who stayed on the balcony at a safe distance, she was sent to self-isolate also. Another women prepared a cake for a neighbour under isolation and left it for him near a closed door. She also fell in the Shabak net. Others complained that they could not understand why they were instructed to isolate, as they were not told with whom they supposedly met and when.

People whose lives were suddenly disrupted for no reason called the Ministry of Health and were answered that they don’t know a thing about it, it is Shabak’s work. They were told that “Shabak never makes mistakes”.

Some tried to call the Shabak directly and found that there is no way to reach the secretive organization and no way to appeal its decrees.

One case that was reported in detail is that of a medical doctor who had some symptoms and was tested for corona. The test returned negative results (no virus), but apparently the result that was typed into the system was wrong. Soon his relatives, neighbours’ and medics that worked with him where all ordered by SMS to isolate themselves. Even he, with connections to the medical establishment and the certificate of the negative test in his possession, found it hard to get the authorities to reconsider. Only after the media exposed the absurdity of the situation the MOH admitted the error.

Will it make any Israeli judge think twice before relying on secret Shabak “evidence” while sending Palestinians to jail? Unlikely.

Police attack Palestinian residents in Yaffa

For Israel’s regular police force the declaration of country-wide lockdown was another opportunity to abuse Palestinians. I can’t cover here abuse of all types in the West Bank, where widespread attacks on Palestinians by settlers and soldiers were already reported here on April 6. What is less known is the severe attack on Palestinians in Yaffa, an Arab town that was annexed by Tel Aviv, and is now under intense pressure for “Judaization/Gentrification”, that took place on the 1st and 2nd of April.

Yaffa’s Arab population is mostly poor and marginalized, and relations with the police were tense even before the pandemic. As the lockdown was declared the Tel Aviv police found an opportunity to make a show of force in Yaffa in a way that wasn’t practiced in any other neighbourhood. It provoked two days of widespread clashes that continued late into the night.

I couldn’t go to Yaffa but I talked on the phone with a local activist and heard a first-hand report about how it all developed. On the first day, in what was supposed to be enforcement of the lockdown, police started arresting local youth. From what I heard, what provoked the residents most was the fact that the police themselves didn’t show any intention of following the anti-infection instructions. They moved in dense groups, without masks, and beat people with their bare hands. A woman who tried to protect her son was thrown to the ground, her head hit the pavement and she started bleeding. People all over the neighbourhood erupted in anger, not ready to take it anymore.

On the second evening activists initiated a quiet vigil against police violence, trying to keep the social distancing standards, staying apart. Even though the lockdown order specifically allows demonstrations, the police demanded from the protesters to disperse and soon attacked them. Then the road was closed and clashes resumed.

On the 3rd day it was the local Palestinian leadership itself that worked hard to convince the activists and the population at wide to stay at home. The danger of infection was too big; and police violence and the protest against it would probably be with us long after the pandemic.

* * *

Apartheid has poisoned our lives for so many years. It is even more dangerous at these hard times.

 

The Furniture Salesman and The General

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(The following piece was published today in Mondoweiss)

When I was a student (in the late seventies) I had an odd job assembling wardrobes and kitchen cabinets in the customers’ homes. The cabinets came from different producers, and I don’t remember any of their names, except for one. It was one of the largest furniture manufacturing companies at the time, called “Rim”. When I had a “Rim” cabinet to assemble, I had to take special care. The plywood panels were likely to be hollow, or the filler between the two sides might be crumbling. Sticking a nail into the board to put the back of the closet was a complicated gamble.

Maariv_5_March_1980_Rim_Netanyahu

Ma’ariv 5 March 1980, mentioning Bibi in his old role marketing furniture

At about the same time the sales manager for this “Rim” was a guy named “Binyamin Netanyahu”. Looking at the biography of Israel’s longest serving prime minister, his (short) time at Rim is about the only time he spent in the “real” economy. A short search in the web implies that the company went bankrupt a few years later.

Now the same Netanyahu is the “Big Man” of Israeli politics, trying to pose as “a close friend” of the likes of Trump and Putin.

Even as I hate Netanyahu for all that Israel is doing to the Palestinians, I must say I find some joy to watch how he kicks the shit out of Israel’s self-serving elites. Nothing in his long career of black magic is more hilarious than the way he vanished Israel’s top Politician-General Gantz.

Just a few weeks ago, after the March 2nd Knesset elections, Netanyahu was facing a trial for multiple severe cases of corruption. Gantz had the recommendation of 61 of the new Knesset’s 120 members and was appointed to compose a new government. The general, who started his political campaign by lively TV ads boasting how many Palestinians he slaughtered in Gaza in 2014, got cold legs from the thought that he might be Israel’s prime minister with the support of Arab Knesset members, and preferred to split his party and join Netanyahu instead. Now, after Gantz betrayed his supporters and comrades in arm and has no options left, Netanyahu is in no hurry to share with the general’s dwindling bunch the fruits of his reconquered power.

The Israeli army is considered to be one of the strongest in the world. But looking at what happens with Israel’s generals after they come out of this army raises big questions about the internal qualities of this mighty oppressive machine. Generals are supposed to be experts in tactics and strategy, preparing for the worst and building strong teams. Without the authority of military uniform general Gantz finds it hard to put two sentences together, not to say a plan for the next day.

I once met a wise Yugoslav communist who insisted that Israel doesn’t have any army at all. “Armed man that run after kids to arrest them are no soldiers, I can only call them police”, he used to say.

Another example of the same fall from a military height to civil uselessness is general Ehud Barak. While in the Army he was regarded (mostly by himself) as the wisest and most sophisticated Israeli soldier ever. The top of his military career was to dress as a woman in order to carry assassinations against Palestinian intellectuals in Beirut. In his short period as Israel’s prime minister (1999-2001) he succeeded to destroy the Oslo (fake) “peace process”, to provoke the eruption of the second intifada and to cause Palestinians with Israeli citizenship to prefer letting the arch-war-criminal Sharon become prime minister rather than voting for him again. In the last series of 3 consecutive Knesset elections he was instrumental in destroying both the labor party (which he once led) and the pseudo left-Zionist Meretz.

Just like selling Rim’s flawed cupboards, Netanyahu may continue marketing for a while Israel’s flawed and completely evil Apartheid regime. But the product itself is hollow from within and crumbling. And Israel’s occupation institutions, its army, police, courts, Knesset, media – they are all part of this same dirty game. They are unable to produce any alternative. Apartheid can’t be reformed – it must fall!

Bibi the Magician doing the Gantz trick smaller

We Refuse to Die

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I was reading the news about an Italian Priest, Giuseppe Berardelli, who died of Corona _111407082_priest_976after refusing to use a respirator machine especially bought for him by his parishioners, choosing to give it to another patient, whom he didn’t know. According to our Islamic culture we would call father Giuseppe “shahid”, martyr for a holy cause. In the context of the heroic struggle of our beloved Humanity against the Corona virus, he joined the ranks of martyrs symbolized by Jesus and Che Guevara.

The People’s Resistance Against the Pandemic

In a world preoccupied by internal conflicts and by man-made damage to the environment, the pandemic returns us to the basic conflict that Humanity faced from its early days: the struggle with the wild forces of mother nature. The epidemic is very much like old epidemics – but our Humanity is changing very fast, and our modern, educated, connected, 21st century Humanity is striving to rewrite the rules of the game.

While we watch in our billions the horrific numbers of infected and dead going up faster by the day, we already achieve one basic new standard: Every person counts! It is not up to the scientists or the historians to count post-mortem the damage, but it is a matter of all of us to be aware to the Human toll of the epidemic, as it happens. By this acute awareness we set the world’s priorities: The scientists and the doctors, nurses and medical teams that are fighting the virus are our new cultural heroes; The politicians that do not want to do the most to stop the pandemic are the public enemy; We refuse to die!

For the first time we face a major challenge as one Humanity. We have many reasons to be proud: From the people in the windows in Wuhan, singing and waving, making the “V” signs with their fingers, to the people in Italy, Catalonia and Spain, singing from their balconies and clapping their hands to thank the medical teams, to the teams of Chinese and Cuban doctors putting their lives in danger to help fight the disease in far-away countries.

And, yes, it is the people’s resistance against the pandemic, in which the voice of each of us counts (either to the side of Humanity or to the side of the virus). The initial tendency of the great leaders of the old capitalist order was to avoid fighting the pandemic. After they spent the first two months cynically enjoying the suffering of the Chinese people, trying to throw the blame on the communist party or hoping for some advantage against Chinese competition, they were completely surprised by the fact that we are all Human, the same type of organism, and we are all vulnerable to the virus. So, after squandering the first two months that should have been utilized for preparations and prevention (not to say helping to stop the epidemic in China), Trump, Boris Johnson, Angela Merkel and their likes, thought they can continue with “business as usual”: let people get sick and die. This is what happened in so many previous pandemics. After so many years of sanctifying “economic growth” – who would dare to stop the holy bourse festivities only because some old people are dying?

We already won the first stage of this war – the battle over priorities. We refuse to die. China played a major role in setting a new standard for Humanity by stopping the epidemic in its first center before it widely spread worldwide. Now politician in other nations can’t hide their preference to care for the interests of the capitalists few, at the expense of the lives of millions, behind the will of god or nature or inevitable fate. Every extra death due to the unwillingness to do what is needed to stop the pandemic is the direct responsibility of those making these deadly decisions.

We refuse to die and we will win the struggle against the Corona pandemic… We must!

But the people’s resistance should not stop there. It must continue to lay the foundations for a new world order, putting people’s lives and well being first.

 

La Campagne pour un seul état démocratique communique

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Le gouvernement de l’impérialisme américain a porté l’ultime coup à l’illusion de la solution foncièrement injuste des deux états.

La campagne pour un seul état démocratique a publié le 29 janvier 2020 le communiqué suivant après l’annonce du nouveau projet du gouvernement impérialiste américain visant à liquider les droits nationaux des Palestiniens, dit « Accord du siècle ».

(You may find the original Arabic text of this declaration here. It was also published in Hebrew and English.)

Le temps est venu

Le mouvement national palestinien n’a pas eu à attendre de connaître les détails du plan colonial que le président de l’empire américain a commencé à promouvoir dès sa prise de fonction, pour comprendre la gravité de ce plan pour la Palestine, pour son peuple et pour toute la région. Ses chapitres les plus dangereux ont déjà été mis en œuvre, notamment le transfert de l’ambassade américaine à Jérusalem, des mesures contre les droits des réfugiés palestiniens, et la légitimation des colonies israéliennes sur la terre palestinienne usurpée.

Avec ce plan, le gouvernement de l’impérialisme américain a porté l’ultime coup à l’illusion de la solution des deux états. La direction palestinienne mise en place à Oslo a continué à adhérer à cette illusion à bien des égards contraire aux principes de la lutte de libération nationale, notamment en acceptant d’être le mandataire de l’occupation et de la colonisation sioniste et en abandonnant les réfugiés et les Palestiniens des frontières de 1948. Elle n’a pas préparé les Palestiniens à la lutte du peuple contre l’implantation des colonies qui ont envahi toute la Cisjordanie et Jérusalem, ainsi que les territoires occupés en 1948.

Le plan colonial américano-sioniste est fondé sur l’existence d’un seul état – Israël – s’étendant de la mer au Jourdain, alors que les 13 millions de Palestiniens – les propriétaires de la terre, la moitié d’entre eux ayant été expulsés par le mouvement sioniste – sont voués à l’exil à l’étranger et à l’éternel esclavage dans l’entité coloniale.

Cette réalité n’est pas survenue en un jour, ni n’est que le résultat de la dynamique du projet expansionniste sioniste. Elle a été créée par des décisions antérieures, prises à différents niveaux au fil des années, par tous les dirigeants successifs de l’entité sioniste. L’Etat palestinien, selon la conception de la gauche sioniste en pleine disparition, dans le cadre de la solution des deux états, qui était foncièrement injuste, n’était qu’une forme d’autonomie dans le cadre du contrôle sioniste de la terre sur toute la Palestine. Yitzhak Rabin expliquait ainsi cette conception : « moins qu’un état et plus qu’une autonomie. »

Le nouveau gouvernement américain, dirigé par l’homme d’affaires populiste de droite Donald Trump, a trouvé un moyen de perpétuer la réalité coloniale qu’Israël impose aux Palestiniens, à travers un plan politique fondé sur l’occupation et l’extinction. Ils essaient d’utiliser à leur profit les faiblesses palestiniennes, le morcellement désastreux du peuple palestinien et les divisions entre les directions palestiniennes, la grave crise qui affecte le monde arabe et la coopération ou le silence des autres forces internationales. Ce plan est la poursuite de la politique d’extermination des peuples indigènes menée par les USA et d’autres états coloniaux au cours des trois siècles passés.

Le destin des Palestiniens ne sera pas celui des peuples indigènes des USA ou des autres peuples détruits physiquement et culturellement par les colonialistes occidentaux. Les Palestiniens sont restés sur place et font savoir leur rejet catégorique du plan impérialiste, et à maintes reprises ils ont choisi la voie de la résistance. Les Palestiniens sont partie intégrante de la région arabe, démographiquement et géographiquement, et la lutte pour leurs droits est partagée par les combattants de la liberté partout dans le monde. C’est de cette manière que les Palestiniens décideront de leur propre destin, et non par des forces extérieures. De nombreux peuples dans le monde ont réussi à défaire et à renverser des régimes coloniaux, le dernier en date étant l’Afrique du Sud. Le changement s’opère quand les mouvements de libération adoptent une vision claire de la libération et un message humain et moral. Ils unissent les peuples opprimés, mobilisent partout le soutien de l’opinion publique internationale et des forces progressistes, et attirent de leurs côtés les défenseurs de la liberté de la société coloniale.

Il est temps d’appeler un chat un chat et d’abandonner définitivement les illusions. La réalité en Palestine est celle d’une brutale occupation coloniale. Le régime actuel appartient à une époque noire, oppressive et plus qu’arriérée. La lutte en Palestine n’est pas un conflit de frontières, mais bien une lutte de libération nationale contre une colonisation de peuplement.

Aussi, combattre cette réalité impose d’unifier le peuple palestinien, les militants, les intellectuels, les organisations professionnelles, ouvrières, étudiantes, de la jeunesse et des femmes en un front dont le but est le renversement du régime colonial. Le but est d’établir un seul état démocratique, construit sur les ruines du système de privilèges raciaux, dans lequel chacun vivra en totale égalité, habitants actuels du pays comme ceux qui ont été expulsés de leurs maisons en 1948 et 1967.

Cette proposition offre à la lutte nationale palestinienne une solution fondée sur la liberté et l’humanisme. Elle permet d’unir le peuple palestinien, de construire des alliances avec les luttes populaires démocratiques dans la région arabe, de renforcer les liens avec la société civile dans le monde entier et s’associer à la lutte les Juifs épris de liberté qui combattent le sionisme et le colonialisme.

 

“One Democratic State Campaign”: The administration of American imperialism has dealt the ultimate blow to the delusion of the two-state solution, which is inherently unfair

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The “One Democratic State Campaign” issued the following statement on January 29, 2020, following the announcement of the new project of the US imperialist administration aimed to liquidate Palestinian national rights, called the “Deal of the Century”.

You may find the original Arabic text of this declaration here. It was also published in Hebrew here.

The time has come

The Palestinian national movement did not have to wait to know the details of the colonial scheme, which the president of the American Empire began to promote since he took power, in order to realize the gravity of this plan for Palestine, its people and the entire region. Its most dangerous chapters were implemented earlier, including the transfer of the American embassy to Jerusalem, actions against the rights of the Palestinian refugees, and legitimizing Israeli settlements on stolen Palestinian land.

With this plan, the administration of American imperialism dealt the ultimate blow to the delusion of the two-state solution. The Palestinian Oslo leadership continued to adhere to this illusion, in many ways contrary to the principles of the struggle for national liberation, including accepting the role of proxy for the Zionist occupation and colonization and abandoning the refugees and the 48 Palestinians. They didn’t prepare the people for the popular struggle to confront the settlement project which, after invading the territories occupied in 1948, has invaded all of the West Bank including Jerusalem.

The American Zionist colonial scheme is based on the existence of one state – Israel – between the sea and the river, while the 13 million Palestinians – the owners of the land, half of whom were expelled by the Zionist movement – are destined for eternal exile and eternal slavery in the colonial entity.

This reality did not arise overnight, nor is it simply the result of the dynamics of the Zionist expansionist project. It was created according to prior decisions adopted, on varying levels, by all the successive leaders of the entity over the years. The Palestinian state, in the concept of the disappearing Zionist left, within the framework of the inherently unfair two-state solution, was only a form of self-rule within the framework of Zionist control over all the land throughout Palestine. Yitzhak Rabin expressed this concept by his saying “less than a state and more than an autonomy.”

The new American administration, headed by right-wing populist businessman Donald Trump, identified an opportunity to perpetuate the colonial reality that Israel forced on the Palestinians, through a political scheme based on occupation and extinction. They try to utilize for their goals Palestinian weakness, the disastrous fragmentation of the Palestinian people and the divisions between the Palestinian leaderships, the severe crisis affecting the Arab world and the cooperation or silence of other international forces. This program is a continuation of the extermination policy against the indigenous peoples carried by the United States and other colonial states over the past three centuries.

The fate of the Palestinians will not be the same as that of the indigenous peoples in the USA or other peoples that were destroyed by the Western colonialists physically and culturally. The Palestinians remain on the ground and announce their categorical rejection of this imperialist project, and time and again they choose the path of resistance. The Palestinians are part of the Arab region, demographically and geographically, and their struggle for their rights is embraced by freedom-seekers all over the world. This is how they, not external forces, will determine their own destiny.

Many peoples in the world succeeded in defeating and toppling colonial regimes, the last of which being South Africa’s experience. The change takes place as the liberation movements embrace a clear vision of liberation and a human and moral message. They unite the oppressed people, mobilize the support of world public opinion and progressive forces everywhere and bring to their side freedom advocates from the colonial society.

It is time to name things by their real names and to completely give up delusions. The reality in Palestine is a colonial, brutal occupation. The existing regime belongs to a dark, oppressive and long outmoded era. The struggle in Palestine is not a dispute about borders but rather a cause of national liberation from settler colonialism.

Consequently, confronting this reality requires unifying the Palestinian people, the militants and the intellectuals, the professional bodies, labor, student, youth, and women’s organizations, all should form together one front with the aim of toppling the settler colonial regime. The goal is to establish a single democratic state, based on the ruins of the system of racial privileges, in which everyone will live in full equality, all the current residents of the country and all those who were expelled from their homes in 1948 and 1967.

This vision provides a solution to the Palestinian national struggle based on freedom and humanism. Through it, we can unite the Palestinian people, build alliances in the democratic popular struggle in the Arab sphere, strengthen ties with civil society around the world and partner in the struggle, as well, with the freedom-loving Jews who oppose Zionism and colonialism.

Construire une nouvelle réalité politique sur les ruines du colonialisme: actualisation de la campagne pour un seul état démocratique

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(This article appeared also in English)

Le premier semestre 2018 a été bien occupé pour la Campagne pour un seul Etat démocratique (One Democratic State Campaign – ODSC). Cette initiative lancée depuis la Palestine même vise à raviver une solution positive à la souffrance et au combat du peuple palestinien, soumis depuis un siècle au sionisme et au colonialisme à travers le mot d’ordre d’un Etat démocratique unique, du fleuve Jourdain à la mer, avec égalité des droits de tous ses citoyens. Des consultations, publiques ou non, ont été organisées auprès d’une centaine de militants et intellectuels pour définir et adopter le programme politique de cette campagne qui a été publié en août 2018.

Puis il y a eu les élections d’octobre 2018 (dans la Palestine de 1948 – C’est à dire l’Etat israélien), suivies des élections à la Knesset israélienne en avril 2019. La Campagne est jusqu’à présent principalement menée par les Palestiniens des frontières de 1948, où les élections municipales sont prises au sérieux puisque la population s’y efforce de peser sur la gestion municipale quotidienne. De nombreux militants et sympathisants de la Campagne se sont largement impliqués dans les élections, et certains ont même été élus conseillers municipaux.

Les élections à la Knesset d’avril 2019 n’ont pas seulement perturbé la Campagne, elles ont aussi engendré un dilemme politique profond. Les Arabes palestiniens de citoyenneté israélienne se sont divisés, à parts quasi égales, entre ceux qui ont participé aux élections, et ceux qui n’ont pas voté ou ont activement boycotté les élections. La solution d’un Etat démocratique unique se fonde sur la compréhension qu’Israël n’est pas un Etat démocratique et que la majorité juive-sioniste à la Knesset est au pouvoir du fait du nettoyage ethnique et de l’oppression de millions de Palestiniens sous le joug militaire israélien, en Cisjordanie, à Gaza et à Jérusalem-Est, où ils sont privés de leurs droits humains et politiques les plus élémentaires. En gardant cela à l’esprit, je considère que la position la plus naturelle de la Campagne pour un seul Etat démocratique est de s’associer au boycott palestinien des élections tout en proposant une alternative réellement démocratique.

Mais l’orientation de la Campagne a pris une direction différente. Elle ne se considère pas comme une nouvelle force politique, qui aspire à marginaliser les partis et mouvements actuels, mais comme une initiative pour mettre en avant une perspective politique s’adressant non seulement à l’opinion publique mais aussi à des segments de la direction politique palestinienne actuelle. La Campagne ayant des sympathisants dans les rangs des partis palestiniens représentés à la Knesset, elle n’a pas voulu les obliger à choisir entre leur soutien à la campagne et la loyauté à leur parti. Plus généralement, elle a choisi de ne s’aliéner aucune composante d’une population palestinienne divisée, et a décidé d’éviter de se prononcer publiquement sur la question de la participation aux élections ou du boycott. Ne pas adopter une position claire sur les élections à la Knesset a conduit à accepter d’être marginalisés à l’occasion d’un débat politique intense.

Se réorganiser

Après les élections à la Knesset, les militants pour un seul Etat démocratique se sont réunis pour reprendre l’initiative. Le résultat des élections a montré, à nouveau, que les politiques israéliens sont emmurés dans une spirale de haine raciste et de guerre militariste ne laissant aucune place même à une once d’espoir de paix ou à un tournant vers plus de démocratie et d’égalité. Les principaux partis sionistes d’opposition, le parti Bleu et Blanc et les Travaillistes, ont violemment reproché au gouvernement ultraconservateur de ne pas avoir été assez dur avec les Palestiniens. Les partis arabes qui ont tenté d’avoir quelque influence à la Knesset en participant aux élections ont eu la déception d’être à nouveau rejetés comme partenaires légitimes de la politique israélienne. Et le camp croissant du boycott a fait face aux questions incessantes tant de ses sympathisants que de ses détracteurs : quelle est votre alternative à ces élections ?

La Campagne pour un seul Etat démocratique vise à unifier les Palestiniens d’où qu’ils soient, en abattant les murs, les frontières et les traditions politiques, pour constituer un mouvement regroupant les Palestiniens de l’ensemble du territoire historique de la Palestine, comme ceux de la diaspora. Elle vise aussi à encourager la participation active au combat contre le sionisme au sein de la société juive de Palestine.

Mais, comme le gros des militants de la Campagne vient des territoires palestiniens de 1948, nous avons décidé de regagner le terrain perdu en organisant une journée d’études à Haïfa fin juin.

Dans le passé, en 2008 et 2010, deux grandes conférences pour le Droit au retour et un Etat démocratique en Palestine se sont tenues à Haifa au théâtre al-Midan (c’était une initiative du mouvement Abna’a al-Balad). Depuis, le théâtre al-Midan, autrefois le théâtre palestinien le plus important de la région, est devenu la cible des attaques du gouvernement et de la municipalité. Sa programmation artistique a déclenché l’ire des autorités israéliennes et a été sanctionnée. Il lui est maintenant interdit de louer ses salles à tout rassemblement à coloration politique. Les militants culturels palestiniens d’Haïfa ont trouvé une alternative en ouvrant le théatre Khashabi avec l’intention manifeste de ne chercher aucun soutien du pouvoir en place, de garder une totale indépendance de répertoire artistique, et d’encourager la liberté de parole. Aussi le théatre Khashabi a été le choix évident pour accueillir la journée d’étude pour un seul Etat démocratique.

Un programme solide peut influencer la réalité

Le jour de la réunion, la petite salle du théâtre était pleine de quelques 70 personnes. La militante Aya Mana a ouvert la première séance. A noter que nous avons commencé seulement 10 minutes après l’heure prévue, ce qui témoigne largement du sérieux des participants. Les participants étaient divers, aussi bien des vétérans du combat que des jeunes militants, des intellectuels, des membres de divers mouvements, partis et ONG. Mana a salué toutes ces composantes et a invité chacun à participer non seulement au soutien de la campagne et de son programme, mais aussi à la discussion critique sur le programme et à la recherche commune des moyens les plus efficaces de construire un mouvement puissant avec pour enjeu essentiel l’obtention de la justice, de la liberté et de la démocratie.Full hall at Khashabi Theatre

Le premier intervenant fut l’historien Ilan Pappé, un des initiateurs de la Campagne. Si je ne me trompe pas, c’était sa première intervention publique totalement en arabe, et il a parfaitement réussi le test, transmettant un message clair sur le contexte historique de la solution ancienne et réactualisée d’un seul Etat démocratique.

Pappé a analysé les origines du mouvement sioniste comme élément du phénomène mondial du colonialisme européen, et plus spécifiquement comme un exemple de colonisation de peuplement. Il a souligné que la colonisation de peuplement est la forme la plus dangereuse du colonialisme, puisqu’elle aspire non seulement à occuper un pays et à exploiter sa population, mais à la remplacer par des colons. Dans ce but, la colonisation de peuplement mène facilement à la logique de génocide, comme cela a été réalisé avec succès contre la population indigène aux Etats-Unis et dans d’autres colonies. Il a expliqué comment la colonisation de peuplement construit un mythe national déformé selon lequel les colons sont décrits comme « indigènes » et la population indigène accusée d’être une « menace étrangère». Un mythe supplémentaire affirme aussi que la patrie était « vide » jusqu’à l’arrivée des colons, ignorant et niant ainsi l’existence même d’une population indigène.

Ce contexte explique pourquoi il n’y a aucune discussion réelle chez les politiques israéliens sur la recherche d’une véritable solution qui puisse rétablir les droits des Palestiniens arabes et leur permettre de vivre librement et en toute égalité. La proposition d’une solution de deux Etats dans son contexte israélien n’est qu’une variante de la même recherche des moyens de se débarrasser de la population indigène.

Pappé a consacré une grande partie de son intervention au contexte international actuel du combat. Il a insisté sur l’importance d’une reconnaissance croissante des droits des Palestiniens dans la société civile internationale, et sur la disponibilité de nombreux secteurs du mouvement de solidarité à entendre et accepter la seule solution fondée sur les droits de l’homme et la démocratie : un seul état démocratique.

Il a expliqué que, d’un autre côté, le fort soutien à Israël et à sa politique raciste de la part des forces réactionnaires, comme Trump et les nationalistes européens, n’est pas un hasard. Leur soutien est fondé sur leur aspiration à restaurer la suprématie blanche de l’ère coloniale et l’incitation à la haine des peuples du tiers-monde. Le soutien des forces réactionnaires à Israël est célébré par le gouvernement israélien, mais il signifie aussi que ce n’est plus un sujet de consensus occidental. Le conflit israélo-palestinien est une des questions au centre du combat politique sur l’avenir du monde entre forces progressistes et forces réactionnaires.

Ce nouvel alignement mondial concernant la lutte palestinienne ouvre de nombreuses possibilités, mais il exige une approche plus active et bien-ciblée. Pour pouvoir construire de nouvelles alliances et maximiser le potentiel de solidarité internationale, il est important que les Palestiniens eux-mêmes reviennent à la nature fondamentale de leur mouvement de libération, qui est la lutte pour la liberté et les droits de l’homme pour tous.

Pappé a développé l’importance d’avoir une vision politique claire et d’utiliser la terminologie correcte pour décrire la réalité actuelle. Par exemple, parler du régime d’apartheid israélien est autre chose que seulement se plaindre de la « discrimination ». Parler de décolonisation est différent de parler de la « résolution du conflit ».

Répondant à une question, Pappé a corrigé une lecture erronée habituelle de l’histoire. Une fréquente idée fausse distingue « le modèle algérien » où les colons ont été expulsés et « l’approche sud-africaine » où la société s’est transformée pour que Blancs et Noirs deviennent des citoyens à part entière et égaux après le démantèlement de l’apartheid. La réalité historique est que le mouvement de libération algérien a proposé aux colons français le choix de rester citoyens de l’Algérie nouvellement libérée (un choix qui faisait partie des accords d’Evian de décolonisation de 1962 entre le FLN et le gouvernement français). Mais la grande majorité des colons a préféré rentrer en France. Et de nombreux Blancs sud-africains ont émigré après le démantèlement de l’apartheid. Le programme d’un seul Etat démocratique est l’alternative naturelle au colonialisme. Il rendra la Palestine à ses communautés locales et régionales, il abolira les privilèges des colons, et leur donnera la possibilité d’intégrer le nouvel Etat sur la base de l’égalité civique.

Un intérêt croissant

Awad Abdelfattah, un des principaux coordinateurs de la Campagne, qui était précédemment secrétaire général du parti Alliance nationale démocratique (connu par son acronyme hébreu Balad), a commencé son intervention par un rapport optimiste sur l’élargissement de la Campagne et les nouveaux contacts , particulièrement parmi les Palestiniens d’autres régions. Même si la Campagne elle-même n’en est qu’à ses débuts, des militants du mouvement de résistance populaire en Cisjordanie et à Gaza ont manifesté de l’intérêt pour le message et les activités de la Campagne. Abdelfattah a rapporté que certains d’entre eux ont expliqué qu’ils n’avaient jamais abandonné ce rêve – puisque ce n’est que dans ce cadre que le droit au retour peut se réaliser et la totalité des droits des Palestiniens être rétablie – et voulaient le raviver comme un moyen de réactiver le mouvement palestinien.

Les participants ont montré un vif intérêt quand Abdelfattah a rapporté les progrès de la discussion avec des militants palestiniens dans les prisons d’occupation, notamment avec Ahmad Saadat, secrétaire général du FPLP (Front populaire de libération de la Palestine). L’information concernant l’intérêt porté par le mouvement des prisonniers au programme pour un seul Etat démocratique a fait les gros titres du site Arab-48 le lendemain.

Abdelfattah a ensuite décrit la crise du mouvement de libération nationale palestinien, qui est en train de prendre réellement conscience que la solution des deux Etats et les accords d’Oslo n’ont fait que perpétuer l’occupation. Il a cité, parmi les effets les plus désastreux des accords d’Oslo, la dislocation du peuple palestinien. La Cisjordanie est séparée de Gaza, des millions de réfugiés sont expulsés hors de leur pays sans espoir de retour, et les Palestiniens vivant à l’intérieur des frontières de 1948 subissent une discrimination systématique, et de surcroît se trouvent régulièrement exclus de la cause nationale palestinienne.

Une autre conséquence des accords d’Oslo est l’anéantissement de l’OLP, qui a servi d’outil révolutionnaire jusqu’aux accords d’Oslo, avant d’être usurpée par l’Autorité palestinienne sans avoir réalisé son objectif de libération de la Palestine occupée. Abdelfattah a ajouté ironiquement, si on peut dire, que les accords d’Oslo ont réalisé l’unité des Palestiniens dans la détresse.

Abdelfattah a, au contraire, souligné l’importance du regroupement des Palestiniens autour d’une nouvelle vision qui redonne espoir aux jeunes générations en reprenant les principes de base du combat bénéfique de libération, tout en adaptant les perspectives et les moyens de la lutte à la situation actuelle et aux nouvelles technologies et à la mondialisation. Cette nouvelle initiative est essentiellement un pas vers une vie différente, vers une situation politique nouvelle et moderne, où tous les Palestiniens comme les Juifs d’Israël pourront lutter ensemble pour construire une nouvelle entité politique démocratique sur les ruines du colonialisme, de l’apartheid et de la séparation raciste des communautés. L’Etat futur sera fondé sur les principes de justice et de citoyenneté pleine et égale.

« Tout en étant conscients que la lutte devant nous sera longue, nous pouvons commencer aujourd’hui à reconstruire notre compréhension de la situation et à nous réorganiser sur de nouvelles bases », a déclaré Abdelfattah.

Il a ajouté qu’il espérait que « la Campagne va progressivement se développer en mouvement massif de résistance populaire contre l’occupation ».

Abdelfattah a ensuite réfuté les arguments de ceux qui hésitent à soutenir la perspective d’un seul Etat démocratique : un seul état démocratique disent-ils est une utopie irréaliste vu la situation politique actuelle, puisque le rapport de force est favorable au colonisateur, qui est soutenu par l’Etat le plus puissant au monde, les Etats-Unis ; qu’ aucun courant majeur palestinien ne reprend la solution d’un seul Etat et qu’aucun parti israélien, petit ou grand, n’est prêt à abandonner le principe de l’« Etat juif ».

Il a résumé la réponse à ces arguments ainsi : « Tout d’abord, nous devons souligner que nous fondons notre approche sur le principe du rétablissement de la justice pour tous les Palestiniens, ceux qui ont été expulsés et dépossédés comme ceux qui ont survécu à la purification ethnique perpétuée par le mouvement sioniste. Deuxièmement, la solution des deux Etats est morte depuis longtemps et les deux populations sont maintenant inextricablement liées. Cette réalité s’est enracinée du fait de la politique constante et systématique de spoliation de la terre et de colonisation de peuplement. En conséquence, toute la Palestine est devenue une unité géographique et démographique soumis à un régime ouvertement colonial pratiquant l’apartheid. »

Il a ajouté : « Nous devons balayer l’illusion qu’Israël pourrait accepter un Etat palestinien indépendant. En même temps, nous devons unifier les Palestiniens, la société civile internationale sympathisante et les Juifs antisionistes sur l’axe du combat pour défaire ce régime. A propos, l’utopie n’est pas toujours une chimère. De nombreuses idées qui ont pu paraître utopiques sont devenues réalité grâce à une vision claire, une organisation réfléchie et une forte détermination. L’Afrique du Sud en est un exemple brut qui nous inspire. »

Point de vue légal et culturel

La deuxième séance, rendue possible par le militant Majd Nasralla, visait à répondre à certaines questions pratiques auxquelles nous serons confrontés dans la construction d’un mouvement fondé sur la solution d’un seul Etat démocratique.

Une des questions essentielles qui nous a souvent été posée est la place de la solution d’un seul Etat démocratique au regard du droit international. Certains hésitent à soutenir ouvertement la perspective d’un seul Etat démocratique parce qu’ils croient que les droits des Palestiniens sont légalement garantis par le droit à l’auto-détermination dans le cadre d’un Etat palestinien au sein de la solution des deux Etats. Ils craignent que l’adoption de la solution d’un seul Etat démocratique, n’ayant pas de reconnaissance internationale, affaiblisse la base légale des revendications palestiniennes.

Un autre expert, le professeur Munir Nusseibeh, a donné un avis éclairé sur le soutien à la solution d’un seul Etat démocratique du point de vue du droit international. Il a expliqué qu’il n’y a aucun principe qui exige une séparation des Etats au nom d’une séparation des identités nationales. Il a expliqué que le droit à l’auto-détermination est fondamentalement le droit de ne pas être soumis à une oppression étrangère. Il a décrit les étapes du développement du droit international vers l’adoption des droits de l’homme comme principe de base universel et la nécessité des les garantir à tous les peuples.

La plus grande partie de l’intervention de Nusseibeh s’est concentrée sur le concept de « justice de transition » sur lequel il a fait des recherches complètes. Il a critiqué les experts juridiques sionistes et certains de leurs apologistes occidentaux qui tentent d’utiliser ce concept pour diluer la responsabilité israélienne pour crimes de guerre, nettoyage ethnique et les autres crimes contre le peuple palestinien. Il a souligné qu’au cœur du concept de « justice de transition » il y avait l’affirmation d’une vraie « transition ».

Le  professeur Nusseibeh a expliqué que le concept de justice de transition ne se pose qu’après qu’un régime fondé sur la négation des droits de l’homme élémentaires a été démantelé et que s’y est substitué un autre régime qui les garantisse et en finisse avec l’injustice. Dans ce cadre, le nouveau régime prend l’entière responsabilité des conséquences des injustices passées et de la restitution aux victimes de leurs droits. C’est seulement alors qu’intervient la justice de transition qui va s’occuper des auteurs des crimes, notamment  de leur inculpation et de leur condamnation, qui peut prendre en compte les circonstances et la nécessité de reconstruire une société après un traumatisme. Mais, avant tout, nous devons garantir la transformation complète des bases légales du régime, qui ne sera possible que dans le cadre d’un seul Etat démocratique.

Le  dernier intervenant a été Majd Kayal, écrivain et un des militants principaux des mouvements de la jeunesse qui ont joué un rôle majeur dans les manifestations palestiniennes dans les territoires palestiniens de 1948 au cours des dernières années. Il a parlé du rôle de la culture et décrit les activités culturelles qui peuvent aider la société palestinienne à se libérer de l’hégémonie sioniste. Il a expliqué que si la mise en avant de mots d’ordre politiques est un aspect naturel de la vie et de la culture, ce n’est pas l’essence de ce qui est indispensable. Dans certains cas, les mots d’ordre politiques sur la nationalité palestinienne ou même la levée du drapeau palestinien peuvent contribuer à consolider l’actuel rapport de force déformé – si cela est fait dans  un cadre imposé par le régime sioniste. Ce qui est indispensable c’est de créer et développer un cadre indépendant de créativité culturelle hors de l’influence du régime et qui traite de tous les aspects de la vie – depuis la critique sans crainte de la situation politique jusqu’à la discussion des problèmes sociaux profonds, et le traitement de sujets purement esthétiques et artistiques.

Préparer les prochaines étapes

Après ces deux séances, nous nous sommes répartis en ateliers. Le premier atelier a discuté du programme politique de la Campagne, pour ceux qui avaient rejoint le projet récemment et ceux qui voulaient proposer d’améliorer le programme. Le deuxième atelier s’est penché sur les prochaines étapes de la construction de la Campagne : la stratégie politique et médiatique.

A la fin des discussions en atelier, les organisateurs ont annoncé la création de deux groupes de travail permanents. L’un développera la campagne en direction de l’opinion publique et des partis et mouvements politiques. L’autre travaillera sur la publication de nouveaux matériels et dessinera le profil média de la campagne. Les deux groupes de travail sont ouverts à tout nouveau militant.

 

The Campaign for One Democratic State Holds a Study Day in Haifa

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(Another version of this report appeared in Mondoweiss. It is also available in French.)

The first half of 2018 was very busy for the ODS Campaign (ODSC) – the new initiative that took on itself to revive the perspective for a positive solution to the century long suffering and struggle of the Palestinian people under Zionist colonialism. Open and close consultations were held, through which more than a hundred activists and academics participated in the formulation and the adoption of the campaign’s political program.

But then came the local elections in October 2018, followed by the Knesset elections of April 2019. The initiative is, till now, mostly based in the Palestinian population in the areas held by Israel since 1948, and local elections are a major event in local Palestinian society, where people feel they can really influence the daily management of their municipalities. Many of the campaign’s activists and supporters were deeply involved in the elections and some were elected as council members.

Aya opening the day

Aya Mana opening the ODSC study day on June 28, 2019, in Khashabi Theatre, Haifa

The Knesset elections was not only a “distraction” for the campaign, but also posed a profound political dilemma. The Palestinian Arabs with Israeli citizenship are divided to almost equal parts between those who vote in the elections and those who prefer not to participate or actively boycott it. The perspective for One Democratic State is based on the recognition that Israel is not a democratic state and that the Zionist-Jewish majority in the Knesset is the result of ethnic cleansing and holding millions of Palestinians under Israeli rule in the West Bank and Gaza deprived of the most basic human and political rights. So, the most natural position for the campaign was to join the boycott of the Knesset and to pose a real democratic alternative.

But the politics of the campaign led it in a different direction. It doesn’t regard itself as a new political force that aspires to sideline the current parties and movement, but an initiative to promote a political perspective that is aimed to reach not only the general public but also sections of the current Palestinian political leadership. As the campaign includes supporters of the Palestinian parties in the Knesset, it didn’t want to force them to choose between their support to the campaign and their loyalty to their parties. In a more general way, it chose not to alienate any part of the divided Palestinian public and decided to avoid publishing any position regarding participating or boycott. This decision came with the cost of agreeing to be sidelined at a time of heated political debate.

Reorganizing

After the Knesset elections the ODSC activists were meeting again to resume the campaign. The result of the elections demonstrated, once again, how Israeli politics is trapped in a spiral of racist hatred and militarist war mongering, with not even a ray of hope for peace or a turn toward more democracy and equality. The main Zionist opposition parties attacked the ultra-right government for not being harsh enough against the Palestinians. The Arab parties that tried to build a perspective for “influence through participation” faced the frustration of being rejected again as legitimate partners in Israeli politics. And the growing camp of boycotters was facing the constant question by its supporters and critics alike: “What is the alternative?”

The campaign is intended to unite Palestinians from all locations, overcoming walls, borders and political traditions to form a movement that will bring together people from all over Palestine as well as from the diaspora. It also aims to encourage active participation in the struggle against Zionism from within the Jewish society in Palestine. But, to regain momentum, the first natural move was to re-connect with the established support base within the 1948 Palestinians. For this purpose, we decided to hold a study day in Haifa on June 28.

Full hall at Khashabi Theatre

The Khashabi hall was full

In the past, in 2008 and 2010, two big conferences for the Right of Return and One Democratic State in Palestine were held in Haifa in the Midan Theatre (at the initiative of the Abnaa alBalad movement). Since then the Midan, which used to be the most prominent Palestinian theatre in the area, became a target of government and municipal attack (mostly due to its artistic program) and is not free now to rent its halls to any gathering with political coloring. But Palestinian cultural activist in Haifa created an alternative, opening the “Khashabi Theatre”, with the overt intention of not seeking any support from the establishment and keeping full independence for its artistic repertoire as well as its right to host and encourage free speech. It was the natural choice for hosting the ODSC study day.

Solid program can influence reality

On Friday afternoon, June 28, the small hall of the Khashabi Theatre was full (about 70 people). Activist Aya Mana, which opened the first session, noted that we started at only 10 minutes after the declared time, a significant testimony to the serious attitude of the participants. The attendance was diverse, including veteran of the struggle as well as youth activists, academics, members of different movements, parties and NGOS. Mana welcomed all of them and invited everyone to take part not only by supporting the campaign and its program but also by critical discussion of the program and looking together for the most effective ways to build an influential movement toward the most essential goals of achieving justice, freedom and democracy.

Historian Ilan Pappe, one of the initiators of the campaign, was the first speaker. If I’m not wrong, it was his first public lecture in Arabic, and he passed the test very well, conveying a very clear message about the historical background of the old-renewed perspective for ODS.

Ilan Pappe speaking

Ilan Pappe speaking – probably his first public lecture all in Arabic

Pappe analyzed the origins of the Zionist movement as part of the world-wide phenomenon of European colonialism, and, more specifically, as an example of “settler colonialism”, which aspires not only to occupy and exploit the local population but to replace them by settlers. This scheme of settler colonialism easily leads to the logic of genocide, which was successfully accomplished against the native population in the United States and other colonies. He explained how settler colonialism is building a distorted national myth according to which the settler population is described as “natives” and the original native population is vilified as “threatening aliens”. Another, complementing, myth says that the homeland was “empty” until the settlers came – ignoring and denying the existence of the native population.

In this context it is clear why in Israeli politics there is no real discussion how to reach a real solution that will restore the rights of Arab Palestinians and let them live in freedom and equality. The proposition of “a two-state solution” in its Israeli context is just another variant of the same search for ways to get rid of the native population.

Pappe dedicated an important part of his presentation to the current international context of the struggle. He emphasized the importance of a growing recognition of Palestinian rights in the international civil society, and the readiness of many sectors of the solidarity movement to hear and adopt the only solution based on human rights and democracy – ODS. On the other hand, he explained that the strong support of Israel and its racist policies from reactionary forces, like Trump and many European nationalists, is not an accident. Their very base of support is an attempt to revive the colonialist-era white supremacy and incite against the people of the third world. This change of the international map concerning the Palestinian struggle opens many opportunities and demands a more active and well-targeted approach from us. As there is no more Western consensus around the support to Israel and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is at the center of the political struggle about the future of the world, it is important that Palestinian themselves will return to the basic nature of their liberation movement as a struggle for freedom and human rights for all.

Pappe elaborated about the importance of having a clear political vision and using the correct terminology to describe the current reality. For example, speaking about Israel’s Apartheid regime is different than just complaining about “discrimination”. Speaking about decolonization is different from speaking about “solving the conflict”.

Finally, in response to a question from the public, Pappe corrected a common mis-reading of history. Many speak about a dichotomy between the “Algerian way”, where the settler population was expelled, and the “South African approach” where whites were integrated as full citizens after the dismantling of Apartheid. The historical truth is that the Algerian liberation movement proposed on the French settlers the option to stay as citizens of the newly liberated Algeria, but the vast majority preferred to return to France. And many of the whites in South Africa emigrated after the dismantling of Apartheid there. The program of one democratic state is just the natural alternative to colonialism, it will return Palestine to its local and regional identities. It will abolish the privilege of the settler population and give them the option to integrate on the basis of civil equality.

Growing interest

The second speaker in the first session was Awad Abdelfattah, the main coordinator of the campaign, who previously served for a long period as the general secretary of the National Democratic Alliance party (NDA, AKA Balad). He started his talk with an optimist report about the widening influence and connections of the campaign, especially among Palestinians in other regions. Even though the campaign itself is only at its very first stages, activist from the popular resistance in the West Bank and Gaza are showing interest in the campaign’s message and liberation agenda. Some of them are explaining that they never gave up this dream and want to revive it as a perspective for a revival of the Palestinian movement. There was special interest in Abdelfattah’s report about an evolving discussion with Palestinian activists in the occupation’s prisons, including the general secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmad Sa’adat. The news about the interest of the prisoners’ movement in studying the ODS program made its way to the headlines of Arab-48 site the next day.

Awad speaking

Awad Abdelfattah: New perspective for the Palestinian liberation movement

Abdelfattah described the crisis of the Palestinian national liberation movement, getting ever more acute as it becomes clear to all that the perspective of two-state solution and the Oslo accord only led to perpetuation of the occupation. Among the most catastrophic results of the Oslo accord is the fragmentation of the Palestinian people, when the West Bank is separated from Gaza, millions of refugees are stuck out of their homeland with no perspective for returning, and Palestinians inside the 48 territories suffer from systematic discrimination but are not even regarded part of the Palestinian national cause. Another consequence was the devastation of the PLO, which has served until Oslo as a revolutionary vehicle, but was sidelined without achieving its goal of liberating the occupied land. In an ironic way you can say, he added, that the Oslo accord united all Palestinians in a sense of helplessness.

Against this background, Abdelfattah stressed the importance of uniting the Palestinians around a new vision that can give new hope to the young generations by retaining the basic tenets of the liberation struggle, while adjusting the perspective and the means of struggle to current reality and to the fast-developing technology, society and world scene. The new initiative is basically a path to a different life, and new and modern political reality, where all Palestinians as well Israeli Jews can struggle together to build a new democratic political entity on the ruins of colonialism, apartheid and racist separation. The future state is based on the principles of justice and full equal citizenship.

‘’While we are conscious to the fact that there is a long struggle ahead of us, we can start today by rebuilding our understanding of the reality and reorganizing along new lines.” He expressed his hope that “the campaign will gradually develop into a mass movement of popular resistance against the occupation.”

Abdelfattah mentioned several challenges that are facing the ODS campaign, relating to questions which are often raised by people from different political backgrounds. He explained that some issues may better be left to the dynamics of life, as the people involved in the struggle will have to cope with challenges in an innovative way.

Among the questions he was keen to relate to is the claim that the idea is utopian, given the current political reality, as the balance of forces is in favor of the colonizer which is supported by the most powerful state in the world, the USA. Another side of this claim is that no major force among the Palestinians has embraced the one state solution, and no major or small Israeli party is willing to give up the principle of “a Jewish state”.

He summed up the response to this claim by saying: First we should emphasis that we base our approach on the principle of restoring justice for all Palestinians, for those who were expelled and dispossessed and those who survived the ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the the Zionist movement and its embodiment Israel. Second, the two-state solution has been dead for a long time and the two populations have become inextricably linked, as a result of the continued systematic policy of land theft and settler colonization. As a result, all of Palestine has become one geographic and demographic unit under an overt apartheid and colonial regime. We should dispel the illusion that Israel would accept an independent Palestinian state and to unite all the Palestinian people, the world civil society and anti Zionist Jews around the struggle to defeat this regime. By the way, utopia is not always a fantasy idea. Many ideas that looked as such became a reality through clear vision, wise planning and strong resolve. South Africa is a stark example, which is our inspiration.

Legal and cultural point of view

The second session, facilitated by activist Majd Nasralla, was designed to answer some of the practical questions that confront us when coming to build a movement based on the ODS perspective. One basic issue that we were asked about many times is the position of the ODS perspective in view of the international law. Some people hesitate to openly support ODS under the impression that there is some legal guarantee of Palestinian rights in the framework of the right of self determination in a Palestinian state as part as a two-state solution. They are afraid that adopting ODS, as a solution that has no international recognition, may weaken the legal basis of the Palestinian claims.

Dr. Munir Nusseibeh gave a learned view of the support of ODS from the point of view of the international law. He explained that there is no principle that demands that there will be division to states that is parallel to the division to national identities, and that the right of self determination is basically the right not to be subject to external oppression. He explained the gradual development of the international law toward the concept of the generality of human rights and the need to guarantee them to all people.

Munir speaking

Left to right: Dr. Munir Nusseibeh, Majd Kayal and Majd Nasralla

Much of Nusseibeh’s lecture concentrated around the concept of “transitional justice”, of which he made a thorough research. He criticized Zionist legal experts and some of their western apologists that try to use this concept to dilute the Israeli responsibility to war crimes, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against the Palestinian people. He emphasized that at the hear of the concept of “transitional justice” stands the assumption of a real “transition”.

It means that a regime that is based on the denial of basic human rights should be dismantled and substituted by another regime that guarantees and end to the injustice. It also means that the new regime takes full responsibility to the consequences of past injustices and the restitution of the rights of the victims.  Only then comes the part of transitional justice that handles the perpetrators of crimes, including indictment and punishment, that can take into account the conditions and the necessity to rebuild society after a trauma. But, first of all, we should guarantee the full transformation of the legal base of the regime – which is possible only in the framework of ODS.

The last speaker was Majd Kayal, a writer and one of the central activists of the youth movements that played a major role in the Palestinian protests in the 48-territories over the last years. He spoke about the role of culture and tried to draw a view of the types of cultural activity that may help the Palestinian society liberate itself from Zionist hegemony. He said that while raising political slogans is a natural part of life and of culture, it is not the essence of what is required. In some context raising political slogans about Palestinian nationality or even waiving Palestinian flags can contribute to consolidation of the current distorted relationship of power – if it is done within a framework designated by the Zionist establishment. What is required is creating and developing an independent framework for cultural creativity that is outside the influence of the establishment and which handles all the aspects of life – from fearless criticism of the political situation to confronting deep social problems in the society and even handling purely aesthetic and artistic subjects.

Preparing the next steps

After the two full sessions, both of which included interventions and questions from the public, all were requested to divide into two workshops. The first workshop discussed the political program of the campaign, for people that are new to the idea and for those who wanted to suggest improvement to the program. The second workshop handled the required next steps toward building the campaign: political strategy and usage of the media.

After the conclusion of the discussion in the workshops, and as a consequence of the discussion in the second of them, the organizers announced the establishment of two permanent working groups to farther the building of the campaign. One working group will work on expanding the campaign among the general public and reach out to movement and political parties. The other working group will work on publishing new materials and raising the media profile of the campaign. Both working groups are open for new activist to join.

 

Commemoration of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising retaken by Anti-Fascist activists

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Marching in Warsaw under the flags of the international struggle for liberation and equality for all

By: Iris Bar (text, painting and photos)

(Initially published on Facebook, April 20, 2019)

I’m writing it in English so all my friends can manage reading it if they like to…

Yesterday I participated in an alternative commemoration of the Warsaw Ghetto Rebellion, organized by groups of young Polish leftists – mainly anarchists, anti fascists and trade union activists.Iris picture commemorating Ghetto Warsaw

In spite the fact that almost all my family was murdered by the Nazis, it was the first time for decades I participated in such commemoration, as I didn’t want to be part of the exploitation of their death for whitewashing the acts of colonialism and racism that are done, all the time, by Israel against the Palestinian people.

Two different commemoration events were held yesterday (April 19) in Warsaw – official & alternative – and they both started at 12:00 on different sides of the monument of the defenders of the Ghetto. On one side there were no more than 100 participants, most of them of soldiers, Polish & Israeli, and representatives of those 2 extremely right-wing governments. On the other side there were almost 1000 people, many of them young, raising red flags of the Bund and the old Anti-Fascist flags with its 3 arrows aimed at capitalism, racism & reactionary… holding in their hands yellow daffodils, the polish symbol of commemorating Polish Jews who were murdered by the Nazis (I saw that day many ppl in the city wearing yellow paper flowers on their chest). On the front of the Brigade flagparade marched the flag of the Naftali Botwin unit (a Bundist unit) of the Palafox battalion of the international brigade during the Spanish civil war with the slogan “Para vuestra libertad – y para nuestra” – ”For your liberty – and for ours”… a banner of freedom and justice for all the human kind.Warsaw alternative ceremony

The only state flag in this parade was the flag of the Spanish republic… We passed by memorial stones and noticed that people lit memory lamps (with crosses) in front of them… From time to time the parade stopped and a choir read texts and sang worker & socialist songs in Yiddish. At the end one of the organizers made a speech and explained that they are organizing this event, every year (I think already for three years), as part of their Anti Fascist struggle, the struggle against anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Xenophobia in general (this days mainly against workers from Ukraine & Belarus), male chauvinism, hate against LGBT people, criminalization of poverty and other forms of racism…

I cried.

I was touched to see all those young activists, determined to remember in purpose to gain more power to struggle for a world in which such crimes could not be done again – a world of liberty, justice and equality for all.

Commemorations stonesyellow flowers and crosses