See also: http://www.one-democratic-state.org/
Association for One Democratic State in Palestine/Israel
A Vision for Enduring Peace in Palestine
by Elias Davidsson, 1998
Democratic opposition to Zionism derives from a vision of humanity based on the inherent dignity and equality of every human. This vision is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and inspires all human rights treaties that UN member states have signed as well as the principles international humanitarian law. Such a vision is the antithesis of racial discrimination and apartheid (segregation).
Although it appears that most Israeli Jews support Zionism, it is essential to go beyond appearances. Israeli Jews operate within an imposed agenda of public discourse and within the confines of established politics. They are hardly ever presented with fundamental questions or contradictions regarding the nature of their country. If presented with stark choices between living in a ghetto-state, based on religion, or in a modern and secure democracy, and the implications such choices would have for their daily lives, the majority of the Israeli and Palestinian population would probably opt for democracy, as the term is generally understood. Democracy can, at its basic conceptual level, be the cement which can bridge these two constituencies facing now each other in enmity. It represents an untapped opportunity for progressing towards a lasting peace.
The bankruptcy of the Palestinian liberation strategy
The Palestinian resistance movement was established by the direct victims of Zionism in order to liberate Palestine from its Zionist usurpers. But the aim was not attained. After years of bitter struggle and innumerable and unnecessary deaths, the Palestinian-Arab people are still dispersed in many countries with one minority living in Israeli-controlled reservations and another as second-class citizens within the State of Israel.
After some hesitations and toying with the idea of a secular and democratic state, the Palestinian resistance movement took one step after the other in order to accommodate the Palestinian masses, first with the existence of the Zionist state and finally with its alleged legitimacy.
It is certainly not necessary here to elaborate on the dismal outcome of more than 50 years of Palestinian struggle. This should be obvious. The Palestinian leadership has in fact led the people to a historical dead-end. It is though not our purpose to lament the past but to understand what caused the dismal failure of such persistent and just struggle, in order to lay the ground for a brighter future.
Liberation from Zionism vs. the liberation of Palestine
In its quest to liberate Palestine, the Palestinian resistance resorted to armed attacks against Israel as the physical embodiement of Zionism.There was no serious attempt to induce significant segments of the Israeli-Jewish population and involve it in the struggle for liberation. By such a failure, the Palestinian resistance movement, nonwithstanding its claim that it was not fighting the “Jews”, only the “Zionists”, acted as if the entire Israeli population were enemies to be defeated. It did not present itself as an alternative to Israelis who opposed Zionism or the oppression of Palestinian Arabs and might have joined the struggle against Zionism. Under such circumstances most Israelis viewed Palestinian attacks on Israel as an existential threat for themselves. They were not asked to join the struggle. The Palestinian resistance movement rarely considered any role for common Israelis other than as enemies to be defeated. With such failings the Palestinian resistance movement could not rally any significant support for its goals within Israeli society. The Palestinian strategy thus defined the terms of the conflict as one between two mutually excluding national movements. This strategical mistake has led to the current impasse.
This was not, as is sometimes claimed, the only option open to the Palestinian resistance movement. It could have declared itself the de jure representative of all inhabitants of Palestine, including all Jewish inhabitants, claim sole jurisdiction over all of Palestine and grant all Jewish inhabitants of the State of Israel automatic Palestinian citizenship and membership in the ranks of the Palestinian national movement, thus challenging the Zionist state at the level of international law and giving Israeli Jews a viable option to war. Simultaneously it would have sought the participation of all democratic and anti-Zionist Israeli Jews, on equal footing, as participants in the liberation of Palestine from Zionism. This strategy has led the African National Congress to the defeat of apartheid.
To be fair, Palestinian resistance organisations have distinguished between Jews and Zionists. But these attempts were mainly rhetoric in nature. Jews were certainly allowed to participate, as individuals, in the Palestinian resistance movement, when such requests were made, but this was only incidental to the Palestinian struggle and practically irrelevant. Only a handful of individuals of Jewish descent availed themselves of this possibility. The PLO remained an organization committed to the national rights of the Palestinian Arab people, which in view of the circumstances in Palestine, was a blueprint for defeat. When the PLO issued Palestinian identity cards, these showed a mosque and a church, thus defining the Palestinian constituency as excluding Jews.
The only enduring solution: One democratic state in Palestine
The struggle for a just peace in Palestine is as important as ever. The current situation appears desperate but it is not. It all depends on how one defines the conflict we are witnessing in Palestine. If this conflict is defined in territorial and national terms, we are facing a zero-sum game, namely an equation in which gains by one side are reflected in losses by the other. This form of conflict can lead at best to a temporary accomodation, not to a lasting peace, because each side would be continuously tempted to change the terms of the game in his own benefit. If the conflict is however defined in the terms of democracy versus apartheid, the conflict becomes that of an overwhelming majority of peaceful populations against racist leaders, namely a joint popular struggle against forces of evil.
It is therefore incumbent to redefine the terms of the struggle, both as regards parties to the conflict and the aim to be reached. The parties to the conflict have hitherto been defined as national groups and fostered national identities linked to reified territories. The current goal of both parties to the conflict is to obtain as much as possible of land and control over resources for themselves. When the conflicting parties become the Constituency for Democracy versus the Constituency for Apartheid, the goal of one party to the conflict will be the establishment of a modern democratic state for the entire population living in Palestine and the Palestinian refugees in exile prevented from return. The opposite constitutency would represent an ideology which is defined by international law as criminal (apartheid) and would fight a losing battle.
The establishment of a democratic state in Palestine that would replace the Zionist state, would allow finally the repatriation of the Palestinian refugees, comply with long flouted norms of international law, with international norms of human rights and possess the required elements for econonic viability. It is therefore the best solution that can ensure a lasting peace. No other solution possesses these crucial ingredients necessary for peace.
The road to take
To reach the above aim there is a need for a self-conscious and determined Movement for a Democratic Palestine, which will invite every Palestinian and every citizen of the State of Israel, regardless of his or her current residence, to participate as full member in this constructive and progressive endeavour. This movement would lead the struggle for the establishment of a democratic, non sectarian, state in all of Palestine, replacing the two defect entities existing today, the apartheid State of Israel and its Arab dependencies in Gaza and the Western Bank. The official languages of this political movement would be Arabic, Hebrew and English. The movement will not recognize the Green Line in Palestine, nor the legitimacy of the State of Israel as a Zionist Jewish state nor that of the Palestinian Authority, as defined by the ‘Oslo’ accords and subsequent agreements. It will act exclusively by non-violent means. The movement for a democratic Palestine would properly claim the sole jurisdiction, first morally, then legally and finally de facto over the whole area of Mandatory Palestine, and seek international recognition as the sole representative of the peoples of Palestine. The movement will seek cooperation with democratic movements in the region and will participate in the world-wide struggle for democracy, human rights and social justice. There is every reason to believe that a movement defining its constituencies in the above terms and aiming at establishing a true democracy in Palestine, will be victorious before too long.