ODS supporters hold study day in Ramallah

ODS supporters hold study day in Ramallah

Press Release

This press release was originally published on November 5, 2013, in Arabic and Hebrew.

The Popular Movement for One Democratic State on the Land of Historical Palestine” and “The Jaffa Group for One Democratic State” held joint study day on Saturday, November 2, 2013, to discuss the prospects of the “one democratic state” program and challenges in the way. More than a hundred activists from all over historic Palestine, from Haifa, Jaffa and the Galilee, Ramallah, Jerusalem and other villages and cities, gathered in the hall of the “Retno” hotel in Ramallah. The study day started at eleven and the discussions continued until five o’clock in the afternoon.

A delegation from the “Haifa Group”, which announced its formation in September 2013, joined and took active part. A representative of ODS supporters from Britain presented a brief report on the progress towards organizing support for this program in Europe.

The study day was guided by Mounir Al-Aboshi, Radi Jarai, Omar Assaf and Awni Mashni of the Popular Movement from Ramallah, in addition to Ofra Yeshua-Lyth and Khaled Jabarin of the Jaffa group and Muhannad Abu Ghosh and Yoav Bar of the Haifa group. Most of the time was devoted to listen to the views of the participants and to an open discussion about the objectives and ways of working of the new movement.

The organizers clarified at the opening that the ODS program aims at restoring all the usurped rights of the Palestinian people, first and foremost the right of return for all refugees. Confirming this goal refutes any intersection between our program, which is based on democracy and liberty, and the empty political balloons waved recently by some spokesmen of the Israeli right. The starting point and ultimate goal of the program of the Zionist Right and Left alike is to prevent the application of the right of return, solidify the results of the crime of ethnic cleansing and maintain the Jewish apartheid state.

The participants also stressed that ODS is the only program that provides the conditions for the application of the right of return and to fully get rid of the occupation and the racist apartheid regime. For this reason it is the only program that can be considered as a solution. In contrast, the continuation of the occupation and the re-division of the country could only lead to increased suffering and the continuation of the bloody conflict.

The organizers pointed to the symbolic significance of holding the study day on November 2, the anniversary of the “Balfour Declaration”. By this document Britain awarded legitimacy to Zionist colonization at the expense of the rights of the Palestinian people, in order to establish a foothold for Western imperialism in the Arab region and the Middle East in general.

After the opening there were two open discussion sessions. The first discussion was designated to concerns and challenges. Several participants spoke about the existing obstacles to converting the ODS program from a dream and a lofty goal into reality on the ground. Others stressed that this is a program for struggle that can be realized through our collective efforts. Raising this program helps us to unify anew the Palestinian people’s struggle in all geographies. In addition this program puts our conflict with the Zionist movement in the true perspective as a struggle against an occupation regime, opposing racist colonization that contradicts all the concepts of democracy and human rights. This way, working for ODS may contribute to isolate Israel internationally.

One of the main concerns expressed by the participants was of continuing the old power relations and the dominance of “white” immigrants (of European origin) over the resources and the economy, even in the framework of a single democratic state that will revoke privileges and forbid racial segregation on the legal level.

The experience of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and the abolition of this regime were mentioned as proof of the efficacy of this type of struggle. But South Africa was also mentioned as an example of political change and the establishment of a formal democratic system without paying attention to the need for a radical change in power relations in society and the economy.

The second dialogue session addressed the issue of converting ODS from a concept to a program of struggle. Many speakers stressed that ODS does not legitimize settlement, nor eliminates the daily struggle against the occupation in all its forms. It rather supplements these struggles by bringing together resistance to the settlements and the wall and all partial confrontations with the occupation as one political struggle directed by a comprehensive strategy.

Speakers proposed many practical suggestions for specific steps to defend the people’s rights, stemming from the urgent needs of the masses, while creating awareness and interest in the ODS program as a comprehensive solution that will ensure these rights.

The study day provided a distinguished opportunity for a meeting between activists from both sides of the Green Line as a step towards building a new type of movement for democratic struggle. This movement will unite freedom activists from the country’s residents and from the Palestinian refugees and supporters of rights, democracy, justice and equality regardless of religion or origin.

Some participants commented on the problematic labeling of our partnership: Should we speak about a partnership between Arabs and Jews while we know that Arabism is based on language and Judaism is religion? Some suggested talking about a partnership between Arabs and “Ivrim” (Hebrew Speakers)… Some spoke of “Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Jews”. But, most importantly, a true partnership is built through the joint struggle against oppression and colonialism in all its forms and through confidence that this is the best and fastest way to reach the common goal, the return of the Palestinian refugees and ensuring free and safe life and well-being for all.

The audience received with applause the news of the arrival of a letter of support on behalf of the International Committee of the Green Party of the United States. The representative of the party, Justine McCabe, reported in the letter about continuous increase in the number of Americans who are convinced that one democratic state is the only just and sustainable solution to the conflict in Palestine.

Study Day: One Democratic State – from Concept to Struggle

Study Day: One Democratic State – from Concept to Struggle

Invitation

The Popular Movement for One Democratic State in the Historic Land of Palestine

and “The Jaffa Group for One Democratic State

Call for a joint study day in Ramallah

Saturday, November 2, 2013, from 11:00 to 17:30

The movements assert that ODS is a strategic solution providing for the needs of the masses and the aspirations of the progressive and democratic forces in Palestine and around the world. They also state that the two-state solution is unable to put an end to the bloody conflict in occupied Palestine as it can’t provide for a fair solution for the right of return for Palestinian refugees and end the apartheid which is applied in all parts of the country. Nor does it provide a solution to the issues of Jerusalem, the borders, water and other contentious issues.

After intensive discussion about ODS at conferences and in the media, it is time to build a popular movement of struggle to unite all the country’s population and the Palestinian refugees for one goal and a common democratic future for all: to bring an end to the occupation and the regime based on displacement and racial discrimination and for return, freedom, democracy and equality.

The objectives of the study day

The main goal of this study day is to bring together activists who support ODS and those interested in the research and discussion of the possibility of the implementation of this program and turn it into a new axis to unite and develop the struggle against Israeli apartheid. For this reason most of the time will be dedicated to discussion between activists from both sides of the Green Line, Arabs and Jews, in which activists will exchange experiences and opinions and will build a common vision to continue the struggle and the building of one mass movement.

Agenda of the study day

11:00 arrival, reception

11:30 Opening Session – words of welcome

12:30 – 14:00 First discussion plenum – Concerns and Challenges

14:00 – 15:00 break, lunch

15:00 – 16:30 Second discussion plenum – The Struggle to reach our Goal and Building the Movement

16:45 – 17:15 Concluding Session – summarize the discussion

Please rush to register.

Translations to Arabic, Hebrew and English guaranteed as needed.

Travel will be organized from different regions.

Supporters of One Democratic State from both sides of the Green Line Meet in Ramallah

Supporters of One Democratic State from both sides of the Green Line Meet in Ramallah

Press Release

At the invitation of “The Popular Movement for One Democratic State on the Historic Land of Palestine” (which announced its launch on May 15, 2013), some 25 of the activists of the Jaffa Group for One Democratic State came to Ramallah on Saturday, July 13, to a joint meeting. It was the first meeting of this kind bringing together supporters of a comprehensive democratic solution to the Palestinian cause from both sides of the Green Line. Members of the constituent body of The Popular Movement hosted the meeting, while the visiting delegation included political and social activists, veterans and youth, artists, academics, Arab and Jewish opponents of Zionism.

After the participants introduced themselves, there was a short presentation of the objectives of The Popular Movement and the Jaffa Group. It was clear that they share the same goal: resisting the occupation, settlements, ethnic cleansing and racial discrimination; bringing an end to the Apartheid regime in all its forms and in all places where it is present; ensuring the right of return for all Palestinian refugees to their homes and property and the establishment of One Democratic State on the entire land of Palestine. This state will be based on the implementation of the universal values ​​of freedom, justice and human rights. It will be a civil state which rejects all forms of discrimination and guarantees full rights for all its citizens. It is worth mentioning that “The Popular Movement” and the “Jaffa Group” both embraced in their founding statements The Munich Declaration for One Democratic State as a common denominator for supporters of this solution.

The participants stressed that ODS is a strategic solution, providing for the needs of the masses and the aspirations of the progressive and democratic forces in Palestine and around the world. Promoting ODS is not a tactic to pressure Israel to comply with the two-state solution. All also stressed that the two-state solution is unable to put an end to the bloody conflict in occupied Palestine as it can’t provide for a fair solution for the right of return for Palestinian refugees and end the apartheid which is applied in all parts of the country, nor does it provide a solution to the issues of Jerusalem, the borders, water and other contentious issues.

Many of the participants took an active part in the dialogue, not as two sides but as partners in the same struggle for a common future. Many stressed that the program of ODS is a program for struggle. It aims first to unify the ranks of the Palestinian people by adhering to a comprehensive and just solution and then to create the ground for real unity in opposing Zionism, unity in the struggle toward a common goal among supporters of democracy between the Palestinian Arabs and the country’s Jewish population.

Some participants explained that the popular struggle for ODS develops through current urgent struggles such as that against the ongoing ethnic cleansing in Mount Hebron, the Jordan Valley and all over the Naqab (Negev). Some recounted their experiences as participants in the social protest movement that has swept the Jewish community since the summer of 2011 and confirmed that alliance with the Palestinians’ struggle for democracy and justice for all is the only way to get rid of the existing system of exploitation, discrimination and repression. Some also stressed that imperialism is interested in perpetuating the occupation, repression and constant state of war, as are local parties benefiting from this situation. Therefore, they emphasized, the solution will be achieved by the popular masses which suffer most and pay the most expensive price.

At the end of the meeting, which lasted for more than three hours, it was agreed to form a joint coordination committee to develop a plan of action and joint activities to promote ODS. It was agreed to continue with joint meetings and closer cooperation between the two movements.

The Popular Movement for One Democratic State on the Historic Land of Palestine

Jaffa Group for One Democratic State

Awad Abdel Fattah on ODS

Awad Abdel Fattah on ODS

On November 12, 2012, Nazareth based writer, Jonathan Cook, published a long interview in Mondoweiss with the secretary general of the National Democratic Alliance, Awad Abdel Fattah. While I recommend the reading the whole interview, I bring here some excerpts concerning Abdel Fattah’s support for the One Democratic State (ODS) as the goal of the Palestinian struggle, the political context in which this goal is raised and its implications. I omitted the questions, added sub-titles and tried to collect the most relevant sentences – but all the rest is Abdel Fattah’s words as they appear in the interview:

On the role of Palestinians inside the 48 territories

Our traditional strength derived from the fact that we, as a community, survived the ethnic cleansing of 1948 [the Nakba]. We remained in our homeland, even as it was transformed into a Jewish state.

But today, our strength derives from something different: we pose the biggest challenge to Israel’s claim to be a democracy.

We live in a complex relationship both to Israel and to the wider Palestinian people, and therefore historically we have tended to assume we should be led by the Palestinian national leadership rather than seek to have an active voice ourselves.

But changing political circumstances – the failures both of the Palestinian national leadership to remain united and clear-sighted and of Israel to engage in a meaningful peace process – make that an irresponsible position to maintain.

The struggle for real coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis requires not just brotherhood but confronting Israel’s colonialism and its institutional and law-sanctioned racism.

In my view, if we try to achieve equality without strengthening our national identity first, we risk losing both our civil and national rights.

But our vision must extend beyond the local, the parochial. Our fight for our national rights inside Israel also, of course, has a relevance to the larger Palestinian national movement. Given the current impotence of that movement, it is our duty to take a significant role. Some Palestinian intellectuals even suggest that, given our familiarity with Israeli society, we have the potential to become the most dynamic part both of the national movement and of the struggle for a truly democratic alternative.

Lessons from South Africa

Our demands must be based on the principle of equality and not on the basis of separation and partition. Ronnie Kasrils, a South African Jew who became a military leader in the ANC, told me he had warned the PLO at the time of the Oslo Accords to reject the idea of partition. He pointed out that the ANC had rejected the Bantustans, a very similar formula to Oslo.

When the PLO was established in the 1960s, it was an important and unifying organization that embodied the character of the Palestinian nation and ended fragmentation. But it was given a monopoly over resources and decision-making that corrupted the mainstream leadership. Its humiliating compromises aborted the Palestinians’ main objective: the establishment of a single secular, democratic state in Palestine.

We have lost the consistency and clarity of the strategic goal that directed the South African resistance: the abolition of racism and the achievement of full equality. The Palestinian elites, on the other hand, began by proposing a single state and ended by demanding a state on just 22% of Palestine and accepting Israel as a Jewish state. Recently, Mahmoud Abbas, the PA chairman, has again suggested he is ready to compromise on the right of return.

If you talk to former ANC leaders who have visited Israel and the occupied territories, they will tell you that, in fact, Israel is more dangerous and brutal than its South African counterpart. The Israeli regime originally sought to purge the land of its indigenous population precisely so that it could declare itself a democratic state and become part of the Western democratic family, which lent it every means of support. The expulsion of about 80 per cent of the Palestinian people from the 1948 borders Israel created was the first instance of racial segregation. One can therefore say that the Palestinians are at the same time the victims of Israel’s Jewishness and its democracy.

Those of us who talk about a one-state solution in the Israel-Palestine context are often dismissed as utopians. But the case of South Africa shows things can change fast and without warning.

While it is true that the Zionist colonialist regime has gained momentum on the ground since Oslo, it has also increasingly lost its legitimacy in the eyes of the world. Particularly important is the fact that many people are waking up to the idea that Israel is an apartheid state and that it deserves a resolution no different from what happened in South Africa. Racist regimes are illegitimate and cannot survive.

On the current struggle for ODS

The debate about one state is being revived by Palestinians, even among those who have yet to accept the idea. But one of the problems is that the PA is still using this discussion as a way to frighten Israelis. The demand for justice and equality should not be used as a scare tactic: in fact, we should be making the argument that one state would be good for Israelis too.

The overriding goal now is to reunite all the Palestinian people, wherever they are, under one project – to incorporate marginalized groups like the Palestinians in Israel and the refugees into one comprehensive struggle. It’s time to unite all groups and individuals who embrace the democratic option in a single movement.

As the (NDA) party’s secretary general, I have to take the initiative and push the debate towards the ANC’s approach. I have always been a believer in a single state as the most just and ethical solution to the conflict.

In the context of the two-state solution proposed by Oslo, collective rights became essential, as there could be no equality without these rights. This was reflected in the demand of the NDA for self-determination for the Palestinian minority in Israel through a cultural self-rule under our party’s slogan of a “state for all its citizens”.

Some of us in the party were skeptical from the start both about the Oslo process – I personally never gave up on one democratic state and so preferred not to run for the Knesset myself – and about it being possible to reform the Jewish state. We assumed it would never sanction such a challenge. But for those members, including myself, the goal of the struggle itself was to clarify these matters, forcing the state of Israel to reveal its true nature through its need to retaliate against our legitimate and democratic demands.

But now with the irrelevance of the two-state solution, we as Palestinians in Israel have to rethink our approach. We have to respond.

Our duty now is to take as our starting-point the universality of the struggle by Palestinians – in Israel, in the occupied territories, in exile – against Zionist colonialism. The correct response to our shared situation is a struggle for a one-state solution. This is based on an understanding that an end to Israel’s colonization of the occupied territories will not transform Israel into a normal state that can treat its non-Jewish citizens equally.

Think about the problems our party, the most innovative on this issue (ODS), has faced. As founders of the NDA, we resorted to allusion rather than to clarity on this point…

But the debate has started to gain momentum because the reality gets clearer every day. Those interested in the conflict can no longer ignore the fact that Israel’s so-called temporary occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has proved to be permanent.

The eruption of the second Intifada was an expression on a mass-scale of the frustration of Palestinians in the 1967 occupied territories with the Oslo process.

Also, Palestinians in Israel have hundreds of thousands of relatives living in exile as refugees. They have a profound stake in a just solution not only for themselves but also for the wider Palestinian people.

Israel’s racist practices, coupled with its two bloody wars against Lebanon and besieged Gaza in 2006 and 2008, have led many observers, academics and political activists around the world to redefine Israel as a colonialist-apartheid regime. Because all Palestinians, including those living in Israel, are subject to a unitary system of oppression, we need a unitary form of redress. Racism, apartheid and colonialism are illegitimate and therefore need to be dismantled.

The first challenge is to break the imbalance of forces created by the “peace process”, which has left deep flaws and distortions in the consciousness of many in the Palestinian elites. They came to be one of benefactors of the peace industry, and therefore had an investment in accepting the de facto division and fragmentation of the Palestinian people. Palestinians must rediscover the values of national liberation and the spirit of anti-colonial resistance that the national movement championed for decades.

It is worth noting that scores of Israeli anti-Zionist intellectuals have recently come up strongly in favor of one democratic state. Though they are on the margins of the margins of Israeli society, they add a vital moral dimension to the struggle for justice. They are integral to a united movement for a truly democratic solution, which ensures the emancipation of the Palestinians from this most dangerous form of colonialism. Israeli Jews will only be able to live in safety when they accept that they are part of the region and not of the West.

In case you know Arabic – you can read more on Abdel Fattah and ODS in حيفا الحرة.

(Posted by: Yoav Haifawi).

The Green Line is a dangerous illusion – but we should guard the Red Line!

The Green Line is a dangerous illusion – but we should guard the Red Line!

By: Yoav Haifawi

To bring change we have to begin with recognition of reality… With the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967, Israel united the land of Palestine under its occupation. What we confront is one ApartheidState from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Do we have to seek a return to the partition, which lasted from 1948 until 1967, or should we work for the reversal of the situation, the overthrow of apartheid and the establishment of one Palestine, free and democratic, on all the occupied land?

The “realists” tell us that Israel wouldn’t agree to the one-state solution. In reality Israel does not agree to any solution. Therefore, for any solution to be realistic we should be able to impose it. The realization of any solution depends on the building of a strong mass movement, which will implement it on the ground.

The development of illusions about re-partition of Palestine as a solution to the conflict is dangerous and delays progress towards any solution. This proposition pushes the right of return to the sidelines, promotes the division of the Palestinians in the homeland between “67” and “48”, legitimizes the occupation and the ethnic cleansing of 48, accepts the principle of a Jewish state, recognizes the occupation state of as an expression of “the right of self-determination for the Jews”, while it prevents true partnership in the struggle for liberation from the apartheid regime.

Sticking to the principle of the unity of the land of Palestine, and the rejection of the occupation and ethnic cleansing wherever it is, does not mean that we are facing the choice between either the liberation of the whole of Palestine at once or no liberation forever. Israel was forced to withdraw from the Gaza Strip under the pressure of the popular uprising and armed resistance – this is an achievement but it is not a solution.

Re-launching the project of liberation of all the land of Palestine, through the program of one democratic state, can re-formulate the methods of organization and the laws of confrontation and therefore requires profound study and full clarity.

One of the strengths in this solution is that while it refuses to waive the Palestinian right it simultaneously presents the best solution for splitting the Jewish population from Zionism and integrating them as citizens with equal rights in a democratic state. While it is impossible that Israel, as a racist institution, will accept this solution, our work among the Jewish public to promote this solution pulls the rug from under the feet of this institution.

This solution is the just and comprehensive solution and it includes everyone. We have to understand that it is not a solution for “us” – or for “the good people” – but it is a solution for all. It will be embraced by those who are looking for their rights because it ensures their rights. And it will be accepted by everybody else because there is no other option.

As we stand for the unity of the land and propose democratic solution, based on human rights to all people, there remains one red line about which there is no compromise and from which there is no retreat. It should be a solution to all the inhabitants of Palestine and all those who have a right in this country – and upholds the usurped rights before any others. The first to have the right to participate in the construction of free and democratic Palestine are the Palestinian refugees, the victims of Zionist ethnic cleansing. Any waiver on the right of return can be considered participation in the crime of ethnic cleansing, a crime against humanity with no statute of limitations, just as the right of return itself doesn’t expire with time.

We speak of a single democratic state in all of Palestine – and the return of all the refugees to all over the free homeland.

The Munich Declaration for One Democratic State (ODS) in Historic Palestine

The Munich Declaration for One Democratic State (ODS) in Historic Palestine

The Munich Declaration for One Democratic State (ODS) in Historic Palestine*

Munich, Germany- June 29-July 1, 2012

 One Democratic State (ODS) shall be established in the entire territory of historic Palestine between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River as one country that belongs to all its citizens including all those who currently live there and all those who were expelled over the past century and their descendants.

The country shall be an independent sovereign State in which all citizens enjoy equal rights and all can live in freedom and security.

ODS in Palestine will end ethnic cleansing, occupation and all forms of racial discrimination from which the Palestinian people suffered under Zionism/Israel.

The reunified Palestine shall be a democracy in which all of its adult citizens shall enjoy equal rights to vote, stand for office and contribute to the country’s governance. No State law, institution, practices or activities may discriminate among its citizens on the basis of background, color, gender, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

The State shall be based on separation between government and religion. It will not establish or accord special privilege to any religion; and shall provide for the free practice of all religions.

One of the primary objectives of the new state is to enable the Palestinian refugees to realize their right of return to all the places from where they were expelled, rebuild their personal life, and participate in creating the new state. Private property of Palestinian refugees shall be restored and restitution and compensation arranged. Restoring the rights of the Palestinians will be done while respecting the equal rights and protection of ALL citizens under the law.

Public land of the State shall belong to the nation as a whole and all of its citizens shall have equal access to its use. The natural and economic resources of the country shall benefit all of its citizens equally.

The State shall provide the conditions for free cultural expression by all of its citizens. It shall ensure that all languages, arts and culture can flourish and develop freely. All citizens shall have equal rights to use their own dress, languages and customs, and to express their cultural heritage free of insults or discrimination.

Citizens shall have equal access to employment at all levels and in all sectors of the society. Employment shall not be determined or restricted by language, race, religion, gender, or nationality. Education and vocational training shall not be segregated or specialized in any way that impedes equal access of all citizens to employment and other opportunities to fulfill their talents and dreams.

The State shall uphold international law and seek the peaceful resolution of conflicts through negotiation and collective security in accordance with the United Nations Charter. ODS will sign and ratify all international treaties on human rights and the people of a unified Palestine shall reject racism and promote anti-racism, social, cultural and political rights as set out in relevant United Nations covenants. The State shall seek and contribute to the establishment of a Middle East that will be free of all weapons of mass-destruction.

*A vision shared by all the current Declarations and Initiatives on the one democratic state option for the resolution of the Israel/Palestine conflict. The Munich Conference calls upon the supporters and activists of ODS to unite for the establishment of an International Movement for ODS in Historic Palestine.

Obama’s visit will not promote peace

Obama’s visit will not promote peace

Press Release

With the planned visit of the President of the United States, we do not turn to Obama – we do not expect him to change his policy. We turn to you, our sisters and brothers, inhabitants and refugees of this land, who are suffering from occupation, deportation and war, from racism and exploitation: Do not trust and do not expect anything from the dealers in occupation and war. We will bring peace, we, the victims of the regime and its opponents, in our struggle for justice and freedom, despite their malice.

For decades they propagate illusions about the “peace process” – a process of dialogue between the rulers of the region under US Hegemony – which only aims at crisis management by those who profit from the continued occupation and war. This process allows the world to turn a blind eye to the existence of an apartheid regime that prevents Palestinian refugees to returning to their homeland, denies the rights of Palestinian Arab inhabitants, and maintains political and ethnic segregation and racial discrimination.

While Netanyahu and Obama talk about renewing the “peace process”, the American weapons industry continues to arm at full speed various regimes while Netanyahu is preparing the next war. Attack on Iran? Israeli intervention in Syria? A killing spree in Gaza? Either way, the inhabitants and refugees of this country and the people of this region will pay the price with blood.

All the country’s inhabitants pay the price of occupation and oppression, wars and militarization, directly and indirectly. The struggle for a just and lasting peace begins with the struggle for equal rights for all: for the return of Palestinian refugees, for the removal of the occupation, the elimination of discrimination in all its forms, and for social rights and concern for each person.

We, the residents of this land who want to live in freedom and democracy with equal rights for all – in our unity and struggle we will destroy the apartheid regime, smash the walls of separation, bring peace, return the Palestinian refugees to their homeland and establish the new society.

Full and equal rights for all are the basis

of living together in one country

Peace can be achieved by popular struggle against the occupation and the rule of racism and exploitation

Yaffa Group for One Democratic State

Jaffa, March 17, 2013