Trump’s imperial declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel met with apathy on the part of Jerusalemites; we all know that Jerusalem has been thoroughly judaized over the past 50 years. The possibility of violence aside, for those who truly seek a just political settlement in Palestine/Israel (or as just as can be after 70 and more years of ethnic cleansing and occupation), Trump’s pronouncement made one strategic advance: it buried once and for all the two-state solution that has for years been dead and gone, but whose unburied body has prevented us from moving on.
With Jerusalem annexed to Israel 50 years ago, judaized and now recognized by the US as Israel’s capital, with some 800,000 settlers living in more than 200 Jewish-only towns and cities located in and fragmenting the Palestinian territory; with a massive infrastructure of “Jewish” highways, industrial parks and agricultural lands incorporating the West Bank irreversibly into Israel; with the Palestinians (soon to be the majority) confined to 70 tiny and impoverished islands on only 10% of their country; with the US Administration and Congress backing Israel unconditionally (and the rest of the world, including Europe, unwilling to sanction Israel for its massive violations of international law and human rights); only a fool would still argue that the two-state solution is still an option.
The way seems clear: to transform the single apartheid state Israel has created between the Mediterranean and the Jordan Valley into a democratic state of equal rights for all its citizens — exactly the demand we all had of South Africa. But just as the ANC led the South African struggle, we cannot move an inch without Palestinian leadership. Many are exhausted and simply struggling to survive, and even leading activists I know are paralyzed: they know the two-state is gone but don’t believe the one-state is possible. But while governments still support Israel, there has been a sea-change in public opinion towards the Palestinians the world over, including in the US where churches, large sectors of the Jewish community, other communities and even members of Congress are speaking out.
What is missing is an end-game. If our Palestinian partners, together with progressive Israelis, would advocate for a bi-national democratic state — what other option is there? — we would have the focus and leadership to build an effective movement. Without that, we can just watch idiots like Trump and more calculated but evil leaders like Netanyahu (and his sidekick Abu Mazan) do whatever they want because there is no effective push-back. Only by advocating for a joint program of our own can we become players in the political game, not just protestors, documenters or handers-out of humanitarian aid.
Its time to come together, Palestinians, Israelis and their international supporters, with a political program that is just, workable and do-able, if only we get back in the game. I’m part of a working group of Palestinians and Israelis engaged in just such a project. Send me a note (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d like to see our working paper and support — or at least follow — our endeavors. As you’ve heard me say many times: BDS 4 BDS. Boycotts, Divestment, Sanctions FOR a Bi-national Democratic State. The time has long since come.