What are we to make of it?
A flurry of astonishment greeted the discovery that the US Republican Party’s National Committee (the RNC) had unanimously adopted a “One State” position.
The softish-Zionist J-Street immediately tweeted that the RNC resolution “confirms [that] the decades long bipartisan consensus on a two-state solution is shattered”.
It was no surprise that the resolution, from South Carolina, spelled out the Christian Zionist belief in Israel’s literally “God-given” right to all “its own lands”. But what raised eyebrows was that, on God’s word, no less, it resolved that “peace can only be afforded … under one law for all people“. *
And could this one day become US foreign policy?
Now, the big difference between the Greater Israel annexation project — which, with 720,000 settlers embedded, is now all ready and waiting to go — and the universalist, democratic single state, lies in those six words: “under one law for all people“.
By including both annexation and democracy, the RNC resolution has unwittingly tied these opposite ends together. And quoting, as it does, Biblical authority, maybe makes it a bit tricky to retreat back to the current apartheid dual law of Israel (with 40-plus laws that discriminate against Palestinians, most crucially over entry to the country and citizenship rights), of the Occupation (under military dictatorship), and of the annexed residents of East Jerusalem (whose mayor makes up the law as he goes along in pursuit of ethnic cleansing).
Pretty soon everyone woke up and found that the real political world was still there. The resolution had indeed been passed unanimously by the Republican Party’s governing body, but it was quickly announced that it “does not bind the party or represent its position. The only thing that matters is what’s in our platform”, a spokesman said. And that, wrote one commentator pointedly, is for two states and is “negotiated with some care”.
Nonetheless, the incident is still of interest and raises several important questions
♦ While RNC policy would not affect a Republican White House, State Department or Congress, it can certainly be heard and heeded by opinion-formers, individual politicians, caucuses, media and the funders who pour billions of dollars directly into the settlements and into support for their co-thinkers in Israel’s establishment.
♦ The knowledge that annexation (certainly without “one law”) might get an easier ride in Washington could tip the balance on a decision in Israel as to when, or whether, to go for it. And if they do, they would want the continuing support of America’s 30 million Christian Zionists to minimise US, UN, and international reactions to such a move.
♦ If the Christian Zionists were indeed to stick with “one law”, that could confuse and divide their stance on any coming civil rights struggles in Palestine. Such a division could also resonate among some of the settlers themselves, and with Israel’s wider population and its international supporters and outriders.
♦ We are now in limbo between recognition that one state is what has happened on the ground, and its continued denial in the name of the Two States solution. This denial stands in the way of the paramount question which should be not “one state or two?” but “what sort of single state?”
♦ The answer to that will not lie in conference resolutions but on the ground, in the struggle of Palestinians and their supporters for “One Law”. The sooner this is begun, and linked up with Israel’s domestic Social Justice movement, the clearer it will be, and the stronger it will be, so as to withstand the increased repression, violence and confusion that will come in the wake of formal annexation.
♦ Continuing down the blind alley of a phony, impossible Palestinian independence and repeating the lying mantra of “two states side by side” only confuses, weakens and delays the necessary way forward: the demand for full citizenship for all, equal dignity, equal voting and human rights under one law.
♦ Polls show that both among Israelis and Palestinians (of unspecified location) a majority would like to see two separate states, and the same majority believe it to be impossible. That would normally qualify it for the term “denial”. Even the J-Street tweet above says the RNC resolution “confirms” that the Two State consensus is shattered: you can hardly “confirm” what you don’t already know, deep-down, however much you still deny it.
♦ The National Republican Committee has endorsed the slogan and vision of the colonisers, and also (however unwittingly) the slogan and vision of justice and democracy. The colonisers will pick up and run with those parts they’ve been gifted. So should we run with the democracy slogan: even the words as they stand are good.
♦ Annexation would create an international outcry and place Israel’s current apartheid practices under the searchlight. Israel’s answer might be some palliative pseudo-democratic, staged, conditional arrangements with tempting inducements for the old Palestinian leadership.
♦ The best defence against this would be a committed movement that stands firm for the full principles of internationally recognised democratic rights, with no delays, stages or road-maps.
♦ None of this is to say that annexation is right, or legal or good. It would be vicious, thieving and bloody. But it would unleash a much clearer and more productive struggle than we have yet seen, and which has a greater chance of winning its goal. It would remove all the fig-leaves and smoke-and-mirrors of the Oslo era, leave Israel completely exposed, and make sense of a clear-cut struggle for basic, elementary rights. And if it had a battle-song to the tune of “We Shall Overcome”, some Americans might wonder what side of the line they should be on.
Let’s break the consensus on our terms
If we are getting so excited about a US Republican Party resolution, what’s stopping us from using a resolution of our own to rally around?
Mazin Qumsiyeh, who combines thinking, activism and leadership, reflects on a conference in Jericho last weekend, where (echoing a famous leader-philosopher who wrote that after the philosophers had interpreted the world, it was now time to change it) he says that the problem is no longer interpretation of the obvious, but its implementation.
“Everyone talks about creating an alternative political faction to the existing ones, dismantling the Palestinian Authority and returning to the liberation struggle, and/or changing the self-destructive direction of two-states to the winning strategy of one-state advocacy. People are finally ready for these. The question remains: who will do it? It definitely will not come from any of the existing ageing leaders who like the limelight and who enjoy the status quo while TALKING (!) about a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. … . My suggestion is for the youth to call a meeting, not to study the problem or speak of different solutions, but to implement the known real agenda of change. The paradigm of one state for all its people is generally advocated by most Palestinians and it demands changing concepts of ethno- or religio-centric nation-state to concepts of equal citizenship and application of all human rights…”
This medicine, he says, might be bitter at first. It needs to come from a new generation that can take up the struggle for basic, elementary human rights, and against the racist ideologies that lie at the heart of the Palestinian tragedy.
They could aim to buck the international consensus by getting organisations at all levels to support, in response to the de facto annexation of Palestine, the one, single, simple demand for one law for all.
* The resolution states that “along with the grant of said lands to the Jewish people, God provided for the non-Jewish residents of the land in commanding that governance must be in one law for all without drawing distinction between Jewish and non-Jewish citizens, as contained in Leviticus 24:22″
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