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On the Struggle, Gimmicks and "Solutions"

Monday 15 September 2008, by Michel Warshavski

Prognosticating over a One-State or Two-State Solution....we must not help to distract from the reality of the current political struggle, and escape to discussions that have no relevance to this struggle. The situation of the Israeli movement against the occupation is not good, to say the least. To a great extent this reflects the situation of the Palestinian national movement and its struggle against the Israeli occupation and settlement in the West Bank. In light of the ebb in protest activities, the small number of demonstrations and their tiny size, two dangers await us. One is to invent gimmicks as a replacement for struggle. These gimmicks bring short-term media attention, primarily for individuals. On its own a gimmick is not a bad thing, if it promotes the strengthening of a movement or an awakening of activism; if, however, it is only a replacement for building a movement, then it is better to not even have it. Without a movement there is no long-term activity, and before us we face a very long struggle.

A movement does not necessarily mean one framework: the coalitions against the occupation, the War against Lebanon and Walls, which combined tens of relatively small movements and organizations, represented a type of movement, in which each framework preserves its own specific agenda, while simultaneously working with others to organize a campaign, either one-off or long-term. This is the best framework at our disposal in Israel today, and it succeeded in organizing several thousand demonstrators in joint actions against the war against Lebanon and the occupation. Too few, without a doubt, but this is what we have. By the way, it would have been possible to substantially increase the number of participants if we had left more room and influence for the political parties and organizations of the Palestinian population in Israel. In other words, they could have been the leading force and leader of our struggles.

The second danger lurking is an escape from a political struggle, and in its place, to focus on the argument over solutions, as if the selection of this solution or another would hasten…the solution. How much energy do activists, primarily abroad, focus on the topic of “one state or two states”? Last year I received more invitations to speak on the topic of one state/two states than on the colonial situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). On principle, I refuse these invitations even though I was one of the first to raise, in the mid-1970’s, the topic of a bi-national solution. We must not help to distract from the reality of the current political struggle, and escape to discussions that have no relevance to this struggle.

If the establishment of an independent state in the territories occupied in June 1967 is no longer relevant, then we must admit that this is an historical failure of the Palestinian movement and its allies, and not the success of those advocating for a one state solution. In other words, we did not succeed in attaining the limited goal of ending the 1967 occupation, and the Palestinian national movement must thus design a new longer term strategy at the end of which, perhaps, will be a solution based not on separation. If we failed in the struggle to end the occupation in our time, we must not think that we will necessarily succeed in establishing a democratic, i.e. non-Zionist, state, common to both peoples.

The raising of the discussion of one state is first and foremost an internalization of the defeat, and it is good to be aware of this.

Moreover, has anyone asked the Palestinians—the Palestinian People and not a small group of activists and philosophers—if today, they are willing to share their future with Israelis? And perhaps they wish to share it with their brothers in Jordan, who represent a majority of the population there?

The central struggle, instead, should focus on how to shorten the suffering of the Palestinian people in the OPT, Israel and abroad, how to develop an effective strategy of struggle, how to expand our experience in Bilin and Nilin, how to end the siege of Gaza—these are the questions that must occupy us today, and not how this place will look when lambs and wolves lie together.

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