the Palestinian people deserve" (GUARDIAN)
TO: Distinguished Recipients
FM: John Whitbeck
Transmitted below is a significant article in today's GUARDIAN by Ahmad
Khalidi, a London-based member of one of Jerusalem's most ancient and
Like many other true friends of the Palestinian people, he has come to
recognize -- and has decided to go on the record as recognizing -- that
the "two-state solution" has degenerated into, in his words, "a punitive
construct devised by the Palestinians' worst historical enemies: Israel
and its implacable ally, the US". Like many other true friends of the
Palestinian people, he has come to recognize that the "two-state
solution" has become the weapon of choice of the true enemies of the
Palestinan people with which these enemies hope to definitively crush
and subdue the Palestinian people and destroy any hope of justice.
Those of us who are neither Israeli nor Palestinan and neither Jewish,
nor Muslim nor Arab yet have become passionately involved in the issue
of Palestine/Israel are highly likely to have become so involved out of
a deeply held concern about justice and injustice. Even during the years
between 1988 and 2000 when my "Two States, One Holy Land" framework for
peace was being published 40 times in assorted lengths and languages,
while I was traveling around the Middle East, Europe and America trying
to stimulate interest in my personal peace plan and while a decent
"two-state solution" still seemed possible (even if less so with each
passing year and each additional or expanded settlement), I recognized
that even my "utopian dream" was far from representing justice. I used
to refer to the objective of "peace with some measure of justice".
On reflection, even a decent "two-state solution" would have rewarded,
legitimized and perpetuated ethnic cleansing, racism and apartheid --
something that could scarcely fill the heart of anyone concerned with
justice with unalloyed satisfaction, let alone joy.
inconceivable. Formally advocating a "two-state solution" has become a
cynical form of sadism on the part of the enemies of the Palestinian
people, and chasing that ever-receding mirage has become an exercise in
masochism for the Palestinian people and their friends.
The time has come for all decent people to demand justice and to seek
it, peacefully, through democracy.
*Thanks, but no thanks*
*/Statehood does not offer the equitable and fair solution the
Palestinian people deserve/*
Ahmad Samih Khalidi
Thursday December 13, 2007
The Palestinian state has now become the universal standard for all
solutions to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The international
community applauds the concept. President Bush proudly proclaims it as
his "vision". The Israelis have come to it belatedly, after years of
steadfast refusal and rejection.
Today Israel's prime minister, Ehud Olmert, not only supports the idea
but proclaims it as an existential Israeli interest: without it, Israel
is fated to disappear under dire assault from the ever-expanding Arab
population in both Israel and the occupied territories. This apparent
human tide may yet bring disaster to the Jewish state, by demanding
equal civil rights to those of the Jews themselves.
But statehood as such is a relatively recent addition to Palestinian
aspirations. The main Palestinian impetus after the disaster of 1948 was
that of "return"; it was more about reversing the loss of Arab land and
patrimony, than the fulfilment of classical post-colonial
self-determination, via statehood.
Driven into national concussion by the catastrophic forced displacement
of 1948 and up until the mid-1960s, the sense of a separate
"Palestinian" national identity all but disappeared. This "lost
consciousness" was only reversed by the emergence of Fatah under Yasser
Arafat in the Arab diaspora in the late 1950s.
It was only after the 1967 debacle that a new Palestinian national
identity began to take shape. At its core was the notion of the armed
struggle as a galvanising force. Armed struggle, according to Fatah,
restored Palestinian dignity and gave the Palestinians a say in
determining their future.
Statehood and state building had no real place in this scheme. Indeed,
the first tentative proposals to establish a state in Palestine (ie the
West Bank) were rejected as defeatist and a betrayal of the national
cause. This was certainly not an exercise in institution building, land
acquisition and state building by stealth, as in the Zionist movement
before 1948. After the 1973 war, Fatah's leaders turned to the notion
again. This was largely the result of a realistic reading of the balance
of power and a recognition of the limits of what force, on the part of
the Arab states or Palestinian irregulars, was likely to achieve.
Eventually, in 1988, Arafat himself backed the idea of a Palestinian
state within the 1967 borders as a historic compromise; Israel behind
these borders would get 77% of Mandatory Palestine, and the Palestinians
would be reconciled to the remaining 23%.
*Today, the Palestinian state is largely a punitive construct devised by
the Palestinians' worst historical enemies: Israel and its implacable
ally, the US. The intention behind the state today is to constrain
Palestinian aspirations territorially, to force them to give up on their
moral rights, renege on their history and submit to Israel's diktats on
fundamental issues of sovereignty.*
Its core is the rump Palestinian Authority that is now fundamentally
sustained by the IDF presence on the West Bank. The PA is increasingly
being turned into an accoutrement of Israeli occupation; its function is
to serve Israeli security interests as designated by Israel itself and
the US military teams that have been overseeing the buildup of
Palestinian security forces.
It is very unclear how an independent state can be built on the spears
of the very force that is occupying it. Or how state institutions can be
constructed while the occupation continues to determine every aspect of
The notion of a state was an offshoot of the Palestinian struggle and
not its nodal point. Nonetheless, there was a period from the mid-1970s
onwards when the state could have represented the point where
Palestinian national aspirations met the boundaries of what is possible.
Now this concept is less attractive than ever. Olmert demands of
Palestinians that they must give up their history. President Bush
decides for them what their borders and rights must be. And Tony Blair
wags a finger and tells Palestinians that they won't get a state at all
unless, it meets his high standards (sic) of governance .
The temptation is to say, thanks, but no thanks. Under such
circumstances, Palestinians may just opt for something else. They could
evoke Olmert's worst nightmare and call for a more equitable and fair
resolution that is built on a different basis; one of mutual respect,
equality and mutuality, and a sense of genuine partnership in sharing
Or Palestinians could simply continue to say no to a state that does
nothing to address its basic needs. Either way, its hard to see how
Israel can win this struggle in the long term.
Ahmad Samih Khalidi is a senior associate member of St Antony's College,
Oxford firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>