One Democratic State: A real possibility
Although the power balance in Palestine is currently not in favor of a democratic solution, with no major faction or party on either side pursuing it, the situation is bound to change.
On the Palestinian side, a shift from the current approaches to an ODS approach is required. The obvious failure of the two-state proposal, as well as the failure of the Palestinian leadership in many respects (including rampant corruption and subjection to foreign powers) are pushing a growing number of Palestinians to return to the traditional Palestinian call for the establishment of one democratic state from the river to the sea. The potential is there, and requires the establishment (or, rather, the reestablishment) of organized Palestinian movements holding this political vision.
Things are more complicated on the Israeli side, as the existence of the Israeli state and society are the consequence and objective of Zionism, of which ODS is the fundamental antithesis. We cannot expect Zionism to shift to democracy, nor are we awaiting such a thing: Democracy’s prevailing entails the defeat of racist, colonial movements such as Zionism. Although the current power balance is, as mentioned, in Zionism’s favor, three main factors can tip it to democracy’s side:
The first is sustained Palestinian resistance, armed and unarmed, which can lay bare Zionism’s claim to provide a “land without a people” as a “safe haven” for colonizers.
The second is international pressure due to pro-Palestinian efforts and Israel’s further slide into fascism — dubbed “Israel’s greatest threat” by the Institute for National Security Studies.
The third is Zionism’s inner contradictions. As an ideology and movement that politicizes identity, Zionism fragments, not only the societies it targets, but also those it originates from and creates:
- By viewing and treating other states’ Jewish citizens as part of the Israeli state and society rather than their own, Zionism estranges or further estranges them from their own states and societies — Hence the overlap between Zionism and antisemitism.
- By enforcing the “Israeli identity” as the sole Jewish identity, Zionism is the source of infighting and disillusionment within Jewish communities themselves, for instance by devaluating non-Israeli Jewish culture (e.g., the abandonment of Yiddish in favor of just Hebrew) or diverting funds away from the communities that raised them, to Israel. This is a major factor in the dwindling support of Israel among non-Israeli Jews.
- Political movements or apparatuses who chose to politicize identity face the burden of having to define it. Israel has recognized Nazis as “Jewish” and welcomed them to Palestine while questioning the Judaity of and denying citizenship to people who actually identify as Jews. Current official Israeli stances actually refuse to recognize as “Jewish” people who believe in the Torah if they believe in the Gospel as well, while agreeing to recognize as “Jewish” people who do not believe in the Torah at all. Current proposed redefinitions of “who is a Jew” threaten to “cut Israel off from 70% of world Jewry”.
- Identity being a social construct, and identitarian groups therefore not being actual interest groups (such as, say, industrialists, farmers, students, low-income families, etc.), an identitarian segmentation of society does not align with its citizens’ or interest groups’ actual interests. This leads to political narratives, discourses, programs and policies that are out of touch with society’s actual needs, focusing instead on difference from the “other”. In Israel’s case, this is made obvious by the huge socio-economic gap between Israelis themselves as well as by the shift even further to the right. These are causing an outflux of Israeli funds and citizens from Palestine which has prompted the Bank of Israel chief to warn that “an economic crisis could break out within a moment”.
- Identity is, by definition, what makes us different from others. Politicizing it does not end with the original politicized identities, and rather leads to the creation of sub-identities, further fragmenting society by fragmenting the original identitarian group itself, perhaps violently. This is particularly true when dominance and/or homogeneity is achieved by a particular identitarian group, its initial identity thus no longer setting it apart enough to warrant its continuation. This has caused growing inter-Israeli tension between religious and atheist, theocratic and secular, homosexuals and homophobes, Russian and Ukrainian, Ashkenazi and Mizrahim, European and African, and others. In the words of Benny Gantz, Israeli civil war is now a possibility Israel has to reckon with.
The chances of Zionism crumbling in our lifetime are high. However, this does not mean that the establishment of a democratic state is guaranteed. Zionism’s demise could lead to chaos, a spiral of racist or sectarian violence, or the establishment of an authoritarian Arab or Islamic state. Hence the need for all to rally not only “against” Zionism but also “with” a clear political objective: The establishment of One Democratic State, from the river to the sea.
The purpose of the One Democratic State Initiative is to mobilize individuals, entities and political parties, in Palestine and abroad, behind such an endeavor. We call on you to sign up as a supporter of the One Democratic State solution and to take part in the efforts to make it a reality.
Sign up to express your support of the One Democratic State solution.
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