20 November 2007

One single secular democratic state


The idea of a single state in Palestine/Israel has apparently been around for decades, but I never considered it as a viable solution to the conflict.

Perhaps it was personal bias- grown up on the idea that the conflict is religious, only religious and nothing else, I always had the idea that the only solution will come from God when he finally decides to strip the oppressors and occupiers and return the area to the rightful owners- the Muslims.

And then more recently, it was perhaps due to my having the opportunity to visit Palestine and witness firsthand the oppression of the Israeli occupation. The treatment of human beings in such an evil way just left me with the thought that no solution, short of driving either of the two peoples totally out of the area (or even into the sea!), was going to ever be possible.

However, the idea of one single secular democratic state seems a bit more plausible to me now. This, after attending a conference held in London on 17 & 18 Nov 2007. Challenging the Boundaries (the conference at SOAS) brought together academics and activists from Palestine, Israel and all over the world to discuss the idea in public, for the first time in London.

The idea is apparently gaining more currency, with the failure of previous political processes to address the conflict's underlying tensions. An alternative to the exclusivist ideologies- that are probably going to perpetuate suffering in the region- is desperately needed – and is on offer from disparate groups in Israel, Palestine and the rest of the world.

Given the current situation, I am ready to engage and promote this discussion. What are your thoughts?

As Allister Sparks (I think..) says, “… if I, as a white South African can live in a secular, non-racial state with a black majority and feel perfectly secure in my own identity, can you not do the same in Israel?”

speakers at the conference:
-Nur Masalha, University of Surrey
-Ghada Karmi, University of Exeter, Author of In Search of Fatima: A Palestinian Story (2002) and Married to another Man: Israel’s Dilemma in Palestine (2007)
-Ilan Pappé, University of Exeter, Author of The Modern Middle East (2005) and The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006)
-Joseph Massad, Columbia University, Author of The Persistence of the Palestinian Question: Essays on Zionism an the Palestinians (2006) and Desiring Arabs (2007)
-Ali Abunimah, Co-founder of Electronic Intifada, Author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (2006)
-Louise Bethlehem, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Co-editor of South Africa in the Global Imaginary (2005) and Violence and Non-Violence in Africa (2007)
-Northern Ireland: power sharing in a divided society
Kathleen O’Connell, Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign
-Sumantra Bose, London School of Economics, Author of Kashmir: The Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace (2003) and Contested Lands: Israel-Palestine, Kashmir, Bosnia, Cyprus and Sri Lanka (2007)

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

palestine does not belong to us- who are we to give it away!

ZK said...

hmmm
the conflict in Palestine/Israel has always been about land...
people would say that the british caused it with the Balfour decleration... but if you look back the romans took the land from the people and so on and so on and so the conflict keeps going...
If we in South Africa can 'work' with a one state solution and other countries why can the people of 'that' land not?
(you can see i put certain word in apostrophes as its debatable)
A one state solution would be the right course to go because not every Jew is evil and not every Muslim is a terrorist and how can we forget the Christians... it is also very much their land.
my arguments above may seem short sighted and brief but i can' seem to get it all down right now :)
(work hollars)
bottom line we are told to live with people and treat them better then you would your family...the prophet (s.a.w.) was able to do this during his time why can't we try it now?

Almira said...

Im not sure if the problem will ever go away, its sad that people cant just grow up and work together. Some people are soooooo far stuck in the past that they cant see the oppourtunity for a better future.

Almira said...

By the way I was wondering do you know Bilal if Cevirs has a new blog?

Bilal said...

@zp:
Interesting thoughts and I agree- it most definitely seems like the best, if not only, solution to the situation right now!

@almira:
True- and that’s why I think this is the way forward now. The conference here in London was attended by both Palestinians and Israelis, and if this is the solution that they are pushing together, perhaps it should be supported.

p.s Not sure where Cevris now blogs..

Anonymous said...

Secular or non-secular is not the main issue in my point of view. If the rest of the world would leave the Middle East alone, then I do believe we would find a solution. As for comparing to South Africa, I only think SA was poissible because the rest of the world agreed upon it. There are too many countries wanting to have their deal in Palestine, and they will not leave it a rest. That is the curse of the Middle East. It is in the US interest that the conflict goes on, therefore it will not end. Especially since the Arabs are so divided and not working together, even worse than the israelis towards the Palestinians.
Suzan

Bilal said...

@Suzan:
I agree with you, as much as I hope to see change for the better, the reality is very different. Like right now with this Annapolis circus going on as well- what is the point!
But I like to hope that perhaps the good people on both sides will be able to rise above this and succeed. I hope..

On the point of South Africa- it’s far from a success. The struggle has not ended there, it’s just changed from one of race to one of class- and its confusing and complicated coz the divisions are so unclear and murky. Most of us can’t even figure out with ‘side’ we are on…

ZK said...

o man you called me zp lol
o well i have to agree with Almira and suzan.
South Africa still has a long way to go and the upcoming ANC elections will play a big part in this...
Time will tell for both the Middle East and South Africa