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)