Statehood? We have to build it ourselves.

Obama claims to believe that talking is the appropriate way to resolve this conflict, but as Hanan Ashrawi clearly argues in this interview, “talks must have a relationship to reality.”

To me, this bid is not about forcing the U.S. to veto or undermining the U.S. diplomatically; rather, it is an attempt to express agency. Whether that expression is intended to be symbolic or actual (re: international law) doesn’t change the fact that another “mainstream,” viable alternative doesn’t really exist.  As Maen Areikat, the PLO representative in D.C. noted in an interview with CNN this week, “We don’t want negotiations for the sake of negotiations.” He and Ms. Ashrawi are right, I think. With an estimated 550,000 settlers in the West Bank who will not leave, what sort of two state solution exists?

Instead of continuing to draw more lines in disputed sands

(lines that will not result in greater agency for the Palestinian people– how can they when priority is continuously placed on the security of the Israeli state over Palestinian autonomy?) 

why not actually talk? Isn’t it finally time for the mainstream to realize that more borders mean more conflict? Isn’t it time to tear down the mental, emotional, religious, strategic, political, and physical walls that perpetuate this conflict, and start to build one nation dedicated to, at a minimum, toleration?

Let’s talk about moving past centuries of claims to land, and start talking about reclaiming the future of the region in terms of a unity rooted in mutual respect, and mutual dedication to genuine coexistence. Let’s stop talking about where people can build or marry or raise a family or run a business or receive an education or worship, and talk instead about building a genuine democratic state in what is currently known as Israel/Palestine- one person, one vote.  It can be done.

Some may express concerns that in advocating a one-state solution, I deny Israel its Jewish character. I do not intend a malicious position toward the Jewish diaspora, but the status quo is untenable and unsustainable. I look to history (with influence from Saree Makdisi) to justify my position: there has never been a successful nation-state that had expressed exclusive homogeneity on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religion. In the modern era, (as was so eloquently stated on literature in support of the protest movement in Sheik Jarrah) “Democracy cannot co-exist with ethnic privilege.”

Further, in a letter published in the Toledo Blade on July 25, 1990, Maryse Mikhail wrote,

“Political opposition to Israeli policies is a legitimate and democratic activity that should not be equated with anti-Semitism. Sympathy for the terrorized Palestinians does not foment anti-Semitism; it helps bring about justice and peace.”

Maryse Mikhail was my Teta, and today marks what would have been her 80th birthday. I write this in memory of her, hoping to do justice to her legacy of promoting respect, tolerance, justice, and peace for all. I miss her every day.

Respectfully, praying for Salaam, Shalom, Peace.

2 thoughts on “Statehood? We have to build it ourselves.

  1. This was a nice post but I think it’s a bit too starry-eyed. Too many hardliners on both sides would never let a two-state let alone a one-state solution happen. You have Palestinian clerics rejecting the UN bid because it implicitly recognizes Israel’s existence as well as Kahanists who advocate invading all of Palestine. The two sides distrust each other so much that forming a bi-lateral state at this point seems impossible.

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