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Two Peoples, One State

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    Dear Friends, Todays New York Times ran an op-ed by Palestinian lawyer Michael Tarazi calling for equal rights for Palestinians. Those who advocate a
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 4 5:30 PM
      Dear Friends,

      Todays New York Times ran an op-ed by Palestinian lawyer Michael
      Tarazi calling for equal rights for Palestinians.

      Those who advocate a "Jewish-only" state are certain to protest in
      large numbers. If you support equal rights for Palestinians, the
      Times needs to hear from you. Letters to the editor should be 200
      words or less and sent to letters@....



      October 4, 2004
      Two Peoples, One State

      Israel's untenable policy in the Middle East was more obvious than
      usual last week, as the Israeli Army made repeated incursions into
      Gaza, killing dozens of Palestinians in the deadliest attacks in
      more than two years, even as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reiterated
      his plans to withdraw from the territory. Israel's overall strategy
      toward the Palestinians is ultimately self-defeating: it wants
      Palestinian land but not the Palestinians who live on that land.

      As Christians and Muslims, the millions of Palestinians under
      occupation are not welcome in the Jewish state. Many Palestinians
      are now convinced that Israeli support for a Palestinian state is
      motivated not by a hope for reconciliation, but by a desire to
      segregate non-Jews while taking as much of their land and resources
      as possible. They are increasingly questioning the most commonly
      accepted solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict - "two states
      living side by side in peace and security," in the words of
      President Bush - and are being forced to consider a one-state

      To Palestinians, the strategy behind Israel's two-state solution is
      clear. More than 400,000 Israelis live illegally in more than 150
      colonies, many of which are atop Palestinian water sources. Mr.
      Sharon is prepared to evacuate settlers from Gaza - but only in
      exchange for expanding settlements in the West Bank. And Israel is
      building a barrier wall not on its land but rather inside occupied
      Palestinian territory. The wall's route maximizes the amount of
      Palestinian farmland and water on one side and the number of
      Palestinians on the other.

      Yet while Israelis try to allay a demographic threat, they are
      creating a democratic threat. After years of negotiations, coupled
      with incessant building of settlements and now the construction of
      the wall, Palestinians finally understand that Israel is
      offering "independence" on a reservation stripped of water and
      arable soil, economically dependent on Israel and even lacking the
      right to self-defense.

      As a result, many Palestinians are contemplating whether the quest
      for equal statehood should now be superseded by a struggle for equal
      citizenship. In other words, a one-state solution in which citizens
      of all faiths and ethnicities live together as equals. Recent polls
      indicate that a quarter of Palestinians favor the secular one-state
      solution - a surprisingly high number given that it is not
      officially advocated by any senior Palestinian leader.

      Support for one state is hardly a radical idea; it is simply the
      recognition of the uncomfortable reality that Israel and the
      occupied Palestinian territories already function as a single state.
      They share the same aquifers, the same highway network, the same
      electricity grid and the same international borders. There are no
      road signs reading "Welcome to Occupied Territory" when one drives
      into East Jerusalem. Some government maps of Israel do not delineate
      Israel's 1967 pre-occupation border. Settlers in the occupied West
      Bank (including East Jerusalem) are interspersed among Palestinian
      towns and now constitute nearly a fifth of the population. In the
      words of one Palestinian farmer, you can't unscramble an egg.

      But in this de facto state, 3.5 million Palestinian Christians and
      Muslims are denied the same political and civil rights as Jews.
      These Palestinians must drive on separate roads, in cars bearing
      distinctive license plates, and only to and from designated
      Palestinian areas. It is illegal for a Palestinian to drive a car
      with an Israeli license plate. These Palestinians, as non-Jews,
      neither qualify for Israeli citizenship nor have the right to vote
      in Israeli elections.

      In South Africa, such an allocation of rights and privileges based
      on ethnic or religious affiliation was called apartheid. In Israel,
      it is called the Middle East's only democracy.

      Most Israelis recoil at the thought of giving Palestinians equal
      rights, understandably fearing that a possible Palestinian majority
      will treat Jews the way Jews have treated Palestinians. They fear
      the destruction of the never-defined "Jewish state." The one-state
      solution, however, neither destroys the Jewish character of the Holy
      Land nor negates the Jewish historical and religious attachment
      (although it would destroy the superior status of Jews in that
      state). Rather, it affirms that the Holy Land has an equal Christian
      and Muslim character.

      For those who believe in equality, this is a good thing. In theory,
      Zionism is the movement of Jewish national liberation. In practice,
      it has been a movement of Jewish supremacy. It is this domination of
      one ethnic or religious group over another that must be defeated
      before we can meaningfully speak of a new era of peace; neither Jews
      nor Muslims nor Christians have a unique claim on this sacred land.

      The struggle for Palestinian equality will not be easy. Power is
      never voluntarily shared by those who wield it. Palestinians will
      have to capture the world's imagination, organize the international
      community and refuse to be seduced into negotiating for their

      But the struggle against South African apartheid proves the battle
      can be won. The only question is how long it will take, and how much
      all sides will have to suffer, before Israeli Jews can view
      Palestinian Christians and Muslims not as demographic threats but as
      fellow citizens.

      Michael Tarazi is a legal adviser to the Palestine Liberation

      If Americans Knew



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