The Qur’an: Sura 49:13

“O humankind! We created you from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know and honor each other (not that you should despise one another). Indeed the most honorable among you is the most righteous.”

The New Testament: Matthew 7:12

“So in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

The Torah: Leviticus 19:34

“The stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you and you shalt love him. He is like you, for you, as well, were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

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Call to Action ~


“A State of All Its Citizens” — one secular, democratic, multicultural, non-sectarian state throughout historic Palestine

While promoting the 2005 call by Palestinian civil society and the 2009 call by Kairos Palestine for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights, Common Ground for Justice and Peace in the Holy Land hosts Palestinians and Jewish Israelis to discuss why all Palestinians and the PLO, who recognized the “State of Israel” in 1988 and 1993, do not accept Israel’s 2014 demand to be recognized as an ethno-religious “Jewish state,” stipulated in the 2020 Trump plan (p. 4), and as Yousef Munnayer advises: “Neither should anyone else” — Why ‘Jewish state’ demand is a non-starter / Why Palestinians Can’t Recognize a ‘Jewish state’‘Jewish state’ recognition adds new Israeli-Palestinian trip wire.

Common Ground invites Palestine solidarity groups:
1) to endorse and defend the unanimous Palestinian rejection of Israel’s 2014/2020 demand to be recognized as an ethno-religious “Jewish state,” as the Arab League endorsed the Palestinian rejection in 2014 and as solidarity groups endorse the Palestinian call for BDS,
2) to discuss why achieving justice and lasting peace in Palestine/Israel calls for repeal of Israel’s “racist” 2018 Jewish Nation-State Law, as petitioned by Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset, and
3) to debate and promote the Palestinian-Jewish call to create one secular, democratic, multicultural, non-sectarian state or federation throughout historic Palestine with equal rights for all — “a state of all its citizens” — as proposed by Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset. 

Common Ground invites Palestine solidarity groups to endorse the One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC).

Intercultural/Interfaith Advocacy for One Democratic State ~

“To eliminate discrimination and change the power relations between Jews and Arabs toward real equality, it is necessary to give up on the ideology that produces inequality.” Umar al-Ghubari, Zochrot

In his “milestone” 2020 article I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State, Jewish American Peter Beinart concedes the opportunity for a two-state solution in Palestine/Israel is “extinguished,” and asserts: “The goal of equality (between Jews and Palestinians) is now more realistic than the goal of separation. The reason is that changing the status quo requires a vision powerful enough to create a mass movement. A fragmented Palestinian state under Israeli control does not offer that vision. Equality can. Increasingly, one equal state is not only the preference of young Palestinians. It is the preference of young Americans, too.”

In his 2016 article In the Jewish state, equality for Arabs is impossible by definition, Palestinian Israeli Umar al-Ghubari (Zochrot Staff) discusses obstacles to equality and charts a path to change the status quo: “Because of these deeply-rooted conceptions, which stem from the very definition of the state as the state of the Jewish people, there is no chance of achieving equality in the State of Israel…. This is not just about what people want, it is a question of whether it is even possible. The State of Israel, with its self-definition, its mission, the way it was established, its priorities, its symbols, name and national anthem, cannot — even if it wanted to — bring about equality between Jews and non-Jews. The state of the Jews is by necessity a racist state. It cannot be anything else. This is structured and rooted in its very definition. It was founded on Jewish privilege, supremacy and sovereignty, and many of its laws were legislated and many of its goals were formulated on the basis of giving preference to its Jewish citizens…. Equality in the state of the Jews is unattainable, and the struggle to achieve such equality is a futile one. Even if you will it, it will remain a dream. It’s an illusion…. To eliminate discrimination and change the power relations between Jews and Arabs toward real equality, it is necessary to give up on the ideology that produces inequality. Those who carry the banner of the struggle need to change direction and demand the establishment of a truly democratic political framework — one that will not give preference to one race over another. This will pave the way for a struggle that has a chance of implementing the principle of equality…. Equality without reservations, which eliminates the equation of rulers and ruled, occupiers and occupied, expellers and expelled. That is where the struggle has to go.”

In From Minneapolis to Palestine, racism is the common enemy (2020), Ahmed Abu Artema, co-organizer of Gaza’s Great March of Return, declares: “The killing of George Floyd, an African American man, lays bare the brutality and danger that stems from a deeply embedded culture of racism. The situation for Palestinians confronting the Zionist colonial project is no less challenging: Jewish supremacy and racial discrimination are entrenched in Israel’s constitutional law. Israel proclaims itself a Jewish state, which by definition means it is not a state for all its citizens. Even Palestinians with Israeli citizenship live under some 65 laws that are designed to discriminate against them and maintain Israeli-Jewish hegemony…. While the civil rights movement in the United States delegitimized formal discrimination – although systemic racism persists – Palestinians still suffer under a system of legalized racism, expulsion and confinement to ghettos…. Israeli law asserts the ‘right to exercise national self-determination’ in historic Palestine is ‘unique to the Jewish people.’ Indeed, what unites racists everywhere is the belief that they have superior characteristics to those of a different race or religion. This means the struggle against all forms of racial discrimination must be global.”

“The one-state solution is the only solution through which the Palestinian rights called for by the BDS movement can be achieved.” ~ Dr. Haider Eid, Professor of Postcolonial and Postmodern Literature at Al Aqsa University, Gaza

In The Palestinian struggle is not about independence — it is about liberation (2013), Dr. Haider Eid, Professor of Postcolonial and Postmodern Literature at Al Aqsa University in Gaza and Co-founder of the One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC), declares: “The two-state solution is a racist solution that calls for a ‘pure Jewish state’… based on ethno-religious identit(y). It does not take into account the rights of two-thirds of the Palestinian people. Neither does it take into consideration the national and cultural rights of 1.2 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, who live as second-if-not-third-class citizens of the state…. (T)he Palestinian struggle is not about independence — it is about liberation…. The one-state solution is the only solution through which the Palestinian rights called for by the BDS movement can be achieved. Moreover, it is a very generous compromise from the oppressed colonized to the settler colonialists, offering citizenship in a state with total equality, exactly like what happened in South Africa, where white settlers were offered the same generous compromise by the indigenous population.”

In his 2018 article Israel has finally come out as an ethno-religious state, Dr. Eid considers the enactment of Israel’s Jewish Nation State Law, and advises: “The only thing left for Palestinians to do is fight for one state espousing democracy and secularism.”

Interviewed in 2020, Professor Ilan Pappe declared: “What we need now is a democratic state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean. The whole of historical Palestine needs and deserves a regime which is democratic, and where equality is the basis for the future.”

In Palestinians have indeed missed an “opportunity” — to surrender to Zionism (2020), Professor Joseph Massad of Columbia University states: “Trump’s ‘deal of the century’… (requires) Palestinians to surrender all their rights to the Zionist Jewish colonization of their homeland, end their resistance once and for all, and grant legitimacy to the Zionist theft of their country. The recently released Trump plan does not mince words at all on this: ‘Palestinian leaders must embrace peace by recognizing Israel as the Jewish state, rejecting terrorism in all its forms.’ …That Israel demands that the Palestinians recognize its right to oppress them by granting Israel legitimacy is a fact that the Palestinians understand well, but have always rejected…. Trump’s ‘Vision…’ is simply the latest version of this colonial and racist demand.”

“I will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state…. I am speaking for 11 million Palestinians.” ~ Saeb Erekat, Palestinian Chief Negotiator

In a 2016 Head to Head interview, Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat declared: “I will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state…. No force on earth will make me change my narrative…. I am speaking for 11 million Palestinians.”

In a 2013 lecture, tweeted in 2019 by Jewish Voice for Peace, Omar Barghouti, Co-founder of the BDS Movement, declared: “A Jewish state in Palestine in any shape or form cannot but contravene the basic rights of the land’s indigenous Palestinian population and perpetuate a system of racial discrimination that ought to be opposed categorically. As we would oppose a Muslim state or a Christian state, or any kind of exclusionary state, definitely, most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian — rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian — would ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine. Accepting modern-day Jewish Israelis as equal citizens and equal partners in building and developing a new society free from all colonial subjugation and discrimination, as called for in the democratic state model, is the most magnanimous, rational offer an oppressed indigenous population can offer to their oppressors. So don’t ask for more.”

In a 2017 television interview, Miko Peled, Israeli peace activist and author of The General’s Son, offered a critique of Zionism and declared: “I don’t see the need for a Jewish state because the Jewish state is precisely the problem. You can’t have a Jewish state in Palestine without infringing on the rights of the indigenous people, which are the Palestinians.”

In Miko Peled sets the record straight on Palestine’s dispossession (2012), Susan Abulhawa writes: “The General’s Son… is a narrative of the author’s transformation from an ardent Zionist, born into a revered military Israeli family, to a human rights activist and advocate of a single binational state…. It is inspiring and enlightening to read the unfolding of one man’s path to liberate himself from racist ideologies, to disavow the privilege accorded to him because it comes at the expense of those who do not belong to his religion…. He dismantled a lifetime of racist assumptions and replaced them with something more human and tender…. (In) a conversation he had with his brother-in-law, who apparently still maintains that Israel should remain a Jewish state, Miko clearly disagreed and said: ‘But you know as well as I that we are all settlers, and all of Israel is occupied Palestine.’ (He)… was setting the record straight and acknowledging that Palestinians are native sons and daughters who have been cruelly dispossessed of home, history, heritage and story. What mattered was the acknowledgement. Uttering the truth, no matter how painful, is what I needed to hear. Because it was in that admission that Miko Peled became a man I could embrace as a brother and fellow countryman.”

In “Enough Fearmongering: Only One Democratic State is Possible in Palestine and Israel” (2017), Palestinian-American Ramzy Baroud advocates: “It is time to… focus all energies to foster co-existence based on equality and justice for all. Indeed, there can be one state between the river and the sea, and that is a democratic state for all of its people, regardless of their ethnicity or religious beliefs.”

In his 2017 Ha’aretz interview “Two State Solution is Over,” Top Palestinian Diplomat Says After Trump’s Jerusalem Speech, Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat declared: “President Trump has delivered a message to the Palestinian people: the two-state solution is over. Now is the time to transform the struggle for one-state with equal rights for everyone living in historic Palestine, from the river to the sea.”

In Now is the time for one-staters to unite and build a movement (2018), Awad Abdelfattah, former Secretary-General of the Balad Party and co-founder of the One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC), appealed to Palestinians, Israeli Jews and internationals: “Trump’s Jerusalem declaration gives those who believe in one democratic state across Israel-Palestine a golden opportunity… to promote a vision of peace that could save future generations from endless bloodshed.”

In Whether Israel Annexes the West Bank, or not, a two-state solution is no longer viable (2020), Ahmed Moor writes: “The vision for a single, liberal, democratic state in Palestine-Israel is a positive one. It is the only possible outcome given initial conditions, but it is also the most desirable outcome. Simply, it accords with a modern understanding of what a liberal state can be.” And Ghada Karmi promotes these same “liberal, democratic” values in her 2020 article Only one way out: A unitary state with equal rights in Palestine-Israel.

“A Jewish state by definition privileges Jews and cannot be democratic.” ~ Rabbi Brian Walt, JVP Rabbinical Council

In Moment of Truth for Liberal Zionism (2012), Rabbi Brant Rosen of JVP Rabbinical Council admonished American Jews that Israel cannot be both a “democratic” and a “Jewish” state, therefore U.S. Jews must “choose” between the two: “Once we accept that a division into two states is no longer realistically possible, the calculus is sobering, to put it mildly: We will be forced to choose between a patently undemocratic apartheid Jewish state, in which a minority rules over a majority or a civil democracy in which all citizens have equal rights under the law. For many liberal Zionists, this unbearably painful decision will represent a profound moment of truth. If forced to choose, which will it be? A Jewish state that parcels out its citizens’ rights according to their ethnicity – or a democratic state in which equal rights are enjoyed by all its citizens?… Perhaps it’s time to stop talking about mythic ‘windows of opportunity’ and open a new discussion: what will it take for us to admit that it is finally closed? And what will our options be then?”

In Coronavirus exposes Israel’s political secret (apartheid) (2020), Philip Weiss states: “Israel’s friends have been telling us for years that one day Israel will face the choice whether to be a democracy or an apartheid state. Corona exposes a choice made long ago, there is a system of apartheid in place right now, one state containing two communities mingled but separated by legal/racial status distinctions. It’s time for Americans, and liberal Israelis too, to acknowledge this and take appropriate action. Maybe something good will come of this.”

In Affirming a Judaism and Jewish identity without Zionism (2012), Rabbi Brian Walt of JVP Rabbinical Council declared: “I finally had to admit to myself what I had known for a long time but was too scared to acknowledge: political Zionism, at its core, is a discriminatory ethno-nationalism that privileges the rights of Jews over non-Jews. As such political Zionism violates everything I believe about Judaism. While there was desperate need in the 1940′s to provide a safe haven for Jews, and this need won over most of the Jewish world and the Western world to support the Zionist movement, the Holocaust can in in no way justify or excuse the systemic racism that was and remains an integral part of Zionism…. As a Jew I believe in the inherent dignity of every human being. As a Jew I believe that justice is the core commandment of our tradition. As a Jew I believe that we are commanded to be advocates for the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized. Zionism and the daily reality in Israel violated each of these core values. And, I could no longer be a Zionist…. I came to understand that the democratic Jewish state is an illusion. There is no democratic Jewish state nor will there ever be. Israel will either be a Jewish state or a democratic state. A Jewish state by definition privileges Jews and cannot be democratic. Israel is a democratic state for Jews and a Jewish state for Arabs. It is true that Palestinians who live within Israel have the franchise but they do not have equal rights in many different ways, nor could they ever be full and equal citizens of a Jewish state.”

“Once the initial acknowledgment of the other as an equal is made, I believe the way forward becomes not only possible but also attractive.” ~ Professor Edward Said

In his 1999 New York Times Magazine article The One-State Solution, Edward Said advised: “I see no other way than to begin now to speak about sharing the land that has thrust us together, sharing it in a truly democratic way, with equal rights for each citizen…. This does not mean a diminishing of Jewish life as Jewish life or a surrendering of Palestinian Arab aspirations and political existence. On the contrary, it means self-determination for both peoples. But it does mean being willing to… finally give up special status for one people at the expense of the other…. Once the initial acknowledgment of the other as an equal is made, I believe the way forward becomes not only possible but also attractive…. The (key) is to develop… the idea and practice of citizenship, not of ethnic or racial community, as the main vehicle for coexistence. In a modern state, all its members are citizens by virtue of their presence and the sharing of rights and responsibilities. Citizenship therefore entitles an Israeli Jew and a Palestinian Arab to the same privileges and resources… (and entitles)… each group (to)… the same right to self-determination; that is, the right to practice communal life in its own (Jewish or Palestinian) way.”

In Jewish Nation State Law Sets Legal Parameters for Complete Takeover of Historic Palestine (2018), Nadia Ben-Youssef offers a silver lining of hope: “Codifying the myth of human hierarchy is deadly – when states elevate one group of people as more valuable, others are dehumanized and their very lives are threatened. At the same time… when the root of the problem is understood, so too is the solution. The alternative to this colonial, supremacist present is a decolonized future of equal rights for all. While settler-colonialism is a zero-sum game, decolonization is not. Supremacy insists that only one group of people deserve freedom; equality means we all do.”

“A new future together” ~ The Popular Movement for One Democratic State on Historic Palestine

Common Ground‘s mission to invite solidarity endorsement of the unanimous Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a “Jewish state” and host Palestinians and Jewish Israelis petitioning repeal of Israel’s 2018 Nation-State law and promoting the creation of one secular democratic state throughout historic Palestine with equal rights for all, is based on recognition of our common humanity, our equality and interdependence, and on:

  • the teaching of Judaism that all human beings are made in the image of God,
  • the teaching of Islam that no one is a believer until one desires for ones neighbor that which one desires for oneself,
  • and the Christian baptismal vow to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.

Common Ground endorses the mission of the One State Foundation “to increase popular debate among Palestinians and Israelis (and Americans) on a one state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict” and the declaration of The Popular Movement for One Democratic State on Historic Palestine: “We reject the Zionist claim that Jewish people can seize Palestine while depriving Palestinians of their right to live freely and with equal rights in their ancestral homeland. But we reject just as strongly the equally racist idea that Israeli Jews and Palestinians cannot share a non-ethnic democratic state in Palestine peacefully and find a new future together in a unified country. We believe and affirm that the only just, viable and stable solution to the conflict is a non-ethnic unified democratic state in all the territory now controlled by Israel.”

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Appendix: 

The Two State Solution Is Dead. Supporting It Is Supporting Occupation, by Yousef Munayyer

Two-State Hypocrisy, by Mohamed Mohamed

The two-state solution is dead. Let us take the obvious and humane path forward, by Mike Gravel, former US Senator

As Jews, we reject the myth that it’s anti-semitic to call Israel racist, by Rebecca Vilkomerson and Richard Kuper

Why Israel’s Schools Merit a U.S. Boycott, by Saree Makdisi

Pay Attention to Nonviolence, TED Talk by Julia Bacha

Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment, by Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh

Calling Bono: Your Palestinian Gandhis Exist…in Graves and Prisons, by Alison Weir

Photo Montage 01

////, Exec. Dir. of Common Ground, Grassroots International Solidarity Program Officer for the Middle East and Co-founder of the Gaza program Let the Children Play and Heal, and Dr. Jeff Halper, Co-founder of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, introduced by Rains Rouner, Co-founder of Common Ground, discuss the need for a political "end-game" to build one democratic, culturally binational state in Palestine/Israel, First Baptist Church, JP, MA, March 2016 -- (photos by Pat Westwater-Jong)
[LINK]

Photo Montage 2

Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, human rights activist, author of Sharing The Land of Canaan and Popular Resistance in Palestine, Professor of Biology at Bethlehem University and Founder of the Palestine Museum of Natural History, Rains Rouner, Co-Founder of Common Ground, Rev. Ashlee Wiest-Laird, Pastor of First Baptist Church, and Boston-area activists, First Baptist Church, Jamaica Plain, MA, October 2015 -- (photos by Pat Westwater-Jong)
[LINK]

Rabbi Walt

One year after the '08/'09 Israeli invasion of Gaza -- Operation Cast Lead -- An Interfaith Response: Not by Might, Nor By Power But By My Spirit..." Zechariah 4:6, St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral, Boston, MA, December 2009 -- (photo by Pat Westwater-Jong)

International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist Caoimhe Butterly negotiates with Israeli soldiers to allow a Palestinian ambulance to travel through an IDF checkpoint to the hospital in Jenin, West Bank, 2002 -- (photo by Rains Rouner)

American-Israeli Rabbi Arik Ascherman, President and Senior Rabbi of Rabbis for Human Rights (left), appeals to IDF soldiers and Ariel settlement police to "uphold the law" and protect Palestinian farmers attacked by Israelis from Kfar Tapuach hilltop settlement (background), West Bank, 2002 -- (photo by Rains Rouner)

"I will never forget our conversation," ~ Rida Said (foreground) referring to his talk with Oded, an Israeli activist from Rabbis for Human Rights, while they were picking olives in Rida's family grove, Jama'in, West Bank, 2002: Read about Palestinian-Israeli "co-resistance" to Israeli occupation and settler violence and how "olive grove conversations" can help build understanding, respect and friendship between Palestinians and Israelis... (photo by Rains Rouner)

Palestinian children in Beit Fajjar, West Bank greet the Christian American peace group In His Steps: Pathways of Peace, 2008 -- (photo by Branwen Cook)

"The Jewish father's loss is as great as my own" -- Omar Abu Nassi, Jenin refugee camp, West Bank, 2002, whose son was killed by Israeli police after his son, without his father's knowledge, killed an Israeli in an act of rage against the Israeli occupation after Israeli soldiers shot and killed his best friend while the two boys were walking together to school. Inspired by Omar's universal empathy and compassion, Israeli interfaith aid from RHR, Islamic Relief, Caritas and the Church of the Latin Patriarch was delivered to Jenin camp in November 2002. -- (photo by Rains Rouner)