Call to Action ~

Recognizing that all human beings are created equal, we consider Israel’s policies of discrimination against non-Jews in ’48 Israel, hafrada, apartheid, occupation of Palestinians in the West Bank and military siege of Gaza to be a violation of our shared moral values.

We support the 2005 call by Palestinian civil society and 2009 call by Kairos Palestine for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel and companies that profit from the Israeli occupation until Israel ends its occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, lifts its siege of Gaza, upholds full equality for Palestinians in Israel, upholds the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees as recognized in UN General Assembly Resolution 194, and complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.

Common Ground hosts Palestinians and Jewish Israelis to discuss solidarity strategies to overcome Israel’s “regime of Jewish supremacy” and “apartheid” — acknowledged by B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the UN Human Rights Council and Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic — dismantle “settler-colonialism” and uphold “freedom, justice and equality” for all in Palestine/Israel, and to:

 

Political Frameworks for One Democratic State in Palestine/Israel ~

Toward a One Secular Democratic State End-Game   

Common Ground shares the view of Israeli peace activist Dr. Jeff Halper, Co-founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and the One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC), expressed in his 2013 article What Comes Next: Towards a bi-national end-game in Palestine/Israel: “In our struggle for a just peace in Palestine/Israel, we find ourselves at a precarious crossroads. It is clear that the two-state solution is dead and gone, the victim of deliberate Israeli policies of settlement, territorial confiscation and Israel’s refusal to relinquish control over Palestinians’ lives. Yet the Palestinians, whose lead we must follow, have only just begun formulating alternatives, mainly around the notion of a single democratic state. Finding ourselves locked in a political struggle with no end-game for which to advocate is dangerous and self-defeating; it only invites other forces to step into the breach and impose their own agendas.”

Dr. Halper observes that while the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) is an essential strategic and tactical tool in the struggle for Palestinian equal rights — the three goals of BDS outline the demands of equality — nevertheless, neither the Boycott National Committee (BNC), the Palestinian Authority nor any other group has proposed a political framework for implementing equal rights to be voted on and approved by Palestinians and Israeli Jews, therefore BDS alone cannot provide a solution to the conflict. “BDS is a valuable tactic for keeping the issue alive,” Halper states, “but it cannot replace an end-game and an effective strategy for achieving it.” (Towards An End-Game In Palestine/Israel While Imagining The Future)

In 2020, 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), expressed the same concern: “I personally have been involved in BDS since its inception and wholeheartedly support it. I am also, however, one who is concerned about public attention being limited to the immediate demands of the (BDS) campaign at the cost of developing a coherent plan for Palestine’s political future…. (A)s the campaign limits itself to ensuring the rights of Palestinians are respected, it is lacking a vision for the political reality within which such rights will be extended…. I am of the view that opting for silence on important political questions about Palestine’s future is the wrong tactic. Focusing on the end of occupation, rights for Palestinians in Israel and the right of return has to be put within a political programme that endorses a one-state solution.”

Acknowledging the need for “an end-game and an effective strategy for achieving it” asserted by Dr. Halper, and “a political programme that endorses a one-state solution” asserted by Dr. Eid, Common Ground hosts Palestinians and Jewish Israelis to discuss why Palestinians reject Israel’s demand to be recognized as an ethno-religious “Jewish state” and why solidarity groups should endorse the Palestinian rejection, and should advocate and debate the Palestinian-Israeli Jewish call to create one secular democratic state with equal rights for all throughout historic Palestine. Palestinians and Israeli Jews must decide what political framework will bring lasting peace, and Israelis “must follow” the “lead” of Palestinians, as Dr. Halper acknowledges, yet if “the notion of a single democratic state” is to gain viability, the international community has a key role to play in inviting debate on the merits of this framework, as advocated by the Movement for One Democratic State/Principles of Activism:

This Movement does not replace existing groups or organizations or diminish the role played by activist individuals. It supports such groups and individuals to debate and adopt the Declaration of ODS as an integral part of their mission and to unite behind this vision…. Palestinian-Arabs… Israeli-Jews… and (international) groups need separate debates about one democratic state as well as mixed (debates). Each group has different perspectives, fears, hopes and concerns regarding a democratic state solution, so sometimes separate conversations are needed…. Consensus only among the Palestinians, or only among Israeli Jewish communities, will not enable progress toward one democratic state. All must agree that one democratic state is the best hope for a stable peace in order for all to be confident about its prospects and allow its peaceful creation. Allowing internal and mixed discussions will help thrash out these issues…. Many people who are neither Palestinians, Israelis, Muslims, Jews nor Arabs are affected by this conflict, care about the conflict, and want to be part of the solution…. Just as the Movement bases its mission on universal values, it should be universally inclusive. Anyone is welcome to join, be active, and take leading roles in the Movement as long as they sign the Declaration and respect its principles.”

To encourage Israeli and American Jewish support for one secular democratic state in Palestine/Israel, Common Ground recognizes the potential compatibility of “cultural” — not “political” — Zionism and Palestinian self-determination, as discussed by Dr. Leila Farsakh, Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts/Boston, in her 2007 article Time for a bi-national state. Dr. Farsakh writes:

“The idea of a single, bi-national state is not new. Its appeal lies in its attempt to provide an equitable and inclusive solution to the struggle of two peoples for the same piece of land. It was first suggested in the 1920s by the Zionist left-wing intellectuals led by Martin Buber, Judah Magnes and Haim Kalvarisky…. Underlying their Zionism was a quest for a Jewish renaissance, both cultural and spiritual, with a determination to avoid injustice in its achievement. It was essential to found a new nation, although not necessarily a separate Jewish state and certainly not at the expense of the existing population. Magnes argued that the Jewish people did not ‘need a Jewish state to maintain its very existence’…. In 1969… Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement (called) for the creation of a ‘secular and democratic state’ in Palestine. The new state was based on the right of return — while accepting a Jewish presence in Palestine — and it was to end the injustices stemming from the creation of Israel and the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinian villagers. Although it called for the destruction of Israel as a colonial entity, it upheld the principle of a single state for all, Muslim, Christian or Jew.”

Upholding the 1960s and ’70s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) call for a “secular and democratic state” throughout historic Palestine, Awad Abdelfattah, Co-founder of the One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC) and former Secretary-General of the Balad party, which calls for Israel to become a “state of all its citizens,” declared in 2020</