Letter to Israeli left: Choose one state, not apartheid

The solution to this conflict will not be the separation of both people into two different states, but rather, it is living together and coexisting with equal rights that will bring an end to this conflict.

By Jalal Abukhater

Over the last few years, I’ve seen increasing numbers of Israelis joining the struggle with Palestinians, who face Israeli occupation every day. I’m writing this to ask them: how do you define “Coexistence”?

Time passes quickly and decades have gone by since the two-state solution was openly put on the table. Palestinians have wasted their time negotiating, given up much of what was once their right, and have lost far more than they have gained in negotiations with the Israeli state in recent decades. At this point, I don’t believe any kind of two-state solution is realistic to even think about. The two-state solution simply means a Jewish-only state, with a Palestinian semi-state next to it filled with illegal settlements and a wall that basically takes away natural resources and strategic lands from the Palestinians, and no Palestinian governance over East Jerusalem.

I was never for the two-state solution, for a number of reasons. First, as a Palestinian, I consider a two-state solution to be a dream that is far from reality. There is no way Israel (at present) will give East Jerusalem back to the Palestinians. The wall and settlements all across the West Bank have already designated the borders of the Palestinian state, and even the West Bank is barely under Palestinian control.

Finally, I am not for the two-state solution, because those who yearn for it reject the Right of Return for Palestinians. The two-state solution rejects the Palestinians right to claim back their stolen property, rejects their right to live in their hometowns in Jaffa, Haifa, Safed, Tiberias and other places.

Most recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now refuses to even consider going back to the 1967 borders. That’s not entirely new, but it does seem that Israel is openly rejecting a Palestinian state as its official policy.

Yet some Israelis and Palestinians are still seeking a two-state solution.

I often criticize the few Israelis (those of the Zionist left) who come to the West Bank to support Palestinians struggling for their state – a state which is supposed to co-exist alongside Israel, but which will be a poor, unarmed state of Palestine alongside Israel, a nuclear-armed state with the power of mass destruction. Those Israelis who seek the two-state solution have forgotten who owned the house they live in, who owned the property their mall is built on, who owned the land of Palestine which is today referred to as Israel.

Historic Palestine is a land that welcomes all faiths, all people. Israel seeks to become a Jewish-only state. Even Barack Obama has begun referring to Israel as a Jewish state in his last Middle East speech. A Jewish state, I believe, will have as its agenda the expulsion of those few 1948 Arabs who are left, from their homes and into refugee camps in a tiny Palestinian state, or neighboring countries.

I refuse Zionism; I refuse to even discuss this struggle with a Zionist. That’s because Zionism for me is another word to describe the complete ethnic cleansing of Arabs from the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, to replace them with Jews from all over the world who I believe don’t even belong to this land.

We Palestinians lost our lands in 1948, we lost more lands in 1967, and we are currently losing whatever is left of Palestine today. The only way to not lose it all is to not give up anymore. At this point, I will accept living in one state joining Jews and Arabs together, with equal rights where, of course, the Right of Return can be applied to Palestinians, just as it has been implemented for six decades for Jews.

I respect every Israeli who is ready to have me or any other Arab as his neighbor in an apartment in Tel-Aviv. I am ready to respect every Israeli who feels we are all equal and we all deserve the same equal rights in life.

The solution to this conflict will not be the separation of both people into two different states, but rather, it is living together and coexisting with equal rights that will bring an end to this conflict. I am extremely inspired by the South African experience, where the people succeeded in using non-violence to gain equal rights for all citizens whatever their race or ethnicity. Just as their apartheid system has fallen, the Israeli apartheid system can and will fall. We will live in one democratic secular state, democracy will prevail, the people will speak, and their voice will be heard.

We Palestinians are no different – no one deserves to be treated differently than any other person because of his religion or ethnic origin. We are all Semites after all; we can and should all be citizens, we should live together and we should not separated by walls or borders.

I ask you, how do you define “Coexistence”? Do you accept me as your neighbor? Are we different?

Jalal Abukhater is a 16-year old resident of East Jerusalem. He is a high school senior at a school in Ramallah. You can follow him on twitter @JalalAK_jojo