Israel-Palestine: Jewish-Arab unity in fightback

Submitted by AWL on 1 June, 2021 - 2:24 Author: Martin Thomas
Standing Together protest

Since the 21 May ceasefire, hundreds of Palestinians in Israel have been arrested on charges to do with protests and conflict inside Israel.

There were some attacks during the 6-21 May war on synagogues and such — and a great many attacks by Jewish chauvinists on Palestinian shops and Palestinians. Few of the Jewish chauvinists have been arrested.

The run-up to the rockets and bombing was a rise in street protests by Palestinian citizens of Israel and residents of East Jerusalem, with Jewish allies, against planned evictions, especially in the Sheikh Jarrah district of East Jerusalem; and the bombing of Gaza generated new joint Jewish-Arab street protests inside Israel.

The police are out to quell that new mobilisation. But it continues: the Jewish-Arab social movement Standing Together was on the streets on 30 May over Sheikh Jarrah.

Protests across the West Bank are likely on 4 June.

On 26 May Israel’s Supreme Court instructed the government Attorney-General to make his submission within two weeks on an appeal against planned evictions by three Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah.

Although East Jerusalem’s Arab majority has increased since the early 1990s, Jewish-chauvinist groups are intent on increasing Jewish settlement there as an obstacle to East Jerusalem becoming the capital of a Palestinian state in a two-states settlement. The other obstacle, which has developed continuously, is Jewish settlements set up around East Jerusalem to cut it off from the West Bank.

How long the Israel-Hamas ceasefire will hold, we don’t know. It has resolved no basic issues. A coalition government may be able to oust Israel’s long-time right-wing prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. But the first coalition candidate for prime minister, Naftali Bennett, says to waverers: “It will be more right-wing than the current government”.

The right to self-determination for both nations, Israeli-Jewish and Palestinian-Arab, “two states”, is not the end of the story, but it is an indispensable step.

Standing Together organiser Alon-Lee Green has commented on Twitter: “It’s increasingly common for supporters of the Palestinian cause to demand Israelis ‘return to Europe’. Let’s be clear: none of us, Jews or Palestinians, is going anywhere. This is our home. The only way to fight for freedom for all is Jews and Palestinians, side by side,together.”

Besides the simple “expel Jews”, another variant has been to demand removing Israel, but to say individual Jews (who were mostly born there, and whose families mostly came as refugees, including from Arab states) can stay because the replacement will be a secular and democratic state in all of British Mandate Palestine.

Who could make that single state? Jewish and Arab workers cannot unite without mutual recognition of rights. If the single state is to be won through conquest by Iran or its allies, it will not be democratic. And if a single state were somehow to emerge as democratic, then... it would recognise both nations’ right to self-determination, to make it “two states”.

A “reformist” variant of “one state” was advocated by theEconomist magazine of 29 May: the USA should continue to give up on “two states”, but should nudge the Israeli government instead for better individual welfare for Palestinians.

US leverage with Israel is less than it was. US aid to Israel is now about 0.8% of Israel’s GDP. After 1967 it was higher, and in the 1970s and 80s sometimes 10 to 20%.

Even small improvements in individual welfare are good (and in fact even the Netanyahu government has been pushed by increasing Palestinian assertiveness to spend more on education). But nudges like that will not bring peace. Peace requires equal rights for both peoples, mutual recognition which allows cooperation side by side.

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