26 August 2019
ODS in Palestine Ltd. itself has not been active during the last year, but its members have, attending conferences, writing letters and articles, and attending public protests. One member will again be present in Lebanon in September commemorating the Sabra & Shatila massacres of 1982 and visiting refugees - an annual week-long event co-organised by Kassem Aina, head of Beit Atfal Assumoud and strong ODS supporter, and the Italian group Il Comitato Per non dimenticare Sabra e Chatila.
Istanbul saw two large Palestine conferences, the first being Tawasol3 in late November, known as the Palestine Media Forum, reports on which are here in MEMO and here in Millet News. As an attendee I can say how refreshing such conferences are which take place outside of Western Europe and North America, escaping the narrow narrative which traps the Palestine issue within a discussion of 'the Occupation' (wrongly meaning West Bank & Gaza Strip only), the Oslo framework, and anti-Semitism (which, as a basically Western phenomenon, is simply irrelevant), and which treats the majority of Palestinians who are in exile/refugees as an afterthought if at all. A female artist working with grains and colored powder produced in a 10-minute performance a large, astounding horizontal artwork depicting the Palestinian struggle - reminiscent of the work of Ismail Shammout.
The second meeting was held in late April at Istanbul Zaim University, organised by Dr. Sami A. Al-Arian of the
Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), speakers including Ramzy Baroud, Ilan Pappe, Samar Dahmash-Jarrah, Zwelivelile "Mandla" Mandela (South African MP), Rawan Damen, John
Quigley, Hani Masri, Frank Barat, Rabab Abdulhadi and Salman Abu Sitta.
Miko Peled, one of the clearest advocates for ODS, was the featured speaker, again at Istanbul Zaim University's CIGA, in late May, as reported on by journalist and ODS supporter Yousef Aljamal.
A group of us - most of whom support ODS - failed in our attempt to put Palestinians on the radar of the international academic community dealing with citizenship, namely by applying to make a special issue of the journal Citizenship Studies. The August 2018 Jewish Nation-State Basic Law, the history of Palestinian citizenship from Ottoman times til now, and recent calls for equal rights at least for the Palestinians now resident between the river and the sea would have been the focus of most of the articles. Without claiming that our submission was academically stratospheric, the rejection had at least a bit to do with Western subliminal pro-Zionism - as evidenced by the incredibly poor remarks of one of the rejecting reviewers. The citizenship situation of the world's 12-13 million Palestinians continues to elude the narrow parameters of this fully 'academised' and somewhat esoteric branch of academia, which simply does not have the conceptual tools to deal with the absence of Palestinians from Palestine.
And of course there was the third Palestine Expo in London with an amazing array of speakers and other events, attended by many of our members.
6 December 2018
Dr. Chris Burns-Cox died on 29 June aged 80, survived by his wife Pat. He was a medical doctor and co-founder of the charity Give a Kidney who made yearly trips to Gaza to conduct examinations for medicine students. He was a member of ODS in Palestine Ltd, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the British Committee for Universities of Palestine. What a terrible loss. He will be remembered. Goodbye, Chris.
5 July 2018
Since March ODS groups and groups supporting right of return and thus implicitly ODS have been very active. For instance the UK Palestine Solidarity Campaign in May in London held a conference on Right of Return; the Popular Conference of Palestinians Abroad in June in Istanbul held its second General Assembly. The group that has formed within Israel has been present on Facebook and in Mondoweiss. See First Thursdays for details.
9-11 December 2017
16-19 March 2018
The Popular Movement for ODS, established in May 2013 and most of whose roughly 50 members are Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, held a Board meeting in Istanbul in December 2017 and a General Meeting in Ramallah in March 2018. The Board of this Swiss Association expanded to 14 people and now includes Radi Jarai (Chairman), Blake Alcott (Vice-Chairman, also Director of ODS in Palestine Ltd), Imad Saed and Eddie Thompson (Co-Treasurers), Munir Aboushi, Sabine Blum, Mohammad Khalid Faqeeh, Mousa I. Faroun, Ghada Karmi, Mohsen Al-Khatib, Ramzi Nasir, and Sameer M. Sbaihat.
Hopefully fruitful contact was made in Ramallah with the newly launched One State Foundation, an organisation registered in Holland with members in many countries including in the 1948-occupied territories. Another group made up almost exclusively of Israel citizens - both Jewish and Palestinian - has been meeting under the informal leadership of Jeff Halper in Haifa and at Exeter University; it remains to be seen whether its vision is of a single re-united Palestine based on individual rights only, or also on the collective rights of Palestinians and Israeli Jews. Neither group explicitly adopts the Munich Declaration, as do both the Popular Movement for ODS and ODS in Palestine Ltd.
Our Awda Key (Key of Return) sculpture finds a place in front of (at the right front corner of the building) St Mary's Cathedral, Palmerston Place, West End, Edinburgh. Thanks to Dr. Colin Cooper and his friends in Palestine solidarity in Scotland. Here on google street view.
15-23 September 2017
Two ODS England members were in Lebanon educating themselves on the Palestinian refugee situation and history there as well as commemorating the ethnic slaughter of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila camps by Israelis and Phalangists 35 years ago. We were guided by local Palestinians, mainly by the incomparable Kassem Aina of Beit Atfal Assumoud, visited a half dozen camps, and found all of the Palestinians in Lebanon we spoke with to unequivocally support for ODS. Their support for Right of Return is undiminished after these 69 years. Hats off to the Italian organisation 'Not To Forget Sabra and Shatila Committee', which for the last 23 years has shone light on this aspect of Israeli genocide through these annual commemorations, always attracting 40-50 people from other countries. See also this report.
13-16 January 2017
The Popular Movement for One Democratic State on the Land of Historic Palestine, during 2016 registered officially as a Swiss Association at the Handelsregisteramt Zürich, held its first General Assembly in Istanbul. 3 Board members were prevented from leaving Gaza and one could not get a Turkish visa, but 9 members met - from Palestine, Egypt, Turkey, Switzerland, Spain and the UK (including 3 members of ODS England). Several issues of ideology were debated and resolved. The nuts and bolts of organisation were lined up. The Board was expanded to now include 15 people. Membership is now above 30. At this stage anyone supporting the Munich Declaration may join; at a later stage some way will be found to distinguish between future citizens of the one state and international supporters who are neither Palestinians nor Jewish Israelis. If you would like to join please leave a message on the Contact page of ODS England.
Reports from ODS activists in Haifa and Ramallah indicate that at various meetings instead of having to bring up ODS themselves, other participants broach the subject and are curious to know more or even join a movement.
The U.S. Green Party's platform plank on Palestine is to our knowledge the best of any political party anywhere, large or small. An even better plank was proposed but rejected by the Green Party National Committee this spring. See the current plank and the proposal here. Both versions give decent analyses of settler-colonial Israel and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, as well as supporting ODS and BDS, in contrast to all British and other Western parties. Note that the U.S. Libertarian Party, also, would end U.S. financial support to Israel. As usual, lesser-of-two-evils voting vies with principles-voting: did pro-Palestinian Green candidate Ralph Nader in 2000 take enough votes from Gore/Lieberman to put Bush/Cheney into power?
In May 2016 in London and Cambridge we organised and sponsored 4 talks featuring Awad Abdelfattah, Karl Sabbagh, Gideon Levy, Ilan Pappe, Ruba Salih and Salma Karmi. 2 of them are on YouTube. See our Events page.
early December 2015 [miscellaneous]
Awad Abdelfattah, General Secretary of the Tajamoa/Balad Party, which belongs to the Joint List and holds 3 seats in the Knesset, has come out openly affirming his long-held support for one democratic state. [See Abdelfattah's September 2015 speech before the South African parliament - soon on our 'Documents' page - and his 2012 interview with Jonathan Cook at Mondoweiss.]
PFLP General Secretary Ahmad Sa'adat likewise has always supported ODS, but has been politically imprisoned by the Palestinian National Authority (PA) and Israel since 2002, convicted by an Israeli military court in 2008 of organising the murder of population-transfer advocate and Modelet politician Rehavam Ze'evi.
Longtime Fatah and PLO member Munir Shafiq recently reaffirmed his support for ODS in this Middle East Monitor article: "The compass of the Palestinian struggle ... shifted, making the first goal the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 'borders before 5 June 1967'. This ... made it adopt the strategy of negotiations and agreement on the final resolution of the Palestinian issue (a 'two-state solution'). The experience of the negotiations in Madrid and Oslo, along with the negotiations of Mahmoud Abbas in the name of the Palestinian Authority and the PLO, has proven that this path is a complete failure.... Anyone talking about the national Palestinian project must be aware that the only solution is the liberation of Palestine from the River Jordan to the sea and implementing the right of return for refugees. As such, it is wrong to propose any other project, such as a two-state solution, a binational state or a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders."
In spring 2015 some young Palestinians with Israeli citizenship were invited to the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to speak with State Department official Robert Malley, a long-time Middle East negotiator with a relatively good reputation amongst Palestinians. Some of the invitees insisted that ODS is the best vision, and lo and behold in early November Haaretz entitled an article by reporter Barak Ravid 'When the White House Starts Talking about One State, Netanyahu Should Worry'. In comments before Netanyahu's arrival in Washington Malley "stated that a new reality has been created in which not only is there no chance of reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement but that even the possibility of renewing negotiations between the parties seems very slim. ... Malley, a veteran diplomat who has been accompanying the Israeli-Palestinian peace process almost since its first day, is just one of a growing group of senior officials in the U.S. administration who believe that the United States must formulate a policy for a situation in which the two-state solution will die..."
Speaking at a BDS-Turkey event on 29 November 2015 (the 68th anniversary of Resolution 181), Bir Zeit student and former political prisoner Lina Khattab said: "Amongst us students there is diversity and debate on many issues. But there is one issue that is on the other side of a red line and needs no further discussion. That is the two-state solution. Anything other than Right of Return and re-united Palestine we reject absolutely."
Courageous columnist Gideon Levy on 17 October 2015 in Haaretz endorsed a single democratic state but failed the litmus test of Right of Return. "One state already exists here, and has done so for 48 years. The Green Line faded long ago," he wrote. It is bi-national but anything but democratic and just; equal rights for all between the river and the sea - the elimination of injustice - will heal: "How can you rule out in advance the possibility that in a democratic, egalitarian state, different relations will be formed? There are quite a few historic precedents of hatred and horror that dissipated when the injustice dissipated." Our ODS colleague in Jerusalem Eli Aminov wrote a critique of Levy's article, noting both Levy's lingering Zionism (two states would have been good, but the opportunity missed) and his neglect of the refugees. But we seek dialogue with Levy and others who have travelled his path - Avraham Burg comes to mind.
late November 2015
A delegation from the Popular Movement from Ramallah/Bethlehem met with 7 ODS supporters in Hebron in what amounts to an expansion of the Popular Movement; a group in Gaza is also affiliated, with whom only skype and email contact is possible, and contacts have been made with supporters in the Galilee. (The ODS Co-ordinating Committee has members in Gaza, Yafa, Ramallah, Haifa, and the Galilee.) With or without a formal organisation including both 48 and 67, contact is firming up and expanding. See the Arabic and English press release on the Hebron meeting.
late August 2015
A Consultation at St George's House, Windsor Castle, is being organised including proponents of ODS, a two-state solution, bi-nationalism, and equal rights for all residents between the river and the sea but without, or with quite limited, Right of Return. It is hoped this will take place in spring 2016 and include several prominent politicians and journalists from Palestine and Israel. [2017 note: St George's House in the end felt ODS was too hot to handle and urged us to hold it somewhere in Ireland.]
early April 2015
The conference planned for 17-19 April 2015 at the University of Southampton to discuss Israel's legitimacy, or lack thereof, from the point of view of ethics and international law, came under sufficient fire from Zionists that the University administration cancelled it on 30 March, but efforts are underway to get that decision reversed. Stay tuned and read the programme - in which ODS figures very large - at http://www.southampton.ac.uk/israelpalestinelaw/index.page This conference is a first, with top-drawer speakers, and is sure to take place somewhere on the announced dates, so by all means register and come.
late March 2015
The British group Independent Jewish Voices in mid-March 2015 held a cutting-edge 2-day conference at Birkbeck College, London, entitled 'Equal rights for all: A new path for Israel-Palestine?' The stated framework was to get away from talking so much about solutions and instead develop the project of equal rights for whoever today lives between the river and the sea. There was nevertheless quite a bit said about the one-state solution, and the two-state solution and a bi-national one. The question of the Right of Return of the refugees, who obviously don't live between the river and the sea, was addressed much more often and in much more detail than at other conferences, or than is done by other organisations such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. A critical report by Blake Alcott appeared in Middle East Eye.
Some members of our sister organisation, the Ramallah-based Popular Movement for One Democratic State in Historic Palestine, have unfortunately seen fit to support the 'Two States, One Homeland' initiative of some Palestinians and Jewish Israelis close to the IPCRI thought lab. A critical report on this latest convoluted, serpentine version of Zionism is at https://freehaifa.wordpress.com/ The majority of the Popular Movement's members deplore this initiative's rejection of full Right of Return, reject its legitimisation of racist West Bank settlements, and reject the implicit acceptance of the right of the Jewish collective to statehood on Palestinian land.
We have put up a Turkish ODS website: www.ftddturkey.jimdo.com
We then had conversations with 3 people in Istanbul who are among the many who support the basic ODS vision. We seek contact with Palestinians, Turks and Kurds living in Turkey who might want to form an active ODS branch and affiliate with the branches in the West Bank, Yaffa/Tel Aviv, Haifa, Texas and England.
ODS England now possesses the finished Awda Key pictured at the bottom of our Events page. It stands 3 m tall, is made of steel and concrete and weighs 700 kg. The key's bit is etched to show the Palestinian flag while the base, seen from above, is a Star of David. We are looking for a public space in which to exhibit it, either temporarily or permanently. The sculpture's title is Higher State. Scottish Friends of Palestine are actively seeking a public place for it in Edinburgh or Glasgow. We welcome suggestions of other possible places anywhere in the UK. [note 2017: the key has a good place for an indeterminate length of time in front of St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh (right corner of building).]