Tag Archives: israel

One-State, Two-State, Red State, Blue State

Courtesy of Tony Eggert—Three Lyons Creative

Though midterm elections night focused heavily on the polarizing politics of a two-party system, the winners of the night–whether republican or democrat–were those of us who know that the United States is a land built by, and for, immigrants. When the newly elected 116th U.S. Congress convenes in January 2019, it will finally look like all of us–not just old white men.

Anna Eskamani has become the first American-Iranian woman who will serve in Florida’s House of Representatives. Ilhan Omar, a Muslim Somali refugee, has become Minnestota’s newest congresswoman, and she opened her acceptance speech with “As-Salam Alaikum,” a traditional Islamic greeting. How often does that happen?

And there’s more. Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American Muslim and former Michigan state lawmaker, was elected to Congress.

As a Palestinian-American woman, I’m not sure I can explain how monumental this is. And not just for me, but for women everywhere. Congresswoman Tlaib’s policy on Palestine is what I find most inspiring. Unlike the traditional proposal for a two-state solution between Palestinians and Israelis, she supports a one-state solution, which endorses equality and freedom for both groups.

Let that soak in. Thirty years ago, that would have been blasphemous. But times are changing, and history shows that it could work. Prior to the divide and conquer method of foreign policy, Palestinians and Jews lived together, sharing languages and currencies. Ironically, the discourse has returned to the one policy that worked in the past to provide stability in the region.

The United States’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital showed which side it leads toward. It was directly from the Zionist playbook, much like everything else this administration has done. If President Trump really wanted to do something different, something that no other administration had the “kutzpah” to do, he would endorse a one-state solution.

Some fear that the one-state solution means the end of Israel. But it also means the end of Palestine. As with all endings, though, there are new beginnings, and the creation of a wholly inclusive land for all the people, as it once was, would be a great start.

Now, the question stands: can the newly elected congresswoman bring the voice of thousands of Palestinian-Americans to the mainstream and make a difference? Although the task seems unpromising, Tlaib seems eager to fight and break the stigma surrounding Palestine and being Palestinian.

So, here’s to no borders and no segregation. It worked for Vietnam, Germany, and South Africa. This failing administration could benefit from a “tear-down-the-wall” moment (hint, hint). Not only is this helpful for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also for tearing down the walls in the mainstream consciousness.

No, The Entire Middle East Shouldn’t Look Like Israel

Image courtesy of Mondoweiss.

Israel illegally occupies the West Bank. Israel has constructed a massive apartheid wall that constricts life for the Palestinians. And Israel benefits its Jewish citizens, while it oppresses the Palestinians–especially the ones in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

But none of this seems to matter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said that “Israel is everything we want the entire Middle East to look like going forward.”

Pompeo is OK with Israel’s atrocities. Israel seems to represent Western values. It has cool restaurants. It has nice beaches. And it serves good food. But what about Israel’s political issues? What about its mistreatment and repression of Palestinian human rights?

If Pompeo wants to praise Israel, then he needs to be clear about what he’s praising. Israel isn’t some fun-loving, peaceful representation of Western democracy and values.

In America, we are free to walk on the same sidewalks. To travel on the same roads. To eat at the same restaurants. None of us need special ID cards to explore the country.

But the reality is different for Palestinians residing in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. If Palestinians wish to travel to Israel, they need permission. And most of them will never obtain it. They are confined to live within the apartheid wall, dreaming of the land beyond, but never getting the chance to walk on it.

Palestinians have to deal with limited water in the West Bank and the Gaza strip; Israelis don’t. Palestinians can’t walk on certain sidewalks in the West Bank; Israelis can. Palestinians have to go through checkpoints and makeshift roads because of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Israelis don’t.

Israel is the epitome of apartheid. Settlers in the West Bank can vote in Israeli elections. Most Palestinians in the West Bank can’t. Settlers in the West Bank can go Tel Aviv for a fun day at the beach. Most Palestinians in the West Bank can’t. Settlers in the West Bank can attend Israeli universities. Most Palestinians in the West Bank can’t.

Israel has made its discrimination more obvious, recently passing the “Jewish-Nation State Law,” which grants exclusivity to Jewish national aspirations. Would Pompeo agree if the US passed a “White-Nation State Law?” Surely, we’d hope that he’d see the racial undertone of such a law.

And what about Gaza? Israel has been imposing an illegal, immoral blockade on it for years. Over 90 percent of the water is undrinkable.  A UN report said that Gaza will be “unlivable by the year 2020.”

Would Pompeo approve of such conditions in any American city? Would he be content with some Americans being unable to travel to certain parts of the country, as others go freely? Would he be content with checkpoints impeding cities and harassing only certain individuals? Would he be content with only some Americans being able to go to certain universities because of political restrictions? Would he be content with some Americans being able to walk on sidewalks as others are forced to alleyways? Would he be content with a racist nation state law?

If the answer is “no,” then Pompeo needs to reevaluate his stance on Israel and its image. We don’t need the Middle East looking more like Israel. We need the Middle East looking less like its racist values and apartheid.