Palestinian flags waving in West Bank 370.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Wouldn’t you rather live under occupation than with your “non-democratic”
people, an Israeli journalist asks.
Meaning what would I prefer, a future
state or the status quo?
Of course, being asked this question by an Israeli is
necessarily different from being asked by a Palestinian. Being asked by a
Palestinian would be acceptable in the same way it would be acceptable for an
African-American to raise issues about his own community.
what is one of the most complex conflicts in the world often means coping with
difficult questions. Much like the most important question of all: should
Palestinians and Israelis be talking with each other in the first place?
addition, arguments and words that might have seemed normal in the past can now
be very offensive to some or might even be labeled racist.
When the time
comes for a talk with the opponent, one often feels the need to represent one’s
own people: their hopes, their dreams and ambitions. Even if you disagree, you
are faced with the feeling that a nation’s reputation and future lie on your
Knowing that you don’t want to fail them, you think twice
about what you would like to say and what your people demand you say. And
Palestinians vary a lot in their opinions, from those who consider talking to
Israelis or accepting their permits to visit east Jerusalem a disloyalty to
those who consider the dialogue as something akin to a national
Given that we live under occupation, I believe it’s my duty to
participate in advancing the peace process even if some of my people don’t think
it’s the answer to our struggle. After all, I can have and express my own
personal opinion without “betraying” the public.
“WITH THE Islamic
movement’s rise in the Arab world, isn’t occupation better?” my journalist
colleague asks again, with a tone implying what my answer should be.
question might come from a place of concern over the challenges I face in my own
community. However, it assumes that we are, and always will be, non-democratic.
So the occupation is as much of a punishment as it is a
Eliminating any ill will behind the question and excluding the
views that say Palestinians don’t deserve any state at all, where we are heading
after 20 years of failed negotiations is an important question.
agree with a part of the analysis behind the question, I strongly disagree with
Having lived all my life in the Palestinian territories, I
know that life here is not a piece of cake. My people, particularly women, have
many challenges to deal with from both sides, the Palestinian and the
The checkpoints, the siege, the economic and political situation
and the vague view of the future on the horizon add complication to a very
I can’t ignore that our system has corruption and that
we have faults, but looking back at our experiences, there are many successful
stories as well. For example, we have had mayors who have been elected
democratically in their local communities, proving the success of local
governance among Palestinians.
So where do we go from here?
vision of the future allows for a large variety of ideas for alternative
solutions to the conflict.
Due to the current political situation and the
fact that settlements prevent the geographical contiguity of a future
Palestinian state, the two-state solution is not one many people would bet their
The difficulties of the status quo, as well as the Palestinian
initiative to obtain international recognition of a Palestinian state in the
form of Mahmoud Abbas’s UN bid, have prompted people to begin discussions
ranging from the one-state solution (only Palestinian), to a single
(Israeli-Palestinian) state to the twostate solution.
campaigns for a one-state solution recently fired up a heated debate. Do we
declare the death of the two-state solution?
Some Palestinians, enraged by the
idea of Israelis and Palestinians living together in a single state, removed the
Takamul initiative posters that advocate this cause.
Maybe it was too
cynical for them that anyone would even consider Muammar Gaddafi’s idea of
“Isratine” – a combination of Israel and Palestine.
nor Israelis are open to the idea of a single-state solution, for different
reasons. In my opinion, the Israelis are less likely to want a “burden” like us,
let alone the possible ramifications of such a decision on their state’s
It is important for Palestinians to have their identity
recognized by the world as well. They are afraid of being second-class citizens
in Israel. Palestinian Israelis often voice these concerns. Especially those who
are against normalization – defined as interacting closely with their occupier –
feeling that this solution will mean sucking what’s left of the territories into
a broader “occupation.”
I don’t stand anywhere in this debate, simply
because I don’t believe either of the proposed solutions, one-state or
two-state, is likely to be implemented in the near future. Things don’t seem to
be going in that direction, anyway.
I hope I don’t sound too pessimistic
when I say that I don’t think we are heading toward a state, or even
coexistence, but rather an uncertain future.
GOING BACK to the
journalist’s original question, I have a question myself. Why do I have to
choose between two negatives? Either a corrupt, non-democratic system or
occupation? Especially when fighting for a liberal, democratic state is the
dream of many who have never had the chance to live in one, as they they don’t
have a state of their own.
Bearing in mind that every society has its own
struggles, the fact that we have difficulties should not mean we that don’t
deserve to be a member of the world community.
Sometimes I think it would
be nice to find my state on the map. When I first signed up for a Hotmail
account, I had to list the United States as my country, as I couldn’t find any
link to my existence on the website’s list of the world’s
Among the many transformations the Arab revolutions have
shown, they prove that change is possible. But not always for the better: it
also includes the rise of extremists, which forms a threat to our
Should that be a reason to keep oppressing people under
tyrannical regimes under the false claim that they won’t know any better?
never say that I don’t face issues within my society, and I am not claiming that
we are perfect, but our challenges should only serve as motivation for my fellow
citizens and for me to fight for a just, professional and liberal system. We
don’t have the ability to do that as the situation stands right now.
not saying that the glass is half full or that it’s half empty. We don’t even
have a glass.
The writer is a Palestinian freelance journalist and
producer working in the West Bank.