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The Only Democracy? » Victories for Democracy » MJ Rosenberg: Palestinians should demand rights instead of focusing on a state

MJ Rosenberg: Palestinians should demand rights instead of focusing on a state

MJ Rosenberg is an insider-outsider who used to work at AIPAC and then went on to become the main front-man for the DC-based liberal, pro-Israel group Israel Policy Forum. Now he’s at Media Matters and saying what used to be unthinkable. He suggests that the Palestinians bypasses the dead-end of endless “peace” negotiations that give Israel cover to expand settlements while negotiations go nowhere. Forget the issue of states, focus on human rights, says Rosenberg:

They can demand their rights without reference to statehood and without negotiations to achieve them. That means they punt on the question of one state, two states, or three states (don’t forget Gaza).  They demand their rights whether they are exercised within Israel or within their own country.  After all, basic human rights are guaranteed to all people, whether in their own state or as a minority in another country.These rights are specifically guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was ratified by the United Nations with the support of, among others, the United States and Israel.  (It was written by Eleanor Roosevelt, the US delegate).

The rights it guarantees (the right to vote, equality before the law, freedom of movement and resistance, peaceful assembly and association, the right to own property and not to be deprived of it, among others) are precisely the rights denied to the Palestinians of Gaza, West Bank, and East Jerusalem.

Why shouldn’t the Palestinians demand these rights, laying aside the question of a state with internationally recognized borders until the Israelis are ready to seriously discuss returning to the pre-’67 borders?

But would Israelis agree to granting Palestinians basic human rights? That is hard to say.  The far right has a strong racial animus to Arabs and would be reluctant to see any change in the status quo.

But that is not true of most Israelis.  Most Israelis are deeply troubled by the occupation but cannot imagine how it would be possible to evacuate hundreds of thousands of settlers from their West Bank homes.  They might be relieved if the Palestinians focused on rights rather than territories.

Wise words.

-Cecilie Surasky

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Cecilie Surasky is the grandaughter of Socialist Zionist activists, and her analyses of Israel-Palestine politics have appeared in media outlets around the world. She is the Deputy Director of Jewish Voice for Peace and the founding editor of Muzzlewatch, JVP's blog documenting efforts to silence open debate about Israel-Palestine policy.

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