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Monday, November 23, 2020

Donald Trump: A president swallowed by history

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By Stanley L Cohen

The one state solution
It is well past reality’s reach that a two-state solution can, at this late date, provide a viable vehicle for meaningful Palestinian sovereignty or for overall peace.
The notion that a series of disconnected Bantustans – stripped of a traditional land base, natural resources, and the unique centre of religious and faith-based history – can suddenly become a feasible independent state for millions of stateless Palestinians is fool’s gold.

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Ultimately, no matter what its form or shape, the essence of statehood is the ability to develop and maintain political and economic institutions and security and to control borders, including air rights and, where applicable, seaports.

To suggest that Israel would cede any degree of meaningful self-determination, in these all-defining cornerstones of sovereignty, to a Palestinian state is simply laughable, in light of its decades-long practices.
Indeed, at this late date, there is but one solution acceptable to the millions of Palestinian living as refugees abroad or suffering under apartheid, occupation and ethnic cleansing fueled by supremacist hate: one state for all from the river to the sea.

It matters not whether this state becomes a system of independent, but connected, cantons – as in Switzerland. What is important is that the single state embraces no official state religion, ensures equal protection and rights for all, guarantees “one person, one vote”, and opens all jobs, roads and communities. What is also important is that it is based not on race, religion or politics but on the willingness to struggle for a collective good that will at long last serve the united interest of one people.

While some will surely scoff at this notion and, perhaps, find little hope for its success, unification provides the sole means by which Palestinians and Jews, Muslims and Christians can begin to heal the wounds that have long divided people that, left to their own unimpeded devices, would find much more that unites them than divides.

Lest there be any claim of naivete, the road to a one-state resolution is, of course, littered with more than mere encumbrances of communities, schools and highways long segregated by barricades and barbed wire.
Seventy years of forced displacement, death and destruction have left, for many, the scars born of tears and hate. Only time and unification can begin to heal those wounds and end the nightmare. All else is just sheer destructive folly.

For Israelis, who see delay as their ally, it’s a false hope born of little more than convenient denial. “Out of sight, out of mind” does not solve a crisis but simply puts off its reckoning to another day – one which grows more difficult and demanding with the passage of time.
All occupations, large and small, ultimately awaken one day to find themselves captive to a “graveyard of empires”. Here, it will be no different.

 

The eternal capital of Palestine
Today, in Palestine and in Israel, there are more than 5 million Palestinians with the median age of 19 years. They will not go away or surrender to the silence of the night.
For years, the young women and men of Palestine have been in the vanguard of an unbroken national effort to reclaim their freedom and rebuild their state.

For them, the price has been dear. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Information, since 2000, alone, Israel has killed more than 3,000 Palestinian minors. During the same period, Israeli forces have injured another 13,000 youth and arrested more than 12,000 others. Today, Israel holds about 300 children in its prisons.

Despite an awful price exacted for their courage and resistance, for the young women and men of Palestine, the future holds no truth but one, built on a determined struggle to confront and end a criminal occupation and apartheid by any means necessary, including armed struggle.
For Palestinians, history is, indeed, a guidepost of what is yet to come. For Palestinians, history is an unbroken saga, handed down from the elderly in refugee camps throughout the Middle East to their very young who find comfort in the cultural breath of dabke.

Mr Trump: Were you an informed observer of history, you would know well that this is not the first time the US has tried to designate a city as the capital of a state against the political and historical will of its people.
In Vietnam, such an attempt did not end well, as Saigon eventually gave way to the legitimate, national aspirations and rights of millions who refused to be held captive by the imperial design of a foreign occupation force.

Yes, Mr President, history does, and will indeed, repeat itself.
Capitals are much more than cold, sculpted monuments to those that have come before, or warehouses of political ideals and rights beyond the reach of all but the chosen few. Nor can they inspire from behind barricaded buildings in which petty despots dole out rights and benefits based upon one’s mere name or faith.
Capitals are homes to collective freedom and will, with open doors that know no artificial boundaries or lawful segregation. To be honest, to empower, they must represent the collective will and aspirations of all those who look to them for justice and opportunity.

For millions of Palestinians, that capital is Jerusalem. It weaves with the rock of the ages and hums to the tune of history. To walk down the ancient pathways of the Old City, to hear the call to prayer, to look out in all directions from Al-Aqsa plaza across the open and free expanse beyond its age-old walls is a journey that is Jerusalem.
Nothing that you, Donald Trump, can say or do will undo the magic and majesty that is Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Palestine.

 

Stanley L Cohen is an attorney and human rights activist who has done extensive work in the Middle East and Africa.

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