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19 June 2004

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John Sigler

Introducing the Movement for One Democratic Secular State

As the Israeli occupation continues to grow ever more entrenched, more and more people around the world are reaching the conclusion that the ethnic separatist "two-state solution" is no longer viable possibility. The level of physical integration between Palestinians and Israelis, both inside and outside the Green Line, as well as simple demographic realities has effectively negated any realistic separatist schemes aside from the current "ghettoization" policy being employed by the Israeli government, which is not sustainable.

The alternatives to ethnic separation within Mandatory Palestine (“between the river and the sea”) are the "one state models", both racist one state models based on ethnically cleansing "the others" from Israel/Palestine and the progressive one state models based on integrating Palestinians - including the refugees - and Israelis into a single state and polity. For progressives, the idea of ethnic cleansing is utterly anathema and can therefore be ruled out as an acceptable solution.

Among the progressive one state models there is an extremely broad array of opinion on how this can best be brought about. The federalist model envisions separate ethnic states or cantons, and draws much of its inspiration from the examples of Belgium and Switzerland. The binational model envisions separate group-specific laws and rights within the framework of a united state, similar to the existing status quo in Israel proper or the situation in modern Lebanon, sans the overt discrimination against particular communities. The integrationist models hold the view that separate can never be equal and generally look to the South African model for inspiration, based on core principles of anti-racism, "one person - one vote", and the nondiscriminatory employment of the rule of law to all citizens. Each of these models has its own advantages and disadvantages and it is impossible to say which model will eventually gain the most support.

Right now the one state perspective is a minority one. However, some 25-30% of Palestinian refugees, the vast majority of Palestinians holding Israeli citizenship, and smaller percentages of other Israelis and Palestinians already view the one state proposition as an acceptable compromise. All of these percentages can be increased if we, as in the global peace, justice, and human rights community take on the issue and make it mainstream.

In order to advance the progressive one state concept - regardless of the model preferred - we have decided to launch the "Movement for One Democratic Secular State" project. At this early stage we are primarily forming an online community in order to enable networking between one state activists, to share tips and opinions on effective one state advocacy, as well as to generally develop the progressive one state concept by allowing advocates of the various models to make their respective cases and then debate the issues. This is an essentially progressive project, meaning that we expect all participants to stay within the basic - though very broad - perimeters of the project as defined on the "Positions of the Movement" page. Further the community is fully democratic, each member has the right to propose new initiatives, vote on previous initiatives as well as to discuss various concerns in an open forum among other members.

The Movement is meant to accommodate both the intellectual as well as the activist, though you need not be either to participate. On the intellectual front there are the discussions regarding the various models as well as how to get from where we are today to actually realizing the one state ideal in Palestine/Israel. For the activist, we discuss ways and means of arguing the point, effective rebuttal of ethnocentric/racist positions, examples of other activities elsewhere that can be employed in your area, as well as a news service to advertise your own efforts at promoting the one state ideal.

Please visit the Movement for One Democratic Secular State website at http://www.onestate.org Read the "Positions" and "Purpose" of the Movement and if you find your own views compatible with ours, please consider joining us. In most respects, the one state case is much easier to make than the ethnic separatist "two-state solution" one, therefore it behooves us to encourage the one state case to become a mainstream suggestion. The initiative is new, having only went public on August 7, so there is plenty of room to for everyone to participate.

John Sigler

Movement for One Democratic Secular State
http://www.onestate.org

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