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Replacing the peace process with a civil rights struggle

What would happen if Israeli progressives and their supporters demanded an end to the military court system, or called for freedom of movement for Palestinians? The answer: a lot.

The two-state solution has long been transformed from a means (to solving the problem of the occupation) to an end. As I wrote here in the past, this change has had severe consequences as far as the Israeli political opposition is concerned. Those range from a de-facto acceptance of the status quo to a political alliance with the Right and support for all the latest rounds of violence. The excuses are always the same – that we are on the road to the two-state solution and “this is the only game in town.”

The truth is that we aren’t on the road to two states or to one state. We are deep in the status-quo solution. Israel directly controls the lives of some 4 million Palestinians (and indirectly almost two more million in Gaza), and only a minority of them have the rights of full citizens, and even then only formally. The debate over the correct term for this state of affairs (‘occupation’ or ‘apartheid’ or ‘status quo’) is not half as important as recognizing this reality itself, which is stable, institutionalized and not going to change in the foreseeable future.

As a matter of fact, a final status agreement seems as far off as I can remember. The two-state solution is highly unlikely to take place in the coming years, and there is no way of knowing what the more distant future holds. Regional events along with internal developments in Israeli society serve those who oppose an agreement. The occupation empowers those who support it.

The common wisdom in Israel today is that every territory that is evacuated will eventually become another hub for Middle Eastern anarchy. The security establishment believes that only the IDF can prevent forces such as Islamic State from crossing the Jordan River. Israel would also like to make sure that Hamas doesn’t take over the West Bank. In other words, even if a Palestinian “state” is formed, it won’t have even the minimal degree of independence. No credible Palestinian leadership can be expected to agree to that.

I also don’t see any form of international pressure that would force the two-state solution on Israel. Much of the international community is clearly unhappy with Israel’s policies of the last decade, but this is nowhere near the mobilization against South Africa in the 1980s or, more recently, Iran. In both cases the tipping point was the U.S. decision to support and impose sanctions. And while the U.S. might end up distancing itself from Jerusalem, it will continue to use its power to prevent sanctions against it. The EU is also unlikely to expend its measures beyond some steps against the settlements. So there is truly no end in sight.

Palestinians from the West Bank with permits to enter Israel wait at the Israeli military checkpoint in the separation wall controlling movement between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, June 12, 2014. (Photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Palestinians from the West Bank with permits to enter Israel wait at the Israeli military checkpoint in the Separation Wall, controlling movement between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, June 12, 2014. (Photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Facing this new reality, Israeli progressives that supported the peace process are turning to one of a few options: There are those who join the Right in maintaining the status quo; those who continue to believe that some recent events – the war, the ceasefire, American elections, the lack of American elections, etc. – opened a “window of opportunity for peace;” while in fact there is no window, not even a crack. And there are also those who are crying, not without some perverse pleasure, that “all is lost.”

On a more positive note, I believe there is renewed recognition in Israel of the dominance of the occupation on all other political problems, in the long-term threat it presents before Israeli society. I used to hear people say that the Left should focus on social issues and leave the Palestinian problem aside, but not anymore. You even see conservatives voicing some concern over the failure to solve the Palestinian issue. In other words, there is some new recognition of the problem, but there is no political strategy to accompany it among progressives, except for continuing to bang one’s head against the peace process wall.

***

The solution is to replace the diplomatic process with a civil rights struggle, to break the occupation into pieces, and deal with each one of them: The fact that Palestinians do not enjoy freedom of movement. The fact that they have been tried in military courts for almost half a century. The limits on their freedom of speech and their right to freely assemble. The lack of proper detainee rights (including minors). The disrespect for their property rights, and, of course, their lack of political rights.

A civil rights struggle doesn’t necessarily mean a single-state solution, nor two states. Civilian rights for Palestinians can lead to any final status agreement. As I wrote here last week, there is little point in debating solutions right now.

A civil rights struggle is not a new idea, and many Palestinians have been engaging in it for a long time. But Israeli progressives and peaceniks have always placed it second only to the diplomatic process. In other words, instead of the Palestinian state becoming a means for the fulfillment of Palestinian rights, it was made the only desired political object; those rights no longer bared value once they were separated from the idea of statehood – as if because the Palestinians have no state they don’t deserve freedom of movement or a fair trial. Thus, progressives find themselves justifying an authoritarian regime in Ramallah in the name of Palestinians rights, and many other absurdities.

On a tactical level, a civil rights struggle opens the door for Arab-Jewish cooperation on both sides of the Green Line, and leaves aside the questions of statehood and historical narratives that people love to debate. Instead, it focuses on the lives of real people under occupation.

The equal rights of all men and women is such a simple and broadly accepted notion that it’s easy to explain and for everyone to understand. Israelis have adopted all sorts of revisionist readings of the conflict in recent years; for example the idea that the territories aren’t occupied because they were never claimed by any other state. But the most important problem with the occupation is the millions of people held under a military regime for decades, and not just the legal status of the land.

The target of a civil rights struggle is not the settlers, or any other Israeli community, but the state and its practices. It might not make progressives more popular with the Israeli public, but it could make their work more effective.

Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Galon and opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog of Labor (Photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Galon and opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog of Labor. Banging one’s head on a hopeless peace process (Photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

What could such a struggle look like? It should raise specific political demands that touch the basic liberties and rights of human beings; such as the right to a fair trial, to equality before the law, and to political representation.

The military court system is a good place to start. Military tribunals could be accepted in very specific contexts and for a limited period of time. They aren’t meant – nor could they be used – to run the lives of a civilian population for decades, as Israel does.

There is no way to justify military commanders ruling over civilian issues for half a century, the way they do in the West Bank. There is no way to justify administrative detentions. What prevents a “pro-peace” party or organization – say, Meretz or Labor or J Street – from right now demanding an end to the military court system, regardless of diplomatic developments? The fact that such an idea is not even debated demonstrates the degree to which even the “pro-peace” camp has adopted the mentality of the occupation.

What about freedom of movement? The Palestinians are held like Israel’s prisoners, not only in the West Bank but also in Gaza. It takes a permit from a military commander to allow a Palestinian to visit his or her family in Jordan. Why not demand turning this policy on its head, right now, and have the security authorities state who they forbid from traveling, and allow everybody else free passage? Surely this is a reasonable enough request?

Human rights groups have been monitoring and discussing these issues for decades, but they have yet to enter progressive politics, which is still chained to the endless peace process. Imagine what would happen if mobilization by the international community around Israeli relations with the PA or its settlement policies was directed at the rights of Palestinians.

To some this might seem like back-door annexation by Israel – an idea that most Israelis and Palestinians still oppose. But the fact of the matter is that de-facto annexation has already taken place, only without allowing the civilian population their basic human and civil rights. Recent cries over the appropriation of some 1,000 acres of land by Israel sound hollow compared to the massive human rights violations that have been taking place for decades. I actually believe that even if Israel was to hand the Palestinians full voting rights in the Knesset tomorrow we could end up with some version of a two-state solution or a confederative model, because both people here are interested in national sovereignty.

Make no mistake: Keeping the Palestinians without rights is not some temporary holding pattern on the way to a final status solution (or peace). For Israel, this is the solution. And giving Palestinians their rights will not postpone an agreement – quite the opposite. It would force Israelis to really think about the kind of future they want, alongside the Palestinians.

***

A final note: This post does not intend to tell Palestinians how to run their affairs, or what form their struggle should take. I don’t think Israelis are in a position to give such advice to the people they occupy, and the Palestinians would be correct not to heed the advice. It’s about Israeli politics. Terminating the occupation (as the first necessary step), reaching a fair compromise with the Palestinian people, and then entering a process of reconciliation are all in the interest of Israelis; but I believe that Israeli and Jewish politics on this issue have reached a dead end, especially on the organizational level. The confusion and anxiety is palpable these days. This is a good starting point for a new journey.

Originally published on my Hebrew blog at Local Call

Related:
One- or two-state solution? The answer is both (or neither)
Gaza war: It’s about keeping the Palestinians under control
This is Netanyahu’s final status solution

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    1. Richard

      If Israeli activists and lawyers actually succeeded in getting the IDF to soften its military rule in the WB and end administrative detentions, it would just create new security problems and things would tumble backwards. The occupation is stable because the regional balance of power (Israel, US, Iran, Qatar, etc…) allows it to be. Is/Pal is a small area, and if someone wants to destabilize by sponsoring a rejectionist Palestinian militia, security problems will continue to overshadow civil rights for Palestinians and no progress will be made. The Left doesn’t want to even acknowledge Israel’s security problems because it has already decided that Palestinian liberation is more important that Israel’s security, but ultimately the latter must be guaranteed before the former happens. Stop letting your values cloud your judgment and strategy. Hamas would take over the WB if given room to do it, and will retain this ability as long as it has a sponsor like Iran. If you don’t think about how to deal with this and similar security challenges, Palestinians will get nowhere.

      Reply to Comment
      • Richard:

        The Israelis will continue to play the ‘security’ game no matter how secure they are (all the while risking small amounts of security to allow further colonisation of the WB/E.J’lem).

        They have the most sophisticated (materially speaking) army in the world and now an ever increasingly sophisticated anti-missile system but are they happy with that? Of course not, since as there’s always a politician (or many) on the Right that will tell them they’re not secure enough and that that is caused by Palestinians.

        Crying ‘Wolf!’ is of course a favourite party trick, not just in Israel or the US.

        Palestinian security in this game matters of course not one iota. They need not apply because they’re not Jewish.

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        • Richard

          You’re totally right Gert!!! Palestinian security doesn’t matter to Jews who are being shelled by Palestinians. Crazy right??? It must be because of Jewish racism against all non-Jews on planet Earth just like you said. Because Jews think they’re so SUPERIOR to everyone, you feeling me??? We are so on the same wavelength right now!!! At least we would be if you were you and I were the anti-Semitic old white people in the south I grew up around. And you know how Jews always accuse you of anti-Semitism when you are, but are also being critical of Israel at the same time so its totally ok??? Yeah??? ME TOO!!! Oh man great conversation I’m having with Gert right now.

          Reply to Comment
        • michelle helps

          You are so right Gert, I totally agree wity your point of view.

          Reply to Comment
    2. bor

      I agree with Noam. Israeli progressives should indeed turn their attention to civil rights for Palestinians.

      Needless to say, the progressives’ first goal will have to be to secure civil rights for Palestinians under their own governments.

      Immediately after the Israeli progressives manage to secure some of those longed-for civil rights for Palestinians in the areas controlled by those Palestinian governments, Israeli progressives should proceed with protesting Israel.

      This is a rough guess, but I would think that if Israeli progressives do this, they won’t be able to get to the protests against Israel in their lifetime.

      (Which is why Noam is suggesting they target Israel – despite knowing full well that Israeli control will be replaced by either Palestinian or Islamic authoritarian rule, followed by more attacks on Israel).

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      • Ray

        If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s how difficult it is getting OTHER governments to alter their behavior. We have enough trouble with our own, but that’s more do-able.

        Thus, you’ll excuse Israelis for being more invested in how their own government treats Palestinians; they have no interest in insisting your colonial subjects “shape up” before they are eligible for their rights (like you insist). They have a say in their own government, so they are using it.

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    3. Whiplash

      In typical Noam fashion, Noam demands nothing of the Palestinians. He will not even offer them advice on what they should do to bring human rights to Palestinians living under Fatah or Hamas rule. Fatah, the PA and Hamas could offer Palestinian substantial human rights, such as the right to elections on a regular basis, freedom of speech, freedom of association, the right to due process and a fair trial, the right not to be executed summarily, an end to honor killings, the right to choose one’s sexual preference and the right to be free from incitement to hatred and violence. All of these fundamental freedoms and rights are in the Palestinians’ power to grant to themselves.

      What Noam wants is Israel to do is to treat Arab Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza as if they are Israeli citizens. They are not and they are not entitled to the rights of Israeli citizens.

      At one time in the recent past, Palestinians had freedom of movement in and out of Israeli but from the time of the signing of the Oslo Accords they began killing Israelis because they were opposed to the Accords. Freedom of movement means freedom to kill Israelis.

      The silly notion that Israel should provide Palestinian terror organization a list of those people who will not be allowed to exit Gaza or the West Bank would only aid and abet terrorist activities in and out of the territories. It would also tell the terrorists who Israel might be after.

      A military court is best suited to deal with nationalistic and terrorist offenses. Administrative detention is a necessary component of fighting terror. The Supreme Court of Israel remains a watch dog of this process.

      Palestinians could abandon their futile violent resistance against Israel and work towards a two state solution, a Jewish state living next to an Arab Palestinian state. This would mean that they would abandon their attempt to flood Israel with descendants of Arab refugees and agree to appropriate land swaps for Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. This would mean that they would have to cooperate with and not demonize Israel. They would have to end violence and incitement of hatred. They would have to accept an agreement as an end to the conflict. The Palestinians would have to agree to an Israeli military presence in the Jordan valley. Then Israel could look at improving Palestinian freedom of movement.

      Reply to Comment
    4. “nationalistic … offenses”?

      Reply to Comment
      • This non-comment after reading the Whip that Lashes, above.

        Reply to Comment
    5. I think Whippy is the offspring of Naftali Bennett and the late Meir Kahane.

      For some reason he can’t read Noam’s text.

      And not a mention of settlements in his response either. The settlements are OK to Whippy, the rest is boo-hiss…

      Reply to Comment
    6. Pedro X

      What is wrong with Jews living in Jerusalem over the green line, and in Judea and Samaria?

      The Oslo Accords do not stipulate that Israel must make these areas Judenrein. Nothing in those Accords prevents Israelis from living in these areas or growing their communities.

      Jews have as much right if not more to live their lives there. The League of Nations mandate as ratified by the Charter of the United Nations guaranteed the rights of Jews to close settlement and development of the land of the mandate territory. These rights were never surrendered.

      Because the Palestinians have chosen for 66 years not to come to an accommodation with the Jewish state, does not mean that Israelis do not have the ability to exercise their rights.

      In fact in all discussions of settlement it is abundantly clear that Israel will retain its settlement blocks. The Palestinians can deal with this reality and make the best deal possible or wait until Israel annexes all of Area “C”.

      Reply to Comment
      • You are kidding, right?

        PX: “What is wrong with Jews living in Jerusalem over the green line, and in Judea and Samaria? ”

        What’s wrong with “Jewish citizens of Palestine” living in “Palestine”?

        Nothing, as far as I can tell.

        But there is plenty wrong with “Jewish citizens of Israel” colonizing “Israeli-occupied territory”.

        For one thing, colonization of an occupied territory is unconditionally prohibited, regardless of motive.

        PX: “The Oslo Accords do not stipulate that Israel must make these areas Judenrein.”

        Notice how flawlessly Pedro slides from “the Jews” to “Israel”, as if they were one-and-the-same?

        Pedro, ISRAEL is the occupying power. As such it isn’t allowed to colonize this occupied territory with **ANY** of its citizens, regardless of race, colour, gender, religion or creed.

        Doing that using **ANY** of its citizens as colonists is unconditionally prohibited by international humanitarian law.

        Reply to Comment
    7. Ben Zakkai

      This idea of ameliorating and eventually resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a civil rights struggle is gaining currency, especially on Mondoweiss, here at +972 and in similar venues. I myself spent years trying to convince people that Palestinians’ best tactic would be a voting rights campaign demanding that as long as they’re effectively ruled by Israel, they get to vote in Knesset elections. I figured that would generate massive Western support – hey, how could an African-American US president fail to support a voting rights campaign!? – and scare Israel into making necessary substantial concessions.

      But there’s a problem. As a general matter, and with notable exceptions, Palestinians don’t get fired up by Western notions of rights and equality. Their passion is mostly reserved for family, land, and religion. (The same might be said, incidentally, about many Israeli Jews.) So I just don’t see Palestinians broadly and energetically supporting a civil rights struggle. If I’m right, then what are you going to do, Noam? Organize an Israeli movement that demands rights for Palestinians that they don’t demand for themselves? Change the way Palestinians feel? Good luck with either of those. But maybe I’m wrong.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Aaron Gross

      Another very good column, as usual from Noam. Here’s my general question. (I’m going to talk about law, but I think it’s relevant to your strategy even if you don’t think the law is important in itself.) While it’s true that belligerent occupations – military tribunals, etc. – weren’t envisioned to last decades, international humanitarian law (IHL) applies to decades-old occupations exactly as it applies to year-old occupations. Given that, how could the left challenge things such as military tribunals? Are you suggesting something like, “Yes, we know this stuff is all legal under IHL, but it’s immoral and should be replaced”?

      Similarly with freedom of movement. As you probably know, that’s a derogable human right; the government has the right under international human rights law (IHRL) to suspend it for security reasons. But the thing is, IHRL applies to nationals of a government as well as to an occupied population. In other words, the government would make the exact same argument if Palestinians were under Israeli municipal law: the government is derogating from the right of movement for security reasons.

      I know that you don’t put much importance on the legal aspects, and I actually think you’re right about that from a moral standpoint. But my point is that whatever you could do under the change of status you want to see, you can already do now.

      Reply to Comment
    9. bor

      Hey Noam, you probably want to report, or have some of your colleagues here report on how poorly Israel treats its Arab minority:

      http://www.timesofisrael.com/settlements-get-higher-share-of-state-funds-study-reveals/

      Yup, it turns out they receive more state funds than every other sector in Israel except for settlements. You can’t make this stuff up. I can’t wait until we get a Rami Younis or some Adalah appratchic writing about the horrid unfairness of minorities’ existence in Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Pedro X

      “you Are kidding”

      Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people. Israel cannot occupy its own land given to Jews for their home. Under section 6 of the Mandate for Palestine, a sacred trust of civilization, Jews had a right of close settlement and development of land including government and waste lands. Israel did not give up, but preserved, its claims to Judea and Samaria when it signed an armistice agreement with Jordan in 1949. Jordan illegally occupied the lands of Judea and Samaria between 1949 and 1967. In 1988 it gave up its claims to the land. This left Israel with the only claim to sovereignty over the land.

      Even if you argue that both Israel and Jordan have and had no sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, the law that applies is the law of Mandate Palestine which gives Jews the right to close settlement and development on the land of what was Mandate Palestine. In fact the Charter of the United Nations says the rights of people under the Mandate system can not have their rights taken away from them without their consent. Jews and the Nation state of Israel have never surrendered their rights to live in Judea and Samaria.

      Reply to Comment
      • andrew r

        And yet you have for example UNSC 446, Affirming once more that the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 1/ is applicable to the Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem,

        You might argue these resolutions against Israel were only passed because the UN is stacked with Islamic countries (Or Soviet aligned countries, which for the purpose of that argument is more or less the same thing). And that’s well and good.

        That brings us to the question of where the LN got its legitimacy to confer a mandate. Of course it was simply the imperialist powers that won WWI inviting themselves to occupy territory, a bad joke for which people are still dying today as the punchline.

        So if Israel feels free to ignore the resolutions against the settlements, the people of the third world should scoff at the LN Mandate for Palestine, full stop.

        Reply to Comment
        • Margot Dunne

          Very well stated indeed.

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        • Whiplash

          What I argue is that such resolutions are invalid because they are contrary to law. A 1979 resolution cannot divest the Jewish people of their rights which were granted and vested under international law in 1922 and ratified by the Charter of the United Nations. Any later resolution which conflicts with prior law and rights vested is of no force or effect.

          When Great Britain, France and the allied nations won over Germany and the Ottoman empire, under international law, the law of the conqueror, they were entitled to do with German and Ottoman territories as they wished. Instead of turning the territories into British Crown and French colonies, they with more than 40 other members of the international community established the League of Nations and the system of mandates and trusteeships for peoples until they were able to govern themselves.

          Pursuant to the section 22 of the LON Covenant, mandates were a sacred trust of civilization. Once rights vested, they could not be taken back. Neither the grantor, the international community, nor the Trustee, Great Britain, had the power to abolish or relinquish the Jewish people’s right of close settlement and development of the territory of Mandate Palestine.

          The international community treated the division of territories as legitimate. In accordance with the mandate system, territories evolved into states with boundaries which were considered legitimate by the international community.

          The legitimacy of the mandate system was ratified by the United Nations’ Charter in 1945. Neither the force of Arab armies in 1948 or a hostile UN community has the power to take away the rights of the Jewish people to close settlement and development on non-private land in Judea and Samaria or the West Bank.

          These rights can only be bargained away or lost by non use of them by the willful actions of the Jewish people.

          Reply to Comment
    11. Wonderful ideas here ! And how about Israelis also enjoying freedom of movement – in and out of the occupied territories as used to be the case. Another way to challange the current blocage with civil disobedience.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Average American

      nsttnocontentcomment

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    13. Average American

      Article is saying military courts and military judges in West Bank? Wait, that’s not democracy, that’s Martial Law. So in West Bank it must be just “The Jewish State”, not “The Jewish AND Democratic State”. Wait, you can’t say that, West Bank isn’t part of Israel. It’s just just controlled by Israel, and Israel treats its natural resources as its own, and Israel builds on it as its own. It’s silly of me to try to apply Israeli civil law to West Bank. Wait, Israeli civil law is halaka law. It has two State Rabbis that judge civil matters. Wait, that’s not democracy either, that’s theocracy. Boy, Israel is a confusing place, hard to tell what the truth is.

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    14. Margot Dunne

      The more articles I read by Noam Sheizaf the more I admire him. He surely is the target for a lot of verbal rubbish, & he surely rings true. Israelis should be proud to have someone like him trying to engage them in a conversation they need to have before they lose more of the international credibility which is now wearing perilously thin.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Rebecca

      I think Noam is dismissing the potential contribution of a South African sanctions approach a bit too quickly. The South African divestment movement took 20 years before it reached the critical mass of international support, and that was on top of more than four decades of official apartheid and a few centuries of European colonization. A grassroots-driven international boycott movement is not going to produce effective pressure on Israel tomorrow, but as a medium-term contributor to global policy changes against the status quo it is one of the few real potential game-changers coming from a human rights motivation.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Richard Witty

      Equality before the law is the theme that will succeed.

      It is two-way. It means that those that advocate for rule of law will have to periodically defend settlers when their rights are abused.

      But, equal due process under the law is an undeniable appeal, and just.

      In pursuing that, Noam, you will have to drop everything else. Even the language of “ending the occupation” is too much of a politicization of the effort. It will suggest “what is that a euphemism for?”, rather than keeping your eye on the prize.

      As you say, equal rights can occur within a single state or a two-state format. (In a two-state format, to end with equal rights, it then requires advocacy within Palestine).

      An equal rights approach also implies normalization, rather than political anti-normalization. It requires dropping any advocacy for BDS, or use of “anti-colonial” language or right of return (for the implication of “should have been” definition of what equal rights means, rather than current residents).

      I think you make a LARGE mistake in insisting on the focusing on the occupation solely, rather than comprehensive social life, for Israelis and for Palestinians.

      It IS also what has been repeated and repeated vainly (not just Oslo, two-states form), and “got us here”.

      Equal rights is the path. Don’t get distracted.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Richard Witty

      Also,
      As irritating as it is, the majority of successful civil rights efforts succeeded primarily in the legal forum.

      The NAACP accomplished much more over eight decades in fact, than any of the more dramatic civil rights efforts (the freedom rides, grass-roots voting rights organizing, entirely non-violent marches were more than laudable as well).

      But, you have to give credit, that will repeat, to the sustained and indefatigable efforts of the civil rights activists and support that incrementally succeeded in changing the law in the US, starting in the “deserts” in the 30’s, then the seed of success of peer military and industrial service during WW2.

      Reply to Comment
      • mordechai ben yosef

        “As irritating as it is, the majority of successful civil rights efforts succeeded primarily in the legal forum.”

        Laws do not change unless there is pressure(political, financial and social) to change them. Civil rights laws changed in the US after thousands were killed and cities were destroyed in the civil war, urban rebellions, voter registration, etc. The oppressive laws in Israel and the occupied territories will change only after similar pressure. We can hope the human costs will be less, but recent events suggest otherwise.

        Reply to Comment
    18. ingride lewis

      Can Noam please explain what the occupation is.
      As I understand it israel left Gaze in 2005.
      Can Noam also address the hamas Charter which calls for the destruction of Israel.I would really like answers to these questions as i really want to be more fully informed. Thank you.
      Ingride Lewis

      Reply to Comment
    19. Patricia Dvorah Barron

      Naïve and stupid. Historically (and biblically ) inaccurate.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Samir

      Palestinians don’t want to live alongside the Israelis ,,,,,,,,too many times they said they want Israel for themselves(after killing all Jews )
      They don’t want to live peacefully ,they want to practice Islam !!!!

      Reply to Comment
    21. DavidE

      When speaking about “civil rights” one must define civil rights?

      The Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam

      http://www.fmreview.org/en/FMRpdfs/Human-Rights/cairo.pdf

      Here I found a definition which fits the Arab world. I assume this is what Noam Sheizaf is going for. You wouldn’t want to be paternal and force Western concepts on other cultures. It sounds great until you get to the following:

      ARTICLE 24: All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah.

      Reply to Comment
      • Average American

        Doesn’t Israel have two State Rabbis who judge civil matters, and who are the last stop of approval for anything coming out of the “government”?

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        • Guy L.

          No. Really, no.

          Religious affairs do sometimes seep into daily life, such as no public transportation on saturdays- and I had to deal with the chief rabbinate when I got married, but that’s about it.

          I think that the last time someone was put up in front of a rabbinical tribunal for breaking a commandment was around the time of Christ.

          There is a large religious population in Israel, obviously- and while Israeli mainstream votes are divided between several parties most of the religious voting power is not spread out as much. They’re not mystical leaders we all turn to for guidance and rapture, their politicians.

          Hey- there is also the waqf, and sharia courts in Israel- we’re a double theocracy! Yay!!!!

          Reply to Comment
          • Average Americanq

            Ok, thank you Guy for clarification.

            Reply to Comment
    22. You’ve brought up some good ideas. So what do you propose to do about it?

      Reply to Comment
    23. YGH

      I reached this article after receiving an email distributed by Alice Jay from Avaaz.org saying that “We don’t usually send opinion articles to our community, but this one is important”. Well, this one is NOT important at all.

      The author’s assertion that “We are deep in the status-quo solution” is FALSE: Israel is continually and relentlessly moving forward, and is not interested in a status-quo. Israel is interested in a process whereby the Arabs degenerate, decay and will eventually vanish and die out. The closed Arabic enclaves, or ghettos, are undergoing an unequivocal process of shrinking and degeneration.

      Hence, recommending a “civil rights struggle” for such a situation is as ridiculous as recommending a quarter of a glass of water to a cancer patient.

      Reply to Comment
    24. Tzila

      In a way only international strong pressure and Israeli internal strong pressure (with ¨sequela¨ in the internal politic arena ) will change this indefinite situation who was clearly forseen in 1968 by Yeshayahu Leibowitz ,writer/philosopher.

      Reply to Comment
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