One Man, One Vote

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A rally in support of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails in Ramallah, in September.

The time has come, my occupied cousins. There is no point in continuing on your present path. Just consider this brief review of the new government’s first months:

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett promises with cunning magnanimity that his government will not annex territory and will “only” continue with settlement construction. As if this “continued construction” is not equivalent to continued annexation by small bites.

U.S. President Joe Biden states with a concerned expression that “the conditions are not ripe yet for the two-state solution.” As if he didn’t really understand what Bennett said.

The silent sheep sitting in the government (predictably) find themselves wriggling in discomfort as they provide the imprimatur for noxious policies. Just as the sheep in every unity government ever formed have always done.

The series of pogroms by terrorists from the settlements who unleash their basest instincts against men, women and children is blossoming. And all with the backing, encouragement, support and turning of a blind eye by the army, the police, the government, the faltering legal system and the indifferent media.

Given all of this, dear cousins, a mental switch has to be made. No more “peace process” that isn’t going anywhere. No more “negotiations” in which no negotiating occurs. No more talk of a “return to the table” that was long ago covered with spiderwebs. These have all become pointless. There is nothing to be gained there. It is time for a new message. A message that consists of just one demand. A demand that is clear and just: One man, one vote. Full voting rights for the entire population living under the Israeli boot. Full partnership in the election of those who run their lives, control their welfare, their rights, their future. Like the women in Switzerland, the slaves in America, the Blacks in South Africa.

The “One Man, One Vote” slogan has a special power. It’s a language that the world recognizes, remembers, respects. Perhaps it will manage to wake the world from its coma. Break its silence. Compel it to take a sober look at the reality that Israel strenuously tries to hide: Five million people squashed by a tyrannical regime whose malevolence defies imagination, who are denied even the most basic democratic right. “One Man – One Vote” is also the slogan that broke the apartheid regime in South Africa after 46 years. It should be given a chance to break the Israeli apartheid after 54 years.

This will not happen, of course. Naïvete has its limits. The Holocaust and the Iranian scarecrow will be made to work overtime to save us from the danger of justice and humanity. But if, by mistake, a messiah stumbles into the region and in a moment of compassion, decides to realize the dream, Israelis and Palestinians will suddenly get along famously, with just one small problem dividing them: what to call their shared country. Palestine won’t agree to “Israel” and Israel won’t agree to “Palestine.” And knowing the characters involved, it’s a safe bet that matters will heat up in the blink of an eye, and the guns will soon be rumbling. But that mustn’t be allowed to happen.

So, here is my proposal for solving this decisive question right now, before the messiah arrives. There is one thing that everyone agrees Israel and Palestine have in common – geographically, historically, culturally and linguistically: the Levant. We are all part of the Levant. Thus, the perfect name for this shared country would be Levantine. The State of Levantine. And all of its citizens would be known as Levantines. (For anyone concerned that there is something derogatory about the name “Levant,” I suggest reading up a bit about the history of the term, or perusing the work of Jacqueline Kahanoff, a proud Levantine).

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