Palestinians and Jews in One Complete Israel

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Israeli Arabs next to Israeli Jews in Jerusalem holding national flags to mark Israeli Indpendence Day and Palestinian Nakba Day respectively.
Israeli Arabs next to Israeli Jews in Jerusalem holding national flags to mark Israeli Indpendence Day and Palestinian Nakba Day respectively. Credit: Reuters

Tamer Nafar, in your Hebrew-language op-ed late last month, you propose that I walk with you “together on two separate paths,” in the words of poet Mahmoud Darwish. That’s poetry. I want you to talk to me in politics. Be concrete.

What does that mean exactly? What’s your plan for our lives together? What do you suggest? Do you want me to put you on an “Arabic-Hebrew, Palestinian-Jewish Noah’s ark in the middle of a flood that we're too weak to fight? Another metaphor.

Let’s talk straight. Let’s do something. Not a film, an article or a book. Not a “binational, broad language that has room for us all.” People can’t live inside a language. Your brother the refugee from Syria whose parents were exiled from Lod and who is now fleeing the Islamic State can’t live inside a language.

So let’s establish an organized political center together that will be a real alternative to the flood. Because that flood didn’t come from the sky. People in government brought it here. You and I have a common goal. We can be strong enough to fight the flood, but for that we have to organize and act.

I don’t know how to go “together on different paths.” I know what it is to end the accursed occupation together. I’m proposing real cooperation with you. I know I can’t ask for your trust as long as I insist that Israel is the state of the Jews.

And so I declare that it’s not the state of the Jews. Israel is the state of its citizens, more than 20 percent of whom are Palestinian. And so I call you and me Israelis. I am of Jewish origin, you are of Palestinian origin. And so I call for the annulment of the Law of Return. Jews in the Diaspora have no privileges in Israel.

You don’t have to thank me. You have to understand that this is dramatic. I want to establish an alternative political center of Jews and Arabs who define Israel as a binational state. Tamer, the day the Israeli left gives up Zionism and Arabs give up separatism, the day we are united instead of being divided, we will be able to create an enduring and organized struggle against the occupation. We will be able to create meaning that’s the opposite of racism, fascism and the rejection of Palestinian nationalism.

As for Palestinian nationalism, you talk to me about recognizing the Nakba, about realizing a Palestinian right of return. You talk to me about your pain and wounds. You think I’m proposing Israeli identity in exchange for you giving up your Palestinian identity.

Not true. On the contrary, the only Israeli identity I’m proposing is one that recognizes your inalienable right to your Palestinian identity. Your Palestinian identity is the reason Israel must not define itself as a Jewish state.

I propose that we be Israelis together out of respect for your Palestinian identity. Be an Israeli of Palestinian origin and I will be an Israeli of Jewish origin. Do you know a better formula?

You know as well as I that the two-state solution is dead. We are condemned to live together, even more so after the end of the occupation. Such a creation evolves into a nation based on the common basic element in you and me. Tamer, we were born here, we live here and we will die here.

We are both natives. We both have a natural right. I’m not responsible for the crimes of my ancestors against your ancestors. Stop handing down the Nakba from generation to generation. I don’t want to hear about a fourth generation of the Holocaust; that’s ridiculous. Tamer, if you and I don’t find a way to cooperate, the flood will drown us. Together.