Countering The Palestinian Nakba: One State For All – Book Review

Reviewed by Rifka Al-Amya

Eid, Haidar (Ed.).
Countering The Palestinian Nakba: One State For All.
Noor Publishing: Bahnhofstrabe, Germany. 2017

This review originally appeared in

World attention has been captured by Donald Trump’s unthoughtful statement about the one state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a precedent in American intervention in the Middle East. Never has any American president mentioned the one state solution. Trump’s solution, however, is NOT a secular, democratic state in which ALL citizens are equal regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, and race. His is an apartheid state, the AMERICAN South under Jim Crowe Laws, where Palestinians are treated as second-class citizens ruled by Israelis who happen to be born to Jewish mothers!
Hence the importance of this new book, Countering the Nakba: One State for All, edited, and contributed to, by the Gaza-based Palestinian scholar and activist Haidar Eid.

What do Palestinian, American and anti-Zionist Israeli intellectuals think of the failed “peace plans”? Resistance? What is a just solution to 69 years of dispossession?

As international journalists, commentators and political pundits speculate on the future prospects of peace between apartheid Israel and colonized Palestinians, many remain less than hopeful due to Israel’s continued disregard of Palestinian rights, expansion of settlements and construction of the Apartheid Wall, and the blockade of the Gaza Strip and transforming it into the largest concentration camp on earth.

Countering the Nakba is a collection of analytical writing on the conflict composed almost entirely of works by intellectuals and activists critical of the main-stream political ideology in the Middle East. By featuring voices of American, anti-Zionist Israeli, and Palestinian intellectuals and activists from a broad cross-section of academic institutions and civil society organizations, this book provides “an in-depth look at how alternative political programs and struggles can offer prospects for a just peace.”

The six chapters, and the introduction, from contributors shed light on the myths of the “peace process,” Palestinian resistance strategies and the plausibility of the racist two state solution.

Leading academics and activists examine the issue of Palestinian leadership both pre and post Arafat and Oslo. One chapter, The Zionist-Palestinian Conflict, by Haidar Eid, attempts to paint a different narrative, that of marginalized Palestinians, and addresses the transformation of Palestinian society after the formation of the PA, the lack of a just legal system and independent judiciary, the disregard for the rule of law, the violation of individual and collective rights, corruption, and the clampdown on political opposition.

Writers discuss the real possibilities for peace within the context of Israel’s continued expansion of illegal settlements and bypass roads, confiscation of Palestinian land for the construction of its “separation” Wall, and steadfast refusal to discuss the Palestinian Right of Return. Is a one state solution becoming more likely? How much are Israelis willing to give, and what can never be surrendered by oppressed Palestinians? The title of Ilan Pappe’s contribution is so telling: The One Palestine: Present, Past and Future Perspectives.

The questions raised in the introduction, by Haidar Eid, sum up the major issues tackled by the writers: what is to be done after the total collapse of the façade of various “peace processes” and failed solutions? Are there alternative solutions? By featuring voices of American (Clare Brandabur) Israeli (Tanya Reinhart and Ilan Pappe,) and Palestinian intellectuals (Haidar Eid and John Halaka) from a broad cross-section of academic institutions and civil society organizations.

All contributors to this book believe that the only just solution to the conflict is “the establishment of a unitary state in which all inhabitants are treated equally regardless of their religion and ethnicity, after the implementation of UN resolution 194 which call for the return of all Palestinian refugees and their compensation.” It includes very sharp critique of the Oslo Accords (Reinhart, Eid and Pappe). Clare Bradabur, in a hard-hitting chapter, titled Roadmap to Genocide, argues that the totality of Israeli practices since 1948 manifests a deliberate attempt to annihilate and dispossess the Palestinian people and therefore “falls under the rubric of genocide.”

John Halaka’s contribution, Outsiders on the Inside, explores what he calls “complex identity” of Palestinian-Israelis by studying the art work of several Palestinian-Israeli women artists, and how the history and image of the oppressed is “always in conflict with image and history imposed by the oppressor.”

The chapter by the late Tanya Reinhart was among the very last things she wrote before her untimely death. In her Edward Said Memorial Lecture of Adelaide University, (2006) Professor Reinhart argues that Israel’s “best” package offered by Ehud Barak, would have given Palestinians a non-sovereign, truncated “state” in return for a final termination of all rights and claims in historical Palestine, including the right of return.

Haidar Eid’s two contributions, and the introduction, raise some extremely important questions about the role played by the “Oslo Intelligentsia” in creating “false consciousness” amongst ordinary Palestinians that Oslo would lead to a “sovereign, independent state!” The title of the chapter on the Oslo intellectuals is Representations of Oslo Intelligentsia. It is a “Fanonian reading of the intellectual landscape in Post-Oslo Palestine.” Eid concludes with another chapter that is titled The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: An Alternative Narrative, in which he tries to envisage a future solution of a non-sectarian nature: a secular, democratic state for ALL.

The book has managed to get fascinating blurbs from a group of very committed South African anti-apartheid and Palestinian activists/scholars. Anti-apartheid fighter and former South African government minister, Ronnie Kasrils praised the book by saying that

the noble cause for Palestine today ranks as the struggle against Apartheid South Africa of yesterday. This powerful collection of essays sheds much needed insight into a possible future. The brilliant writing of these leading activists and intellectuals explores and inspires an alternative solution to 69 years of brutal oppression and injustice in historic Palestine.

And Prof. Salman Abu Sitta, Founder of Palestine Land Society, whose research on the right of return is known to all those activists fighting for justice in Palestine, comments:

The ethnic cleansing of Palestine is the most devastating event in Palestine’s 5000-year history. It still continues unabated today. In this collection of essays, distinguished scholars and activists pierce the wall of silence imposed on it in the West, expose its tragic dimensions and propose a remedy for removing this evil.

Nadia Hijab, Executive Director, Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network writes:

Despite his incarceration under the Israeli siege of Gaza, aided by the Egyptians, Haidar Eid’s indefatigable efforts to promote justice for the Palestinian people have most recently produced this volume of essays. The volume is a challenge to those who still uphold the two-state model for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and the essays make a reasoned case for “a unitary state in which all inhabitants are treated equally regardless of their religion and ethnicity,” as noted in the introduction. At a time when Israel is seeking to legalize its 50-year colonization project of the occupied Palestinian territory in the eyes of the world, it is vital to imagine and discuss alternative futures filled with human rights rather than the violation thereof. This timely volume helps to do just that.

And renowned Palestinian author and journalist Ramzy Baroud recommends it:

A crucial, unflinching articulation of the only true ‘roadmap’ to reversing the ongoing genocide in Palestine. Countering the Nakba explicates the obvious solution to a tragedy that has taken countless lives and caused tremendous suffering for decades. A sensible, intelligent reading of the situation in Palestine and Israel, and a most sensible vision towards a shared future. A strongly recommended read.

This is why it is highly recommended as a resource for Students of Middle Eastern politics, academics, activists, and journalists.

Rifka Al-Amya is from Gaza. She is a member of the One Democratic State Group and a BDS volunteer