To mark Brandeis University’s first ever Israeli Apartheid Week, Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace brought Ali Abunimah to campus on Wednesday as the keynote speaker for the week of protest.
A Palestinian American journalist and co-founder of Electronic Intifada, Abunimah presented his vision for a one-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I think it is important that these questions are being asked at Brandeis,” Abunimah said in the opening of his speech. “On the question of Palestine there is so much fear in questioning and discussing, in challenging accepted narratives and claims, and this often makes people very uncomfortable.”
Calling the state of the Middle East an “untenable situation,” Abunimah described a military dictatorship for Palestinians, run by an Israeli government.
“We’re in this situation today where Abe Foxman and Jeffrey Goldberg and Alan Dershowitz are whining that we’re having these discussions about the single state. This is recognition of the reality that there is already a single state,” Abunimah said. Abunimah described a single entity with 12 million people, half Israeli Jews and half Palestinians, but all ruled by a sectarian Jewish government.
“There is a single state with one government that decides whether the lights go on or off in Gaza,
Abunimah said. “Nothing happens without the consent of this sectarian government.” The challenge he said, is whether this single state will continue as an apartheid state or become a democratic state.
Across the Israeli political spectrum, Abunimah argued, there is a widespread rejection of the notion of a single democratic state. “The vast majority [of Israelis] still insist on maintaining a separate Jewish majority state, even though they blind themselves to the reality that they can only do so by violently suppressing the rights of millions of Palestinians,” Abunimah said.
Abunimah critiqued pro-Israel organizations such as the David Project for setting a tone where the issue cannot be discussed. “It’s no surprise, in my opinion, that the David Project does not want people to talk about this,” he said.
Abunimah’s speech was followed by a Q&A discussion, with questions from both his longtime followers and pro-Israel supporters, including students from the Brandeis Zionist Alliance and members of the right wing pro-Israel Hasbara Fellowship who disagreed with many of Abunimah’s points.
“[Israel] is dependent on activities which define the most fundamental human rights of Palestinians, which is fine if you don’t view Palestinians as human. But it’s not fine if you do,” Abunimah said.