Israelis and Palestinians Each Need Own State

    Mr. Smith’s central issue seems to be that we don’t acknowledge the full reality of the occupation. 

    This is a surprising charge given that our organization has hosted Uri Zaki, American Director of B’Tselem, the Israeli information center for human rights in the Occupied Territories and Abeer Natsheh and Shirly Coifman of OneVoice Palestine and Israel, who are building support for Palestinian self-determination in their respective societies — events that addressed the daily violations of human rights that make the occupation such a moral and political disaster for Israel, the U.S. and of course the Palestinians who live under it.

    Mr. Smith goes on to charge that we don’t support a one-state resolution to the conflict. He is right. Mr. Smith would like to believe that this conflict is a simple story of right versus wrong, oppressor versus oppressed. 

    It is not. While we acknowledge there is a power imbalance, it is a conflict between two legitimate national aspirations, two peoples who both claim the same land. 

    And the loss and suffering on both sides is real. The only resolution, we believe, is one that grants a state to each people, a homeland in which they each can determine their own destiny.

    This is also the only outcome, we believe, that can effectively end the occupation that Mr. Smith and we agree is so morally repugnant. 

    We are organizing to end that occupation, and achieve a Palestinian state, by pushing our government to exercise its considerable power on behalf of justice. 

    We have seen some gains to this effect, including our successful efforts in lobbying on behalf of funding for schools and hospitals in the West Bank. There is, of course, much work to do.

    Succeeding in that work, we believe, requires building a broad base of support — among those who believe that both the Jewish as well as Palestinian people deserve a homeland. That’s why we tabled last week.  

    And that’s why we’ll continue to reach out to those who want to recognize the claims of both peoples.

      Recognizing the aspirations and narratives of both Israelis and Palestinians is not a means of avoiding the issue, as Mr. Smith contends, but is rather the crucial first step to achieving freedom and security for all who live in the region.

    —Jacob Silverman
    Senior, Marshall College
    President, J Street U

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