Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Visit from the NSA (for Christmas)

Helena Pylväinen adapted the following for me for Christmas from “A Visit from St. Nicholas”:

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the land,
Not a hacker was hacking along the broadband.
The laptops were plugged by the chimney with care
With hopes that the outlets would work over there.

The children were nestled with their iPhones 4S
While visions of Candy Crush danced in their heads
And I, Edward Snowden, with a sense of foreboding,
Had just settled down with some Christmas Eve coding,

When in my neighbor’s lawn there are arose such a clatter
I hacked their surveillance to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew with a dash
When I realized the video feed was blurred with no flash.

The moon on the waves (this was Hawaii—no snow!)
Shed some much-needed sunlight to objects below,
When what to my vigilant eyes should appear
But a government sleigh and eight contract reindeer.

An overpaid driver with an oversized head—
I knew in a moment it must be the Feds.
Less eager than usual his coursers they came...
He must’ve used their vet records to call them by name:

“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid!  on, Donder and Blixen!
If you know what is good for you jump over that wall!
Now dash away quick! I have dirt on you all!”

To a familiar housetop the coursers they flew
(From satellite footage they already knew),
And then in a twinkling I heard in the roof
Jingling GPS trackers attached to their hoofs.

As I turned to make sure my Constitution was near,
The Fed Man jumped right down the chimney—oh dear!
He was dressed all in black, and on his lapel
Was his NSA badge—it was real, I could tell.

Arraying his gadgets and wires as he stood
I could not deny he was up to no good.
His eyes—how they twinkled! He clearly enjoyed
Taking on the worst deeds of his place of employ.

He was red-faced and plump, but this was no elf,
And I shivered as I saw him in spite of myself.
The glint in his eye as he tapped my whole home
I shudder to think of as I write you this poem.

But since I’m familiar with the Fourth Amendment,
I’d put up a fight. I was more than offended!
With my technical skills I had no need to cower.
I could reveal to the world these abuses of power.

Typing quite softly his system I hacked
Calls, photos, emails—there was nothing he lacked!
But laughing aloud at my government foes
I copied his files and up my own chimney rose.

I jumped in his sleigh—I was ready to whistle!
To Hong Kong I’d flee like the down of a thistle.
And I called to Feds ere I drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all! Enjoy tracking my flight!”

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dismantling Vichy

My latest for Mondo, also published in the Huffington Post:

Salam Fayyad is surviving on borrowed time - or money. By now everyone's aware that the Netanyahu-engineered "economic miracle" is the predictable result of periodic cash injections into a closed economic space. Pretending that Palestinian growth in the West Bank is viable is like pretending a six-year-old is rich because his mother handed him twenty dollars.

But it's more insidious than that. The unsustainable bubble economy fails to capture the means of production and therefore strengthens the occupation. That's because the European donor funds (that's how the Europeans remain 'relevant' to the 'peace process' -- they pay for what Israel breaks) are meted out in salary form to sustain Fayyad's repressive police statelet.

Those salaries are then spent on regular commodity goods -- yogurt, laundry detergent, cellular phones -- that are either produced by Israel or are subject to exorbitant import tariffs. At the same time, Israel imposes anti-market, anti-competitive, protectionist economic policies in the West Bank and Gaza to prevent the genesis or development of genuine Palestinian industry. The result is a badly developed Palestinian service economy whose primary function is to consume Israeli goods.

Israeli reliance on captive Palestinian markets was on full display recently. Fayyad (to his credit) implemented a modest boycott policy in the West Bank. Palestinians were asked to avoid consuming settler goods and they did. The Yesha Council -- a settler umbrella organization -- incisively proclaimed that "this is economic terrorism." Naturally, the prospect of being prevented from exploiting Palestinian markets and the implications for colonists' standard-of-living must have been terrifying.

Fayyad's repeated refrain -- which is parroted by Thomas Friedman and others like him -- is that the chief virtue of his undignified capitulation strategy is the opportunity to enhance and grow Palestinian institutions. Netanyahu evidently doesn't see it that way.

The unelected Palestinian Prime Minister apparently directed European development monies to occupied East Jerusalem. According to the Ma'an News Agency, the donor money was used to rebuild two schools there. Fayyad was keen to celebrate his modest achievement and rented a reception hall in the city. But Yitzhak Aharonovitch -- the Israeli security minister -- banned Fayyad from entering the occupied Palestinian territory. The tragicomic irony of the situation is that Fayyad is incapable of posing a genuine threat to the Israeli occupation in any case.

But if the Palestinian Authority cannot secure economic growth, and it cannot promote Palestinian institution-building (and appears to actively destroy them), and it cannot create a Palestinian state, why does it exist?

The answer is well-known to many people: The Palestinian Authority exists to secure the Israeli occupation against Palestinian resistance (the PA killed the Goldstone report). It exists to act as an intermediary between the ruling Jewish race and the governed Palestinian race in an apartheid state.

In return, Palestinian functionaries are permitted to wrap themselves in the accoutrements of power. It's anyone's guess whether they're aware of how insulated they are from the real thing. But that's how Salam Fayyad can brunch with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton one day and find himself banned from East Jerusalem the next.

None of this would be so bad if Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad's pretence at power wasn't so destructive for the Palestinians.

People are beginning to understand that there will never be a viable Palestinian state. Today the Palestinian grassroots are organizing around a full enfranchisement movement, or the one-state solution, in Palestine/Israel.

But "regional experts" have told Robert Wright of The New York Times "that in general officials on the Palestinian side don't welcome a one-state solution because that would deprive them of the power they have now, whereas they would remain prominent during the implementation of a two-state solution."

In light of all this, it's impossible to avoid the conclusion that the Palestinian Authority must be dismantled. The so-called peace process is a farce, and the Palestinian Authority is its most farcical element. It exists to enrich a few colonially-appointed functionaries at the expense of the Palestinian people as a whole. The Palestinians will be better off in its absence.

Besides, maintaining the PA is expensive. Rather than pay the middle man to administer an occupied people, the Israelis and their American benefactors can save the difference by administering their occupation themselves. That will leave the Palestinians free to wage the society-wide civil rights struggle that will result in their freedom.

To be sure, the de-PAification of Palestine can't be a one-fell-swoop process. It would be a mistake to replicate Paul Bremer's process of de-Baathification in Iraq. One cannot abruptly cut off the salaries of so many public service employees. Instead, the Europeans will provide money to the actual authority in Palestine/Israel for salary payments (the way it used to be before Oslo). All of the heavily-armed PA militiamen will have to be retired and outfitted for real work. The challenge will be evaluating how much damage was done to the social fabric after years of palling around with Israeli Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin and American General Keith Dayton.

The real value offered by the PA used to be the appearance of self-governance -- that's why it was worth paying for from the perspective of the Americans and Europeans. But an altered reality and an optics-indifferent Israeli Prime Minister have set the farce in bas-relief. Can anyone pretend that the Palestinians in the West Bank govern themselves when their "most powerful man" isn't permitted to attend a high school party?

It's time to let the mask slip away. Benjamin Netanyahu -- not Salam Fayyad -- is the unelected Palestinian Prime Minister. It's only by recognizing that reality that we can begin to fix our apartheid country.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Israel as the Jewish state?

Questioning the basis for Israel's existence in the Huffington Post:

Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama have spent a great deal of energy trying to forestall any discussion of Israel's Jewish character and what that actually means. The Israelis want the feckless and illegitimate Palestinian Authority head, Mahmoud Abbas, to affirm Israel's "right to exist as the Jewish state." But that raises the question: Does Israel have a right to continue as a race-exclusive state?

Israel is the Jewish state for the Jewish people. It came to be through an act of ethnic cleansing -- creating the world's most protracted refugee crisis in the process. Today, the Jewish state is home to about 1.5 million non-Jews. To be a non-Jew in the Jewish state is to be a second-class citizen. The ideology that underpins the existence of the Jewish state -- Zionism -- is a racist doctrine.

Zionism is the belief that Jewish people ought to be privileged in Palestine/Israel solely because of their race. Moreover, non-Jewish indigenous people -- the Palestinians -- must be forced off the land so that it can be settled by Jews. That's what happened in 1948 and that's what's happening today in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Many liberal Zionists don't like to acknowledge it, but the process that yielded the land west of the green line was just as wrong as anything the setters have done. Its scale was also several magnitudes larger.

I don't believe that militia that purged my people from their lands to create a racially pure Jewish state had a right to do so. I don't believe that the Jewish state has a right to exclude me from living as an equal citizen on the lands of my forefathers. I have a right to exist in Be'er Sheeva -- that's where my family is from. But, I am barred from doing so because I am not Jewish.

And that's really what all of this is about. I believe strongly that all people are equal, irrespective of race or religion. Israel was founded on just the opposite view. Most people agree that no state that takes racial supremacy as its foundational germ has a right to resist reform. So why is Israel the exception? Well, it's not.

It's astonishing that this is a controversial view in the 21st century. It's surely a feat of Zionist historicizing that otherwise intelligent and moral people in the West continuously affirm the "right of Israel to exist as the Jewish state." The racism inherent in this statement -- Jewish privilege exists through ethnic cleansing and apartheid -- is appalling. Yet, people uncritically affirm that "right."

Frankly, it is perverse and absurd to ask a brutalized people, a people who have been ethnically cleansed from their homes at the ends of European Zionist guns, to affirm the "right of the Jewish state to exist."

Barack Obama recently told the UN General Assembly that "Israel's existence should not be subject for debate." The American president should be reminded that as Leader of the Free World, his mandate ends with Palestine; the Palestinians are not free. Furthermore, as the principal enabler of Jewish Likudik policies, Obama is hardly a disinterested party to the conflict. He has a vested interest in a robust Israeli occupation. The Israel lobby threatens to derail his bid for reelection, and the lobby endorses Jewish privilege. That's how Obama ends up stumping for a racist state at the UN.

The existence of colonial entities is always subject for debate, and Obama should understand that. When he took the Oval office, he famously returned the bust of Winston Churchill to the British authorities. He was right to do so. Churchill was a rabid colonialist and was Prime Minister when Britain suppressed the Kenyan Mau Mau rebellion. Obama's grandfather was tortured by the colonial British authorities for resisting colonialism and fighting for his freedom.

The elder Obama had it right. Freedom is a human prerogative which propels people to resist overwhelming power, even in the face of torture. One wonders how the grandfather would react to see his grandson come down so forcefully on the side of racial oppression and colonialism.

It is time for the world to reject Zionism and Jewish privilege in Palestine/Israel. It is time for all the people in Palestine/Israel to live as equals. It worked in South Africa, and it has to work there.

I will never affirm the right of a Jewish person to purge my grandparents from their lands for being the wrong race. But I will work with that Jewish person's grandchild to create a non-racist, egalitarian future for all of us. What I'm talking about is the one-state solution, where all the people of Palestine/Israel live as equals under the law. Is that really so controversial?

My Article in the LA Times

I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to submit a response to the Israeli ambassador in the LA Times:

Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Michael B. Oren, argues in his Sept. 15 Times Op-Ed article that Israelis want peace, and I believe him. They've said so often enough. But the Israelis want lots of other things too.

For instance, they want the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In addition, they want the Palestinian aquifers situated beneath the West Bank, and they want to preserve their racial privilege in the Jewish state. They also want to shear the Gaza Strip from Palestine.

Most of all, the Israelis want Palestinian quiescence in the face of Israeli wants. Those wants have made the two-state solution impossible to implement.

For decades, the Israelis have taken what they want from the Palestinians. Consequently, there are about 500,000 settlers in Jewish-only colonies in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Today, the Israelis are discovering that what one wants and what one can afford sometimes diverge.

Some Israelis — but apparently not Oren — are beginning to realize that the deep, irreversible colonization of territory comes with a price: the end of the Jewish state as it is. It's a painful lesson to learn, especially after decades of superpower indulgence. America's obsequious coddling turns out to have been a curse for the Jewish state. Serious cost-benefit analyses around occupation policies — collectively, apartheid — were evidently never conducted.

When Israel killed 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza — proportionally equivalent to 300,000 Americans — in Operation Cast Lead, incoming President Obama stayed mum. The Israelis counted on and got American cover. But they didn't anticipate the impact of Richard Goldstone's damning report on world opinion and the American layperson's views. No one seems to have ever asked, "Wait, what will killing more than 300 children do to our image abroad? Can we afford to launch an assault against a defenseless and captive population just because President Bushsays we can while Obama remains silent?"

Oren's words fail to obscure the "facts on the ground" Israel has established in recent decades. These facts were engineered to entrench Israel's permanent presence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The conversation the ambassador is engaging in would have been timelier 42 years ago before Israel's colonies killed the two-state solution, which was never an equitable solution anyway.

Today, the ambassador's words are not just empty platitudes to peace but also effectively irrelevant. That's because honest and well-informed observers understand that there will never be a viable Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza.

Obama's circus — the so-called peace process — is designed only to pacify the perennial bugaboo of U.S. politics. The Israel lobby wants to promote the illusion that Israelis want a Palestinian state to enable the continued colonization of occupied land. It's unclear why anyone seems to think that the theatrics are an effective smokescreen at this late stage.

Yet the reality is that Palestine/Israel is already one country. Five hundred thousand settler-colonists in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have congealed in place; small numbers may be evacuated, but the vast majority are not going anywhere.

Furthermore, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad stand for no one and nothing. The two men have no democratic mandate. Their terms in office having long expired, they are propped up by American and Israeli leaders who seek weak leaders as more apt to concede fundamental Palestinian rights. Of course, these are concessions they are incapable of making legitimately.

Abbas' presidential term ended in January 2009, and Fayyad was illegally reappointed after the Fatah coup attempt against Hamas in June 2007. They cooperate so extensively with Israeli forces that the Palestinian Authority is more like a subcontracted colonial government than an adversarial negotiating party.

Obama recently asserted that Abbas knows "the window for creating a Palestinian state is closing." But Abbas, Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are already too late. Unless Abbas accepts noncontiguous "Bantustans" and uses U.S.-trained forces to enforce the abandonment of Palestinian rights, one state will become increasingly clear to all involved as the only alternative to apartheid. In effect, Israel will have colonized itself out of existence.

As in South Africa, it is time for Israeli leaders to embrace a pluralistic and humanistic vision for the state. Rather than lecture on Israel's desire for a lopsided "peace," Oren should begin to imagine a state in which each person — Jewish or non-Jewish — is equal under the law irrespective of religion or race. He can begin to imagine an apartheid-free society.

To see it in practice, he could travel through the American South. Yes, the American South and post-apartheid South Africa are not perfect, but they are dramatically improved over the reality of 50 years ago — a discriminatory and racist reality still endured today by Palestinians.

To be fair, we Palestinians also want a lot. We want what people everywhere else do: to live as free human beings in our country, in the absence of a foreign military occupation. We want to return to our towns and cities that were ethnically cleansed of us in 1948. We want to vote for our government, the one that controls every aspect of our lives. We want a united Jerusalem. And, when the state is united, we want an ambassador who speaks for all of us, not just the Jewish half of the country.

Put differently, we want equality and justice.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Remembering Gaza

This was tough writing, but I'm glad I did. For Mondoweiss:

The unending death-news maelstrom assaults the reader with what seems like daily frequency. Our digital distance simultaneously transports us to and shields us from the bedlam. We are assaulted virtually – our empathy enables that – but experience none of the flechette-mangled corpsifying assault that the victim does. We are free to imagine, knowing full well we are wholly incapable of adequately doing so.

News of the murders of Ibrahim Abu Sayed, Hossam Abu Sayed and Ismail Abu Odastruck me with a dull thump. I was saddened, but exhausted. The endgame is within reach – the end of apartheid is knowable and doable – and the Zionists destroy human lives senselessly. I can’t do anything for them. They’re dead already, so just stay focused on the horizon. Remember, this is a marathon effort.

I was surprised at my reaction, at the total absence of anger. I wondered if my rage nerves were temporarily frazzled. Being immersed in Palestine – constantly attuned to it – begins to take a psychological toll. One of our safety mechanisms is to divorce and disconnect. Reality is somewhere else, not here, not now, not on a Friday night.

But a more sinister possibility insistently pushed itself into my conscience. I began to think that I’d become desensitized to the deaths of small numbers of humans. Leave your TV on static long enough, and your brain will tune it out; maintain a steady death rate, and people will tune it out. There was truth in the thought and it horrified me.

I was born in Gaza. My entire extended family is in Gaza. I was there ten years ago, and visited the border recently in February. And yet, I allowed myself to grow numb, to slip into a superficial ritual of affirming their – my – humanity without remembering their daily trials. I found that my memory failed me, and something wooden had taken its place.

Adie Mormech’s piece helped me to remember Gaza. I was reading it when I had the haunting realization that I knew the Oda family. They’re Bedouin, just like the Abu Moors. Their farm is near my father’s farm. And I think that they’re also from Be’er Al Sabaa, and also members of the Tarabin tribe.

I began to wonder: Mohammed Abu Oda, the man interviewed in the article, is that the same Mohammed who greeted my father, my brother, and me early in the summer of 2000 with tea and watermelon at his family’s home? There were small children running around that day. They were shy and had snotty noses. They giggled and ran around, slapping at you when you weren’t looking. The 16-year-old corpse, Ismail Abu Oda, was he one of them?

I remembered my father marching my brother and me around our few dry dunums, triumphantly showing of his newly planted olive trees and fig trees. The Israelis razed them all some years ago. I felt a stultifying, enraged impotence when my father told me – I remember that. Those trees were my inheritance.

And I remember my great uncle – one of Ibrahim Abu Sayed’s contemporaries – rolling his tobacco with large, thick fingers. I remember the way the fat flies settled thick on everything when he looked at me and said, “The earth is like a woman, the more you plow it the more it yields.” He laughed and my father laughed, but warned me not to repeat what I’d heard.

My cousin Eyad later built a two-bedroom hovel on the land near the place where I captured that memory, on the farm he’d inherited from his dead father. I remember his bucked yellow-stained teeth when he laughed. He chain-smoked Viceroys and wasn’t very bright. My father helped him find a job making tea and sweeping floors in an office in Gaza city. I vaguely remember news of his wedding. And I remember the day in 2007 when I learned of his death.

The Israelis declared curfew but failed to tell anyone. Eyad stepped out of his home at dawn and had his face hole-punched open by a sniper’s bullet. Another one buried itself deep in his chest. He was 28 and had three children. His wife was pregnant with their fourth.

I remember that for days I grieved. Images of his decomposition flashed in the contours of my mind as I pictured what was happening to him underneath Gaza’s hard, dry earth. I remember the regret I felt that I’d ever condescended to him, or spoken harshly to him. Later that week, I went out with friends in New York and I remember the shame of having buried it – him – so quickly.

These and other thoughts cascaded into my head. And suddenly I was mourning Ibrahim and Hossam Abu Sayed and Ismail Abu Oda. These three human beings, two of whom hadn’t even begun to live, were murdered. They were family and now they’re gone.

There is no “Why?” here which makes coping difficult. There is nothing I can do for them and that makes it difficult, too. In the face of so much death we have no choice but to push ahead. We also have a responsibility to not forget. The difficulty isn't going away and so we must watch ourselves lest we become become inured to it.

Palestinian Guns in Lebanon

I had a theme that week. Got some pretty nasty comments, but it's chill. Here's Palestinian guns in Lebanon in the Guardian:

Lebanon is regenerating. On balance, the country's collective sloughing off of history has been more successful than not. It is only 20 years since the civil war ended, and the memories of internecine atrocities remain; sporadic sectarian violence is a fact of life here. Fortunately, the Lebanese have avoided descending once more into civil war's morass but, despite all the healing, the Palestinian refugee issue still festers.

I was visiting a friend of mine – a magazine editor – for coffee at her office in east Beirut. The new labour law for Palestinians had just been enacted and we talked about it for a while. I told her it didn't go far enough, and she insisted that it ceded too much.

Her view was that the Palestinians in Lebanon have to offer more before making demands on the Lebanese state. More specifically, Palestinian arms in and out of the camps must be reined in. If the Palestinians want full rights and access, they've got to give something in return. The fear is that guns and greater access to economic opportunities will result in Palestinian dominance – which is the way it used to be. So it's one or the other.

Palestinian guns – or more broadly, resistance – became an institutionalised part of Lebanese life in 1969. That's the year that the Egyptian president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, brokered the Cairo agreementbetween Yasser Arafat and General Emile Bustani, the Lebanese army leader. The agreement's purpose was to define the scope of Palestinian life in Lebanon. It ceded security control within the camps to Palestinians, and affirmed their right to join in armed resistance against Israel.

In practical terms, the agreement contributed to the continuous erosion of state control in Lebanon, which led to its eventual abrogation by the state in 1987. Despite that, the Palestinian camps are still mostly self-administered and heavily armed.

I've heard repeatedly from Palestinians in the camps that their guns are trained only to the south – towards Israel. And, for a long time, they were. Palestinians contributed heroically to guerrilla campaigns against invading Israeli forces in the 1970s and 1980s. But the intervening decades have seen the resistance mantle pass from the Palestinians to a strong and vibrant Lebanese force, Hezbollah.

It was Hezbollah fighters, not the Palestinians, who were credited withliberating most of southern Lebanon from Israeli occupation. And it was Hezbollah that repelled the Israeli onslaught in 2006. Along with the Lebanese army, Hezbollah claims to be part of the country's national defence – a claim that few would dispute on factual grounds, regardless of whether it's a rightful role.

Meanwhile, Lebanon's Palestinians live in the thrall of dark memories. They commune with the spirits of Sabra and Shatila and clutch their weapons. They recall the War of the Camps and grasp them more tightly. Theirs is an endless insecurity. They exist outside the social fabric and rely on an illusion of martial security.

I use the word "illusion" deliberately. When terrorists infiltrated the Nahr al-Bared camp in 2007, the army simply razed the camp to eliminate them. Here the Palestinians felt their second-class status acutely – a Lebanese village would not have been razed – and saw that their guns were powerless to prevent the destruction.

The Lebanese state has an interest in demilitarising its territory. Indeed, the Taif agreement – which precipitated the end of the civil war – called for the disarmament of all the militias in Lebanon. However, the issue of national security still prevents its complete implementation.

The only party that ought to exercise martial control is the Lebanese army. But while the army manages internal security effectively, it is Hezbollah's intelligence services and strategic use of force that fends off Israel. So while the Taif agreement and the disarming of militias is accepted in principle, honouring it should not come at the expense of diminished national security.

If the Palestinians are to disarm, Lebanon must provide them with security guarantees – which means that other historically antagonistic militias must also be disarmed. Palestinians won't consent to relinquishing their arms so long as the Lebanese Forces militia possesses the strength to massacre civilians in the camps once again. Therefore, Palestinian disarmament has to occur within the context of a greater Lebanese disarmament.

Simultaneously, the state ought to incentivise Palestinian disarmament by increasing access to Lebanese society; it's not enough to say that Palestinian security is guaranteed. In an ideal world, Palestinian rights – which are human rights – would be unlinked to the issue of arms. But Lebanon's is a fractious society, and one must take other communities' legitimate concerns into account to realistically promote the country's progress.

To be sure, what I'm proposing here isn't feasible in the near term. The issue of sectarian self-defence is not going to be solved overnight, or in the next decade. But the status quo is inherently unstable – Lebanese leaders realise that.

For the country to progress and succeed, it needs a strong central government, and it needs to drastically improve the lot of its second-class population. The Lebanese – all of them – along with the Palestinian refugees can only benefit from a stronger state apparatus. Before Lebanon can move past the civil war, it needs to neutralise the factors that contributed to its eruption.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Palestinian Guns

I wrote the piece below primarily as a response to my father, who was surprised about what I said about Palestinian arms in the previous article for Mondo. I think he came around after reading it.

That's not true of everyone. A friend confronted me when we were out last night. I did my best to explain, but I'm not sure he bought it:

Many people reacted strongly with disapprobation to my "Hamas attack was wrong" post yesterday. Nearly everyone agrees that murdering civilians is wrong, but some question whether the settlers are civilians in the first place. The settlers are racial supremacists whose race pride, irrational hatred and extermination fantasies combine to make Palestinian lives unlivable. They carry guns and are simultaneously the driving force behind and justification for the occupation.

Others, my father among them, asked how I could assert that the time for armed struggle is over.

We correctly insist that Israel contravenes international law by transferring civilians onto occupied land. Nothing has changed. Israel continues to contravene international law in that way. But reasonable people can still disagree about whether the settlers are civilians. I still insist that they are. And murdering civilians is wrong.

The more controversial claim is that the time for armed struggle is over. How can I possibly say that when the settlements continue to grow, Zionists are racially purging Palestinians from Jerusalem and pauperizing and suffocating them in Gaza? How much of this are Palestinians supposed to tolerate?

It’s a very easy question to answer, but only because I believe in some basic assumptions:

1 There will never be a Palestinian state

2 The settlements will not, under any circumstances, cease to grow or be established

3 The Israelis will continue to racially purge Jerusalem

4 Palestinian guns cannot prevent any of this from happening

And finally,

5 Our superior morality – which is accessible to everyone, including erstwhile Zionists – is the key to undoing the Zionist state and creating a country where Palestinians and Jewish people can live equally.

We must accept that Zionist aggression will continue. Furthermore, guns will not repel or defeat the irrational Zionist hatred of Palestinians and other non-Jews in Palestine/Israel. But that does not mean we are powerless to rid ourselves of Zionism?

The only way to undo the Zionist state – which is my unambiguous goal –is by insisting on our right to vote. I believe strongly that the Palestinian struggle is not about independence; I don’t want a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza. Instead, the Palestinian struggle is now about equal rights in the entire state of Palestine/Israel. Those of us who are refugees want the entire country back.

We are all angry. But allowing our anger to override and overwhelm our long-term, humanist vision for Palestine/Israel – many of us profess to believe in the one-state solution, after all – is an excellent way to confound ourselves.

It’s often repeated that terrorism is the weapon of the weak. But we are not weak.

Our moral right – the righteousness of our cause – suffuses us with a strength which will overwhelm Zionism. All the guns in the world can’t accomplish what we will if we don’t lose focus and succumb to unworthy sentiments. It’s time to put the guns away.