The text that follows was submitted to Deir Yassin Remembered by someone who wishes to remain anonymous. It is presented here for your consideration and discussion.
Foreword to Model Palestinian Declaration of Independence
The chances for a Palestinian state seem to be evaporating, yet things aren’t hopeless. “Facts on the ground” are not immutable unless they’re assumed to be. Whatever can be built also can be torn down or abandoned. However, the “peace process” is not the way to a viable Palestinian state.
Yet the Palestinians are slow to abandon it. Some see unity as a way to strengthen themselves in the “process”. But the “process” is a charade to buy Israel time to complete its expropriation of Palestine.
Palestinians need to realize that the U.S. also is their oppressor. Much of the U.S. aid they get is to enhance Israeli security, and it is subject to being frozen or withdrawn if they do not comply with Israeli demands. The Palestinians need to make a clean break from the U.S., Israel, and all nations, organizations and “processes” antithetical to their interests. They need to redouble their efforts to cultivate new friends and allies. They need to declare anew their unified independence and pursue it unwaveringly. The 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence could not anticipate their current dependency, the new abuses inflicted upon them, or the new options open to them. A new document is needed to declare their accumulated grievances to the world, to break counterproductive dependency, to reject the “peace” process as currently constituted, and to appeal to the non-Israel aligned world for support, especially through boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. Ironically, the U.S. Declaration of Independence provides an ideal template for such a document.
The following is an example of what could be done in this regard. An efficacious document would have to be generated by Palestinian leadership.
New Declaration of Independence
The State of Palestine
On July 4, 1776, under occupation, oppression and colonization by England, the United States of America’s forefathers declared a free and independent nation. Now we Palestinians are enduring occupation, oppression and colonization by Israel with American support. Firmly resolved to throw off our oppressor and to establish our independence, and taking for our model America’s Declaration of Independence, we hereby state our case and declare our intentions before God and the world.
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WHEN, IN THE COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS, IT BECOMES NECESSARY FOR ONE people to dissolve the bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of humankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths self-evident: That all people are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among people, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any government imposes itself without such consent, it is the right of the people to alter, abolish, or disown it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation upon such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience has shown that humankind is more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object of expropriating all of historic Palestine, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these territories; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of Israel and its precursor Zionist entity is one of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the absolute conquest of our country, tyranny over, and expulsion of, our indigenous population, and the colonization and annexation to itself of our lands and properties. These following wrongs have been, and continue to be, by and large, aided and abetted by the United States of America, the self-proclaimed champion of freedom, equality and democracy, and by certain of its allies. To prove all this, let facts be submitted to a candid world:
Decades before the European holocaust, the Zionist entity claimed Palestine for the Jews based on presumed ancient configurations, in total disregard for contemporary demographic and legal realities and the natural rights and aspirations of we, the Palestinian majority, living therein.
For centuries we had lived in peace with the native Jews in Palestine. We would have welcomed the Jewish immigrants had they wished to equitably share Palestine with us. But they wished to turn Palestine into a state for themselves, compelling us to resist.
Seeking a place not only for holocaust refugees but also for all Jews everywhere, the Zionist entity used deceit and terror to drive us from our homes and lands in western Palestine, making us refugees and casting us into exile in the West Bank, Gaza, and around the globe. Those of us it did not subject to ethnic cleansing it relegated to second-class citizenship.
Backed by America at the United Nations, the Zionist entity recast itself as the state of Israel, which used lethal force to bar us from returning to our homes and lands in western Palestine. Many of these properties it conveyed to its own people without compensation to us.
Having no immediate use for them and to prevent our return to them, Israel obliterated 531 of our villages, drove us out, and confiscated their land on the pretext that we had abandoned the villages.
In wanton ethnic cleansing, Israel and the Zionist entity systematically terrorized and massacred our men, women and children at over 30 of our villages, most notoriously at Deir Yassin in 1948..
Israel used deadly force, imprisonment and torture against us when we tried to return to our properties in western Palestine, calling us infiltrators and terrorists despite our being at first almost entirely unarmed.
Not satiated by its theft of our property and its destruction of our livelihoods, Israel’s prime minister declared, in further effort to erase us, “There is no such thing as a Palestinian!”
To portray itself as a democracy, Israel permitted a small minority of us to remain in its race-based state. There we subsist, discriminated against in immigration and emigration rights, property rights, transportation, education, employment, housing, healthcare, political opportunities, and more.
Jews from anywhere can easily enter and exit Israel, and readily immigrate to and emigrate from Israel. If we leave and do not return in a short time we cannot return; we cannot immigrate to Israel, and if we emigrate it is virtually impossible to return.
In 1967 Israel attacked and occupied the rest of Palestine – the West Bank and Gaza – where many of us had taken refuge from its 1948 ravages. There it has maimed and murdered us, demolished our homes and confiscated our properties, destroyed our livelihoods, and facilitated the transfer of over 500,000 of its preferred people to the West Bank. All of this has made many of us refugees all over again.
It subsidizes its preferred people to build on our land and protects them with its American-subsidized army.
It has encircled us with a high wall that cuts far into the West Bank, separating us from our fields, workplaces, business associates, schools, relatives, friends and neighbors.
It has encumbered our West Bank roads with hundreds of checkpoints and roadblocks that harm our society and cripple our economy.
It endlessly harasses us with the aim of inducing us to leave our homeland, never to return.
It forces those of us who do not leave into increasingly small cantons, ghettoizing us under apartheid-like conditions.
It excludes us from its segregated, Jews-only roads and public transportation system.
Though it removed its settlements from Gaza in 2005, it continues to tyrannize us there by its suffocating control of our borders that represses our commerce with the outside world, impoverishes us, and turns Gaza into our Warsaw Ghetto.
With the full support of the United States, it responds to our desperate resisters by branding us terrorists and striking our civilian communities with massive, disproportionate force. It uses illegal weapons against our civilians, including white phosphorus and cluster bombs in its 2009 massacre of 1400 us in Gaza. Four hundred of our children and women were among those it murdered there.
It acts in cynical bad faith in the so-called “peace process”, typically demanding unreasonable preconditions and raising egregious objections to stall or break down negotiations; it uses the time gained thereby to further colonize the West Bank and East Jerusalem and to strengthen its hold on our land. We will not participate further in these negotiations in the absence of Israeli recognition of our right to exist, an effective moratorium on new Jewish settlements, and the elimination of all unreasonable Israeli preconditions.
It incessantly demands that we acknowledge its “right” to exist as a state in which Jews are given priority over us, on lands it has taken from us by violence and contrivance; but it refuses to acknowledge our right to exist freely in our own land. We recognize Israel only in that it exists and reject all claims that it has a right to exist as a state in which Jews are privileged over all others.
It resists calling us by our rightful name, dismissing us as “Arabs” of vague provenance; it destroys our buildings, streets and villages; and its endeavors in innumerable other ways to erase our history, culture, and very existence.
It withholds tax revenues from us to further dominate and coerce us.
It hinders our farmers from accessing their fields to sow, tend, and harvest their crops.
It destroys our crops and prevents our produce from reaching its markets.
It obstructs our sick, injured, pregnant and elderly from getting timely medical care.
It hinders and delays our students from reaching their schools and universities, harming their career prospects and irrevocably damaging our economy.
It violently attacks our non-violent protests and demonstrations against its inhuman actions .
It conducts “extra-judicial killings”, targeting our resisters without due process of law, often maiming and killing our innocent bystanders including many children and women.
It conducts unannounced night searches reminiscent of the Gestapo, breaking and entering our homes without warrants, dragging away those of us it chooses, “detaining” us indefinitely without charges or legal representation, interrogating us under duress and torture, and imprisoning us indefinitely without sentence.
It has defied, ignored and circumvented United Nations resolutions calling for it to end its occupation and colonization of our lands and to honor our right to return to our homes.
In collaboration with the United States, it obstructs recognition of our statehood by the United Nations and advocates sanctions against us seeking it.
In further collaboration with the United States, it endeavors to divide us in order to weaken us, and to punish us for attempting to unite by withholding tax revenues paid by us and by the suspension of financial aid from the United States.
It assaults and murders unarmed civilians in international waters attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to us in Gaza.
It provokes a few of our desperate youth to self-destructive violence, then condemns us as terrorists and attacks our communities with indiscriminate lethal force.
It demands that we end all violence as a precondition for peace negotiations, but persists in its provocations. If we cannot suppress all reaction to its provocations, it proclaims that it has no partner for peace.
In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms; our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A state such as Israel, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define tyranny, is unfit to be included in the community of free nations.
Nor have we been wanting in our attentions to our Israeli brethren. We have warned them from time to time, of their attempts to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our presence here. We have appealed to their justice and magnanimity; and we have conjured them, by the ties of our common kindred, to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. With few exceptions, they have been deaf to the voice of justice and reason. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which announces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies if they continue their assaults upon us, friends if they desist and make amends.
We, therefore, the Palestinian representatives of the West Bank and Gaza, in general congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these territories, solemnly publish and declare, that these territories are, and rightfully ought to be A FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATE; and that they are absolved from all association with the Israel-United States collaboration, and that all political, economic, financial, taxation and military connection between them and the Israel-United States collaboration is, and rightfully ought to be, totally dissolved; and that, as a free and independent state, the STATE OF PALESTINE has the right to defend itself, to conclude peace, to contract alliances, to levy and collect its own taxes, to establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may rightfully do. And for the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. Rejecting aggression and violence against civilians and having inadequate force of arms to free ourselves from our oppressor, who is so abundantly underwritten, subsidized and armed by the United States of America, we earnestly appeal to fair-minded, freedom-loving people and nations everywhere to rally to our cause by providing us such financial assistance as they are able; by BOYCOTTING every consumer, academic, and cultural product of the Zionist state; by DIVESTING from all companies, corporations, and organizations profiting or otherwise benefiting from its occupation of our land and domination of our people; and by petitioning their governments to institute SANCTIONS against Israel until it accedes in our absolute sovereignty over and right to exist in independence, freedom, and peace in our sovereign STATE OF PALESTINE encompassing the West Bank including East Jerusalem; Gaza; and an effective, secure connecting corridor.
[signed by Palestinian leadership]