Alternative Palestinian Agenda

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Not Just the Occupation
Response to Edward Said's
"A New Current In Palestine"

January 31, 2002
David Dugan


I have great respect for Edward Said, but I feel that his emphasis on ending the Israeli occupation diverts our attention from more fundamental issues. I think that one of the reasons the occupation continues is because any alternative so far presented has not promised to bring peace and security to either side of the conflict. A simple ending of the occupation (and the setting up an independent Palestinian state) will not improve the situation of one quarter of Israel’s own citizens who are “Israeli Arab” (Palestinians) and who live in Israel as second class citizens. The population of the West Bank and Gaza represents only one third of the total Palestinian population worldwide. Ending the occupation is not going to appease the 4 million Palestinian refugees who demand to have at least the right to return.

Rather than a move toward a solution, I feel that this emphasis solely on ending the occupation and setting up an independent Palestinian state, without addressing the other issues, will only ensure perpetual conflict.

I invite Edward Said to consider the peace initiative proposed by the Alternative Palestinian Agenda ( It is a workable option that defines ways of resolving the problems that a simple “ending of the occupation” cannot. The bi-national configuration proposed by the APA allows for the affirmation of the Israeli State together with a Palestinian one. The proposal addresses all of what are considered to be the most difficult issues, and it is something that reasonable people who want peace (and as Edward Said suggests, there is a growing number of those) will endorse. Both Palestinians and Israelis would enjoy security because they would share in it, and both would be accepted in the region.

David Dugan

This letter appeared in the January 31, 2002 issue Al-Ahram

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