Ray Hanania, a Chicago-based Palestinian American, is (among other things): a radio talk show host, a newspaper columnist, a comedian and a former president of the Palestinian American Congress. He is also a peace activist.
He does not really believe that his Y’alla Party platform will propel him to the presidency of a nascent state of Palestine, but he is seriously campaigning for peaceful coexistence and a two-state solution. His party name is slang in both Israel and Palestine for “let’s go.”
When his voice was electronically piped into the unofficial bloggers’ session at the J Street conference last October, Hanania proved himself the most clearly supportive of J Street from among the dozen or so American Jews, Palestinians and radicals on the panel. The emotion in his voice that day, indicated how passionate he is about peace.
His recent op-ed in the Jerusalem Post, a critique of Hamas and of activists and news media he sees as “pro-Hamas,” reveals how moderate he is (I’m probably more open to finding wiggle room for a possible role for Hamas than he is). This posting is a mark of my personal respect for the man, but it should not be taken as a political endorsement by Meretz USA, nor as evidence, necessarily, of agreement with every detail of the following campaign platform:
Here’s my campaign platform and I think it’s doable because Israelis and Palestinians are already responding positively. This is an overview and details will be forthcoming to help understand the overriding concept. That concept is simple — instead of working out the details, focus on the bigger picture and define a final peace. Then work backwards and resolves issues. Individual issues are interrelated and it is not possible to resolve the details individually without knowing where we are headed together and how they relate to other details that may or may not be resolved:
- I support two-states, one Israel and one Palestine. As far as I am concerned, I can recognize Israel’s “Jewish” character and Israelis should recognize Palestine’s “non-Jewish” character.
- I oppose violence of any kind from and by anyone. I reject Hamas’ participation in any Palestinian government without first agreeing to surrender all arms and to accept two-states as a “final” peace agreement. But I also reject allowing Israeli settlers to carry any weapons and believe Israelis must impose the same restrictions on them.
- I can support some settlements remaining (in Israeli control) – given the reality of 42 years of time passing — in a dunum-for-dunum land exchange. If Ariel is 500 dunums with a lifeline from Israel, then Israel gives Palestine 500 dunums in exchange.
- Jerusalem should be a shared city and Palestinians should have an official presence in East Jerusalem. The Old City should be shared by both permitting open access to the city to all with a joint Palestinian-Israeli police presence. (Currently Israel maintains a sharing of the Temple Mount or Haram al-Ash Sharif and that relationship can be worked out better under the direction of two governments in peace.)
- Palestinian refugees would give up their demand to return to pre-1948 homes and lands lost during the conflict with Israel. Instead, some could apply for family reunification through Israel and the remainder would be compensated through a fund created and maintained by the United States, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the United Nations.
- I also think Israelis should find it in their hearts to show compassion and offer their apologies to Palestinians for the conflict. (See below a provision for both sides to apologize to each other — it’s not just one-sided.)
- I support creation of a similar fund to compensate those Jews from Arab lands who lost their homes and lands, too, when they fled.
- I think the Wall should be torn down, or relocated to the new borders. I have no problem separating the two nations for a short duration to help rebuild confidence between our two people.
- All political parties, Palestinian and Israelis, should eliminate languages denying each other’s existence, and all maps should be reprinted so that Israeli maps finally show Palestine and Palestinian maps finally show Israel.
- A subway system should be built linking the West Bank portion of the Palestine state to the Gaza Strip portion of the Palestine State. Palestine should be permitted to build a seaport access to strengthen its’ industry, and an airport to permit flights and too and from the Arab and Israeli world.
- I would urge the Arab World to renew their offer to normalize relations with Israel if Israel agrees to support the creation of a Palestinian State. And I would ask both countries to establish embassies in each other’s country to address other problems.
- While non-Jewish Palestinians would continue to live in Israel as citizens, Jews who wish to live in settlements surrendered by Israel could become Palestinian citizens (or possibly retain their Israeli citizenship in terms of voting rights while living under Palestinian laws) and they should be recognized and treated equally.
- If Jews want to live in Hebron, they should be allowed to live in Hebron and should be protected, just as non-Jews. In fact, for every Jewish individual seeking to live in Palestine, a Palestinian should be permitted to live in Israel. In fact, major Palestinian populations in Israel could be annexed into Palestine (like settlements).
- Another concept is to have non-Jews living in Israel continue to live there but only vote in Palestinian elections, while Jews living in Palestine would only vote in Israeli elections. A special citizenship protection committee could be created to explore how to protect the rights of minorities in each state.
- Israel and Palestine should create joint-governing and security agencies working with the United States to monitor the peace, and establish an agency to pursue criminal acts of violence.
- Both Israel and Palestine apologize to each other and recognize the hardships and pain they each have caused to each other in this conflict. (This was added following publication in the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz.)
Regrettably you overlooked the following part of Ray Hanania’s platform which he published some two weeks after your version:
“For every Jewish settler living in the settlements that Israel keeps, Israel must be ready to permit that number of Palestinian Refugees to return to Israel, (who wish to return).
Israel will provide those Palestinians compensation through the Compensation Fund to build homes, and land on which to build their homes in Israel. Those Palestinian refugees would be given full rights of Israeli citizenship, but would enter Israel through its immigration procedures.
This exchange plan must be completed in five years, with 50 percent of the population allowed to enter Israel within two years of the program beginning.
They would be treated the same way as Jews who return to Israel and be given the same benefits and compensation and support from the Israeli government.
If Israel seeks to retain all of the settlements, then Israel must be prepared to allow up to 500,000 Palestinian refugees to return to live in Israel, should they chose to do so, as Israeli citizens.
The remaining Palestinian refugees would be allowed to return, through the Compensation Fund, to the new Palestine State, or be permitted to travel to any country that wishes to accept them. The choice is up to them.
The Arab World would be required to provide a home and land in their countries for every Palestinian seeking resettlement in this plan.
Israel can reduce the number of Refugees it accepts by returning settlers and disbanding existing settlements. The final number is up to them.”
Ray has blotted his copybook by the inclusion of this addendum to his policy which would be a negotiating “no-no” for Israel.
I have requested Ray to rethink this new aspect of his policy but so far he has declined to drop it.