Vision for Palestine: `one state, one people'

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

``The way I see it in my mind for a long term, I would really see one society, one state, one people,'' says Mohammed Abdessalam. ``Fifty years, 100 years from now, I really don't see Jewish state and Palestinian state or this narrow nationalism.'' A former Jerusalem newspaper editor and now a California graphic designer, Mr. Abdessalam - who goes by ``Salam'' - is speaking of his vision for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is the ``democratic, secular state'' long envisioned by many Palestinians and - feared by Israelis, who regard it as a nice-sounding formula for the destruction of Israel.

The state envisioned by many Palestinians would indeed entail the end of Israel as an exclusionary Jewish state. But it would also mean the end of exclusive Palestinian nationalism. And it would come about by mutual choice rather than through force, or destruction of either state or its people.

Most Palestinian Americans, and probably most Palestinians in general, do not realistically foresee the creation of such a unitary state. But most hold it as a dream - an ideal and a way to satisfy Palestinians dispossessed in 1948, who will not regain lost lands and property in Israel-proper if a Palestinian state in the occupied territories only is created.

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Far from advocating force or destruction, those who wish for a democratic, secular state see it as a means to true harmony.

``We are fighting to live in dignity, in peace, in just normal human conditions,'' Salam says. ``... with time, the human relationship rises over political and national feelings, always. There are lots of emotions that block you from accepting something until it happens ... and you get used to it.''

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