May 14 marked the 60th anniversary of the formation of the state of Israel. It has had a complex, troubled history, with many conflicting views about what happened and why.

For the decades-old Jewish population in Palestine and the survivors of Hitler’s Holocaust, May 14, 1948, meant the achievement of a state that was majority Jewish. But for many Palestinians, 1948 is known as the Naqba, the catastrophe, when people whose families had lived there for centuries were driven into exile and their homes and villages obliterated.

In 1947, the United Nations called for establishment of a Jewish state and a Palestinian state in the British mandate in Palestine. It was supported by the Soviet Union and by the Jewish and Arab Communists in Palestine, as well as by the Communist Party USA, as the only workable solution to meet the needs and aspirations of the Jewish and Palestinian peoples.

On May 14, 1948, the Jewish People’s Council, meeting in Tel Aviv, issued a Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel. The signers represented political trends from right to left, including Communist Meir Vilner. The Soviet Union was the first country to officially recognize the new state.

The state of Israel, the declaration said, “will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants … based on freedom, justice and peace.”

It extended a hand of “peace and good neighborliness” in “a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.”

Sadly, these ideals still wait to be realized.

Despite the presence of progressives, socialists and communists among the Jewish and Arab peoples, events were largely driven by reactionary forces, including British and later U.S. imperialism, which had little interest in the Jewish or Palestinian people, viewing them as pawns in a battle for control of the region.

Today we celebrate the struggles of progressive Jews and Arabs of Israel and Palestine to make their decades-old hopes of peace and justice a reality.

The road to achieve that today is a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital, and a negotiated solution to the refugee issue. Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories will have to be removed. And clearly, negotiations will have to include Hamas. Polls show the majority of Israelis support such steps.

We need to press our government to fully support this solution.

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