NEW YORK TIMES ACKNOWLEDGES THAT THERE IS A PALESTINE // IN PHOTOS

 miracles-happen
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Tis the season of celebrating miracles in the Holy Land. Chanukah commemorates one of the best known sagas of the Jewish people …. but still another miracle occurred just this week when the zio New York Times actually admitted to its readers that there is a Palestine.
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Palestinian refugees arriving in east Jordan in 1968.
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Photographs Tell a History of Palestinians Unmoored

By ISABEL KERSHNER

JERUSALEM — There is one picture of Palestinian children studying around a small table by the dim light of gas lamps in the Beach Camp in Gaza, and another of children peeking over a sandy dune, with rows of small, uniform shacks of a desolate refugee camp in the background. In a third, a family walks across the Allenby Bridge, the father carrying two bulging suitcases, a young son clutching a white ball, heading east over the Jordan River.

These are a few of the black and white images, many of them powerful and haunting, that will eventually constitute a digital archive compiled by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the first part of which was unveiled Thursday at a gallery in the Old City here. Together, they capture the Palestinian refugee experience from the 1948 war onward, giving form to a seminal chapter in Palestinian history, identity and collective memory.

For decades, about half a million negatives, prints, slides and various forms of film footage have been hidden away in the archive of UNRWA, the organization that assists Palestinian refugees. Stored in buildings in Gaza and Amman, Jordan, the materials had begun to grow moldy.

So officials started a preservation mission, digitizing the archive, which also documents the work of the agency. The exhibit that opened Thursday, called “The Long Journey,” will soon go on tour to large cities in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and possibly Syria, and will also be shown at cultural and political centers in Europe and North America. The images will also be made accessible to the general public on a special website.

“This is an important piece of work,” Filippo Grandi, the agency’s commissioner-general, told reporters at the opening in the Old City. “It is a contribution to building a national heritage for the Palestinians.”

Palestinians refer to the events of 1948 as al-Nakba, Arabic for “the catastrophe.” About 700,000 Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes during the Arab-Israeli war over the foundation of Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were later displaced by the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, some becoming refugees twice over. Tens of thousands have recently been displaced again, reliving the trauma, because of the civil war raging in Syria.

But the refugee issue remains one of the most delicate and complex elements of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, at the core of the two sides’ clashing historical narratives. So it was perhaps inevitable that some Israelis would view the new memorialization of the refugee experience through a prism of politics and contention.

“When was the last time that any United Nations agency raised so much money and invested so much effort in organizing and circulating around the world the documentation of a specific plight like that of the Palestinian refugees? Never,” said Yigal Palmor, the spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

“This only emphasizes the strident anomaly of the dedication of a disproportionate part of the United Nations budget, staff, time and resources to the Palestinian issue exclusively at the expense of, and to the detriment of, all other similar issues,” he added.

Israel vehemently rejects the Palestinian demand for a right of return for the refugees who, by the agency’s count, now number around five million, including the descendants. It says that any mass influx would spell the end of Israel as a predominantly Jewish state. Israelis often blame the very existence of the agency — which was set up in 1949 to deal with the Palestinian refugees and which provides relief, education and health services — for prolonging their sense of impermanence.

The world’s other refugees are handled by a single agency that was set up later, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Mr. Palmor said that while the agency mostly did good work on the ground, it was “dedicated to preserving the refugees’ status rather than encouraging their resettlement or integration in their current or alternative locations, contributing to the perpetuation of the Palestinian refugee problem.”

At the exhibit, Mr. Grandi said he was aware that the refugee issue had its political aspects. But, he added, “Remember, this is also about people, about individuals with their own plights and achievements.”

Christopher Gunness, an agency spokesman, said its mandate was to help the refugees and to advocate for their rights until all sides to the conflict negotiated a just and durable solution.

“What is perpetuating the refugee problem,” he said, “is the failure of the political parties to resolve it.”

Mr. Gunness added that the Palestinian refugees would have the same rights and status under any United Nations agency.

“Everyone has a right to understand, to study and feel a part of their history,” he said. “Are we supposed to engage in denial of the events of 1948? The refugee experience is an essential part of Palestinian identity.”

Funding for the project, about $1 million so far, has come from the Danish and French governments and from the Palestinian private sector. It comes as the agency is struggling with a budget deficit and appealing for emergency funds to cover its needs in the West Bank and Gaza and to contend with the crisis in Syria.

Mr. Gunness said that the money raised for the archive project had nothing to do with the budgets for staff salaries or refugee welfare.

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The exhibit captures the Palestinian refugee experience since 1948.

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Children in a camp in east Jordan received vaccinations.

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A medical team examined children near Amman, Jordan.

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Palestinians refer to the events of 1948 as “the catastrophe.”

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Hundreds of thousands were displaced during the 1967 war.

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Children being taught at a refugee camp in east Jordan.

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The exhibition will appear in cities across the Middle East.

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Nahr el Bared camp, near Lebanon, shown in 1952.

Source

PALESTINIAN YOUTH TAKE BACK THE NIGHT

After watching their land being raped for over 65 years, Palestinian youth are attempting to take back the night …
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The new wave of movements which have gained prominence this summer can be traced back partly to a group of third generation, internally displaced youth from the village of Iqrit, who in August 2012 decided that they would take matters into their own hands and return to their ancestral village.
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Palestinian youth assert right of return with direct action

Nadim Nashef*
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Summer camps aim to reconnect Palestinian youth to their ancestral villages. (Photograph courtesy of Baladna)

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During the summer of 2013 a new grassroots movement burst onto the scene and announced itself as a major development in the long struggle for the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Activities occurring throughout the Galilee region of present-day Israel have been held which reaffirm the connection of the younger generation of internally displaced Palestinians to their ancestral villages. Events and projects simultaneously take practical steps to realize this long-denied, fundamental right.

The right of return is one of the most evocative and central issues for Palestinians ever since the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948, which saw the destruction of more than 530 Arab villages and the displacement of approximately 800,000 Palestinians. The majority of them ended up as refugees in neighboring Arab states, or in those parts of Palestine which initially remained outside of Israeli control, namely the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Between 30,000 and 40,000 managed to remain inside the new state of Israel, however, finding refuge in nearby towns which had survived the ethnic cleansing of the majority of Palestine’s villages.

Brutal Israel

Attempts by the original inhabitants to return to their villages in the immediate aftermath of the Nakba were fought against by the new state, which used all the means at its disposal, often brutally.

Dispersed villagers attempting to return from outside the borders of the new state were often shot dead on sight by the Israeli army. Meanwhile, villagers attempting to return who had managed to remain within the borders of the new state were routinely rounded up and deported as “infiltrators.” Legislation such as the Absentees Property Law enabled the confiscation of property of those Palestinians who had been made into internally displaced persons, while denying their rights to live there or even to enter the site of their ancestral lands.

Between 1948 and 1955, the majority of these villages were destroyed by the Israeli army and covered either with pine forests or new Jewish-only settlements. In many cases, a cemetery, mosque or church was the only remaining evidence of a village’s existence.

The new wave of movements which have gained prominence this summer can be traced back partly to a group of third generation, internally displaced youth from the village of Iqrit, who in August 2012 decided that they would take matters into their own hands and return to their ancestral village.

Iqrit’s residents were originally ordered out of their village for two weeks shortly after the Nakba for so-called security reasons. Exceptionally, three years later they obtained Israeli high court approval to return, and received information that they would be able to return on Christmas Day, especially symbolic for the Christian community.

On that day in 1951, as the villagers waited to return, the Israeli army razed the village to the ground.

Potent symbol

Now living in two small rooms built as extensions of the still-standing church, Iqrit’s youth activists today sleep in the village in shifts in order to maintain a permanent presence there. This summer a small football stadium was also built, a potent symbol of the will and permanence of their return.

Iqrit’s community has been organizing summer camps for its younger members annually since 1996; this year approximately 200 youth between the ages of 8 and 16 attended. The aim of the camp was to help the youth develop their identity by teaching them about their own history, and connecting this to the wider Palestinian history before 1948.

In addition to the summer camp and the newly permanent presence, villagers hold religious celebrations during Easter and Christmas in the local church. The village’s cemetery is also still in use.

The youth-led, grassroots approach of Iqrit is very much indicative of the movement as a whole. Youth took the lead in 2013’s “Summer of Return,” ensuring that demands for the right of return find a renewed voice among the latest generation of the dispossessed.

One village which has adopted Iqrit’s strategy of youth-based return is Kufr Birim. Located close to the boundary between Israel and Lebanon — not far from Iqrit — for the past few years Kufir Birim has played host to summer camps for children.

This summer, people with family connections to Kufir Birim have also decided to maintain a permanent presence in the village, centered around the old community’s surviving church. However, their initiative has not been without obstacles.

Refusing to leave

In August, the Israel Lands Authority told the camp’s members that they had to leave within a week or they would be removed by force (“Authorities threaten displaced community’s return to village,” +972 Magazine, 22 August 2013).

On 28 August, Iqrit also received a visit by inspectors from the Israel Lands Authority, accompanied by border policemen. They came during the morning and confiscated tents and beds, uprooted the small garden, removed signs and destroyed property, including the new football stadium.

However, as in Kufr Birim, the youth are not willing to leave their ancestral land.

This summer has also witnessed a very successful summer camp in the village of Ghabisiya, while Baladna (the Assocation for Arab Youth) and a number of other groups initiated the Udna (Our Return) project with the participation of five ethnically cleansed villages: Saffuriyya, Miar, Maalul, Lajjun and Iqrit, with one youth group in each village.

The project aims to educate the new generation with family connections to these villages of their history and rights, with film screenings and storytelling featuring residents who survived the expulsion. Practical approaches to the issue of return such as town planning and logistics were also explored, while musical events by local artists added a cultural feature.

Iqrit, Kufr Birim, Ghabisiya, Saffuriyya, Miar, Malul, Lajjun. These are just seven of the Palestinians towns and villages which were destroyed and whose inhabitants were displaced during the Nakba.

Yet the combined activities of these villages during the summer of 2013 represent the most significant movement in the struggle for return since the years following the Nakba. Far from forgetting their roots and historical injustices, the latest generation of Palestinians inside Israel are showing their dedication to their right of return.

This, combined with the youth’s energy, enthusiasm and innovative approaches, has resulted in a grassroots, youth-led movement unprecedented in the history of activism for the right to return. Whatever the immediate reaction of Israeli authorities to the return of villagers in Iqrit and Kufr Birim, these movements have captured the imagination of people across historic Palestine, young and old.

And while the future of the movement is full of uncertainty, the determination and energy of our youth alone is reason for optimism.

*Nadim Nashef is is the director of the Haifa-based Association for Arab Youth-Baladna.

 

 

Written FOR

A LONG BUT MUST READ, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE JEWISH

Why no-one asked why the Arabs said No
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The Original “NO’: Why the Arabs rejected zionism, and why it matters
Natasha Gill*

Everybody sees a difficulty in the question of relations between Arabs and Jews. But not everybody sees that there is no solution to this question. No solution! There is a gulf, and nothing can fill that gulf … I do not know what Arab will agree that Palestine should belong to the Jews — even if the Jews learn Arabic … And we must recognize this situation. If we do not acknowledge this and try to come up with “remedies,” then we risk demoralization … We, as a nation, want this country to be ours; the Arabs, as a nation, want this country to be theirs. The decision has been referred to the Peace Conference.

                                         — Ben Gurion, Speech to Vaad Zmani, June 1919
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A viable peace process does not require either party to embrace or even recognize the legitimacy of the other’s narrative. It requires that both have an informed and non-reductionist understanding of what this narrative consists of, come to terms with the fact that it cannot be wished away, and recognize that elements of it will make their way to the negotiating table and have to be addressed.


In his March 2013 Jerusalem speech, President Obama offered the Israelis an astonishing bargain: history for peace. In return for his personal endorsement of each detail of the standard Jewish/Zionist narrative, the Israelis were asked to acknowledge the Palestinians as human beings with some human rights. They were then called upon to reconsider the occupation and do the right thing so as to help renew the peace process.

Obama’s speech was in many ways a reflection of, and a response to, the prevailing view of the conflict in Israel today, a view supported by many of Israel’s friends in the United States of America. The events of the past few years have fuelled Israeli suspicions of the Arabs, and furthered their doubts over whether there is a partner for peace. One concomitant of this has been the reassertion of ideological and narrative-driven policies, including a demand that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state by its Palestinian interlocutors.

It appears the president hoped that by addressing and appeasing these fears, he might gain the trust of the Israelis and create a space within which a genuine peace process could be launched. However, rather than validate one side’s view of history — “the story of Israel,” as the President called it — he might have suggested that if the Israelis hope to achieve any part of their dream of peace and security, they need to accept that their enemies have their own story to tell: one that is not merely about human rights’ abuses in the West Bank, and one that is not going away anytime soon.

The purpose of such a presidential injunction would not have been to encourage the parties to get mired in debates about the past, or “recognize the others’ narrative.” The battle over history is raging more bitterly than ever and will never be settled at the negotiating table. But while it is neither necessary nor possible for parties to accept each other’s version of the causes of the conflict, it is necessary for all parties to have a minimal understanding of how their adversaries’ historical perspective influences their approach to the negotiations in the present: their willingness to come to the table, the kind of peace process they can trust and embrace, the conditions or preconditions they can or cannot accept, and, perhaps most importantly, the deals and trade-offs they can or cannot sell to their people. Without this understanding on the part of both the public and policy makers pushing for a renewed peace process, the president’s hopes, and Secretary Kerry’s tireless effort, will likely go the way of Camp David 2000.

When it comes to the pro-Israel camp, the key issue that needs to be addressed is the blind spot regarding the pre-1948 origins of the Israel/Palestine conflict.

A remarkable number of Israel’s supporters from across the political spectrum share a common and unshakable article of faith: that the Israel/Palestine conflict was avoidable and unnecessary. If the Arabs of Palestine had accepted Zionism 130 years ago, there would never have been, and would not now be, any cause for bloodshed.

Arab rejectionism has thus served as the equivalent of a cosmological argument: “In the Beginning There Was the No.” The pro-Israel camp often traces the history of the conflict to 1947, when the Arabs said No to the UN partition plan, or to 1948, when the Arab countries said No by launching a war against the recently declared Jewish state. The underlying assumption is that the Arabs had no good reason to reject Zionism or the idea of Jewish self-determination in Palestine: rather, their rejection is interpreted as a consequence of their inherent anti-Semitism, natural tendency toward violence, or self-destructive intransigence. Recently this credo was succinctly articulated by Prime Minister Netanyahu: “The Palestinians’ lack of will to recognise the state of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people is the root of the conflict.”1

In one sense, Netanyahu is absolutely correct: the fact that the Palestinians have refused to recognize themoral right of the Jews to a state in Palestine is a source of conflict, even though the Palestinians may be ready to accept Israel’s de facto right to exist today. What is problematic about this view is that it mistakes the response for the cause. Palestinian rejection did not sprout Athena-like, fully formed from the head of Zeus, without reason or basis; and it is not the root cause of the conflict.

For over 70 years this credo has endured in the face of new thinking, new evidence and new circumstances. It has been sustained by a stunning lack of inquisitiveness about what caused the Original Arab No, and thus about the very nature of the conflict itself. It remains a mystery how otherwise critically-minded Jews and influential policymakers have repeated statements like Netanyahu’s for generations without asking why the Arabs refused to recognize the legitimacy of Zionism — engaging in a form of culpable ignorance that diminishes the quality of their arguments, weakens the credibility of their case, and creates a chasm between the public view of the conflict and the understanding needed in order to prepare the ground for a genuine peace process.

Admittedly, for loyal supporters of Israel, this journey into the origins of the origins — the period between the 1880s and late 1930 — is likely to be difficult. Even more than the thorny issue of the 1948 nakba and the refugee crisis, this early period poses elemental questions about the conflict that cannot be sidestepped via pre-prepared talking points on Palestinian rejectionism. These questions are not of merely historical interest; they expose the underlying patterns, mechanisms and impasses that define the conflict today, almost all of which were already in place by the late 1930s.

But while difficult, this kind of exploration into the core issues is unavoidable. Israel’s supporters can debate about the 1947 partition plan and the 1948 war ad nauseam, but without an understanding of the preceding 60 years they are barely talking about the conflict at all. By avoiding the early period they have denied themselves the knowledge and insight that would allow them to properly assess the positions of the Palestinians, effectively pursue their own people’s interests and recognize the opportunities for de-escalating the conflict if or when they arise. They have also ensured that the history and current state of the conflict will be increasingly articulated, and with greater persuasiveness, by Israel’s enemies.

In order to overcome these barriers and begin to build a space where genuine peacemaking might take place, the Jewish community and its allies must begin asking questions about the Original No: Why, in the period between the 1880s and 1948, did the Arabs of Palestine and the surrounding areas say No to Zionism? To what exactly did they say No? And how did they say No?

THE ARABS OF PALESTINE SAID NO TO THE JEWISH RIGHT OF RETURN

What confusion would ensue all the world over if this principle on which the Jews base their “legitimate” claim were carried out in other parts of the world! What migrations of nations must follow! The Spaniards in Spain would have to make room for the Arabs and Moors who conquered and ruled their country for over 700 years…

                                        — Palestine Arab Delegation, Observations on the High Commissioner’s Interim Report on
the Civil Administration of Palestine during the period 1st July 1920 – 30th June 1921

The Palestinian Arabs said No to the idea that in the 20th century a people who last lived in Palestine in large numbers over 2000 years ago could claim, on the basis of a religious text, rights to the land where the current inhabitants had been living for a millennium and a half.

They did not base their rejection on a denial of Jewish historical and religious ties to the Holy Land. Rather, they said No to the idea that highly secularized Jews arriving from Europe, who seemed to abjure religious life, manners and practices, could use the Bible to support a political project of a Jewish state in an already populated and settled land.

Nor did they deny the suffering of the Jews, or the pogroms and persecution they were experiencing in Western and Eastern Europe at the time. On the contrary, many of the most vocal critics of Zionism were extremely aware of Jewish suffering, as they were unsettled by the impact it was having on the British support for the project of the Jewish National Home. What they said no to was the idea that the Jews’humanitarian plight granted them special political and national rights in Palestine, and that those Jewish rights should trump Arab rights. The Arabs said No to the idea that they should pay the price for longstanding Christian persecution of the Jews, and they expressed deep resentment at the hypocrisy of the Europeans, who were promoting a home for the Jews in Palestine as they closed their own doors to the victims of Christian/European anti-Semitism.

There is nothing shocking or strange about Arabs considering Zionist Jews coming from Europe an “alien implant” in Palestine, and resenting that.2 The logic of most national and proto-national movements — with Zionism hardly an exception — is that outsiders are a threat, and the definition of both “outsiders” and “threat” are influenced by the shifting needs and interests of each movement in its defining moments. In response to Zionism, the Arabs pointed out that the laws of territorial possession were accepted worldwide: had they not been, the Arabs could reconquer and reclaim Spain, a country they reigned over for longer and more recently than the Jews did Palestine. In the view of the Palestinian Arabs, regardless of whether Jews were genuinely attached to or had a history in Palestine, the appeal to the Bible was not strong enough to overturn the rules of a modern, secular world order.

The Arabs and Palestinians still today are taken to task for not having shown enough compassion for Jewish suffering and welcomed them to take refuge in Palestine. But while many Jews can make an intuitive connection between the predicament they faced between the turn of the century and the 1940s and their need for a state, there is no reason that for other parties compassion for Jewish suffering would naturally translate this into an acceptance of Zionism, either then or now. This is especially so in the case of the Arabs in the early years of the conflict, who knew that Zionism would negatively affect their lives in the future.

It is also difficult to sustain the view that opposition to Zionism in the early 20th century was by definition a form of anti-Semitism, given that the virtues of the movement were not always self-evident to the Jews themselves: not to Orthodox Jews, who considered it heretical and sacrilegious, arguing that a return toEretz Israel could only be hastened by divine rather than human will; not to many Diaspora Jews, a good number of whom remained “non-Zionists” until the 1940s; not to Marxist Jews, who considered it to be a retrograde move away from internationalism; and not to the local Palestinian Jews, many of whom felt alienated from the incoming Ashkenazim from Europe, and initially pinned their hopes for communal well-being onto the Ottoman government. And while it is true that Hajj Amin al Husayni — the Mufti of Jerusalem — and some of his followers’ anti-Jewish rhetoric and support for the Axis powers before and during World War II are legitimate targets of criticism, this does not change the fact that the Palestinian National Movement itself was not fundamentally driven by anti-Semitism. It was driven by a series of responses to the concept, implementation and long-term implications of the Zionist movement for the lives and identities of Palestinian Arabs.  

This is not to deny that there were Arab anti-Semites in the early period, or that there are many in the Arab world today: there are good reasons for Jews to fear that the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism may be dangerously blurred. But it is in the Jews’ own interest to disentangle anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, and find a way to address rather than circumvent legitimate critiques of Israel. Because so few have grappled with the primary reasons why the Arabs of Palestine opposed Zionism, they only have access to one interpretative framework, applicable to both past and present: the critique of Zionism has no reasonable basis but was then — and still is today — propelled primarily by anti-Semitism. This reductive formula does little to help supporters of Israel understand what truly motivates the Palestinians today, or determine how best to negotiate with them in pursuit of Israel’s interests.

THE PALESTINIAN ARABS SAID NO TO EQUATING NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS WITH LAND RIGHTS

There is not a single Arab who has not been hurt by the entry of Jews into Palestine: there is not a single Arab who does not see himself as part of the Arab race… In his eyes, Palestine is an independent unit.

                                        — Moshe Shertok, Speech MAPAI Central Committee, June 9th 1936

Whether there was such a thing as a “Palestinian” is one of the most common yet irrelevant debates regarding the origins of the conflict. It does not matter if the Arabs living in Palestine in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries considered themselves to be a part of Palestine, southern Syria, a greater Arab federation, or Ottomans, Jerusalemites, members of a tribe or clan, or Muslims. Whether they were “a” people or just “people,” they lived in and had profound religious, historical, cultural and sentimental ties to a particular area of land known variously and for centuries as “Palestine” and the Holy Land. The Arabs said No then, and continue to say No today, to being represented as people who were accidentally living on Jewish land, rather than human beings — in their vast majority Arabic speaking and Muslim by faith — who inhabited Palestine and the surrounding areas long before the Zionists arrived.

The reluctance on the part of many Israel supporters to accept that a large majority of Arabs lived and thrived in Palestine before Zionism affects their whole approach to the conflict today. For example, Israeli offers to the Palestinians are often presented as painful but magnanimous concessions in recognition of the fact that there are currently (and rather inconveniently) some people who live nearby and whose needs must be attended to. Witness Prime Minster Netanyahu’s 2009 Bar Ilan speech, carefully crafted to imply that the Palestinian “population” “now” lives on the land, as though they somehow magically appeared recently. [emphasis added]

But, friends, we must state the whole truth here. The truth is that in the area of our homeland, in the heart of our Jewish Homeland, now lives a large population of Palestinians… These two facts — our link to the Land of Israel, and the Palestinian population who live here, have created deep disagreements within Israeli society. But the truth is that we have much more unity than disagreement.3

This view aligns well with the growing tendency on the Israeli side to argue for a pragmatic approach to peacemaking, one that eschews “harping on the past” — a view implied in the bargain that President Obama offered the Israelis: I accept that you can continue to deny that other people lived here in the past, if you take into account the feelings of those who live here in the present.” But a peace process where only one party has had their history acknowledged, and thus has the luxury of “letting go” of the past, is not likely to come to fruition; and demands or conditions wrapped in a package that reduces or denies the dignity of the party sitting at the other end of the table are not likely to bear fruit. Unless elements of the Palestinians’ narrative are present in public perceptions and at the negotiating table, they will have no reason to trust the premise of renewed talks, or risk making concessions. And if the Jewish community continues to insist on seeing all Palestinian assertions of their existence as a manifestation of anti-Semitism, they will be unable to find ways to articulate their needs in a manner that allows for compromise rather than demands submission.

THEY SAID NO TO THE NOTION THAT PALESTINE WAS DESOLATE AND EMPTY

In our lovely country there exists an entire people who have held it for centuries and to whom it would never occur to leave…The time has come to dispel the misconception among Zionists that land in Palestine lies uncultivated for lack of working hands or the laziness of the local residents. There are no deserted fields.

                                        — Yitzhak Epstein, “The Hidden Question,” 1907

The Palestinian Arabs rejected the concept that their land was uncultivated and uncared for, and that rights should be conferred on the Jews based on the latter’s superior technology agricultural methods. They said No to the idea that people do not love their land or have a special intimate connection with it because they do not cultivate it in the most modern ways. And they said No to the idea that newly-arrived Zionist Jews from Europe and elsewhere, for all their zeal and dedication, cared for the land more than the natives did. 

Because of the power, persistence and harmful repercussions of the “desolate Palestine” refrain, the most disturbing (and utterly unnecessary) phrase of President Obama’s speech was his lauding the Israelis for making the “desert bloom.”

President Obama could have found many ways to express his appreciation for Israel’s many impressive achievements without recourse to that toxic phrase, laden with so many connotations. In conflict-speak it means that that the Arabs of Palestine did not exist in this wilderness when the Zionists began to arrive in the 1880s. Even if a small number of Arabs did exist, they lacked any real love for their land and thus did not deserve to keep it. And if either of these propositions were true, then the Jews deserved the land and should feel no remorse about taking it over then, or appropriating more of it now.

But most crucially, the desert-blooming imagery validates the notion that there is a moral link between means of cultivation and rights to ownership. In other words, the reason that the Israelis have a superiorright to the land is that at the time they were, and still are today, more modern and technically advanced than the Palestinians.

This concept has for decades been uncritically embraced by a large number of otherwise liberal, socially and environmentally conscious Jews, people who in most other contexts would contest the idea that advanced technology imported from the West into a colonized land is naturally superior to local, indigenous means of cultivation; or that aggressive agricultural development is always positive as an end in itself. It is perfectly possible for the Israelis to be proud of their achievements while recognizing that these achievements are not relevant as a justification for Zionism from the point of view of those who previously lived in and were attached to this land. And it is long past time for U.S. policy makers to recognize that mindlessly repeating old tropes will only serve to widen the gap between parties, rather than build a foundation upon which a peace process can be launched.

THEY SAID NO TO THE EXCHANGE OF POLITICAL FOR ECONOMIC RIGHTS 

You say my house has been enriched by the strangers who have entered it. But it is my house, and I did not invite the strangers in, or ask them to enrich it, and I do not care how poor or bare it is if only I am master in it.

                                         —1937 Royal Commission Report, paraphrasing the remarks of an Arab witness

The Palestinian Arabs said No to the idea that they should welcome Zionism because of the economic prosperity that the Jews were bringing to Palestine. They argued that economic benefits were not distributed equally among those residing in Palestine, and included policies that threatened the livelihood and undermined the rights of Arab peasants and workers. Even if benefits had been distributed more equally, as far as the Arabs were concerned economic prosperity would not have served as a compelling argument in favor of creating the Jewish National Home, or as the means to buy off their political rights.

It was for this reason also that Netanyahu’s 2009 vision of “Economic Peace” fell on deaf ears, as it was not matched with proposals that address Palestinians’ national and political aspirations. And the current U.S. attempt to pump money into the West Bank will be rebuffed if seen by Palestinians to be part of the Grand Bargain — your narrative for jobs, your political rights for economic prosperity. This bargain is likely to be seen as a re-packaged version of the original rationale for Zionism — that the project would be embraced by the Arabs because it would bring material prosperity to Palestine — which as far back as 1923 Vladimir Jabotinsky recognized as fallacious:

To think that the Arabs will voluntarily consent to the realization of Zionism in return for the cultural and economic benefits we can bestow on them is infantile. This childish fantasy of our “Arabo-philes” comes from some kind of contempt for the Arab people, of some kind of unfounded view of this race as a rabble ready to be bribed in order to sell out their homeland for a railroad network.4

Economic well-being in the West Bank and Gaza is of course desirable, but only widespread ignorance of the Original No can lead Israelis and third parties to repeat the same mistake time and again expecting different results. It would be more productive to learn why the Grand Bargain did not work in the first place, what it meant to the other side, why it is unlikely to work today and which alternative frameworks can be proposed that address the political and national aspirations of all sides, and search for realistic options for peacemaking.

THE ARABS SAID NO TO THE JEWISH SETTLEMENT ENTERPRISE

Land is the most necessary thing for our establishing roots in Palestine. Since there are hardly any more arable unsettled lands in Palestine, we are bound in each case of the purchase of land and its settlements to remove the peasants who cultivated the land so far, both owners of the land and tenants.5

                                         —Arthur Ruppin, 1930

Would the fellahin (Arab peasantry) have embraced Zionism because of the economic benefits the Jews were bringing to Palestine had they not been incited to the contrary by the educated and political classes? One cannot know this for sure, but this often-repeated claim is by and large another avoidance-argument that fails to pass the test of common sense. The fellahin might not have articulated their rejection of Zionism as did the elites, or expressed a clear sense of national consciousness. But they had many good reasons to say No to Zionist policy once it dispossessed tenant farmers of lands they had been cultivating, or after the institution of “Hebrew Labor” policies that refused jobs to local Arabs in difficult economic times.

Long before illegal outposts or settlement expansion in the West Bank, the Arabs said No to the idea that land in Palestine should be transferred from Arabs to Jews, whether by force, partition schemes, or sales by local or absentee landlords. The Arabs’ own complicity in land sales raises important questions that they have yet to address fully. But Arab land sales were only one part of a broader process whereby land and population transfers were implemented or supported by the Zionists and the British. Arabs who recognized the historical and religious links of Jews to Palestine nevertheless said No to the “Judaization” of a land that had been overwhelmingly Arab and Muslim for a millennium and a half.

Today, although so many liberal (and even not-so-liberal) Jews oppose settlements and settlement expansion, few appear to grasp the reasons behind the depth of international rage against settlements. One reason might be that they perceive settlement activities as an unfortunate wrong turn taken after 1967, one that can be remedied through peace talks. But for the Palestinians, modern day settlements represent tendencies that they argue were central to Zionism from its inception — in their experience, Zionism was and is expansionist, encroaching on Palestinian soil against the will of the local population and in contradiction with the partition or two-state compromises that Zionist and Israeli leaders publicly embraced. 

Without knowing how some of the early mechanisms of Zionism manifested themselves on the ground, it is difficult for Israel’s supporters to understand the extent of visceral opposition to settlements. But while they don’t have to buy into the vision put forward by anti-Zionists — that Zionist immigration to and settlement in Palestine was unjustifiable in any form — they must understand why from the Palestinian perspective settlement expansion was always considered to be the driving force of the Zionist movement, and experienced as a form of aggression.

THEY SAID NO TO THE RENEGING ON PROMISESAND THEY SAID NO TO THE INCONGRUITY ENSHRINED IN THE 1917 BALFOUR DECLARATION

There is not one nation in the world that would accept voluntarily and of its own desire that its position should be changed in a manner which will have an effect on its rights and prejudice its interests … We as a nation are human beings with our own culture and civilization and we feel as any other nation would feel. It will have to be imposed on us by force.

                                         — Awni Abd al-Hadi, Testimony to Royal Peel Commission, 1937

After World War I, the Arabs of Palestine argued that they had been offered independence by the British as a reward for rising up against the Turks by dint of the McMahon–Husayn correspondence of 1915-1916 — a position contested by many Zionists then and now.

In the Arab view, these promises of independence were consistent with the spirit of their time, in particular President Woodrow Wilson’s principle of self-determination as later enshrined by the League of Nations. They said No to the idea that, in the wake of World War I, independence and self-determination would be applied around the world and to their neighboring Arab brethren, but that they would be uniquely denied in Palestine because of a conflicting British commitment to a Homeland for the Jews as articulated in the 1917 Balfour Declaration. And they said No to the idea that the fate of Palestine would or could be decided without the majority people who lived in the area being consulted.

Although the Balfour Declaration is seen by many Jews as the magna carta of the Zionist movement, few have actually read it carefully today or reflected on how it would have been perceived by the people who lived on the very land that the British were pledging to the Jews. For the Arabs, it was not only this pledge that was problematic: in 67 short words, the document set the terms by which Jews and Arabs were identified and perceived by third parties and each other, in ways that have remained seared in the public consciousness to this day. The Declaration identified the approximately 58,728 Jews living in Palestine at the time as a “people” and recognized their rights to a National Home, while granting only civil and religious (but not political or national) rights to the majority, the approximately 688,800 Arabs. The latter were referred to almost incidentally in the Declaration, as the “non-Jewish communities” in Palestine. Moreover, in the text of the Mandate itself, which refers to the Jewish people, the Jewish population in Palestine, the Jewish national home and Jewish institutions, the word “Arab” is avoided, replaced with a variety of terms such as “inhabitants of Palestine,” “other sections of the population,” “natives” and “respective communities.”6

The conviction, held by so many of Israel’s supporters, that the Arabs always resisted compromise, must be seen in the light of the terms set in this document and others that followed, and questions about what compromise was offered, by whom, and under which conditions. One of the reasons that the Arabs said No to most British and Zionist “compromise” proposals was that these included the demand that the they should accept the terms of the Balfour Declaration (and the Mandate in which they were incorporated) as a precondition, thus acceding to the idea that their land would be bequeathed to another people, and to the view of themselves as people defined by their negative status as “non-Jews” rather than their positive status as Arabs.

This interpretation of the past is not intended to suggest that the Arab response was determined — that they could under no circumstances have taken a different approach, or that there were not some individuals who, at various times, considered arrangements based on the terms that had been set. But if there is any serious revisionism to be done on this issue, it will be the business of the Palestinians in due course. What it does mean is that from the perspective of the Arabs compromise never appeared to be what it was for the Zionists then, or in the form it has been portrayed in the standard Jewish version of history since the founding of Israel; and there were always multiple and comprehensible reasons for the Palestinian Arabs to reject the underlying preconditions that defined the compromises that had been put forward.

A similar situation is replicated today, where the Palestinians are being asked not merely to accept Israel’s “right to exist in peace and security” — something they have already consented to — but to validate the Jewish character of the land (“Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people”), either as precondition for any renewed negotiations or as a condition for peace. One does not have to deny that the Palestinian approach to peacemaking can be, and often is, uncompromising and obstructive also to recognize that this demand will be perceived as a modern day reiteration of the British approach during the mandate: in order to be considered a partner for peace, the Palestinians must first abdicate their view of history, and also embrace the narrative of their enemies.

Whether intentional or not, this message was embedded in President Obama’s Jerusalem speech. But if his man on the ground, John Kerry, adopts this approach, he will be repeating the failed pattern whereby Palestinians are asked to convert to Zionism before being considered as peace partners — something that is by definition impossible and thus counterproductive. Secretary Kerry would do better to shape a renewed process around proposals that can be perceived as compromises by both parties.

FINALLY, THE PALESTINIAN ARABS SAID NO TO THE “GENEROUS OFFERS” OF PARTITION, MADE BY THE ROYAL PALESTINE (PEEL) COMMISSION IN 1937 AND THE UN IN 1947.

This opposition [to partition] is based upon the unwavering conviction of unshakeable rights and a conviction of the injustice of forcing a long-settled population to accept immigrants without its consent being asked and against its known and expressed will; the injustice of turning a majority into a minority in its own country; the injustice of withholding self-government until the Zionists are in the majority and able to profit by it.

                                         — Albert Hourani, Statement to the Anglo-American Commission of Inquiry, 1946

The most entrenched orthodoxy in the pro-Israel camp is that the Arabs said No to two perfectly legitimate partition plans — plans that could have secured a long lasting peace between two states living side by side. The origins of the conflict are often traced to these Nos, which are interpreted as signs of Arab intransigence, self-destruction, and disregard for international law.

This analysis is in great part based on an ignorance of what the partition plans looked like, an assumption that “compromise” solutions are always fair, desirable, and sustainable, and a retrospective analysis based on the view that the Arabs rejected much more land than they are bargaining for today.  

But the very idea of truncating the land was anathema to the majority of Palestinian Arabs, the partition proposals were devised without their consent, and both had been drawn with little concern for the incongruities in land distribution and demographics. In 1937, the Jews owned no more than 6 percent of the land, but were offered 20 percent of Palestine; and, in 1947, Jews owned approximately 7 percent of the land and were offered 55 percent of the country. In 1937, the new Jewish state was to contain 396,000 Jews and 225,000 Arabs, with a proposition that those Arabs would be transferred, forcibly if necessary, to the new Arab state. In 1947, almost half of the Arab population was to come under Jewish sovereignty, so that 400,000 Palestinian Arabs would be forced to live in a Jewish state with a Jewish population of just over 500,000. And all this was to take place in the absence of any trusted mechanism of implementation, and with some prominent Zionists — who were well organized and had a superior military capacity — verbalizing their intention to move beyond the borders of partition in the future.

It is understandably difficult for anyone who considers Israel to be the homeland of the Jewish people to grasp the Arab rejection of the principle of partition. Given the urgent situation the Jews were facing at the time, their historical and religious ties to the land, the genuine passion with which they pursued their mission, and the relatively small amount of territory that the various partition plans offered them, it appears unreasonable at best, malicious at worst, for the Arabs to have refused the very concept of sharing the land. 

However, it is quite incomprehensible that despite the importance attributed to the partition plans in justifying Israel’s perspective, an examination of both plans is so often neglected in favor of a simple reduction of the Arab response to an irrational No. One does not have to accept the Arab view (that the Zionists did not have the right to self-determination in Palestine) in order to recognize why they believed this at the time, and why the problem cannot be reduced simply to one of cartography — a map that in retrospect and from a purely visual point of view looks like a good deal for the Palestinians. The Israeli party line on this issue is repeated time and again by advocates, diplomats, academics, and policy makers — people who have an influence on how a peace process would be launched and run, and who are directly responsible for helping create parameters for a peace process today.7

Consider a statement from long-time presidential adviser to the Middle East, Dennis Ross, a person who still today is one of the key voices influencing the president’s approach to the conflict. In critiquing some revisionist histories, Ross offers the following understanding of the roots of the conflict:

Drawing from some of the revisionist histories on the origins of the Palestinian refugee problem, (Jerome) Slater basically ascribed full responsibility to Israel for the root of the conflict. That the Arabs and Palestinians simply rejected all possible compromises prior to the establishment of the state of Israel, including the Peel Commission Report of 1937, the Morrison-Grady proposal in 1946, and the UN partition plan in 1947 is basically immaterial to Slater.8

In response to critiques of Israel, Ross beats a swift retreat into the unexamined safety zone: Israelis might have made mistakes, but before these mistakes, there was The No. The idea is so universally absorbed and accepted by his audience that in order to defend this view Ross does not even feel the need offer any explanation beyond the mere mention that the Arabs “simply” said No to “all possible compromises.” One wonders if he knows which compromises were offered, what they included or why they were rejected. As one of the policy makers most devoted to the modern version of partition — the two-state solution — Ross and other influential U.S. advisers might learn more about why the Arabs rejected the plans then, and consider more carefully what conditions might be necessary for them to accept partition today.

Neither Jewish ethics nor Jewish tradition can disqualify terrorism as a means of combat. We are very far from having any moral qualms as far as our national war goes. We have before us the command of the Torah, whose morality surpasses that of any other body of laws in the world: “Ye shall blot them out to the last man.”…But first and foremost, terrorism is for us a part of the political battle being conducted under the present circumstances, and it has a great part to play: speaking in a clear voice to the whole world, as well as to our wretched brethren outside this land, it proclaims our war against the occupier.9

                                         — Yitzak Shamir, 1943

While the first pillar of the pro-Israel view is that the Arab No was the cause of the conflict, the second pillar is that this No was expressed from the beginning through acts of unprovoked and unjustified violence. This is a crucial component sustaining the narrative, for all Israeli acts of violence are excused with recourse to Arab violence as the first action — “we would never have had to do this had they not started it, had we not been defending ourselves.”

That there was periodic brutal Arab violence against Jews in the early decades of the conflict is without doubt. Most took the form of spontaneous resistance to, and attacks on, Jewish settlers. Other more organized riots and assaults — especially the Hebron massacre in 1929 — randomly and ferociously targeted the old Jewish and non-Zionist community, reinforcing Jews’ fear that Arabs were new incarnations of previous oppressors, and shattering their belief that any non-violent solution to the conflict in Palestine was possible.

The Jews’ long experience of brutal and unprovoked persecution had taught them that these kinds of “causeless” acts of aggression against them were not only likely but possibly ubiquitous. This lesson was only reinforced by the betrayal of European nationalism, which rebranded Jews as outsiders at the very moment they believed their status as equal citizens would be validated. Thus, it is not surprising that many Jews in the 1920s and the 1930s, haunted by their experience of violent pogroms in Eastern Europe and escalating persecution in Western Europe, did not feel the need to interpret the behavior of the Arabs in Palestine, perceiving their words and actions to be an extension of the same type of causeless anti-Semitism: they hate us for who we are, not what we do.

But it would be false to claim that the Arabs said No through violent action without cause, in lieu of arguments and persuasion, or that violence was their predominant form of expression. The early Arab response to the Zionist challenge was largely characterized by a futile and repetitive attempt to appeal to Western conscience, law, and values. Between the late 1890s and the mid-1930s, this response was expressed in words rather than deeds: delegations were sent to Britain and Europe and hundreds of memoranda, petitions, articles and speeches attempted to explain the Arab case to the British, Americans and Europeans. Not unlike today, the Arabs believed that if the international powers truly fathomed what was happening on the ground, they would put a stop to it. These documents are often shocking to those who peruse them, as accustomed as they are to their inherited views that the Palestinian Arabs had no case to make, never made it to anyone, and were simply mindlessly and mechanically rejecting anything Jewish in their path.

Whether violence can be justified as a means to achieve a national struggle is a legitimate topic of debate, and one can condemn the Arabs’ response to Zionism then and to Israel after 1948 on many grounds. But understanding the multiplicity of Arab reactions to Zionism in the pre-1947/48 period should not be interpreted — and thus dismissed — simply as an attempt to justify whatever violence they did wage. Without an understanding of the context of both Arab and Jewish violence in Mandatory Palestine, or the other nonviolent means the Palestinian Arabs pursued in an attempt to achieve their aims, there is little in the way of a fruitful discussion that can be had about the origin of the conflict or its possible solution.

Nor is it helpful to place a universal ban on explaining what lies behind Palestinian violence today. Neither the Zionists in the early period, nor Israelis or Jews today, deny violence as a legitimate tool in the service of a national movement. They have used and glorified violence when it has suited their purposes, as in the early period when Jabotinsky’s Betar youth drew inspiration from quasi-fascist tropes of extreme nationalism about the purifying and liberating role of violence; or in the 1940s when terrorism against the British was considered a legitimate means to attain their goal of national self-determination. A puritanical approach to any violence that comes from “the other side” cannot substitute for real engagement with the reasons they pursue violence, the nature of their goals or demands, and a sober analysis of which of these are necessary to address if peace and security is the desired end.

Everybody sees a difficulty in the question of relations between Arabs and Jews. But not everybody sees that there is no solution to this question. No solution! There is a gulf, and nothing can fill that gulf … I do not know what Arab will agree that Palestine should belong to the Jews — even if the Jews learn Arabic … And we must recognize this situation. If we do not acknowledge this and try to come up with “remedies,” then we risk demoralization … We, as a nation, want this country to be ours; the Arabs, as a nation, want this country to be theirs. The decision has been referred to the Peace Conference.

                                         — Ben Gurion, Speech to Vaad Zmani, June 1919

What is missing in the logic of the pro-Israel view of the Palestinian No is the disturbing prospect, articulated by Zionist luminaries such as Vladimir Jabotinsky and David Ben Gurion in the 1920s, that a nonviolent or satisfactory solution to the Arab-Jewish confrontation in Palestine might not have been possible.

This poignant and chillingly lucid appraisal was proposed by many Jews and Arabs in the early years of the conflict and has been acknowledged by many more since, but it is still largely absent from the current mainstream debates about the conflict or peacemaking. And yet accepting the Israel/Palestine conflict as an elemental clash grounded in overlapping and irreconcilable aspirations, rather than a chimera that could have been avoided had one party acceded to the wishes of the other, is necessary for understanding both the limitations of and prospects for peacemaking today. For if the Zionists perceived Jewish self-determination as a natural response to their predicament, the implementation of this mission in Palestine, a land where an Arab majority lived, was almost certain to provoke hostility from the native population.

Given the urgency of their situation, it is understandable that the Jews were not concerned with the response of the Palestinian Arabs to their project. After a tragically failed attempt to identify spiritually, emotionally or intellectually with the cultures and nations within which they resided, the Jews learned the hard way that the modern world was increasingly defining self-determination in exclusionist, not liberal, terms. The pogroms and persecution of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries did even more to shape the tenor and nature of the Zionist movement than the brutality of the Holocaust; it was that predicament which gave birth to what might be called “The Original Never Again” — the determination on the part of the Jews never again to be supplicants, dependent on the kindness of strangers, or feeble bystanders to their own persecution, waiting pitifully for the world to evolve beyond prejudice. Influenced by the character and tenor of nationalism as it evolved in Europe, where blood and soil were the hallmarks of legitimate belonging, the Zionists had concluded that they could only overcome their outsider status by settling in Palestine — a land where their “insider” status could be unearthed, and their physical and spiritual links with the past revealed.

But while Zionism was more multidimensional than the reductive formulas provided by today’s anti-Zionists, it is neither surprising nor strange that the Arabs in the early part of the twentieth century would reject the reasoning and rationale behind Jewish nationalism. They were engaged in their own pursuit of national self-determination, inspired by Woodrow Wilson’s proclamations, their own cultural, linguistic and religious revival, and the trends toward territorial independence taking hold in neighboring countries. Despite the fact that the Arab response is incessantly represented as aberrant, it is unlikely that any people anywhere would have said Yes to the prospect of becoming a minority in their own home, or to their land being offered to those they considered foreigners, even if they recognized that the latter had a historical presence and religious ties to the area, or that they faced mortal danger in their countries of residence. It is even more unlikely that any people would say Yes to the manner in which the policy of the Jewish national home was implemented — without their consent, enforced by foreign powers, and in contradiction to what they believe they deserved and were promised.

Finally, although there is controversy over the extent to which the leaders of the Palestinian national movement represented the views of the masses, or whether the “opposition” parties considered taking another course, even if a minority of Arabs was ready to accept some form of Jewish national rights in Palestine, this should not be reason to impugn the majority Arab feeling that the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine was unjust and unacceptable. Jews should resist the temptation to parade Arab “super-moderates” in triumph as vindication of their cause; the Arabs will not accept this any more than Jews accept Palestinians justifying their own positions by appealing to the views of a minority of Israeli or Jewish anti-Zionists.

Politically speaking it is a national movement…The Arab must not and cannot be a Zionist. He could never wish the Jews to become a majority. This is the true antagonism between us and the Arabs. We both want to be the majority.

                                         — David Ben-Gurion, after the 1929 riots in Palestine

The appraisal of the early years of the conflict, advanced above, clashes fundamentally with the traditional pro-Israel view, which relies on the belief that the Arab opposition to Zionism was both immoral and unnecessary, and that the Jews had an absolute and incontestable right to create a Jewish state in Palestine: in other words, that Zionism was blameless in the creation of the Palestine problem and the Palestinians brought their nakba upon themselves.

To challenge this view is not to condemn the entire Zionist project as inherently sinful, but to recognize that it will always be seen as such from the Arab side, because from their perspective, Jewish Israel could only have come about at the expense of Arab Palestine. This common-sense view was the driving force behind Vladimir Jabotinsky’s rationale for the Iron Wall — a position grounded in the avowal that the Jews aimed to appropriate the land that the Arabs lived on, loved and believed was theirs. Jabotinsky maintained that it was only natural that the Arabs would resist Zionism, for “any native people — it is all the same whether they are civilized or savage — views their country as their national home, of which they will be always the complete masters.”10

Today, those who would be Jabotinsky’s heirs appropriate the Iron Wall as implicit policy, while abjuring Jabotinsky’s own rationale for that policy: his belief that Palestine was not an empty desert but that there were native inhabitants there who were deeply attached to their land, and therefore it was both reasonable and inevitable that they would resist Zionism, and resist violently. In contrast, today’s revisionists rally support for an Iron Wall policy while burying Jabotinsky’s interpretation under a now familiar if still peculiar specter: a people that did not exist on a land they never had and whose loss they resisted for no particular reason.

Despite its notable incoherence, this kind of reasoning still drives the standard pro-Israeli view of the conflict. The result is that those who wish to show their support for Israel have no tools to formulate their own response to Palestinian grievances or demands, or to properly interpret the growing opposition to Israel on the international scene. Thus, they risk marching blindly down a path that only aggravates their own dilemma and puts Israel itself in further jeopardy.

There can be no settlement, no final settlement, until the Zionists realize that they can never hope to obtain in London or Washington what is denied them in Jerusalem.

                                         — Albert Hourani, Testimony to Anglo-American Committee, 1946

The paradox of any potential peacemaking between Israelis and Palestinians is that neither side is likely to be satisfied with the possibility of attaining the tangible dividends of peace, even in the unlikely event that these were attainable. Each side continues to demand ideological conversion from the other, despite the fact that neither can recognize (in the sense of validate or embrace) the other’s narrative without by definition repudiating its own. This is not only the case for the Palestinians, who are being asked to deny their history and experience for the sake of being validated as partners for peace. The Israelis too cannot and will not embrace the anti-Israel camp’s notion that their national movement was born in sin. And notwithstanding the power of the United States of America or President Obama’s recent pronouncements in Jerusalem, no third party can, or has the right to, issue a verdict on history. But while neither side should be asked to recognize the legitimacy of their adversary’s view of the conflict, they will have to find a way to accept that this view cannot simply be wished away, and that it will manifest itself in various ways at the negotiating table and in any peace deal. 

Thus, although supporters of Israel need not embrace the Palestinian view of the causes of the conflict, they should recognize that the Arab’s rejection of Zionism was not irrational and cannot be reduced to anti-Semitism: and they need to move beyond the long-obsolete mantras about the origins of the conflict that prevent them from identifying genuine points of impasse or making the best of opportunities. This does not mean Israel is the sole responsible party — Israelis are justified in questioning whether the Palestinians are able or willing to fulfill their own side of a negotiated bargain, prepare their public for a compromised settlement or recognize that the Jewish narrative cannot be eradicated by an act of will. But the Jewish community should not hide its own rejectionism behind the Palestinians’ No, or behind rabid circular debates that all slam into the STOP sign of 1947.

For while many Palestinians have (in various agreements and public commitments) been saying Yes to Israel’s de facto existence since 1988, they will continue to say No to Zionism itself.  Condoning it would require Palestinians swallow whole the major tenets of the Jewish “narrative” and sign on the dotted line affirming that the creation of a Jewish state on land they considered as their own was a legitimate enterprise; that their own rejection of that enterprise was irrational or morally wrong; and that the Arab’s 1400-year history in Palestine should be seen as a brief and inconsequential interregnum between two more important eras of Jewish sovereignty.

This will never happen. The sooner the pro-Israel camp accepts this and stops trying to change the unchangeable, the sooner they can determine what steps might be taken in the interests of their own peace and security. Schoolyard choruses — “they started it” and “they are worse than us” — cannot serve as an interpretive framework for a 130-year-old conflict, or form the basis of national policy. The Jewish community must breach the blockade that currently stands between moribund talking points and the actual origins of the conflict. An encounter with the Original No might release them from their dependence on the interpretations provided by the salesmen of the Jewish world, who for decades have been pitching an obsolete product to hapless customers in search of certainty — the very opposite of what is required in order to “prepare the public for peace.” And it might provide supporters of Israel with the tools they need to construct their own interpretation of what took place In The Beginning, and formulate their own vision of what, if anything, can be done to address the fallout today.

1 “Netanyahu: Root of Palestinian Conflict Is Not Territory,” Daily Monitor, May 2, 2013.http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/World/Netanyahu–Root-of-Palestinian-conflict-is-not-territory/-/688340/1799320/-/itkl53/-/index.html.

2 Benny Morris, “Israel under Siege,” Daily Beast, July 31, 2012,http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/07/31/israel-under-siege.html.

3 ‘Full text of Netanyahu’s foreign policy speech at Bar-Ilan’, Haaretz, June 14, 2009,http://www.haaretz.com/news/full-text-of-netanyahu-s-foreign-policy-speech-at-bar-ilan-1.277922. (emphasis added).

4 Vladimir Jabotinsky, ‘The Iron Wall: We and the Arabs,”http://www.marxists.de/middleast/ironwall/ironwall.htm.

5 Rashid Khalidi, Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness (New York, 1997), 102.

6 In Article 22, the word “Arabic” appears in the context of a clause relating to the official languages of Palestine.

7 See, for example, Hillary Clinton’s 2012 statement: “The Palestinians could have had a state as old as I am if they had made the right decision in 1947.” http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/driving-in-neutral-hillary-clinton-explains-the-israel-palestinian-conflict/2012/12/05/

8 Dennis Ross and David Makovsky, Myths, Illusions and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East(New York, 2009), 116.

9 Ian S. Lustik, “Terrorism in the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Targets and Audiences,” ed. Martha Crenshaw in Terrorism in Context (Pennsylvania, 1995), 527.

10 Vladimir Jabotinsky, op. cit.

*Dr. Gill is a research associate at Barnard College and a former professor of conflict studies at The New School University. She is the founder and director of TRACK4, which runs negotiation simulations for diplomats, mediators, journalists, policy makers, students and community leaders

Source

SEE ETHNIC CLEANSING LIVE ON THE BIG SCREEN

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The people of the village of Lifta, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, are affirming that right by returning home regularly, even though they cannot yet move back permanently.

Sons of Lifta, a moving short film, was shot on Land Day, when many of Lifta’s people tended the village cemetery.

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No abandoned land: Palestinians tend ancestors’ graves in village ethnically cleansed in 1948

 Ali Abunimah
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For millions of Palestinians, exercising the right to return home to the villages from which they, their parents or grandparents were ethnically cleansed during the Nakba to make way for Israel, remains an aspiration.

… our springs, our trees and our stones

The people of the village of Lifta, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, are affirming that right by returning home regularly, even though they cannot yet move back permanently.

Sons of Lifta, a moving short film, was shot on Land Day, when many of Lifta’s people tended the village cemetery.

Yacoub Odeh, a Liftawi, and one of the leaders of the campaign to save the village, explains in the video the significance of this act:

We are here today to clean the cemetery. We must clean it well, so that the graves are visible. Why? So that people can see that this is not abandoned land. No! Anybody who wants to buy or make plans [for our land] must know that these are our graves, our houses, our olive presses, our springs, our trees and our stones.

The Palestinian refugee rights organization, BADIL, which produced the film, says:

Sons of Lifta follows refugees from the village as they return to Lifta on Land Day 2013, more than 65 years after their original forced displacement. Through the eyes and actions of Lifta’s new generations, following in the footsteps of their ancestors, it becomes clear that the Zionist belief that ‘the old will die out and the young will forget’ never accounted for the strength of Palestinian sumoud (steadfastness) or the deep-rooted connection to home.

Lifta under new Israeli threat

Lifta, one of the few ethnically cleansed villages to remain largely intact, is now under threat from Israel plans to turn it into a luxury Jewish colony. Villagers and their supporters have challenged the plan in Israeli courts and have won a temporary reprieve. There are also calls for international protection for Lifta’s unique cultural heritage.

Lifta is my mother’s birthplace, so this video had special significance for me as I watched it with her and she shared her memories of childhood. But any displaced Palestinian can identify with the experience and narrative of Lifta.

Sons of Lifta was produced by BADIL’s Ongoing Nakba Education Center which uses multi-media advocacy tools to document Palestine’s Ongoing Nakba. You can see more films, photo-stories and audio pieces at the project website.

 

Written FOR

CHECKPOINT STREET THEATRE FOR BDS

On May 15, students at Middlebury College in Vermont staged a checkpoint outside their dining hall during the busiest meal of the year to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, which led to the establishment of the state of Israel.

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Middlebury students stage Israeli checkpoint to push divestment

Jay Saper*
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On May 15, students at Middlebury College in Vermont staged a checkpoint outside their dining hall during the busiest meal of the year to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, which led to the establishment of the state of Israel.

As the Middlebury divestment campaign from arms and fossil fuels gains nationalattention, a coalition that included Palestinian, Israeli and American Jewish students staged the act of political theater in solidarity with Nakba Day demonstrations aroundthe globe as a call to add apartheid to the students’ divestment demands.

Israel receives over $3 billion a year in military aid from the United States with stipulations on how that money is to be spent. As a consequence, nearly all weapons used by the Israeli military to support the occupation are produced by U.S. arms manufacturers, in which Middlebury has $6 million invested.

The objective of the checkpoint was to urge the college to honor the call by Palestinian civil society for those who are invested in corporations that profit from the occupation to stop their complicity in the oppression of the Palestinian people and fulfill their “moral responsibility to fight injustice” by divesting from Israeli apartheid.

At a midnight breakfast event during finals week, students were greeted in the dark with barricades blocking the entrance to the dining hall and flashlights from full uniformed soldiers asking for identification cards.

Alex Jackman, a junior from New York City, described the checkpoint as “one of the coolest pieces of theater I have seen on Middlebury’s campus. Performed during the time when all students are wrapped up in stress about exams and schoolwork, the piece served as a reminder that there are greater battles to fight beyond our campus.”

A gate was lifted for students who had received Israeli documentation. They could pass freely to prepare themselves a plate of pancakes. Those with Palestinian IDs were not greeted with a welcoming tone. As their “Israeli” friends were able to pass through, “Palestinians” were ordered by soldiers to stop.

While they were held, three actors whose wrists were zip-tied and eyes blindfolded — alluding to the hundreds of Palestinians held under administrative detention without being charged or tried — pleaded for water and demanded to be released. Those with Palestinian papers were only able to eventually pass into the dining hall after being directed to walk all the way around the checkpoint.

Some students voiced their frustration with being held up, “This is not cool, I am trying to get to midnight breakfast.” One shouted, “I have to study for finals.”

Jackman contended it was important for students to confront the checkpoint. “Middlebury College students tend to abstract issues of social injustice, a method that allows us to remove ourselves from these issues,” she explained. “But by being confronted, quite literally, with this piece of theater, we were not able to remove ourselves from our privileges — even if only for a moment.”

The performance, developed by students as part of a course on Theater and Social Change and members of the organization Justice for Palestine, was broken up by campus public safety.

“This is not theater; we can tell it is political,” one officer voiced. “Everything that is political has to be approved by the college.”

For Palestinians, checkpoints are not a momentary interruption, but one persistent piece of a dehumanizing system of apartheid. Between 2000 and 2005 there were 67 Palestinian mothers who were forced to give birth at Israeli military checkpoints and 36 of those babies died.

Apartheid is not enabled through merely subjecting a people to oppressive conditions, but rather through creating separate realities whereby a group of people is not forced to confront their implication in the domination of another group.

Middlebury College itself is a settlement on stolen Abenaki land. With its pristine limestone buildings and perfectly manicured grass, Middlebury manufactures an environment seemingly separate from the oppressions it perpetuates, which is itself a political act.

Students at Middlebury are stepping up and refusing to allow a separation of conscience that tolerates inaction in the face of a school profiting from Israeli apartheid. Justice for Palestine has one message for administrators, particularly fitting of a midnight action, “We will not rest, until you divest.”

 

*Jay Saper is a student organizer with Justice for Palestine at Middlebury College.

 

 

Written FOR

RAPPIN FOR THE NAKBA

ONE MAN’S PERSONAL NAKBA
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EndTheOccupation

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We will return.
That is not a threat
not a wish
a hope
or a dream
but a promise
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For more on Remi Kanazi’s work, visit his website (www.PoeticInjustice.net) or follow him on Twitter @Remroum.
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Originally posted AT

REVISITING AND RELIVING THE NAKBA

 Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
nakba-day-2013 (1)
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As Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, our problem is not with Jews who believe in “live and let live” but is rather with this diabolical, fanatical and genocidal Zionism which has drenched this part of the world with blood, hatred and inequity.
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The Nakba revisited
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By Khalid Amayreh
 

Today marks the 65th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, the violent usurpation and occupation of Palestine by Zionist Jewish invaders coming from around the world. The seizure of Palestine can be considered as one of the greatest acts of theft in the history of mankind. Israel itself therefore is a gigantic war crime and a crime against humanity.

Thanks to the infamous Balfour declaration of 1917, Palestine, an Arab country since the seventh century, was given by another country (Britain) to a third people (the Jews) without even consulting the native people of the country.

According to the British Philosopher Bertrand Russell:” The tragedy of the people of Palestine is that their country was ‘given’ by a foreign power to another people for the creation of a new state.”

In fact, it can be safely argued that the West, particularly Britain, committed the original sin by envisaging, planning and implanting Israel in the heart of the Arab world in order to protect its colonial and imperialistic interests.

In 1905, Britain’s Prime Minister Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman invited the Western Imperial powers for conference which continued until 1907.

The conference of the thieves recommended the establishment of ” a state on the lands of Palestine, to serve as an advanced base for the covetous colonialists, and protect their interests, implement their plans and schemes and ensure the outflow of natural resources from the region, as well as the import of their goods and products into the markets of the region.”

The American Jewish writer Noam Chomsky described this evilness committed by these European powers, especially Britain:

“When a man brings a snake and puts it in the bed of a child and it stings the child, the man is responsible for the child’s death, not the snake,”.

The person who brings the snake into the child’s bed is the real criminal, not the snake. This person cannot claim innocence and say ‘I did not know that the snake is so poisonous!’”

The famous British historian Arnold Toynbee, in his book “A Study of History” said that “while the direct responsibility for the calamity that overtook the Palestinian Arabs in A.D. 1948 was on the heads of the Zionist Jews who seized a lebensraum for themselves in Palestine by force of arms in that year, a heavy load of indirect, yet irrefutable, responsibility was on the heads of the people of the United Kingdom.

But the “snake” (Israel) has acquired a life of its own, and it no longer depends on its erstwhile western benefactors for its survival and continuity.”

None the less, there is no guarantee, historical, moral or religious that the “snake” will have an extended life, e.g. live longer than a century.

In the final analysis, Israel is an immoral and illegal being that will have to go. Yes, Israel is a regional superpower, has a prosperous economy, is technologically advanced and tightly controls the government, Congress and media of the United States .

But nations don’t live by modern fighter jets and nuclear bombs alone. The Soviet Union had a plenty of these.

In order to have a sustained existence nations must possess a moral justification. Justice, not military might, is what guarantees the longevity and continuity of states.

In 1948, Zionist leaders such as Ben Gurion thought that that the Palestinian people would go into oblivion, slowly but surely. Indeed, just as the genocidal invaders from Eastern Europe and elsewhere bulldozed and obliterated more than 500 Palestinian villages, Zionist elders thought that old Palestinians will die and young Palestinians will forget!

But to the Zionists’ chagrin, the Palestinian cause is still as vivid and relevant in the minds and hearts of the Palestinian people today as it was in 1948.

Thousands of Palestinians still retain the keys to their homes from which they were expelled at gunpoint when Israel was created 65 years ago. The trust is bequeathed by the older to younger generations.

Today, even the least patriotic Palestinians who would rather reach “a peace deal” with Israel by hook or by crook wouldn’t even dare suggest that they would sell out the right of return even in return for a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

To be sure, Palestinians and Muslims in general have no problem living with Jews. Jews lived side by side with Arabs and Muslims for close to 1400 years. Jews had never revolted against their Muslim rulers or demanded a state of their own.

Indeed, the call for the return of Jews to Palestine did not come from Middle Eastern or Palestine Jews; it rather came from Western Jews.

When the Hungarian Jewish leader Herzl convened the first Zionist Congress in Basle in 1897, which was attended by 196 delegates. Only four of the 196 delegates were Jews from Palestine .

As Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, our problem is not with Jews who believe in “live and let live” but is rather with this diabolical, fanatical and genocidal Zionism which has drenched this part of the world with blood, hatred and inequity.

Israel claims to be Jewish and following ancient Jewish ideals of justice. But this is a hollow claim, bordering on wishful thinking.

The truth of the matter is that Israel represents the antithesis of the prophetic ideals of the ancient Israeli prophets. What happened to “Thou shall not murder, thou shall not steal, and thou shall not lie”?

Even Abraham, the purported common forefather of the ancient Israelites and northern Arabs wouldn’t accept to obtain a burial place for his dead wife Sara free of charge in Hebron.

Today, one is really affronted by these fanatical Jewish settlers who terrorize and savage peaceable Palestinian villagers, poison and kill their livestock, burn down their fields and orchards.

And when the unprotected helpless Palestinians seek redress at Israeli courts, they are told by the Jewish judges that the settlers have a point because “your homes and land once belonged to the settlers’ ancestors some three thousand years ago.”!!!

Such a state where inequity and oppression are rampant can’t and will not live long, even if it possessed all the modern warplanes in the world.

They killed the two-state solution

Israel has already decapitated the two state solution. The intensive expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem , has really left no room for a viable and territorially contiguous Palestinian state.

The U.S., EU and the helpless Palestinian Authority (PA) pretend that there is still a chance for reviving the two-state solution strategy. But we who live here in the West Bank know better. We just can’t betray our eyes.

We also know rather well two other facts that further enforce our conviction that the chances for establishing a true Palestinian state have vanished rather irreversibly. The first fact is that the Israeli society is moving steadily toward Talmudic Jewish fascism, which makes it extremely unlikely that Israel would agree anytime in the predictable future to give up the spoils of the 1967 war, which would imply the inevitable dismantlement of hundreds of Jewish colonies built on the occupied Palestinian territory.

The second fact is that the United States, Israel’s guardian-ally, is utterly unable, even if willing, to exert any meaningful pressure on Israel, which would force or convince the Jewish state to end its occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. The reason for this is the tight Jewish stranglehold on the American decision-making process. Thus, the Israeli control of the White House, Congress and other American political institutions is too overwhelming to allow for any U.S. maneuver outside the Jewish dragnet.

The Demographic situation in Israel/Palestine

Apart from the historical rights and moral high-ground, the Palestinians also have a strategic advantage over Zionism, namely the demographic asset. According to the prominent Israeli demographer Della Pergula, there are already more non-Jews than Jews between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean.

“We have already reached the demographic critical mass, the establishment of a Palestinian state now is therefore more of an urgent Israeli need than a Palestinian need” But the possibility for establishing a viable Palestinian state no longer exists in light of the phenomenal expansion of Jewish settlements mentioned earlier. More to the point, the concept of a bi-national state is a kind of anathema for most Israelis as it would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state. Hence, the problem.

There are millions of Israelis who would think or probably are already thinking of unthinkable scenarios such as expelling large number of Palestinians. But expulsion can’t really be carried out without some sort of a genocide. None the less, the Palestinians have thoroughly learned and imbibed the lessons of 1948 and would never ever leave their country. They would rather die in their own homes, towns and villages rather than give Zionists the joy of watching them repeat the Nakba scenario.

The Israeli Zionists have already committed huge and numerous crimes against the Palestinian people. Needless to say, committing still more crimes would be suicidal and fraught with grave consequences for Israel and Jews.

In the final analysis, the repetition of what happened in 1948 could speed up the process of Israel’s demise and extinction.

 

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Ongoing Nakba: Powerful infographic from Visualizing Palestine shows century of land theft, expulsion

 

(Visualizing Palestine)

Disappearing Palestine, a powerful new infographic from Visualizing Palestine (visualizingpalestine.org).

MOTHER PALESTINE MARKS 65 YEARS OF THE NAKBA

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
nakba-day-2013
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Sam Bahour سام بحّور – Refugees Waiting

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Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American based in Al-Bireh/Ramallah, Palestine. He is a freelance business consultant operating as Applied Information Management (AIM), specializing in business development with a niche focus on the information technology sector and start-ups. Sam was instrumental in the establishment of the Palestine Telecommunications Company and the PLAZA Shopping Center and until recently served as a Board of Trustees member at Birzeit University. He is a Director at the Arab Islamic Bank and serves in various capacities in several community organizations. Sam writes frequently on Palestinian affairs and has been widely published. He is co-editor of HOMELAND: Oral History of Palestine and Palestinians. He blogs at http://www.epalestine.com. 

يحمل رجل الأعمال الفلسطيني سام بحور الجنسية الأميركية وهو يسكن في مدينة البيرة في رام الله، فلسطين. ويعمل بشكل مستقل كمستشار ومنسق مشاريع كما يملك شركة لإدارة المعلومات التطبيقية (إيم) وهي تختص في تطوير الأعمال والمشاريع مع تركيز على الشركات الناشئة. ولعب سام دوراً أساسياً في تأسيس شركة الإتصالات الفلسطينية (بالتل)، ومركز بلازا للتسوق. وأصبح مؤخراً عضو فاعل في مجلس الأمناء في جامعة بيرزيت. ويشغل حالياً منصب عضو مجلس إدارة في البنك الإسلامي العربي، كما يشغل عدة مناصب أخرى في منظمات المجتمع المدني. ويركز سام كثيراً في كتاباته على الشؤون الفلسطينية، فتنشر مقالاته على نطاق واسع. ساهم سام في تحرير كتاب “الوطن: التاريخ الشفوي لفلسطين والفلسطينيين” ويمكن معرفة المزيد عنه والاطلاع على مقالاته من خلال تصفح مدونته على الموقع الالكتروني التالي: www.epalestine.com

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During this tragic period of remembrance, just a reminder that NEVER AGAIN means something, TODAY!

ROOM BY ROOM, HOUSE BY HOUSE, VILLAGE BY VILLAGE, PALESTINIANS ARE DRIVEN OUT


The ongoing Nakba ….
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Setters Evict Family From Room of Jerusalem Home

Palestinians Blocked From Part of Home by Sheeting

A room and a courtyard of a Palestinian family home in eastern Jerusalem were turned over to Jewish residents.

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On Sunday, the room was sealed off from the rest of the house with metal sheeting and barbed wire, according to reports.

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A Palestinian couple and their 2-year-old son had lived in the room. Seventeen other members of the family live in the rest of the house.

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The home is claimed by American millionaire Irving Moskowitz, who purchased the property from the Chabad Kollel, who bought it in 1886 from the occupying Ottoman. Chabad lost the land in 1948 when Jordan took over eastern Jerusalem and it was sold to the Hamdallah family, which has lived in the home since 1952.

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The Kollel regained its rights to the land after the Six-Day War, but the family remained in the home. Moskowitz has been working through the courts to evict the family for nearly two decades. He recently succeeded in getting a court’s permission to evict the family from additions made to the property. It is believed Moskowitz that wants to expand the Jewish enclave of Ma’aleh Hazeitim, which he helped to fund, on to the property.

Written FOR

THE AFRICAN NAKBA*

*Nakba; For the Palestinians it is an annual day of commemoration of the displacement that followed the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948 …. details HERE
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Refugees uprooted again in bid to expel foreigners

Text by: Rami Gudovitch*
All photos by: Activestills.org

South Sudanese refugees board a bus taking them to Ben Gurion airport, where they will be deported to South Sudan. Arad, Israel, June 17, 2012. (Photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

“Do you know, Rami, that I was in ‘Mustafa Mahmoud?’” Regina, a 12-year-old South Sudanese girl, asked me after she and her family were released from 27 days in an Israeli prison. Her father, a tall man with noticeable facial scars from the torture he underwent in Khartoum, affirms her words, handing me an old newspaper clipping from Egypt, dated 2005. I cannot read Arabic, but I can see her mother, laying on the ground, surrounded by police officers in one photo, and the little body of a child covered by a white sheet in another. “This was my cousin. He was killed by the police there,” adds Regina.

“Mustafa Mahmoud” refers to a massacre committed by the Cairo police during a peaceful demonstration by South Sudanese refugees near the UNHCR offices. The massacre sparked the first wave of African refugees fleeing to Israel, crossing the Sinai desert and reaching the promised land.

For many of the members of the community, the years in Israel were the only calm years in their lives. For many of the children, these years were happy childhood years, spent living in multicultural neighborhoods, going to schools, learning a new language, meeting school teachers and staff who care for the well-being of any child regardless of gender, color, or nationality.

A representative of the Authority of Population and Immigration checks South Sudanese people boarding a bus for Ben-Gurion Airport. The refugees were gathered in a raid conducted by Oz Unit. Arad, Israel, June 17, 2012. (Photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

South Sudanese children board a bus taking them to Ben-Gurion Airport for deportation. Tel-Aviv, Israel, June 17, 2012. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

In recent years, I found myself lucky enough to be part of a small multicultural community in south Tel Aviv, and some of my closest friends were members of the small South Sudanese community. I heard so many life stories that reminded me of tales often told to me as a child by old family members, who escaped Europe in the 30s—now told by children who fled to gain peaceful years in a country where they were beginning to feel at home in. Now, this little universe has been destroyed.

The government’s deportation order, following the referendum in South Sudan that led to the independence of the country, caught us all unprepared. It is not that the South Sudanese did not wish to return to their country. In fact, at the peak in 2009, there were around 1,900 members of community residing in Israel. By in July 2011, when the county’s independence was declared, only some 900 members remained in Israel. Most of the single young men returned to South Sudan, wishing to help build the new country.

The ones who remained in Israel were mostly families with children. News from South Sudan portrayed a harsh picture of a land unprepared to offer a future for children or for other weak groups in society. It has the highest mortality rate for newborn babies and nursing mothers in the world. A girl of 14 has a higher probability of dying while giving birth than of attending school. One million people suffer from food shortages, and the World Food Organization has warned that the country will continue to suffer major disasters in coming years.

A South Sudanese child in his home fills a bottle of water on the morning of his deportation. Tel Aviv, Israel, June 17, 2012. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

South Sudanese refugees receive travel documents at Ben-Gurion Airport, Israel, June 17, 2012. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

With this dreadful reality in mind, we—a small group of representatives from different human rights organizations—opened a public campaign against the deportation to South Sudan. We were successful in getting the facts to the media, and for awhile we were convinced that we could stop it. But after attorney Anat Ben-Dor’s appeal to the district court against the deportation order was rejected, nothing could stop it besides the good will of the government. And that was the last thing we could expect.

Indeed, the deportation order went into effect. On the very next day, after a public statement by Interior Minister Eli Yishai requiring all South Sudanese to register for a “voluntary return” within a week, the Oz Unit of immigration officers began arresting South Sudanese in the streets of major cities in Israel.

For us, the Israeli friends, teachers, and neighbors of the community, these days are beyond comprehension. The streets are being emptied out, racist Israelis commit daily attacks against refugees, more and more of our beloved friends are sent to a country with very low chances of survival.

Walking down the streets of the neighborhood these days I can see only voids—circles of missing people, people who were sent like animals, hunted by immigration police, forced to sign that they “want to leave” or else, then detained and pushed out.

South Sudanese refugees board a bus in Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station taking them to Ben-Gurion Airport, Israel, June 25, 2012. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

South Sudanese refugees at Ben-Gurion Airport, Israel, June 25, 2012. (Photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Israeli activists support South Sudanese during the second deportation, Tel Aviv, Israel, June 25, 2012. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

South Sudanese children board a bus for Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv, Israel, July 2, 2012. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.Org)

South Sudanese women board a bus for Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv, Israel, July 11, 2012. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

In recent few weeks, I have experienced some of the most horrifying moments of my life. Among the refugees arrested was Regina’s family. Upon their release, while waiting for their deportation, Regina’s 7-year-old sister Mer described to me how “the guards were at first good, at least some of them. But as we asked more questions and they lacked answers, they become more and more evil.”

Local activists protest against the deportation and attempt to disrupt the departure of the bus, arguing that conditions in South Sudan are not safe enough for the refugees to be returned there. Tel Aviv, Israel, July 25, 2012. (Photo: JC/Activestills.org)

After failing at all fronts to stop the deportation, what we are left with are the voices of the recent deportees in South Sudan. Presently, dozens of children and adults from among the deportees suffer from malaria. Dozens of others suffer from typhoid. Many have been robbed—the property they gathered in Israel did not arrive. Many children are hungry, and every week we send, with the new deportees, pita bread, chocolate, and cereal to the families and children, at their request. The returnees have no water or electricity in their huts. The money they collected or received when they were deported is running out. There are no jobs, and schools are extremely expensive. In general, many just don’t see any future opportunities ahead of them.

The question many of us are left with is why did they—or rather we—have to do it? I witness the brutal pressure Israel is presently putting on the few families that still remain, mostly for serious humanitarian, medical or social needs involving many life threatening conditions. To me it seems like the State of Israel decided to carry out an ethnic cleansing campaign. Like a Passover house-cleaning, they decided not to allow a single South Sudanese to remain. The associations that this act brings to mind are dreadful. But that is the only explanation I can find for the systematic and obsessive persecution—carried out in seven well-planned deportations—of the South Sudanese community.

A woman holds a solidarity sign in Hebrew that reads: “The people demand to stop the deportations,” at the seventh deportation to South Sudan. Tel-Aviv, Israel, August 8, 2012. (Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

A representative of the Authority of Population and Immigration checks the names of South Sudanese people that are being deported. Tel-Aviv, Israel, August 8, 2012. (Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

woman trys to calm her child during the seventh deportation to South Sudan at Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station, Israel, August 8, 2012. (Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

A South Sudanese girl holds a sign she wrote in Hebrew to her classmates, who came to say goodbye. The note reads: “Axsosa you are my best friend in school.” Tel-Aviv, Israel, August 8, 2012. (Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

And if this is accurate, then I deeply feel that the people involved, actively, or by simply closing their eyes, will be punished. In fact, they are already being punished by not being able to look in the mirror and see a human figure. I cannot imagine a worse punishment than that.

Rami Gudovitch, an Israeli activist, says goodbye to a child who was under his care in recent years. Tel-Aviv, Israel, August 8, 2012. (Photo: Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

*Dr. Rami Gudovitch is a social activist working with migrant communities in southern Tel Aviv and a philosophy instructor at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya.

Source 

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RELATED….. (click on link to access report)

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Israel to provide ‘temporary housing’ in prison for migrant children

THIS IS SO SICK I CAN’T EVEN COME UP WITH A PROPER HEADLINE FOR IT ~~ LET’S JUST CALL IT ‘EXPULSIONMANIA’

Since many of those who lost their residency rights from 1967 to 1994 in both Gaza and the West Bank were students or young professionals, their descendants today presumably number in the hundreds of thousands. Of the original people affected by the policy – nearly 250,000 – many have since died. But several thousands who were affiliated with the PA were granted the right to return in 1994; still other Palestinians have since been allowed to return for a variety of reasons.

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Israel admits it revoked residency rights of quarter million Palestinians since 1967

Many of those prevented from returning were students or young professionals, working aboard to support their families.

By Akiva Eldar
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Palestinian children in Hebron looking on as Shovrim Shtika lead a tour of the city.
Palestinian children in Hebron looking on as Shovrim Shtika lead a tour of the city, Feb. 26, 2012.
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Israel stripped more than 100,000 residents of Gaza and some 140,000 residents of the West Bank of their residency rights during the 27 years between its conquest of the territories in 1967 and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994.

As a result, close to 250,000 Palestinians who left the territories were barred from ever returning.

Given that Gaza’s population has a natural growth rate of 3.3 percent a year, its population today would be more than 10 percent higher, had Israel not followed a policy of revoking residency rights from anyone who left the area for an extended period of time. The West Bank’s population growth rate is 3 percent. Many of those prevented from returning were students or young professionals, working aboard to support their families.

The data on Gaza residency rights was released by the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories this week, in response to a freedom-of-information request filed by Hamoked – The Center for the Defense of the Individual. In its letter, COGAT said that 44,730 Gazans lost their residency rights because they were absent from the territory for seven years or more; 54,730 because they did not respond to the 1981 census; and 7,249 because they didn’t respond to the 1988 census.

It added that 15,000 of those deprived of residency are now aged 90 or older.

In May 2011, Haaretz obtained the figures on West Bank residents who were stripped of their residency rights. The report noted that Israel had, for years, employed a secret procedure to do so. Palestinians who went abroad were required to leave their identity card at the border crossing. Unlike those from Gaza, who were allowed to leave for seven years, these Palestinians received a special permit valid for three years. The permit could be renewed three times, each time for one year. But any Palestinian who failed to return within six months after his permit expired would be stripped of his residency with no prior notice.

Former senior defense officials told Haaretz at the time of that report’s publication that they were unaware of any such procedure.

Today, a similar procedure is applied to East Jerusalem residents: A Palestinian who lives abroad for seven years or more loses his right to return to the city.

GOGAT’s letter to Hamoked regarding the Gaza natives said that there are various ways for Palestinians to get their residency restored, and in fact, some of those Gazans who lost their residency rights later regained them. However, it added, it lacks the resources to comply with Hamoked’s request to be told the specific reason behind each such restoration.

Since many of those who lost their residency rights from 1967 to 1994 in both Gaza and the West Bank were students or young professionals, their descendants today presumably number in the hundreds of thousands. Of the original people affected by the policy – nearly 250,000 – many have since died. But several thousands who were affiliated with the PA were granted the right to return in 1994; still other Palestinians have since been allowed to return for a variety of reasons.

Consequently, the number of Palestinians still listed today as having lost their residency rights is about 130,000.

Among the more prominent West Bank residents who have been barred from returning are the brothers of the PA’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, who went abroad to study and subsequently lost their residency. They now live in California. Erekat said that having learned from their experience, he was careful to return to the West Bank periodically while he was studying abroad, so as to keep his residency permit valid.

Hamoked, which learned of the existence of this policy by chance while investigating the case of a West Bank resident jailed in Israel, charges that stripping tens of thousands of Palestinians of their residency – and thus effectively exiling them permanently from their homeland – is a grave violation of international law.

Source

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The ‘luck’ of those that stayed at home….

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Vandals slash tires, spray racist graffiti in East Jerusalem neighborhood

One car in the Shuafat neighborhood sprayed with the word ‘Ulpana,’ the part of the Beit El settlement where the High Court has ordered homes demolished.

 Oz Rosenberg
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Neve Shalom - Ahikam Sari - June 12
The entrance to Neve Shalom’s bilingual school. Photo by A

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Vandals slashed the tires of seven cars in the Arab neighborhood Shuafat in East Jerusalem early yesterday – one car was sprayed with the word “Ulpana,” the part of the Beit El settlement where the High Court has ordered homes demolished.

“We got up in the morning and that’s what we saw,” said Ibrahim Salah, a resident of Shuafat. “The people here are simple folk who want to live in peace. I don’t understand why people are doing this. This country is becoming racist …. Now foreign laborers are being targeted as well. Racism is rife in Jerusalem because of radical Jewish groups.”

Late Thursday night, vandals slashed the tires of 14 cars and sprayed racist slogans on three of them at the Jewish-Arab village Neveh Shalom near Latrun. Graffiti was also scrawled on the entrance to the community’s bilingual Arab-Jewish school.

The slogans included “Death to Arabs,” “Revenge,” and “Ulpana.” The secretary of the Neveh Shalom Association, Gideon Suleimani, sees the vandalism as “an attack on the idea of coexistence – the political idea on which the village was founded.” The police are investigating the incident.

“It’s a racist act directed against our community,” added Neveh Shalom resident Nava Sonnenstein.

“They did it so the children would see it when they went to school in the morning. We’ve been trying to bring Jews and Arabs closer for 33 years, but the waves of racism are stronger than we are.”

In recent months hate graffiti has been sprayed several times on the walls of the bilingual school near Jerusalem’s Beit Safafa neighborhood. The slogans have included “Death to Arabs” and “Kahane was right,” referring to the far-right American-Israeli rabbi who was assassinated in 1990.

The school is a symbol of coexistence in the capital, with an equal number of Jewish and Arab students.

Source

THE NAKSA ~~ THE CONTINUATION OF THE NAKBA

An activist demonstrating in Beit Ommar to commemorate Naksa Day.
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The Western Press was full of reports dealing with zionists abroad ‘celebrating’ the Israeli Victory in the 1967 ‘Six Day War’. Not one report about the reality of the situation here in Palestine….. Here it is;
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Naksa

Prepared by Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
It seems like yesterday that we watched Israeli tanks rolling down the hills towards our sleepy town of Beit Sahour 45 years ago today.  As a child it was the most frightening sight.  The second stage of the Zionist expansion on the land of Palestine unleashed terror that our generation had not experienced but my parents generation had during the Nakba when between January 1948 and the end of 1949, some 530 villages and towns were ethnically cleansed.  The changes I witnessed the 45 years since the “6 day” invasion of 1967 have been nothing short of monumental. Those hills that the tanks rolled down on are all now filled with colonial settlements that scar the ancient landscape.  The Israeli quarries have literally dug up other hills and trucked stone and soil away to build the “Jewish state” while destroying Palestinian lives.  But I do not want to take time here to write of these violations.  I think anyone can find thousands of documents and reports from independent human rights groups and international agencies describing the horrors of colonization, apartheid, and occupation in this “holy land”.  Nor will I address how people who teach their children about Jewish suffering over the ages teach them that it is OK to inflict this suffering on native/indigenous people. Nor do I want to write on this occasion of the treachery of western countries who profess human rights and international law actually become complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity.  Nor do I want to address the treachery of Arab leaders (yes including some Palestinians) who were complicit in helping make 7 million of us refugees or displaced people.  I do want to talk about us, the people, and especially about mental occupation.

Occupiers/colonizers are of course always dependent not just on military might but also on propaganda and psychological manipulation to reach their goals.  For example, from the late 19th century, the Zionists successfully infiltrated the minds of their victims with notions like “Arabs” and/vs. “Jews”.   With this one simple concept, Zionists succeeded in 1) equating a linguistic group with a religion and elevating Jewishness to a supposed national structure (“a people”), 2) removing Arab Jews as a viable group whose allegiance lies naturally with their fellow Arabic speaking people, 3) fostering anti-Jewish feelings (mistakenly called anti-Semitism) to help their cause in conflating Zionism with Judaism. Before that they coined and popularized the term anti-Semitism to confuse the Europeans and claim they are Semites.  From those early efforts in the 19th century, the people of the world were subjected to sustained intensive efforts at brainwashing. 

We actually understand these propaganda efforts as natural and expected in efforts to propel racist ideologies.  What we do not understand is why many native Palestinians accepted defeat and even adopted the Zionized version of history.  Even some of our school textbooks perpetuate the mythologies that keep the Zionist nightmare a reality.  It is easy to keep it alive when we, the victims keep the myth of the exodus from Egypt to Masada to the falsified history of Josephus to the suppression of our Canaanite ancestry to the notion that Jewishness is somehow biological.  Some of this is due to those who are religious confusing metaphors and myths with historiography.  Some of it is due to ignorance: e.g. ignorance of the fact that the Philistines were actually Canaanite people and not from Crete or that both ancient Arabic and Hebrew were dialects of Canaanite Aramaic.   Some of it is pure foolishness; for example that somehow we can “return” Palestine to an idealized (fictional) Islamic or Jewish state.  Would it not be better to admit the wrong that was done to the native people, do some restorative justice, and begin to discuss among ourselves how we Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, and others can live TOGETHER in a country in full equality? How about a new joint political movement to reform and to dismantle the dysfunctional Israeli and Palestinian political structures so as to build a new reality?  Aren’t 64 years of Nakba and 45 years of Naksa long enough? There are 11.5 million Palestinains in the world and billions of fellow human beings who know what is right to contentd with at best half a million deluded Jewish Zionists (and the equally deluded Christian Zionists who support them).  What perevents justice (ie. peace) is apathy and ignorance.  Is it not time to shed these?

Cover-up of the deliberate Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. We should remember the victims of the Israeli attack 45 years ago and the cowardice of the US government which succumbed to the Israel lobby and buried the incident.

The 2011 Humanitarian Overview addresses the key advocacy priorities identified by the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT), the main humanitarian coordinating body for UN agencies and NGO partners in the the occupied Palestinian territories.


Israel is new South Africa as boycott calls increase

Boycott Israeli Blood Diamonds, Dublin 2-6-2012
 

Don’t Let Mahmoud Sarsak Die – Act Now
ACTION:  Consider introducing resolutions for boycotts, divestments and sanctions at your union, church, organization, group, political party, association. You may also start a petition to have your town, city council, state or other governmening entity divest from Israel and companies that support the Israeli apartheid system.  To help, we put together some relevant information on this link  and will try to keep it updated for use in promoting BDS (send me anything you think should be added)
Here are other links with lots of information

DEMONIZING HISTORY

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It’s not just that right-wingers are deliberately distorting the Nakba’s meaning into something malevolent and traitorous, it’s that even well-meaning liberals have come by the same view innocently, from being bombarded by Israeli propaganda.
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Demonizing the Nakba

By Larry Derfner

Despite what Israeli Jews believe, on Nakba Day, this country’s Arab citizens aren’t mourning Israel’s creation, but rather what it cost them. 

When left-leaning Haaretz explains in a news story that the Nakba Day events are “commemorating the ‘disaster’ of Israel’s formation,” this country has got a problem. If Haaretz doesn’t understand that Israeli Arabs are mourning what they and the other Palestinians lost in the 1948 war, not the state the Jews gained by winning it, then the attitude here toward the Nakba is worse than I thought.

It’s not just that right-wingers are deliberately distorting the Nakba’s meaning into something malevolent and traitorous, it’s that even well-meaning liberals have come by the same view innocently, from being bombarded by Israeli propaganda. (I don’t want to be too harsh on Haaretz; its editorial, “Commemorating the Nakba,” was a model of accuracy and fairness.) Yedioth Aharonoth’s news story said the day’s events “mark the ‘catastrophe’ of Israel’s inception.” This is the consensus view among Israeli Jews of what the Nakba is: a tale of grief over Israel’s birth, and an implicit wish for it to die, for the catastrophe to be reversed.

I’m sure this is what many Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza mean by it, and what many Arabs in foreign countries do, too. But for the most part, this is not what Israel’s Arab citizens mean. In 2008, Israel’s 60th year, I interviewed numerous Israeli Arabs about the Nakba - from supporters of Zionist parties to supporters of Arab parties to the then-mayor of Umm el-Fahm, a member of the Islamic Movement’s faction that supports no national party, and every single one of them told me that Israeli Jews have got it wrong. Arab citizens, they said, are not mourning Israel’s creation, they’re mourning what it cost them – the loss of their country, their fight for independence, over 400 villages that were destroyed and some 700,000 people who were exiled.

Mahmoud Abu Rajab, editor of Nazareth’s Al Akbar newspaper and a traditional Labor Party supporter, told me this: ”Yom Ha’atzmaut, when Israel was founded, was a time of nakba for Arab citizens. That’s something no one, not Jew or Arab, can deny.”

Ibrahim Shawahna, a physiotherapist and Hadash supporter from Sahknin, told me that on Nakba Day, he and his family visit the site of the former Galilee village where his wife’s parents lived. But he also said: “This is our country, and I won’t be part of any attempt to destroy it. What I want is equality.”

Where’s the contradiction? What does Israel expect from its Arab citizens – that they forget their history of only 64 years ago, that they banish all trace of sadness over it? And if they don’t, that means they’re spitting on this country, cursing its existence?

Yes, this is what Israel expects of its Arab citizens, and this is what Israel concludes about them if they don’t meet that expectation. The right-wing power in this country pounds away at this idea out of anti-Arab belligerence, while the mainstream and even many liberals simply absorb it from the atmosphere.

And it’s a lie. The Arab citizens of this country don’t burn Israeli flags, not on Nakba Day or any other day. They don’t call for the state’s destruction. With very rare exceptions, they don’t do anything subversive.  In effect, they have accepted the loss of 1948. What they won’t accept, though, is the justice of that loss.

For Israeli nationalists, the proud winners, this is intolerable. If Israeli Arabs don’t agree that they and their fellow Arabs brought their suffering upon themselves, that they are to blame for the war, the destroyed villages, the refugees and everything else, then they’re saying Israel doesn’t have a right to exist. Then on Nakba Day, they’re “marking the ‘catastrophe’ of Israel’s inception.”

A lie, but one that most Israelis believe. The truth, rather, is that by demonizing Nakba Day, the winners of the War of Independence are telling the losers that they’re not even allowed to cry, not in public, anyway.

It’s cruel. It’s the way of the conqueror.  I’m glad the Jews won the War of Independence, but in some ways it was a catastrophe for us, too.

 

Written FOR

THE NUMBERS ON MY ARM

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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A post from yesterday….
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THE NAKBA ~~ THEN AND NOW
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  Today, more than ever, STAND WITH PALESTINE
*
On the 15th of May of every year, Palestinians and the whole world remember how it all started. How the Israelis’ ethnic cleansing of a people and the destruction of a society – the Nakba – was met with global indifference.
*
*
THEN …
*
Israel’s Buffoon: The UN Nakba

By Vacy Vlazna*

On May 15, 1948 the unilateral proclamation of the State of Israel which erupted into the brutal Palestinian Nakba or Catastrophe was also catastrophic for United Nations (UN) ringing the death knell for its stature and authority.

Like medieval kings, the US and Israel employed the UN to be its fool running around with a cap o’ bells and sceptre (rendered useless by US veto) beginning with the 1947 Resolution 181, passed on 29 February by members (under coercion) recommending the partition of the British Mandate of Palestine into Jewish and Palestinian states which was understandably rejected by Palestine but accepted by Israel as a step toward its Zionist expansionist goal for the full realisation of a Jewish Eretz Israel.

Ironically, on 30th February Menachem Begin, head of the terrorist gang, Irgun, brazenly announced the Zionist immutable dogma, “The partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognised… Jerusalem was and forever will be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And forever.”

Disregarding Begin’s rant, apart from having no mandate to approve or enforce the partition, ‘the United Nations had no business offering the nation of one people to the people of many nations. Its General Assembly had neither the legal nor the legislative powers to impose such a resolution or to convey title of a territory; Articles 10, 11 and 14 of the UN Charter bestows the right on the General Assembly merely to recommend resolutions.’

The Nakba marks the onset of Israel’s systematic ethnic cleansing strategy with the destruction of over 500 Palestinian villages and the forced expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinian civilians fleeing Haganah, Irgun and Lehi units that carried out the savage and systematic military offensives codenamed Plan Dalet:

These operations can be divided into the following categories:

Destruction of villages (setting fire to, blowing up, and planting mines in the debris), especially those population centers which are difficult to control continuously.

Mounting search and control operations according to the following guidelines: encirclement of the village and conducting a search inside it. In the event of resistance, the armed force must be destroyed and the population must be expelled outside the borders of the state.

Forced to leave their cherished lands, the Palestinian exodus dispersed to 58 squalid refugee camps in Gaza and the West Bank as well as in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. All 4.9 million Palestinian refugees come under the authority of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA). Its provision of health, education and humanitarian aid is vastly inadequate to the needs of the camps’ three generations of desperate people.

UNRWA is funded mainly by the USA, the EU Commission, UK and Germany. This cabal of collaborators which has ignored Palestinian human and political rights since 1948, are in fact, the camps’ prison guards perpetuating the normalisation of the Israeli occupation thus relieving Israel of its obligation to honour the Palestinian right of return set down in Resolution 194 (December 1948 ) of which Article 11 reads;

(The General Assembly) Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.

Israel dismissed Resolution 194, then flagrantly legislated in 1950 The Law of Return that gives all Jews the right to emigrate to and settle in Israel (aliyah) and obtain citizenship. Billions of  dollars are spent promoting aliyah, the zenith of Zionism, and spent establishing 200 illegal colonies for over 500,000 illegal, mainly thuggish, colonists on occupied Palestinian land protected by the nuclear might of the Israeli military.

Within days after Palestine’s failed bid to have its right to membership of the UN passed in September 2011, Israel insolently announced a further 1100 units to be built in the Gilo colony, and weeks later announced the future expansion of 50,000 illegal Israeli houses in Palestinian East Jerusalem. In April 2012, another three colony outposts, Bruchin, Rechelim and Sansana were approved flying in the face of Palestine’s prime condition for resuming the ‘peace process’  – that Israel stops colony expansion.

The end of November 2011, saw Israel’s houseboy, the Leader of the Free World and Honest Peace Broker, spit out his dummy summarily withdrawing the US and funding from UNESCO because it approved Palestinian membership to its organisation thereby jeopardising thousands of UNESCO’s humanitarian projects.

Since 1948, there have been over 105 General Assembly UN resolutions and over 224 Security Council resolutions passed against Israel in relation to Palestine, Lebanon and Syria condemning or deploring Israel for deportations of Palestinians, for refusal to cooperate with the UN, for assassinations, for killing Palestinian students, for denying human rights of Palestinians, for raids on Gaza, for Israel’s use of resources from occupied territories, for failure to abide by the Geneva Conventions, for repeated military interventions in Lebanon and Syria, reiterating Israel’s claim to Jerusalem is null and void, calling on Israel to cease building settlements in occupied territories, to comply with UN decisions, reaffirming the “inalienable rights of the Palestinian people”, including the right to national sovereignty and the right of return…to name a few.

Most have have been ignored and /or vetoed by the USA…..

8 years ago, the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on the matter of the  Israeli Annexation/Apartheid Wall that ‘Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law;  it is under an obligation to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle forthwith the structure therein situated, and to repeal or render ineffective forthwith all legislative and regulatory acts relating thereto, in accordance with paragraph 151 of this Opinion”.

To this day, brave Palestinians demonstrate and struggle against the relentless encroachment of the Annexation Wall on their lands.

In 2009, Resolution 1860 calling for the full cessation of war between Israel and Hamas was passed on the 9th January – TWO WEEKS after the war began with 200 Palestinians slaughtered on the first day. Ignoring the resolution Israel leisurely prolonged its Operation Cast Lead against unarmed and trapped Gazan families with another 9 days of hellish attacks. It ended the war a discreet two days before Obama’s inauguration.

In March 2012, Michael Mandel, law professor at  Canada’s York University stridently criticised the UN’s International Criminal Court (ICC) decision to refuse jurisdiction over Gaza war crimes:

“It’s disgraceful but not surprising that the ICC has dismissed Palestine’s complaint against Israel. It sat on the complaint for over three years, always proudly announcing that it was investigating it to give the appearance of impartiality. Meanwhile the ICC jumped to attention in less than three weeks when the US government, which is not a signatory to the treaty, wanted to go to war against Libya, justifying Western aggression with bogus charges against the Libyan regime…Ocampo [ICC prosecutor]and company have been busy putting Africa on trial for crimes aided, abetted and exploited by the rich countries, while the US government killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and tens of thousands of Afghans, and Israel has been committing Nuremberg’s ‘supreme international crime’ of aggression against the Palestinians for 45 years.”

Also on May 10, the Electronic Intifada reported that UNRWA’s Commissioner General, Filippo Grandi’s appeal “to the Israeli government to find an acceptable solution, noting that the [2000 Palestinian political prisoners] hunger strikers’ demands are generally related to the basic rights of prisoners, as stipulated in the Geneva Conventions.” was hastily removed from UNRWA’s website.

Israel’s impunity to commit war crimes, crimes against humanity, its 64 year defiance of UN resolutions amplify the UN’s lethal incompetence. 187 member nations, (not including Israel’s quislings and human rights hypocrites; USA, UK, Australia, Germany, France), are too gutless or subservient or self-serving to protect and enforce the international laws for which they are legally obligated;

International human rights law lays down obligations which States are bound to respect. By becoming parties to international treaties, States assume obligations and duties under international law to respect, to protect and to fulfil human rights. The obligation to respect means that States must refrain from interfering with or curtailing the enjoyment of human rights. The obligation to protect requires States to protect individuals and groups against human rights abuses. The obligation to fulfil means that States must take positive action to facilitate the enjoyment of basic human rights.

The 64 years of the uninterrupted Palestinian Nakba with its sweeping scale of tragic suffering challenges the UN’s moral and political credibility and its very existence as Israel’s buffoon.

* Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

*
NOW …
*
*
On the 15th of May of every year, Palestinians and the whole world remember how it all started. How the Israelis’ ethnic cleansing of a people and the destruction of a society – the Nakba – was met with global indifference. Many factors made it so, but among them was a Zionist propaganda machine that illustrated the crime committed in Palestine in 1948 as a war of independence against aggressive Arabs and Palestinians.

It is true that the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab people resisted the establishment of a racist regime in Palestine. And they still do. It is only normal. If anyone comprehends the extent of the injustice that has been committed against the Palestinian people, they would not even ask why they are so determined in their pursuit of justice. And if anyone knows the history of the Palestinian struggle, they would realize that this people will continue to resist in every form until they see the justice they have so longed for restored.

On 15 May 2012, the world is invited to express its understanding, solidarity and support to a people that has resisted… and continues to do so, for Justice in Palestine.

THE NAKBA ~~ THEN AND NOW

 Today, more than ever, STAND WITH PALESTINE
*
On the 15th of May of every year, Palestinians and the whole world remember how it all started. How the Israelis’ ethnic cleansing of a people and the destruction of a society – the Nakba – was met with global indifference.
*
*
THEN …
*
Israel’s Buffoon: The UN Nakba

By Vacy Vlazna*

On May 15, 1948 the unilateral proclamation of the State of Israel which erupted into the brutal Palestinian Nakba or Catastrophe was also catastrophic for United Nations (UN) ringing the death knell for its stature and authority.

Like medieval kings, the US and Israel employed the UN to be its fool running around with a cap o’ bells and sceptre (rendered useless by US veto) beginning with the 1947 Resolution 181, passed on 29 February by members (under coercion) recommending the partition of the British Mandate of Palestine into Jewish and Palestinian states which was understandably rejected by Palestine but accepted by Israel as a step toward its Zionist expansionist goal for the full realisation of a Jewish Eretz Israel.

Ironically, on 30th February Menachem Begin, head of the terrorist gang, Irgun, brazenly announced the Zionist immutable dogma, “The partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognised… Jerusalem was and forever will be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And forever.”

Disregarding Begin’s rant, apart from having no mandate to approve or enforce the partition, ‘the United Nations had no business offering the nation of one people to the people of many nations. Its General Assembly had neither the legal nor the legislative powers to impose such a resolution or to convey title of a territory; Articles 10, 11 and 14 of the UN Charter bestows the right on the General Assembly merely to recommend resolutions.’

The Nakba marks the onset of Israel’s systematic ethnic cleansing strategy with the destruction of over 500 Palestinian villages and the forced expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinian civilians fleeing Haganah, Irgun and Lehi units that carried out the savage and systematic military offensives codenamed Plan Dalet:

These operations can be divided into the following categories:

Destruction of villages (setting fire to, blowing up, and planting mines in the debris), especially those population centers which are difficult to control continuously.

Mounting search and control operations according to the following guidelines: encirclement of the village and conducting a search inside it. In the event of resistance, the armed force must be destroyed and the population must be expelled outside the borders of the state.

Forced to leave their cherished lands, the Palestinian exodus dispersed to 58 squalid refugee camps in Gaza and the West Bank as well as in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. All 4.9 million Palestinian refugees come under the authority of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA). Its provision of health, education and humanitarian aid is vastly inadequate to the needs of the camps’ three generations of desperate people.

UNRWA is funded mainly by the USA, the EU Commission, UK and Germany. This cabal of collaborators which has ignored Palestinian human and political rights since 1948, are in fact, the camps’ prison guards perpetuating the normalisation of the Israeli occupation thus relieving Israel of its obligation to honour the Palestinian right of return set down in Resolution 194 (December 1948 ) of which Article 11 reads;

(The General Assembly) Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.

Israel dismissed Resolution 194, then flagrantly legislated in 1950 The Law of Return that gives all Jews the right to emigrate to and settle in Israel (aliyah) and obtain citizenship. Billions of  dollars are spent promoting aliyah, the zenith of Zionism, and spent establishing 200 illegal colonies for over 500,000 illegal, mainly thuggish, colonists on occupied Palestinian land protected by the nuclear might of the Israeli military.

Within days after Palestine’s failed bid to have its right to membership of the UN passed in September 2011, Israel insolently announced a further 1100 units to be built in the Gilo colony, and weeks later announced the future expansion of 50,000 illegal Israeli houses in Palestinian East Jerusalem. In April 2012, another three colony outposts, Bruchin, Rechelim and Sansana were approved flying in the face of Palestine’s prime condition for resuming the ‘peace process’  – that Israel stops colony expansion.

The end of November 2011, saw Israel’s houseboy, the Leader of the Free World and Honest Peace Broker, spit out his dummy summarily withdrawing the US and funding from UNESCO because it approved Palestinian membership to its organisation thereby jeopardising thousands of UNESCO’s humanitarian projects.

Since 1948, there have been over 105 General Assembly UN resolutions and over 224 Security Council resolutions passed against Israel in relation to Palestine, Lebanon and Syria condemning or deploring Israel for deportations of Palestinians, for refusal to cooperate with the UN, for assassinations, for killing Palestinian students, for denying human rights of Palestinians, for raids on Gaza, for Israel’s use of resources from occupied territories, for failure to abide by the Geneva Conventions, for repeated military interventions in Lebanon and Syria, reiterating Israel’s claim to Jerusalem is null and void, calling on Israel to cease building settlements in occupied territories, to comply with UN decisions, reaffirming the “inalienable rights of the Palestinian people”, including the right to national sovereignty and the right of return…to name a few.

Most have have been ignored and /or vetoed by the USA…..

8 years ago, the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on the matter of the  Israeli Annexation/Apartheid Wall that ‘Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law;  it is under an obligation to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle forthwith the structure therein situated, and to repeal or render ineffective forthwith all legislative and regulatory acts relating thereto, in accordance with paragraph 151 of this Opinion”.

To this day, brave Palestinians demonstrate and struggle against the relentless encroachment of the Annexation Wall on their lands.

In 2009, Resolution 1860 calling for the full cessation of war between Israel and Hamas was passed on the 9th January – TWO WEEKS after the war began with 200 Palestinians slaughtered on the first day. Ignoring the resolution Israel leisurely prolonged its Operation Cast Lead against unarmed and trapped Gazan families with another 9 days of hellish attacks. It ended the war a discreet two days before Obama’s inauguration.

In March 2012, Michael Mandel, law professor at  Canada’s York University stridently criticised the UN’s International Criminal Court (ICC) decision to refuse jurisdiction over Gaza war crimes:

“It’s disgraceful but not surprising that the ICC has dismissed Palestine’s complaint against Israel. It sat on the complaint for over three years, always proudly announcing that it was investigating it to give the appearance of impartiality. Meanwhile the ICC jumped to attention in less than three weeks when the US government, which is not a signatory to the treaty, wanted to go to war against Libya, justifying Western aggression with bogus charges against the Libyan regime…Ocampo [ICC prosecutor]and company have been busy putting Africa on trial for crimes aided, abetted and exploited by the rich countries, while the US government killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and tens of thousands of Afghans, and Israel has been committing Nuremberg’s ‘supreme international crime’ of aggression against the Palestinians for 45 years.”

Also on May 10, the Electronic Intifada reported that UNRWA’s Commissioner General, Filippo Grandi’s appeal “to the Israeli government to find an acceptable solution, noting that the [2000 Palestinian political prisoners] hunger strikers’ demands are generally related to the basic rights of prisoners, as stipulated in the Geneva Conventions.” was hastily removed from UNRWA’s website.

Israel’s impunity to commit war crimes, crimes against humanity, its 64 year defiance of UN resolutions amplify the UN’s lethal incompetence. 187 member nations, (not including Israel’s quislings and human rights hypocrites; USA, UK, Australia, Germany, France), are too gutless or subservient or self-serving to protect and enforce the international laws for which they are legally obligated;

International human rights law lays down obligations which States are bound to respect. By becoming parties to international treaties, States assume obligations and duties under international law to respect, to protect and to fulfil human rights. The obligation to respect means that States must refrain from interfering with or curtailing the enjoyment of human rights. The obligation to protect requires States to protect individuals and groups against human rights abuses. The obligation to fulfil means that States must take positive action to facilitate the enjoyment of basic human rights.

The 64 years of the uninterrupted Palestinian Nakba with its sweeping scale of tragic suffering challenges the UN’s moral and political credibility and its very existence as Israel’s buffoon.

* Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

*
NOW …
*
*
On the 15th of May of every year, Palestinians and the whole world remember how it all started. How the Israelis’ ethnic cleansing of a people and the destruction of a society – the Nakba – was met with global indifference. Many factors made it so, but among them was a Zionist propaganda machine that illustrated the crime committed in Palestine in 1948 as a war of independence against aggressive Arabs and Palestinians.

It is true that the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab people resisted the establishment of a racist regime in Palestine. And they still do. It is only normal. If anyone comprehends the extent of the injustice that has been committed against the Palestinian people, they would not even ask why they are so determined in their pursuit of justice. And if anyone knows the history of the Palestinian struggle, they would realize that this people will continue to resist in every form until they see the justice they have so longed for restored.

On 15 May 2012, the world is invited to express its understanding, solidarity and support to a people that has resisted… and continues to do so, for Justice in Palestine.

FROM

INTERRUPTED ETERNITY

 
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There are the dead that rest in peace for eternity….
And there are those that are not allowed to….
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In the mixed Arab and Jewish city of Jaffa, the Jewish Burial Society will invest NIS 10 million in preserving and reconstructing the cemetery at the corners of Yehuda Hayamit Street and Yehuda Meragusa Street, with the aim of transforming it into a tourism site that will tell the story of the Yishuv – the Jewish community in Palestine – prior to the establishment of Tel Aviv and the State of Israel.
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In the mixed Arab and Jewish city of Jerusalem, ‘they’ have stolen the homes, dreams and peace of the Palestinian population, Now, in the name of ‘Tolerance’ they dare steal their eternal resting place…
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Tolerance or ethnic cleansing? The Nakba of 1948 continues to this very day, 64 years later. Even the dead will be evicted to make room for the invader. Si vis pacem, para bellum’,  “If you wish for peace, prepare for war” (usually interpreted as meaning peace through strength—a strong society being less likely to be attacked by enemies). Is that the lesson learned from the Roman occupation? Is that the type of peace Israel speaks of?? Is the rest of the world so deaf and blind that it cannot see what is happening???
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Israel wages war against the living, as well as the dead. If anyone dares to speak out against their future plans they are declared ‘persona non grata’. Is it not time for the world to declare Israel itself, non grata? Do we have to wait for every living and dead Palestinian to be physically removed from THEIR land before that is done?
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Read HERE to see the plans for the Jewish cemetery in Jaffa…
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Read HERE to see what has been going on at the Mamilla Cemetery in Jerusalem and how to help stop its destruction.

ISRAEL BLAMING THE VICTIM FOR ITS OWN CRIMES

 

 

“Refugee camps in Israel gave birth to thriving towns and cities. Refugee camps in Arab Countries gave birth to more Palestinian refugees.”

One two part question, even unanswered gives the reason why… WHO ‘gave birth’ to the Palestinian refugees in the first place, and WHO has refused to let them return to their land and homes, forcing them to remain in Refugee camps???

When Israeli officials speak, they present lie after lie. Palestinian officials have no opportunity to counter those lies as they are not recognised as a member State YET.
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Israel’s UN envoy slams Arabs over refugees 

Speaking on Partition Plan’s 64th anniversary, Ambassador Prosor says Israel absorbed its own refugees into society, ‘our neighbors did not’

 WASHINGTON - Speaking at the United Nations on the occasion of the Partition Plan’s 64th anniversary, Israel’s UN Ambassador Ron Prosor said: “The difference between the two distinct populations was – and still is – that Israel absorbed the refugees into our society. Our neighbors didnot.”

“Refugee camps in Israel gave birth to thriving towns and cities. Refugee camps in Arab Countries gave birth to more Palestinian refugees,” he said.

“We unlocked our new immigrants’ vast potential. The Arab world knowingly and intentionally kept their Palestinian populations in the second class status of permanent refugees,” Israel’s envoy added.

Prosor stressed that in the overwhelming majority of Arab state, Palestinians have no citizenship rights.

‘Has Arab world accepted Israel?’ 

Addressing the 1947 Partition Plan, which called for the establishment of a Jewish state alongside an Arab state in the area known as Palestinian, Prosor said that “Arab inhabitants rejected the plan and launched a war of annihilation against the new Jewish state, joined by the armies of five Arab members of the United Nations.”“One percent of Israel’s population died in combat during this assault by five armies. Think about that price,” the ambassador said. “It would be the equivalent of 850,000 soldiers dying in France today, or 3 million soldiers dying in the United States, or 13 million soldiers dying in China.”

Prosor added that the basic question underlying the Arab-Israeli conflict has not changed for 64 years: “Has the Arab World – and particularly the Palestinians – internalized that Israel is here to stay and will remain the nation-state of the Jewish People? It is still unclear whether they are inspired by the promise of building a new state, or the goal of destroying an existing one.”Israel’s UN envoy ended his remarks by calling on the UN Assembly to “finally glean truth from this historic day, nourishing the seeds of peace in our region that can blossom into a brighter future.”

 

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THE POETRY OF STRUGGLE

 “The most effective thing we can do is use our voice in an ethical way,” he tells me. “I think the most prominent and positive thing an artist can do is stand on the right side of history and stand with oppressed peoples. So rather than just staying silently on the sidelines or going and whitewashing apartheid in Tel Aviv and talking maybe one or two lines about peace, we have the opportunity to use our voices in a more general sense.”
*

Remi Kanazi’s poetry of struggle

Alexander Billet *

Remi Kanazi performs live. (Valerian Mazataud)

 

It’s early June, a few days after Gil Scott-Heron’s death. There’s something about the passing of an icon like him that makes the search for new, vibrant rebel art all the more urgent. In a strange twist of serendipity, I just happen to be sitting down to read Poetic Injustice by Remi Kanazi. The first lines hit me like a punch in the gut:

I never saw death
until I saw the bombing
of a refugee camp
craters filled with
dismembered legs
and splattered torsos
but no sign of a face
the only impression
a fading scream

I’m hooked. Without gilding the lily, it’s safe to say that there are a lot of parallels between the works of Scott-Heron and those of Remi Kanazi. Both of their bodies of work are a simultaneous expression of identity and a puncturing of borders — real and imagined. Both frequently blur the line between poetry and music. And both rely on a kind of plain-spoken articulation that dodges between pleasure and pain, drama and humor, vicious oppression and inspiring resistance.

It’s difficult to believe that poetry and spoken word were things that Remi more or less stumbled into. “I grew up in a small town in Western Massachusetts,” he says to me over the phone, “and for me, growing up on lefty hip-hop, to have the voice of spoken word really filled a huge void. My brother and sister had just taken me to see Def Poetry Jam on Broadway, and that was the transformational trigger point. I started writing every day after that.”

No doubt that this voice has been honed over time. By now, as Poetic Injustice indicates, Remi has achieved a deft power, vividly versatile and completely unafraid while never drifting into sentimentality. Throughout this short, 50-page book, the author travels through a variety of settings; pompous American mouthpieces are humorously rebuked (“The Dos and Don’ts of Palestine”), solidarity powerfully invoked (“From Rikers to Bagram”), the horrors of US-Israeli imperialism graphically depicted (“A Poem for Gaza”). These are only a sampling.

Reinventing art as identity

Tying it all together are the 48 three-line poems peppered throughout the book — 48 symbolizing the year of the Nakba (catastrophe) when approximately 750,000 Palestinians were kicked off their land by Zionist militias. Divided into four parts (each dedicated to one of his four grandparents, all among that original displaced generation), each short verse provides a snippet of emotional truth of existence and resistance under occupation:

From my rooftop I can see an Israeli sunbathing

on the balcony my grandfather built…

 

A pregnant woman dies at a checkpoint

Sometimes a hand in the face is as powerful as a pistol…

 

Kids slingshot hip-hop, mix beats and break

in refugee camps. Reinvent art as identity

and tag the wall with the footsteps of their future…

As rewarding as reading Remi’s words can be, it’s little substitute for seeing him perform. His energy seems boundless, the humor and vigor of his words coming to life in the performer’s animation. To that end, Poetic Injustice comes with an audio CD of Remi reading fifteen of his favorite selections. It’s a perfect complement, adding immeasurable weight to the book itself.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve had the pleasure (albeit via email) of working with Remi on the Punks Against Apartheid petition urging Jello Biafra to cancel his show in Tel Aviv — a push that we can thankfully now say was successful.

Given the circumstances, it’s near-impossible not to think of another parallel to Gil Scott-Heron, namely the 2010 efforts that successfully convinced him to do the same. There’s also something of an irony — namely that even though the most powerful tool an artist has is his or her voice, what the movement for the cultural boycott of Israel demands is the withholding of that very same voice.

Stand on the right side of history

Nonetheless, Remi believes that an artist’s power is enhanced by his or her refusal to play Israel. “The most effective thing we can do is use our voice in an ethical way,” he tells me. “I think the most prominent and positive thing an artist can do is stand on the right side of history and stand with oppressed peoples. So rather than just staying silently on the sidelines or going and whitewashing apartheid in Tel Aviv and talking maybe one or two lines about peace, we have the opportunity to use our voices in a more general sense.”

In fact, the push for a cultural boycott is taking place at a time when rebel poets like Remi have the potential to reach a wide audience. The revolutions across the Arab world have been accompanied by a flourishing of art, music and culture. Politically charged groups like DAM and Arabian Knights have never been more popular. And while right-wing pundits like Pam Geller still insist that Arab culture consists of little more than camels and scimitars artists on both sides of the pond may still go a long way to countering this racism.

“I think that what some of the artists are doing today is brilliant because they’re refusing to be tokenized. If you listen to the music of Omar Offendum or The Narcycist or, in Arabic, the music of DAM, they completely shatter this notion that they’re going to be this post [11 September 2001] image of what is Arab or Muslim or Palestinian.” In other words, it’s this insistence on humanity despite all obstacles that makes these artists so potent.

The same goes for Remi’s book. And that’s precisely why it would be wrong to simply call this work “poems about Palestine.” Much like Scott-Heron’s portrayals of an oppressed black America inspired people well beyond the borders of Watts and Harlem, so do Remi Kanazi’s words speak toward a struggle that is, for lack of a better term, universal.

“The reason I become a poet was to educate, inspire, to act,” he says. “I’m not a nationalist, I’m not an ethnocentrist. This isn’t about me being a Palestinian or me being an Arab. It’s about a system of oppression and what’s being done to a people. So whether you’re talking about police brutality or the US-Mexico border or Afghanistan or the war in Iraq or the plight of Palestinians, what they’re going through and the injustice that’s being perpetrated against them is what matters. And that’s what we’re working against — systems of oppression, what’s being done to a people.”

This subtle yet dynamic interplay between art and struggle is what makes Poetic Injustice such a crucial contribution. It’s the feeling that for all its specificity, we’re reading not just about the Palestinians but about ourselves. And indeed, every struggle has its own art, it’s own poetry. As Remi Kanazi well knows, it’s this ability for beauty that makes the fight worth it:

I’ll exist in a world that

fights against racism

like Martin and Malcolm bleeds ghetto tales of Steve Biko

as a song that never dies

no matter what apartheid

makes of our bodies

feeds mouths in Belfast streets

and resurrects Bobby Sands’ message

so that we will never

be hungry again

 

Remi Kanazi’s Poetic Injustice can be purchased on Amazon.com.

*Alexander Billet is a music journalist and activist living in Chicago. He runs the website Rebel Frequencies and is a columnist for SOCIARTS. He has also appeared in Z Magazine, CounterPunch and PopMatters.com.

 

Written FOR

VIDEO ~~ PALESTINIAN REFUGEES ~~ THEN, NOW, FOR HOW MUCH LONGER

*
Sam Bahour is a frequent contributor to this Blog. Below is a short description of who he is, followed by a talk he gave a few days ago in Ramallah. Watch it to get a good insight of what it means to be a Palestinian refugee today.
*
Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American based in Al-Bireh/Ramallah, Palestine. He is a freelance business consultant operating as Applied Information Management (AIM), specializing in business development with a niche focus on the information technology sector and start-ups. Sam was instrumental in the establishment of the Palestine Telecommunications Company and the PLAZA Shopping Center and until recently served as a Board of Trustees member at Birzeit University. He is a Director at the Arab Islamic Bank and serves in various capacities in several community organizations. Sam writes frequently on Palestinian affairs and has been widely published. He is co-editor of HOMELAND: Oral History of Palestine and Palestinians. He blogs at http://www.epalestine.com.
*
*
Who organised the above speaking event?
*
TEDx,
x = independently organized event
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

UNNOFICIALLY BREAKING THE LAW IN ISRAEL

In the Western-countries
it is illegal to question

or to doubt the Holocaust !!

*
*
In the State of Israel
it is , now, illegal to (even) 
mention Al Nakba !!
*
Readers of this Blog are aware that it is forbidden by LAW to discuss the Nakba in Israeli schools.
*
BUT
*
Shira is one of around 100 teachers and educators who teach the Nakba (“catastrophe” – the Palestinians’ term for the loss of their land to Israel in 1948 ) to their students with the help of a unique study kit called “How do you say Nakba in Hebrew?”
*

Unofficial Nakba study kit a hit with teachers

The kit called ‘How do you say Nakba in Hebrew?’ did not receive the ministry’s approval and most of the teachers using it conceal their source.

When Shira (not her real name ), a history teacher at a junior high school in the center of the country, mentioned “nakba” in a class three years ago, none of her students had any idea what it referred to.

Today, she says, the word just surfaces naturally among the students. They know about it and talk about it. According to her, the reason is clear – Amendment 40 to the Budget Foundations Law, more commonly known as the “Nakba Law.”

Shira is one of around 100 teachers and educators who teach the Nakba (“catastrophe” – the Palestinians’ term for the loss of their land to Israel in 1948 ) to their students with the help of a unique study kit called “How do you say Nakba in Hebrew?”

The kit was developed by Zochrot, a small Tel Aviv-based organization seeking to raise public awareness of the Palestinian Nakba, especially among Jews in Israel.

Zochrot is distributing the kit to teachers at a time when the Nakba is recurring in headlines as a subject that is not to be touched – especially not in schools. But over the last two years Zochrot has distributed 300 copies of the study kit.

It covers pre- and post-1948 Palestinian settlements; Israeli and Palestinian recollections of the conquest and destruction of villages; and the refugees’ flight and their expulsion. The kit did not receive the ministry’s approval and most of the teachers using it conceal their source.

Eitan Bronstein, the founder of Zochrot, stresses that the kit’s goal is not to present the Palestinian narrative. “For me, the Nakba is part of our history,” he says, “just as it is part of Palestinian history.”

‘Dafna,’ a history and citizenship teacher in northern Israel, uses a section of the kit that presents three competing theories on events in the village of Ein Azael (along the eastern slopes of the Carmel ).

Students are asked to present the different versions of events and discuss them.

In the Palestinian narrative, the emphasis is on “Zionist gangs” that bombed the triangle of villages Aghzam, Jaba and Ein Azael, in violation of the cease-fire. On the other side, there is a passage from the book “The War of Independence,” printed by the IDF, whereby the villages were attacked after their residents fired on the Tel Aviv-Haifa road, thereby effectively blocking it.

“This opened up our eyes, because the contradictions between the different versions were really crazy. Nowhere [before] did I hear the Palestinian narrative,” says Michal, an 11th-grade student in Dafna’s class. She adds: “It was very interesting to see not just the Israel side, and to go beyond the point of view that we learn in Israel – that we are heroes and they are always trying to oppress us.”

Both Dafna and Shira were concerned about being interviewed using their full names, for fear of sanctions from the Education Ministry. The ministry said: “Teachers are not permitted to teach content, in any subject, that was not approved by the relevant professionals at the Education Ministry.”

 

 

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