HOW BALFOUR’S ‘PROMISE’ AND BRITAIN DESTROYED PALESTINE

Ninety-nine years later, the British government is yet to possess the moral courage to take responsibility for what their government has done to the Palestinian people.  

Ninety-nine years later, Palestinians insist that their rights in Palestine cannot be dismissed, neither by Balfour, nor by his modern peers in “Her Majesty’s Government”.

"The Zionists claimed Palestine and renamed it 'Israel'" [Getty Images]

“The Zionists claimed Palestine and renamed it ‘Israel'” [Getty Images]

How Britain Destroyed the Palestinian Homeland

Ninety-nine years since Balfour’s “promise”, Palestinians insist that their rights in Palestine cannot be dismissed.

Ramzy Baroud

When I was a child growing up in a Gaza refugee camp, I looked forward to November 2. On that day, every year, thousands of students and camp residents would descend upon the main square of the camp, carrying Palestinian flags and placards, to denounce the Balfour Declaration.

Truthfully, my giddiness then was motivated largely by the fact that schools would inevitably shut down and, following a brief but bloody confrontation with the Israeli army, I would go home early to the loving embrace of my mother, where I would eat a snack and watch cartoons. 

At the time, I had no idea who Balfour actually was, and how his “declaration” all those years ago had altered the destiny of my family and, by extension, my life and the lives of my children as well.

All I knew was that he was a bad person and, because of his terrible deed, we subsisted in a refugee camp, encircled by a violent army and by an ever-expanding graveyard filled with “martyrs”.  

Decades later, destiny would lead me to visit the Whittingehame Church, a small parish in which Arthur James Balfour is now buried.  

While my parents and grandparents are buried in a refugee camp, an ever-shrinking space under a perpetual siege and immeasurable hardship, Balfour’s resting place is an oasis of peace and calmness. The empty meadow all around the church is large enough to host all the refugees in my camp.

Finally, I became fully aware of why Balfour was a “bad person”.   

Once Britain’s Prime Minister, then the Foreign Secretary from late 1916, Balfour had pledged my homeland to another people. That promise was made on November 2, 1917, on behalf of the British government in the form of a letter sent to the leader of the Jewish community in Britain, Walter Rothschild.  

At the time, Britain was not even in control of Palestine, which was still part of the Ottoman Empire. Either way, my homeland  was never Balfour’s to so casually transfer to anyone else. His letter read: 

“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”  

He concluded, “I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.”  

Ironically, members of the British parliament have declared that the use of the term “Zionist” is both anti-Semitic and abusive.

The British government remains unrepentant after all these years. It has yet to take any measure of moral responsibility, however symbolic, for what it has done to the Palestinians. Worse, it is now busy attempting to control the very language used by Palestinians to identify those who have deprived them of their land and freedom.  

But the truth is, not only was Rothschild a Zionist, Balfour was, too. Zionism, then, before it deservedly became a swearword, was a political notion that Europeans prided themselves to be associated with.

In fact, just before he became Prime Minister, David Cameron declared, before the Conservative Friends of Israel meeting, that  he, too, was a Zionist. To some extent, being a Zionist remains a rite of passage for some Western leaders.  

Balfour was hardly acting on his own. True, the Declaration bears his name, yet, in reality, he was a loyal agent of an empire with massive geopolitical designs, not only concerning Palestine alone, but with Palestine as part of a larger Arab landscape.  

Just a year earlier, another sinister document was introduced, albeit secretly. It was endorsed by another top British diplomat, Mark Sykes and, on behalf of France, by François Georges-Picot. The Russians were informed of the agreement, as they too had received a piece of the Ottoman cake.  

The document indicated that, once the Ottomans were soundly defeated, their territories, including Palestine, would be split among the prospective victorious parties.  

The Sykes-Picot Agreement, also known as the Asia Minor Agreement, was signed in secret 100 years ago, two years into World War I. It signified the brutal nature of colonial powers that rarely associated land and resources with people that lived upon the land and owned those resources.  

The centrepiece of the agreement was a map that was marked with straight lines by a china graph pencil. The map largely determined the fate of the Arabs, dividing them in accordance with various haphazard assumptions of tribal and sectarian lines.  

Once the war was over, the loot was to be divided into spheres of influence:  

– France would receive areas marked (a), which included: the region of south-eastern Turkey, northern Iraq – including Mosel, most of Syria and Lebanon. 

– British-controlled areas were marked with the letter (b), which included: Jordan, southern Iraq, Haifa and Acre in Palestine and a coastal strip between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan. 

– Russia would be granted Istanbul, Armenia and the strategic Turkish Straits.  

The improvised map consisted not only of lines but also colours, along with language that attested to the fact that the two countries viewed the Arab region purely on materialistic terms, without paying the slightest attention to the possible repercussions of slicing up entire civilizations with a multifarious history of co-operation and conflict.

The agreement read, partly:  

“… in the blue area France, and in the red area Great Britain, shall be allowed to establish such direct or indirect administration or control as they desire and as they may think fit to arrange with the Arab state or confederation of Arab states.”  

The brown area, however, was designated as an international administration, the nature of which was to be decided upon after further consultation among Britain, France and Russia.  The Sykes-Picot negotiations finished in March 1916 and were official, although secretly signed on May 19, 1916. World War I concluded on November 11, 1918, after which the division of the Ottoman Empire began in earnest.

British and French mandates were extended over divided Arab entities, while Palestine was granted to the Zionist movement a year later, when Balfour conveyed the British government’s promise, sealing the fate of Palestine to live in perpetual war and turmoil. 

INTERACTIVE: A century on – Why Arabs resent Sykes-Picot

The idea of Western “peacemakers” and “honest-brokers”, who are very much a party in every Middle Eastern conflict, is not new. British betrayal of Arab aspirations goes back many decades. They used the Arabs as pawns in their Great Game against other colonial contenders, only to betray them later on, while still casting themselves as friends bearing gifts.

Nowhere else was this hypocrisy on full display as was in the case of Palestine. Starting with the first wave of Zionist Jewish migration to Palestine in 1882, European countries helped to facilitate the movement of illegal settlers and resources, where the establishment of many colonies, large and small, was afoot.    

So when Balfour sent his letter to Rothschild, the idea of a Jewish homeland in Palestine was very much plausible.

Still, many supercilious promises were being made to the Arabs during the Great War years, as self-imposed Arab leadership sided with the British in their war against the Ottoman Empire. Arabs were promised instant independence, including that of the Palestinians.  

The understanding among Arab leaders was that Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations was to apply to Arab provinces that were ruled by the Ottomans. Arabs were told that they were to be respected as “a sacred trust of civilization”, and their communities were to be recognised as “independent nations”.  

Palestinians wanted to believe that they were also included in that civilization sacredness, and were deserving of independence, too. Their conduct in support of the Pan-Arab Congress, as voting delegates in July 1919, which elected Faisal as a King of a state comprising Palestine, Lebanon, Transjordan and Syria, and their continued support of Sharif Hussein of Mecca, were all expressions of their desire for the long-coveted sovereignty.

When the intentions of the British and their rapport with the Zionists became too apparent, Palestinians rebelled, a rebellion that has never ceased, 99 years later, for the horrific consequences of British colonialism and the eventual complete Zionist takeover of Palestine are still felt after all these years.  

Paltry attempts to pacify Palestinian anger were to no avail, especially after the League of Nations Council in July 1922 approved the terms of the British Mandate over Palestine – which was originally granted to Britain in April 1920 – without consulting the Palestinians at all, who would disappear from the British and international radar, only to reappear as negligible rioters, troublemakers, and obstacles to the joint British-Zionist colonial concoctions.  

Despite occasional assurances to the contrary, the British intention of ensuring the establishment of an exclusively Jewish state in Palestine was becoming clearer with time.

The Balfour Declaration was hardly an aberration, but had, indeed, set the stage for the full-scale ethnic cleansing that followed, three decades later. 

In his book, Before Their Diaspora, Palestinian scholar Walid Khalidi captured the true collective understanding among Palestinians regarding what had befallen their homeland nearly a century ago: 

“The Mandate, as a whole, was seen by the Palestinians as an Anglo-Zionist condominium and its terms as instrument for the implementation of the Zionist programme; it had been imposed on them by force, and they considered it to be both morally and legally invalid. The Palestinians constituted the vast majority of the population and owned the bulk of the land. Inevitably, the ensuing struggle centreed on this status quo. The British and the Zionists were determined to subvert and revolutionise it, the Palestinians to defend and preserve it.”  

In fact, that history remains in constant replay: The Zionists claimed Palestine and renamed it “Israel”; the British continue to support them, although never ceasing to pay lip service to the Arabs; the Palestinian people remain a nation that is geographically fragmented between refugee camps, in the diaspora, militarily occupied, or treated as second-class citizens in a country upon which their ancestors dwelt since time immemorial.  

While Balfour cannot be blamed for all the misfortunes that have befallen Palestinians since he communicated his brief but infamous letter, the notion that his “promise” embodied – that of complete disregard of the aspirations of the Palestinian Arab people – is handed from one generation of British diplomats to the next, the same way that Palestinian resistance to colonialism is also spread across generations.

In his essay in the Al-Ahram Weekly, entitled “Truth and Reconciliation“, the late Professor Edward Said wrote: “Neither the Balfour Declaration nor the Mandate ever specifically concede that Palestinians had political, as opposed to civil and religious, rights in Palestine.

The idea of inequality between Jews and Arabs was, therefore, built into British – and, subsequently, Israeli and US – policy from the start.”

That inequality continues, thus the perpetuation of the conflict. What the British, the early Zionists, the Americans and subsequent Israeli governments failed to understand, and continue to ignore at their own peril, is that there can be no peace without justice and equality in Palestine; and that Palestinians will continue to resist, as long as the reasons that inspired their rebellion nearly a century ago, remain in place.  

Ninety-nine years later, the British government is yet to possess the moral courage to take responsibility for what their government has done to the Palestinian people.  

Ninety-nine years later, Palestinians insist that their rights in Palestine cannot be dismissed, neither by Balfour, nor by his modern peers in “Her Majesty’s Government”.

More photos and videos at SOURCE

WATCH AS ISRAELIS CELEBRATE 49 YEARS OF JERUSALEM’S NAKBA

Tens of thousands of Israelis took hours to stream through the monumental Damascus Gate and weave their way through the alleys of the Muslim Quarter, eventually reaching their final destination, the holy Western Wall plaza, where they were treated to musical performances and a series of speeches by top religious and political officials.

‘Worship God By Nakba’: Jerusalem march celebrates Israeli occupation with messianic fervor

Dan Cohen and David Sheen FOR

The Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City was cleared of its Palestinian inhabitants on the eve of the Ramadan holiday, June 5, to make way for a flag procession by Jewish religious nationalists, celebrating Israel conquering the eastern half of the city 49 years earlier.

Store owners, street merchants, and shoppers preparing for that evening’s celebratory feast were driven out of the lanes that fell along the route chosen by march organizers and approved by Israel’s Supreme Court. From a safe distance behind police barricades, Palestinian residents of Jerusalem watched silently as ultra-nationalist Jews paraded through the quarter, singing songs of praise to Yahweh and calling for the ethnic cleansing of non-Jews.

Almost all of the shops along the march route shuttered their doors, while some took the added measure of taping over their door locks, to prevent paraders from sabotaging them, a common occurrence in previous years.

Tens of thousands of Israelis took hours to stream through the monumental Damascus Gate and weave their way through the alleys of the Muslim Quarter, eventually reaching their final destination, the holy Western Wall plaza, where they were treated to musical performances and a series of speeches by top religious and political officials.

A determination to assert Jewish sovereignty in the Muslim-majority areas of Jerusalem’s Old City was not the only cause of concern for some marchers. Opposition to a government plan to partition the Western Wall into gender-segregated and gender-mixed prayer areas also occupied some of the paraders.

In recent weeks, pressure from Netanyahu’s Ultra-Orthodox coalition partners convinced him to renege on his prior commitment to support the construction of a mixed-gender prayer area at the southern stretch of the Western Wall. The flag march was an opportunity for conservative religious forces to reassert their adamant opposition to any concessions to liberal Jews at the holy site.

Some marchers wore stickers and held aloft flags that criticized the proposed plan for an egalitarian prayer space. The traditionalist campaign materials read: “You don’t divide a heart – You don’t compromise on the Kotel [Western Wall]”. At the end of the march, Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch echoed these sentiments in a celebratory speech, claiming that the current layout of the site – gender-segregated according to Orthodox rules – should not be tampered with:

“May the call go out to all the Jews of the world, whoever and wherever they are: The Western Wall is a place that unifies and consolidates. It is forbidden to allow arguments to rip holes in the beating heart of the Jewish nation. Here we must act according the tradition of the House of Israel, the House of the father, the eternal tradition of Israel. At the Western Wall plaza, with God’s help, people will continue to pray next to one another, religious and non-religious, Jews and non-Jews. Because as it says, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer by all nations’ – because of unity, and because of Jewish tradition. From here we issue a call to leave the Western Wall as a unifier and a consolidator. We earned the kindness of God, in order to return here, for the sake of unity. Don’t ruin it!”

But Rabinovitch’s remarks were measured, bereft of some of the harsh language he has used in the past towards liberal Jews. One enthusiastic young parade participant sporting a gay pride sticker on her backpack was also spotted in the crowd. Her presence would seem to indicate that event organizers had sufficiently camouflaged their reactionary intentions, making the march more palatable to at least some liberal Zionists.

As Orly Noy reported last week in the liberal Israeli news site Local Call, there were concerted efforts to improve the optics of the march in the eyes of onlookers. Police reduced the size of the flagpoles they permitted to be carried into the Old City, confiscating planks that could be used to attack Palestinian people and property. Some Israeli youth sporting stickers calling to ethnically cleanse the country of Palestinians covered them up when they noticed they were being filmed.

But the theme of driving non-Jews out of Israel was not driven out of the march – it was only tamped down by authorities, in order to give the event a thin veneer of respectability. Stickers calling to expel Palestinians from the land reading, “There is no coexistence with them – Transfer Now!”, were freely distributed at the march by far-right activist Baruch Marzel. Jewish youth chanted “May your village burn!” as they marched towards the Old City. Once inside, they called to worship Yahweh by committing more Nakba’s, embracing the Arabic term for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians that Israel carried out in 1948.

By minimizing the most overt calls to kick Arabs out of the country, event planners managed to rebrand the country’s largest annual “Death to Arabs” rally as a family-friendly show of support for Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem. Those that stand to gain from the mainstreaming of the march, however, are not only advocates of one apartheid state, or advocates of fast-track-ethnic-cleansing. Also hoping to gain from the march’s normalization are advocates of building a Jewish temple on the al-Aqsa compound.

Once considered a marginal movement of messianists, Jewish Temple advocates have made major inroads in recent years. More Israeli Jews than ever before are visiting the compound annually, and increasing numbers of Israeli legislators are voicing support for a change in the status quo of the site. A long list of government officials, both religious and secular, have called to officially sanction Jewish religious rituals on the mount. WithTemple Movement leader Yehudah Glick entering the Knesset late last month as a member of the Likud list, efforts to apply Jewish sovereignty to the mosque compound are only expected to increase.

At the flag march itself, many of the participants wore T-shirts that prominently featured drawings of the Jewish Temple that messianists hope to build and T-shirts portraying the existing Islamic Dome of the Rock with calls for its elimination. At the massive celebration held in the Western Wall Plaza at the end of the march, one high profile Israeli official after another used the opportunity to call for the fulfillment of Jewish prophecies that call for a Jewish temple to be built where a mosque has stood for more than a thousand years.

Shmuel Rabinovitch, the rabbi in charge of the Western Wall site for over two decades, told the crowd: “We ask to be worthy of complete redemption, to return to the Temple Mount, pure and holy.” Rabinovitch added: “We are now living in the prophecy, and praying for it to be complete.”

David Lau, one of Israel’s two chief rabbis, and the son of a former chief rabbi, said: “Already by next week, as we are graced with the Pentecost holiday, grace us with making a pilgrimage, as we were graced by your first steps to stand here, grace us by showing us the construction of the Temple and cheer us with its renovation, returner of priests to their [Temple] worship and Levites to their singing and music-making.”

Moshe Leon, Jerusalem city councillor, said: “Here, facing the site of the Temple, as we set our eyes towards the holy mount, we all pray for a full redemption, to the building of the Temple speedily, in our era.”

Uri Ariel, Israel’s Minister of Agriculture, said: “Between the river and the sea will only be the State of Israel. There are not two states west of the Jordan. And the Temple Mount is ours! And it is not to be divided, not with the waqf (Muslim religious authorities), and not with anyone else! Sovereignty is within the power of the State of Israel, it must use it and implement it all the way. We say to Prime Minister Netanyahu, it is time for sovereignty. It is time for sovereignty on the Temple Mount.”

The underlying ideology of the march was best exemplified by the only event speaker who is not a resident of Israel, but rather its primary patron, the United States: Simon Falic. Chair of a large chain of duty-free stores in the US, Simon “Simcha” Falic was honored with a slot on the program because his family is the top contributor to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which manages the Jewish holy site, under the auspices of the prime minister.

Last week, Ha’aretz investigative reporter Uri Blau revealed that the Jerusalem Day flag march is funded by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office. In years past, Blau has also exposed that the Falic family is the top contributor to Netanyahu’s personal election campaign, and also the top contributor to Lehava, a violent Jewish Supremacist street gang that follows the teachings of far-right Rabbi Meir Kahane and attacks mixed Jewish-Arab couples. Lehava regalia and other Kahanist identifiers were spotted along the parade route and amongst the Western Wall revelers.

At the Western Wall celebration, Falic reassured the crowd that Israel’s 49-year military occupation of territories conquered in 1967 is morally justified. He also urged Israelis to visit Mount Zion in far greater numbers:

“Forty-nine years ago, the Israel Defense Forces conquered Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. We should be proud of it! There is no shame in it! Better to be conquerer than conquered. They say we have 70,000 participants here today. Next year: 170,000 are waiting for you. There are more devout friends waiting for you. Brothers, come, we need half a million people here.”

The directive to increase the number of Jews who visit the al-Aqsa mosque compound is a declared tactic of the Temple Movement. Vastly expanding the Jewish presence on the site is part of its strategy to create the political pressure necessary to force the Israeli government to alter the status quo of the site and permit augmented Jewish activity there.

Once exclusive control of the mount has been wrested from the hands of the Jordanian waqf, Jewish messianists hope to build a Yahwist temple on the site, replacing prayer with daily animal sacrifices and turning Israel’s somewhat-secular ethnocracy into a full-fledged Orthodox theocracy. Under religious rule, all non-Jews who refuse to sign a contract committing themselves to a special subset of Jewish laws reserved for gentile subjects would be deported or put to death.

By discouraging only the most overt manifestations of base racism while simultaneously infusing the event with ultra-nationalist sentiment and messianic fervor, organizers managed to frame the parade as moderate and mainstream, even though the march route dispossessed Palestinians temporarily and marchers openly voiced unbridled hopes of soon dispossessing them permanently.

IN PHOTOS ~~ NAKBA DAY DEMOS CONTINUE IN NEW YORK AND IN PALESTINE

NAKBA DAY EVENT-NYCITY HALL & MARCH ACROSS THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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Videos from Palestine VIA

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NAKBA DAY IN TOONS

Images by Carlos Latuff

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In Tel Aviv, zionists ‘celebrate’ The Nakba by denying it …

IN PHOTOS ~~ NAKBA DAY IN NEW YORK

On Israel’s Independence Day, New Yorkers remember who lost theirs

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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NAKBA DAY MARCH FOR RESISTANCE AND RETURN
Sunday, May 15
1:30 pm
Rally at City Hall Park in Manhattan followed by March on Brooklyn Bridge to Cadman Plaza Park
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1720235081568888/

On the 68th anniversary of the occupation of Palestine, and as the Palestinian people enter the 68th year of dispossession and exile, we call on all Palestinians, friends of Palestine and supporters of justice and liberation to come together to march and rally, commemorate the Nakba, stand against the continuing Nakba, and call for the right of return for Palestinian refugees and freedom for Palestine.

68 years after the Nakba – the war of 1948 in which over 800,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes and land and the state of Israel created on that land – Palestinians continue to struggle for their right to return, for freedom from occupation, for justice, and against the Nakba that continues today.

After a rally at City Hall, we will march over the Brooklyn Bridge for an afternoon of Palestine-focused and family-friendly activities at Cadman Plaza Park.

68 YEARS LATER ~~~ WHAT DO ISRAELIS KNOW ABOUT THE NAKBA?

What do Israelis really know about the Nakba? What do they think about the right of return of the Palestinian refugees?

PHOTO ESSAY ~~ THE TAINTED MEMORY OF ISRAEL’S INDEPENDENCE

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This Wednesday evening at sundown Israel will mark 68 years as an independent state as Palestians mark 68 years since the Nakba which destroyed their nation.

Here are some of the photos …. (Click on link)

Photos of the Nakba (“the catastrophe”): the expulsion and dispossession of hundreds of thousands Palestinians from their homes and land in 1948. 

IN PHOTOS ~~ REMEMBERING THE ‘OTHER’ SIX MILLION

Image by Carlos Latuff

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Umm Akram and Amena are among six million Palestinians not living in Palestine. They are citizens of no country.

VOICES FROM THE NAKBA

Monday, May 2
6:00PM
NYU School of Law

On May 14, 1948, 18-year-old Mariam Fathallah, her family, and the rest of the Palestinian town of Al-Zeeb were forced out of their homes and into Lebanon. By the end of the year, their 4,000 year-old community was leveled and half of all Palestinians in Palestine had been killed or expelled. Palestinians know this event as the Nakba (“the catastrophe”). Mariam, now 86 years old and respectfully known as Umm Akram, has spent the last 68 years in crowded, makeshift refugee camps, where she has raised three generations of children who are waiting to return to their homes in Palestine. She has lived through 5 Israeli invasions of Lebanon and the 1976 Tel Al-Zaatar camp massacre which killed 2,000 refugees.

Amena El-Ashkar, 23, is the granddaughter and great granddaughter of Nakba survivors and has known no home other than a refugee camp.

Umm Akram and Amena are among six million Palestinians not living in Palestine. They are citizens of no country.

Photos © Bud Korotzer

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REMEMBERING THE TERROR THAT LED TO JEWISH STATEHOOD

#DeirYassinMassacre let us remember the innocent lives lost to terror

#DeirYassinMassacre let us remember the innocent lives lost to terror

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Palestinians mark 68th anniversary of Deir Yassin massacre

Palestinians on Saturday marked the 68th anniversary of the massacre of more than 100 Palestinians civilians carried out by Zionist paramilitary groups in the village of Deir Yassin in 1948 prior to the establishment of Israel.

Deir Yassin has long been a symbol of Israeli violence for Palestinians because of the particularly gruesome nature of the slaughter, which targeted men, women, children, and the elderly in the small village west of Jerusalem.

The number of victims is generally believed to be around 107, though figures given at the time reached up to 254, out of a village that numbered around 600 at the time.

The Deir Yassin massacre was led by the Irgun group, whose head was future Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, with support from other paramilitary groups Haganah and Lehi whose primary aim was to push Palestinians out through force.
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Records of the massacre describe Palestinian homes blown up with residents inside, and families shot down as they attempted to flee.
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The massacre came in spite of Deir Yassin resident’s efforts to maintain positive relations with new Jewish neighbors, including the signing of pact that was approved by Haganah, a main Zionist paramilitary organization during the British Mandate of Palestine.
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An Israeli psychiatric hospital now lies on the ruins of Deir Yassin, the remainder of which was reportedly bulldozed in the 1980s to make way for Jewish housing and incorporated as a neighborhood of Jerusalem. Streets of the neighborhood hold names of Irgun militiamen who carried out the massacre.
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The massacre was one of the first in what would become a long line of attacks on countless Palestinian villages, part of a broader strategy called Plan Dalet by Zionist groups to strike fear into local Palestinians in hopes that the ensuing terror would lead to an Arab exodus, to ensure only Jews were left in the “Jewish state.”
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Thus the attack on Deir Yassin took place a month before the UN Partition Plan was expected to be carried out, and was part of reasons later given by neighboring Arab states for their intervention in Palestine.
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The combination of forced expulsion and flight that the massacres — what would later become known among Palestinians as the Nakba, or catastrophe — precipitated left around 750,000 Palestinians as refugees abroad. Today their descendants number more than five million, and their right to return to Palestine is a central political demand.
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The anniversary of the deadly razing of the village comes as modern day Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank continue to fight for their livelihood in the face of illegal Israeli settlement expansion, widespread detention campaigns, extrajudicial executions by Israeli forces, and a surge in housing demolitions — most recently leaving 124 Palestinians homeless in a single day.
The 97 known victims of the Deir Yassin Massacre committed by Zionist Terrorist  in Palestine

The 97 known victims of the Deir Yassin Massacre committed by Zionist Terror in Palestine

FROM

MY FAMILY’S JOURNEY FROM BARCELONA TO AUSCHWITZ ~~ AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PARLIAMENT OF SPAIN

News such as the following was on the front pages of  every Israeli newspaper over the weekend … (Click on link to see report)

Spain passes law of return for Sephardic Jews

Applicants to be vetted by local Jewish community, face language and history tests before securing new passport

My response, as one of those descendants follows …

Descendents of Sephardic Jews expelled in 1492 can now apply for Spanish nationality

Descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled in 1492 can now apply for Spanish nationality

Open Letter to the Parliament of Spain

It was of much interest to see that your government has passed legislation granting citizenship to the descendants of the Jews expelled from your country in 1492.

Jews leaving Spain in 1492

Jews leaving Spain in 1492

Allow me to fill you in on the ‘journey’ of my own family after the expulsion; Rather than going to one of the Muslim countries in North Africa, as many others did, they chose to go to Turkey. Those that went to North Africa received a much warmer welcome, which resulted in my family eventually going on to a new situation in Holland.

They found there that in order to succeed economically they would have to assimilate with the Eastern European Jewish Community (Ashkenazim), a fate much less severe than the forced conversions to Catholicism for those who remained in Spain.

Again, after a number of years they once again moved on, this time splitting up, some going to Slovakia, the others to Hungary. Many of those in Hungary pursued their Jewish educations and became prominent members of the rabbinical community, included was Rabbi Shlomo Gantzfried, co-author of The Code of Jewish Law.

Those in Slovakia basically worked the fields to survive. My grandfather, Yisrael Mayer, whose name I bear, was a cobbler.

In both cases, in Hungary and Slovakia, the Jewish community was rounded up and sent to various labour camps. My family wound up in Auschwitz where they were brutally slaughtered by the nazi beast, with the blessings of your Francisco Franco and your Pope, Pius Xll.

My father was spared these horrors as he immigrated to the United States when he was still in his teens. Hence, I am here today to tell this saga.

I have one question of you before I continue, Why was this ‘offer’ not granted to the descendants Of the Muslim community who were also expelled by King Ferdinand?

In 1492, simultaneous to the discovery of the New World was the start of the Spanish Inquisition, a massive expulsion of Jews and Muslims.

In 1492, simultaneous to the discovery of the New World was the start of the Spanish Inquisition, a massive expulsion of Jews and Muslims.

Today, I reside in Israel, a country which in 1948 employed the same tactics against the Palestinian population when the zionist regime stole much of their lands. Close to a million people were forced to leave their homes and country. Over a million of their descendants still languish to this day in refugee camps.

Will they have to wait 500 years for an offer to return to their land as well?

Does this look familiar? See image posted earlier.

Does this look familiar? See image posted earlier.

Fortunately, that will not be the case. A growing number of Jews, both in Israel and in the Diaspora are involved in movements which daily expose the crimes committed by the Israeli government against the Palestinians. Their day to day work in these matters will usher in changes much sooner than your government did.

There are many Jews of conscious throughout the world

There are many Jews of conscious throughout the world

Now, as for your ‘offer’, I will try to be as diplomatic as possible. Simply stated,this gesture is much too little and comes much too late. Therefore, I personally do not accept it.

Yours Sincerely,

Steve Amsel (Yisrael Mayer)

PS …. despite all of the above, or perhaps because of it, ‘my thoughts remain free’ …..

WHAT DO ISRAELIS REALLY KNOW ABOUT THE NAKBA?

What do Israelis really know about the Nakba? What do they think about the right of return of the Palestinian refugees?
De-Colonizer went out to meet and asked them…

Mazin Qumsiyah, PhD adds the following ….

On the eve of the 67th year anniversary of the Nakba (the catastrophic
ethnic cleansing of Palestine), Benjamin Netanyahu finally formed a
“coalition government” a group of ministers who are honest about their
racist and genocidal tendencies (see article by Gideon Levy below). It
includes a “Justice” who called for murdering Palestinian mothers so that
they do not bring out more “snakes”. It includes the head of “civil
administration” who openly supports ethnic cleansing and genocide. A
government more right wing in its composition than Germany was in 1933-1939
or South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s but an honest one indeed without
double talk or hypocrisy. What is disappointing is not the make-up of the
government but the hypocritical response to it. Words from the “Palestinian
Authority” wining about the new government were accompanied by continuing
security coordination with Israel and the PA arrest of dozens of
Palestinians simply for having different political affiliation (e.g.
students who against all odds were voted to student councils at Palestinian
Universities). Geopolitically, there are now two choices: US/Israel that
attempt to dominate the Arab World and Western Asia through a class of
puppet dictators (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Egypt) and the axis of Russia,
China, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon (led by Hizbollah) and large segments of
Iraqi society. It would be nice to have a third axis (like the non-aligned
movement led by Egypt and India in the 1960s) but it does not currently
seem possible.

Yasser Arafat managed to steer the PLO leadership to semi-neutrality or at
least flexibility in building alliances as need arose. But even acting as a
good honest broker to solve some regional disputes many times by asking
people to put the interests of their people ahead of their superpower
sponsors (then it was Soviet Union and the USA/NATO). In the time of Abu
Mazen, we see more a definitive side-taking (e.g. with Saudi Arabia against
Yemen) in a fashion that actually weakened the Palestinian cause
dramatically. The black and white attitude was applied in a way that is
like George Bush “you are either with us (USA right wing government) or
with the terrorists. In this case you are either with us (Fatah) or with
the terrorist Hamas.  There seems no room left for nuances or indeed for
diplomacy. From the agreement with Hamas, there is only the part about
holding elections for the PA that Abbas wants to implement. Other parts of
the agreement (holding elections for the PLO, economic issues etc) were
supposed to happen synchronously but they are now off the table. Meanwhile
Gaza was devastated and is still under siege (civil society is responding
and a flotilla of ships is moving to break the siege). Last time this
happened, there were martyrs and some high level PA officials ridiculed the
Free Gaza movement. Instead, it would have been nice to see PA officials
join Haneen Zoabi and Raed Salah on the boats. Alas wishful thinking for
change.

The old definition of madness still apply: repeating the same (failed)
tasks and expecting different results. And we live in a mad, very mad
world. US/Israel still fund terrorists, support dictators, and support
ethnic cleansing. Those who bet on them to help them achieve “independence”
still do not understand and still hope somehow magically, things will
change. They would be wise to listen to Russian President Putin. He was
speaking at the 70th anniversary of the win over Nazi Germany (26 million
Russian lives were lost) and was flanked by other world leaders including
China (though noticeably absent where key NATO leaders). He said, the
attempt at creating a unipolar world is failing and that we should look
towards a new system. Iran, China, most of Latin America and other
countries which long suffered from Western Colonialism agreed. President
Abbas was there but had no comment. I was reminded of Naji Al-Ali 1964. I
was reminded of Orwell 1984. I was reminded of the book Majanin Beit Lahmem
(the crazy people of Bethlehem) published 2014.

Life goes on in occupied Palestine. A Palestinian community (Susya) is
about to be uprooted. Colonial settlers and soldiers still attack native
Palestinians with impunity. Corruption and heroism happen, poverty and
greed happen, cooperation and collaboration happen, resistance and
normalization happen. Poor people struggle and rich get richer. It is hard
to cope sometimes but we keep going against all odds.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the wall….*

Stop whining. Long live Israel’s new and honest government

Israel’s new government won’t spout hollow slogans about peace, human rights, and justice. The truth will be thrust in the faces of Israelis – and the world.

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The 34th government will deserve Israel; Israel will deserve the 34th government. This is an authentic and representative government, the true manifestation of the spirit of the times and the deepest feelings of most Israelis. It will be a true government, without pretense, without makeup and without self-justification. What we’ll see is what we’ll get. Welcome to the fourth Benjamin Netanyahu government.

They won’t talk haughtily and they won’t spout hollow slogans. Not about peace and not about human rights; not about two states and not about negotiations; not about international law, justice or equality. The truth will be thrust in the faces of Israelis and the world. And the truth is this: The two-state solution is dead (it was never born), the Palestinian state will not arise, international law does not apply to Israel, the occupation will continue to crawl quickly toward annexation, annexation will continue to crawl quickly toward an apartheid state; “Jewish” supersedes “democratic,” nationalism and racism will get the government stamp of approval, but they’re already here and have been for a long time.

Neither Netanyahu, nor Habayit Hayehudi’s chairman MK Naftali Bennett nor that party’s faction members MK Ayelet Shaked and MK Eli Ben-Dahan, started this whole thing. They only expedited things. And there should be no shock or outrage, no bewailing the bitterness of fate. This government is a government of continuation, not a government of change.

True, some of its members are more extreme than their predecessors, but that is mainly about rhetorical differences. Even the most inflammatory appointment, of Shaked as justice minister, which reverberated throughout the world over the weekend, is less revolutionary than it seems. Shaked is blunt and violent, whereas Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni, her predecessor, was delicate and proper. But Justice Minister Shaked will not have to work hard to break open cracks in our democracy; they opened a long time ago.

The best test of the nature of the regime in Israel is the test of the occupation and the war crimes: the foundations of apartheid are already deep and the war crimes remain uninvestigated. From her office in the heart of occupied Jerusalem, Livni has not made Israel more just in that respect. True, Shaked’s ideas are more nationalistic and her understanding of the essence of democracy is nil. True, many in the world were shocked that a person who identified with one of the most violent articles ever written here against the Palestinian people (by Uri Elitzur), was appointed minister of Israeli justice. But there’s no place for such sanctimoniousness. Elitzur expressed what many people are thinking.

The appointment of another racist, Eli Ben-Dahan, as deputy defense minister, responsible for the Civil Administration, should not be earth-shattering either. True, Ben-Dahan said that “the Palestinians are animals, they are not human, they are not entitled to live” – but don’t these statements reflect the true attitude of many Israelis? Ben-Dahan will speak for them. That is how Israel has been treating the Palestinians for almost 50 years; Ben-Dahan is only saying things overtly. Now he will be responsible for the Civil Administration and the whole system of “humanitarian gestures” will be torn up. Ben-Dahan is the right man in the right place at the right time. An excellent appointment.

A person who proudly says “I killed masses of Arabs” and calls them “shrapnel in the buttocks” will be education minister – and who in Israel doesn’t think that? The general of Operation Cast Lead, with its crimes, the man who contravened building restrictions, Yoav Galant, will be construction minister. Is that not a fine appointment? MK Uri Maklev of United Torah Judaism is to head the Knesset Science Committee? Does that not correctly reflect the attitude of some Israelis to science?

Stop whining. Maybe Israel’s shadow government should be more enlightened, but not its real government. It is what the Israelis chose, it reflects their true stands. And so, long live the new government.

IN PHOTOS ~~ REMEMBERING THE NAKBA AND THE WAR IN IRAQ

Remembering the Nakba

"Facing the Ongoing Nakba” tour schedule

“Facing the Ongoing Nakba” tour schedule

 

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zion wants us to forget about it …

On the eve of an important event to discuss the Nakba* scheduled to take place this evening, the Executive Director of a tony uptown synagogue in New York City where the event was contracted to take place has attempted to cancel the event with no explanation in what can only be perceived as an effort to shut down discussion of the “ongoing Nakba” within the Jewish community.

The event was to feature the Palestinian human rights organization, Badil (whose timely recently released Corporate Complicity in Violations of International Law in Palestine [pdf] is a must read), and Israeli human rights organization Zochrot. It is part of multi-city speaking tour, and was sponsored in New York by four organizations: Jewish Voice for Peace-New York; Nakba Education Project; Jews Say No!; and the National Lawyers Guild Palestine Subcommittee.

*Nakba, means “catastrophe” in Arabic and refers to the forced displacement of Palestinians that began with Israel’s establishment in 1948, and continues to this day.

Read the full report at Mondoweiss

The cancellation results …

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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On the other side of town, the 12th anniversary of Bush’s catastrophe was remembered

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#ZionismToday ~~ FECES SANS ODOUR

This will be an essay of photos and quotes, starting with a few from our historical Sages …

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And the reasons they said the above ….

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Now, lets see the responses …. from those whose feces don’t stink …

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And the Pièce de résistance …

 

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ZIO BEX ALERT ~~ NOTHING SPECIAL ABOUT THE NAKBA

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Some Israelis apparently have a problem with recognising the Nakba as the catastrophe that it was. The government itself has outlawed teaching about it in the school system, as if denial will erase the history ….

Denial of the holocaust is illegal in many nations, but denial of the Nakba is OK?

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Despite such obvious facts about its origin, the Palestinian Nakba has become, even in the eyes of certain academics, “the greatest crime of the modern age.” The lie has triumphed. On campuses in the United States, anti-Israel students distribute mock eviction notices in dorms, in order to depict the criminal deportations by Israel.

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A Nakba for every nation

Op-ed: World does not commemorate disasters that have befallen other nations, so why are people so quick to embrace a propagandist narrative about Palestinians?

                                                 Israel Opinion

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The month of May had, with an interval of a few days, two milestones. On May 9, the world celebrated victory over the Germans in World War II, and on May 15, Nakba Day events were also held around the world.

The Allied victory over Germany did not end with outpourings of reconciliation, quite the reverse. Between 12 and 16 million ethnic Germans were expelled from central European states at the end of the war and in its aftermath. Between 600,000 and two million were killed during those expulsions, which included innumerable pogroms and massacres. MV Wilhelm Gustloff, a German ship carrying refugees, was sunk in January 1945 by the Soviet navy, taking with it 9,500 souls, but who remembers? What is more, representatives of the vanquished and of the refugees were not invited to the May 9 celebrations – their narrative did not appear.

And yet those who celebrated this great victory over evil crossed lines less than a week later to remember the great injustice that befell the Palestinians. They never dreamed of honoring the German Nakba, only the Palestinian one.

Now and then there have been proposals to pay compensation to those exiled to Germany. The countries concerned, such as Czechoslovakia and Poland, rejected the idea outright. No one denied the brutal pogroms and expulsions. “If someone were to sue us”, they made very clear, “we would demand the money from Germany as war damages.” Time passed, the wounds festered, but there was no compensation, and certainly no return. The European Court of Human Rights would take up a suit brought by a deportee – and promptly reject it.

The ethnic Germans, most of them innocent, were not the only ones who underwent forced displacement. Tens of millions in Europe and in Asia experienced same trauma in the same decade, both before and after the war’s end. This is what happened to some 700,000 Palestinian Arabs.

And this is what also happened to 850,000 Jews. The Jews had a Nakba, so did the Palestinians, and so did the Germans. There was also a Polish Nakba, and a Hindu Nakba. Nakba was the cruel reality of that time. It was a global Nakba. For every nation, a Nakba.

According to Palestinian historian Aref al-Aref, some 13,000 Palestinian Arabs were killed in the 1948 War of Independence. We should indeed feel remorse for each death, but we should also take into account the fact that – according to impartial reports of the number of casualties, relative to the size of the population, or the number who fled or were expelled – the Palestinian Nakba was smallest of them all.

For the sake of comparison, in contemporaneous population exchanges between Poland and Ukraine, 100,000 people died out of the 1.4 million who were expelled from their homelands. Is anyone organizing a worldwide remembrance in their name? And yet, it is the Palestinian Nakba that is remembered around the world.

The Palestinians suffered. Every expellee suffered, paying the price for the actions of their leaders. The Palestinians had chosen Haj Amin al-Husseini to lead them, and growing evidence has been uncovered in recent years of his involvement in the extermination of the Jews.

Al-Husseini made clear that “the basic condition of our cooperation with the Germans was the freedom to exterminate the Jews of Palestine and the Arab world.” He was one of the originators of the “Farhud” in Iraq, the first Nazi-inspired pogrom against the Jews in an Arab state. He worked against a deal to secure the release of Jewish children. He was the creator of “Operation Atlas” of 1944, which apparently included a plan to poison a quarter of a million Jews living in Palestine. He was not the only Arab leader of the time to identify with the Nazis – Fawzi al-Qawuqji and others did exactly the same.

Here and there one can hear claims that there is no connection between the problem of the Palestinian refugees and that of the Jewish refugees from Arab states. This is a ridiculous claim. A series of pogroms directed against the Jews in 1940s – primarily in 1948 in Aden, Syria, Libya, Iraq and Morocco – were a combination of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Similarly, the Arab League decided in the same year to freeze Jews’ bank accounts and to confiscate their money to fund the war effort against “Zionist aspirations in Palestine.” This was the Arab struggle, managed by the Arab League and the Arab Higher Committee, and headed by al-Husseini.

So there is indeed something absurd about the claim of “no connection”. The Palestinian problem is commemorated because the Arab world has systematically refused any offer of restoration. The Arab states even opposed UN General Assembly resolution 194, which offered the possibility of some kind of Palestinian return to their former homeland under certain conditions, on the grounds that it included recognition of a Jewish state under the Partition Plan.

In recent years, the exact same resolution has become a weapon for the Arab states in seeking to implement a mass Palestinian return, even though there is no historical precedence for a mass return, never mind any right to one.

In any event, resolution 194 was just one in a series. Resolutions 393, 394 and 513, which were subsequently passed and which hold a similar legal status, transfer responsibility for the absorption of the refugees to the Arab states. Who knew? Who remembers?

And thus those who participated in the Nakba commemorations last week are not serving to implement a solution to the problem. They are only serving a propagandist narrative that perpetuates the problem and cultivates the illusion of a return. The Arab world has made it clear time and again – the demand for a right of return has one objective, namely, the destruction of the State of Israel.

Despite such obvious facts about its origin, the Palestinian Nakba has become, even in the eyes of certain academics, “the greatest crime of the modern age.” The lie has triumphed. On campuses in the United States, anti-Israel students distribute mock eviction notices in dorms, in order to depict the criminal deportations by Israel.

Most students do identify with the victims, and here they do not know the basic facts. They don’t know about the Jewish and global Nakbas; they don’t know about the connection between the Arabs and the Nazis. They don’t commemorate the German Nakba, as Germany was the aggressor, but they do commemorate the Palestinian Nakba, despite the fact that the Arab side was also the antagonist.

There has to be reconciliation; there has to be recognition of injustice. Vaclav Havel, during his time as the Czech president, made a noble gesture and apologized for the atrocities conducted by the Czechs against innocent Germans. Israel, like Havel, needs to ask for forgiveness that for the suffering that it too has caused to the innocent. Forgiveness. Not compensation, and not return. And one must hope that the Arab world can ask for forgiveness for chasing out its Jews and for seizing their property, for calling for their destruction and for its cooperation with part of the Nazi leadership.

Recognition of injustice has to be on a human, not political, plain. In London and in Moscow they did not adopt the German narrative for May 9, nor is there any reason to adopt Arab narrative when standing in the Middle East. Reconciliation is not achieved through propagandist lies that turn the birth of the State of Israel into a crime. Reconciliation is only achieved when the truth wins out.

PHOTO ESSAY ~~ THE NAKBA MEMORIAL EVENTS IN NEW YORK

Electronic billboard at 8th Ave. and 42nd St.

PHOTO CREDIT: MOHAMMAD BARAKAT

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On Friday, the 16th of May, hundreds of people turned out at Times Square in New York to commemorate 66 years of the Nakba …

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A day earlier, NYU Students for Justice in Palestine held a Memorial ‘Die In’ at the plaza of NYU’s Stern School for Business in Manhattan …

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The United Nations Aid Agency helps us remember the Nakba by documenting photos of the exodus …

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UN photo archive tells story of Palestinian exodus 

 

In bid to preserve documentation of Palestinian ‘Nakba’ refugees, UN aid agency has digitized thousands of photos in organization’s archive.

See the full AP Report HERE

 

THE NAKBA; THEN AND NOW

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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The Ongoing Nakba …

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Related report FROM

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Israelis Slowly Wake up to the Nakba

A Palestinian child holds up a picture of a key, symbolizing the homes Palestinian refugees left behind. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
A Palestinian child holds up a picture of a key, symbolizing the homes Palestinian refugees left behind. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

By Jonathan Cook

Palestinians are due to stage marches in both the occupied territories and Israel Thursday to commemorate the loss of their homeland 66 years ago – an event they call the Nakba, or “Catastrophe” – a little more than a week after Israeli Jews celebrated the anniversary of the Jewish state’s birth.

But for many Israeli Jews, it is becoming ever harder to mark their Independence Day without confronting the fact that Israel’s establishment created a new set of victims, said Eitan Bronstein, founder of Zochrot, or “Remembering”, an organisation dedicated to teaching Israeli Jews about the Nakba.

“Once, the Nakba was a non-issue for Israeli Jews. Many had never heard of it or didn’t know what the term meant. But now it is unavoidable. Israelis have to face it.”

Long excluded from the Israeli national discourse, the Nakba – and the ensuing destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages – is slowly forcing itself into the consciousness of ordinary Israelis. And that is creating new sources of tension and potential conflict.

Last week, as Israeli Jews held street parties celebrating Independence Day according to the Hebrew calendar, some 20,000 of their compatriots – Palestinians citizens of Israel – gathered in a forest half way between Nazareth and Tiberias. In the largest Nakba procession ever staged in Israel, they waved Palestinian flags as they marched to Lubya, one of more than 500 Palestinian villages destroyed in the aftermath of Israel’s creation.

As has become typical in recent years, the march produced a counter-demonstration: hardline Jewish nationalists staged noisy celebrations close by, fervently waving Israeli flags and trying to get as close to the march as police would allow.

‘Fifth Column’

Scenes of the Nakba procession – all over social media, as well as the Israeli news – upset the Israeli right. Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, and Israel is Our Home member, called Palestinian citizens who joined the march “a fifth column whose aim is the destruction of Israel”. He added that their rightful place was not in Israel but “Ramallah”, where the Palestinian Authority is headquartered.

Numbering 1.5 million, the Palestinian minority comprises a fifth of Israel’s population. Able to reach the destroyed villages, unlike most Palestinian refugees, they have increasingly shouldered the struggle to keep alive the memory of what was lost in 1948.

Most Israeli Jews, however, regard efforts to revisit 1948 as a threat to Zionism, said Bronstein. A long-standing consensus in Israel is that any concession to Palestinians on the refugee question could open the door to the right of return, destroying Israel’s Jewish character.

Im Tirtzu, a far-right youth movement opposed to what it sees as growing anti-Zionist influences on Israeli society, organised protests at several Israeli universities this week as Palestinian students tried to hold Nakba commemorations.

Matan Peleg, Im Tirtzu’s director, said: “The left is trying to promote these Nakba events to make Israelis feel guilty about our Independence Day. But Israelis aren’t falling for it. We know who started the war.”

Israel has long insisted that the many Palestinians left of their own accord or that their exodus was possibly even coordinated by Arab leaders. Palestinians in turn have always vehemently denied this narrative and insist that the civilian population was forced out.

Peleg said Israel respected the human rights of its Arab population more than any Arab state in the Middle East. “Israelis are made angry by the hypocrisy. When we see the Palestinian flag being raised, we know that they [those on the march] don’t want Israel to exist.”

Sights like those at Lubya are likely to fuel a “harsh” reaction from Israel, said Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian and expert on the events of 1948. “Unfortunately, we are likely to see more draconian legislation in the future and the possibility of brutal violence,” he said.

The Israeli parliament has already passed a law preventing any publicly-funded institution – such as schools, universities and libraries – from providing a voice to the Palestinian narrative of 1948.

New Assertiveness

Pappe said an announcement last month by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu of new legislation to define Israel in exclusively Jewish terms indicated further efforts to eradicate discussion of the Nakba and Israel’s responsibility.

Ziad Awaisi, one of the Nakba march organisers, said such moves were only galvanising the resolution of Palestinians on the refugee issue. “A new, young generation is ready to be more assertive about the Nakba and the rights of the refugees. They are willing to confront the Israeli authorities,” he said.

Estimates are that one in four Palestinian citizens of Israel belongs to a family expelled from its home in 1948, making them a potentially powerful force in Israel for a historical re-evaluation.

The “March of Return” has been held annually since 1998, each year to a different destroyed village. In recent years, the number of participants has swelled dramatically, with young families and youths playing an ever greater part.

The erased village of Lubya is covered by a pine forest known to the Jewish population as Lavi Park and nowadays chiefly visited by walkers, cyclists and families out for a barbecue.

Avraham Burg, a former speaker of the Israeli parliament who has emerged in recent years as a stern critic of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, asked in a commentary last week: “Can the Nakba and Independence coexist in the same space?”

Calling Israelis ”insensitive”, he wrote: “All around the country, cemeteries were desecrated, holy places were turned into storerooms and animal pens, entire villages were wiped off the face of their tilled earth, and one person’s place of mourning and devastation became another’s place of leisure and holiday-making.”

Representing Refugees

At Lubya, refugees spoke longingly of their desire to return to a village that was once home to nearly 3,000 Palestinians. Many were among the 750,000 Palestinians forced out of the new state of Israel in 1948 and into refugee camps across the region.

Awaisi said the large attendance at this year’s march may have reflected in part the fact that a significant proportion of Lubya’s refugees ended up in Yarmouk, a camp in Damascus that is now caught in the midst of Syria’s civil war.

“It is important that we show the refugees that we are active on their behalf, especially when the Palestinian leaders [based in Ramallah] grow ever quieter on the right of return.”

But, he added, local tensions were also driving a renewed interest in the Nakba. “The recent attacks on our communities, including mosques and churches, and the failure of the police to do anything, are a reminder to people that our presence here is under threat. This march was a way to say: We are here and we are not going anywhere.”

Nakba initiatives inside Israel are taking off on various fronts, adding to the tension with Israeli Jews.

Zochrot, or Remembering in Hebrew, is a small but growing organisation of Israelis – Jews and Palestinians – that says its goal is to be “provocative”, said Raneen Jeries, the group’s media director. “We want to make them [Israeli Jews] angry. That is how we raise awareness. They have to take note of the history they were not taught at school.”

Map of Destroyed Villages

Last week Zochrot launched a phone app called iNakba, the first of its kind. In three languages, English, Arabic and Hebrew, it flags up on an interactive map all the Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948, allowing users to locate them and share information.

Jeries said it had been an instant success, gaining thousands of downloads on its first day.

“Colonial regimes like Israel use maps as a political tool, to erase communities, heritage, even nations. But this app puts Palestine back on the map. With the help of users, it will create the most accurate map ever and reconnect the refugees to their villages.”

For the past decade Zochrot has been running regular visits for Israelis to the ruins of different villages, often buried under pine forests and hidden inside gated communities reserved for the Jewish population.

Zochrot has created a “nakba kit” for teachers, though it is barred from use in the classroom by education officials.

The group has also created an archive of filmed interviews with veteran Israeli fighters from the 1948 war, who admit their role in expelling Palestinians and, in some cases, participating in massacres. Most Israeli Jews are still taught a long-discredited narrative that Palestinians fled under orders from Arab leaders.

Last year Zochrot held the first-ever conference on the practical implementation of a right of return, at a time when most Israeli Jews still reject even the principle.

Holy Places Reclaimed

Groups of refugees inside Israel have been trying to reclaim mosques and churches, usually the only buildings still standing in the destroyed villages, defying Israeli orders that have typically declared the ruins “closed military areas”.

In two destroyed Christian villages in the Galilee, Biram and Iqrit, youths have set up encampments next to the surviving churches, daring Israel to force them out.

Such efforts are leading to confrontations.

Last month a refugee family that tried to hold a baptism in a church at al-Bassa, now the industrial zone of the northern Jewish town of Shlomi, was attacked. A group of Jewish residents reportedly called them “stinking Christians” and smashed the camera of the official photographer.

Shlomi’s mayor, Gabi Naaman, told the Haaretz newspaper that refugee families trying to renovate or use the church were “trespassing”. He added that the building was too dilapidated to be safe. “I will act to close the place down because it’s dangerous, and I will block any entry to it in the future.”

At other sites, such as at the historic mosque of Ghabsiyya, east of Acre, Israeli authorities have been trying to prevent refugees from using the building by sealing it off with razor wire and high walls.

According to Pappe, as Israelis are faced with the realities of 1948, there is likely to be an ideological entrenchment. “Israelis may admit the ethnic cleansing [of 1948] but then they say it was justified, or that the Palestinians were the successors of the Nazis, or that Israel was going to be exterminated.”

But Jeries insists that the work of the Nakba groups is only just beginning. “Israeli society now acknowledges the Nakba. But there is much more to be done,” Jeries said. “Israeli Jews don’t yet want to take responsibility for it: to fix historical injustices and take back the refugees. It is going to be a long process.”

A MOMENT OF SILENCE FOR PALESTINE

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Yesterday, Israel came to a standstill for two minutes in remembrance of its fallen soldiers and victims of terrorist attacks …

It is truly sad for any nation or people to commemorate the memory of those who died before their time by the horrors of war or terrorism.

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Today, Israel celebrates 66 years of independence as Palestinians remember their own victims of terror … and the Nakba

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Just a few of our precious fallen angels ….

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There were more …. many more ….

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A report FROM

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‘Israel killed 1,335 Palestinian kids’

 

A recent UN report confirms that at least 1,300 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli forces since the outset of the al-Aqsa uprising in 2000.

The United Nations office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a report that 1,335 Palestinian children were shot dead as a result of Israeli air and ground attacks or indiscriminate gun fire by Israeli soldiers, a Press TV correspondent reported on Saturday.

“The international community should offer protection for Palestinian children so that they can have a better social and educational environment,” said Amjad Shawa, Coordinator of Palestinian NGO Network.

According to the Palestinian ministry of health, 15 children have been killed in Gaza alone since the beginning of 2011 — three of them while playing in front of their house.

“The children were just playing out in the street like the way they always did and then all of a sudden rockets were fired towards them. They were killed just because they were playing,” the victims’ uncle Yaser Alhelou said.

In 2006, Israeli artillery fire hit the Athamna family house in northern Gaza, killing 16 family members, including seven children.

Human rights groups have also condemned Israeli policies towards Palestinian children.

According to UNICEF, Israeli policies have put the lives of more than 1.9 million Palestinian children in danger.

They also face the constant threat of death, injury, displacement, detention, psychological distress and low educational attainment.

On Tuesday, three children were injured by a piece of unexploded Israeli ordnance that went off in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Gaza is currently riddled with unexploded ordnance, left over from Israel’s war on the blockaded coastal enclave at the turn of 2009.

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And, what about a moment of silence for those who were forced to flee their villages, many of which were completely erased from the map …. UNTIL NOW;

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Palestinians can NOW find their village … thanks to Zochrot

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Since 2002 Zochrot has been promoting Israeli Jewish society’s acknowledgement of, and accountability for, the ongoing injustices of the Nakba and the reconceptualization of Return as the imperative redress of the Nakba, and a chance for a better life for the entire country’s inhabitants. Zochrot challenges the Israeli Jewish public’s preconceptions, and promotes awareness, political, and cultural change within it to create the conditions for the Return of Palestinian Refugees and a shared life in this country.

iNakba is a trilingual mobile app (Arabic, Hebrew and English) based on GPS Navigation technology. This app allows users to locate and learn about Palestinian localities destroyed during, and as a result of, the Nakba since 1948.

The application provides coordinates and maps of Palestinian localities that were completely ruined, destroyed, obliterated after their capture, partially demolished, or remained standing but were depopulated and their residents expelled. The app also provides historical information and includes video clips and photographs of these localities. The app is interactive; it allows users to add pictures of the destroyed localities, as well as share their comments and follow updates about selected localities.

We Need Your Help!

Not all the destroyed or depopulated localities are represented by video clips or photographs. Some of the coordinates provided may be inaccurate or incomplete. Zochrot is constantly augmenting the information about all the demolished localities, and we invite users to help us by adding photographs, video clips, updates, and/or corrections. Please send comments and audio-visual corrections and additions to: inakba@zochrot.org, or via the app’s “Contact Us” link.

Further Development

The iNakba app is currently only available for iPhones, but we are developing versions for additional devices while updating and expanding the information with the help of iNakba users.

Zochrot is grateful to Netaj company in Nazareth for their professionalism in developing iNakba.

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Palestine WILL rise from the ashes one day soon, but let us stand today to remember the horrors inflicted upon them.

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AS ISRAEL CELEBRATES ITS INDEPENDENCE, MOTHER PALESTINE RELIVES 66 YEARS OF THE NAKBA

During this tragic period of remembrance, just a reminder that NEVER AGAIN means something, TODAY!
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Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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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.
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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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How quickly it was forgotten that the Jews were also victims of a Nakba …
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Fiddler on the Nakba

A scene from Fiddler on the Roof

Yesterday I listened to Terry Gross interviewing Sheldon Harnick, the lyricist for “Fiddler on the Roof.” As they talked about Russian villages in which Jews were persecuted, and which they fled to come to America– “forced out,” Gross said repeatedly — Gross and Harnick became emotional. Gross is a private person; but she spoke of her parents openly. She and Harnick were telling an ancestral Jewish story, and a moving one.

I could not help thinking about Palestinian remembrances of their villages that they were forced out of during the creation of Israel. “Their only home,” to use Gross’s phrase. They speak with similar attachment about a lost world. They cherish photos and keys and memories. Just look at the movie “When I Saw You.”

And of course I wondered when American culture will commemorate and honor the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe, in which 750,000 Palestinians lost their homes.

Excerpts of the interview:

Gross: And “Fiddler on the Roof” is set in 1905 in a Jewish village in Czarist Russia, where the Jews are under attack and eventually forced out. ..

So in the show “Fiddler on the Roof,” there’s a song called “Anatevka,” which the Jews in this small town sing when they are forced out of their village, Anatevka. And it’s a very – the song that’s used in the show is both about well, it’s just a place, it’s not an important place, but it’s also very nostalgic song for the place that they are being forced to leave, the place that is their only home….

You know, when I hear some of the songs from “Fiddler on the Roof,” I get tears in my eyes, in part because my parents had very few albums when I was growing up but they had “Fiddler on the Roof” and they played it over and over and over and over. And it really started to drive me crazy.

But when I hear it now, you know, my parents passed, you know, like several years ago and when I hear it now I think about my parents and I think not only about how good the songs are but I think what those songs meant to them and what it was like for them in the 1960s to go to Broadway and see a show about Jews on a shtetl in Eastern Europe because their parents had been Jews in shtetls in Eastern Europe.

And I’m sure you know how much this musical meant, you know, has meant to so many people.

HARNICK: Yes. One of the things – when Jerome Robbins became our director he told us this story. He said when he was six his parents took him to that part of Poland where their ancestors came from and even at the age of six he remembers it as being a very emotional experience.

Then during World War II as he read about the extermination of these little village by the Nazis he was certain that the village that he had visited when he was six was one of those villages that had been obliterated. So when we gave him the opportunity to direct “Fiddler” he said I want to put that culture back on stage. I want to give it a theatrical life of another 25 years. He was being modest because now it’s almost 50 years and it’s still going strong.

But he was like a man obsessed with restoring that culture.

Some day Palestinian culture will be similarly honored. But it’s a ways off…

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Palestinians can NOW find their village … thanks to Zochrot

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Since 2002 Zochrot has been promoting Israeli Jewish society’s acknowledgement of, and accountability for, the ongoing injustices of the Nakba and the reconceptualization of Return as the imperative redress of the Nakba, and a chance for a better life for the entire country’s inhabitants. Zochrot challenges the Israeli Jewish public’s preconceptions, and promotes awareness, political, and cultural change within it to create the conditions for the Return of Palestinian Refugees and a shared life in this country.

iNakba is a trilingual mobile app (Arabic, Hebrew and English) based on GPS Navigation technology. This app allows users to locate and learn about Palestinian localities destroyed during, and as a result of, the Nakba since 1948.

The application provides coordinates and maps of Palestinian localities that were completely ruined, destroyed, obliterated after their capture, partially demolished, or remained standing but were depopulated and their residents expelled. The app also provides historical information and includes video clips and photographs of these localities. The app is interactive; it allows users to add pictures of the destroyed localities, as well as share their comments and follow updates about selected localities.

We Need Your Help!

Not all the destroyed or depopulated localities are represented by video clips or photographs. Some of the coordinates provided may be inaccurate or incomplete. Zochrot is constantly augmenting the information about all the demolished localities, and we invite users to help us by adding photographs, video clips, updates, and/or corrections. Please send comments and audio-visual corrections and additions to: inakba@zochrot.org, or via the app’s “Contact Us” link.

Further Development

The iNakba app is currently only available for iPhones, but we are developing versions for additional devices while updating and expanding the information with the help of iNakba users.

Zochrot is grateful to Netaj company in Nazareth for their professionalism in developing iNakba.

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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.

 

 

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