Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Independent Publishes Straight From the Heart Right of Return Letters
Below are some heartfelt, straight from the heart letters written to the Independent which explain "the grave injustice done to the many Palestinian refugees." As usual, the indefatigable Annie Annab brought this to my attention and I would encourage others to follow her lead and thank the Independent for publishing these letters.
RE: Fate of Jews and Arabs in Palestine
I was thrilled- and shocked- and relieved to see a treasure trove of letters specifically explaining about the grave injustice done to the many Palestinian refugees. And such beautifully written letters too- straight from the heart.
The Palestinian refugees inalienable right to return is such a crucial point and should be remembered- always remembered and honored at least in our thoughts (and our protest signs and our poems and our songs), until the day of real justice finally comes and the longest suffering, largest refugee crisis in the world ends with full respect and love for our true heritage and the real children of the land.
Anne Selden Annab
Fate of Jews and Arabs in Palestine
Sir: Yet again we encounter the personal pleading of Holocaust survivors who regard Israel as the only country left for them to escape anti-Semitism (Lucy Mandelstam's letter, 9 August).
My parents emigrated to Israel in the 1930s to create there a new social order striving "to uphold the full social and political equality for all its citizens without distinction of religion, race and sex" (Israel's Declaration of Independence, 1948). Yet in my early childhood I witnessed the levelling of the three Arab villages surrounding my kibbutz and the expropriation of the land and homes of 750,000 Arab-Palestinian refugees driven out of Israel in the aftermath of the 1948 war.
While Jews all over the world have the automatic right to "return" to Israel the Arab refugees are left to rot in camps and enclaves in the West Bank, Gaza strip, Lebanon and Syria. The only option for them is slavishly to reconcile to their fate, or join grassroots resistance parties like Hizbollah and Hamas.
Sir: Lucy Mandelstam, writing from Israel, states that, aged 19 in 1945, on being released from a concentration camp, "All I wanted to do was start a new life in my own country".
Yet Palestine was not her own country. More than two thirds of the population were Palestinian Arabs and the majority of Jewish Palestinians were immigrants who had lived there for less than 30 years. Sixty one years later with over 3 million Palestinians living behind the barbed wire fences of Gaza or the walled ghettos of much of the West bank the writer lives in denial over the disaster her bright new state caused the indigenous people of Palestine. Until Lucy Mandelstam faces up to that tragedy the legitimacy she craves for Israel and the future of her children and grandchildren will remain as elusive as ever.
Sir: Lucy Mandelstam tells a terrible personal history of suffering abusive shouts of "Jews to Palestine" as a child in Vienna and of years in concentration camps; but it wasn't Palestinians who shouted at her. I am sorry that she now feels insecure living in Israel. But I am sorry too that great numbers of Palestinians, displaced for more than half a century, are still being made to pay the price for European atrocities which they had no part in.
Sir: Being Jewish by race I have a right to return to Israel should I desire. However I am so appalled by what this country stands for that I could never claim this right. Couldn't I just give it to a Palestinian refugee instead?