Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Why Americans Should Support Right of Return for Palestinians
At the Doha Debates sponsored by BBC World, eighty-two percent of the audience rejected the motion: 'This House believes the Palestinians should give up their full right of return.' Arguing against the motion were Ali Abunimeh, son of Palstinian refugees, and Ilan Pappe, Israeli historian. Abunimeh and Bassem Eid, Palestinian refugee and human rights worker, who argued in favor of the motion, continued the debate in a series of e-mail exchanges published in the UK Guardian's Comment is Free. Abunimeh wrote to Eid,
I really hope you will join us and join the growing movement that understands
that peace will only come in a decolonised Palestine where Israelis and
Palestinians have equal rights regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or any
other arbitrary characteristics.
Eid's points, reiterated in the Guardian story, were hardly arguments, mainly the lamentations of a man in the grips of despair. As Abunimeh commented, it was easy to see why he lost.
When the UN recommended partition of Palestine in 1947, forty-eight percent of the population in the area designated for the Jewish state was Palestinian. According to Dr. Salman Abu Sitta,
Palestinian researcher and refugee expert, himself a refugee from Ain El Sitta in Beersheeba,
Ben Gurion, in his tactical plan to provisionally accept the Partition
Plan, proceeded immediately to ethnically cleanse the coastal plain from the
Palestinian 'citizens' of his new state.
Ben Gurion depopulated 250 villages and expelled half the total refugees
before the state of Israel was declared on 15 May 1948 and before any Arab
regular soldier came to reverse the ethnic cleansing.
Today seventy-five percent of Palestinians are refugees, "their movable and immovable property confiscated by Israel."
And while Americans are intransigent regarding the right of return of Palestine's refugees, Americans backed the return of Bosnia's refugees in 1998. Madeleine Albright spoke movingly to the returnees:
And what we need to remember today is that you are not coming home to invent
something new; you are certainly not coming home to lead lives that have been
designed for you by outsiders. You are coming to reclaim your lives and to
assert your identity. You are coming to take back what you had before.
On the contrary, rather than "reclaiming" lives, Israel's policies to ensure majority Jewish demographics, disrupt Palestinian lives in ways which South Africa's apartheid policy rejected.
Consider the law "which denies Palestinian citizens of Israel the right to acquire any status in Israel for their Palestinian spouses from the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) solely on the basis of their national belonging." This law "violates right to a family life" for thousands of
Palestinian citizens of Israel and their spouses in the occupied territories.
Demographics appears to be one of the main reasons for Israel's opposition to right of return and right of movement for Palestinians in historic Palestine. Israelis, determined to maintain majority Jewish demographics, split hairs regarding the word "should" of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194. It is an effort in vain.
In addition, for those who would presume to "negotiate" away the right of return, it is according to legal experts "a logical necessity for a just and legal peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, under international law."
By 1948, the right of return had already gained customary status under
Therefore, implementation of the right of return in 1948 was in any case
mandatory upon all states, regardless of the use of the word "should" or the
fact that the resolution was issued by the General Assembly. Moreover,
Resolution 194 has never been annulled, repealed, diluted or overturned in any
way. On the contrary, Resolution 194 has been reaffirmed annually by the
United Nations every year since it was initially passed in 1948.
Madeleine Albright spoke about houses "built on rubble," and the difficult lot for Bosnia's returning refugees. "It is precisely because what you are doing is hard that I wanted to come here to stand with you and salute you."
Very few people "stand and salute" the Palestinian refugees. They are perhaps one of the most 'vilified' groups of people on earth, bombed and massacred in their refugee camps, irrelevant to Israelis, irrelevant to those Palestinians banking on, as Abunimeh mentions, to reign in a little Palestinian statelet.
However, they are not irrelevant to Dr. Abu Sitta, who has devoted his resources and his energy on their behalf. "Israel wants to continue its ethnic cleansing, pursue its racist and Apartheid policies, and does not 'really want to live in peace' with the Palestinians but instead of them," he writes. "To speak of a demographic threat is pure racism."
The Palestinian refugees should not be irrelevant to American citizens who support international law, democracy, justice and equal rights for all. What would we say about someone who lamented that California's demographics will go from a "white" majority to a "Mexican" majority in the near future? How can we condone that a country, under the guise of filtering out terrorists, but really concerned about maintaining a Jewish demographic majority, destines families to live apart? Indeed, how far will Israelis go to ensure that Israel maintains a Jewish majority?
For those who maintain that Palestinians may return to a Palestinian state, I offer the following. I work overseas. Every other year I return to my late father and mother's home. I am not asked to return to Los Angeles, one hundred miles away from my home, nor am I importuned to return to Northern California, in lieu of Central California, which I consider home. We should not expect Palestinians to accept return to a Palestinian state in place of their ancestral home.
I personally believe that the issue of ROR is still very foreign to all Americans. It is just something that they do not even consider, they don't know about it! I congratulate you for trying to make a dent in this. I believe that the US public is ill-informed, apathetic, and like you say, full of themselves. This is just the sad truth.
I think it has something to do with the American religion....
As One Voice and Al Quds President Sari Nussebeh says:"I believe the Palestinians should recognize that the refugees should return to a Palestinian state, enabling them to build a new life" "We must exchange the old Palestinian dream for a new one, for the sake of the future," Nusseibeh said
Peace and blessings be unto you.
DK is a good forum. While DK has not allowed members to delete the articles of other members it has allowed them to delete their comments in the past. Don’t let the “recipe comments” by the WUJS that follow all who address Palestine bother you, Palestine has many friends at DK.
Check out http://rankings.big-boards.com/?sort=members
And this … http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=786048453686176230 The first part about false flag operations is fascinating. It has been viewed almost 800,000 times.
I am not deterred by the Zionists at DailyKos; I think that it is an excellent forum for educating Americans about Palestine, which is what I can do in my position. Thanks for the links.
A fanatical Zionist has changed the tags of the diary you posted at dailykos so that it can't be found by clicking on the Israel tag and becomes hard to find. Change the tag back and contact management. They can track who changed the tag and hopefully ban whoever did it; I've seen kos ban people on the spot for tag abuse.
Great diary, much appreciated, and keep up the good work!
Just DO NOT let them intimidate you. You scare them because you speak the truth.