Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Nakba

‘Fake News!’: The View from Israel’s Occupation

Rebecca Stein. Feb 19, 2018

Among the numerous ideological affinities and governing styles shared by Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a commitment to the rhetoric of ‘fake news.’

In the last year, Netanyahu has increasingly borrowed this Trump formulation in an attempt to quell dissent and undercut critical Israeli and international media scrutiny.

Netanyahu is not unique in this regard. Over the course of the last year, authoritarian regimes across the globe – including Syria, Russia and Malaysia – have adopted the fake news script to silence detractors and critics, frequently in response to the charge of human rights violations.

But while the global scale of this accusation may be unprecedented, charges of fake news have a long history, considerably preceding the Trump era.

In Israel, the accusation of fraudulence, employed against political critics and foes, can be traced to the onset of the Zionist settler-national project.

As post-colonial studies show, the repudiation of indigenous claims (to history, land, humanity and so on) was a foundational logic of colonial projects, enabling the violence of colonialism in its various forms.

This formulation was also at work in the history of Zionism and has had a lasting hold on dominant Israeli ideology.

Over the course of the last two decades, amidst the ascendance of nationalist extremism in Israel, the fraudulence charge has grown ever stronger among the Jewish right-wing public as a popular means of indicting critics and undercutting Palestinian claims, particularly where Israel’s military occupation is concerned.

Mohammed al-Dura

Video footage of Israeli state violence against Palestinians has been a favorite target of this accusation – footage shot by international journalists and human rights workers and increasingly, as cameras have proliferated in the West Bank, by the cameras of Palestinians living under occupation.

It was in the language of fake news that Israelis famously responded to the killing of 12-year-old Mohammad al-Dura by the Israeli security services in 2000, in the early days of the second Intifada.[1]

His killing was filmed by French television and was replayed around the world in the aftermath of the event, becoming no less than a viral global icon of the Israeli military. What ensued was an organized campaign by the Israeli right wing, and their international supporters, to debunk the images as fake.

Netanyahu convened an Israeli government committee of inquiry in 2012 to investigate the incident, and the committee eventually endorsed the popular discourse of fakery, blaming manipulative editing for falsely producing the damning images.

The state committee did more than exonerate the Israeli security services in al-Dura’s death; indeed, they argued that he was Not actually dead.

Right-wing Israeli newspapers put it succinctly in their headlines: “Mohammed al-Dura: The Boy Who Wasn’t Really Killed.” Pleas by the al-Dura family to exhume the boy’s body were declined.

The state committee did more than exonerate the Israeli security services in al-Dura’s death; indeed, they argued that he was not actually dead.

Despite the Israeli response to the al-Dura affair in 2000, it would take nearly two decades for this argument about Palestinian fakery to become commonplace where video evidence of Israeli state violence is concerned.

By 2014, amidst the ascendance of far-right politics in Israel, and the threatening spread of cameras among Palestinians living under occupation, the argument finally gained a mainstream foothold.

Footage from Bitunya

For example, the charge of fake news would predominate in Israel following the killing of 2 Palestinian youths in the West Bank town of Bitunya in 2014, fatally shot by the Israeli security services during an annual demonstration commemorating the Nakba.

The military denied responsibility, claiming that their forces had only used non-lethal rubber bullets that day, in compliance with regulations governing engagement in protest contexts.[2] But the scene had been filmed by numerous on-site cameras, including four security cameras, and those of CNN and a Palestinian photojournalist.

The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem took on the case, believing that the unusually high volume of associated footage conclusively established military responsibility for the deaths.

But mainstream Israelis felt differently, and the volume of footage from Bitunya did little to persuade them of the military’s responsibility. To the contrary, the videographic evidence fueled a widespread repudiation campaign.

State actors and institutions were among the first to join the fake news chorus, including the defense minister, the foreign minister and official military spokesmen.

All argued that “the film was edited and d[id] not reflect the reality of the day in question.”

Their assertions were parroted by the national media, who insisted that the shootings were “staged and faked.” That accusation was then picked up by right-wing Israelis and supporters internationally.

Some focused on the image of the falling body, arguing for its self-evident theatricality (yet another case of what some called “Pallywood” – the purported Palestinian Hollywood-like industry in manufactured images of Palestinian victims).

Others claimed there was a lack of adequate blood in the footage, proof that the victim had not been killed. Most proponents of the fraudulence charge did not dispute the deaths themselves, as they had in the al-Dura case, but focused on exonerating the IDF through a re-reading of the footage, arguing that the bullets had come from other sources.

The charge of fraudulence haunted the case as it wound its way through the Israeli legal system. The Bitunya case established the fake news charge as a default Israeli script for responding to video-graphic evidence of state violence against Palestinians.

A few months hence, during another violent Israeli military incursion into the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Netanyahu would famously rehearse a variant of this discourse when he accused people in Gaza of performing their deaths for the media: “They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can. They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause.”

The language of “fake news” had moved from the margins of the conspiratorial blogosphere to become the language of state – presaging a dynamic that we would watch unfold in the US in the Trump era, a few years hence.

High Stakes

For Israelis who support the fake news accusation, the stakes are considerable – just as they are in Trump’s America for those who parrot this rhetoric. In the Israeli context, these accusations aim to protect the image of Israel by stripping Palestinian victims and Israeli perpetrators from the videographic scene of the alleged crime – and to do so in a way that removes all traces of repressive Israeli military rule and its histories.

The charges of fraudulence, forgery or Palestinian theatrics are an attempt to correct the record, to right the wrongs done by a libelous Palestinian public that is intent on Israel’s defamation by means of fictive image-making – or so many believe.

In this way, the discourse of fake news is just another tool in the Israeli struggle against the so-called existential threat.

[This article was originally published in Middle East Report (Issue 283).]


[1] Adi Kuntsman and I explore this in more detail here.

[2] For a more detailed discussion of this case, see Stein, “GoPro Occupation: Networked Cameras, Israeli Military Rule, and the Digital Promise,” Current Anthropology 58/S15 (February 2017).

Palestinians settled in Lebanon?

Have you met anyone of them?

Le pays du Cèdre (Lebanon) compte près de 450.000 réfugiés palestiniens enregistrés par l’Office de secours et de travaux des Nations unies pour les réfugiés de Palestine dans le Proche-Orient (UNRWA). (Not counting those Not registered officially)

Ils représentent un dixième de la population au Liban.

Environ 60% de ces Palestiniens vivent dans les 12 camps de réfugiés installés sur l’ensemble du territoire libanais dans des conditions difficiles.

Aux problèmes de pauvreté, de surpopulation et de manque criant d’infrastructures élémentaires, s’ajoute celui du chômage.

N’étant pas légalement considérés comme des citoyens d’un pays étranger, les Palestiniens ne bénéficient pas des droits de résidence et de travail dont les Libanais ou d’autres citoyens étrangers pourraient jouir.

A titre d’exemple, les Palestiniens ne peuvent exercer un métier au Liban que dans 20 secteurs d’activité. Ils ne sont pas non plus autorisés à acheter un logement ou un terrain.

#REPERE – Les #Palestiniens installés au #Liban

Profondément marqués par la guerre, l’Etat et le peuple libanais entretiennent des relations extrêmement compliquées avec les Palestiniens, majoritairement installés dans des camps insalubres où la radicalisation islamiste guette.

lepetitjournal.com
Les relations entre les Palestiniens au Liban et les autorités libanaises sont essentiellement marquées par le rejet de toute possibilité de naturalisation, justifiant ainsi les politiques discriminatoires à leur égard.
(Les enfants des femmes Libaneses qui marrient des Palestiniens ne sont pas admit comme Libanais)

Ce rejet, aujourd’hui d’ordre démographique, trouve ses origines dans deux conflits.

En 1948, le Liban accueille des dizaines de milliers de Palestiniens, contraints à l’exil dans la foulée de la guerre israélo-arabe. Les Palestiniens désignent cet exil par le terme « nakba » (désastre, en arabe).
Pendant la première partie de la guerre civile libanaise, de 1975 à 1982, la résistance palestinienne au Liban sera le bras armé d’une coalition à dominante musulmane qui affrontera une alliance à dominante chrétienne. (Trop simplistic et reductive)

A ce rejet historique, s’ajoute une nouvelle problématique : celle de l’islamisme armé.

En vertu d’un accord tacite, les services de sécurité libanais n’ont pas autorité sur les camps de réfugiés palestiniens. La sécurité y est assurée à minima par les forces politiques palestiniennes traditionnelles.
Mais elles sont de plus en plus débordées par des groupuscules plus radicaux, proches de l’islamisme radical. Dans le camp d’Aïn el-Héloué, le plus grand du Liban, situé à la lisière de Saïda, au Liban-sud, les poussées de fièvre sécuritaires sont fréquentes.

Aujourd’hui, l’afflux de réfugiés syriens au Liban éclaire ce dossier d’une nouvelle lumière.

What cost, this Israel…?

Much had been argued about the creation of Israel and the ensuing 1948 ethnic cleansing of non-Jewish Palestinians.

Most had become a desensitised academic debate. A lifeless abstract portrayal failing to depict what it really meant for one to be a refugee without a country.

On this 68th commemoration of the Nakba (catastrophe), I wanted to show what it meant to one Palestinian refugee.

Tonnie Ch shared a link. 22 hrs ·
middleeastmonitor.com|By Middle East Monitor
Jamal Kanj @jamalkk. May 15, 2016

On May 15, 1948, Zionist Jews danced and firecrackers burst over the streets of New York celebrating the founding of Israel. About the same time, and on the other side of the world, Zionist terrorists’ mortar exploded in the middle of Jebal Al Luz (mountains of almonds) burning homes and forcing civilians to flee their village.

In the middle of the night, Abu Musa carried his physically disabled blind mother on his shoulders. His wife, Um Musa picked up their infant baby Musa and joined a throng of refugees escaping for their lives.

Abu Musa’s family hid in a ditch on the outskirts of their village. The morning sun exposed the scattered refugees hiding in nearby bushes and under trees.

Sorties after sorties, Zionist planes strafed the area pushing the villagers further north towards Lebanon. Under heavy gun fire, panicking civilians ran in all directions.

Abu Musa picked up his newborn son and ran for his life. Um Musa followed in his footsteps. Panting for air an hour later, Abu Musa realised he had left his blind mother behind.

Zionist forces continued to bomb from air and ground. Abu Musa attempted to go back, but all was in vain. The next day and during a lull in the Zionist terrorist bombardment, Abu Musa went looking for his mother. But she was nowhere to be found.

He came across local villagers who returned to check on their properties. They told him they had just buried the remains of what had appeared to be an elderly woman. Her body ripped apart by animals.

“Was my mother eaten alive by wild animals? Or had she been murdered by Zionists?” Those questions haunted Abu Musa all his life. The loss of his country and mother were just the start of his lugubrious life until his death in the mid-1990s.

Abu Musa ended up settling in the same camp as my parents. In addition to baby Musa, he had three more children in the camp, two boys and a girl.

Musa, who had left Palestine as an infant, joined the revolution in the early 1970s and returned to Palestine. He was murdered by the Israeli army and was buried in an unmarked grave. Abu Musa, who did not see his mother’s corpse, was unable to see or bury his eldest son either.

A short time after losing Musa, Abu Musa became disabled. I made it a point to call on him whenever I visited the camp. It broke my heart during the last visit before his death as I watched him crawling out of the bathroom like a little baby. I knelt down and kissed him; he kissed me back and then asked, “Who are you, my son?”

Calamity was a continuum to this one refugee.

In the early 1990s, his youngest son Kamal was murdered while he was on his way to school in Tripoli, Lebanon. He was butchered in the year he would have graduated from high school.

For Israel, Abu Musa and the other Palestinian refugees like my parents were dispensable nuisances.

In a 1948 foreign ministry study, Israel predicted the refugees “… will waste away. Some will die but most will turn into human debris and social outcasts … in the Arab countries.”

To Israel’s chagrin, the grandchildren from Abu Musa’s surviving son and daughter did not turn to “human debris.”

Sixty-eight years later, Abu Musa’s progenies are more determined to find and bury their great-grandmother’s remains, in their original village

The term Nakba “not found” today on CNN The New York Times Washington Post BBC News ‪#‎NakbaDay‬

Habib Battah's photo.
Habib Battah's photo.

Mr Kanj (www.jamalkanj.com) writes regular newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues.

He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.

Zeinoun Naboulsi with Khodor Salameh and 39 others. May 16, 2011 ·

We are returning to Palestine

عائد إلى فلسطين…

Zeinoun Naboulsi's photo.
 

Israeli Jews can help plan for Palestinian return

This May 12, Palestinians in Israel are paying visits to towns that Israel has expropriated since 1948 and posting the original names of the towns.

The Nakba has entered the mainstream Israeli discourse in recent years in ways that were unthinkable in the past. A large majority of Jews in Israel know it is a word in Arabic connected to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has a negative connotation, shows a public opinion poll to be published soon by De-Colonizer, a research and art laboratory for social change, that provides materials and tools to expose and challenge the colonialist nature of the Israeli regime.

In response to that public recognition we have seen a dramatic shift on the part of the Israeli government and right-wing group Im Tirtzu. The “Nakba Law,” which passed in 2011, is aimed at preventing the study and commemoration of the Nakba.

At the same time, Im Tirtzu launched a major campaign encouraging Nakba denial. And yet, despite the burgeoning awareness of the Nakba, most Israelis do not know what it actually is.

Andrew Bossone shared a link.. 19 hrs ·
Perhaps the most important area in which Jewish Israelis can be active regarding…
972mag.com|By +972 Magazine

Even fewer Israelis recognize that Israel has any kind of responsibility for turning most Palestinians into refugees and destroying most of their towns and villages in 1948 in order to establish the Jewish state.

Among those who understand the importance of Israeli recognition of the Nakba, a minority supports recognition of the right of return (Hak al-Awda in Arabic) of Palestinian refugees as determined in international law and specifically in UN Resolution 194 from December 11, 1948.

Since Israel’s establishment, the bitter debate over the right of return has been dichotomous: Zionists are against and the anti-Zionist are for. It seems to be a dispute between two sides that aren’t engaging in any constructive dialogue.

Obviously this is not a dispute restricted to legal terms, but one whose basis is the Jewish state, a state that uses legal mechanisms to maintain a Jewish majority and in which only Jews can be full citizens.

In order to move past this and achieve a real discourse on the matter, in order to promote the right of return, we should focus more on practical return and less on a theoretical right.

In addition to studying and recognizing the Nakba, it is necessary to start planning the actual return itself.

Planning for the return of Palestinian refugees is based on two fundamental principles:

1.  nobody should be uprooted from their home; and

2. every refugee and their offspring should have the freedom to choose whether to physically return or opt for some sort of reparations.

The Israeli non-profit Zochrot began an initiative in this spirit 10 years ago. Several texts have been written by Israelis and Palestinian on the subject, exhibits and conferences were held which presented return plans, Palestinian refugee communities began planning their return and some have already returned to the villages of Iqrit and Bir’im within the framework of a project that has been going on for over a year.

It is not surprising that Palestinians are engaged in efforts to advance return, but Jews engaged with the matter are few and far between.

The last text we are aware of written by Jewish Israelis was part of a project by the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI).

In 2014, Noa Levy led a working group that formulated a document addressing the policy of immigration and return of refugees. Nothing else has been done in recent years by Jewish Israelis on planning the ‘Awda.

Why is it important for Jewish Israelis to participate in planning the return of Palestinian refugees?

  1. Because Israelis are (the descendants of) those who expelled Palestinians, so they should do what they can to help refugees return, which includes helping plan the return itself
  2. Because they benefit from the uprooting of Palestinians, which makes them responsible for correcting the situation and not just taking part as passive supporters.
  3. Because the uprooting of Palestinians is part of the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict from which they also suffer. Helping refugees return also helps end the conflict.
  4. Because planning the Awda will teach Israelis about the Nakba.
  5. Because planning the return will prepare Israelis for coexistence with Palestinians – not the empty slogan of the Zionist Left but a shared existence under terms of full equality, including immigration laws. Planning the return of Palestinian refugees is the most radical step one can take to counter the Zionist policies that have trained us to remain separate.
  6. Because when Israelis are involved in planning the return, it has an impact on the Israeli public. There is nothing out of the ordinary about Palestinians planning for return, but if Israelis are involved it draws attention as unique and subversive.
  7. If Israelis are involved in the plan of return, it has more chances of becoming accepted by more Israelis.
  8. Because the return of refugees is in the interest of everyone who lives here – not just Palestinians. Palestinians need to lead the initiative but Israelis who live here must be allies in designing a post-Zionist shared way of life.

So what is the role of Israelis who support the right of Palestinian return?

Israelis should not be involved in the planning of a re-built Palestinian community. The Palestinian group should do that in a safe space. Questions about the composition of the town, style of construction, location of shared spaces, etc, should be address by the future residents.

Interference by Israelis is paternalistic and can only be done with express request by the relevant Palestinians.

However, Israelis should respond to ideas about the Palestinian return. Criticism can always be constructive when it comes from a place of support.

There are also obligations.

Everything beyond internal planning has consequences for everyone who lives here and obviously Israelis have an interest in the matter. Construction of a new town cannot be detached from its surroundings.

If it is an existing town that will be expanded in order to absorb refugees that wish to return, this also has an environmental impact that affects Israelis as well, which is why they should be partners in planning.

For example, if 50,000 refugees chose to return to the city of Nazareth, this will have an impact on the Jews that lives in the area.

Maybe the most important area in which Israelis should be active regarding return is preparing the Israeli public for that eventuality. They should organize activities, for example, conducting a survey or focus groups and discussions ahead of the return, where they examine Israeli positions on return and on its aftermath. Such activities will prepare Israelis for the dramatic shift. It is also vital to address Israeli fears on this matter.

Another option is to present Israelis with Palestinian positions on return.

This is important since Israelis are usually exposed to the issue by people who do not support return; “experts” in media or academia. They present a picture in which the Palestinians who return pose demographic and security risks, endanger democracy, etc.

Israelis who support return have an important role to play in presenting a different, more balanced narrative — not to present an idyllic picture of how things will be after return, but to offer ways of coping with the fears that prevent any movement on this matter.

Planning the return of Palestinian refugees is an act of utopian politics that encourages thinking about what is possible, beyond the current agenda. It gives hope at a time when it feels like we at a dead end.

Eitan Bronstein Aparicio is the co-founder of De-Colonizer, a research and art laboratory for social change that provides materials and tools to expose and challenge the colonialist nature of the Israeli regime. The organization is holding an event, ‘Should Israelis plan the ‘Awda,’ on May 11 in Tel Aviv. View the event here.

Note: Planning now for the return will shorten the negotiations when another war takes place and the world community is ready to start serious implementation of the UN resolution 194 for the right of return of the Palestinians.

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About time for Palestinian liberation: Statement by over 1,000 Black activists

The actual distance between Ferguson, Missouri, and Gaza is about 6,000 miles. But last summer, the repressive and deadly violence visited upon blacks and Palestinians, respectively, made that distance seem to disappear.

Immediately, lines of solidarity began to emerge between those groups, and in August a set of activists and organizations in Palestine issued this statement:

We the undersigned Palestinian individuals and groups express our solidarity with the family of Michael Brown, a young unarmed black man gunned down by police on August 9th in Ferguson, Missouri. We wish to express our support and solidarity with the people of Ferguson who have taken their struggle to the street, facing a militarized police occupation.

From all factions and sectors of our dislocated society, we send you our commitment to stand with you in your hour of pain and time of struggle against the oppression that continues to target our black brothers and sisters in nearly every aspect of their lives.

We understand your moral outrage. We empathize with your hurt and anger. We understand the impulse to rebel against the infrastructure of a racist capitalist system that systematically pushes you to the margins of humanity.

And we stand with you.

At the same time, I wrote an article in Salon that spelled out the similarities between the forms of oppression both groups live under, including dispossession from lands and homes; de facto forms of inequality; state violence; the constant interruption of daily life; and the ways the perpetrators of such violence are often immune from prosecution.

Nevertheless, such comparisons were criticized by some here in the U.S., and acts of solidarity were sometimes regarded with suspicion:

In what ways might solidarity with Palestinians be harmful to black political projects here?

Individual activists such as Angela Davis and Cornel West addressed that issue and spoke out on the need for black solidarity with the Palestinians.

As West put it:

In terms of the various kinds of Zionist critiques, we make it clear that this has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with anti-Jewish hatred or anti-Jewish prejudice.

This has to do with a moral and spiritual and political critique of occupation.

Secondly, there is no doubt that Gaza is not just a “kind of” concentration camp, it is the hood on steroids. Now in the black community, located within the American empire, you do have forms of domination and subordination, forms of police surveillance and so forth, so that we are not making claims of identity, we are making claims of forms of domination that must be connected.

There is no doubt that for the Ferguson moment in America and the anti-occupation moment in the Israel-Palestinian struggle there is a very important connection to make and I think we should continue to make it.

But until today there has not been a mass statement of support from black activists and groups to echo the one issued by Palestinians last year.

Now, in a historical event, well over 1,000 black activists, artists, scholars, students and organizations have released a comprehensive, carefully crafted and passionately intoned statement reaffirming their “solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and commitment to the liberation of Palestine’s land and people,” and supporting “freedom and equality for Palestinian people.”

In this sweeping and momentous document, the signatories make a point of drawing out the historical connections between the issues of black and Palestinian freedom and rights, and the urgency of their present-day struggles, calling the fight for Palestinian liberation “a key matter of our time”:

On the anniversary of last summer’s Gaza massacre, in the 48th year of Israeli occupation, the 67th year of Palestinians’ ongoing Nakba (the Arabic word for Israel’s ethnic cleansing)—and in the fourth century of Black oppression in the present-day United States—we, the undersigned Black activists, artists, scholars, writers, and political prisoners offer this letter of reaffirmed solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and commitment to the liberation of Palestine’s land and people.

The list of signatories includes scholar-activists Angela Davis and Cornel West, political prisoners Mumia Abu-Jamal and Sundiata Acoli, rappers Talib Kweli, Boots Riley and Jasiri X, and Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors. Organizational signers include the Florida-based Dream Defenders and St. Louis-based Hands Up United and Tribe X, which were founded after the killings of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown, respectively, as well as the 35-year-old Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis.

The statement calls on the U.S. government to end diplomatic and economic aid to Israel, for black and U.S. institutions to support the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with its obligations under international law, and for supporters of black and Palestinian liberation to target the private security company G4S for boycotts and divestment, as well as other companies doing business in the occupied territories.

Besides endorsing both academic and cultural boycotts (which in the U.S. is facilitated by the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel), as well as divestment and sanctions, the statement makes emphatically clear the signatories’ commitment to the three goals of BDS and especially addresses the issue of Palestinian refugees:

Our support extends to those living under occupation and siege, Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the 7 million Palestinian refugees exiled in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. The refugees’ right to return to their homeland in present-day Israel is the most important aspect of justice for Palestinians.

Andrew Bossone shared the link

“In terms of the various kinds of Zionist critiques, we make it clear that this has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with anti-Jewish hatred or anti-Jewish prejudice.

This has to do with a moral and spiritual and political critique of occupation. Secondly, there is no doubt that Gaza is not just a “kind of” concentration camp, it is the hood on steroids.

Now in the black community, located within the American empire, you do have forms of domination and subordination, forms of police surveillance and so forth, so that we are not making claims of identity, we are making claims of forms of domination that must be connected….

There is no doubt that for the Ferguson moment in America and the anti-occupation moment in the Israel-Palestinian struggle there is a very important connection to make and I think we should continue to make it.”

More than 1,000 black activists released a statement reaffirming their “solidarity with the Palestinian struggle”
salon.com|By David Palumbo-Liu

This Long Journey to refugee-hood status:

Chronology of Palestinian Displacement and Dispossession

Andrew Bossone shared UNRWA‘s album on the Palestinian transfer in 1948 Nakba .
'‎Between 1920 and 1948, the area of historic Palestine is ruled by the British government as part of the League of Nations mandate system. On 29 November 1947, the Second Session of the United Nations General Assembly approves the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states by 33 votes to 13, with 10 abstentions and one absent. The Arab leadership (within and outside of Palestine) opposes the plan, arguing that it violated the rights of the majority of the people of Palestine.<br /><br /><br /><br />
© 1949 UN Archives Photographer Unknown</p><br /><br /><br />
<p>كانت فلسطين التاريخية خلال الفترة الواقعة بين 1920 وحتى 1948 محكومة من قبل الحكومة البريطانية كجزء من نظام الوصاية لعصبة الأأمم المتحدة. وفي 29 تشرين الثاني 1947, قامت الجلسة الثانية للجمعية العامة للأمم المتحدة بالموافقة على تقسيم فلسطين إلى دولة يهودية وأخرى عربية وذلك بواقع 33 صوتا مقابل 13 صوت وامتناع 10 أصوات وغياب صوت واحد. وقامت القيادات العربية (داخل فلسطين وخارجها) بالاعتراض على الخطة وجادلت بأنها تنتهك حقوق الأغلبية من سكان فلسطين.الحقوق محفوظة لأرشيف الأونروا. المصور غير معروف، 1949.‎'
'‎Due to the increasing violence that followed the failure of the partition plan and the end of the British Mandate in Palestine, more than 700,000 thousand Palestinians flee their land that was to become Israel on 15 May 1948. The flight becomes known as the Nakba, meaning catastrophe in Arabic. In this photograph, a convoy of trucks carries refugees and their belongings from Gaza to Hebron in the West Bank.<br /><br /><br /><br />
© 1949 UN Archives Photographer Unknown</p><br /><br /><br />
<p>بسبب العنف المتزايد الذي أعقب فشل خطة التقسيم وانتهاء الانتداب البريطاني في فلسطين، هرب أكثر من 700,000 فلسطيني من أراضيهم التي أصبحت أرض إسرائيل في 15 أيار 1948. وقد أصبحت تلك الهجرة تعرف باسم (النكبة). وفي هذه الصورة تبدو قافلة من الشاحنات وهي تنقل اللاجئين وأمتعتهم من غزة إلى الخليل في الضفة الغربية.الحقوق محفوظة لأرشيف الأونروا. المصور غير معروف، 1949.‎'
'‎Palestinians begin fleeing in late 1947, but the bulk leave or are driven from their homes between April and August 1948. By the autumn of 1948, a humanitarian disaster of immense proportions has taken shape, with more than 700,000 people in flight.<br /><br /><br /><br />
© 1948 UN Archives Photographer Unknown</p><br /><br /><br />
<p>بدأ الفلسطينيون بالفرار في أواخر العام 1947، إلا أن الغالبية منهم غادروا أو تم إجبارهم على مغادرة منازلهم بين نيسان وحتى آب من عام 1948. وبحلول خريف العام 1948، كانت قد بدأت ملامح كارثة إنسانية ذات أبعاد هائلة بالتشكل بوجود أكثر من 700,000 شخص هارب.الحقوق محفوظة لأرشيف الأونروا. المصور غير معروف، 1948.‎'
'‎The lives of Palestine refugees are turned upside down; they are faced with disease, overcrowding, lack of food and water and life in unfamiliar places. Many are left with only what they can carry on their backs; they lose homes, land, family, their whole lives.<br /><br /><br /><br />
© 1948 UN Archives Photographer Unknown</p><br /><br /><br />
<p>انقلبت حياة لاجئي فلسطين رأسا على عقب، وواجهوا الأمراض ونقص الغذاء والماء واختبروا العيش في أماكن غير مألوفة ومكتظة. والعديدون منهم كانوا قد تركوا بيوتهم ولم يحملوا سوى ما كان باستطاعتهم حمله على ظهورهم، وفقدوا بيوتهم ومزارعهم وعائلاتهم وحياتهم بأكملها.الحقوق محفوظة لأرشيف الأونروا. المصور غير معروف، 1948.‎'
UNRWA added 25 new photos to the album: ‎الرحلة الطويلة | The Long Journey‎.

A Chronology of Palestinian Displacement and Dispossession

With their initial catastrophic displacement in 1948, Palestine refugees became – and remain to this day – a scattered people awaiting a just solution.

Since UNRWA began operations in 1950, photographers have documented every step of their long journey.

This selection is a chronology of dispossession; it tells the story of one of the longest lasting cases of forced migration in modern history.

© UNRWA Photos

This video demonstrates how Israel practised blackmailing procedure to be recognized as a State, by a single vote, in 1948.

Israël a été créé grâce à la corruption et au chantage à l’ONU

Voici une vidéo retraçant le vote à l’ONU de la création d’Israël en 1948, pendant lequel tous les moyens ont été engagés pour corrompre et menacer les nations qui ne voulaient pas voter en faveur de cet État.

NB : veuillez nous pardonner de la piètre qualité sonore de la video

 

 

 

A Brief History of Gaza

In its most recent assault on the defenseless population of Gaza, Israel is claiming to be “defending itself”, a preposterous claim parroted by the ever-so-subservient White House and Congress.

To anyone with even a shred of knowledge of the facts, it seems outlandish that anyone would believe this absurd Orwellian language that turns oppressor and occupier into victim and victim into aggressor.

So let’s review briefly Gaza’s history and put things in perspective

Even in November 19, 2012 (second preemptive war on Gaza),  the Israeli Jew ahadhaadam wrote (ahadhaadam at yahoo dot com).

I grew up in Israel and served as an IDF officer. It took me years to realize that we had been brought up on lies, myths and propaganda and that Palestinians are no different from native Americans, blacks in S. Africa and other indigenous populations who were abused and dispossessed by European colonialism.

Demolishing the Zionist myths and propaganda is the first step towards de-constructing the exclusionary colonial state and achieving historic justice and lasting peace.

Who are the people in Gaza?

 And who are the real bad guys?

Most Israelis are not aware that most Gazan Palestinians are refugees from what is now Israel, created during the 1947-1949 ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Zionist forces.

The Zionists – fresh colonial immigrants from Europe to Palestine under British colonial rule – aimed to create a “Jewish state” on a land populated by an overwhelming majority of non-Jews (Muslim and Christian Palestinians). They achieved this through violent expulsion in what is known as the Nakba (Palestinian catastrophe).

Gaza is the small strip of land into which a large number of refugees from historic Palestine were herded.

Thus most Gazans have land and property deeds which have been confiscated from them by the newly established Zionist state and were prevented from returning to their homes for the only reason of not being Jewish.

To this flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention, Israel added by shooting thousands of unarmed refugees who attempted to return to their homes (the Palestinians were then as they are now – a defenseless, mostly rural society without an army or a state). It later razed to the ground hundreds of Palestinian villages and wiped them off the map with the intent purpose of erasing the history and the people of Palestine.

The ethnic cleansing of Palestine created a surreal situation where the newly established Zionist state claims to be “defending itself” from the people it just dispossessed – a situation that continues to this day (imagine someone one day showing up at your door step, then forcing you out of your house where you and your family have been living for countless generations, and then when you try to reclaim it, convinces himself and others that he is a victim of your “irrational aggression”).

And indeed, hundreds of thousands of Israelis live in houses that were confiscated from their legal owners who are now destitute stateless refugees languishing in refugee camps only a few miles away, while the refugees are being vilified for trying to reclaim what’s legally theirs.

Adding insult to injury, in 1967 Israel conquered the Gaza strip and then overnight the refugees came under the rule of the same state that had dispossessed them 19 years earlier. A happy reunion of the people and their land? Not so much.

Then began a chapter known as Israel’s permanent “occupation” –

A brutal regime of military repression and colonization in which Palestinians have no basic human rights, are allowed to work only as day laborers on their former land in menial jobs, and are subject to permanent military occupation where 6000 Jewish settlers planted by force in their midst by the Israeli colonial state are allocated 30% of the land of tiny Gaza and 70% of its scarce water resources.

Israel creates a system of Apartheid, in effect to this day: one civilian law for Jewish settlers and another harsh military law and courts for Palestinians who sometimes live only a few hundred yards away.

In 2005, after having tortured (I know, I heard the screams of tortured Palestinians in the interrogation rooms of Israel’s notorious security services) and killed thousands of Gazans and leaving scorched earth behind, Israel decided that the cost of maintaining 8000 Jewish settlers in a handful of colonies was too high and decided to “disengage”, removing the settlers and soldiers from within Gaza but at the same time turning it into a giant ghetto, surrounded by walls and remote controlled machine gun turrets, a 300 yard death zone within the fence and a “warden” who even monitors the calorie intake for the 1.5 million inmates. “We put them on a diet” joked one of Israel’s top political advisors.

Once again, a permanent siege on a civilian population with scarce resources with an average income of $1/day, that prevents imports and exports. The entire world watches on and stays indifferent as humans locked in a giant ghetto resort to digging tunnels in order to smuggle food and basic necessities.

The bottom line:

Israel expects Gazans to accept their fate and live peacefully behind walls and barbed wire, without an economy, future or slight hope for returning to their original land and homes, while the warden liquidates people as he pleases and shoots anybody who approaches the fence and continues his colonization drive in the West Bank.

As the horrors of the Jewish State start leaking into the world’s consciousness, Israel has embarked on a massive propaganda campaign to blame Hamas for Gaza’s misery, with the Western press generally going along for the ride, as it usually does when it comes to Israel.

But of course, such propaganda that takes advantage of the ignorance of the general public easily crumbles by pointing out two stark facts: the colonization, torture, apartheid and military oppression lasted for 4 decades before Hamas came to power and in fact long before Hamas existed. In addition, the Zionist propagandists ignore the fact that in the West Bank the “moderate” Abbas is in charge, where he vehemently fights terror, jails Hamas activists and obeys every order he receives from Israel’s military echelon.

Did Abbas get a state? No.

Did Israel stop its apartheid, military occupation or colonization of the West Bank? No.

In fact it has been accelerating them. This just proves that Israel, the colonial apartheid state keeps doing what it’s been doing, i.e. ethnic cleansing, colonization, oppression and apartheid, regardless of who represents the Palestinians or what they do.

Israel is the embodiment of the Zionist ideology which aimed to create a “lebensraum” for Jews in Palestine on the expense of the Palestinians, something which has been done continuously since Israel’s establishment and has not stopped for one day ever since.

The Key represent the Palestinian symbol for returning home.

 

Photographs of Palestinians and Palestine before first Jewish settlement in 1920

Images of Palestinians being all Palestinian, doing Palestinian things and wearing Palestinian clothing in a ‘land without a people for a people without a land’? 

Do you know that the first Jewish settlement was established in 1920 by a Rothschild and the Jews were brought from East Europe to work the plantation as slaves  and in abject conditions?

Or as the people who lived there liked to call it before being displaced and occupied: Palestine.

31 Unbelievable Photographs Israel Doesn’t Want You To See!

August 10, 2014

1. BEDOUIN WOMAN

Bedouin Woman

2. WOMEN FROM NAZARETH

Women from Nazareth

3. RAMALLAH FATHER AND SONS

Ramallah Father and Sons

4. RAMALLAH WOMAN

Ramallah Woman

5. JAFFA WOMAN, 1889

Jaffa Woman, 1889

6. BETHLEHEM GIRL

Bethlehem Girl

7. BETHLEHEM WOMAN

Bethlehem Woman

8. BETHLEHEM WOMEN

Bethlehem Women

9. BETHLEHEM SISTERS

Bethlehem Sisters

10. BETHLEHEM WOMAN

Bethlehem Woman

11. JERUSALEM MAN

Jerusalem Man

12. GAZAN MEN

Gazan Men

Yes, it says “Natives of Gaza, Palestine”.

13. RAMALLAH WOMAN

Ramallah Woman

14. RAMALLAH FAMILY

Ramallah Family

15. RAMALLAH WOMAN

Ramallah Woman

16. BEERSHEBA BEDOUIN

Beersheba Bedouin

17. WOMAN & CHILD FLEEING PALESTINE DURING THE NAKBA

Woman & Child fleeing Palestine during the Nakba

1948

18. 100 YEAR OLD MAN

100 Year Old Man

19. BETHLEHEM WOMAN, 1940

Bethlehem Woman, 1940

20. JERUSALEM

Jerusalem

21. DEMONSTRATION AGAINST ZIONIST COLONIZATION/BRITISH RULE, 1920

Demonstration against Zionist colonization/British rule, 1920

22. DOME OF THE ROCK, JERUSALEM

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

23. SEA OF GALILEE FISHERMAN, 1930S

Sea of Galilee Fisherman, 1930s

24. EARLY 1900S DEMONSTRATION IN JAFFA

Early 1900s Demonstration in Jaffa

25. JERUSALEM BETWEEN 1898 AND 1914

Jerusalem between 1898 and 1914

26. JERUSALEM

Jerusalem

27. JERUSALEM GRAIN MARKET

Jerusalem Grain Market

28. NABLUS

Nablus

29. BETHLEHEM

Bethlehem

30. THE GREEK PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM, 1940

The Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, 1940

31. JERUSALEM POTTER, 1934

Jerusalem Potter, 1934

Via buzzfeed

WATCH: PALESTINE IN 1896

To everyone their opinion: Pay close attention to “demonstrating opinions”

Israel will degenerate into Sparta, and American Jews will need to back away

To everyone their opinion.

The fact of the matter remains that tens of thousands formed an opinion today against the atrocities that Israel is committing in Gaza.

These were global, not Muslim opinions as I have witnessed today and as another commentator has stated below.

The fact of the matter remains that no matter how terrorist Hamas (or ISIS, if you want to dump them in the same category) is, this does not justify the killing of hundreds of civilian lives by the IDF.

We all followed how the Lebanese Armed Forces removed ISIS militants from town of Arsal (by the Syrian border) without sacrificing the life of any Arsal residents.

Yes battles are different, but today, many people saw no justification for the killing of innocent Gazans, and therefore they protested.

WWW.TIMESOFISRAEL.COM

Hanna Arendt:

Born in conflict, Israel will degenerate into Sparta, and American Jews will need to back away

Hannah Arendt
Hannah Arendt

For the new year, here are some prophetic excerpts from two essays of Hannah Arendt’s, collected in The Jewish Writings (2007).

Note her predictions of the Nakba (Palestinians killed and transferred from their homes and villages in 1948), of unending conflict, of Zionist dependence on the American Jewish community, of ultimate conflict with that American Jewish community, and the contribution of political Zionism to world anti-semitism.

Just what Howard Gutman said recently.

For which he was denounced by– Zionists.

Zionism Reconsidered, 1944:

Nationalism is bad enough when it trusts in nothing but the rude force of the nation. A nationalism that necessarily and admittedly depends upon the force of a foreign nation is certainly worse.

This is the threatened state of Jewish nationalism and of the proposed Jewish state, surrounded inevitably by Arab states and Arab people. Even a Jewish majority in Palestine–nay even a transfer of all Palestine’s Arabs, which is openly demanded by the revisionists–would not substantially change a situation in which Jews must either ask protection from an outside power against their neighbors or come to a working agreement with their neighbors…

[T]he Zionists, if they continue to ignore the Mediterranean people and watch out only for the big faraway powers, will appear only as their tools, the agents of foreign and hostile interests.

Jews who know their own history should be aware that such a state of affairs will inevitably lead to a new wave of Jew-hatred; the antisemitism of tomorrow will assert that Jews not only profiteered from the presence of foreign big powers in that region but had actually plotted it and hence are guilty of the consequences…

[T]he sole new piece of historical philosophy which the Zionists contributed out of their own new experiences [was] “A nation is a group of people…  held together by a common enemy” (Herzl)–an absurd doctrine…

To such [political] independence, it was believed, the Jewish nation could arrive under the protecting wings of any great power strong enough to shelter its growth…. the Zionists ended by making the Jewish national emancipation entirely dependent upon the material intersts of another nation.

The actual result was a return of the new movement to the traditional methods of shtadlonus [court Jews], which the Zionists once had so bitterly despised and violently denounced.

Now Zionists too knew no better place politically than the lobbies of the powerful, and no sounder basis for agreements than their good services as agents of foreign interests…

[O]nly folly could dictate a policy which trusts a distant imperial power for protection, while alienating the goodwill of neighbors. What then, one is prompted to ask, will be the future policy of Zionism with respect to big powers, and what program will Zionists have to offer for a solution of the Arab-Jewish conflict?…

If a Jewish commonwealth is obtained in the near future–with or without partition–it will be due to the political influence of American Jews….

But if the Jewish commonwealth is proclaimed against the will of the Arabs and without the support of the Mediterranean peoples, not only financial help but political support will be necessary for a long time to come.

And that may turn out to be very troublesome indeed for Jews in this country [the U.S.], who after all have no power to direct the political destinies of the Near East.

It may eventually be far more of a responsibility than today they imagine or tomorrow can make good.

To Save the Jewish Homeland, 1948 [on the occasion of war in Palestine]

And even if the Jews were to win the war, its end would find the unique possibilities and the unique achievements of Zionism in Palestine destroyed.

The land that would come into being would be something quite other than the dream of world Jewry, Zionist and non-Zionist.

The ‘victorious’ Jews would live surrounded by an entirely hostile Arab population, secluded into ever-threatened borders, absorbed with physical self-defense to a degree that would submerge all other interests and activities.

The growth of a Jewish culture would cease to be the concern of the whole people; social experiments would have to be discarded as impractical luxuries; political thought would center around military strategy….

And all this would be the fate of a nation that — no matter how many immigrants it could still absorb and how far it extended its boundaries (the whole of Palestine and Transjordan is the insane Revisionist demand)–would still remain a very small people greatly outnumbered by hostile neighbors.

Under such circumstances… the Palestinian Jews would degenerate into one of those small warrior tribes about whose possibilities and importance history has amply informed us since the days of Sparta.

Their relations with world Jewry would become problematical, since their defense interests might clash at any moment with those of other countries where large number of Jews lived.

Palestine Jewry would eventually separate itself from the larger body of world Jewry and in its isolation develop into an entirely new people.

Thus it becomes plain that at this moment and under present circumstances a Jewish state can only be erected at the price of the Jewish homeland…

One grim addendum.

In the heyday of the special relationship between the US and Israel, American Jewry felt itself to be one with the Israeli people. We Are One! declared Melvin Urofsky’s book of 1978.

That unity is today being dissolved. The haredi-secular conflict in Israel that is getting so much attention here is one means of that dissolution.

And the aim, unconsciously, may be a desire by American Jews to distance themselves from Israeli Jews so that when the Arab Spring at last brings a democratic movement to Israel and Palestine, and bloody conflict ensues, and the Israeli gov’t is cast as the bad guys, American Jews are emotionally prepared to regard the bloodshed as inevitable and not their problem.

After writing, “Eichmann in Jerusalem,” Arendt report of the Eichmann trial in which she suggested that had not the Judenrat, the Jewish councils appointed by the Nazis in occupied Europe, collaborated with the Nazis in their round-up of Jews to be sent off to the death camps to the point of providing them with lists, collecting valuables, and policing Jews who were non-cooperative, the number of Jews murdered by the Nazis would have greatly reduced, she became a non-person in the Jewish world.

It was not until the past few years that she was resurrected to the degree that her name could even be mentioned in the Jewish press, albeit usually critically.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

“We’re exhausted from being homeless”: Nakba consequences

“We walked and walked and walked for days until we finally settled on the beach of Damour,” said 80-year-old Um Zohair. “On the beach we fetched green banana leaves together and with bamboo sticks we made a hut that sheltered us for three months on the sand.”

Sixty-six years ago, Um Zohair — Nada Mousa — was one of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians ethnically cleansed from their homeland, Palestine.

Moe Ali Nayel posted on The Electronic Intifada from Beirut this May 15, 2014

“We’re exhausted from being homeless”: recalling the Palestinians’ plight on Nakba Day

140515-shatila-camp.jpg

Scene of overcrowded refugee camp with cement buildings and lots of electricity wires

Shatila refugee camp in Beirut. (Yann Renoult / Wostok Press)

That was the first time we were displaced,” Um Zohair said.

Since the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, a series of upheavals and struggles has marked Palestinian refugees’nomadic life in exile. A new chapter in this history of dispossession has been added by the violence against Palestinian refugees in Syria.

“Palestinians from Syria are living in sewers. Come and look,” Um Zohair told me.

Recently while I was on a visit to Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, I was told about Um Zohair’s family and the conditions they endure.

Abedlrahman, a young Palestinian refugee from Syria, led the way. At an alley’s dead end, we needed to leap over the reeking water to get into the entrance of a murky dungeon.

Once inside, it seemed like we had crossed into an invisible parallel world — except that the sewer’s stench stang the nostrils as a reminder of the dark reality surrounding us.

A dim, windowless subterranean room, once an underground bomb shelter in the 1980s “War of the Camps” (Against the onslaught of the Amal militias of Nabih Berry?) — and later a storage room — is now home to 8 members of a fragmented family.

Inside sat an old woman surrounded by 4 smiling faces and a fifth whose permanent scowl was hard to break: arms crossed, 14-year-old Mahmoud sat on the edge of a decomposing sofa.

Daily struggle

Um Zohair’s daughter-in-law and grandchildren have fled to Lebanon without their breadwinners, their exact whereabouts in Syria remain unknown.

As Um Zohair watched over her grandchildren, their mother, Um Mahmoud, left her five children (Ahmad, 10; Issa, 8; Haytham, 6; Mahmoud, 14; and Huda, 15) and went around Shatila refugee camp, hunting and gathering, looking for any menial job she could score in exchange for money or food.

The mother’s daily struggle to put food on the table is but one part of the bigger burdens of finding $200 to pay for Lebanese residency permits for each of the four family members who are over the age of ten. As if the Lebanese residency fees weren’t hard enough to find, she also has to come up with rent money for the dungeon that shelters them: $200 per month.

Six-year-old Haitham has stopped going to school because of a new-found intolerance for loud noises and overcrowded places. The eldest boy, Mahmoud, said: “I wish I could find a job; I’ll take any job so my mother won’t have to go out every morning and beg people in humiliation for money and food.”

Mahmoud pressed his lips, his frown tensed to prevent tears from gathering, and hissed, “I cannot find a job in the camp, and I’m afraid to venture outside Shatila. We don’t have residency permits. I do not want the police to catch me. I swear I’ll work at anything.”

The three meter by four meter storage room Um Zohair and her grandchildren rent comes with a faucet and a bucket hanging from it, functioning as a kitchen sink. In the corner opposite the kitchen is the toilet: a caved-in drain in the floor enclosed by a curtain made from a vintage bedsheet. The black hole in the room, a drain/toilet, continuously emits unpleasant smells.

The floor, never having seen tiles, is a clammy, uneven bumpy surface of olive green cement. The beds are but two sponge mattresses no more than five centimeters thick. When there is food to cook, Um Zohair and her daughter-in-law use a little camping stove donated by a sympathetic neighbor.

Failed promise

In 1917, Arthur James Balfour, then Britain’s foreign secretary, proclaimed that nothing should be done to prejudice the civil and religious rights of the non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine. Almost one hundred years later, Zionist settlers continue to degrade the identity, history and wellbeing of the original inhabitants of Palestine.

This failed promise that nothing should be done to prejudice Palestinians’ rights has today developed into what can be safely called apartheid.

Um Zohair, like many Palestinians, is more accustomed to displacement than any human being should be. One year ago she and her family fled war-ravaged Syria. Their last home was in a Palestinian refugee camp near the Damascus international airport.

Um Zohair, who seems to suffer from numerous health problems, held her cane in one hand and rummaged through a plastic bag full of medicine in the other.

When asked about Palestine she jerked her head high and her eyes sparked as she reminisced. “I am from Safed, Palestine; my village and place of birth is called al-Qatiyya. Do you know it? It is right next to Naameh. I was 13, a young girl, when we were attacked, our house burned and later forced to leave by the Haganah [a Zionist militia].

“That day is always in my memory. I remember, before the assault, elders in the village kept warning us about the Haganah gang who were coming to attack us. My father said those were rumors and we should not leave our land and house. Rumors kept increasing about the arrival of European Jews to attack our village and take our homes; this prompted some people to leave, but we stayed.”

Um Zohair went silent for a minute and looked again in her medication bag. Then, as if the memory of her hometown came back to her, she resumed talking.

“Long walk to Lebanon”

“That morning they broke into houses and forced everyone out to the streets. The Israeli Haganah soldiers started shouting for us to go out and gather in the village’s square. I remember our neighbors, they were Jews, those were our friends and we coexisted for as long as I remembered.

“It was not they, our neighbors, who attacked us; it was the nationalist Israelis, the Europeans. They pointed their guns at men who were in the village and led them to the village’s outskirts. My father was taken with two of my uncles and we never saw them again afterwards. Our Jewish neighbors came to our defense at first and I remember clearly how they shouted in Hebrew at the Israeli militants.

“However, our neighbors could not stop the Israeli militants as they started to burn down one house after another in the village. I don’t remember what happened after that but I remember my mother, my two sisters and I, together with other families, stayed put in the village’s square for two days until the European militants came again and forced us to leave. They started shouting, asking why we were still in the village, and ordered us to join the others who fled their villages from the Safed region. We fled and started the long walk towards Lebanon.”

Um Zohair can still remember her home where she was born and raised in al-Qatiyya. She recalled the serenity and simple life she took for granted at the age of 13 in her family’s stone house and her father’s wheat field.

She wished for her grandchildren to return to al-Qatiyya and have a chance to live with dignity.

“Palestinians are there for each other. Those around us in Shatila know about our plight; they too are not in a much better situation but they still share with us the food they cook. Palestinians are exhausted from being homeless for so long.

“In Syria, my sons used to work from morning until night at a brick factory. I had four boys and two girls; one of my girls was killed last year by shrapnel.

“My other daughter is still in Syria; they cannot afford to flee. Two of my four boys have been missing since last year; one of them is the father of these kids with me. Each night as the eight of us gather to sleep we hope that this will be the last night on the floor of this room.”

Being ethnically cleansed means that Palestinian refugees are estranged from their homeland. They move from one place to another, never feeling at home.

Palestine, their homeland, is still occupied and their internationally-recognized right of return is continually denied and violated by Israel.

The urgency and determination to return to Palestine was broadcast to the whole world during the attempt to return while commemorating the Nakba three years ago on 15 May 2011.

Then, more than 50,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon headed to the border with occupied Palestine. The vast majority of them were young Palestinians determined to fight for their right to return to Palestine.

In response, as the whole world watched, Israeli occupation forces did what they have been doing best for the last 66 years: they hunted down and killed Palestinians with sheer cruelty, killing nearly a dozen.

Um Zohair’s story is a tale of a lifelong struggle. She is one of millions of Palestinians stuck in exile, banned by Israel from returning to their roots, their villages and orange trees.

Moe Ali Nayel is a freelance journalist based in Beirut, Lebanon. Follow him on Twitter:@MoeAliN.


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