Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Palestinian refugees

 

Not at your service: Palestinian refugees

“Are you enjoying filming our misery? Film: it’s fine, you are like the others. You show up in the camp, film, leave, and we are still here.”

But we want to tell the world about your story… And we reply with the same sarcasm: “how much are you getting paid to tell the world our story?”

Moe Ali Nayel posted on The Electronic Intifada this May 17, 2013 “Palestinian refugees are not at your service”

Throughout my time working as a fixer with international journalists, I never understood why people on the sidewalks of the camps’ busy streets always regarded our “humanitarian” mission with skepticism.

Earlier this year, I came to understand this skepticism of Palestinian refugees in camps in Lebanon.

It was a gloomy day and clouds condensed above Sabra, a shanty town adjacent to Beirut’s Sports City stadium, overlooking the Palestinian refugee camp Shatila. (The camp that experienced the Israeli/Phalange massacreof civilians, mostly women and children, for two nights and two days in 1982.)

We walked through a maze of narrow alleys in Sabra, led by Abdullah, a young Palestinian from Syria, doing relief work for his fellow Palestinian refugees who fled violence in Syria and who were now seeking safety all over Lebanon.

I had been hired as a translator for a human rights professor from Harvard University who was working on a project regarding the situation of Palestinian refugees from Syria who have fled to Jordan and Lebanon.

Walking through the dim damp alleyways of Sabra, Abdullah led the way. The Harvard professor and her two students were heading to meet a Palestinian refugee from Syria who had agreed to meet us.

Scene of alley in Shatila refugee camp

Palestinian refugees have seen little benefit from the many researchers who have visited their camps. (Mohammed Asad / APA images)

“We are not here to talk about her son”

“We are going to meet a woman from Yarmouk,” said Abdullah, referring to the Palestinian refugee community near the Syrian capital. “She fled two weeks ago with her injured son who needs urgent medical care. I hope you’ll be able to aid the poor woman.” Abdullah grabbed my elbow, encouraging me to make sure I translated his announcement to the Harvard team.

At the end of a narrow alleyway we stopped at a pile of shoes by the steps of a small apartment; the heap of shoes indicated the many people who were inside. While we added our shoes to the pile the professor and her students murmured: “We are not here to talk about her son, we just want to ask about her experience fleeing from Syria to Beirut.”

And: “fine let’s just give her a quick five minutes to talk about her son and we’ll move on.” The professor decided on the matter and looked at me as to include me in this decision since I was the translator and would be introducing the team and mediating the interview.

Crammed into the tiny apartment of Mariam, a Palestinian refugee who was sheltering two families from Yarmouk, we all sat and sipped on Turkish coffee waiting for Um Muhammad.

Cigarettes were lit, breaking an awkward silence, but when the Harvard team coughed and complained the cigarettes were politely put out.

The silence was broken by Um Muhammad who came rushing in, apologizing for being late, trying to catch her breath while thanking us extensively for the great humanitarian work she thought we were doing: “God bless you and may he give you strength for the charitable work you are doing.”

Introductions and shy small talk were made, while in the background the professor set the scene for her trainees. Questioning would go in turns and each woman carried her list of already prepared questions, the kind used in human rights classrooms.

It became clear to me that the Harvard team led by the professor were here to conduct training sessions on how to document human rights violations in the Middle East. Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria as a training topic.

Um Muhammad, a woman in her late 40s, covered her head with a beige scarf and wore an ankle-length burgundy trench coat. A mother of four, she was born in Beirut’s Burj al-Barajneh camp. She fled to Yarmouk camp in Syria during the 1980s when, as she puts it, “being a Palestinian was enough to get a person in trouble.”

Human rights kit

Um Muhammad smiled politely, trying to hide her agony, and her eyes betrayed the distress and lack of sleep. In mid-December while her youngest son was playing with his friends next to their school in Yarmouk, the Syrian regime’s MiG fighter jets dropped bombs a few meters away from them, she said. A piece of shrapnel hit the 14-year-old boy on his head.

Um Muhammad rushed her son to a government hospital in Damascus: “they wanted me to sign a paper stating that my son was injured by the terrorists but I refused and told them the terrorists don’t have MiGs. Instead I grabbed him and went running to a field hospital in Yarmouk but they were only able to clean his wound and couldn’t perform surgery.”

“I brought him to Lebanon and I have been running around trying to find anyone who can pay for his surgery or treat him,” she added. “But it’s the same response I keep getting, from UNRWA [the UN agency for Palestine refugees] and the political factions in the camps from Fatah to Hamas: ‘we don’t have funds.’

It’s been almost one month since his injury. Pieces of shrapnel are still stuck inside his skull, his health is deteriorating each day; now, he’s starting to lose his speech.”

A Harvard student in her early 20s with a stern manner, ready to take her human rights course from theory to practice, sat opposite Um Muhammad. Her human rights kit was out: a long list of questions laid out, voice recorder turned on and set on the coffee table, different color markers deployed, a bundle of papers next to us on the couch.

The student organized her tools, gave a nod to the professor and the round of human rights questioning started. Her quick-fire questions started with the basics: name, age, marital status, number of children and place of residency in Syria. Human rights documentation training was now in action.

I was told that for accuracy purposes questions need to be repeated more than once to see whether people are telling the truth:

Why did you come to Lebanon?

How long did it take you from your house to the border?

Try to remember exactly how long the trip took you.

How did you get to the border? Did you take a taxi, a car, or a bus? What kind of car? How much did you pay?

Who paid your visa fees to Lebanon?

Where did you get the money from?

Um Muhammad answered and re-answered but she was trying hard to recall details as her mind was not in full focus on her experience while fleeing.

“Try to remember”

“Tell us how long it took you to get from Yarmouk to the hospital the day your son got injured,” one said.

Um Muhammad struggled to be exact as she replied, “The hospital was not far and there were Syrian army checkpoints on the way but they let us pass, so it took us between 20 to 30 minutes.”

“Tell us exactly how long it took you,” the trainee insisted, keen on the minutiae for her records. “Was it 20 or 30 minutes? Try to remember, and how long you waited at the checkpoint. Five minutes? Ten minutes? Try to remember.”

As this routine continued, Um Muhammad’s answers became more vague and troubled, the students desperate for details. I was told to translate that they were from Harvard and they are here to document her experience so it was important for her to remember.

After a two-hour marathon of questions, Um Muhammad shot me looks of astonishment throughout, as if her words were not credible enough for them. As she was made to repeat her answers over and over, she sighed and went on. At one point, answering politely, but tired of the tirade of questions, Um Muhammad lit a cigarette and told me “I cannot remember those minute details ya khalti,” addressing me as an aunt would a nephew.

Smoking ban

“Please tell her to put out her cigarette.” Um Muhammad didn’t need me to translate this one, she instantly noticed the grimaced looks.

The persistent human rights student, here only to conduct her by-the-book interview in the presence of her evaluating professor, continued with her tiring and condescending questioning.

“Tell us: when you got to the Lebanese border crossing how did you know which window you had to go to.”

“There was a window for Lebanese travelers, a window for Syrians, and a window for foreigners this was the one where Palestinians were getting entry permits,” she replied.

“But how did you know this particular window was for Palestinians?”

“It was not the first time I came to Lebanon — I already told you that I was born here and one of my daughters lives here so we visit Lebanon often.”

“When you are at the Lebanese border crossing how do you figure out which window to go to? Was there a sign you read? What did the sign say?”

Um Muhammad looked at me, confused.

“You can’t just talk to her”

The conduct of the student was neither easy nor graceful, papers were shuffled, questions fired. Um Muhammad answered and re-answered in the hope of getting to the part that she came for: to tell her story and find aid for her injured son.

Um Muhammad’s growing frustration became hard to miss: she grabbed at her pack of cigarettes then let go, smiling at us as she remembered that she couldn’t smoke.

Finally, losing her polite manner, she interjected: “I want to talk about my son. I need to tell you the story I’m here for.” She was cut short as her host Mariam arrived with another round of coffee.

Here I took my chance, while the coffee was being served, to tell Um Muhammad about a doctor I know from Ein al-Hilweh refugee camp, a reputable orthopediatrician who I thought Um Muhammad should go to, who treats people for no charge.

The human rights trainee, who couldn’t understand our Arabic and seemed to feel as if she was being excluded, suddenly snapped: “What’s going on? You can’t just talk to her without telling me. What are you talking to her about? I need to know everything that is being said,” interrupting my conversation with Um Muhammad. Further awkwardness filled the air in the room.

Not what they came for

By now, Um Muhammad had lost any remaining patience after three hours of questioning.

Can I talk about my son now?” The question hung in the air, followed by silence and uncertainty from the Harvard team.

It was decided that to bypass her story they would give her “five minutes to tell her son’s story quickly and move on to questions.”

As Um Muhammad told a story of humiliation and anguish, we listened and nodded. My precise translation here seemed unnecessary: I was told to sum it up. This was not what we came for.

No one came to help any one here, it seemed, this was just a professor training her students, the picture now clear for all. Once Um Muhammad’s story was done and she had noticed that the team were not interested, she leaned forward and asked how we could help. The students kept silent, looking at their professor to rescue the awkwardness left by their disconcerted silence.

The professor spoke: “We will include your son’s story in part of the study we are doing, and it will be published by Harvard.” Then, the professor asked me to tell anxious Um Muhammad that Harvard is an important university and when the report was published many people would read it.

Um Muhammad politely smiled, grabbed her bag, looked at me and said: “That’s it?” Her disappointed face was hard to ignore, although she kept smiling and asked: do they still want to ask anything? Yes, there were more questions now that her son’s story was told, came their reply.

The refugee dilemma

After two more questions, a weary Um Muhammad began fidgeting in her seat shaking her legs nervously; she answered with a defeated tone while grabbing her handbag, positioning herself to get up and leave.

The rookie eyes of the Harvard students didn’t notice her signals of departure. I asked Um Muhammad to get going and she asked me if there is “anything at all that these girls can do to help my son.” I apologized and told her not to waste her time with them.

This has been the Palestinian refugees’ dilemma since 1948: watching groups of people from across the globe stroll through the misery of their camps and and then leave. Making their personal plight and stories available to writers and advocates is for them a way to induce change and action and to advance their moral cause around the world.

But humanity is the key here. To tell stories and conduct research, one would do well to remember that refugees deserve our sensitivity when dealing with their hardships.

It’s been 65 years and Palestinians in the camps are still clutching onto whatever crumbs of hope or aid they can. But ultimately they are left awaiting the day they can return to the place where their dignity and humanity can be restored: Palestine.

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

Apartheid on all fronts: Israel persists on religious ideology in civic education, in mercenary colonial outpost in Middle-East…

Author Sami Michaeel, a Jewish Israeli from Iraq, has been delivering speeches and conducting seminars on the need for Israel to consider the alternative existential policy of integrating with the people in the region.

It is the responsibility of Israel to prove that it is ready to be part of the Middle-East region, and desist from resuming the policy of being the foreign colonial outpost to the western nations (Britain, France, and lately the USA in succession), desist from further preemptive wars, and seriously negotiate a long-term peace treaty with the Palestinians

Sami latest study was delivered at the “International convention for Israeli studies” hosted in Haifa.

Sami insists that Israel has become the worst apartheid State in the entire world.

Since 1967, after Israel expanded its occupation of Palestinian and Arab States lands, the spirit of Israel has been polluted and poisoned…

Israel thinks that it cannot afford to bail out as an outpost: It wants the most sophisticated weapons, keeps its weapon industry expanding and exporting more military hardware to African States, receive lavish donations to open up new colonies…

Adar Cohen, inspector of civic studies, agreed to sign on the published new civic education school book “On the road to civic citizenship“, a civic school book which transcend the fundamental Zionist ideology of apartheid and pure race, and exclusive Jewishness status…

And Adar was promptly sacked: This is not a good time for internal politics to demonstrate that Zionism is “that civic”

Israel has been applying a mind-fix policy to enforce her ideological thinking in all the Palestinian schools, and on diffusing any kinds of opinions that go counter to the radical Jewish religious ideology.

Israel has imposed on the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank its concept of “Economic Peace“, a unilateral contract based on the two premises:

1. Under the current conditions, there will be no resolutions for the cases of Jerusalem, the Palestinian refugees, and Hamas in Gaza. Consequently, the Palestinians should drop any illusion for any final peaceful agreement.

2. The occupation of Israel of the Palestinian territory is a serious threat to the stability and sustainability of the society in Israel. This colonial occupation is a demographic, moral, and political danger. The occupation is threatening to destroy the policy of forming a pure Jewish State.

The tacit reason for extending more trade and economic facilities in the West Bank is due to the evidences that points to the idea that occupation will inevitably ignite a Third Mass Disobedience Palestinian movement (Intifada). And Israel feels it be unable to tame this intifada by the sheer force, time around.

Thus, Israel is planing to extend small economical facilities for the current Palestinian Authority to lick on and defuse the growing grunting of the Palestinians under occupation.

Note: Post inspired by three articles published by Antoine Shalhat in the Lebanese daily Al Nahar.

The Palestinian refugees will not be left behind

I published many articles on the Palestinian cause and the refugees in Lebanese camps.  The following post I received as link from Andrew Bossone, three weeks ago, and saved it in the pipeline of backlog “drafts”. So far, I have no idea who is the author. Although I am Lebanese, and I approached most of the issues in this post, it is refreshing to slightly edit a post that exhibit outrage.

“Tomorrow is the UN bid to vote on a Palestinian State. The question that first comes to mind is “What kind of Palestinian State?”  The second question is “what of the millions of Palestinian refugees dispersed around the world and those living in camps after 70 years?”

In Lebanon the refugees are scattered in 12 camps across the country. The camps in Lebanon are places inadequate for a healthy life: shanty towns with inhumane conditions. It is the exact same small piece of land that was given to the refugees when they first came to Lebanon back in 1948.   The refugees thought that it would only be a matter of days until they could go back to their land, Palestine. Didn’t the UN officially partitioned the land in 1947?

The Lebanese, not happy with those strangers coming to stay in the country (strangers is a term that was used during the civil war to indicate Palestinians), did not bother to look after their “guests”.  A guest is welcomed for three days: The Lebanese officials thought that the burden would end soon as the UN will take measures for repatriation. But now, after 63 years, the refugees are still here, still suffocating in their tiny camps. The Lebanese did not quite show their famous Lebanese sense of hospitality that is reserved for the khaliji (petrodollars gulf tourists) foreign white people, at all times.

Just to give you a hint, a few months ago, the Lebanese Mufti decided to seize a piece of land, given to the Palestinian refugees by a court order back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, right next to the Shatila camp in order for the refugees to expand their already too small camp. When a delegation from Shatila camp went to the Mufti to protest, he blew up at them, calling them: “rubbish, and we don’t want you as guests anymore”(as reported by Al-Akbar news paper http://www.al-akhbar.com/node/16366).  This racist Lebanese approach towards the Palestinians is not new. Take for example the Tel al-Zaatar massacre  during the Lebanese Civil War on August 12, 1976.  How about the Sabra and Shatila massacre in 1982: the slaughter by Christian Lebanese Phalangists of Palestinian civilians that took place while the camp was surrounded by the Israel Defense Force.

The War of the Camps (within the 1984–89 phase of the Lebanese Civil War) in which Palestinian refugee camps were besieged by the Shi’ite Amal militia. And not least the Naher el-Bared camp: the camp became the centre of the fighting between the Lebanese army and Fatah al-Islam in 2008. It sustained heavy shelling while under siege. Most of the inhabitants fled to the nearby Beddawi Palestinian refugee camp (doubling that camps population) or further south to Tripoli, Beirut and Saida. The camp is still a pile of rubble and only few families were able to return to their houses. The rest of the camp inhabitants are still spread in other camps around the country.

I hope by now you have an idea how the Palestinian refugees live in inhumane conditions: a direct result of the creation of Israel, but further compounded by the Lebanese who profess to help them. This also explains part of why they are determined to return to their land. It’s extremely troubling to think that people were pushed out of their homes, their lands, to make space for other people who never lived there, but claim that their God Yahweh promised them this piece of land(spooky stuff).

In the camps, it’s always the same scene: old and young men alike hanging out on the corners of gloomy passages, in coffee shops, or just outside their buildings. When I talk to them I get the same reaction: “We were never allowed to work for a day or produce a thing, (we’re) losers, hanging out on the streets with all these confused guys”. But this is not the result of some bad economical or financial times, but it’s precisely because they are Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

By law, Lebanon socio/political structure bans Palestinians from practicing 73 professions, and from owning property.   The Palestinians are stuck in the camp. I remember a few years ago an incident in my family:  A distant female cousin decided to get married. Unfortunately, the man she loved and wanted to marry was Palestinian.  The entire family members turned against her and threatened that they would renounce her if she insisted on marrying any Palestinian man.

Most Lebanese people look at Palestinians in disgust when they know they are Palestinian. And most surprisingly, you will never hear all this racism from the Palestinians:  they tell you they are grateful to the Lebanese people for having them as guests, but they want to return to Palestine, they don’t want to stay here.

Almost all the Palestinians I spoke to lately, especially since the UN bid started getting closer, were not happy about the process since it completely marginalize the millions of refugees. In parallel with this sentiment, many refugees are saying:  “who are these people speaking and signing in our name” referring at the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank. The corrupt leadership in the PA lost legitimacy from the people a long time ago, especially after the failed Oslo agreement and the unjustified wealth of the PA leadership.

As much as I want to sink in peaceful life illusions, and believe in the promises of a reclaimed State, reality hits me. This “fake Palestinian State” is only another safe haven for the PA to preserve their authority and continue to be Israel and the US’s puppet.

I realize that we have always been just waiting, but now waiting is not a strategy anymore. We have been waiting for 63 years and nothing has happened to benefit the millions of refugees and the segregated, occupied Palestinian people. What exactly are we waiting for? Are we waiting for people like the PA to shove yet another peace deal down our throat in order for them to survive? In order for them to keep the Palestinian people from attempting to topple them as their Arab brothers and sisters are toppling the same old corrupt regimes?

What’s obvious now is that displacing an entire people for a so-called Palestinian “State” to come into existence will never bear sweet fruits, only bitterness.  The outcome is further determination from the displaced Palestinians to take back their land. How does the world, and America, who have been safe guarding Israel by vetoing all kinds of resolutions that satisfy Palestinian hope, expect the Palestinian refugees to carry on living in the inhumane conditions in the camps? How do they expect the hundreds of thousands in Lebanon to deal with Lebanese racism that prevents them from owning property and lays siege around the camps? How do they expect this mistreated people to put up with being banned from practicing more than 70 professions, in a world struggling through a dire economic crisis as a result of the collapse of capitalism?

The vote is tomorrow and, whether it passes or not, the time has come for a change of the status quo. We need to find the courage and overcome the era of the corrupt Arab leaders (dictators and absolute monarchs…) who have always put Israel’s priorities first. No attempt, or perhaps, to be fair, shy attempts, were made by those Arab leaders to address the injustice done in ‘48 when Palestinians were forced out from their land. This voting occasion, that will ignore the millions of refugees, is tantamount for a call to action.

Perhaps this flawed vote will set in motion our Arab brothers and sisters; will galvanize them, in the middle of the wind of change sweeping through our enslaved Arab world, into a 3rd intifada from the surrounding countries of Palestine. We cannot ignore our Palestinian brethren. We, the Arab youth, need to support them and rid ourselves of the chains of the old ruling Arabs who seldom served the real Palestinian cause.

The Palestinians are people, victims of the victims, and not as the Western communities continually portrays them: terrorists, peace haters, extremists, and the countless other alienating descriptions. These are a people who have held steadfast for the longest time in contemporary history and a sham of a vote won’t break their will to return to their homeland.

To all the people out there, brothers and sisters of freedom, this is our time. The old generation had their chances and they got us into these painful realities and circumstances. The result of their actions in the past is precisely why we are revolting today. Old generation, leave us alone, stay in the back seat and let us decide what kind of world we want. We’re done with your dysfunctional old world, bring on the new.” End of quote.

Note: I’ll add the name of the author of the post as I go back to the sources.  I’ll also include several links of my own.

There are currently over half a million Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.  They settled in refugee camps during three major phases:  First, they settled in refugee camps after the “Independence of Israel”, a State recognized my a single and simple majority vote in the UN in 1948, and second, after the 1967 preemptive Israeli war against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, and third, after the defeat of the Palestinian resistance by the Jordanian monarchy in 1971. 

Already, one hundred thousand Palestinian refugees got the Lebanese nationality, not included in the half a million previously mentioned.  Those who got the Lebanese nationality are of three categories:  First, the mostly Palestinian Christians, in order to re-establish sectarian “balance” when the Maronite Christian Presidents of Lebanon had vast authorities before the Taif Agreement in 1989, and second, Palestinians originating from Lebanon such as those who lived in Northern Israel and the Seven Villages and are mostly from the Islam Chiaa sect, and third, the wealthy and business men Palestinians such as the families of Baidass, Sabbagh, Khoury, Nemr, Nahoum, Faress, Nasr, Kattan, Yutajy, Freij, Gharghour, Oweida, Irathy, Saba and many other families.

It appears that the refugees inscribed in the UNRWA, those residing continuously in Lebanon, number around 200,000 or 5% of the total estimated population in Lebanon.  The remaining Palestinians had managed to settle or work abroad with Lebanese travel documents.

Recent statistics show that over 92% of Palestinian refugees want to return to their Homeland, Palestine.  That is a case closed:  the UN resolution #198 of 1948 guarantees the right of Palestinians to return to Palestine and there is no way to cancel or drop that civic and human right accorded to all refugees who were forced to flee under duress and genocidal treatments.

The US, European Union, and Russia are demanding that the Palestinian refugees drop the right to return before extending compensations.  This is an impossible political condition that cannot be satisfied.  The UN should compensate immediately every adult Palestinian and Palestinian families in refugee camps (without any clause pertaining to dropping their rights for return) so that they decide what to do with that money.  Every State around the world, especially the US and European States, will welcome rich Palestinians capable of owning real estates or establishing businesses.  After two years of paying taxes and valid residency papers, the immigrated Palestinians would be having a recognized citizenship.

Since Israelis are entitled to dual citizenship then, it should be so to Palestinians.  For the time being, the UN institution of UNRWA has been caring for the Palestinian refugees in matters of education, health, and survival food since 1948.  The UNRWA budget has been cut frequently while the number of refugees has been increasing dramatically.  Currently, the  UNRWA budget is half a billion dollars; the portion allocated to the refugees in Lebanon is just $70 millions. 

There is a heated debate in Lebanon on how to securing the civic and human rights of the refugees.  There are less than 60 types of jobs that Palestinians are entitled to applying for; and they are denied owning properties, though rich Arabs and foreigners can purchase and own properties. 

The Lebanese have no jobs, no electricity, no potable water, no health coverage for more than 50% of the population, public education neglected for over 30 years, and things are going to hell.  I am pretty sure if Palestinian refugees would consider bartering their UNRWA facilities for a Lebanese nationality card then, most Lebanese would gladly relinquish their stupid cards that are more of a problem than a privilege.

 The UN should establish an international fund to aid and support the Lebanese government improve the infrastructure in the refugee camps and providing health insurance.  Palestinian kids are suffering from diseases due to bad health environment.  The education facilities are deteriorating in the camps.  Camps are becoming hotbeds of insecurity to all the youth not finding an outlet to development and assuring the minimum level of dignity.

The working force in construction, gas stations and sanitation are filled by Syrians, Egyptians, and Bangladeshis.  In-house maids and outside are from Philippines, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Madagascar… May be Lebanese and Palestinians should be allocated quotas to work alongside the foreign workers. 

If Lebanon enjoyed an economic and financial boom in its first 30 years of its independence it is mainly because of the flux of Palestinian wealth and knowhow.  Many English-speaking Palestinian refugees worked in the Arab Gulf States and supported their families in Lebanon.  They also made a qualitative development for the American University of Beirut and taught there and constituted the prime English tributary to our economy and finance.

If Lebanon had ever been tad of a State, it would have sustained its financial standing and maintained a modicum of sovereignty.  The Palestinian Resistance Organization (PLO) became a State within a State and even more powerful and more organized since 1972.  The dollar changed for just two Lebanese pounds because of the hard currencies that the PLO poured in our economy; it is currently 1,500 LL

362.  Legitimate, Temporary, and Necessary; (June 5, 2009)

 

363.  Sex Tales (June 6, 2009)

 

364.  I have a position: I am voting today; (June 7, 2009)

 

365.  Love Tales; (June 8, 2009)

 

366.  Bi-Weekly Report (#25) on Lebanon and the Middle East; (June 8, 2009)

 

367.  Seduction Tales; (June 9, 2009)

 

368.  The culprits:  vegetative Ariel Sharon and Hubeika; (June 11, 2009)

 

369.  Reactions to Seduction, Love, and Sex Tales; (June 12, 2009)

 

370.  Traditional Wedding; (June 13, 2009)

 

371.  Arab Sex Art: Star of the Internet; (June 14, 2009)

 

 

372.  Right to Return: for the Palestinian refugees; (June 15, 2009)

 

373.  Elections’ Aftermath: Iran and Lebanon; (June 15, 2009)

 

374.  Uncontested Palestinian Leader: late Yasser Arafat (Abu 3Ammar); June 15, 2009

 

375.  Mystics and Sufis; (June 16, 2009

 

376.  Headdress; (June 16, 2009)

Right to Return: for the Palestinian refugees (June 15, 2009)

 

            There are more than 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and their birth rate is three times the average of the Lebanese.  The Palestinian refugees are concentrated in a dozen camps (ghettoes) and they run their communities. The Lebanese government is not extending facilities to the camps or to issuing work permits.  The UN agency UNRUWA is supposed to care for the education and health of the refugees since they were chased out from their homeland in 1948.  In the last decade the UNRUWA budget has been politically reduced to force the Lebanese government into de facto enacting residency status to the refugees.

            Lebanon facilitated the influx of the Palestinian refugees in 1948 under the perception that it was a temporary stay since UN resolution demanded the return of the Palestinians. Israel exacerbated the problem by sending another wave of refuges in 1967 after it occupied the West Bank.  The Palestinian resistance was born but it failed to rely on the Palestinians inside the State of Israel for effective resistance against the occupiers. 

            There were three camps in the Christian districts which were closed down during the civil war such the ones in Dbayeh, Jesr al Basha, and Tell al Zaatar; the Christian militias forced the evacuation of the Christian Palestinians by military activities, genocide, and terror.

            Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 and with the cooperation of the USA and France the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) headed by Arafat was forced to evacuate Beirut to Cyprus and then to Tunisia.  The remaining camps were supposed to be the refuge of civilians and not containing any heavy weapons.

            The entrance/exits of camps are monitored by the Lebanese army and the movement of the refugees strictly controlled.  A salafist Sunni movement “Jund al Sham” challenged the army in Nahr al Bared camp in Tripoli.  This camp is demolished and waiting for financial aid to be re-constructed.

            The ex-President Emile Lahoud fought the good fight to keep the right of return of the UN resolution 194 alive during his tenure. For example, before the Summit of the Arab League in Beirut of April 2002, the Saudi Foreign Affairs Seoud Al Faissal visited President Lahoud on March 22 and handed him the project of the Saudi Monarch of “peace for land” without a specific clause of “the right of return”.  President Lahoud refused it. Lahoud was subjected to al kinds of pressures and diplomatic maneuvering to let the project as is with no modifications but he didn’t relent. The Arab leaders suggested including the “right of return” as a separate clause to no avail. The Saudi Prince Abdallah was forced to include the clause as intrinsic part of the peace for land PROJECT.  The USA vowed to make the tenure of Lahoud a period of hell for foiling their major political goal.

            It is crystal clear that the western nations have a sole political purpose for Lebanon: accepting the Palestinian refugees as Lebanese residents.  The civil war from 1975 to 1991 failed to achieve completely that goal though most of the prosperous Christian families preferred to immigrate.

            Late Rafic Hariri PM believed that an overall peace deal with Israel is highly serious and went along a program of easing the conditions of the Palestinian refugees.  It turned out that there will be no peace with Israel because Israel’s interest is not in any kind of peace.  Pragmatic Hariri realized that the social and political fabric in Lebanon cannot digest 400,000 Palestinians and he changed his strategy; he was assassinated by the detonation of a roadside truck containing 1000 kilos of TNT.

            Though the US Administration comprehends better the predicament of Lebanon it is still hoping that this tragedy could be settled at the expense of the Lebanese people. Hezbollah challenged that strategy and won its war against Israel in 2006. The leader of the Tayyar Party, General Michel Aoun, has picked up the banner of fighting any policies targeted at settling the Palestinians in Lebanon and he won by a landslide in Mount Lebanon.  The coalition of Hezbollah and the Tayyar has put a strong break to the western strategy of reducing Lebanon to a refugee status.

Lebanon and Palestine: Same and Different (April 28, 2009, Part 1)

 

Brief ancient history:

Lebanon is a recognized State by the UN, in 1946 (2 years before Israel). Palestine was partitioned in 1947 between Palestinians and the minority Jews. Currently, all of Palestine is under occupation by this Zionist State called Israel.

Lebanon and Palestine were throughout antiquity under the domination of neighboring Empires such as in Egypt, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq (Mesopotamia).  The people in the two tiny stretches of coastal lands on the Eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea were mainly mariners, traders, middlemen among Empires, and skilled artisans.

Under the nominal or explicit domination of Empires, Lebanon and Palestine had autonomous administration of their society as City-States that were highly democratic within the city limits as Athens emulated in the 7th century BC. 

The famous City-States from north to south are Ugarite, Tripoli, Jubail (Byblos), Saida, Sour (Tyr), Akka (Acre and Haifa), and Askelan. 

The City-State of Jubeil (inventors of the alphabet) built Saida; Saida built Sour and dominated the sea routes; and Sour built Akka and relayed Saida in sea domination and expanding the trading posts to Spain.  These City-States were the masters of the sea and traded with all Empires and build trading towns; they have resisted many overwhelming sieges, sometimes for years, and occasionally managed not to be entered and devastated.

Every empire that conquered Syria resumed its drive by dominating Lebanon and Palestine.  In general, when more than one empire co-existed at the same period and when the empire in Egypt was powerful enough then it governed the southern half of Palestine while the other empire governed the upper half, including Lebanon.  The strip of Gaza to Yafa was mostly under Egyptian cultural influence.

The coastal strip from north actual Syria to the Sinai was called Canaan. Then, the upper stretch to Akka was called Phoenicia or even Saida (in reference for the main City-State). The Sea People, called Philistines and probably coming from the Adriatic Sea, destroyed Greece fleet, devastated many coastal cities, and conquered Egypt before they were driven out and settle in Gaza and the southern part of Canaan, called Palestine ever since.

Moses (this mythical story) arrived with an amalgam of nomadic tribes and his successors attempted to occupy part of south Palestine.  These tribes worshiped Yahwa, thus, yahoud and Jews for the Latin people.  These tribes under Moses reverted to worshiping the all encompassing God of the Land called El., except a few tribes such as Judea and Benjamin.  During the Roman Empire, Tyr administered the upper half of Palestine.

 

Modern History:

            In the beginning of the 20th century, the military in Turkey deposed the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and started policies focused on Turk Nationhood.  Many in Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine immigrated to Egypt. 

During the First World War famine fell on Lebanon along with a devastating wave of locust; they immigrated to the USA, Brazil, Latin America, and many were dropped in Africa by unethical ship captains. After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War, Britain had mandate over Palestine and Iraq; France had mandate over Lebanon and Syria.

Consequently, the bilingual Palestinians spoke English, and their counterpart in Lebanon spoke French. In 1930, Haifa grabbed the center of trades and many Lebanese flocked to Haifa and Palestine.  The reverse wave occurred when the State of Israel was recognized by a majority of one vote at the UN in 1948.  Lebanon received Palestinian refugees who were installed in camps on the ground that their stay is temporary!

 

In one chapter of “World Adrift” Amine Maaluf said “The western powers are now paying the price for failing to apply their values in the colonies”  The European colonial powers of Britain, France, Germany, and the  Netherlands had no intentions of spreading their moral values to those they considered not worthy of their pearls and gems.

The indigents were to be enslaved, exploited, and humiliated; the indigents who adopted the western values of equality, liberty, and democracy were persecuted and harassed and imprisoned; the colonial administrators negotiated with the conservative conformists who were ready to strike deals and cohabit with lesser human rights.  Dictators in Europe are abhorred but readily accepted in under-developed States.

Human values had different quality and flavors according to the whims and interest of the exploiting colonial powers.  Britain used astute diplomatic policies to subjugate their colonies more frequently than France did; France of the French Revolution had no patience negotiating and communicating with their colonial people and never skipped an occasion to stating its true purpose for domination.and exhibiting arrogant military posturing.

            The colonial powers installed infrastructures that were appropriate for exploitation of the colonies; they established the required administrations for smooth and efficient exploitation.  The other administrative offices for legislation and justices were carbon copies of the ones in their homeland but these codes could be disposed off and trampled at the first occasion that short sighted interest called for swift and immediate actions.

 

Contemporary history:

Current Lebanon was created by France during its mandate period and cut out from Syria; it is now a recognized State by the UN since 1943.  Palestine was divided but the Zionist movement conquered the allocated portion for the Palestinians by the UN in 1948. 

The Palestinians are now located in the West Bank of the Jordan River and in Gaza where Israel has built 150 Jewish-only colonies and increasing every year. 

The Palestinians who fled their towns and villages in the State of Israel are refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.  The UN resolution 193 demands the repatriation of these Palestinians to their hometowns but Israel has been rebuffing that resolution since 1948.

Lebanon suffered many civil wars and calamities for not being capable or unwilling of absorbing the Palestinian refugees; Israel has waged four devastating wars against the State of Lebanon on flimsy pretexts based on the Palestinian resistance trying to regain their rights for a homeland.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

September 2021
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