Friday, May 14, 2004


The Meaning of Nakba

Azmi Bishara (an Israeli Arab MK) takes a really fascinating look at the effects of the Nakba (or 1948 catastrophe for Palestinians) on Palestinian society and the Arab world in general in Al-Ahram (May 15 is Nakba Day). The article is very, very, very long, but Bishara really lays out how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict drives politics throughout the Arab world:
For the Arabs, the Palestinian cause has acquired a symbolic power of unimaginable scope. It is the cause that justifies demonstrations in nations in which hunger is not sufficient grounds for protest and in which the only solace against tyranny is to pull out one's hair. Only the Palestinian cause has the power to become a rallying call for all Arabs; that is, when the Palestinians decide to confront oppression by themselves. Then, the lines of right and wrong are clear and sharp, sharp enough to cleave those furrows in the arid desert of Arab political life into which can be poured all those frustrations, all that resentment, all those grievances against injustice, whether that injustice is local in origin and projected abroad or taking place abroad but making things too uncomfortable at home. The Arab faith in the Palestinian cause is such that it has come to represent all usurped Arab rights.

Also, finally I find somebody who articulates something similar to how I feel about the right of refugees to return.
Perhaps now is the time to take a look at the self- deception that the Palestinian national liberation movement has exercised throughout the period in which it has focused on the two-state solution, one Arab and one Jewish. Oddly, the Palestinian liberation movement is also adamant upon the right of return of Palestinian refugees to these two states, as though the hyphen in the formula of the "two-state solution" is sufficient to justify the logical leap. There is no way to secure the Palestinian right of return to a Jewish state through a negotiating process since it is inconceivable that the Jewish state would approve. The Palestinian liberation movement must make up its mind whether the creation of a Palestinian state without the right to return constitutes a historical settlement, as long as the state retains sovereignty over Al-Aqsa Mosque and as long as it has the right to accept Palestinian refugees within its own borders, or grant them passports and citizenship. But if it does make this concession, it will find that it will also be making concessions on the borders of 4 June 1967, on East Jerusalem and on Israeli withdrawal from the settlement complexes.

Simply put, I do not think that Israel would even dream of conceding the right of refugees to return to Jaffa or Haifa or Acre in the current situation. I think the right of return for refugees should not even be on the negotiating table right now. The establishment of a Palestinian state that would establish peaceful and positive relations with Israel would do the most to help the dreams of refugees to return to their homes inside Israel. Having it be one of the final status issues right now really only seems to be an obstacle to a peace settlement which in turn is an obstacle to the right of return. Of course normally, as a non-Palestinian & non-refugee, I can't say these kinds of things.

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