Virtual statehood or the Right of Return

Omar Barghouti writes:

“The Palestinian declaration of independence practically constitutes a victory for Israel’s declaration of independence, and this is why Israelis must celebrate in the streets and be the first to recognise Palestinian independence, calling on the world to follow suit.”

Sefi Rachlevsky, Yedioth Ahronoth, September 5, 2011 (Israeli writer who led a recent Israeli delegation that met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to urge him to go forward with the statehood bid at the UN)

“Palestine 194” is the name of a campaign called for by Palestinian officials to drum up support for their “September Initiative”, or bid for statehood, in the hope that “Palestine” would become the 194th member of the UN. This same number, however, has historic connotations for the people of Palestine. It has been etched in our collective consciousness as the UN General Assembly resolution stipulating the right of the Palestinian refugees – most of whom were forcibly displaced and dispossessed during the 1948 Nakba by Zionist militias and later the state of Israel – to return to their homes and properties.

Without any sense of irony, Palestinian officials who have time and again colluded in eroding official international support for UNGA 194, as the Palestine Papers have amply shown, are now appropriating that very number and using it in a bid that runs the risk of surrendering the right of return associated with it for more than six decades. This is merely a symbol of the far more substantive moral, political and legal bind that this Initiative may potentially place the Palestinians and their supporters in.

The “September Initiative” is at best vague and confusing and at worst damaging to the interests of the Palestinian people. Regardless, it is entirely divorced from the will of the Palestinian people, and those advocating it have no democratic mandate from the people to employ it in any way that jeopardises our UN-sanctioned rights.

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Palestinians killed in Nakba clashes

Israeli soldiers stand at the border fence between Israel and Syria as demonstrators approach the village of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights

Al Jazeera reports:

Several people have been killed and scores of others wounded in the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, Ras Maroun in Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as Palestinians mark the “Nakba”, or day of “catastrophe”.

The “Nakba” is how Palestinians refer to the 1948 founding of the state of Israel, when an estimated 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled following Israel’s declaration of statehood.

At least one Palestinian was killed and up to 80 others wounded in northern Gaza as Israeli troops opened fire on a march of at least 1,000 people heading towards the Erez crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

A group of Palestinians, including children, marching to mark the “Nakba” were shot by the Israeli army after crossing a Hamas checkpoint and entering what Israel calls a “buffer zone” – an empty area between checkpoints where Israeli soldiers generally shoot trespassers, Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reported from Gaza City on Sunday.

Hasan Abu Nimah writes:

Sixty years ago in Battir, my small hillside village near Jerusalem, I witnessed the chaotic collapse of the British Mandate administration in Palestine and the beginning of the Nakba.

The previous months had been decisive ones for the fate of Palestine, although we did not yet know it. The Jews, fed up with British procrastination in fulfilling Balfour’s promise of letting them transform our homeland into their “national home,” launched a bloody campaign of terror both against the British and the Arabs. The Jewish militias targeted the British to speed up their departure from Palestine, and hit the Arabs to quell the rising resistance to Zionist colonization. Violence broke out in early 1947, after the British announced that they would leave Palestine by 15 May 1948. When the United Nations passed its partition resolution on 29 November 1947, the violence began to lurch into full-scale war.

Battir’s 1,200 inhabitants were wracked by uncertainty. There were hopes that things would turn out all right, but fear dominated as the atmosphere became bleaker by the day.

I vividly remember the stories of horror which haunted the people of Battir, such as the attack on the railway station in Jerusalem on 21 October 1946. The train was their lifeline to the city where they marketed their produce and bought their supplies. People also walked to Jerusalem and often traveled by car on the unpaved road that ran parallel to the railway line, though that was much harder. A few months earlier a Jewish bomb attack on Jerusalem’s King David Hotel, which served as the British headquarters, killed 91 people and injured dozens. Later, after the partition vote, when the Zionist forces began their armed campaign to seize Palestine, fighting erupted between Arabs and Jews in the land they both claimed.

Electronic Intifada has created an interactive map showing the Palestine villages destroyed in Nakba.

Noam Sheizaf writes:

I never heard the word Nakba before the nineties. It was simply not present in the Israeli language, or in the popular culture. Naturally, we knew that some Arabs left Israel in 1948, but it was all very vague. While we were asked to cite numbers and dates of the Jewish waves of immigration to Israel, details on the Palestinian parts of the story were sketchy: How many Palestinians left Israel? What were the circumstances under which they left? Why didn’t they return after the war? All these questions were irrelevant, having almost nothing to do with our history—that’s what we were made to think.

Occasionally, we were told that the Arabs had left under their own will, and it seemed that they chose not to come back, at least in the beginning. Years later, I was shocked to read that most of the notorious “infiltrates” from the early fifties were actually people trying to come back to their homes, even crossing the border to collect the crops from their fields at tremendous risk to their life – as IDF units didn’t hesitate to open fire.

We were made to think they were terrorists…

It’s hard to explain the mechanism which makes some parts of history “important” or some elements of the landscape “interesting.” I can only say that looking back, I understand how selective the knowledge we received was. But there is more to this. I think we all chose not to think about those issues. Even after the New Historians of the nineties made the term Nakba a part of modern Hebrew and proved that in many cases, Israel expelled Palestinians from territories it conquered in ‘48, we were engaged in the wrong kind of questions, such as the debate on whether more Palestinian were expelled or fled. The important thing is that they weren’t allowed to come back, and that they had their property and land seized by Israel immediately after the war (as some Jews had by Jordan and Syria, but not in substantial numbers). Leaving a place doesn’t make someone a refugee. It’s forbidding him or her from coming back that does it.

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Israelis defy Nakba law on Independence Day

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Illan Pappe: Zionism — colonialism, ethnic cleansing and racism

Illan Pappe addressing the Palestine Solidarity conference in Stuttgart, Germany on November 27, talks about challenging the ideological foundation of the state of Israel.


(H/t Pulse.)

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People Not Places: greatest hip-hop song for Palestinians ever

People Not Places: greatest hip-hop song for Palestinians ever


This docu-music-video is based on the song of the same name by Invincible featuring Abeer and Suhell Nafar (DAM). Invincible plays two characters in the video: a Birthright Israel tour recruiter, styled as a used car salesman; and herself, subverting the recruiter’s mission by exposing the buried Palestinian significance of each location in the tour.

Invincible exposes the process of historic and continued colonization of Palestine as being even deeper than land seizure and ethnic cleansing, but one that attempts to erase the indigenous language, culture, and memory of Palestinians.
Intertwined with the music video are interviews that expose how Zionist claims to a Jewish “birthright” to Palestine have come at the expense of the Palestinian Right of Return to their indigenous land. These interviews show how the Right of Return of Palestinians is interconnected with the resistance of occupied and displaced refugee communities globally, from Turtle Island to Puerto Rico and beyond.

People Not Places is featured on Invincible’s ShapeShifters album, available in the EMERGENCE Store.

Read lyrics and explanations for People Not Places. [continued...]

Settlers at odds over Bnei Adam outpost

Settlers residing at the illegal West Bank outpost of Bnei Adam have recently asked Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu to rule on whether they should comply with the State’s eviction order.

Rabbi Eliyahu asked Rabbi Haim Drukman, the head of the Bnei Akiva yeshivot center to make the final ruling, and the latter said the settlers should comply with the order – which the Head of the Benyamin Council, Avi Roeh, agreed to as well.

The ruling, however, has left the settles conflicted, as some agree to a consensual evacuation and some still oppose it. A settlers’ group calling itself “the committee for the cessation of the cooperation with the enemy” distributed flyers through the West Bank Thursday, calling on settlers to disregard the ruling. [continued...]

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