Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why is this May 15th Different From All Other May 15ths?

Originally posted on May 14, 2011 by Desertpeace at 

On all other May 15ths we speak of the destruction of Palestine, of the Nakba. We speak of how the establishment of the State of Israel led to the the end of the Palestinian nation as we knew it. We speak of the ongoing terror aimed at the Palestinians since that faithful day in 1948.
This year, the State of Israel does not allow us to speak of this or protest against this by LAW… So this year is different. This year we speak no longer of leaving our land by force, but of returning to it. Photos of the exodus can be seen in THIS post.
InshAllah, next May 15th we will be celebrating Palestine’s Indepependence Day!

Time to replace the memory of expulsion with the reality of return

This year’s commemoration of the Nakba (catastrophe) is like no other. For the first time in many decades the Palestine issue has truly found its way to the top of the Arab political agenda; that’s a long overdue achievement. Palestinians in the historic homeland and the diaspora recognise the changes taking place around them. As part of the wider Arab family of nations they are determined to play their part to regain their usurped rights.
The Nakba is not simply an isolated one-off event that occurred on 15 May 1948; it is an on-going process which seeks to destroy Palestinian society, Palestinian humanity and Palestinian dreams of freedom. Israel’s extremist government today has taken drastic measures to prevent the Palestinians from commemorating this important chapter in their history, even to the extent of introducing discriminatory laws targeting Israeli citizens who happen to be Arabs.
Since 1967, Israeli occupation forces have demolished more than 24,000 Palestinian homes, while more than 500,000 Jews are currently colonizing, illegally, the West Bank and Jerusalem. According to the United Nations, in the past 10-and-a-half years, the Israeli military and illegal settlers have murdered 1,335 Palestinian children.
In addition, since the start of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in June 1967, Israel has detained more than 700,000 Palestinians - 20 per cent of the population -, a figure which stunned participants of the First International Conference on the Rights of Palestinian Prisoners and Detainees, which was held in Geneva in March 2011. Around 5,700 are currently being detained in prisons within Israel in direct violation of international law. Add to this shocking statistic reports like those which emerged this week in Haaretz newspaper revealing that the residency status of 140,000 Palestinians from the West Bank was cancelled covertly between 1967 and 1994 and it is easy to see the kind of tactics being used by Israel in the repression and deprivation of the Palestinians.
The Palestinian people themselves must be given credit for surviving this vicious and seemingly irrepressible onslaught. The Zionists had hoped that the older generations would simply pass away and that the young would forget their roots, but this has not happened. In a recent conference in Europe the leader of the Islamic movement, Sheikh Raed Salah, asked a young Palestinian girl what she thought of Europe, to which she replied that it is beautiful, but the olive trees of Palestine are far more beautiful.
The Palestinians have survived because their land is Palestine; the land of the prophets; a cradle of civilizations. The indigenous people feel an innate responsibility to protect Palestine and their associated rights and to ensure that Palestine remains free from oppression and destruction.
The recent seismic political changes in the region have now borne their first fruits in Palestine, and the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas is a sure sign that we are about to enter a new era in the Palestinians’ struggle for the recognition of their rights. It will certainly affect the people in the West Bank and Gaza but it will also affect those in Israel and the diaspora. As for the refugees, they will return to their position of pre-eminence constituting, as they do, the head of the cause, a cause that would be dead without them.
No matter what Israel and its supporters may claim, Palestinians are united on this issue, secure in the knowledge and belief that they have a legal and moral right to return to their homeland. If they have not yet been given the ability to exercise that right themselves, they want, at the very least, to ensure that that right is preserved for their descendents.
This is not the sort of issue on which you can have a referendum, like the Alternative Vote or entry into the Maastricht Treaty. This is a matter of life and death. No one is asked to vote on whether he wants to die, for life is an inalienable non-negotiable right. The right of return occupies this position in the Palestinian narrative and psyche. It is not a secondary or exceptional issue that can be replaced, nor is it something that is open to negotiation or can be bargained away in exchange for something else; it is an individual right, so it is down to individuals to decide whether or not they wish to exercise it.
It is long-overdue for the international community to recognize the right of return for Palestinian refugees beyond UN resolutions and human rights conventions. Many Palestinians say that they want to live in freedom and dignity on their land or die in pursuit of that freedom. Such is their relationship with the fertile land of their ancestors, Palestine, with its chequered history, mosques and churches. The winds of democratic change are blowing throughout the Middle East and the reconciliation of Fatah and Hamas is integral to that change. There is real hope that liberation and self-determination may come to Palestine sooner rather than later. Efforts to raise awareness of the real situation in Palestine, historic and residual, are more vital now than ever before. The Israelis know that, and so do we, which is why MEMO will continue to provide an alternative narrative to that provided by the pro-Israel lobby and media.

~ reposted by Sofia Smith

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