Injustice in Palestine

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The sagacious and illustrious Pope John Paul II on his recent historic visit to Damascus said   “for the door of peace to open, fundamental issues of truth and justice, of rights and responsibilities must be resolved,” The world looks to the Middle East with hope and concern, expectantly awaiting every sign of constructive dialogue,” . 

“The first steps towards peace must be a steadfast conviction that a solution is possible within the parameters of international law and the resolutions of the United Nations.” “I appeal once more to all the peoples involved, and to their political leaders, to recognize that confrontation has failed and will always fail,” 

According to international law, Palestinian and other refugees are entitled to full restitution, which includes the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes of origin, the return of their property, and the right to compensation for material and non-material losses.

These rights are inalienable and are not dependent on the refugee’s acceptance of unrelated political resolutions, who started the war that resulted in them becoming refugees, the reasons why refugees left their homes, or their treatment in the societies in which they live as refugees.

Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states that: “(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country” and the Fourth Geneva Conventions (1949) prohibits: “individual or mass forcible transfers … regardless of their motive”; and calls for evacuated persons to be: “Transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area in question have ceased.”

Moreover, UN General Assembly Resolution 3236 (1974) upholds: “the inalienable right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted, and calls for their return”; and UN General Assembly Resolution 52/62 (1997): “reaffirms that the Palestine Arab refugees are entitled to their property and to the income derived there from, in conformity with the principles of justice and equity.”

 

The UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (1948) of 12 December 1948 resolved that: “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for the loss or damage to property…” This resolution has been reaffirmed one hundred and ten times by the UN.

 

Israel and its supporters claim that the Palestinian refugees’ losses and claims are balanced by claims resulting from a comparable exodus of Jewish refugees from the Arab world; so consequently, nothing worse than a “population exchange” or a “double exodus” had occurred.

First, the Palestinians are refugees; their exodus was involuntary and enforced. Oriental Jews, also known as Mizrahim or Sephardim, came to Palestine, in most cases, voluntarily. A small minority of them may have suffered in the countries of their birth in the Arab world, but the vast majority moved to Palestine of their own accord or in response to Zionist recruiting efforts in the Arab lands as well as in Iran.

Secondly, the movement of Oriental Jews into Palestine did not occur concurrently with, or immediately after, the Palestinian exodus. Only about 126,000 Oriental Jews (mostly from Iraq and Yemen) emigrated to Palestine in the two years immediately following an-Nakba in 1948. The remainder who elected to move to what became known as Israel, particularly those from North Africa, did so much later. The whole emigration of Oriental Jews was thus spread over twenty years.

 

Zionists regularly portray the lot of Oriental Jews in Arab countries as one of misery, fear and virulent anti-Semitism. But Jews of the Arab world had never experienced the appalling race hatred so characteristic of European anti-Semitism. In general, Jews lived in harmony with their Muslim compatriots in the Arab-Islamic world. When Jews did experience persecution during their 1,300 years under Muslim rule, it was not because they were Jews – for many others also suffered under particularly despotic rulers.

 

The emigration of Oriental Jews to Palestine was not a result of force majeure. For many, the motive to move was economic. For others, the majority, the chance to live in a Jewish state as Jews was greatly desirable and attractive. The chance to trade their minority status in their countries of origin for a majority status in the Jewish state was appealing to many Oriental Jews.

 

For many others, direct covert pressure from Zionist agents provocateurs, in need of Jewish colonists, stimulated their emigration. Operations “Magic Carpet” and “Ali Baba” simply scooped up Yemeni Jews and flew them to what became known as Israel.

 

In Iraq, Zionist agents planted a series of bombs targeting the Iraqi Jewish community. As a result, all but a few thousand left for Israel, believing that the bombs were the result of anti-Jewish sentiment. The facts were first revealed, in part, in 1966 when Yehuda Tagar, an official in the Israeli Foreign Ministry, broke silence about his part in the business. Zionist terrorist activities against Jews in Iraq are well documented but not well known. The Black Panther, a magazine for Oriental Jews, tells much of the story in its November issue of 1972. Yehuda Tagar’s testimony was first printed in Ha’Olam Hazeh (29 May 1966). 

 

If any individual Oriental Jew has a legitimate grievance against an Arab government this would in no way diminish the State of Israel’s responsibility towards the Palestinians whom they uprooted.

 

One should remember that, according to Zionism, Jews who come to Israel do so as the culmination of millennial aspirations. Migration to Israel on the part of world Jewry is considered a duty. In Israel, an immigrant Jew is an oleh, someone who has “ascended”, who has fulfilled aliyah. Therefore, the situations of the Palestinians and Oriental Jews are thoroughly dissimilar and not parallel.

 

The Palestinian refugees were forced out against their will, have never relinquished their rights to their land and homes, and cannot be denied their inalienable right to return, guaranteed under international law.Jerusalem is a central city of all three great monotheistic faiths viz.Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Jerusalem was the original qibla or direction of prayer for all Muslims. Islam teaches that the Prophet Muhammed made a miraculous journey from Mecca to Al AQSA mosque in Jerusalem in 621 C.E. At Al Aqsa mosque Prophet Muhammed led congregational prayers of the prophets and then ascended to heaven to meet with the Creator. This event is central to Islamic belief and is mentioned in chapter 17 of the Holy Koran. Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Torah. Yes, the Jordanians did restrict movement in Jerusalem because it was a war zone until 1967.Under Israeli rule, a Muslim cemetery in Tel Aviv now has an international hotel sitting on top of it. Palestinian Christians and Muslims have a torrid time entering Jerusalem. They must obtain entry permits (pass laws similar to the former Apartheid regime in our country) that the IDF (Israeli defence force) hands out on an arbitrary basis Mr. Davidson bemoans the outrage that resulted from RIGHT WING LEADER Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Haram -al -sharif. This was predictable when one examines the history of Mr. Sharon who is regarded by the Arab world as a war criminal for his role in the Sabra and Shatila massacre that left 2000 unarmed civilians dead. An Israeli commission of inquiry found him indirectly responsible and recommended that he be barred from ever becoming Israel’s Minister of Defence. Herman, Sharon entered Islam’s THIRD holiest shrine with 1200 soldiers. Is this not inflammatory and provocative? On that fateful day 6 Palestinian youths were murdered callously by the soldiers in the Al Aqsa compound. That was the beginning of the Al Aqsa Intifada (uprising). To the Palestinians, the Intifada is an expression of the most basic reality of a people under occupation and their desire for freedom, dignity, and sovereignty; as such it is an uprising that represents a human will to endure, to resist, and to reject enslavement and brutality. It is a fundamental cry for justice and dignity.

The misrepresentation of the intifada as an immediate and “orchestrated” resort to “violence” betrays a total lack of awareness of Palestinian conditions and the build-up of pain and anger at the continued victimization of the Palestinians in the course of a severely flawed peace process. To the Palestinians, the peace process had become a punitive process and an instrument of power politics designed to perpetuate their subjugation and Israel’s control and domination. Thus, it represented an absence of political will and a weakness in the moral fiber of Israel and the international community, particularly in their blatant disregard of international law and Palestinian rights. By refusing to acknowledge (and deal with) legitimate Palestinian grievances and Israeli excesses, Israel not only indulged in willful ignorance, but also compounded the injustice and persistently brought about the current tragic breakdown.

In the meantime, the essential fact of the occupation itself has been eradicated from the discourse and the blame-game. Sharon’s insistence on the language and tactics of “war” not only created the grand deception, but also provided him with the elements and cover for his anti-peace policies. His objective of achieving a “state of non-belligerency” and a prolonged transitional chase with the Palestinians once they “stop the violence,” is an attempt at normalizing and perpetuating the occupation by bringing about Palestinian acquiescence and submission to the fact of the occupation through military repression. The false symmetry in the illusion of “warring parties” also disguises the imbalance of power while justifying the “rules of engagement” fallacy that transforms every Palestinian into a legitimate target as a potential “combatant.” The Palestinians are thus instantly robbed of their humanity, their civilian status, the protection of the law (particularly international humanitarian law), the safety of moral norms, and the fact of their own victimization and suffering.

Equally cynical is the depiction of previous Israeli proposals in the context of the peace process as a “generous offer” or “concessions” handed down from the strong to the weak, and somehow inexplicably rejected by those ungrateful Palestinians. In reality the Israeli “generous offer” meant granting Israel license to annex Palestinian land including most of occupied Jerusalem, to maintain settlement clusters that destroy the territorial unity of the West Bank and the viability of the Palestinian state, to abolish the Palestinian refugees’ right of return, to maintain Israeli security control and diminish Palestinian sovereignty, and to violate international law and UN resolutions. In conclusion I would like to quote David Ben-Gurion (quoted in “The Jewish paradox” by Nathan Goldman) “Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader, I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it’s true, but 2000 years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we came here and stole their country. Why should they accept that??”

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