This year Israel celebrates its 60th birthday. Yet for Palestinians and for people of conscience this is not an occasion to celebrate.
The establishment of the State of Israel involved the destruction of over 530 Palestinian towns and villages and the expulsion of about two-thirds of the indigenous Palestinian Arab population from their homes and lands to pave the way for the establishment of a Jewish State, with a Jewish majority.
Contrary to Israeli claims that they declared statehood in response to an Arab war against them, in actual fact, Zionist leaders launched a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the largely defenseless Palestinian population in April of 1948. A month and a half into this campaign, 380,000 Palestinians had faced expulsion, accounting for half of the total Palestinians made refugees in 1948, spawning an era in Palestinian history known as the Nakba (catastrophe).

This major offensive was Plan Dalet (Dalet – Hebrew for letter D). The Zionist leaders waged this campaign to control and ethnically cleanse territories beyond that allocated to the Jewish state by the UN Partition Plan (UNPP). By 1949, the Zionist leadership/Israeli government controlled 78% of Mandatory Palestine, having seized an additional 23% of the land allocated to Palestinian State under the UNPP.

According to Plan Dalet, the brigade commanders were given full "discretion" in what to do with the villages they occupied – that is to destroy them or leave them standing. On numerous occasions, Zionist forces expelled residents from their towns and villages, committed rape and other acts of violence, massacred civilians, and executed prisoners of war. These acts have been widely documented, most forcefully by Israeli historians using military and State archives. Here is one of many testimonies from Zionist soldiers:
"The first [wave] of conquerors killed about 80 to 100 [male] Arabs, women and children. The children they killed by breaking their heads with sticks. There was not a house without dead." He added that a soldier had bragged of raping and shooting a woman, two old women had been blown up in a house, and another woman with her baby were shot"
New Jewish settlers migrated from across the world to inhabit the very same homes from which their rightful Palestinian owners had been expelled. Today these rightful owners are still denied the right to return to their homes.
The campaign to ethnically cleanse Palestine of its population entailed a brutal attempt to eliminate Palestinian identity, culture and heritage.
60 years on, Palestinians continue to be denied their internationally sanctioned rights to return to their homes, to self-determination and to live in full equality in their homeland.

A recent UN report condemned Israel’s on-going policies in the Occupied Territories as forms of foreign occupation, colonialism and apartheid – all in violation of international law.

No other "democracy" has so flagrantly breached international laws and UN resolutions as Israel has.

60 years on, Israel's practices of ethnic cleansing continue.

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Just came from a Nakba commemoration in Vienna held by the "Frauen in Schwarz"
(Woman in Black)

Booklet about Tarhisha
Remembering the Nakba in Hebrew
Kafar Bir'em is waiting for Justice
You say, Mohammed, that "By 1949, the Zionist leadership/Israeli government controlled 78% of Mandatory Palestine". This is patently untrue. Mandatory Palestine was divided amongst its residents in 1922, with 80% going to the Arabs, later to become Jordan, and 20% going to the Jews. It was the Arab refusal to allow the Jews to enjoy their very fair allocation of 20% that led to a string of massacres, as Arabs tried to force Jews out, culminating in the war of 1948, an Arab push to ensure that any dream of a Jewish entity would not survive. Today, Israel sits on about 15% of Mandatory Palestine, so overall, the Jews lost an extra 5% of what the League of Nations had allocated.

Yes, refugees were created in Israel's defensive war of 1948, though it is well documented that many Arabs never saw a Jewish soldier. When Israel was about to invade Southern Lebanon in 1982, almost the entire population of Southern Lebanon moved out. Before the Americans arrived in Afghanistan, 2 million Afghanis fled to the Pakistani border. Check any conflict in the area ... that's what people do. Israel's international obligation is to either allow refugees back, or compensate them for lost property. Israel has opted for the second, and one of the first Israeli laws passed was one of compensation.

As to any suggestions of "ethnic cleansing", that's nothing short of libellous given that 1.2 million Arabs (Palestinians), 20% of the population, have lived peacefully in Israel from its inception with full civil rights and liberties. If you want to look to "ethnic cleansing" look to Gaza whose Jewish population was cleansed out despite living on Jewish-owned properties. Or the 3 thousand year old Jewish community driven out of their properties in Hebron in 1929. The West Bank and Jerusalem cleansed of Jews in 1948, all removed from their properties ... now there is true "ethnic cleansing". Or Saudi Arabia where Jews aren't even allowed to enter, and where there isn't a single church. Contrast that to the Declaration of Israel's independance that calls on Arab residents to remain as Israeli citizens and build a wonderful future in Israel for people of all backgrounds. There was clearly no policy of ethnic cleansing, and Israel's 1.2 million Arabs are testament to that.

The problem, which you don't address at all Mohammed, is the unfair refusal of Arabs to accept any Jewish entity, even if it is only less than 1% of the Arab holdings in the Middle East. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah, PFLP, DFLP and the other members of the PA are still totally committed to Israel's destruction. When their attacks and efforts to destroy Israel stop, peace and harmony will descend on the region.

Palestine was fairly divided amongst its residents in 1922, just as India was to form India and Pakistan. People died there too, and millions of refugees were created ... then absorbed. The lesson of the Nakba should be to accept realities, as the Indians and Pakistanis did, and to get on with life, rather than fester in hate and plans for the destruction of another.
By 1920 the division of Palestine was unfair, and even so if Jordan took Palestine, then it's not Jew's business if they did so!!!
Did you ask yourself why people were cleaning their homes before the (Israeli, American) army arrive?
Because of the terrorist massacre they did before they arrive...!!! For example when the Zionists gangs like Haganah were killing and executing people, the other cleaned for their safety!!!
In another hand, if anyone got out of his/her home this DON'T give you the right to take their homes.
About accepting Jews, you are wrong. We have representative in our Parliament of Sumerian Jews, and Jews are living peacefully in Egypt,Algeria,Morrocco,Yemen and many other. NO one ever hurt them or annoyed them with their religion, which is not same in Israel.
Israel is preventing Muslims and Christians from practicing their religions in Jerusalem which is their right!!!
Finally if in 1920 it was divided, then WHERE is the 80% for Palestinians???
I think you are blind enough to trick the history and facts on earth.
Mohammed, 80% of Palestine became Transjordan in 1922. That was the Arab part of Palestine, the rest west of the Jordan River was Jewish. This was land belonging to the Ottoman Empire which the League of Nations was distributing to the residents of the land after WW1. Syria, Lebanon and Iraq were all created out of it, whilst a Jewish homeland and an Arab one were carved out of Ottoman land in Palestine. This is history as you will find it in any encyclopedia, so there is little point debating it. The problem is that Arabs refused to accept that Jews had a right to anything, even only 20%. The Arab massacres of the helpless Jewish population in 1920, 1921, 1929, 1937 etc led to the need for Jews to create defense forces. This too is a matter of history that you will find with any Google search.

Also the fact that almost 1 million Jews were evicted from Yemen, Morocco, Iraq etc after 1948 is a matter of recorded history, not an opinion. Their houses and property were taken from them with no compensation. Contrast this to Israel who, in line with international law, compensates everybody who lost property for the full value of their lost property.

When Arab groups like Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, DFLP and nations like Iran and Saudi Arabia recognise the Jewish right to their own nation on their own piece of land, without trying to destroy it, there will be no more conflict. Had the Arabs accepted partition in 1922 the same way that the Indians and Pakistanis did, there would have been peace back then.
I apologize for not reading through out the entire thread. I promise to do that later! I just hit the next button and it opened up a reply window lol, so here we go.

I was one of the participants in the latest even in Givat Haviva on Naqbe Day/Yom Ha'atzmaut, and I have been thinking things over ever since.

A few words about myself, to put this in context - an Israeli, born and bred here, a Zionist (still!) and most importantly, a mother.

I just wrote a long post in my blog about the issue of the different narratives of the same events. I think the most important thing I took from the seminar is the need to make room for the other side's narrative. I think that as a Zionist, I was there to do just that, to make room in my mind and heart for the narrative of the Naqbe. I really hope that Palestinians and anti-Zionists in general will take the time to make room in their minds and hearts for the Zionist narrative as well. It's not a question of historical truth. History is made of a multitude of events, many of which are documented in some form or another. Each side then cherry picks what fits their own narrative and their own self-image. It's just the way collective consciousness works - it's who we are as human beings. The important thing for each one is to acknowledge that their side's story is just that, a story, not an absolute truth. I can see that about the Zionist narrative - can Palestinians see the same about theirs?

You're welcome to read more of my thoughts on the matter here -

I agree that we need to understand the other's narrative. But both narratives have been disenfranchised by the insistence of starting them in 1948, whilst the story of land allocation and conflict actually begins in 1920, and even before. These may be aspects of the narrative most Arabs would choose to ignore, because they involve a fair distribution of Mandatory Palestine (80% going to the Arabs) amongst its residents, with a Jewish homeland being created on a fair slice of the Palestinian pie ... 20%, something less than the proportion of Jewish land ownership, but a little more than the population representation, so, ultimately fair, certainly in the eyes of the League of Nations.

The narrative is wholly one of Arab refusal to countenance any independent Jewish presence, of a string of massacres of Jews, violence and conflict culminating in the decision to partition the Jewish portion of Palestine, and the once-and-for-all effort to dislodge Jews in 1948. This sets the stage for Jewish efforts at self-defence that is the context of which both narratives are robbed by starting them in 1948.
An interesting Jewish view.
As the 60th anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel approaches, Al Jazeera's special series The Promised Land? tells the story of its origins, violent creation and modern-day reality through the stories of individual Israelis.

The Promised Land?
Tamar Eshel served in the British army and the Haganeh Shmuel Shilo is originally from Poland and joined a kibbutz in the new state

Uri Avnery left Germany for Palestine in 1933, when he was just 10 years old. A former Knesset member, he is now a leading peace activist.

"My family was an old established family in Germany. My father was a banker - we were quite well to do. When we came to Palestine we became very, very poor overnight.

When the Nazis came to power, my father was one of the few German Jews who realised immediately that we should leave immediately, and this we did.

It was a very adventurous experience for me.

I remember arriving by ship opposite Jaffa. It was a huge experience for a young boy. I loved the country on sight. I loved everything. I loved Jaffa which at that time was a purely Arab town.

It was not only a wonderful feeling that we were out of Germany - it was an even more wonderful feeling that we were entering a new world.

For a child of 10 this was a wonderful experience - everything was different, everything was new. The Arab language, the smells of Jaffa - everything was so new and wonderful.

My only wish was to completely eradicate the first 10 years of my life. It felt like a new birth.

[David Ben Gurion] says when he saw Jaffa he was disgusted - what an awful city, what a terrible language and what awful smells - everything was horrible and he said "Is this the land of our fathers?"

So I think the first impression says a lot of what happened afterwards.

Imagined country

For most of the Zionists who came to this country, I would say it was a terrible disappointment - they were not prepared, they really thought the land was empty. And therefore I think there was a kind of pushing away of the reality of Palestine right from the beginning, in favour of an imagined country.

Uri as a member of the Irgun in 1940
They wanted to reshape everything in the country.

And you see it everywhere. You see it in the architecture, you see it in the outlay of the cities, everywhere you see that the Zionist movement, when it moved into this country, they did not come to a country that they accepted. They came to a country that they wanted to change completely, to reshape.

They never accepted Palestine as it was - which was an Oriental, Arab, mainly Muslim country.

From the first moment, this movement was determined to wipe out everything of what this country was in the last 2,000 years and create a new country. And of course, they did.

All of us who came to this country had only one wish - to completely forget the past and become local, and adapt ourselves, and pretend that we were born in this country.

For example, all of us the moment we were 18 years old, we shed our names. We changed our German, Polish, Russian names, whatever, and adopted a Hebrew name. That was the done thing.

Foreign occupation

I joined the anti-British underground when I was 14 years old. The British were considered enemies. For people of my age group the British were foreign rulers, British rule was a foreign occupation.

For us it was quite clear - we wanted to take over the country, we considered it our country, and the British had nothing to do here.

It was not just a question of the British being a foreign government, but it was also a question of opening the gates of the country to Jewish immigration - this was the most burning question right from the middle of the 1930s up to the last day of the British mandate before the state of Israel was founded. It was all about immigration.

From the other side, from the Arab side it looked exactly the same, but opposite - here come the Jews flooding our homeland, and really want to take away our homeland from us.

So it was not just the Jews against the British, it was the Jews against the Arabs. It was a triangle in which everybody hated everyone else, and fought everybody else. And from 1936 on, it was war.


There was a complete separation. Jews and Arabs did not mingle, did not mix, there was no connection at all.

Therefore you could live in Tel Aviv and never meet an Arab at all, except some fruit vendors in the streets. Like today actually, there was no great difference between then and now. Everybody who tells you differently is imagining things.

Uri with Yasser Arafat in Gaza, 1994
At that time the Irgun killed Arabs en masse. We put bombs in the Arab markets of Jaffa, of Haifa, of Jerusalem - in retaliation for Arab bombs against Jewish buses and so on.

We were quite clear what we were fighting for. We were fighting for Palestine becoming a Jewish state. This was what it was all about.

In 1936 when I was still in school, the so-called Arab revolt started - which was an uprising of the Arabs of Palestine against the British and against the Jews - mainly caused by the great immigration wave coming from Nazi Germany.

Living in the underground was an extraordinary experience for a boy of 15 - it overshadows everything else you are doing in your life.

It kind of gives you a feeling of superiority because you walk in the street and you have a pistol wrapped between books under your armpits, and you know that people are being hanged for keeping weapons. It gives you a wonderful feeling of danger, of living.

I left it [the Irgun] because there came a time when I was 18 or 19 years old when I thought that this approach to the Arabs, and this terrorism against the British - I couldn't approve of it any more.

It was a very great crisis in my life. I remember after I stood up and said "I'm leaving" it was a shattering experience. I remember that for a few days it was like dying. I lost all my friends overnight.

'No choice'

The actual day the British were leaving and the state of Israel was announced for us actually went by virtually unnoticed. It was not important - for already we were engaged in major battles - the war was on, and we were in the middle of a war.

From the first moment it was clear that the Arabs couldn't possibly accept it as for them it meant that their country is being taken over by foreigners. We knew that there was going to be a major war.

The Promised Land?

Watch part 1 of The Promised Land? - Pioneers

In a way, it was a liberating feeling I must say, because the tension is building up - it was like a spring which is getting tight, and suddenly it's released.

My first engagement was attacking an Arab village not far from Latrun, between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
We all tried to look very brave. We were all very afraid - a combat soldier ahead of an engagement is afraid not really of the enemy, but of not standing up, of not proving oneself.

The slogan of the war was "there is no choice". And we actually felt exactly like this.

We knew that if we were going to loose the war, we would loose not only the war, but everything.

It was an ethnic war. It was different from the usual wars of which you read in history books.

It was like the war in Bosnia, in which you have two peoples, both of which claim the whole country as its motherland, denying the right of the other side completely, not even recognising the other side as being there. And to take hold of as much of the country as you can without the enemy population - this is what ethnic cleansing means.

This was a war of ethnic cleansing, not just from our side, but from both sides, because very few Arabs remained in the territories that we conquered, and not a single Jew remained in the very small territories that the Arabs conquered.

We never really thought that we are going to loose the war. It was a theoretical possibility, but somehow we had a supreme self confidence.

I had a riffle with a swastika on it, because these arms were produced in Czechoslovakia for the Germans and when the world war ended they remained in stock in Czechoslovakia and Stalin - who supported the state of Israel in the darkest hour - told the Czechs to send the arms to us.

We had German airplanes, and the Egyptians had British spitfires, so when you had a German and a British airplane fighting it out over your head, the German was ours, and the British was theirs!

Last line

When the Egyptians came to Ashdod our commanders told us that you are the last line defending Tel Aviv, which gave us a lot of motivation of course. And we really were.

At a demonstration at a-Ram
checkpoint in 2002
The Egyptians could easily have reached Tel Aviv actually - because if they had made a determined push, we had nothing to hold them up with.

About July the table turned. We had already enough arms; we had already an efficient army working. The Egyptian army was very inefficient.

In the second half of the war after the Arab population had been pushed out to a great extent, some of the Arabs tried to come back to their villages. Our order was to kill them, each of them.

I have some pictures in my mind which I do not let come to the foreground - of peasants, fellaheen, being killed at close range - unarmed. In a war you see many things, and I got them out of my system by writing about them.

Decimated generation

When the war started in this country we were 635,000 Jews and 1,200,000 Arabs - that's 2 to 1. Of these 635,000 Jews more than 6,000 were killed in the war - which means one per cent of the whole population.

My whole generation was decimated - killed, wounded and so on. And I think there was hardly anyone who was not wounded in the end. And it has had a devastating effect in many respects that people are not conscious of. It had a very great effect on what we were trying at that time to create in this country, a new culture, a new civilisation.

I think Israel after the war of 1948 was a different country from before the war - and immediately there came a huge wave of new immigrants from the displaced people of Europe and from the Oriental, Islamic countries. Israel's still changing, it's changing all the time.

Of course, it's completely different from what we could have imagined. It's changed in every respect."
Thank you John, for your kind words.

Interesting point about when the story begins. I am still not familiar enough with the Palestinian or Arab narrative to comment on that, but I can say that the mainstream Zionist narrative begins in the early 1800's and it draws on the general Jewish narrative which began thousands and thousands of years ago. has some recent and relevant information that cites sources without just making sweeping claims (and slanders about rapes and such).
Last update - 05:44 12/05/2008
Palestinian refugees, Israeli left-wingers mark Nakba
By Yoav Stern
Tags: Israel Independence, Nakba

Several dozen Palestinian refugees, public figures and Israeli left-wing activists conducted a tour Sunday of the West Jerusalem neighborhoods of Talbieh and Baka to mark the 60th anniversary of the Nakba ("the Catastrophe"), as the Palestinians refer to the events surrounding Israel's independence in 1948.

The tour began in the homes next to the Jerusalem Theater in Talbieh, with the organizers showing photographs taken of those homes and their Palestinian inhabitants before the War of Independence. Palestinian refugees described their pre-war experiences and what happened to them during the war itself.

At 20 Hovevei Zion Street in Talbieh, those who joined the tour looked at the inscription "A.K. 1925," forged in iron on the front of the building.

"This is the home of my father's grandfather, Assad Hadad. My grandfather would bring us here and show us the trees he planted in the garden himself," one of the participants said, pointing to the two tall palm trees in the yard.

Masses of journalists documented the event, which was organized in part by Zochrot, an Israeli organization dedicated to raising awareness of the Nakba.

The tour was the private initiative of several Palestinian women, who said yesterday they decided to mark the Nakba in just one part of Jerusalem rather than in all parts of the city in which Palestinians lived prior to 1948.

"The Palestinian nation has not forgotten and will not forget," Abdel Kader Husseini, the scion of well-known Palestinian figures and one of the participants in the tour, told Haaretz. "As long as Israel looks eastward and establishes settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, we will look at West Jerusalem," said Husseini, who was named after his grandfather, a Palestinian leader who was killed in the 1948 battle over the Castel, and is the son of Faisal Husseini, a Palestine Liberation Organization leader in Jerusalem. "The question is whether Israel has the courage to reach an agreement that would divide Jerusalem and Palestine or whether we will go toward the unknown. We will not leave our land again."
Hi Adam, I have read your contributions to this debate over the last week or so and what stands out the most is the juxtaposition of stated historical events, a great many in fact, with some highly emotional writing. Firstly, I have never actually met a Palestinians in my life. I have chatted with a few here on and find their opinions quite diverse. What is your personally experience? You hold quite concrete ideas about the way these people think - ‘by and large, they reject even the legitimacy of the other’s claim, and can countenance no solution other than complete capitulation to their way of thinking’ - and so I have taken this to have come from personally experience. Am I right to assume this? I have never been to the Middle East, not that I think this is essential mind you.

You clearly know your history and include numerous facts that I was not aware of but you do not give references which I think would give more weight to your arguments neither is your general view of history very clear. You said people should look up the population of Israel in 1840 and I have done this although I must admit that I only googled it, I found a various references (virtual Jewish Library and wikipedia) but I couldn’t find any reference to a census done by the Ottomans so do you know how these figures where arrived at? In terms of your general view of history I am struck by your insistence on the importance of specific events but you do not explain why you hold this view and appear unwilling do discuss conceptual ideas in relation to these events. For example the idea of historical rights which you continually refer to is stated as a given. When it comes to the idea, or perhaps I should say conflict between the idea of a nation and the idea of a state it is not clear to me what you believe. You write that ‘Palestine was a place, not a nationality, a land mass, not a cultural identity’ before this you make a reference to various parts of New York that I simple didn’t understand and then later refer to ‘peoplehood’ without explaining what that means either. In case I sound pedantic let me explain. The way in which the ‘idea’ of the Palestinians state came into being would describe most nations on earth. Britain at one time was just a ‘land mass’ peopled by numerous groups that were not bound by a single cultural identity and it wasn’t all that long ago either because the whole idea of the nation state is a very recent one. I do not know what your ideas about nationalism are. I shall not expand further until it is clear to be how you view these ideas, in particular how you define the idea of a ‘historical right’. I might as well tell you now I think the whole idea is a load of nonsense. One other point, what degree of similarity do you think there is between Ancient Israel and the modern state of Israel?

There are some historical references that you make that I simply find hard to take seriously. I have already elaborated in my previous post that concerned the magnitude of Arab crimes against Jews but another is this: ‘If you thumb through an encyclopaedia and take a look at all the countries that were created in those days, you see the great powers took pains to create nation-states in which various ethnic minorities were represented’. What encyclopaedia are you reading? I have never read this period of history ever described in this way, quite the opposite. Generally, historians like Evans and Kershaw describe the conduct of the great powers in Europe during this period as a cock-up which played a factor in the rise of Nazi Germany. Would you describe the USSR’s actions on this matter as demonstrating a desire to make sure all ethnic minorities were represented? I think it is bit far fetched to see my country as having done this. Do you think we gave a damn about the Kurds? We certainly didn’t give a shit about the Armenians and took the Stalin Czechslovakia approach on most matters. What do you think of our approach to the Pashtuns may I ask? On the subject of my country do you think we share some of the blame? You say we ‘won’ Palestine from the Ottomans. It is a rather odd choice of word I must say but I will leave that, what interests me is whether you think we had the ‘right’ to put forward the Balfour Declaration and a right to rule over this territory. Do you think we had a right to rule over South Africa or India? We ‘won’ them to you know.

You refuse quite bluntly to sympathise or even empathise with the idea of the Naqba which I find strange. If you were an Israeli I wouldn’t have a problem with that but you are not – although at many points I have to say you sound like you are one. In fact on the whole you sound more like an Israeli Nationalist than an American. I find this mirrors people I know here in the UK who are so pro-Palestinian they sound like Arab Nationalists (there are many who are the reverse). Why do you have such strong feelings on the matter? As I wrote early it sounds like you have been to the Middle East - did you have such strong feeling before you went? Anyway, you wrote ‘But to feel bad for the ‘people’ as a whole? Never.’ Do you feel bad for the ‘people’ of Burma? The ‘people’ of Darfur? Do you feel for the people of Gaza – people like Muhammad? I do feel sorry for Muhammad. I once wrote to him and asked him to describe life in Gaza. I didn’t ask him about his view of history or what his political persuasion was I simple wanted to know what his daily existence was like and that of other Palestinians in the Gaza strip. He wrote back in broken English, which was strangely powerful, and described a miserable situation where the predominant theme of his surroundings was not political extremism but despair and irrespective of who is responsible, I felt for him and those around him. You may think that I am falling into the trap of ‘Arab propaganda’ or that I am an ‘Arab apologists’ as you described one contributor here, well, I’m not. Maybe it is all the fault of the ‘Arabs’ or the Israeli government. So what? You can still sympathise. I feel pity for people of Dresden this doesn’t make me Nazi. You seem almost revolted by the idea of Naqba. I don’t totally agree with how some see the British Empire but I accept that they are entitled to do so. I think people can hold different views of history. I think the pact with Stalin was necessary in World War II can you imagine how many Poles hold that view? I am not sure from what you write that you are prepared to tolerate another view of history.

You say that you crave and yearn for peace but it sounds distinctly like peace on your terms – again this is strange considering you are not an Israeli. You are very specific that the problem lies with the Palestinians: ‘Israeli public opinion and leaders aver the right of both peoples to create homelands in Palestine. The Palestinians do not.’ When you wrote that the Palestinians do not do you mean the Palestinians per se or Palestinians leaders? If it is the former then why are the Palestinians the problem? Either way I think these are sweeping statements to say the least and somewhat conflict with the vague ideas that you put forward as the solution to the conflict which you gave in a later post and which were centred in the idea of partition. In this you said there would have to be some form of population transfer but rightly call for a pragmatic approach. Well, this is the outline that has been advanced for the last decade or so this is hardly new but you did not tackle the difficult question of Jerusalem what are your ideas on this? Furthermore, if the Palestinians are the problem as you say they are then how can you believe in these ideas? Won’t the Palestinians still be ‘the problem’ irrespective of any partition plan? I have to add to this that there is a vague idea that borders on collective responsibility running through your contributions. You seem obsessed with Arab wrong doing so I must ask the following question: You write that the Israelis ‘despite having a century of reasons to hate and want to kill the other side…’ do you think the same could be said of the Palestinians do you think they too have reasons to hate and kill?

Why are you so convinced that the conflict will not be solved in our life time? It is this statement along with your very broad comments about Palestinians that make me sceptical of whether you desire peace and not peace within the frame work of your ideology.

(By which I mean your view of history, your ideas about the nation state, the concept of collective consciousness etc. and your views on race – yes, race. You emphasis the word Arab so much and talk about ‘the Arabs’ and about what they did that, race and culture have to play a role in what you believe. Don’t take it as meaning I think you are a racist I don’t. As I said I am the one here who has never actually met a Palestinian and now that I think about it I haven’t met many Arabs either.)

It seems at time almost implicit in what you say that Arabs and Jews cannot live together. Well, I totally disagree if this is your view. For years people said that Catholics and Protestant could never do so in Northern Ireland but they are now and before you say ‘Northern Ireland is totally different….’ Yes, I know it is different but that is not my point. The historical reference is not the essence of the argument it is an example to show that despite the many claims that history is almost predetermined quite unexpected things can happen. I think if you had said to my Grand Parents in 1946 that in fifty years they would be part of a political/economic Union that included Germany they would not have believe it. In the 1950’s when the USSR led by Stalin had built the Atomic bomb, when the Korea war was at a stalemate and the Hungarian uprising had been brutally crushed I think most people could never have imagine a day when young German’s would climb on top of the Berlin Wall and demand their right to be free. In conclusion, while we both want peace and we differ not in a view of history but because I think I am an optimist and you are a pessimist. I do not see how you can be anything else. I think Arabs and Jews not only can live in peace but will. This doesn’t make me left wing, an Arab apologist or anything else. It just shows I live in hope.

I read the other day about an Israeli woman whose son was killed at the age of eighteen while serving on the Lebanese border. The loss that she feels has clearly made life unbearable for her and time has not healed her wounds. I feel for this woman, I really do. Maybe this woman has an absurd view of history which is that historical revisionism of the kind that you so despise but that doesn’t stop me from feeling pity for her. You appear to be unwilling to sympathise with people whose view of history you do not accept.


The Palestinian narrative is here to stay
By Rami G. Khouri
Daily Star staff
Wednesday, May 14, 2008

That both Israeli independence and the Palestinian catastrophe, or nakba, of 1948 are now acknowledged virtually simultaneously around the world is a great achievement for the Palestinians, just as the creation of Israel was a miracle in the eyes of the world's Jews. The two big stories 60 years later are the strength and vitality of the Israeli state and the depth, vigor and relentless quest for life, land and liberty of the Palestinian people.

Both peoples are almost equally matched in numbers - about 7 million each - and in our indomitable spirit. We are both attached to the same land, for which we fight passionately, each having resorted to militancy - heroism in their own eyes - and terrorism in the eyes of the other. We have both suffered exile and disenfranchisement - from Babylon to Burj al-Barajneh - along with death, despair and denial. We each know what it means to be scapegoated, caricatured and abused. And we both entered the 21st century with widespread international recognition and support.

The parallels between Palestinians and Israelis are so deep that they are scary. The main difference is that Israel has a sovereign state and the Palestinians continue to suffer statelessness, dispersal, occupation and exile. This is not an eternal fate, though. I am certain the Palestinians will have their state one day soon, for three basic reasons: They deserve one by any moral standards; they are allocated one by prevailing global legal standards; and they insist on making statehood happen through their own dogged determination and persistence. For 60 years, many Israelis and their friends abroad have tried to disqualify the Palestinians from people-hood and statehood. They have used every trick in the book to make us disappear, without success. They called us communists, rejectionists, terrorists, a fabricated community, evil anti-Semites, Nazi sympathizers, lazy international parasites, and many other terrible things. Yet the Palestinians never disappeared or were disqualified from achieving their national rights, because collectively they never embraced evil, but only hope, humanity and an end to exile.

Despite the troubles Palestinians have suffered, 60 years on the prevalent feelings among them are self-confidence and pride. You see it in the eyes of every Palestinian man, woman and child, even the dead ones, even the babies in little coffins lined up after an Israeli air attack on Gaza. I am proud of many things as a Palestinian. I am proud that despite our exile and suffering, our tens of thousands of dead in political battles, we still pursue openings for a negotiated peace with Israel. I am proud that thousands of people around the world march in parades supporting my right to statehood. I am proud of our Palestinian artists, millionaires, scientists and writers, men and women whose spirit was never defeated, who reacted to exile with exuberant self-improvement, who defeated their refugee status with education and entrepreneurship. I am proud of Palestinians who built much of the commercial and physical infrastructure of the Arab oil-producing states.

And I am especially proud of the Palestinians who seek out Israelis and Jews around the world to explore a shared route to justice, statehood and mutual humanization; and often find Israelis who recognize our right to live in peace, security and national integrity alongside their Israeli state.

Pride is a powerful sustaining force, especially when it shuns the extremes of envy or arrogance. It overwhelms humiliation and neutralizes statelessness. Palestinians without passports or even identity cards that make them recognized, legal human beings still have pride. Palestinians living in poverty in wretched refugee camps have pride. They have nothing, but walk into their crowded cinderblock homes and they will offer you tea, coffee, sweets and every other goodness of the human spirit.

It is useful to repeat for anyone interested: Pride is a river that buoys you, carries you forward, and ultimately takes you home. It is the confluence of self-confidence and hard work; it rests on an indestructible foundation of political certitude, acknowledged legal rights, and sheer human dignity. If you take away one thing with you from the television specials on the Palestinian nakba this week, let it be the serenity that defines all Palestinians, young or old, rich or poor, free or occupied, in Palestine or in exile, those having a citizenship and those without any.

Call us terrorists, call us stupid, call us long-nosed killers, call us political fools who fail to heed history's summons, call us anything you like. Words this week mean very little, because this week - as Jews, Zionists and Israelis learned for themselves - we are fortified by the certitude that our own national reconstitution is inevitable. The first and hardest step on that road has been achieved: universal acknowledgment of our nakba alongside the commemoration of Israel's birth. Israel controls and colonizes the land and kills and jails thousands of Palestinians; but in the battle for minds, and in the domain of survival, we have fought them to a draw.

Seven million proud Palestinians are not going anywhere, except home. The sooner Israelis, Jews and Zionists recognize the furies and demons of their own successful national reconstitution in our eyes, the sooner we will all have a chance to live in mutual peace, dignity and security. This week marks the beginning of the fourth generation of Palestinians who insist on living as free, dignified citizens in a sovereign state, on their own ancestral land.

Rami G. Khouri is published twice-weekly by THE DAILY STAR.



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