No, no, I am not referring to my right to return to writing articles for Arab Democracy. Speaking of which, I do want to apologize to my fans (all 3 of you, myself included!) for my prolonged absence. It was caused by shoulder surgery and too much work.
OK, back to the main topic. The right of return I am talking about is THE right of return. Yes, that one! The one enshrined in international law and UN security council resolutions. The right of expelled or escaped refugees to return to their homeland, hometowns, homes! The very right that Israel and the so-called “international community” insist on denying the Palestinian people. The right that even those who claim to represent the Palestinian people- and their backers in the hollow and defeated Arab officialdom- are willing to sign away from a fistful of dollars. The same dollars they get paid selling Israel cement to build its racist wall. The same dollars they count, with watering mouths, as they sell the Israeli army food supplies while closing the borders that would allow a besieged and bombed Palestinian population to get necessary food and medical supplies. The same dollars they then so generously announce as a donation to butchered Palestinian children having just made them selling Israel natural gas.
And so what of this right return? Well, the right of Palestinian refugees is perhaps the single most peculiar issue in the entire Palestinian question. It is used by friend and foe alike to exploit the Palestinian cause and people. Israel, of course, denies this right. It denies it not only because of its demographic implications, but for a much more fundamental reason. Accepting the right of Palestinian refugees is essentially an admission of its crime; of what Daniel Rubenstein, writing for Ha’aretz, called “the original sin”. Interestingly, Israel itself uses the concept of the right of return to populate its synthetic entity. Is not the whole idea of Israel based on “the right of the Jewish diaspora to return to the “promised land”? So, basically, a person who happens to be born into the Jewish faith in Brooklyn, New York has the “right of return” to Palestine, whereas the a person born and raised in Yafa who still holds on to her original house key, does not have the right to return to her place of birth? How does that work exactly? The Arab regimes, all Arab regimes “democratic Lebanon” included, use the right of return to deny Palestinian refugees basic human and civil rights. How do they do this? Well, you see, dear reader, the ridiculous “argument” goes as follows:
If Palestinians were to be treated as equal human beings with the right to jobs and education and health care, they might become too relaxed and happy. Too satisfied. Yes, human dignity has that downside, you see! When they become happy they risk forgetting about Palestine and their right to return to it! So, in order to make sure that Palestinian children never forget their right to return to Palestine and never lose that desire, let us lock them up in shanty towns, subject them to miserable living standards, force their children to go to pathetic makeshift schools and play in sewage water. Its for their own good really!
Yet the sadest element of the tragedy of Palestinian children is that they have been let down, not only by the “international community” and Arab regimes and societies, but by their own leadership. At least they still have their right of return to dream of, on those nights when the American made F-16’s decide to give them a nights sleep.
Friday, February 13, 2009
The Right of Return
By Dr Bassem Hassan