Friday, February 13, 2009

The Right of Return

By Dr Bassem Hassan


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.

21 comments:

Bassem Hassan said...

Post Publication Note:

I have just read in a leading Lebanese newspaper that the Woman and Child committee of the Lebanese parliament is close to finalizing a draft law to make children born to Lebanese mothers and foreign fathers eligible for the Lebanese nationality. It is widely expected that this law will pass.

However, it is one of the issues being considered by the committee is an exception to the law that will deny children born to Lebanese mothers and Palestinian fathers that right. The article reports that those proposing the exception have cited their desire to "protect the right of return"!

Bassem

Joseph said...

Another one of our contributions to the struggle of the Palestinian people!

At this rate they will have to be grateful to us for ever.

Joseph

Muslims Against Sharia said...

Discussing Palestinian right of return without reciprocity reeks of hypocrisy. Especially considering that most of Arabs left Israel voluntarily (being duped by Arab regimes) while the comparable number of Jews were mostly kicked out.

Arab Democracy said...

Is this a serious comment?

Where exactly do you get your historical references from?

But hey, I'm in a conciliatory move tonight... Let's say you are correct and the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is first and foremost characterised by the victimisation of the Jews in the Arab world.

Let's all then work very hard to repatriate them to their countries of origin, whether in Iraq, Syria, Egypt or Morocco. Now any peace loving campaigner like yourself would fully support this move. Correct?

Muslims Against Sharia said...

"Where exactly do you get your historical references from?"

What exactly are you disputing? The fact that most Muslims refugees voluntarily left before Israel was attacked in 1948 or that the number of Jewish refugees is not comparable to the number of Muslim refugees?

"Let's say you are correct and the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is first and foremost characterised by the victimisation of the Jews in the Arab world."

I didn't say that.

"Let's all then work very hard to repatriate them to their countries of origin, whether in Iraq, Syria, Egypt or Morocco. Now any peace loving campaigner like yourself would fully support this move. Correct?"

I wouldn't be against it, but I think 'having people stay where they are' solution is more practical. The opinion on the subject seems to be evenly split.

Arab Democracy said...

With all due respect I am not sure your opinion poll is representative of broader public opinion.

With regards to the 'Muslim' refugees leaving voluntarily, these were not Muslim refugees, these were Palestinian Arabs of Muslim and Christian faith who were thrown out of their land by various methods which included terror carried out by Zionist militias. (If you are interested in an example of these actions, bt I doubt that you are, plase google 'Deir Yassine').

I had look at your website and your mission statement. (And my comments are coming from a non-Muslim perspective), you claim to represent 'Moderate Muslims' but adopt a completely pro-Israeli stance on issues relating to the Middle East. Even the crusades, which even by Western accounts are considered a dubious campaign of aggression motivated as much by greed than by religion is a counter offensive.

Now, However you choose to interpret the Koran is your own business but mocking the 'moderation' of PA Mahmoud Abbas places you in the firm Anti-Arab camp.

Maybe you should be praised for opposing terrorism but your discourse and your methods are are best counterproductive and at worst based on fabrications and intentionally misleading statements.

Finally whether the right of return is practical for you or not is irrelevant. There is a right for self-determination which if I remember well was initially promoted by US president Woodrow Wilson. It is for the Palestinians (and the Israelis I guess)to determine where and how they want to live.Compromise is unavoidable but it will not be one sided. That I can prommiss you.

Joseph.

Muslims Against Sharia said...

"With all due respect I am not sure your opinion poll is representative of broader public opinion."

Our other polls seem to be fairly accurate, so even the numbers are a bit off, general trends are correct.

"Palestinian Arabs of Muslim and Christian faith who were thrown out of their land by various methods which included terror carried out by Zionist militias."

That's not exactly true. According to many people who chose to stay, majority of those who left, did that voluntarily. Some were driven out by Zionist militias, but most were not.

"you claim to represent 'Moderate Muslims' but adopt a completely pro-Israeli stance on issues relating to the Middle East."

You must be confusing it with anti-Islamist stance.

"Even the crusades, which even by Western accounts are considered a dubious campaign of aggression motivated as much by greed than by religion is a counter offensive."

We do not condone the Crusades, we state that they were not unprovoked, which is historically accurate.

"mocking the 'moderation' of PA Mahmoud Abbas places you in the firm Anti-Arab camp."

Could you come up with a more idiotic claim? Abbas has proven time and again that he is moderate only if compared to Hamas.

"Maybe you should be praised for opposing terrorism but your discourse and your methods are are best counterproductive and at worst based on fabrications and intentionally misleading statements."

That's you opinion that seems to be shared by minority.

"Finally whether the right of return is practical for you or not is irrelevant."

That's another idiotic claim. We are looking for practical solutions to end Middle Eastern conflict; we don't look at practicality of those solution from our personal perspective.

"It is for the Palestinians (and the Israelis I guess)to determine where and how they want to live"

If that were the case, the issue would have been resolved in sixty years, don't you think? The reality is that outside influences that fuel the conflict must be taken into account.

Arab Democracy said...

Those with your opinions are in no position to moderate or arbitrate on the conflict in the Middle East. One of the reasons for the lack of progress for the past 60 years is the bias towards the Zionist account of history within the circles of power in the West and particularly in the US. By considering Mahmoud Abbas a hardliner you disqualify pretty much every representative Palestinian politician.

I havn't heard from you a single criticism of Israel, US foreign policy, Corrupt pro-Western Arab regimes or Evangelical Christianity

I am in the minority if you get your news from FOX and the the Jerusalem Post.

And finally there is a fine line between communicating strong views and preaching. You seem to have crossed it a while ago. A simple strategy would be to avoid the use of the term 'idiotic' in a conversation.

Good luck with your endeavour. Check back in about 10 years and hopefully the Middle East will be a better place with a sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, free of settlements and with its capital in East Jerusalem. There lies the solution.

Joseph

loolt said...

brave article. Its true i have heard 'preserving the right of return' argument to keeping palestinians in the efugee camps in lebanon.

The obvious counterargument is that the Palestinians in Jordan, who have equal rights to hijazi jordanians have not refuted their right of return. Nor the palestinians with any other citizenship who have lead privelaged lives. We all still want to return, and refuse to give up this right.

As a side note you mentioned how the refugees were let down by their own government, i agree but would be interested in how u came to this conclusion.

Muslims Against Sharia said...

"By considering Mahmoud Abbas a hardliner you disqualify pretty much every representative Palestinian politician."

He's not a hardliner, he is a whore. just like Arafat. Take the last Gaza flare-up. He secretly encouraged Israelis to destroy Hamas while publicly decrying their actions as barbaric.

"I havn't heard from you a single criticism of Israel, US foreign policy, Corrupt pro-Western Arab regimes or Evangelical Christianity"

Why don't you read our blog.

"A simple strategy would be to avoid the use of the term 'idiotic' in a conversation."

I call it how I see it.

"hopefully the Middle East will be a better place with a sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, free of settlements and with its capital in East Jerusalem. There lies the solution."

That would be perfect, but it is unlikely to happen. Situation in Gaza is a lot worse than the one in the West Bank; it is easier to deal with one problem at a time. As long as Gaza is controlled by terrorists it will be blockaded and vise and versa. The only practical way to break the vicious cycle is to have outside forces take control of Gaza and Egypt is in the best position. The question is, would Gazans be better off right now if Gaza were a part of Egypt? If you don't believe that the answer is "yes," we must be living on different planets.

"Palestinians in Jordan"

How are they any different from Jordanians in Jordan? Under British Mandate of Palestine they were the same people. Did some of them change their ethnicity after 1948?

Ali said...

Arab nations have been using the Palestinian cards for 60 years now, all play it to their own benefit. If they realy care about the refugees they would have atelast give them the right to work. The same goes in Lebanon and Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. Syria is a bit better as they are treated like Syrian citizens. When I saw the refugee camps in Lebanon i was disgusted. But let me asure you one thing that all Palestinians in the refugee camps still have the will to return

Muslims Against Sharia said...

"all Palestinians in the refugee camps still have the will to return"

Of course they do. They are treated like shit in Arab countries and they would be treated like people in Israel. Same goes for the Jews; they were treated like shit in Arab countries and they are treated like people in Israel.

Arab Democracy said...

Tell us more about you 'Muslims against Sharia'? What owes us this hatred of everything Arab and everything Muslim?

At one end your blog name suggests you are Muslim. At the other your blog shouts prejudice, racism, intolerance and self-righteousness.

I dont mind endless discussions but debating an unknown entity isnt very constructive.

Muslims Against Sharia said...

Tell us more about you 'Muslims against Sharia'

http://www.reformislam.org/

"What owes us this hatred of everything Arab and everything Muslim? ... your blog shouts prejudice, racism, intolerance"

Care to provide and example?

Anonymous said...

"مسلمون ضد الشريعة"، مهما قلتم لن تقنعوني ان "مسلمين مع تطبيق الشريعة" افضل منكم
انتم تشبهون بعضكم بعضا

وائل

Muslims Against Sharia said...

هل لديهم لوحات المفاتيح الإنجليزية في كهف الخاص بك؟

Arab Democracy said...

I asked for your identity, not your mission statement. Which by the way is full of contradictions.

First of all what qualifies you as a moderate Muslim? and by that I mean both 'moderate' and 'Muslim'?

Dedicating a site to revealing the moral inferiority of Arabs and Muslims is prejudiced and Racist. Your language and style are patronising. You are more concerned about defending the Jewish legacy (why the pointless comparison between the inquisition and the crusade?) then reforming Islam.Do you sincerely believe that you have any chance of educating Muslims when you struggle to find any common grounds with us. And your contribution to world peace is telling Israelis and Americans that the war on terror so far has been as soft approach?

Either you're delusional or a fraud. Which one is it?

Arab Democracy said...

I infortunately had to delete the last comment left by 'Muslims against Shariaa'. I will just take the opportunity to remind visitors that although we dont regularly moderate comments, offensive language will not be tolerated on this website.

Although for the above mentioned comentator,whether you choose to engage with us on our site despite our 'idiotic opinions' is up to you. You will find that we will be less forthcoming with responding to you given your tendency to be rude, abusive and aggressive.

Good luck in spreading your brand of 'moderation' elsewhere. A scary concept indeed.

Muslims Against Sharia said...

You should consider switching your screen name to "Arab Hypocrisy." You feel free to throw out unfounded accusations, but when your fallacy is exposed you delete the exposé under pretense of "offensive language."

Anonymous said...

Well, seems like 'Muslims Against Sharia' is more convincing than 'Arab Democracy'.. Keep up.

Arab Democracy said...

Convincing to whom?