Still continuing

Via: Jordan Times.


Yesterday marked the 62nd anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba. Some argue, reasonably, that the Nakba shouldn’t be commemorated because it is continuing, and marking down one day to remember it loses sight of this fact.

But Nakba day serves a useful purpose: it is the day when the focus falls, as it too rarely does, on what the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is fundamentally about, namely the wholesale dispossession and exile of more than half the Palestinian population in 1948 to make way for Israel.

That this new entity in the region wanted the land for itself, rather than to share, became obvious almost immediately when, in transgression of international law and common human decency, Israel refused to grant these Palestinian refugees the right to return to their lands and homes.

This refusal became legalised theft in 1950 when the Israeli parliament passed a law allowing the nascent state to take over the lands of the Palestinians who had fled or had been expelled. Until the Nakba, it is well to remember, there was never a Jewish majority in Palestine, nor did Jews own more than a fraction of the land.

It is little wonder then that the greatest fear of Israelis is the Palestinian demand that their right to return be upheld, and that it be upheld for the children and the grandchildren of the original refugees. The right of return, even though it is prominent in international law, and a basic human right that Jews themselves have exercised to claim property and land in Germany and Europe that was stolen by the Nazis, is most fiercely opposed by Zionists, who do not wish to share the land with Palestinians.

But these same Zionists must understand that peace is hollow without justice. There will be no real resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict until there is a just resolution to the refugee issue. There is only one meaningful way to do that: granting all Palestinian refugees and their descendants the choice to return and compensation for their losses.

One suspects that Israelis, deep down, understand the price paid by others for the creation of their state, because like a guilty child that acts out whenever it is scolded, Israel bombards its neighbours whenever it finds itself in an impasse. And even though one-state solution advocates rank among the most forgiving in this conflict, with their insistence that Jews and Palestinians can and should live together in equality, nothing is guaranteed to annoy most Israelis more.

But even under the two-state solution that the world appears to have thrown its weight behind, the right of return must not be sacrificed for some ill-thought out notion of utility. It would be a huge step back, indeed, for world order, legitimacy and morality to allow the limited 19th century Zionist mindset of ethno-religious state purity to win the day.



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