“Go back where you came from!”

Within the past 24 hours, I’ve heard two passionate versions of the ugly refrain “Go back where you came from!”    

Mind you, neither was directed to me personally.  I feel very welcomed in Gaza.  In fact, I think “welcome” must be in the lexicon of every taxi driver, shopkeeper and student in Gaza.

But two Palestinians, one from East Jerusalem who now lives in the United States, and the other living in Gaza, both told me they think Jews in Israel should “Go back where they came from!”

In the first instance, I posted this photo on my Facebook page with the following note:

Jeff Halper

Jeff Halper in front of sign “Join With Us”

Lora wrote:  An Israeli and a Palestinian with their grandchildren who want to live in peace with each other. Jeff Halper was originally from Minnesota, USA ….. a long-time resident of Israel. Kudos Jeff. Minnesota’s enlightenment (at least in the 1950-60-70) is paying off.

Jeff Halper is an Israeli Jew who founded the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.  Jeff was born in Minnesota (same state where I was raised) in 1946 and emigrated to Israel in 1973.   In 2006, he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, certainly more deserving than Obama in my humble opinion.

A Palestinian now living in the USA responded indignantly to my Facebook post.

Please stop spreading this propaganda! The “enlightened” thing would be for Jeff to return to the US and stop assuming Jewish entitlement and privilege that allows him to take the place of indigenous families!! Your comment about “refusing to be enemies” is a cuddly Zionist mantra that creates an illusion of parity in a situation marked by domination, oppression, and daily savage violence by a military state!

This writer wants Jeff to go back where he came from!  Regardless of the fact that he has lived in Israel for 40 years and worked tirelessly against the Israeli occupation for most of that time, speaking around the world and educating thousands of people about the inhumane and destructive policies of house demolitions, she can’t envision a world where Jews and Palestinians may live together in peace one day.

In the second instance, a well-educated Palestinian man with two advanced university degrees told me that all of historic Palestine will eventually be returned to its rightful owners.  The Qur’an says so.  I asked “What will happen to the people currently living in Israel?”    “That’s not my concern,” he said. “They should go back where they came from!”  

There is no denying the pain that still exists.  The Nakba is fresh in the memories of Palestinians — for those who survived the catastrophe and their descendants.  On the walls in Gaza, I see daily reminders of their longing to return to their homes and villages.

Palestinian holding his key to return.

Palestinian holding his key to return.

The key (miftah) to open the door to return.

The key (miftah) to open the door to return.

The 65- year occupation has not erased these memories. Moreover, Israeli soldiers and government officials seem hellbent on reinforcing these injustices, reminding the roughly 4 million Palestinians in the occupied territories on a daily basis that they don’t belong here.

Is it too much to dream and hope that Palestinians and Israelis will one day be able to live together peacefully?  Maybe everyone should just go back where they came from.

That Garden of Eden is going to fill up pretty darn quickly!

Garden of EdenLucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553)

Garden of Eden
Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553)






Filed under Israel, Occupation, Peaceful, People

10 responses to ““Go back where you came from!”

  1. John

    And who was Gaza before 1950 and who was the West Bank before 1967?

  2. Half of the Israeli’s are descendants of Jews of Morocco, Lybia, Syria, Iraq and other Arab countries, expelled from there with nothing but the clothes on their bodies for the crime of being a Jew. Should they go back to Bagdad and Tripoli? Will they get their property back?

    What about those Jews who lived in Hebron until massacred by Arabs in 1929, and those who lived in the Jewish quarter of the old city of Jerusalem for thousands of years until expelled by the Jordanian occupational forces? Where should they go?

    And the Arabs of Jisr-Al-Zarqa in Israel, should they go back to Sudan where they originate from? The (muslim) Circassians of Israel, must they go back to Circassia, where they came from more than 150 years ago, fleeing from the Russian prosecution into Turkish-controlled territories?

    • Michael: Your understanding of history is mind-blowing. Your point being ….. that populations have been moving (voluntarily or forcibly) around the world for centuries, including Jews, Muslims, et al. But the Zionist experiment in Israel is a little bit different, isn’t it?

      • My point is that people saying “Jews must go back where they came from” have no idea of how and why things happen in the world, but rather live in a fantasy. That’s the reason of the state the Arab world is in, and it will stay that way until Arabs choose to face reality rather that live in dreamland.

      • Michael: People who do not understand how the state of Israel was created, and the 65 years of occupation, live in a fantasy land, in my opinion.

  3. Thank you so much for this post. The conflict has become so visceral that its roots and its cures have become indiscernible. The only way forward is to stop blaming one side or the other; to accept that there is no binary, mutually exclusive outcome either for the Palestinians or the Israelis. If you excuse one crime you exculpate those who are opposed to regional peace.

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