Tag Archives: Right of return

Preparations for the #GreatReturnMarch

Friday, March 30th is either the launch of a peaceful march to the border area between Gaza and Israel — or it’s “highly explosive” and “threatens to damage the sensitive life fabric and safety of the region’s residents.”

tents 2Palestinians are erecting large white tents near the border, anticipating families and the elderly joining the activities planned over the next six weeks.

Israel is  deploying more than 100 sharpshooters to the border with permission to open fire if lives are in jeopardy. They’re also talking about air-dropping food and medicines into the heart of Gaza from airplanes or drones to lure Palestinians away from the border.

The Palestinians are dancing their traditional dance, dakbe, waving flags, and flying kites near the border. The Israeli Army is closing down the West Bank and Gaza for nine days during Passover as the military “braces for Gaza border riots and West Bank unrest.” Israel is calling and texting the bus companies in Gaza, warning them not to transport people to the border, and threatening them with punitive actions.

border dakbe

Dancing the traditional Palestinian Dakbe at the border.

Israel has set in motion its well-greased hasbara machine ahead of the #GreatReturnMarch.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry reached out to the international community on Twitter Thursday in anticipation of violent clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters along the Gaza border in the coming days.

“While the campaign is being presented to the world at large as a peaceful enterprise, there is no doubt that this latest Hamas ploy is aimed at igniting a violent confrontation with Israel,” the Foreign Ministry’s statement began.

Israel wants to remind you [the international community] that there’s a “good” guy and “bad” guy here —- one defending itself and the other, well the other is trying to survive a brutal occupation. Israeli diplomats have contacted the U.N. and their colleagues around the world to prep them with demonstrably false information — that Hamas (the terrorist organization) is organizing this event, paying Palestinians to show up, with subversive intention to breach the border fence and “infiltrate” into Israel. Israel will hold Hamas responsible if there are casualties at the border.

Border IDF

Israeli Defense Forces overlooking the border with Gaza

A Palestinian scholar from Gaza writes: “The Great March of Return (of Gaza) is a grassroots movement initiated by Palestinian organizers, activists, and intellectuals, and is the product of years of conversations in Gaza about a way out of its misery. Attempts by Israeli media and government to portray tomorrow’s march as something instigated by Hamas is not only false, but also part of an old approach that reduces Palestinian agency to conspiracies and portrays Palestinians as pawns for factions and governments.” Check out their Facebook page here and their Twitter account here.

The goal of the #GreatReturnMarch as shared by the organizers:

The march will for the first time, employ the popular dimension to effectively compel the Israeli occupation state to the international resolutions and recommendations that it denies and refuses to implement, which over the past decades has constituted a clear threat to international peace and security.

is a cumulative, civil, peaceful sit-in calling for the implementation of right of return for Palestine refugees

 

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The Great Return March

UN_Palestine_Partition_Versions_1947

Many Americans know that the United Nations called for the creation of the State of Israel following a U.N. vote A/Res/181(II) in November 1947.

Some Americans may be aware that the actual founding of the State of Israel occurred on May 14, 1948 in Tel Aviv when David Ben Gurion stood up before the Jewish People’s Council gathered at the Tel Aviv Museum and read a declaration. 

Ben Gurion

 

I bet few Americans have a clue that under international law, and Resolution A/Res//194 (III) (adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 11, 1948)  the Palestinian refugees have the right to return to their properties, homes and businesses in what is present-day Israel.

Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible;

Haaretz columnist Uri Avnery claims the Palestinian right of return is not such a complicated issue, (Oct. 18, 2017 article) but nothing strikes dread into the hearts of Israeli leaders (and perhaps many Israelis) more than the thought of millions of Palestinians pouring across Israel’s undefined borders. The demographics challenge, they fear, would be insurmountable for their Jewish state. Israel now wants Trump to remove the ‘right of return’ from the negotiating table. (January 2018 article).

The Palestinians are planning to put the ‘right of return’ front and center — on every dining room table in Israel, every board room in executive suites, and in the heart of the Knesset. The Great March

Beginning Friday, March 30, Palestinian refugees will begin 46 days of non-violent action entitled “The Great Return March”.

 

The “Great Return march” is a popular Palestinian peaceful march, where the participants (men, women, children, elders, families) will start marching from the Palestinian communities in the occupied territories (Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Jerusalem) and from (Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt) to their homes from which they were forcibly displaced in 1948.

From the Coordination Committee:

The organizers of this march and their participants will never use any means of violence, and will only be limited to a peaceful march in accordance with the truce plan, bearing in mind that this march will be totally peaceful and doesn’t involve harming or threatening any country or using any means of violence.

It should be noted that the implementation of the Great Return march will be carried out peacefully in accordance with the rules of international law and in line with the UN resolutions on the return of the Palestinian refugees and other relevant international resolutions on the Palestinian issue.

In other words, the march will for the first time, employ the popular dimension to effectively compel the Israeli occupation state to the international resolutions and recommendations that it denies and refuses to implement, which over the past decades has constituted a clear threat to international peace and security.

Great_March_of_Return_2016-

 From the 2016 Great March of Return.  VERSO

The Legal Basis for the Great March of Return:

The UN Resolution 194 of the third session, issued on 11 December 1948, constitutes the international legal basis for the great return march, especially that it clearly called for the return to be allowed as soon as possible to refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbors, and compensation should be paid for the property of those who decide not to return to their homes, and for every missing or injured person … “as well as international laws, especially which organize the legal framework for refugee rights, and the universal human rights principles that obligate the international community (States – International Organizations ) to help refugees return to their land and ensure their human dignity.

Based on the foregoing, we inform you of the Palestinian refugees intention to realize the right to return to their homeland in a peaceful and legal manner, under the legitimacy of the United Nations and the international community and with a legal reference based on international humanitarian law, international human rights law and United Nations resolutions relevant to the Palestinian cause.

general_assembly_adopts_newresolutioninfocus

United Nations General Assembly

Call for Support and Assistance:

We expect the Israeli occupation forces to use excessive and lethal force against the unarmed participants in the great return march. To avoid casualties, and based on the rights granted to civilians in the occupied territories under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which the occupation state signed and its Additional Protocol I of 1977, and under the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court, which incorporated certain acts considered to be war crimes, the most important of which were: “deliberately directing attacks against civilians, civilian sites, personnel or facilities for humanitarian assistance functions as well as the deliberate launching of a military attack that may result human and material losses,” we urge you to exert pressure on your governments and force them to:

  • Exert sufficient political and diplomatic pressure to pressure the Israeli Occupation to respect human rights and prevent them from resorting to the use of excessive force or the implementation of any crime or violation.
  • Compel the Israeli occupation state to comply with General Assembly Resolution 194 of 1948 as one of the conditions for its acceptance as a member of the United Nations at the time.
  • Obligate the Israeli occupation state to adhere to the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was issued on December 12, 1948, and was one of the conditions of its acceptance as a member of the United Nations, where the second paragraph of Article 13 states that everyone has the right to leave any country, including his country or to return to his country.
  • Obligate the Israeli occupation state to implement the International resolutions relating to the return of the Palestinian refugees, including the UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967, and all relevant resolutions as an inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, most important of which is Resolution 3236 of 22 November 1974, which in paragraph 2: “Reaffirms also the inalienable right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted, and calls for their return”.
  • Compel the Government of the occupation, as a State party to the Refugee Convention and Protocol, to not detain migrants and asylum-seekers, and not to criminalize asylum-seekers for irregular entry.

I’ll be writing more about this very important action as it unfolds. This week, I’m sending a letter to my two U.S. Senators and Congresswoman with a copy of this blog post, making them aware of The Great Return March. I’m also writing a letter to my local paper and will try to tie this action to something local so that they’ll print it.

Bravo to the Coordination Committee.  These future leaders of Palestine give me hope, just as the youth in America give me hope.

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The Doha Debates on the Right of Return for the Palestinians

The right of return for Palestinians is likely the most contentious issue in any peace negotiations.  In this 46-minute debate (broadcast on BBC World on April 14th and 15th, 2007) the four panelists argue for and against a motion to give up this right of return.

Watch it and see if the arguments change your opinion.

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The Nakba – Part VI

The Catastrophe — or Nakba — occurred in 1948 when the British left Palestine and David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israel’s “Independence.”  Most Americans don’t know about the Nakba.  See Part 1, Part II, Part III, Part IV and Part V.  I confess I am only beginning to understand the magnitude of the atrocities that occurred, and continue to occur, in Palestine.

The forcible expulsion of the Indigenous population and the appropriation of their lands and property would be a fascinating journey through the legal machinations employed by the Zionists (yesterday and today) if it was not so tragic for so many people.

Amjad Alqasis, a legal researcher at BADIL Resource Center, has written an excellent review of some of the laws that Israel has used to confiscate the property of Palestinians, available here.

Wall mural in Gaza

Wall mural in Gaza

Although the Israeli government refuses to acknowledge the Nakba, recent polling suggests that Israeli citizens may be ahead of their leaders in this regard.  See this article.

Both sides will need to exorcise their demons regarding the other, not to gloss over the present but in order to unlock the door to the future. Here are the fundamental questions for the Israel side: first, can the Right’s frenzied efforts to stifle consciousness of the Nakba succeed? The results seem to say no. Activism recalling the Nakba has only heightened and the data here implies that the Israeli public is ahead of its leaders in acknowledging not only history, but the implications of history on conflict resolution.

Secondly, how can the large swath of the Israeli public that is prepared to reconcile with its past in the present be expanded and leveraged? How can this political maturity be brought to bear on future negotiation efforts or any other effort to resolve the situation? Surely, beating a guilt-fatigued population with more historic guilt will backfire (if it hasn’t already). Is there a less threatening way to address and redress history that does not undercut Jewish identity in this land? This is one of the vital challenges of the day, that the Nakba (and perhaps the “Jewish state” definition, for Palestinians) symbolizes for all parties in the conflict: can each side acknowledge the most sensitive and frightening aspects of the other party’s identity without losing its own, and then lashing out violently to protect it?

Now listen carefully . . . Secretary Kerry, President Obama, everyone . . . here’s the most important lesson from the Nakba that you mustn’t forget.

Wall mural in Gaza

Wall mural in Gaza

If you begin negotiating with Netanyahu and Abbas with the assumption that the conflict began in 1967, you will fail.  You might as well save your breath and travel expenses.

The injustices occurred in 1948, and have continued every year since, and your negotiations must begin from the Nakba.

Germany’s postwar reparations program has become such a matter of fact that many Germans are not even aware that their country, after paying $89 billion in compensation mostly to Jewish victims of Nazi crimes over six decades, still meets regularly to revise and expand the guidelines for qualification. The aim is to reach as many of the tens of thousands of elderly survivors who have never received any form of support.

  • Israel must acknowledge the Right of Return and make plans to allow Palestinians who wish to live peacefully with their neighbors, the right to return to pre-Israel lands, or pay compensation to those who decide they do not want to return.

I know the current leadership in Israel flatly rejects these points, but Israeli citizens deserve to live in peace — just as Palestinians deserve to live in peace — and neither side will achieve it until the Nakba is on the negotiating table and these points are addressed openly and honestly.

Wall mural in gaza

Wall mural in gaza

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“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)

 

 

 

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