Thursday, November 23, 2006

Right of return is the heart and soul of the Palestinian problem

By Khalid Amayreh

"As Israeli and Jewish emissaries are scouring earth, searching for “missing Jews” in order to bring them into Palestine to live on land that belongs to another people, Israeli officials continue to reiterate their rejection of the Palestinian refugees’ right of return to their hometowns and villages in what is now Israel.

This week, the Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni denied , with characteristic audacity, the legitimacy and legality, not to mention the morality, of the right of return, which is actually the heart and soul of the Palestinian problem.

Speaking during a lecture in London Tuesday (21 November), Livni pointed out that the American-backed “roadmap” didn’t mention the “right of return,” as if that hapless initiative was a heavenly-revealed scripture.

In fact, since Israel, which can be accurately described as a scheme of dispossession (since without stealing and arrogating Palestinian land Israel could never have been created legally), Zionist leaders have been repeating rather ad nauseam a plethora of lies to justify one of the most horrendous crimes in the history of mankind, namely the expulsion of the bulk of the Palestinian people from their ancestral homeland from time immemorial.

Some of the Zionist lies in this regard were so obscene that even the Zionists themselves began questioning their authenticity.

For example, Israeli leaders, officials and spokespersons claimed for decades that the refugees fled their country voluntarily and that Israel played virtually no role in getting them to flee.

Eventually, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Zionist historians, like Benny Morris, who meticulously examined and analyzed Israeli army archives, reached the conclusion that the vast bulk of Palestinian refugees were actually terrorized into leaving their homes and villages and that “forcing the Arabs to leave” was an established Zionist policy.

Now, the paragons of mendacity and racism are abandoning the old, stale lies and coming up with another set of arguments, like saying that the repatriation of Palestinian refugees would undermine the ethnic and religious purity of Israel as a Jewish state.

Well, it is extremely imperative that the Jews, Israel , and the international community understand that there can be no lasting peace in the Middle East and the world at large unless these tormented refugees are allowed to return to their homes.

Sixty years of homelessness, pain and dispersion should be enough for these miserable people who had inherited misery and suffering generation after generation after generation. Ending this most obscene and sinister scandal would not be an act of charity to the Palestinians. It would be a belated application of UN resolution 194 which calls for the repatriation and indemnification for these refugees.

The extirpation of these victims of Zio-Nazism, now numbering about five million human beings, was a collective act of rape with very few parallels in the history of humanity. It remains an enduring act of rape as the wrongs done to them are not rectified and corrected.

Hence, the right of return shouldn’t be a subject of dispute and controversy just as the rightful owner’s right to recover his stolen property from a thief is not a subject of dispute and controversy.

It is abundantly clear that the term “Jewish character of Israel ” is nothing but a euphemism for the continuation of Israel ’s racist and discriminatory policies against non-Jews. Besides, the conscience of humanity is under no more legal or moral obligation to maintain Zionism in Israel than it was to maintain apartheid in South Africa .

Moreover, one is always prompted to ask the following question with regard to this issue. Does Israel ’s “right” to religious and ethnic! Purity override the Palestinian refugees right to return to their homes and country?

It is really difficult to understand why persons whose ancestors allegedly left Palestine thousands of years ago have a right to return “home” while yesterday’s refugees who still hold in their hands the keys to their former homes, many of which are occupied by Jewish immigrants, are denied the right to go back home.

What kind of logic is this? Are we living in a jungle where truth and ethics are determined by brute force? If so, then all the abominations that took place against Jews in the course of their long history, including the holocaust, were “right” since their occurrence was more or less compatible with the moral, ethical, and intellectual maxims now espoused by Zionism.

Finally, it is clear that denying the Palestinian refugees their inalienable right to return to Palestine/Israel constitutes a brazen defiance to international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN in 1948, states in its Article #13 that “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”

To reiterate, the right of the return is the crux of the matter, it is the heart of the Palestinian problem, it is far more paramount than the issue of Palestinian statehood and even of Jerusalem .

Hence, it is vital that the international community, if it is truly interested in resolving the enduring question of the Zionist occupation of Palestine, ought to accentuate the Right of Return because no prospective peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians would work and last long without the repatriation of these refugees to their homes and country.

We are not merely talking about nationalistic rights, we are talking about personal and individual rights that no entity or state or organization can cede if the person concerned says “No.”

Besides, ethnic cleansing must never be allowed to win."

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