Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tel Aviv conference organizes around the right of return

Nora Barrows-Friedman, The Electronic Intifada, 14 July 2008
(Nora Barrows-Friedman is the Senior Producer and co-host of Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio and travels several times a year to occupied Palestine to document the situation. She is also a freelance reporter for Inter Press Service. She can be reached at norabf AT gmail DOT com. Her website is http://www.norabf.com/.)

"Late last month a conference on the Implementation of the Palestinian right of return was organized by the Israeli human rights organization Zochrot (Hebrew for "The Remembering"). Zochrot is an anti-Zionist, pro-justice group that works diligently to raise awareness within Israeli Jewish society about the Palestinian Nakba or forced displacement that began in 1948 and continues to this day. Zochrot defines the Nakba as "ground zero of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict," from which all discussions on justice, equality and security for both Jewish Israelis and Palestinians should be centered......

The right of return is a guaranteed human right, and one that can be and will be realized. In a paper co-written by Musih and Zochrot's Executive Director Eitan Bronstein, and disseminated at the conference, the right of return will mean the disintegration of Zionist Jewish supremacy and a Jewish demographic majority, and in its place will grow a "new political order." Yet, Musih and Bronstein note that:

"A new political order is not all that is necessary to renew our lives here. New forms of relationships must be established, based on mutual trust among people -- those who now live here as well as those who will arrive in the future. To create a healthy society, wounds that have opened and festered during the past 60 years must be healed. Public space must be provided for speaking about injustice and for listening to the stories of victims and of perpetrators ... One possible model that might be applicable is that of the South African 'Truth and Reconciliation Commissions,' which may have been the first attempt to distinguish among truth, responsibility and punishment for injustice."

Muslih and Bronstein conclude that "only when Jews come to see the Palestinians who live here, and those who were expelled, as people worth living with can we hope to live here fairly and equitably." Or, as Benny Zipper, culture and literature editor for the Israeli daily Haaretz stated during the conference's last panel, "Redemption starts here.""

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