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Year 2010 No. 27, May 17, 2010 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

Remember Al Nakba: A Call for Resistance

Workers' Daily Internet Edition: Article Index :

Remember Al Nakba: A Call for Resistance

Nakba Commemoration 2010: Justice for the Palestinian People!

Palestinians Heroically Resist Ongoing Dispossession and Affirm Right of Return

Palestinian Rights Reaffirmed in Ramallah Commemoration

Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons

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Remember Al Nakba: A Call for Resistance

In the face of the brutality and crimes of the Zionist project in Palestine, on the occasion of Al Nakba, Palestinians and their supporters vow to continue unabated their just resistance to realise the aspirations of the Palestinian national liberation struggle. To commemorate Al Nakba is to fight against the ongoing crimes of the Zionist project. WDIE calls on the working class and people to support this heroic struggle in the face of all the attempts to disinform and to silence and criminalise those defending Palestinian human rights.

Article Index

Nakba Commemoration 2010:

Justice for the Palestinian People!

National Day of Action

Hundreds of demonstrators demanding justice for the Palestinian people gathered outside Downing Street at noon on Saturday, May 15, in the first rally outside the Prime Minister's residence since David Cameron moved in last week.

The new government was presented with its first letter in Downing Street, demanding that it take tougher measures to gain Israel's compliance with international law. The letter was delivered to No 10 by MPs, union leaders, and heads of human rights organisations. A key in Palestinian colours, symbolising the loss of Palestinian land and homes to create Israel, was also delivered. More than 40 leading figures, including MPs Sir Gerald Kaufman and Jeremy Corbyn, and film director, Ken Loach, had signed the letter.

The rally was organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition, CND, the British Muslim Initiative and Palestinian Forum in Britain to commemorate the Nakba, or Catastrophe, of 1948.

Hugh Lanning, chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: "We want to hold this new government to account on international law, and we want the Lib Dems to fulfil the pledges they made to us before the election on fighting for the human rights of Palestinians. We hope the Lib Dems won't support this government on bringing forward proposals to end universal jurisdiction. This is the first test of the new government."

Andy Slaughter, MP for Hammersmith, said: "This is a significant date on which we remember the injustice that has been done to the Palestinian people for more than 60 years. But it's also a time to look forward and to challenge the coalition government to take a fresh approach."

The letter was delivered by Andy Slaughter MP, Hugh Lanning, Lindsey German, convenor of Stop the War Coalition, Muhammed Sawalha, President of the British Muslim Initiative, Martin Linton, co-founder of Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East, Baroness Jenny Tonge, Nick Crook of Unison, and Simon Dubbins of Unite.

The letter demanded an end to Israel’s violations of international law, including its illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and to impose measures on Israel to gain its compliance: "Israel should no longer be allowed to violate international law with impunity, making a mockery of the international legal system and its institutions."

It opposed any attacks on universal jurisdiction and help to bring those responsible for Israeli war crimes to justice: "Britain must not place itself above international law by introducing legislation that will protect suspected war criminals, Israeli or otherwise, from prosecution should they enter the UK."

It called for an end to Israel’s four-year siege of Gaza. Such a form of collective punishment is illegal, and was imposed because the Palestinians exercised their democratic rights to elect the MPs who represent them. In the name of human rights, international law and democracy, the siege must end immediately.

It called for banning the import of goods and produce from Israel’s illegal settlements into the UK. The settlements are built on land stolen from the Palestinians of the West Bank, and are illegal under international law. The UK has a duty not to economically aid these illegal structures through the import and sale of goods grown and produced in them.

It called for a suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. Article 2 of the Agreement requires Israel to "respect human rights and democratic principles". Yet, despite the fact that Israel is in gross breach of these principles, negotiations are currently underway to upgrade the Agreement. Britain must call an end to the hypocrisy which allows Israel to blatantly violate the terms of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, while continuing to enjoy its financial benefits.

The letter also called for an end to Britain’s arms trade with Israel. Israel has illegally occupied Gaza, is subjecting it to a brutal and illegal siege, and has launched military assaults on its trapped, civilian population. Britain must not be complicit in these violent and illegal actions, nor lend them legitimacy, through its sale of arms to Israel.

The event was supported by the Association of the Palestinian Community UK, Friends of Al Aqsa, Friends of Lebanon, the Green Party,  ICAHD UK, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Liberal Democrats Friends of Palestine, Pax Christi, Public and Commercial Services Union, UNISON, UNITE the Union, Zaytoun.

Other events of the National Nakba Day of Action took place throughout Britain, including in Exeter, Bristol, Aberystwyth, Norwich, Cambridge, Sheffield, Havant, Halifax, Hebden Bridge and Manchester.


Article Index

Palestinians Heroically Resist Ongoing Dispossession and Affirm Right of Return

From The Marxist-Leninist, Daily On-Line Newspaper of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), May 14, 2010

Al Nakba: A Great Human Tragedy

May 15 is the 62nd anniversary of Al Nakba – the Catastrophe in Arabic – which marks the ethnic cleansing and dispossession of over 800,000 indigenous Palestinians from their homes, lands, villages, towns and cities in historic Palestine. Before and after the creation of the State of Israel on May 15, 1948, Zionist terrorist gangs through violence, massacres and fear mongering engineered this mass exodus of Palestinians, representing more than 60 percent of the population at that time. Hundreds of Palestinian villages were depopulated and completely destroyed, on the rubble of which were built the new settlements of the Zionist state. In violation of international law and countless UN General Assembly resolutions, Israel has never permitted these refugees nor their now millions of descendents to exercise their right of return, including those internally displaced within historic Palestine. On this occasion, TML vigorously condemns the ongoing Zionist project and its crimes against the Palestinian nation and salutes the courageous resistance of the Palestinian people as they struggle to affirm their rights under the most brutal conditions.

One of the most significant aspects of commemorating Al Nakba is that its repercussions are deeply felt today. Al Nakba, as the dispossession of the Palestinians individually and collectively, is in fact an ongoing project. This will be the case so long as the Zionists block the affirmation of the inalienable right of the 1948 refugees and their descendents to return to their homes and lands. The right of return is a central demand of the Palestinian national liberation struggle and commemorating Al Nakba brings that to the forefront. Al Nakba as an ongoing project is also dramatically felt in the fact that from 1948 to this very day Israel continues to create more Palestinian refugees and greater national dispossession through its state terrorist policies of land theft, illegal settlement building, home demolition, occupation, deportations and daily violence.

Al Nakba: An Ongoing Project

Even as the Obama government is presenting its so-called proximity talks as an avenue for peace, Israel continues its daily crimes against the Palestinian people.

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) regularly attack Palestinian residential areas and farmlands on the borders of Gaza. As recently as May 13, Press TV reported a clash between Palestinian resistance fighters with Israeli forces upon a fresh incursion into the north of Gaza. The confrontation occurred when a number of Israeli armoured vehicles and bulldozers crossed into an area east of al-Shujaiyeh, Ma'an News reports, adding that the Al-Quds Brigades fighters fired a rocket-propelled grenade toward the Israeli military convoy entering Gaza. According to an Al-Quds Brigades statement, "a way to emphasise the right of resistance in confronting any Israeli aggression against the Palestinians". Since the end of Israel's so-called Operation Cast Lead, the 2008-2009 invasion of Gaza, constant incursions, the shooting of non-violent demonstrators, the illegal starvation by siege and other Israeli crimes in Gaza belie any claims by Israel and the U.S. that the Zionist state is a partner for peace talks. Yet one of the most profound and tragic aspects of the genocidal Zionist campaign against Gaza is that the majority of its population are refugees who fled to the Gaza Strip during the Al Nakba in 1948, mainly from Jaffa and areas to its south, and from the Beersheva area in the Negev. According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA), more than three-quarters of the Gaza population of some 1.5 million are registered refugees, representing over 22 percent of all UNRWA registered Palestine refugees. To this day, the Zionists continue to unleash catastrophes against the Al Nakba refugees and their descendents.

The ongoing illegal Zionist settlement building and expansion is another aspect of the continuation of Al Nakba, as such activity requires the further cleansing of Palestinians from the land used for settlements. The Palestine Monitor reports that currently there are 121 Israeli colonies, or settlements, and approximately 102 Israeli outposts built illegally on Palestinian land occupied militarily by Israel since 1967, namely in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The Palestine Monitor also outlines that these settlements and outposts are inhabited by a population of some 462,000 Israeli settlers with the settler population growing consistently between 4 percent to 6 percent per year over the last two decades, a much higher rate of growth than Israeli society as a whole (1.5 percent). As recently as May 12, Ma'an News reported that, according to the Palestinian Authority, Israeli citizens residing in the illegal Shvut Rachel outpost in the northern West Bank outpost bulldozed 30 dunums of land ploughed by Palestinian farmers in the Jalud village, south of Nablus.

Actual settlement construction has increased by 30 percent since the launching of the new round of peace talks in 2007, with settlement building around Jerusalem increasing by a factor of 38, the Palestine Monitor states. It is in this context that President Barack Obama warned on Tuesday, May 11, that Israel and the Palestinians would both be held accountable if either side takes actions that undermine US-mediated talks launched this week, the White House said. Yet on what basis can peace talks take place when the settlement expansion policy of Israel continues unabated? This is simply illusion-making on behalf of an Obama administration posturing as a peace mediator and all the while supporting Israel and its crimes by every means possible. As the Palestine Monitor points out, "It is important to remember that though the settlements and settlers themselves are significant obstacles to peace, the large security apparatus and infrastructure which unite them to Israel proper pose even more difficult challenges, as by-pass roads between settlements slice the West Bank into a series of economically and politically isolated 'bantustans.' Furthermore, settlements are often located in strategic areas which capture vital resources such as water and agricultural land." It is also significant that through such actions, whether in the West Bank, on the borders of Gaza or within the 1967 Green Line, especially in East Jerusalem, Israel is creating more internal Palestinian refugees left to share a daily shrinking land base, an area so small and criss-crossed by Israeli infrastructure that no viable independent Palestinian state could ever be established on it.

Long Live the Heroic Palestinian Resistance!
Remember Al Nakba!
Affirm the Inalienable Right of Return!

Article Index

Palestinian Rights Reaffirmed in Ramallah Commemoration

Presidency Secretary General Tayib Abdul-Rahim said today that the Palestinian people reaffirm their determination to achieve their rights, namely the establishment of an independent Palestinian State, and finding a just solution to the refugee issue.

Following Abdul-Rahim’s statement, a demonstration remembering the Nakba set out from Late President Yasser Arafat’s Mausoleum toward Ramallah’s Central Al-Manara Square.

Demonstrators carried slogans saying: "We shall return," and the "Right of return is inalienable." They called to implement the UN Resolutions related to solving the Refugees issue, namely Resolution 194.

UN Resolution 194, passed on December 11, 1948, states in Article 11 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".

The Palestinian Right of Return is a political position or principle asserting that Palestinian refugees, both first-generation refugees and their descendants, have a right to return to the property which they were forced to leave as part of the 1948 Palestinian Nakba, a result of the 1948 Israeli War and due to the 1967 Six-Day war.

Proponents of the right of return hold that it is an inalienable and basic human right, whose applicability both generally and specifically to the Palestinians is protected under international law.

The government of Israel regards this right as a Palestinian ambit claim, and does not view the admission of Palestinian refugees to their former homes in Israel as a right, but rather as a political claim to be resolved as part of a final peace settlement.

(WAFA, May 17, 2010)

Article Index

Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons

by Stephen Lendman, May 14, 2010

Established in 1998, the Badil Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights (BRC) "defend(s) and promote(s) the rights of Palestinian refugees and IDPs (to) advance (their) collective rights". In January 2010, BRC published a report titled, "Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, 2008 - 2009".

Its web site explains the problem:

-- Palestinian refugees and IDPs are "the largest and longest-standing case of forced displacement in the world today";

-- in 2007, of a global 9.8 million Palestinians, about seven million are refugees and another 450,000 internally displaced;

-- they include 1948 Nakba victims, more from the 1967 Six Day War, new ones from continuous dispossessions for settlement expansions, and land seizures inside Israel;

-- many thousands were displaced from the Jordan Valley, East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and within Israel to cleanse Arab neighbourhoods for Jewish only development;

-- Palestinians in host countries like Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Syria are also vulnerable to displacement; further, the 2003 Iraq war forced 34,000 Palestinian refugees to leave the country; and

-- over six decades after their 1948 displacement, Palestinian refugees and IDPs are still denied solutions and reparations for their rights under international law and UN resolutions.

Relevant International Law

Article 13 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

"(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

"(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country."

Article 11 of UN Resolution 194 (1948) states:

"....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 the loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made by the Governments or authorities responsible."

The 1951 Refugee Convention defines who is a refugee, their status, rights, and legal obligations of states. Assistance is to include asylum, food, shelter, health, education, human rights, travel documents, and durable solutions, including repatriation, resettlement, and integration. The 1967 Protocol removed geographical and temporal restrictions.

After the 1948 Nakba, refugees were to get special aid, protection, and reparations, initially from the UN Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP), UN Relief and Works Agency in the Near East (UNWRA), and later the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

UNCCP ceased operating in the mid-1950s. UNWRA was to provide temporary, emergency help for 1948, 1967, and subsequent Palestinians displaced. Overall they've done little for those in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, or the Territories (OPT) under military occupation.

Security Council Resolution 237 (1967) called on Israel to ensure the rights, safety and welfare of inhabitants of areas affected by the Six Day War, and to help those who fled return.

UN Resolution 3236 (1974) affirmed the right of return as an "inalienable right".

Despite established laws, no international agency is mandated to aid and protect displaced Palestinians in Israel, and in the OPT, only limited aid is provided. In addition, UN agencies and world nations, in deference to Israel, have avoided durable solutions, including their obligation to enforce the right of return. As a result, displaced Palestinians have been denied effective remedies and reparations, and continue to be among the world's most neglected, persecuted people.

Israel's Proposed Nakba Law

Haaretz once called Israel's ultranationalist Foreign Minister, Avigdor Liberman, "unrestrained and irresponsible" with good reason. On May 15, 2009, his party, the far right Yisrael Beitenu, proposed banning Nakba commemorations, then introduced legislation to do it, calling for jail terms of up to three years for violators.

Party spokesman, Tal Nahum, said: "The draft law is intended to strengthen unity in the state of Israel and to ban marking (the day after) Independence Day (May 15) as a day of mourning." Representatives of Israel's 20% Arab population accused Lieberman of racism.

In December, a softened bill was introduced, and on March 16 it passed its first reading with a majority of 15 to eight. If it passes second and third readings, it will deny financing to municipalities that support the Nakba, including allowing commemorative mourning days.

The revised proposal omits imprisonment, not its repressive racism by denying Israeli Arabs their free expression right to commemorate their most defining historic event. A Haaretz editorial scorned the legislation, saying: "The Knesset should be ashamed of passing the law at first reading. The Kadima and Labour factions should be denounced for not opposing it. But it's not too late to block the harmful law in (subsequent) readings, before it stains Israel's body of law."

The Badil Research Centre (BRC) refers to the "ongoing Nakba....caused by Israel's system of institutionalised racial discrimination which is composed of laws, policies and practices that have resulted in second-class citizen status of Palestinians, more land confiscation, discriminatory development planning, segregation of Palestinian communities, home demolitions and forced evictions, in order to ensure Jewish privilege and domination."

In its current form, the proposed Nakba bill prohibits government-supported organisations from financing activities that commemorate the event, and will deduct up to ten times the amount spent from group budgets. The bill requires Israeli Arabs to renounce their history and heritage, identify with Zionist values, accept their dispossession and second class status, and face the possibility that a proposed amendment to Israel's Citizenship Law for Jews may one day apply to them; namely a loyalty oath stating: "I pledge to be loyal to the State of Israel as a Jewish... Zionist and democratic state, to its symbols and values, and serve the State, as required, be it by military service, or alternative service."

Last June, the Knesset rejected a Lieberman-proposed anti-Arab loyalty oath measure, requiring Jews, Muslims, Christians, and others to pledge loyalty to the Jewish state.

However, last November, the Mitzpeh Aviv community, under the jurisdiction of the Galilee Misgav Regional Council, passed an amendment to its bylaws, stipulating that land allocation be conditional on residents' placing the "highest priorities (on) Zionist values and the values of the state as a Jewish and democratic state".

Earlier, Manof and Yuvalim (also under Misfav Regional Council jurisdiction) passed similar measures. Other communities may follow, then the Knesset for more than housing.

As Israel gets more hard line, it's more likely that extremist laws like these will pass, marginalising non-Jews, threatening their security, and decreasing chances for Palestinian refugees ever to return home as international law allows.

It's a short leap from current racist laws to repressive ones like Nazi Germany's Gleichschaltung (standardisation under which total societal control was imposed) and the 1935 Nuremberg Laws that:

-- protected "German Blood and German Honour";

-- prevented marriage or sexual relations between Jews and Aryans;

-- declared persons with any Jewish blood no longer citizens and denied all rights;

-- banned Jews from holding professional jobs to exclude them from education, politics and industry;

-- segregated Jews from Aryans;

-- punished them financially, effectively bankrupting Jewish enterprises;

-- prohibited Aryan doctors from treating them;

-- prevented Jews from becoming doctors;

-- excluded Jewish children from state-run schools; and

-- effectively denied Jews all rights afforded solely to Aryans – a prelude to Nazi genocide, what Palestinians have incrementally endured for decades by racist laws, persecution, dispossession, exclusion, isolation, mass imprisonment, torture, targeted assassinations, violence, wartime slaughter – most recently, Operation Cast Lead.

Decades of Forced Displacement

Besides the internally displaced, Palestinians have lived in forced exile for decades throughout the world, the majority within 100 kilometres of their original home. Those in camps comprise about 21% of the total. Hundreds of thousands of others are in 17 unofficial camps in the OPT, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. About 79% live outside UNRWA's 58 camps, including many in West Bank villages and cities, about 100 localities in all comprising over half the population.

Operation Cast Lead internally displaced around 80-90,000 people, while forced displacements on both sides of the Green Line continue, for many resulting in multiple uprootings over the years, and, of course, no permanent home because new ones can happen any time for any reason.

Communities most vulnerable lie in the path of the Separation Wall (affecting around half a million Palestinians in 92 communities), as well as Bedouin Arabs in the Negev, residents of the Jordan Valley, East Jerusalem, Hebron, the Galilee, Southern Gaza, the Gaza buffer zone (extending from 500 meters to a kilometre or more within the Strip's border), and Israeli Arab communities in major cities being forced out to make way for Jews.

Under international law, world nations are obligated to stop this, but instead are silent in support of Israel, affording Palestinians no advocate on their behalf.

Durable solutions require repatriation (based on the well-established right of return) for refugees seeking it, but haven't up to now gotten. The key principle is "voluntariness" for well-informed refugees and IDPs. Solutions also include housing, property restitution, and compensation for damages and losses. Currently, however, no international agency handles this problem equitably, so it festers unresolved.

Internally displaced Israeli Arabs also aren't helped. In the OPT, the ICRC has aided IDPs while UNRWA has provided emergency help, but no durable solutions, for displaced refugees. Since 2008, OCHA's Displacement Working Group (DWG) provided international protection for Palestinian IDPs, with little in the way of tangible results to show, especially to prevent new forced displacements as well as medium and long-term protection and durable solutions.

As a result, living conditions in 2008 and 2009 declined, especially in Gaza because of war and the ongoing siege, inflicting severe collective punishment on 1.5 million people at the mercy of a ruthless occupier denying them enough essential to life supplies.

Political power-brokering, issues, events, and special interests guide international efforts, not people needs ignored. Without help, Palestinian refugees and IDPs do what they can, and used the 2008 60th Nakba anniversary to commemorate their condition worldwide  in Europe, North America, Australia, and the region.

Arab Israelis are also more vocal, demanding political and legal reforms, including democratisation and recognition of Israel's Nakba responsibility. Israel reacts negatively with measures like those explained above.

But counter efforts have gained traction, including for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (the Global BDS movement) and initiatives like the Goldstone Commission and Russell Tribunal on Palestine revealing systematic Israeli crimes, and calling on world nations to fulfil their international law obligations by holding Israel accountable.

College campuses are also responding, including in America. On December 14, 2009, Harvard Crimson writer Abdelnasser Rashid wrote:

Evidence shows "Israel deliberately targeted civilians during (Operation Cast Lead), deliberately targeting educational institutions, destroying or damaging at least 280 schools and kindergartens (besides killing) over 1,400 Palestinians", mostly civilians.

On "November 23, Harvard extended an invitation to Michael B. Oren – the Israeli ambassador to the United States – to speak at the Kennedy School. Fittingly, he was rejected by students who attended the event. Oren is a former officer and paratrooper who (was) an Israeli army spokesperson during the unwarranted and illegal attacks on Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2009. (Students) took a clear stance against impunity for war crimes." He was pilloried for the actions during a Q & A session.

They "showed (their) unwilling(ness) to stay silent when an (Israeli) spin doctor tries to rewrite recent history" to absolve his country of systematic war crimes. If the university won't do it, they will and did. Moreover,  "welcoming those whose actions deny students in Palestine their academic freedom....inevitably trivialises their struggle for human rights and collective freedom".

Growing efforts like these tell oppressor and victims that impunity won't ultimately prevail. What can't go on forever won't when enough determined people say no more.

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