Palestinians, Israelis and internationals gathered in a Tel Aviv museum last week for a two-day conference dedicated to the Palestinian right of return. Tom Pessah on some of the conference highlights. By Tom Pessah I don’t normally cry during academic conferences, although perhaps "academic conference" would be the wrong way to characterize Zochrot's conference on the issue of the Nakba and the Palestinian right of return. This year's conference, titled “From Truth to Redress,” was held in Tel Aviv's Eretz Israel Museum (on the grounds of the former Palestinian village Al-Sheikh Muwannis) and featured two days of presentations by Palestinians, Israelis…Read More... | 6 Comments
right of return
Just weeks after it was deemed to have 'fascist characteristics,' nationalist group Im Tirtzu tries to shut down Zochrot for allegedly 'rejecting the existence of the State of Israel.' Right-wing group Im Tirtzu is attempting to shut down Zochrot, a non-profit organization that dedicates itself to raising awareness of the Nakba in Israeli society, and working toward the return of Palestinian refugees who fled or were expelled by Israeli forces in 1948. According to the Israeli news site Kipa [Hebrew], Im Tirtzu leader Ronen Shoval sent a letter to the head of Israel's NGO registry, claiming that Zochrot's activity contradicts section 49…Read More... | 20 Comments
While the Palestinian president is renouncing the Palestinian right of return on Israeli television, Israel's prime minister is announcing new settlement construction. Instead of playing to his own political base, Netanyahu could have his Sadat moment. By Aaron Magid Meeting with a delegation of Knesset members on Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that in a final status agreement the Palestinians “would not demand to return to Jaffe, Acre or Haifa.” Among other conciliatory comments, Abbas’s statement exemplifies his commitment toward addressing legitimate Israeli concerns and ending the conflict. Unfortunately, although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has moderated his hawkish positions,…Read More... | 4 Comments
Tel Aviv's Eretz Israel Museum has been under increasing pressure to cancel Zochrot’s second international conference. Recently, the museum presented new conditions to the organizers, including paying for increased security and changing the wording on the event invitation. An international conference by Zochrot, an Israeli NGO which focuses on the Nakba and the "right of return," is under threat, following pressure from right-wing organizations. The Eretz Israel Museum, where Zochrot decided to host the event, has recently informed organizers that due to the risk of demonstrations and public disorder, they will need to pay for increased, onsite security. The museum…Read More... | 9 Comments
The displaced Maronite community of Bir'em has decided to implement its right of return by resettling its land. Authorities have threatened to evict the villagers should they refuse to leave. Exactly one year ago, the displaced people of Iqrit decided that after 64 years of empty promises, they would wait no longer to return to their lands. Just last week, the villagers of Iqrit celebrated the first anniversary of their outpost built on confiscated lands, and announced plans to go on expanding their presence on the ground. Now it appears that Iqrit is not alone, as another displaced community on…Read More... | 8 Comments
The displaced members of the village of Iqrit marked one year since their groundbreaking direct action: the return of the village youth to the village, the revival of its traditions and the strengthening of their hold on the land. Although they are now celebrating with friends and supporters, they fear a potential response from authorities. Every year for the past 18 years, the displaced Palestinian community of Iqrit has organized a summer camp on the expropriated lands of their village so that the younger generations, born in cities and towns elsewhere in Israel, will remember their heritage and continue the…Read More... | 16 Comments
A new survey by the BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, a non-profit organization that works to defend and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees, attempts to understand how youth of Palestinian heritage (third or fourth generation of displaced Palestinians) identify with their ancestry. BADIL conducted a survey focusing on identity and social ties among Palestinian youth residing in Mandate Palestine (West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Israel), Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. The results reveal that between 55 to 70 percent of the respondents in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon regard themselves as Palestinians; 45 percent of Palestinian citizens of Israel regard themselves as…Read More... | 3 Comments
A new survey demonstrates that Palestinians teens across the world (including in Israel and the occupied territories) have strong ties to their national identity, despite the fact that most of them have never set foot in their homeland. By Amjad Alqasis We came to this country which was already populated by [Palestinian] Arabs, and we are establishing a Hebrew, that is, a Jewish State here. Jewish villages were built in the place of [Palestinian] Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these [Palestinian] Arab villages, and I do not blame you, because these geography books no longer…Read More... | 21 Comments
The annual March of Return brought approximately 7,000 people to the destroyed village of Khubeizy on Israel's Independence Day. The march, which went through village lands and debris, now a national park, ended with a rally in which speakers called for the implementation of UN Resolution 194, recognizing the Palestinian refugees' right of return, and for the release of political prisoners. The march was organized by the Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Displaced People (ADRID), and was attended mostly by Palestinians with Israeli citizenship (dubbed "'48 Palestinians") and a few Jewish Israeli activists. Aside from the…Read More... | 31 Comments
An interview with a key Hamas figure in al-Monitor published Friday explores a pragmatic potential and a shift in tactics for the movement. ‘Pragmatic’ is certainly the word interviewer Shlomi Eldar, one of Israel’s top television reporters covering Palestinian affairs, wants readers to remember. His subject is Dr. Ghazi Hamad, currently Deputy Foreign Minister of the Hamas leadership in Gaza, heads the “pragmatic wing” of Hamas and the interview is all about the changes of policy, external relations, and possibly even ideology. Three specific points are worth noting, two internal and one related to Israel: First, in the context of…Read More... | 36 Comments
The third generation of the displaced community of Iqrit decided that they'd had enough of waiting for authorities to allow them to return to their village lands, taking matters into their own hands. Last August, they set up their base in a room adjacent to the old church and haven't left since. In 1948, the Christian Orthodox village of Iqrit surrendered to the IDF without a fight. When soldiers ordered residents to leave for two weeks for security reasons, considering the village is extremely close to the Lebanese boarder, nobody thought twice about it. Three years later, in July 1951,…Read More... | 8 Comments
Despite her direct responsibility for two wars which took the lives of 2,000 civilians, and her uncompromising, hawkish positions during negotiations with the Palestinians, Tzipi Livni is still considered an acceptable choice for the Israeli 'peace camp.' It is time for the public to stop believing the lies. By Idan Landau On November 27, 2012, Tzipi Livni announced that she will be running for the upcoming elections as part of the newly-foundd Hatnua party, which presents itself as a diplomatic alternative to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The party seeks to promote the peace processs wth Palestinian Authority and supports two…Read More... | 26 Comments
A survey conducted in Gaza this September showed that a majority of its residents would prefer Fatah to Hamas if elections were held. Early this month President Mahmoud Abbas spoke again of a two state solution and even hinted at compromising on the right of return. What could Israel do in light of this but start a war? Israel can't deal with peace. It has become a war machine, and I'm not referring only to its over-militant decision makers and those who take their orders. Decades of media bias and dogmatic education managed to turn its citizens into a blinded…Read More... | 34 Comments
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