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10 takeaways from the Boston University Right of Return conference

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This is not a comprehensive account, but, rather, scattered insights, takeaways and powerful points made by the speakers and presenters at the Right of Return conference held April 6 & 7 2013 at Boston University Law School. I have left out the debates about international law and UNRWA, which were discussed extensively. The following takeaways are personal and speak to me as a citizen of Israel and a Jewish woman.

Refugees vs. the Palestinian State

The right of return used to be the core and the symbol of the struggle for Palestine liberation. Return and liberation were synonymous. Since statehood became the main goal of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, refugees have become a mere “issue,” an item on a menu of Palestinian bargaining chips to negotiate over. Salam Fayyad and his entourage are part of an economic elite driven by capitalist interests, and they will reap their profit by state building projects. Capitalists everywhere rely on state infrastructure to make profit and the West Bank canton is no exception. Abu-Mazen has exemplified his solidarity with Palestinian refugees by ‘giving up’ the right to return to Safed. Nowadays, refugee’s interests are diametrically opposed to the interest of the Palestinian Authority. However, mass refugee mobilization as seen in 2011 on all Israeli frontiers are a testament that Palestinians in the diaspora have not given up.

Personal Stories

Personal stories and lived experiences of refugees and their descents are the flame of the struggle for return. While scholarship provides the frameworks to understand their individual experiences, stories sound the loudest alarm of urgency and plight. Nearly all of the presenters began with a personal story: a refugee from the village of Zakariya, now Zechariya who learned English in Israeli prison, a descendant who found her Palestinian uncle in Cuba and stories of the vibrant Palestinian diaspora in the US and the pain of accumulated exile. The Nakba generation is coming to its end and now more then ever it is crucial to document the stories and keep them alive.

The Nakba is Ongoing

While the number of 1948 Nakba survivors are dwindling the Nakba is ongoing. Is in ongoing in Palestine for sure, but it seeps into life in exile, and takes a heavy emotional and physical toll. Its cumulative affects impact every refugee’s family. Constantly waiting, witnessing your community from afar displaced for the second or third time in East Jerusalem, Gaza or Syria is part of the ongoing Catastrophe.

Birthright Palestine

Although “Birthright Palestine”  has not been founded yet, individual refugees with third country citizenship can embark upon journeys home as  one way to use their citizenship in a subversive way. However, accounts and stories of Palestinian disapora going back to visit, illustrated clearly that citizenship does not shelter one from ‘refugeeness’. To name a few examples, facing racial profiling in an American airport, needing to account for the reason of your visit at Ben Gurion Airport, then attempting to get a glimpse of your families home and hoping the Jewish tenant in Ba’aka will let you in and finally the fear of speaking about Palestine on your American campus when you return.

Creative Solutions

All refugees in the world have the right to return to their homes. This is a granted right that all Palestinians have. It cannot be given or taken. However, Return does not necessarily mean turning back the clock to the eve of 1948. The vast majority of villages no longer exist; others have new towns built on the land while Jewish families occupy whatever houses remain in tact. In some instances the villages can be re-built, in others residents can join existing municipalities and in other cases people might choose to live in different cities than those they came from. The right to choose one’s place of residence is as important as the right to return home. Local mapping and planning done by organizations such as Badil and Zochrot can help further exploring and realizing return in creative ways.

Palestine as Land and Palestine as Territory

The double-edged sword of mapping was discussed extensively in the conference–mapping as a tool for community empowerment vs. mapping as colonial practice of control. Napoleon’s cartographers produced the first measured triangulation, on-the-ground maps of Palestine; their map outlined the conquest plan for the region. Control from above, literally and metaphorically, marks the relationships of mappers and those being mapped as one of domination. Similarly, the efforts of the Palestinian Authority and various negotiators to produce a Palestinian territory on a map (a state) are pitted against deeply held conceptions of land. Community led counter mapping as facilitated by Badil and Zochrot can be a powerful toll of reclaiming space and eventually reclaiming the land. Local mapping of ruins opens up possibilities for planning the present and the future. These activities pose an apparent threat to Israel (especially when done inside of Israel) as made evident by the Nakba Law and by the harassment of Zochrot by the Israeli police.

Collective Narratives

The physical and political fragmentation of Palestinian society denies them the ability to share a collective narrative and dialectic. The separation has been so internatized that even Palestinian news is dissected along the cantonization and separation lines drawn by Israel. The way people consume news shapes the way they understand their own community, affinities and needs. For example, Palestinians in Lebanon and in the Galilee are neighbors; their territories touch, they share a history and a Palestinian identity. However, they have little in common and vastly different daily practices. Palestinian news in the West Bank is classified according to the Israeli citizenship ranks: Palestinian citizens of Israel, Palestinians of the PA, Jerusalem residents, Gazans, Palestinians in area C and diaspora. This fragmentation has significant implications on the way people and communities prioritize and perceive their struggles. Palestinians can no longer say the same thing and mean the same thing despite being in the same place (Palestine). For example The often-chanted slogan “end Palestinian division and reunite” means ending the split between Fatah/Hammas when chanted in Bethlehem while, when chanted in the Naqab, it means an end to the division between Palestinians inside of Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Arab Jews

The Arab-Jews are the only Jewish group in Israel with the potential to tear down the Zionist status quo. The inter-Jewish apartheid between European Jews and Arab-Jews has lasted as long as the Palestinian refugees have been in exile. The Jewish population in Israel today comprises a majority of non-Ashkenazi Jews. The Arab-Jewish binary in Israel and the divide and conquer policies of the Zionist state have denied Mizrahi Jews of speaking Arabic and expressing their cultural identity. Regardless, a long tradition of Mizrahi resistance in Israelexists, and if and when it will translate to a wide scale resistance, it is very likely to contribute to Palestinian liberation and cross-Arab solidarity. Mizrahi resistance to the state is the extension of the brass keys held by refugees in exile.

The Birth of Taglit-Birthright

Non-orthodox Jews in America have placed Israel at the center of their theology. There is little in common between cultural/secular Jewish practice in America and non-orthodox Jews in Israel. Reform Judaism, the largest Jewish sector in America, mirrors a minority of Ashkenazi Jews in Israel who might be religiously aligned but are politically more liberal. The vast majority of non-orthodox Jews in Israel don’t subscribe to reform nor Orthodox Judaism, they self-identify as ‘Masorti’ (מסורתי) Jews, a traditional Judaism that is closer to the Sephardic tradition. Mizrahi Jews are much more observant politically and religiously and they comprise the majority of Israeli Jews. Since there is little in common religiously between Judaism in Israel and Judaism in the US, Jewishness in itself is not enough to sustain the umbilical cord between the two countries. To compensate for this schism (and for various other reasons) American Jews invented Birthright to ensure that the glue that holds Jewish communities together in the US is their engagement with, on and about Israel. This is sad for Judaism and devastating for Palestine. The famous picture of the American Jewish immigrant who can move to Israel and become a citizen contrasted with the Palestinian refugee who cannot even visit depicts this tragedy.

Karmi+Siegel+1973
Ghada Karmi and Ellen Siegel, 1973 (Photo: arabisto.com)
Karmi+Siegel+2011 e1359827243398
Ghada Karmi and Ellen Siegel, 2011 (Photo: arabisto.com)

A Crisis of the Imagination

The crisis of the imagination amongst Israeli citizens and Jews in the world is an added tragedy on top of occupation and apartheid. Zionists and their supporters are not able to conjure up an image of a society in which all citizens are equal and in which liberties and freedoms are shared. Israeli society can neither imagine that the return of Palestinian refugees can liberate them as well–liberation from the shackles of a Masada mentality, from white supremacy and from fear.

I want to thank the scholars and activists who shared their inspirational and refreshing ideas in the conference, which I have merely re-articulated here. Sa’ed Atshan, Charlotte Kates, Khaled Barakat , Ziad Abbas, Sarah Marusek, Amahl Bishara, Joseph Greene, Riccardo Bocco, Salman Abu Sitta, Eve Spangler, Bekah Wolf, Cory Faragan, Yakir Englander, Heike Schotten, Alborz Koosha, Lila Sharif, Linda Kh, Sarona B, Susan Akram, Anne Irfan, Jinan Bastaki, Salim Tamari, Linda Quiquivix, Einat Manoff , Thomas Abowd, Noura Erakat, Liat Rosenberg, Leila Farsakh, Sadia Ahsanuddin, Sarah I and Joseph Massad.

Elisha Baskin

Elisha Baskin is a member of Boycott from Within and sit on the board of Jewish Voice for Peace. All opinions expressed here are her own.

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31 Responses

  1. Scott on April 15, 2013, 1:48 pm

    I love that old photo. That issue got absolutely zero traction in 1973– I wonder how much many more like Ghada and Ellen it would have taken.

  2. Hostage on April 15, 2013, 2:00 pm

    Abu-Mazen has exemplified his solidarity with Palestinian refugees by ‘giving up’ the right to return to Safed.

    He sort of has a legal obligation to do that as a foreign head State. Other Palestinians can nonetheless be considered refugees owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, so long as they are outside the country of their nationality and are unable or, owing to such fear, are unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country. Full stop.

    President Abbas probably has a well-founded expectation that any member of the PLO Executive or Head of another independent State would subsequently suffer persecution or legal objections to any attempt to simply return and take-up residence as a citizen in Safed, Israel. That fear doesn’t necessarily waive the personal right of other Palestinians to leave and return to their country of origin. See Abbas: I wasn’t giving up right of return; I was just speaking personally. http://www.timesofisrael.com/abbas-i-wasnt-giving-up-right-of-return-i-was-just-speaking-personally/

    All of the Palestinian refugees have an unqualified personal right to opt-out of the so-called “right of return” and accept compensation instead in accordance with the explicit terms of UN General Assembly resolution 194(III). Opinion polls indicate that the majority of refugees desire compensation, not residency inside the borders of the State of Israel. That may not set too well with some activists, but it really isn’t a communal decision.

  3. Hostage on April 15, 2013, 2:17 pm

    The Nakba is Ongoing

    Of course. The Zionists are claiming the on-going-right to commit acts that were considered war crimes and crimes against humanity when committed by other groups, i.e. invasions, blockades, revocation of citizenship, deportations, implantation of settler communities, extensive expropriation of private and state properties, restrictions of freedom of movement and choice of residence, rationing of resources based on nationality, & etc.

    • ryan-o on April 15, 2013, 3:59 pm

      Israel is guilty of genocide as defined by international law:

      any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

      (a) Killing members of the group;
      (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
      (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
      (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
      (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

      They are guilty of (a), (b), (c), (d), and I don’t know about (e) and it doesn’t really matter since only one of these acts is required to begin with. Even mental harm is considered an act of genocide. The Zionists have destroyed historic Palestine including virtually all of its culture. The Gaza blockade alone constitutes as genocide and that’s just one of many examples dating back to the formation of Israel.

  4. annie on April 15, 2013, 2:36 pm

    AWESOME PHOTOS!

  5. Keith on April 15, 2013, 4:27 pm

    “Since there is little in common religiously between Judaism in Israel and Judaism in the US, Jewishness in itself is not enough to sustain the umbilical cord between the two countries. To compensate for this schism (and for various other reasons) American Jews invented Birthright to ensure that the glue that holds Jewish communities together in the US is their engagement with, on and about Israel.” (Elisha Baskin)

    Zionism has replaced Judaism as the unifier of World Jewry. In the US in particular, support for Israel is a means to an end, and that end is tribal kinship which begets organized power-seeking.

    • Hostage on April 15, 2013, 7:36 pm

      Zionism has replaced Judaism as the unifier of World Jewry. In the US in particular, support for Israel is a means to an end, and that end is tribal kinship which begets organized power-seeking.

      Isn’t that just an unintended repetition of what Elisha Baskin had just stated in the passage that you quoted?

  6. Smadar Lavie on April 15, 2013, 5:16 pm

    Arab Jews? Arab Who?
    Most Mizrahim vehemently reject the identity descriptor “Arab Jews,” designated for them by diasporic anti-Zionist Mizrahi intellectuals, Palestinian intellectuals, or English-speaking Lefties. So while a reality check of who’s the demographic majority of Israel’s citizenry is welcome, it would be nice if the author will call this group by the name it has chosen to call itself. See here for further discussion
    http://www.academia.edu/1804726/Mizrahi_Feminism_and_the_Question_of_Palestine_JMEWS_

    • annie on April 15, 2013, 6:52 pm

      Most Mizrahim vehemently reject the identity descriptor “Arab Jews,”

      thank you Smadar Lavie, i didn’t know that. and thank you for the link.

    • Light on April 15, 2013, 7:43 pm

      Arab Jews? Arab Who? Most Mizrahim vehemently reject the identity descriptor “Arab Jews,”

      Not everyone agrees with that statement.

      http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?id=8405
      http://www.bintjbeil.com/E/occupation/arab_jew.html

      • Walid on April 16, 2013, 3:25 am

        Annie, a bit of history behind Smadar’s “vehement rejection” of the tag and her name-calling of the author and others that don’t go along with the Zionist way. I have posted here several links by Arab-Jews that refute Smadar’s opinion about their “arabness”. It’s worthwhile remembering that pre-48 Palestinian Jews as well as those hundreds of thousands Arab-Jews tricked into going to Israel were considered “generally no better than the Arabs, Negroes and barbarians (in their countries of origin) and that their level is even lower than that of the Arabs of Israel totally preoccupied with the play of primitive, savage instincts” (see link below). Oriental Jews were accordingly treated by the European Jews until they agreed to start abandoning their arabness and began assuming the Zionist ideology.

        Therefore, it isn’t surprising for Jews with oriental roots to act as the white man by rejecting the Arab-Jew tag but in the long run, they will realize they have been duped and coerced by the Zionist ideology and what the author is predicting for the Zionists will happen. For an opinion that differs from Smadar’s:

        http://www.monitor.upeace.org/pdf/Connection_Part%20I.pdf

    • RoHa on April 15, 2013, 9:13 pm

      “it would be nice if the author will call this group by the name it has chosen to call itself.”

      Does this principle (of which I approve) also apply to individuals? If so, I am glad to have your support in calling Benedict Spinoza by the name he used, against the annoying modern fashion of calling him “Baruch”.

    • Pamela Olson on April 15, 2013, 11:18 pm

      Can you very briefly summarize this discussion for people who don’t have time to read through an academic paper? Thanks!

    • on April 16, 2013, 12:38 am

      Smadar – ‘Most Mizrahim vehemently reject the identity descriptor “Arab Jews,” ‘

      Some do.

      It is nevertheless a good descriptor, as you acknowledge yourself:
      “the descriptor “Arab Jews,” designated for them by diasporic anti-Zionist Mizrahi intellectuals, Palestinian intellectuals..

      So you see it is the descriptor used by those who know best.
      “Arabs of Jewish ancestry” may be more exact.

      • Walid on April 16, 2013, 4:46 am

        Sardelapasti, “Arabs of Jewish ancestry” is not enough. It’s more about Arabs that are of the Judaic faith but Arabs nonetheless, from which Smadar is attempting to detract. It gets even more fuzzy when you consider many Arabic-sounding family names being of actually Jewish roots like Haddad, Mizrahi, Attieh, Bassal, Fattal, Azouri, Tahan, Laham, Mansour and so on. Conversions went both ways. Those that deny Arab-Jews are in the same vile vein as those that deny Palestinian Arabs existed in pre-48 Palestine or those Arabs that deny their Jewish roots. Smadar is simply hammering in one of those denials.

  7. RJL on April 15, 2013, 7:29 pm

    Elisha, nowhere do I infer you have positive vibes about Judaism, on any level, and you disparage the ties that zionism have forged between secular Israelis and secular American Jews. It’s unfortunate most American Jews have no religious education or affiliation and know as much about Judaism and our history as a pre-schooler, yet consider themselves to be educated otherwise. To disparage Diaspora Jewish ties to the Holy Land/Israel without a sound education in Torah, the classic Jewish prayer book/siddur, Jewish history in exile, the history of Jews in the Holy Land since the Roman exile, particularly after what’s known as the Second Revolt, is to make uneducated assumptions, portraying contempt for those Jews who would never “write off” modern day Israel and its large Jewish community. Would you demand the same “standards” for any other group? Why are Palestinian ties to the Holy Land/Israel/Palestine any more weighty than ours? And, how can you rubber stamp an absolute right of return when the vast majority of Israeli Jews have no such right to their parents/grandparents places of birth? Not just Mizrahi Jews. The Jewish refugees who fled to Israel and their descendents who’ve filled the land clearly negate the “return” of anyone beyond the actual Palestinian arabs who left in 1948. Reparations for Palestinians cannot be conducted without doing the same for the over 800,000 Mizrahi Jews who were mostly brutally exiled from their arab countries of birth. The longer Israeli and Palestinian negotiations are stalled, the less likely those original Palestinian inhabitants of what’s now Israel will return, assuming that’s what they want. Instead of wasting time on far out schemes, why don’t activists like you build on Palestinian aspirations for a separate homeland that can co-exist with Israel? Who “stole” whose land is fruitless, fuels a destructive fire with no achievable goal in site, and can easily be played, perhaps with more truth, by the other side. Don’t you get it?

    • talknic on April 16, 2013, 3:39 am

      @ RJL “Reparations for Palestinians cannot be conducted without doing the same for the over 800,000 Mizrahi Jews who were mostly brutally exiled from their arab countries of birth. “

      Oh? This yours //” Who “stole” whose land is fruitless, fuels a destructive fire with no achievable goal in site, and can easily be played, perhaps with more truth, by the other side.”//

      Never the less, having taken citizenship in a country other than that of return, (encouraged by the Israeli Government in Israel), they are no longer refugees. They have no refugee rights. Chalk it up as another loss for Jewish people enabled by the Zionist Colonization plan http://wp.me/pDB7k-pE Missed opportunity after missed opportunity.

      ” The longer Israeli and Palestinian negotiations are stalled, the less likely those original Palestinian inhabitants of what’s now Israel will return..”

      Indeed. The plan does glare out http://wp.me/pDB7k-jShttp://wp.me/pDB7k-jS

      ” Who “stole” whose land is fruitless, fuels a destructive fire with no achievable goal in site, and can easily be played, perhaps with more truth, by the other side. Don’t you get it?”

      Germany is still paying for the Holocaust because it is not fruitless to determine who are the guilty.

      ” perhaps with more truth, by the other side”

      Israel & truth? The State of Israel was borne of lies to the International Community, the UN, the UNSC. Israel has failed to adhere to its word.

    • talknic on April 16, 2013, 4:27 am

      @ RJL
      “Why are Palestinian ties to the Holy Land/Israel/Palestine any more weighty than ours?”

      A) Prior to Israel’s Declaration, no ‘territory’ belonged to any Jewish entity. Jews and Jewish institutions only owned ‘real estate’ in Palestine, not Palestinian ‘territory’ and;
      since Israel’s recognition as “an independent republic within frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947”, what remained of Palestine was quite simply NOT Israeli territory.

      B) Until territories ‘acquired’ by war by Israel since May 15th 1948 are legally annexed to Israel by agreement with the rightful owners, it is Arab territory, including Jerusalem http://wp.me/pDB7k-W8

      C) The Palestinians have a legal claim upheld by the law (UNSC res 476). Israel does not.

      D) The Arabs maintained a legal claim throughout under the LoN Covenant and later the UN Charter on self determination. Israel’s claim to territory in the M East is based on religious notions. Options elsewhere for a Jewish haven were considered and possible.

      “how can you rubber stamp an absolute right of return”

      RoR is only valid for people who actually lived in a region http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/418E7BC6931616B485256CAF00647CC7 Countries may of their own volition extend RoR to lineal descendants. Germany has for Jewish folk.

      “the vast majority of Israeli Jews have no such right”

      Israeli Jews have citizenship and the protection of Israel. They’re not refugees.

      “the vast majority of Israeli Jews have no such right to their parents/grandparents places of birth?”

      A) Israel was established to give us our own country in these situations

      B) Israeli emergency law 1948 (still in force) forbids citizens and residents from entering the territory of a hostile entity. Israelis could not worship at the temple mount 1948 -1967 under Israeli law. The Law currently applies to Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and what remains of Palestine. Though in the case of the latter Israel ignores its own laws.

      C) It is NORMAL in relations with hostile states to forbid the citizens and residents of hostile states into one’s territory and vise versa. It is also NORMAL to inter or deport potential allies of a hostile state. The US, UK, Australia interred and deported Germans, Japanese.

      Pathetic Israeli propaganda tries to make an issue of what is normally considered normal. The Hasbara is specially formulated for people haven’t thought or who’ve lost the ability or don’t want to think.

    • Hostage on April 16, 2013, 6:55 am

      It’s unfortunate most American Jews have no religious education or affiliation and know as much about Judaism and our history as a pre-schooler, yet consider themselves to be educated otherwise.

      From the very beginning, the great majority of Jews in Israel refused to live under a petty religious regime established in line with the Shulchan Aruch, e.g. Chapter 3: Conduct in the toilet, Chapter 4: Laws of Washing the Hands, & etc. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Shulchan_Aruch/Orach_Chaim/3

      The members of the First Israeli Knesset knew plenty about Judaism. They nonetheless rejected the idea of governing their new State according to the superstitions concerning subjects like “evil spirits”, “demons”, or the dangers of being “exposed to witchcraft” while going to the toilet (e.g. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 3:1-4:14, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 2:4,5).

      They wisely chose to adopt a Transition Act. Even at this late date, Israelis continue to govern themselves according to many of the laws put in place by their Gentile predecessors and avoid their own Jewish legal traditions like the plague.

      Reparations for Palestinians cannot be conducted without doing the same for the over 800,000 Mizrahi Jews who were mostly brutally exiled from their arab countries of birth.

      That’s a shopworn hasbara fellowship talking point, but it doesn’t even find any support in Israeli tort law.

      Israeli reparations for wrongful acts committed against Palestinians are legally unrelated to Jewish claims against third party Arab States. Full Stop.

      Neither the non-Israeli Arab Jews nor their countries of origin are responsible for damages or compensation owed to the Palestinians. Likewise, Palestinians are not legally responsible for damages or compensation owed to third party non-Palestinian Jews. Israel can’t use unrelated third party claims to offset its own obligations towards the Palestinians.

    • eljay on April 16, 2013, 10:23 am

      >> Why are Palestinian ties to the Holy Land/Israel/Palestine any more weighty than ours?

      The ties of the people who lived in Palestine before it was divvied up are the ties that matter, because they are based on fact.

      “Your” ties are based on mytho-religious yearnings. Really, really, REALLY, REALLY wanting something doesn’t make it yours or entitle you to have it. :-(

  8. miriam6 on April 15, 2013, 8:26 pm

    ” A crisis of imagination”

    This part of the article in particular is all about berating Mizrahim for the simple crime of thinking for themselves, and not following an assimilated liberal ,lefty Israel bashing bandwagon.

    Just consider the position of ethnic and religious minorities in the largely Sunni Muslim Arab World.

    Consider the difficulty they have maintaining their communal existence in the face of the dominance of a Muslim majority.
    The fact that the few Jews left in Arab countries must hide their religious identities.

    It doesn’t surprise me that Israeli Jews Ashkenazim and Mizrahim alike would be concerned at the thought of a full scale implementation of a Palestinian return, transforming the Jews into a minority , albeit at first a large minority .

    Simply because , after all how well have Jews and other minorities fared whilst living in Arab Muslim Majority countries?

    The point being that regardless of the machinations of Zionism , when the Arab Muslim majority want to kick out the Jews ( as a cheap nasty rejoinder to the creation of the State of Israel ) unfortunately a MINORITY like the Jews could and can do absolutely nothing about it.

    They could do nothing to protect their rights as a MINORITY against the injustice perpetrated against then by the Muslim Arab MAJORITY.

    At the end of the piece the author thanks amongst others, Joseph Massad, A campaigner for Palestinian rights, but a person unable to extend understanding to others who want to tell their story .

    see link to article about Joseph Massad by a Mizrahim author :

    http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/joseph-massads-ignorance-of-arab-jewry/

  9. RoHa on April 15, 2013, 9:09 pm

    “Napoleon’s cartographers were the first to ever map Palestine”

    Not true.

    http://www.jnul.huji.ac.il/dl/maps/pal/html/eng/mapsbydate_1.html

  10. bilal a on April 15, 2013, 10:14 pm

    While in Boston, if a natural disaster or any other disruption occurs, dont run away from the Blast, running while not Irish Italian white is suspicious:

    CBS: Saudi Man In Custody Was Tackled By Bystanders At Boston Marathon

    When the blast happened he began to run. Now, in context, a lot of people began to run. A civilian who thought he was acting suspiciously chased him down and tackled him and then turned him over to Boston police, saying, I saw this guy hanging around over there acting suspiciously. And then he ran. That may mean a lot, it may mean nothing at all.

    Miller added that the man was fully cooperative but was denying any involvement in the bombing

    http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/cbs-saudi-man-custody-tackled-234536578.html

    • bilal a on April 15, 2013, 10:17 pm

      Why did the Terrorists in Boston put the bombs in trash cans (blast force, scrapnel directed upwards) minimizing casualities one week before hearings on cuts to the Defense Budget?

      • on April 16, 2013, 6:07 am

        bilal a – Minimizing casualties would tend to rule out the Defense Budget people as authors of the deed.

      • MHughes976 on April 16, 2013, 9:37 am

        I’ve just heard CNN report on the location of bombs in trash cans, treating it not as a casualty-minimising tactic but as a way of creating deadly shrapnel. I don’t have the technical expertise to evaluate that! It is now denied that there were ball bearings included in the bombs to cut people up or that there were further bombs beyond the two immediately reported.
        They also report that a Saudi student, presumably the one in trouble, was hospitalised and cooperative. His apartment has been searched but yielded nothing. He is no longer a suspect. No other searches have been undertaken so far.

  11. W.Jones on April 16, 2013, 12:42 am

    “The Arab-Jews are the only Jewish group in Israel with the potential to tear down the Zionist status quo.”
    I think this is too narrow, but they could be ‘the’ main group that does it. One could counterclaim that Russians, with their small level of religiosity and often mixed background, could do it. Others have claimed it’s the ultra-Orthodox, with their opposition to army service, while others could claim it’s (the diminishing?) progressive youth.

    “Mizrahi Jews are much more observant politically and religiously and they comprise the majority of Israeli Jews.”
    I thought Ashkenazis were the biggest group. Wikipedia says the Mizrahim are 1.5 million, making them less than 50% of Israelis. Is the article perhaps combining the Mizrahim and Sephardim?

    No offense, but some of the article seems to exagerate to me.
    “Since there is little in common religiously between Judaism in Israel and Judaism in the US, Jewishness in itself is not enough to sustain the umbilical cord between the two countries.”
    I think there is alot of overlap between the two Judaisms. Isn’t a weakly-observant Orthodox Jew similar to a Reform one, for practical purposes?

    I suppose the Reform movement was big in west Europe and weak in places like Poland, yet nonetheless there could be a number of immigrants from Poland who simply are not strict in observance, despite belonging to the Orthodox wing. That would be true for alot of Russian immigrants, I suppose.

    “Zionists and their supporters are not able to conjure up an image of a society in which all citizens are equal and in which liberties and freedoms are shared.”
    I think alot of them do “imagine” it that way, particularly when it comes to the State proper. That doesn’t mean it matches reality, or the path along which the society is developing. Plus, some have said their image of a progressive State for one nationality is not rational.

  12. RJL on April 16, 2013, 10:51 pm

    Talknic-what have you been smoking? The Mandate for the Jewish Homeland endorsed by the League of Nations in 1922, two years after the San Remo Conference (Italy must have been a nice place to do business) recognized the land between the sea and the river as part of the Jewish Homeland. The UN Charter equally reaffirmed these territorial rights in 1945, whereas the partition plan, never accepted by the Palestinians or arabs, was never legally binding, as it was a GA resolution, and only the signatures of acceptance would/could have changed it to a new, legally (international law) accepted status. Only thru negotiations can Palestine make its legal debut amongst the nations of the world. Israel has never been called into question, other than in many infamous, and legally meaningless, one-sided GA resolutions. By never mentioning the Mandate, the League of Nations article on the Jewish Homeland, the San Remo Conference, the Anglo-American Convention on Palestine of 1925, and the UN Charter, you pretend that Israel just “illegally” dropped in. What BS. Will your eyes go blind if you read the aforementioned information? Try them anyway. Maybe your real “vision” will improve. Stop being so incendiary and nasty. I almost suspect, Talknic, you are a pop-up character used by a Mondoweiss editor, and not a real person. I’m sure not.

    • pjdude on April 17, 2013, 8:55 am

      None of those established territorial rights and all can be considered gross violations of the mandates accords to hold the palestians sovereignty in trust not to mention the un charter’s requirements of self determination makes them irrelevant as jews couldn’t excercise that right their as they weren’t in the land

    • Hostage on April 17, 2013, 12:56 pm

      The Mandate for the Jewish Homeland endorsed by the League of Nations in 1922, two years after the San Remo Conference (Italy must have been a nice place to do business) recognized the land between the sea and the river as part of the Jewish Homeland.

      You must be learning impaired. You are repeating exaggerated claims that were dismissed and debunked by the 3 June 1922 Churchill White Paper: http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/F2CA0EE62B5680ED852570C000591BEB

      So lets examine your claims one by one:

      Neither the League of Nations nor the San Remo Conference ever referred to Palestine as “the Jewish National Homeland”. In fact, the use of that term was deliberately rejected owing to the objections of anti-Zionist Jews and many other members of the British Cabinet. See CAB 24/30, “The Future of Palestine” (Former Reference: GT 2406), 26 October 1917; CAB 24/4, “The Zionist Movement”(Former Reference: G 164), 17 October 1917; and CAB 24/28 (Former Reference: GT 2263) “Zionism, 9 October 1917.

      FYI, San Remo was not such a nice place to conduct business. The British and French governments spent most of their time on the sidelines negotiating the terms of a private secret agreement regarding the right-of-way for railway, telegraph, and oil pipelines from Mesopotamia to Palestine. For its own part, the Italian government reserved its position on all questions related to Turkish Asia and refused to endorse the San Remo resolution. See
      a) Volume 1 of the League of Nations Yearbook http://books.google.com/books?id=MwOtAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA61#v=onepage&q&f=false
      b) The reservation of the Italian delegation in the last paragraph of the San Remo resolution: http://www.cfr.org/israel/san-remo-resolution/p15248

      At the time that the League of Nations approved the terms of the draft Palestine Mandate, the borders of Palestine were still undefined and the right to establish them was explicitly reserved by the Principal Allied Powers, not by the Jewish inhabitants. See: a) the text of the preamble of the Mandate and the annex adopted by the Council of the League of Nations: http://archive.org/details/mandateforpalest00leaguoft
      b) The explicit terms of the boundary treaties of 1920, 1923, and 1926 which preserved the existing rights of the inhabitants of Syria Lebanon, and Palestine to continue engaging in fishing, navigation, commerce, and grazing on both sides of the new frontiers without any reference or regard to “the Jewish national home”. See for example:
      *Exchange Of Notes Constituting An Agreement Between The British And French Governments Respecting The Boundary Line Between Syria And Palestine From The Mediterranean To El Hammé. Paris March 7, 1923, pdf page 7; and
      *Agreement between His Majesty’s Government and the French Government respecting the Boundary Line between Syria and Palestine from the Mediterranean to El Hámmé, Treaty Series No. 13 (1923), Cmd. 1910″ link to web.archive.org

      FYI, the League itself was bound by the terms of several minority treaties concluded during the Versailles Peace Conference – and by the explicit terms of the preamble of the Palestine Mandate itself – to protect the rights and position of Jewish national minorities living in other countries. In short, Palestine was only “a national home” for the Jews who were already habitually residing in that portion of Ottoman Asia. The British mandatory, not the Jewish inhabitants, had been granted “full powers of administration”. The mandate only permitted Jews from elsewhere a very limited and qualified right to immigrate to Palestine under “suitable conditions” that were left-up to the discretion of the British mandatory administration.

      The terms of the UN Charter did NOT reaffirm any existing Jewish territorial rights under the League of Nations mandate system. In fact, the Mandatory had adopted an ordinance which divided the country into threes zones. Land transfers in Zones A and B, except to a “Palestinian Arab”, were prohibited. Judea and Samaria were located in those Zones. Here is a link to the map link to books.google.com

      Article 80 of the UN Charter did nothing to grant Jews the right of settlement in Zones A and B. It was adopted as a “status quo” agreement at the request of the Arab League with respect to the Palestine mandate, the 1939 British White Paper immigration policies, and the 1940 Land Transfer Ordinance mentioned above. If anything, article 80 preserved the right to exclude Jews from settling in those areas – pending the adoption of a decision on trusteeship, like the one contained in resolution 181(II) concerning the Corpus Separatum. See the discussion on this page and the following page under “Palestine” in “The United Nations conference on international organization, San Francisco, California, April 25-June 26, 1945”, Foreign relations of the United States : diplomatic papers, 1945.

      During the 271st meeting of the Security Council US Ambassador Austin cited UN General Assembly Resolution 24 (I) and stated:

      The United Nations does not automatically fall heir to the responsibilities either of the League of Nations or of the Mandatory Power in respect of the Palestine Mandate. The record seems to us entirely clear that the United Nations did not take over the League of Nations Mandate system.

      See UN General Assembly Resolution 24 (I), Transfer of Certain Functions, Activities, and Assets of the League of Nations http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/24%20%28i%29
      and the verbatim minutes of the Security Council S/PV.271, 19 March 1948

      In fact the Allied Powers had agreed at the Yalta Conference to phase-out and abolish the mandate system owing to its notorious abuses. The Jewish Agency wrote a memo to the San Francisco Conference on the UN Organization requesting that a safeguarding clause be included in the Charter which would prevent a trusteeship agreement from altering the Jewish right to nationhood secured by the Balfour Declaration and the Palestine Mandate. However, the conference rejected that suggestion and stipulated in article 80 of the Charter that the UN COULD conclude trusteeship agreements that altered rights under any of the mandates. — See Jacob Robinson, Palestine and the United Nations: Prelude to a Solution, Greenwood Press, 1971 Reprint (1947), page 2-3

      During the first session the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 9(1) http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/9%20%28i%29

      It reminded the members that the treaty obligations contained in Chapter XI of the Charter, “Declaration Regarding Non-Self-Governing Territories”, had been assumed by all of the members and did not require the establishment of trusteeship agreements. The Assembly said that those obligations were already in “full force and effect”. The scope of Article 80 had been deliberately limited to Chapter XII (i.e. “nothing in the Chapter”), so that it would not interfere with those new treaty obligations in Chapter XI.

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