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New bus ads in Seattle humanize the right of return — ‘Share the land’

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 Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (SeaMAC) has launched new ads on King County Metro buses

New Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (SeaMAC) ads on King County Metro buses

Once again, the indomitable Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (SeaMAC) is educating Americans about the conflict, with new bus ads in King County. Press Release:

Despite recent censorship and unequal treatment by King County, Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (SeaMAC) has launched new ads on King County Metro buses calling for Palestinian refugees to be allowed to return and share their historic homeland.

With a photo of a local family that includes Palestinian refugees, the ads have the slogan “SHARE THE LAND.  PALESTINIAN REFUGEES HAVE THE RIGHT TO RETURN.  EQUAL RIGHTS FOR PALESTINIANS.” The ads will will run on twelve buses for four weeks.

“This is a continuation of our Equal Rights campaign,” says SeaMAC’s Edward Mast.  “Jews from anywhere in the world are allowed to become instant citizens of Israel, but many Palestinians who were born there are not allowed to return.  This is one of many ways that Palestinians do not have equal rights in Israel.”

Over one million Palestinians were driven out of what is now Israel in 1948 and 1967.  Israel  has prevented the great majority of them from returning to their homeland.  Palestinian refugees now number several million and are one of the largest and longest-suffering refugee populations in the world.

The issue of Palestinian refugees has become more urgent as Israel prepares to destroy dozens of villages and expel 40,000 Bedouins from their homes in southern Israel.  Meanwhile, in the current round of negotiations, the Palestinian National Authority seems ready to sign away the right of Palestinian refugees to return home.  “Instead of representing the Palestinian people, the Palestinian Authority is merely subcontracting from Israel the ongoing violations of our legal and human rights,” says Professor Nada Elia of Antioch University – Seattle.  “They have no right to negotiate away one of our inalienable human rights, the Right of Return.”

Over the past two years, some Palestinians inside Israel have tried to re-establish the Right of Return by mounting new nonviolent campaigns, such as re-inhabiting the destroyed village of Iqrit and other Palestinian villages that were destroyed.

“The State of Israel refuses to admit its responsibility for driving out the Palestinians to become refugees in the first place, and also refuses to admit the legal right of Palestinians refugees to return,” says SeaMAC board member Ruth McRee. “The US has made the situation worse by allowing the issue of refugees to be left out of the US-sponsored peace negotiations. No sustainable peace will be possible without addressing the issue of Palestinian refugees.”

In December 2010, King County Metro accepted and then censored a SeaMAC ad which called attention to Israeli war crimes committed against Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, despite the fact that these crimes were documented by the United Nations Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the International Red Cross.  ACLU is representing SeaMAC in a lawsuit against King County for that 2010 rejection.  The parties are currently awaiting an opinion from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in that matter.

King County Metro more recently ran an ad from the American Freedom Defense Initiative that made false accusations against Palestinians.  King County later rejected another ad from SeaMAC, even though SeaMAC provided supporting documentation from the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, and Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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7 Responses

  1. alfa on November 22, 2013, 11:32 am

    The BDS movement should adopt their slogan, -Equal Rights For Palestinians-.

    ‘Equal Rights’ is strong established rhetoric, it establishes a narrative which we can control and expanded on.

    • MRW on November 22, 2013, 2:18 pm

      The ‘Right to Return’ is even more powerful. Americans don’t know they were there first, and kicked out.

      • Talkback on November 23, 2013, 6:19 am

        How about “Palestinians in the diaspora, too, have a right to return.”?

  2. Cliff on November 22, 2013, 11:46 am

    Sharing is anti-semitic.

    However, the violent military occupation, colonization, apartheid policy carried about Jewish colonialism and nationalism is a-ok.

    • RoHa on November 23, 2013, 1:40 am

      “Sharing is anti-semitic.”

      As is the photograph on the ad. It shows Palestinians as though they were human beings, rather than the swarthy, unshaven*, wild-eyed, fanatical, Jew-hating, terrorists we know they really are. And the girl doesn’t look sufficiently oppressed, either.

      (*The moustache is not enough.)

  3. amigo on November 22, 2013, 12:36 pm

    Will they bring up the anti semite card on this one.You know, Arabs wanting to destroy the “Jewish State” and all that.Sorry, the Democratic Jewish State.

    I see an image of some Israel firsters and slavish supporter of same getting very agitated having to see this every day on their way to work and back.Imagine the lies that will be told to the other bus riders.Will Hasbara central be sending their goons to sit on the buses near the signs to counter act this blatant antisemitism and Jew hatred.

  4. karendevito on November 23, 2013, 3:10 pm

    The maps of Disappearing Palestine are a wake-up call to the uninitiated. This campaign presents the human side. In Vancouver, the Maps were vandalised/torn down three times that I know of. Then the counter-campaign “maps” went up. Still, one hopes fewer people are being fooled. But it’s sad to realise that reconciliation is going to take longer than my lifetime– there has been zero acknowledgement from the state of Israel. THere is no incentive for it. Phil’s column today really brings that home. THe silence in Israel, the sadness of it. THe suffering in the West Bank and Gaza, the sadness of that.
    We persevere because we can. We hope because the alternative is too

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