Salman Abu Sitta was uprooted from his family lands near Beersheba during the Palestinian Nakba in 1948 and the trauma has informed his entire life as a refugee and scholar. “I looked back at the smoldering ruins, at the meadows of my childhood, golden with the still-unharvested wheat. What had we done to them? Who were these Jews anyway?”
In advocating for one state in Israel and Palestine, Peter Beinart has been dry or vague about the right of return for Palestinian refugees forced out of their homeland. But he has also conceded the moral validity of that right, and opened up a discussion liberal Zionists don’t want to have, as they enjoy the fruits of that ethnic cleansing.
From April 1st to May 14, 1948 — before Israel was declared, before the British left, and before any Arab soldier entered Palestine to save it — Zionist militias essentially conquered Palestine. Salman Abu Sitta says this critical period leading to Al Nakba has rarely been looked upon in this light, and shows how massacres that took place during this period were pivotal in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
Tamam Abusalama remembers leaving the Gaza Strip for the first time ten years ago. The driver made a point to take her and her mother through Beit Jirja, their original village, on the way to Jerusalem. Nothing was left of the village. Just agricultural fields.
In a book dismissing the Palestinian refugee issue, Israeli authors Einat Wilf and Adi Schwartz totally absolve adherents of the Zionist ideology from any historic responsibility for planning and executing a strategy in which dispossessing Palestinians from the land was premeditated intention. The authors are hasbarists.
Roger Waters on the importance of international solidarity with Palestinians: “The aim … is to focus world attention on the plight of the Palestinian people in Gaza in the hope that the scales will fall from the eyes of all, ordinary, decent people round the world, that they may see the enormity of the crimes that have been committed, and demand that their governments bring all possible pressure to bear on Israel to lift the siege.”
Canadian governments have a woeful record at supporting the rights of Palestinian refugees and the current government is no different. With the right of return under renewed attack from Trump’s “Deal of the Century” it is essential that activists make clear Palestinian rights are not for sale.
After Marc Lamont Hill gave a speech at the U.N. last November calling for equal rights in Palestine, his employer CNN called the next day and fired him. “They said, ‘Your speech was not in line with our values,'” he recalls to Palestinian journalist Janna Jihad. “I said, which part of the speech? They said, The speech.” Hill was shocked. “I’m prone to saying crazy shit. I just didn’t do it that day!”
After protests from a American Jewish organizations, the California Democratic Party leadership undertook to water down resolutions that were critical of Israel and supportive of Palestinian refugees, put forward by progressive activists. But as Jack O’Dell, the civil rights activist, advised James Zogby long ago: Never be devastated by setbacks and never become overly confident due to progress.