My name is Raneen, am a Palestinian women, lives in Haifa and work at Zochrot organization as a coordinator of the oral history project in which I collect testimonies from Nakba survivors.
I was supposed to be at this forum from the beginning but I went to Madrid for a Palestinian youth network conference and came few days ago.

The aim of this network is to meet yearly between 100-150 Palestinians youth all over the word (camps. Arab world, Europe and other places) in order to connect between us, to exchange experiences and thoughts and to experience a common dream in being together.

I think that this discussion about the Nakba and the refugees is very important to both side Jewish and Palestinians, and if we continue to close our eyes and avoid this topic as what the police makers is doing now, it will never be peace in the middle east and people from both side will continue to be killed.

I think, To talk deeply about this issues we need more information about the Nakba, specially for the Israelis who never learn about it at their schools.
if we go deeply on this we can understand what is happening today, 60 year after, in Aka (Acr), Jaffa, al-Lyd, what happened in the first and the second Intifada, and why 13 Arab Israeli citizens have been killed during the demonstrations. Why Israel still occupied the west bank and Gaza, why there is so may discrimination laws in this State and why some Knesset members still taking about transferring the Palestinians in Israel to Jordan. Why Palestinians bomb themselves in Israeli buses and send rockets to the South…. Why… why… why…..

Its easy to fined through internet an information about the Nakba, for instance: Badil center: http://www.badil.org/Refugees/facts&figures.htm and also I insert one film about women stories of the Nakba.

Additionally, nowadays, many people are thinking about 1 state resolution rather than 2 state resolution, lets try to discuses these 2 resolution and go deeply on the advantages and disadvantages of each one.


Raneen

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thanks raneen realy very important topics and points must be discus deeply
Raneen

Welcome to the forum, we waited and it was worth it
We try to have on ongoing discussion in this forum, I will ask all the people who participated in the Nakba discussion to divert to this one, and let's a have a good discussion, mainly about Nakba as we see the reaction from people around us when we just mention the topic (even in the video you sent you see the emotional reaction), and yet some of us still think it is worth discussion, other prefer to forget ot even do not acknowledge.
Roni
Shalom-salaam all,

I'm glad you've come back to join us, Raneen. Welcome home, and thanks for all your invaluable work.

The original forum topic refered not only to the Naqba but also to the Right of Return, about which little was said in the previous discussion. But there was this from Kathleen Jamaa:

The Israeli Law of Return allows for Jews for to live in Israel on the basis of their Jewish identity – a racist, discriminatory law – yet you will only consider some sort of limited right of return of Palestinian refugees?

As you will no doubt recognise, I believe the main obstacle to peace is the ideology on which Israel was created. One state for all its inhabitants – with guaranteed full right of return for Palestinian refugees – is the only just response. And true and lasting peace can only be a just peace.


While this comment also raises the issue of one state vs. two states, I first want to address the question of return. When Roni was accepting suggestions for forum topics, I proposed that we discuss the Principle of Return, embracing both the right of return and the law of return in a single topic. Like Kathleen, I don't see how it's possible to consider either one in any depth without also addressing the other.

I. Return as a contested historic right

On the one hand, Kathleen, you affirm the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their people's historic homeland on the basis of their Palestinian identity (I presume you mean to include 3rd- and 4th-generation descendants of the Naqba generation, who have never in their lives set foot in Palestine) as the only just basis for a lasting peace, yet you describe the corresponding Israeli law of return as racist and discriminatory. Do you see the irony?

How many generations does your support for the right of return last before reaching the deadline? It seems to me that denial of the right of return to Jews cannot bode well for the persistence of support for the right of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to return to Palestine (may it not be called upon to persist for 100th as long!). The right of one people to do so is no less valid (and no less affirmed by international law, but that's another matter) than that of the other.

In neither case does the right of return confer the right of exclusive political sovereignty that has been sought by much of both the zionist movement and the Palestinian national movement. In my view, the original moral failure among political zionists was their assumption that they would rule, and the original moral failure among the Palestinians was their denial of the Jews' right of return. In a self-fulfilling cycle, each of these reinforced the other side's perception that its own survival depended on the injustice it was perpetrating.

A bit of historical narrative as I see it: When early zionist immigrants began to arrive in Palestine and found it inhabited by Arabs - a fact from which their immersion in either the colonialism of Western Europe or in the parochialism of the disintegrating shtetls of Eastern Europe had shielded them - they responded in various ways. Some, like Jabotinsky, saw a rival nationalist movement and committed themselves to becoming the victorious party by force of arms. Others loosened their attachment to the idea that independent Jewish statehood was necessary, and began to explore the possibility of binationalism.

Britain, the colonial power since WW1, played divide and rule as it had in India, Ireland, and elsewhere (sabotaging, for example, Feisal's agreement with Weizmann and Frankfurter). The rise of fascism and the nazi devastation of European Jewry turned the heat up under the pressure cooker from a simmer to the explosion of 1948. Had it not been for the unbearable urgency of external forces, could an accommodation have been found between the Arab and Jewish national movements in Palestine on the basis of free Jewish and Arab immigration and national-cultural autonomy for both ethnic-national communities within a single democratic polity? I grieve that the opportunity to find out was lost.

Instead, the Palestinian people suffered a great catastrophe when Israel, victorious in Palestine and in international diplomacy after WW2, imposed on them a mirror-image denial of return - with as little justice as when the Palestinians imposed it on Jews during the period of greatest Jewish need. The imbalance lies not in moral justification, equally lacking for both, but in the power to prevail (and its accompanying arrogance).

II. Return as a humane principle

Given how things stand now, many Israelis, Palestinians, and others hold that a negotiated peace agreement establishing an independent Palestinian state will create the conditions for both people to enjoy their right of return, but only within their respective states. That may meet the requirement to honor the right of return as law, and it would unquestionably be a major advance over the current situation, especially for refugees now unable to return to any part of Palestine. But it does not allow for fulfillment of the real longing to return felt by many Palestinians who remember the very place now in Israel that they or their families came from, nor by many Jews whose personal attachment is not to the new coastal cities of modern Israel, but to the heartland of Jewish history and national religious life in Yehuda and Shomron (Judea and Samaria - roughly, the West Bank).

In my view, a "peace" that depends on holding the two peoples apart - "we here and you there" - may at best offer some breathing space, but really is no peace at all. I say that not as an idealist letting the perfect (deep reconciliation) be the enemy of the merely good (tolerance for the distasteful compromises a political agreement will require), but because no comprehensive peace agreement of any kind can possibly be achieved on the basis of the shared slogan, "just stay away and leave us alone!" That attitude can at most achieve two states in a longterm state of conflict that sometimes erupts into violence - and violence between two sovereign states is unlikely to be less deadly than occupation. Peace can only begin, I believe, with the rehumanization of our perceptions, attitudes and behaviors toward the Other, with building relationships among Israeli and Palestinian (and Arab and Jewish and Muslim and Christian...) peacemakers that model the transformation of consciousness into which we want to invite our more wary compatriots. That's what I'm here for.

The question of return can certainly be a place for meaningful expression of that shift of consciousness. It (rather than, say, Jerusalem) appears to me to be the deepest and most volatile of the core issues in conflict. Those who advocate for return as a political program almost invariably do so in the name of either one people or the other; i.e., that Palestinians should be able to return to Israel, or that Jews should be able to return to the OPTs. This reduces the heartfelt longing of both peoples to simply more fuel for the political-rhetorical level of the ongoing war. All the international support in the world can't enable a single Palestinian to return to Israel or even to Palestine, doesn't turn a single settler into a loyal Jewish citizen of a sovereign Palestine, unless and until that support is translated into a real de-escalation and then cessation of the grossly mismatched but nevertheless mutual armed violence. And that, in turn, requires that the reciprocal ideological demonization be displaced by attention to the crying human needs of the Palestinians and Jews living in the Holy Land, for such things as dignity, recognition, self-direction, and basic safety.

So while I'm glad that international law affirms the right of all persons to return to their country, I find no inspiration in arguing over what the extent or limit of somebody's legal right is or ought to be. When it comes to the I-P conflict, I think it is far more important to affirm the equal legitimacy of the desire for return that lives in many Palestinian and Jewish hearts, and to cultivate that affirmation by others wherever possible. Because that attitude of mutual affirmation rooted in real mutual care, enriched by a shared love for our single common homeland, is what can bring the day closer when return is not just a catchword for a polarizing argument, but an available possibility for those Jews and Palestinians who feel a yearning to return to the land with which they identify.

Blessings,
-Hayyim
Dear Raneen,
Thank you so much for sharing with us what you you think about the Nakkba and other issues like the refugees topic, since the israeli jewish people stopped believe in peace between themselves and their nieghbours after they (almost) finished building the wall so there is nothing really to talk about, i am working on peace education projects but do you think raneen that this realy could help, it helps when we talk to everyone in palestine and israel, but when you talk to some groups here and there then this is kind of cheating ourselves of the peace process, since they elected shroon few years ago the left wing israeli people just totaly disapeared from israel streets, no one can realy convince me that there was people sharing highly there voices and calling for peace, in 2001, 2002,2003 , me and other friends been suffering to invite left wing israelis to come and see what there goverment and army doing in the occupied territores, but no one was realy care to lestine, this is a big topis to open for discussion, i can prove my words by pictures and details, but their always a spot of light to follow, thats what we doing and we'll keep doing whether we have israeli parteners or not, complicated topics to discusse but we can start , hope when the israeli people start there discussion on the nakkba they will not relate there stories to the holicost .
Dear raneen, i am not sure that the one state solution could realy help, i myself want to live in a palestinian state full controlled by palestinians, and to be nieghbour with israel, but i dont want some groups of killers like the settlers to share the land with me , i dont want settlers living these days in the west bank to give me more time, but i dont mind to live with them when as nieghbours when they go back to live in israel. this is one way thinking, i still have lots of things to say but the most thing bothering us in the west-bank/gaza/and jerusalem is those settlers.
raneen, the team you work with in tel-aviv most of them my friends, like eitan and eitan, and norma etc..
but thank you so much for the topic.
shokran
Dear Mohamad and Raneen,

I managed to write a long message on the previous topic on the Nakba, and then my friend, Roni, closed that topic and opened this one, so you can look there as well for what I wrote.

Mohamad, you mention Sharon getting to power as a turning point from which Israeli left disappeared. Frankly, how can you not see what brought Sharon into power? The endless suicide killings since 1995? There were are are carried out not by people like you, but from Israeli perspective, they are all Palestinians, and their power grew very strong after the signing of the Oslo agreement and the massacre by Baruch Goldstein, God damn him, in 1995, and the killing of Yitzhak Rabin. Why don't you take some responsibility in the whole deterioration of the situation? Why only play the blaming game?

And, Raneen, about remembering the Nakba, I would like to ask if you can recall cases before, during, and after 1948 when Palestinians kicked out Jewish people from their homes, massacred Jews, terrorized Jews? And what about Jews in Arab countries - can you recall such actions by Arabs on Jews? It is easy to say that Arabs and Palestinians do not share responsibilities, but the reality, the history, is that the 1948 war had much much to do with other Arab forces. Shouldn't the link be remembered?

So, I'm asking some questions about remembrance and ignorance. There are at least two groups of victims around, and everybody's trying to win the price of "the best victim". For sure, the Palestinian people have much worse times since 1948. But please try to remember massacres and terror before 1948, and not only the Stren Gang and Etzel. This, I guess, is something you know well. What about Palestinian and Arab "bad" actions and declarations and leadership?

Let's see how we stand on this...

Thanks, Gadi
Dear "PEACE" people
Again, I think that this discussion is very important although its not easy for the both side.
During my interviews with Nakba survivors, people were talking about the good relationship between the Palestinians and the Jews before 48, and all the problems have started when the Zionist movement decided to establish a Jews State on the lands of the Palestinians, specially after the Holocaust.

Lets talk about it in this way: you are living in your own house and land, suddenly some one is coming and telling you that you have 3 choices, the first is to accept to divide your property with him, the second to give him every thing and the third is to struggle not to give him any thing at all....

This is exactly what happened during 48, and the Zionist movement started to think about it 20 or 30 years before the war. so i don't want to talk about how many massacres did each side do to the other and how many people were killed during this, because this is not the issue.

I think that what happened to the Jewish in Europe was ethnic cleansing and a real catastrophe, and no one can ignore this, even the German people today understand that and take some responsibilities on this, by giving money to the Israeli government every day, arranging tours about the Holocaust and putting every where memorials..

My question is: what kind of responsibility should Israel take about the Nakba, what about refugees rights to return?? and if we are talking about 2 state resolution so we delete automatically the right of return?? What about the IDF (internally displaced persons)?? There are 250,000 Palestinians inside Israel that were expelled from their villages and stayed within the border of Israel, what about them and their right to return to their lands??

In my point of view taking reponsibility is the first step of peace

Ranen
I think that the role of determining who has more blame than the others should be left to Historians, we need to look forward.

One can consider taking responsibility for two reasons (or combinations)
His conscious troubles him
He thinks that taking responsibility will help in future (defuse tension, help reconciliation, etc)

My view we should discuss mainly the second option, but that is my view, people are free here.

As addition I admit as Israeli there is deliberate ignorance from our side, we do not know all the facts and sometime based our views on parts of history and ignore the rest

I know history also show that in many cases minority that lost their rights/identity/land insisted in getting full and formal acknowledgment for the injustice caused to them (see Australia, Canada, US cases) and saying we are responsible for wrong done to others, is not sign of weakness it is sign of strength. But today in Israeli society as you well know there is still the stage of denial (formal and personal level) we all know something wrong was done, and we refuse to touch it.

I know little about what you call IDF, although I know for example in Ein Hod some of the original inhabitants who left/were forced to leave, are now living few KM from their original village, and we as Israelis who are good in preaching to all Arab countries why they do not absorb Palestinians refugees, left these people in 'unrecongnized' status few KM from their original homes who are now occupied by Jews.
And there many cases like that, but you say 250000 can you exaplin?

That is what we need to learn here in this forum, facts but with open mind, it is not blame time, it is looking for better future for two people.
Dear Raneen (or Ranen?)

You ask: what kind of responsibility should Israel take about the Nakkba? You seem to imply that in your view Israel must take full responsibility. I fully agree. I also agree with another suggestion that seems to be the overtone of your message – namely, that assuming responsibility starts with talking truthfully about the issues at hand.

Sadly, I feel that your message seems to fall a bit short on the requirement of truthfulness - I suppose that unintentionally so. thus You will probably welcome this criticism so as to correct what needs correction. You paint a picture in which the relationships between Jews and Arabs were all good “before 48, and all the problems have started when the Zionist movement decided to establish a Jewish State on the lands of the Palestinians….” You add that “this is exactly what happened during 48, and the Zionist movement started to think about it 20 or 30 years before the war”; exactly, no less. In which I understand also that this is the whole picture. There was never the 1929 pogrom and massacre that the Arab inhabitants of this land initiated against the Jews; there was never the attack against Israel by Arab forces from both within and without in 1948; and there were never other Arab attacks against Israel, no terrorism, nothing.

You haste to add that you “don't want to talk about how many massacres each side did to the other and how many people were killed during this, because this is not the issue.” Then why do you mention that the Jews disinherited the Arabs in 1948? Is this the issue? If it is – why is it the issue and the other things not?

There is a big question concerning the Nakkba that every speaker I have ever heard on the subject – yourself included – shoves aside as not important yet offers an answer to it just the same: who was most at fault – Israel or the Palestinian leadership? Speakers on the Nakkba, as a rule, either imply or openly declare that all (or almost all) the blame was on the part of Israel (indeed, this view seems to be implied in the very word), yet when someone contests this view, they immediately declare that the question of blame is “not an issue”.

This is a cowardly custom and it is unbecoming the responsible discussion which you claim to invite. If the question of guilt is not the issue - let us not touch it at all. If we feel we must touch it - let us declare it open. As I stated above, I trust that your neglect in this respect was completely unintentional and that you will welcome this opportunity to set the record straight.

In friendship
sincerely
Chen Yehezkely.
Hi again - as I said in the previous thread – I think that knowledge is important. Thanks for sharing. Also I paid a visit to zurchot site, & will come again. As well I think the debate should be wider than just telling the one narrative. That too I already expressed.
I also mention that I think the solution should be within the form of two national states. I think that the fact that (even with their inner diverse) there are two separate groups who mostly don’t see themselves as bond together is dictating that. As for the feelings of Arabs who wants to return to their homes in Israel, or the Jews that want to live in the territories: well – I believe that most of the Israelis don’t mind so much about actual living in the land of the bible. Among the settlers today there is a big part that isn’t there for ideology. It’s true that some places are more important than others for Jews, but I think there can me a solution there – it does not seem like a big problem. Also I think some Jews can remain inhabitants in this territory. About the Arabs – well – it is mostly unaccepted around the world to see people as refugees if they are actually descanters of refugees. That already reduce the # of people who should come back according to normal. In addition it is very possible that a different solution can tempt many of them to settle elsewhere. Last but not least – one have to remember that many of the Palestinians refugees were only new comers, or descanters of new comers – just as were the Jews, so the time they, or their descanters are living outside Israel is in many cases similar (or shorter) than the time they were natives in Israel. Considering all that, I think that the # of Palestinians that should fairly return to Israel, &/or the # of them that would insist on doing that, would still allow Israel to keep its identity as a Jewish state. So – as I said – I’m not sure it’s a dream, but I think that the progress in that direction is quite reasonable, cause the problems would be mostly solved like that, & then we could, like most of the world, most of the time, be peaceful neighbor countries
Hi All:

I am sorry I have not participated in these discussions as I have been busy with many projects here in Occupied Beit Sahour/Bethlehem. Colonial settlers are trying to take the only remaining side left (we have settlements on the North, West, and South) which will make it a closed concentration camp just like Gaza. Bus-loads of settlers were here yesterday and I am still strying to recover (the images of the racist graffittis they left are flashing before my eyes as I write this). So please excuse this rushed note and perhaps intermittent participation going forward.

I would like to hope that people on this forum are taking Raneen;'s example of action not just claiming we want peace without doing any visible action that promotes peace. As for opinions: IMHO you cannot have peace without at least recognizing the Nakba (the injustice of teh ethnic cleansing of Palestine). To try and water this event down or deny its significance as a colossal injustice is like trying to do the same thing with atrocities of WWII. No reconciliation si really possible without that. For a background on the refugee issues, please see the chapter in my book "Sharing the Land of Canaan: HUman Rights and the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle" on Refugees (that chapter is posted at http://www.qumsiyeh.org/chapter4/ )

Once we acknowledge the injusticve we can easily find ways to coexist in equality (not as chosen and second class citizens) with guarantees for the rights of everyone. Rights by the way are somerthing taht is now codified in International law. International law (which also relates to human rights) is what we must cling to not the law of teh jungle (he who is stronger and has the oudest voice scares the others). But please remember that actions for peace must go far beyond words. I havec a lot of admiration for people like those involved in Zochrot or the Israeli Committee against Home Demolitions. Peace is not a passive thing for like any structure it must be built bottom up, bricjk by brick. Taalking about it is nice but is only a small beginning just like talking about planting a tree should not replace the actual planting and tending needed.

B'Shalom
Mazin
Mazin, and to all the others whose commentaries precede and follow. It is not possible, not politically, not socially and certainly not nationally to have peace in the world today. Why would you have peace in Palestine?
We are captives of our own cultural mentality. The Jews are a new political element in 'Palestine'. The Arab peoples have found identity out side of their tribal identies only recently...the British have done to the Semitic races what they did to the African tribal systems. One has to be blind not to see the whole picture....We, (I am Native American), we are also a conquered people. You on the other hand have not lost your culture, religion; not even your lands...and i speak of both Semitic families, Arab and Jew. Further, in clinging to religion and cultural traditions we have been willing to sacrifice both the culture and tradition and worse...we are willing to poison and kill our children to defend the culture. No, my brother, you will continue with the unimportant issues and neglect the opportunity to unite in the only way possible to address the real issue. When we hold political and cultural values over life itself there is only one way out; with sticks and stones the last Arab and the last Jew will kill each other...that is the road you have chosen. May I share what I see when I go into iPeace, MEPeace, and other channels searching for peace? I see human beings, beautiful human beings, endowed with intellectual capacity which can not be used because the gratification of emotional outbursts overshadow all the opportunities for each to forgive and forget and reach out and take your brothers hand. When ten thousand, nay, 50,000 men and women Arab, Jew, others who live in your lands join together, neither the Sharons or the Arafats not even the Hamas or the Hasids will be able to stop this movement....I see people from all over the world looking at this issue and wanting to help....but we can not, because you are in the way. The Sudan is murdering thousand...I don't hear and expression of compassion. The Iranian slaughtered thousands of political prisoners...where were you? If you feel compassion only for you own and not for all mankind what does that say about the value of your compassion? I am religious...I believe that in each of you there is a pure and special spark. We can make light or we can make darkness. That is the power which a loving Creator has placed in each heart. Everyone is free to use that power as he or she wishes. However, That is the power that can bring victory to every one of you in Palestine but it will not come but the means being used now, whether Arab or Jew. Where are the Jews and Arabs who yearn for peace and tranquillity? RIGHT HERE, MANY OF THEM.
Try a new way. The old way of pointing fingers at each other will not work....Move away from the Islamic and Jewish radical who are using both of you, whether or not you know it. Make it your land now and do it through love of each other...or others will come after you are gone and take that land. Idealism and philosophy is not going to do it..sacrifice and conscious effort to do the right thing is the only means. When we forgive even those who kill us we will begin to see the Sun shining on this historically Blessed Land. My love and my silent prayer that you may achieve it, Salam, Shalom Ernie
Let me point out some dynamics that are going on here and are very typical when Israelis and Palestinians get together:

People in conflict have a tendency to judge their group by their intentions and the other group by their actions. So Palestinians want peace (intention) but Israelis keep destroying any hope of peace through violence (action) or Israelis just want to have normal lives (intention) but Palestinians keep terrorizing Jews (actions). Neither side ever looks at how their own actions contribute and rationalize it away with “we are only reacting- how else should we react to THEIR actions” which lead to the inevitable “we really want peace, they do not”. The result is that no one takes responsibility and puts the responsibility on the other.

People in conflict have a very textured three dimensional view of their own group and a very one dimensional, simplistic view of the other group. Our side has layers and complexity, the other side is simple. This is another way we try to put the responsibility on the other group because it is easier for the simple and one dimensional group to change, it is more difficult to create change in a complex society.

People in conflict have a tendency to view the world as good and evil. We are good, they are evil. We can recognize that in our own complex three dimensional culture we may have aspects of good and evil but the other side is always seen as one dimensional and bad.

People in conflict carry the weight of their history with them into every situation. Conflict is about emotions. It is about a sense of shared in-group history which creates a sense of group identity. And just like no one can change another person’s individual psychological identity by force and people will lash out when someone tries and become more stubborn in their opinions, the same occurs with group identity. Our group identity is defined by our history, our interpretation of everything that has happened to our ancestors since recorded history. For Jews and Palestinians, this goes back thousands of years. We have this lens of our shared history, our group identity in every new situation. So when a settler beats up a Palestinian, we view it through the lens of hundreds of years of colonial oppression. When a Palestinian stabs an Israeli, we see it as part of the thousands of years of hatred of Jews.

People in conflict have a tendency to see their own pain, their history as more important than the other groups. We transfer our needs to win in this violent conflict to a need to win the war of who suffered more, who is a greater victim.

All this to say, that in order to move forward, I believe both sides need to examine their own beliefs, see the dynamics in their own societies, understand and ask questions about the dynamics and beliefs in the other society. Because only when we understand what motivates each other will we find ways to live together in peace and justice.

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