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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Let me add one more point: one of the problems with neither side taking responsibility for the actions of its group is that through the silence, we are all enabling the violent extremists in our own societies. I am using the psychological term ‘enable’ like enabling someone with an addiction or a problem- through our silence we are almost giving permission to the violent in each of our societies even though the majority of people on both sides do not agree with them.

One idea for a topic in this forum is where both Israelis and Palestinians speak out about the issues in their own society and take some collective responsibility for their own violent extremists (instead of pointing at the violent extremists on the other side). I understand how difficult this is- I have never committed a violent act, why should I be responsible for some settlers or soldiers I don’t know? This is particularly hard for Palestinians who feel powerless in this conflict. But both sides have a need to hear the other side speak out about its own group’s extremists and injustices. It is a natural need to have your emotions confirmed and understood. It is a need that is shared between those who are powerless and powerful.
Thank you for this site and this discussion. I'm here mostly to listen and learn, but I thought it might be useful to share one person's viewpoint from the USA.

First, to give you some idea of my world view: My people are Holocaust survivors from Poland who landed in NY in 1948. I was born in a DP camp outside of Erding, Germany and have lived my whole life in New York City. I am not religious. Not convinced that God exists. Very proud of being a Jew in New York. Life has been lucky for me. I'm now a grandfather and semi retired after a career in my printing company and then some teaching at design college. I see my mother, now 86, often. My sister has two wonderful children and I have a good relationship with all of them.

During the 60's, I was very active in the anti-war and civil rights movements.

Here's what I think I've seen in America. The original "sin" of the United States was slavery and the genocide of Native Americans. 140 years ago we had our bloodiest war, fed by the passions,narratives and conflict between different interests in different regions. It's only 40 years ago that we ended legal American apartheid.

Many people, Americans as well as the rest of the world, tend to forget the disruption, violence, and murders that have happened along the way. During the 60's our President, his brother, and the leader of the mainstream Civil Rights movement were assassinated. Even less noticed are the murders of Malcom X,over 20 leaders of the Black Panther Party, and many young people - both Black and White - murdered in the South. To add to the mix, For at least three years running, the core of major American cities were destroyed by urban riots.

Even today we have the largest prison population in the world. The overwhelming majority are people of color. Our education systems still do not well serve non european minorities. And our politics are still made stupid by tribal divisions ( pro God/anti God, "real Americans/urban elites")

Note: I am not "blaming" any political party, or "big business" or a "vast right wing conspiracy." I don't presume to assign blame." My point is only that the process of integrating the Other takes time and can get very nasty. Hopefully we have learned enough to make the process as painless as possible, but it's not about the "right" plan as much as it is recognizing that the process never ends. In the States, this year, the internet, a global financial crisis, and a little luck helped us get to where we are today. This site might be another sign that people to people conversation will be part of the solution in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, assigning blame helps no one. Assigning responsibility helps everyone. To this day, the Germans send my mom reparations. It has materially changed her life opportunities. Does it "absolve the guilt" for murdering her extended family? No. Only real people, not fictional abstractions like the "Nation" can absolve themselves of guilt.

States and politics are amoral. They have interests, not morals. They will naturally use whatever words are at hand to further their interests. A politician's job is to further the long term interests of the people who have given them the power to govern.. Professional politicians need the skill to identify long term problems and professional ethics. In my opinion, as soon as we start using the words of a "moral or immoral' or "good vs bad", it's impossible to have a productive conversation about public policy. When talking about individuals, it can be very important. Just not when talking about public policy.

Are Jews or Palestinians to blame? Which Jews? Which Palestinians? The very words "Jews" or "Palestinians" are only words. What exactly is the operational definition of "accepting blame"?

The issue is not guilt or blame. It is being responsible for the unintended consequences of using State power. I don't know how this might apply in your part of the world, but the real first step for us was to insure that Black children had the opportunity for a good education. It took a generation, but Obama's election is a direct result of our government being forced to take the responsibility of opening up educational opportunities to all of its citizens.

In terms of long term sustainable benefits. My bet is that the peoples who can collaborate with as many Others as possible are going to do best in a Global Economy. Given the wealth flowing to the Middle East oil countries,the talent and creativity in the Palestinian diaspora and the movement of economic gravity to China and India, I would think the sooner this is figured out the further it will achieve the long term interests of both Israelis and Palestinians for economic security.

This path also has the additional benefit of making one proud of their nation. I can only share that from the Vietnam War until the election of Obama, it was hard for me to be proud of America, without feeling the guilt of what we've done wrong. The election of a Black American, makes me feel very good. There is still lots more to fix, but such is life.

Thank you for reading this extra long post. I look forward to following this conversation as it moves along. As far as I can tell, this discussion is happening in a very special space.
Mike,

I've read all your post and enjoyed it. There is many common conclusion with mine. The most important in the coming time age is facing the individual challenge through the community. Power of politics is lasting in this terms, the global community is showing other interests then willing to be divided and using individual power against each-other. On the opposite; for each-other in diversity ..

And yes, we Palestinian should learn from disadvantages of power politics and take collective responsibility and use energy to build the future. We can can not exclude the Israeli society, but having them partners, same as a growing global community looking for a different.

Recently I finished a paper called " From NAKBA to "radical" Renaissance" calling people for new unity based on developing technology can facilitate sharing responsibility and co-create solutions as individuals and not as fractions fighting for power.
The Nakba trauma should not drive us in the stream of power-less waiting for the saver, for risk ..
Being your own saver ans sharing responsibility with people around you is in my eyes the real revolution. Violence is the language of the weak, the one gave up self-empowerment and consciousness-shift.

Be well,
Wael
I liked your words about
"assigning blame helps no one. Assigning responsibility helps everyone."
I just came home from seeing the play "Return to Haifa" based on the story by Ghassan Kanafani. Perhaps the best comment from the audience in the discussion following the play was that as viewers we were told two narratives and are constantly torn between both, identifying with each one.

I am sorry that as I read the posts here I do not get that same important gut feeling of simultaneous identification. I find it hard to tune in. How come the play, written by Boaz Gaon was so successful...what can we learn from it.


Being able to identify with another's narrative might be dependent on that narrative being

1. human and not ideological

2. open to the complexities of the reality (oh, can narratives believe there is a reality beyond themselves??) and not just based on slogans to justify stances.
Narratives tell stories. Stories flow and do not take stands. They show view points, perspectives..they look inward and outward and are not just statements of self-justification.

3. told by people open willing to hear other narratives as well.

I recently read Sari Nusseibeh's book Once Upon A Country. It too touched me, even if i felt i wanted to argue points with him. His very personal and subjective viewpoint captivated me..because his narrative was not written by one looking to throw blame or responsibility on one side only. He recognizes that his adversary sees this country as his home...and is willing to include him in his narrative as a human being with desires, weaknesses and strengths.

Much like the story of Return to Haifa, Nusseibeh's narrative sees this country/child as both yours and mine.

Maybe accepting this absurdity is the beginning of being able to open our ears..and also to learn to open our narratives.
Raneen, I have some questions about the Nakba and what i MEANS for Palestinians. I think that i have become more aware of the challenge of defining Nakba when i notice that Palestinians often view the one and two state solutions differently.

Is Nakba the tragedy of loosing the right to self determination? of having an independant Palestinian State with Flag and all? (Does a one state solution solve this?)

Is Nakba the very ripping apart of the land into two states? Would acceptance of Partition been Nakba to an extent?

Is Nakba the tragedy the uprooting: of loosing homes, villages during the conflict?

Is Nakba the loss of local culture because of the upheaval?

When people think of what was "before" Nakba..(British Occupation)...what was better then? what was worse or missing?

How can the feeling of pain of Nakba be cured or healed in a situation where there is Jewish National expression in the Land?

Maybe we can hear personal views of Palestinian group members.

thank you for the opportunity to ask.
Hi Myron and everyone

In her post Ranin talked about the issue of Internally Displaced Persons, which for me is new, not the fact that there are such people, but the scale of it.
See attached on this topic
Unfortunately Ranin is not able to carry on, but we thought maybe it is better to arrange a real meeting (I know it will be limited to Israelis, sorry about it) to talk face to face about it.
We can arrange it in Zochrot office and have their experts talk to us and we can raise all issues.

Anyone wants to join?
I would like to come.

The Nakba is part of the conflict-(either the outcome of it or inherently entwined with our existence as an independant state ) Us becoming aware of how Palestinian identity is effected by and being able to identify with it it is part of the solution..as is our not totally ignoring our role in the plight of the Palestinian population.

This will be easier (dealing with our role..our responsibility and developing deeper empathy) if we can hear what Nakba means for individual Palestinians, their extended families and villages- rather than hear more and more details of "what the Zionists have done".

I get stuck on the issue of "our responsibiltiy"..It is there for sure..but does our willingness to deal with it also generate a reciprocal need on the part of the Arab world to deal with their responsibility for the nature of the conflict and its outcome?
For whatever it's worth, I think those with the most power have the most responsibility. It's not because of right or wrong or good or bad. It's because they have the greatest ability to make changes.

It's why in a business, whatever goes wrong is finally the responsibility of the boss. Or in a War, if there is torture it is the responsibility of the Commander in Chief. (ex. Mr.Bush). Or in a war, if innocents get killed, it is the responsibility of the commanders in chief. To be clear there is some responsibility for the foot soldiers. But real change has to come from the top. Unfortunately, that is the way it is. Our conversations can lay the basis, inform the citizens, and change the terms of dicussion. If all goes well that will give the politicians the cover to do the right thing.

The fish stinks from the head. (To be clear, I am referring to the US, not places I don't understand.)
In general i feel that "I" have the most responsibility. (Levinas says that i am even responsible for the "other's responsibility".)

I agree that our stregth, as well as our revolutionary impact, for better and for worse, on this region..and our "strangeness" may add to that.

Note that i asked about Arab responsibilty..and did not mention Palestinain responsibilty (i do not know how much they have)..It is not for me to determine how much someone else is responsible...But..as part of a conflict..and in search of "justice" or "fairness" it is important that ALL sides come to the board in an open, honest and self critical way.

To use "weakness" as a wild-card in the game just doesnt' seem right.For me to recognize my Responsibility and to be responsive requires this.

Responsibilty of the "weak" means not blaming all my pains on the other, even if i expect him to be responsive to me.
Myron, I agree and disagree. As people of character we do bear responsibility, but in a different way. We can only be truly responsible for what we can do and control. That means for each of us to live a good life.

But, for things beyond our power, like the foot soldier in a war, we are some responsible. But the guilt (please remember I am the son of an East European Holocaust Survivor) for the terrible things that are done in our name. No. It's not just. It's not fair.
The "weakness" issue and how it relates to respoonsibility in a situation of obvious injustice is interesting. I would ask people applying arguments here about responsibility and strengths etc to take time to think how their arguments would be viewed 30 or 40 years from now. How would those arguments have fared with the names changed and they were applied instead of to the Ghttos that are now Gaza and Nablus and Qalqilia but to teh Warsaw Ghetto in its "conflict" with the Nazi regime. How would you feel if at the time the argum,ent was about the responsibility of the resisters in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising as opposed to the responsibility of Palestinians (2/3rd of us are refugees or displaced people and the other 1/3rd clearly have been denied the right to rule themselves). Just some thoughts.

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