شاهد برنامج أبعاد: فلسطين … ٧٠ عاماًً على قضية لا تموت

عُرضت الحلقة على قناة الغد بتاريخ ١٧/٥/٢٠١٨

70 years of Nakba: Why can’t Palestinians walk home?

First published by the Middle East Eye on 18/5/2018

All who are interested in peace in historic Palestine must remember that we did not choose our occupiers; they chose Palestine, knowing it was not an empty land, and we paid with our lives and rights

I would not be writing these words today if Israel had not been created in my homeland, Palestine, against the will of indigenous Palestinians. I might instead be writing to celebrate the independence of a democratic Palestine in which indigenous Jews, Christians and Muslims lived as equals, building the country together after the end of the British Mandate. Palestine would be a full member of the United Nations; it might even have been allowed to enter the Eurovision song contest and won.

Had Israel been created in Wales instead, against the will of Welsh people, I might be writing in solidarity as they commemorated their trychineb (the Welsh word for “catastrophe”). Thankfully for the great Welsh people, they were spared the creation of Israel in their homeland and the expulsion of their people to neighbouring countries.

Atrocious massacres

Palestinians are again in mourning, commemorating 70 years since their catastrophe, which resulted from the creation of Israel in their homeland. They are still seeking their legitimate rights, principally their right to return home.

Many words will be written about what happened in the lead-up to, and during, the Nakba. Those seeking to justify Zionist crimes will argue that it was the victims’ fault for fleeing their homeland, rather than the reality that they were driven out, many at gunpoint, seeking refuge from Zionist Jewish terror. Yes, it was Zionist Jewish terror that deliberately drove Palestinians away from Jerusalem, Yaffa, Haifa and Akka, along with villages such as Deir Yassin and Qibya, the scenes of atrocious massacres by Zionist terrorists.

Israel continues to deny the Nakba, has legislated to punish those who commemorate it, and has denied Palestinians their rights, including the right of return

Palestinians are not the first or only people to flee for their lives. You need only look at Syrians today to see what human beings do in order to survive and to ensure the safety of their children. They take whatever possessions they can carry and run, but always with the expectation to return once the violence ends.

Nobody would deny the Syrian people their absolute right to return to the homes they left, and if they were destroyed, they would be helped to rebuild them. The outcome of what happened in 1947-48 was a catastrophe, which non-Palestinians could only truly understand if it happened to them.

Denying the Nakba

The population of my city of residence, Birmingham, is 1.1 million – almost that of the entire Palestinian population that inhabited historic Palestine in 1948. I can imagine the catastrophe that Brummies (what residents of Birmingham are lovingly called) would have felt had more than half of that population been terrorised into leaving their beloved city, with most never being allowed to return, as their homes were handed over to non-Brummies. Their lives in Birmingham would have become memories overnight, while the trauma of their dispossession would have been carried through generations.

I have no doubt that Mancunians, Geordies, Liverpudlians and Londoners would have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Brummies until they were allowed to return, welcoming them into their homes as they sought refuge from their tormenters.

Israeli security forces stand guard during a protest organised by Palestinians on 10 May 2018 (AFP)

This analogy can be applied to any group of people expelled by another group. However, what is different here is that the wrong committed by Zionism, and then by Israel, has never been righted. Israel continues to deny the Nakba, has legislated to punish those who commemorate it, and has denied Palestinians their rights, including the right of return.

Israel has neither given all who live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea equal rights, nor accepted the creation of a Palestinian state on 1967 borders to end its occupation, considered illegal under international law. In fact, it denies there is an occupation in any part of historic Palestine.

Israel has annexed territories it occupies illegally, including East Jerusalem, and has sought recognition of the whole of the holy city as its capital, rather than accepting that it could be the capital of Israel and Palestine. It continues to build illegally in the occupied territories and is considering legalising outposts it has thus far considered illegal.

Demonising Palestinians

Israel has continued its siege on Gaza, now in its 11th year. It controls all access to historic Palestine, including access to the occupied territories, and has implemented a policy to deny entry to human rights activists and campaigners who have supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Having failed to silence criticism of its policies, it has cynically sought to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

Most significantly, perhaps, Israel has sought to demonise Palestinians. It portrays us as a lesser people, with violence as part of our DNA – a bunch of terrorists with limited intelligence. That, to me, is the most abhorrent of all the abhorrent actions Israel has taken against us since its creation.

What is troubling is that supposedly civilised westerners who claim they fight for equality and human rights, including those holding the highest offices of state, have adopted this narrative, or at least continue to support Israel despite the facts that are there for all to see.

While people across the globe sympathise with Palestinians and understand Israel’s crimes, the political elite refuse to represent their citizens and continue to support Israel when, had its actions been committed against their own citizens or against Jews, they would not rest until it was punished.

How can anyone explain to Palestinians the stance of the US in recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s, but not Palestine’s, capital? How can western leaders support Israel’s claim to self-defence when it kills and maims thousands of Palestinians in major wars against Gaza, or the daily trickle of killings in the West Bank?

International silence

The world’s silence as Israeli snipers used sophisticated weapons, including some supplied by the West, to pick off Palestinian civilians one by one as they marched to return home through the Gaza border has been deafening. The silence in the face of the deaths and injuries of medics and journalists has been particularly galling.

I remind all who are interested in peace in historic Palestine that we did not choose our occupiers. They chose Palestine, knowing it was not an empty land, but one that had a people – my people, Palestinians who have paid with their land, lives and rights.

The families that hailed from Najd would walk home, given a chance to do so, as would the families hailing from dozens of other ethnically cleansed villages in the Gaza district

Seventy years after the Nakba, Palestinians decided they could not wait any longer. Enough is enough. It was time to go home, and that was the reason for the Great Return March. If the refugees did go home, Gaza would no longer be the most densely populated place on earth; its population of two million would fall to 400,000, as 80 percent of its residents are refugees from other parts of historic Palestine.

They would not need large sums of money to be repatriated. They could simply walk to the homes from which they were expelled in 1948.

The Palestinians want to return in a climate of peace. It is in their interest and would be in compliance with UN Resolution 194. The existing residents would also need help to accept justice and 194. In most cases the houses were demolished and other houses built on their site. Clearly, negotiations  would need to take place to find a long term resolution that both sides agree to.

Take the example of Najd, a village just 14km north of Gaza City, whose population of 700 Palestinians was expelled in May 1948 by the Negev Brigade. Its inhabitants fled to Gaza. On its land, the Israelis built Sderot, a town that now has a population of 24,000.

Israeli officials take foreign dignitaries to show them the remains of “rockets” fired from Gaza that landed in or around the town, but they do not mention that they are actually standing on land that was once Najd, before it was ethnically cleansed of Palestinians.

The families that hailed from Najd would walk home, given a chance to do so, as would the families hailing from dozens of other ethnically cleansed villages in the Gaza district.

– Kamel Hawwash is a British-Palestinian engineering professor based at the University of Birmingham and a long-standing campaigner for justice, especially for the Palestinian people. He is vice chair of the British Palestinian Policy Council (BPPC) and a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). He appears regularly in the media as a commentator on Middle East issues. He runs a blog at www.kamelhawwash.com and tweets at @kamelhawwash. He writes here in a personal capacity.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Photo: A girl raises a Palestinian flag as a boy holds a wooden key symbolising return at the Gaza border on 13 May 2018, during a demonstration commemorating the Nakba (AFP)

US embassy move is a day of mourning and a warning

First published by the Middle East Eye on 14/5/2018

As Trump celebrates the relocation of his country’s embassy to Jerusalem, Israel should recognise that the next generation of Palestinians will never stop fighting back

The vultures are circling again, this time on a mission to take another bite out of Palestine’s heart, Jerusalem, 70 years after savaging her to create Israel and in the process driving any remaining doves of peace into the sea.

As Israel celebrates on Monday the US embassy relocation to Jerusalem, President Donald Trump believes that by doing so, the Palestinians’ dreams of freedom will be dealt the final fatal blow, forcing them to accept that it will never happen.

Failure to acknowledge the Nakba

The “leader of the free world” is sending his son-in-law and senior adviser on the Middle East, Jared Kushner; his special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt; and his daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, with Ambassador David Friedman to mark the embassy move and Israel’s 70th anniversary of independence. All four – including his daughter, who converted to Judaism – would qualify for Israeli citizenship. Their hearts and minds are all firmly on Israel’s side.

To them, like the original Zionists who decided that Palestine would be theirs, indigenous Palestinians are at best an inconvenience and at worst a violent people driven by an inexplicable hatred towards their invaders and oppressors.

A bunch of supposedly civilised people in suits and dresses, under heavy protection by the forces of a settler colonialist state, will celebrate an act of naked armed robbery

If Trump’s team had any morals or feelings for the Palestinian people, they would join them in commemorating the Nakba, or “catastrophe”, a day later. Neither they nor their hosts have acknowledged the wrongs done to Palestinians or shown any sensitivity towards them. The rush to move the embassy to coincide with the Israeli celebrations was deliberate, calculated and humiliating.

Palestinians can be excused for taking this to mean that far from wanting to see them attain their legitimate rights, they just hate them.

A bunch of supposedly civilised people in suits and dresses, under heavy protection by the forces of a settler colonialist state, will celebrate an act of naked armed robbery. Jerusalem was taken from the Palestinians by force in two stages: the western part in 1948 and the east in 1967. Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem is illegal under international law, yet it continues to keep it by force.

Its status as illegally occupied was reconfirmed by the judgement of the International Court of Justice in 2004, UN Security Council Resolution 2334 and UNESCO in 2017.

Israel’s facts on the ground

If Trump was genuine about finding a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and wanted to help the two sides peacefully share the land, he could have announced that the US recognised West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and East Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital.

He could have subjected this to a set of conditions, including that the city must remain undivided, that illegal settlement-building must stop and be reversed, and that changes to the demography and Israel’s Judaisation policy must cease.

Trump claimed he was recognising reality. In other words, the more facts on the ground that Israel creates, the more ‘reality’ he will recognise

He could then have set a date by which a Palestinian state would be created on 1967 borders and a resolution reached to all outstanding issues between the two sides in accordance with international law.

Instead, Trump claimed he was recognising reality. In other words, the more facts on the ground that Israel creates, the more “reality” he will recognise. Only the staunchest supporters of Israel in his administration could have convinced him that this decision would bring peace any closer.

People walk near the compound of the US consulate in Jerusalem, which will host the new US embassy, as posters praising the US president hang in the street on 11 May 2018 (AFP)

The international community (minus the US and Israel) rejected his decision, both in statements and at the UN Security Council and General Assembly. However, it has taken no action to pressure Israel to return to genuine peace negotiations.

Trump’s decision unleashed anger and protests in every corner of the world, but the reality is that the protests could not be sustained beyond the initial few weeks after the announcement, and the anger has not been channelled into a strategy by Palestinians or their supporters to reverse it.

Entrenching the occupation

The decision, however, helped to precipitate the peaceful Great March of Return, in which Palestinians in Gaza camped at the fence separating them from the homes from which they were violently driven through Zionist Jewish terror in 1948. Palestinians once again reminded the world that they are still waiting to return to the parts of Mother Palestine from which they were expelled 70 years ago. They will never give up this right, whatever facts on the ground Israel creates.

Israel continues to deny them this right by force, with peaceful protesters, journalists and medics being gunned down by Israeli snipers who are heavily protected and hundreds of metres away. It will take whatever it gets, whenever it can, to entrench its occupation, and it will continue to oppress Palestinians and build on their land until the Zionist project is complete.

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Palestinians face reckoning with US administration in a shifting Middle East

Israel’s first prime minister David Ben Gurion thought that “the old will die and the young will forget” when asked what to do with those Palestinians who remained. Well, the old died, as did he, but the young have not forgotten.

Their unshakeable connection to every inch of Mother Palestine has been handed down from one generation to the next. Israel has to deal not only with the six million who live between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea, but another six million refugees who yearn for return. That is a reality that Trump does not understand, but the Israelis do, and they are continuously troubled by it.

Resistance lives on

Both of my parents were born in Jerusalem. My father has passed away; my mother is still alive, but has no right to return to her town of birth. A Jewish lady from any part of the world, with no connection to her city, can decide to move to Jerusalem today and be welcomed by Israel and given citizenship, but my mother can’t.

Peace will come to the holy land when my mother can return, and when Jewish Israelis see Palestinians as human beings like them with rights, and not inferior beings.

Trump’s US embassy move is a day of mourning for Mother Palestine, but also a day of warning to Israel that a younger Palestinian generation will take the baton to keep hope alive and resist until Palestinians attain their rights, living peacefully with all in their historic homeland, and Jerusalem is freed from the colonialist vultures.

– Kamel Hawwash is a British-Palestinian engineering professor based at the University of Birmingham and a long-standing campaigner for justice, especially for the Palestinian people. He is vice chair of the British Palestinian Policy Council (BPPC) and a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). He appears regularly in the media as a commentator on Middle East issues. He runs a blog at www.kamelhawwash.com and tweets at @kamelhawwash. He writes here in a personal capacity.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Photo: A Palestinian protester stands over cartoons of US President Donald Trump and pictures of him defaced with a blue Star of David during a demonstration in the city of Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on 20 December, 2017 (AFP)

الحواش: ازدياد حملات مقاطعة الاحتلال بفعل قمع المتظاهرين على حدود غزة

مقابلتي على فلسطين اون لاين بتاريخ ١٥/٤/٢٠١٨

قال نائب رئيس حملة التضامن البريطاني مع فلسطين البروفيسور كامل الحواش: إن ما يقلق الاحتلال الإسرائيلي بعد أحداث مسيرة العودة الكبرى، هو تصاعد حملات المقاطعة له خلال الفترة المقبلة في أوروبا والعالم، نتيجة جرائمه التي يرتكبها جنوده بحق المتظاهرين السلميين على حدود قطاع غزة.

وأضاف الحواش في حديثه مع صحيفة “فلسطين” أن مسيرة العودة أعادت إحياء القضية الفلسطينية في الوقت الذي حاولت أمريكا والاحتلال تهميش هذه القضية، وتصدير أحداث العراق وسوريا بدلاً منها، مشيرًا إلى أن طريقة تعامل جيش الاحتلال مع عشرات الآلاف من المتظاهرين السلميين على حدود غزة، أحدثت تأثيرًا كبيرًا رفضه الشارع الأوروبي.

نقطة تحوّل

وأكدت أن أهمية مسيرة العودة تكمن بأنها حراك سلمي تمامًا كما حدث خلال الانتفاضة الفلسطينية الأولى “انتفاضة الحجارة”، متوقعًا أن تحدث المسيرة تحول في التعامل البريطاني والأوروبي خاصة الشعبي مع القضية الفلسطينية في 15 مايو/ أيار القادم إن استمرت بزخم أكبر.

وأشار إلى أن مجلس الطلبة في جامعات دولة إيرلندا صوتت لصالح دعم حملات مقاطعة الاحتلال، متوقعًا اتساع حملات المقاطعة نتيجة ما يحدث من انتهاكات اسرائيلية بحق مسيرة العودة.

ونبه الحواش إلى أن المتضامين مع الشعب الفلسطيني في بريطانيا يعتزمون الضغط على بنك “HSBC” العالمي والمتهم بتقديم خدمات لشركات لها علاقة بتصنيع الأسلحة، مشيرا إلى أن هذا البنك سيعقد جمعيته العمومية خلال الشهر الجاري وسيكون هناك حشد من المتضامنين أمام مقر الاجتماع.

وقال: “إن الكثير من البريطانيين يتذمرون من تهنئة وزير جيش الاحتلال أفيغدور ليبرمان لجنوده بقتل المتظاهرين السلميين على حدود غزة ويعتبرونه شيئًا مقززًا”، لافتا إلى أن مسيرة العودة تعطي فرصة أكبر للتذكير بالحصار الإسرائيلي على غزة وتسليط الضوء عليه.

ولفت إلى أن العنف الإسرائيلي المستخدم ضد المتظاهرين السلميين يقلق المواطنين الأوربيين والسياسيين، خوفًا من أن تتدحرج الأمور وينتهي حل الدولتين الذي تتبناه الدول الغربية.

تفاعل شعبي

وحول تفاعل الشارع البريطاني مع أحداث مسيرة العودة، لفت إلى أن العديد من المدن البريطانية شهدت تفاعلاً كبيرًا بعدد من المدن الكبيرة، مما سبب القلق للوبي الصهيوني في بريطانيا خوفًا من اتساع رقعة التظاهرات والمتضامنين.

وتابع الحواش: “إنه حينما ترى الشعوب الأوروبية ما يقوم به الاحتلال في قمع المحتجين السلميين، فإنها تجد أبسط وأهم طريقة أمامها للتضامن هي المشاركة في حملات التضامن”، مشيرًا إلى أن الطريقة الوحيدة التي استنتجته الجموع في بريطانيا أن الطريقة الوحيدة للشعب البريطاني للضغط على الاحتلال هي من خلال زيادة زخم حملات المقاطعة”.

إلا أنه نوَّه إلى أن وسائل الإعلام الرسمية البريطانية لم تغطِ أحداث مسيرة العودة بالشكل المطلوب، ووصفها بأنها تغطية “خجولة”، وتداخلت مع الاحتلال في تضليل الرأي العام البريطاني بالادعاء أن حماس تنظم هذه التظاهرات.

وأشار إلى أن الكثير من البريطانيين ورغم ما مارسه الإعلام الرسمي تناقلوا العديد من الفيديوهات حول جرائم الاحتلال بحق المشاركين بمسيرة العودة، والتي كان آخرهم فيديو قتل الاحتلال للصحفي ياسر مرتجى.

وشدد الحواش على ضرورة التعريف بحق العودة على المستوى الدولي، وعدم التعامل وكأن العالم يفهم هذه القضية، مشيرا إلى أن الناشطين الفلسطينيين في بريطانيا استطاعوا العام الماضي الشرح للبريطانيين حول ضلوع بريطانيا بمأساة الفلسطينيين.

وبشأن دعوة رئيس حزب العمال البريطاني جيريمي كوربين، لحكومة بلاده لإعادة النظر في صفقات بيع الأسلحة للاحتلال الإسرائيلي بعد الأحداث عند حدود قطاع غزة التي استشهد وأصيب خلالها آلاف الفلسطينيين بنيران إسرائيلية، قال الحواش: “إن ما قاله كوربين الشيء الواقعي كجهة معارضة للحكومة”، مستبعدًا استجابة الحكومة له لأن بريطانيا تبحث عن تعزيز تعاونها التجاري الدولي”.