For Palestinians, the Nakba is the mother of all catastrophes

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It is 66 years since beautiful, peaceful Palestine was taken violently by Zionists to create a state for the followers of Judaism, a supposedly peaceful religion. In the course of achieving this, over 800,000 peaceful Palestinians ended up as refugees outside their homeland. Zionists have written thousands of words on the reasons for this. They range from ‘the Arabs fought and lost’ to the ‘Arabs fled’. I could write a few words on what happened which would then be challenged by them. What they cannot dispute is that if it were not for Zionism, Palestinian refugees of all generations would still be living in Palestine. The occupying Brits would have gone and a Palestinian state would likely have emerged west of the river Jordan. A state whose citizens would have been mostly Muslims with Christian and Jewish minorities.

It is also safe to say that Jews would have continued to live where they were in the Middle East, as citizens of Syria, Egypt, Yemen and Iraq. After all Christian Arabs have remained in their individual homelands. I do of course accept that some Christians left over the years but I would want them all to be able to return as I would want all Arab Jews to return to their homelands.

The mass movement of Palestinians out of Palestine and the mass movement of Jews into their land and homes is Zionism’s disgraceful legacy.

But where are we today? Israel is an established strong state with a strong army. Any Jew can move to historic Palestine, receive Israeli citizenship and make a life for him or herself. You will note I used the word move rather than return. How can you return to a place you do not come from? The Palestinians living in exile came directly from Palestine. Jews did not. The argument that they were there 3000 years ago and that this gives them a ‘right to return’ is one I reject. Do Brits have a right to return to Palestine? Do Muslims have a right to live in Makkah? Do Christians have a right to live in the Vatican or indeed to return to Nazareth? No. They should all be able to perform pilgrimage to their holy places and then return to their homes. I also believe people should feel safe in their homelands and be treated equally.

For the Palestinians, the situation is catastrophic. Their only crime is that their homeland was wanted by another group of people that followed the same religion. They were told Palestine was ‘a land without a people for a people without a land’. The reality is that Palestine was not empty
and Jews were citizens of different states as were Christians and Muslims.

Arab countries that hosted the Palestinians for what they thought was a temporary stay put them in refugee camps as is current practice for people fleeing for their lives. Some live in terrible conditions and under unfair rules governing their every day lives. This is terrible and wrong. However, blame for their predicament lies squarely with Zionism and its Apartheid creation, Israel. Palestinian refugees starving in Yarmouk camp in Damascus should never have been there.

When you have 5 million people that have dispersed to all corners of the earth, that is a catastrophe. When you have people in the 21st century that are stateless through no fault if their own, that is a catastrophe. When you have some with European or other citizenship ‘visit’ their homeland, find the houses from which their patents were forcibly ejected find squatters occupying the who shoo them away, that us a catastrophe. When those who re displaced internally cannot return to their homes, that us a catastrophe.

Perhaps the biggest catastrophe is for the thieves to insist that they recognise their claim to Palestine and to accept that they are the foreigners. This is what the current Israeli Government seeks through its insistence the Palestinians recognise it as a Jewish state, even before its borders are confirmed.

The Palestinians will not recognise their homeland as someone else’s, regardless of what state or states currently exist on it. States come and go but mother Palestine will always be Palestinian.

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