The Palestinian issue has been uniting all Muslims for 65 years. Syrian rebels succeeded in their mission – they made the world forget about the Palestinian issue.
The militants pulled Palestinians out of refugee camps; they are killing them or using these people as human shields. And the media are silent about it, while the Syrian opposition keeps screaming about the “oppressive Assad regime.”
It’s been a year since Syrian rebels raided the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria – Yarmouk, near Damascus. Up until recently it was the duty of Israeli soldiers to persecute Palestinians, now this is done by Syrian rebels with their Muslim slogans. The media are not saying anything about it.
What is the life of Palestinians like, now that the Syrian conflict made them refugees again?
‘Nobody is helping us – neither Europe, nor the UN’
Abu-Badr, head of Beirut’s Bourj al-Barajneh refugee camp People’s Committee, gathered representatives of all Palestinian parties. They all keep regular contacts with camps in Syria.
A year after Palestinian camps and Palestinians were attacked, the heads of these organizations are saying that the Syrian war is a staged conflict, and its goal is to distract everybody from the Palestinian problem.
A total of 760,000 Palestinian refugees lived in Syria before the war, and about 550,000 in Lebanon. Palestinians had equal rights in Syria, and virtually no rights in Lebanon. For example, they were not allowed to work in 72 professional capacities.
Abu-Badr says, “There are over 1,000 Palestinian families from Syria in our camp. Nobody is helping us – not Europe, not the UN. The Red Cross came twice. The refugees are renting housing on their own.”
To rent a place to live is a big problem for a Palestinian, especially at the camp. And to pay rent, they have to find a job, which is extremely difficult in Lebanon.
He says that according to the authorities, there are about 120,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria living south of Tripoli. So every tenth refugee is a Palestinian.
Turkey and Jordan don’t accept Palestinians.
Kafar is a young mother of two. She used to live in Syria’s Yarmouk with her family. Now she is struggling to survive in Bourj al-Barajneh in Lebanon.
She fled Yarmouk at the end of 2012, when the rebels took over the camp and made it their foothold to carry out attacks on Damascus.
Yarmouk is one of the largest Palestinian camps in Syria. Before the war it had 150,000 residents, which was almost one-quarter of all Palestinian refugees in Syria. The camp is very close to the Damascus city limits, and there were subdivisions where regular Syrians lived.
Refugee camps are extraterritorial places. Police and army are not allowed there, the residents don’t have citizenship, they don’t vote and don’t serve in the army. Camps are self-governed by representatives of all Palestinian political parties. Unlike all other countries, Syria allowed refugees to leave camps and enjoy all rights and freedoms.
A Syrian family named Lakud brought the fighters to Yarmouk. Palestinians didn’t support the rebels then, and they are not supporting them now. Some parts of the camp are still controlled by the opposition.
A human shield for militants
Kafar recalls: “The entire camp left in a snap back then, when armed militants entered it. They were inside, shooting bullets into the air – they always act the same way. They ordered the residents to leave having placed their orders on different websites and having sent emails. Nobody stayed there.”
In December 2012, some started trying to come back. There are even a few families that decided to stay in the camp, hoping it would get better soon. Kafar says all the houses have been looted – they have taken everything, including electrical wires.
She says the militants were shooting those Palestinians who went out to take part in demonstrations. They wouldn’t let people return to their homes, but in case they did come back home, they couldn’t leave their houses again.
“If the militants went away, we would come back. Sometimes we can contact those inside the camp. They tell us about the blockade – they feel like they live in a cage, they lack food. There is no escape – they are kept as a human shield for the militants,” Kafar says.
She tells us about her relative who went to find her children, but ended up as a hostage in the camp.
“The militants won’t let you come in, but if one has entered – he would be kept there by force. They have established checkpoints. They deprive the people of food and beat the women who try to sneak inside, bringing something to their relatives to eat,” Kafar says.
A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on May 15, 2013, shows protestors crying after unidentified armed groups opened fire on demonstrators as they marched in the Syrian capital Damascus in support of the right to return of Palestinian refugees who fled their homes or were expelled during various conflicts. (AFP/SANA)
Hitting a woman in public is considered absolutely unlawful among Muslims. But Kafar says that the militants in Yarmouk have their own vision of everything.
“We are not afraid of war, but they won’t even feed the people. The al-Nusra militants are tall, wear long beards and look like foreigners. Probably, there are Syrians among them but none of my relatives have ever seen one,” Kafar says.
One blanket for five
Palestinians from Syria in Lebanon are in even more dire straits.
“They humiliate us – we are constantly being insulted,” the woman tells us.
She is showing us around her tiny apartment with two rooms and a kitchen. The ceiling leaks when it rains.
“The rent is $300. If I don’t find money by Sunday, we’ll have to leave for Syria.”
Apart from the rent, they pay $70 for water.
Her father-in-law was killed. Her mother-in-law returned to Syria and now lives with their relatives there.
“I’ll go to Syria and wait there until I can come back home. Staying here is humiliating,” Kafar says.
Her husband takes up any job he can, be it a laborer, carrier or loader.
They have no warm clothes – all their belongings were stolen in Yarmouk. This family doesn’t belong to any group. They got help from different organizations such as Hamas, the Popular Front or some voluntary organizations. But it can hardly be called help – it is more like a mere pittance.
“They gave us one blanket for five people. But we are living creatures,” Kafar says, showing us a thin grey synthetic blanket. She thinks it looks like a cloth that is used to wrap a dead body when burying it.
The family has no money to buy food. They sometimes receive help from neighbors, who share their food with them. I saw them bring some bread and crisps.
‘In Syria, Palestinians are treated better than brothers’
Kafar complains about how the refugee work is organized.
“They distribute some humanitarian aid, but the process is humiliating to us every step of the way. There is fighting in Syria, but Palestinians are respected there. And here they call us Syrian dogs.”
“We had a good life under Assad, not lacking anything. We will go back and live in Syria, even if we have to live in tents. Syrians treat us as equal, they help us,” says Kafar.
In the last year they received help twice – from Hamas and from people from Qatar – about $300 per family, which is less than one dollar a day. But not everybody gets even these payments. There are lists of those who suffer the most in these camps.
She tells us how the process of distributing this aid works.
“A family gets a check for $150 from Qatar. But there wasn’t enough for everybody on the list. So people are humiliated even more. The place where these checks are given is near Beirut, you have to take a taxi to get there and spend half of the money on the ride. They give food stamps for certain food items, which can only be bought in one supermarket. And this store is also far away.”
“You can’t buy meat with these food stamps. Do they think children can go for a year without meat?” the woman asks.
“We are convinced that Syria will welcome us back. They loved us there, treated us like brothers, even better than brothers. We lived better than Syrians themselves,” Kafar says.
She knows that the Lebanese have closed the border for Palestinian refugees. So they can’t go anywhere.
“They accepted us in Syria. When we lost everything, they took care of us. They asked us what we needed. Six blankets? Food? They gave us everything. They didn’t blame us, even though life was difficult for everyone.”
She thinks her family made a mistake when it moved to Lebanon. “We were told life would be good here. Now we regret the decision.”
Her husband came six months earlier, he thought they would be safe here while there is fighting.
‘There is no Palestinian issue for Syrian rebels’
“We Palestinians have played no part in Syria’s distress. We didn’t participate in street protests, and our people did not join the rebels,” says Kafar. She admits to having heard that some Palestinians have, in fact, taken up arms against the Syrian government. But she is certain that is a rare exception.
“Those people must have been seduced by money, or befuddled with drugs, and with false promises. Only the poorest and the most destitute of the Palestinians have gone to fight for money, and it took them 18 months to get that desperate.
“Such people have nothing to eat, so they join the rebels hoping to make some money to sustain their families, and then desert at the first opportunity.”
“We cannot admit to supporting the regime, for fear of being killed on the spot. Those rebels do not consider the Palestinian issue to be of primary importance. There is no Palestinian issue for the rebels at all,” says Kafar.
Every night, the inhabitants of Bourj al-Barajneh go to sleep fearing that al-Nusra militants may descend on the Palestinian refugee camp and start asserting their rule, the way they did at Yarmouk. There is talk that al-Nusra men were spotted recently inside Nahr al-Barrid, another Palestinian camp. Since then, the People’s Committee instituted vigilante patrols across the entire camp.
“Our people control every in and out,” Kafar tells us. “They keep watch at night to make sure no strangers come upon us as we sleep. That’s how it happened in Yarmouk.”
The Syrian army has also set up checkpoints guarding the entrance to each camp.
‘They butchered a family to make the others serve as a human shield’
Yarmouk was not the only Palestinian camp captured and cleared of refugees by insurgents. Moreover, no one can assess the number of Palestinians killed in the process.
A Palestinian woman named Gusun was forced to flee camp Duma near Damascus on September 23, 2012, together with her husband, their three kids, and her husband’s brother.
“There were plenty of olive groves next to our camp. We lived in peace for a long time, until the fighting drew close to our camp. Then, rebels started taking shelter in our camp, hiding in our houses during firefights, and shooting through our windows. And we found ourselves between the hammer and the anvil. So one day, we slipped out at five in the morning and ran away through the olive grove,” Gursun tells me.
“The rebels had killed many people in our camp unflinchingly. They butchered a married couple who were my husband’s kin – they cut their throats, so that the other Palestinians would stay in the camp and serve as their human shield, while the government was commanding us to flee.”
Gusun went back to check on Duma some four months ago.
“I found my home thoroughly looted, its roof smashed,” she recalls. “And the FSA and al-Nusra are still entrenched in the camp.”
“Once their men spotted me at Duma, they came up and questioned me to make sure I was from that camp. They let me go, but they kept watching me. Later, when I went out to a grocery store, I noticed a car tailing me. Then I got scared and ran away from the camp,” says Gusun.
“The rebels I saw were tall and fair-skinned. There are some who don’t speak Arabic, and there are some who do. People have also told me there are black rebels, but I have never seen one. Some rebels wear black vests, some wear masks, some wear short pants, and others wear normal trousers. There are many fair-skinned men among them, those are foreigners.
“When we walked around the camp, we would try not to look them in the face, for fear that they might do us harm,” Gusun says.
‘Palestinians, get out of Syria’
The world’s mainstream media, who have closely followed the insurgency and its war on Assad, have proven squeamish when it comes to covering the way rebels treat Palestinians. In the spring of 2011, they would refute news reports that opposition activists wave Israeli flags and chant anti-Palestinian slogans at their rallies.
This stands to reason: two years ago, the Palestinian issue was still the No. 1 concern for the Muslim world, and an anti-Palestinian stance would have done serious harm to the rebels’ reputation. All the more so as Egyptian revolutionaries at Tahrir Square had been pronouncedly pro-Palestinian, despising Hosni Mubarak for his support for the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The women at Bourj al-Barajneh are perplexed at the world’s ignorance of how Syrian insurgents really feel about Palestinians.
“At the onset of the revolution, slogans were like, ‘Carrots belong with carrots and cabbage with cabbage, and this is no land for Palestinians’,” says Gusun, who is shocked that no media have ever reported that the Syrian rebels had initially been against the Palestinians.
“Under these slogans, the armed rebels marched along the streets, angered by the local Palestinians’ reluctance to turn against the regime,” says Gusun.
“In about a year and a half, some Palestinians were in this way or another made to join the rebels. But that didn’t change much the rebels’ opinion of the Palestinians,” remarks Gusun, adding that even now the Palestinians on the side of the rebels are few and far between.
She can’t understand the reason why the Lebanese are treating Palestinians like that. After all, Syria did give shelter to 1 million Lebanese and Palestinian refugees after the 2006 Israeli attack.
“During the 2006 war we welcomed the Palestinians like family. But now we are being treated as outsiders.”
At that time, all the refugees from Lebanon found home, food and clothes straight on arrival.
Gusun was lucky to have found a job, and so was her husband. “I had to work as a cleaning lady. I’d never done anything like that before. But we had to survive somehow. The UN gives only $30 once every four months.’
It was crucial for the sponsors of the anti-Syrian campaign to shift the focus of one and a half billion Muslims from Palestine to the war against Assad. And their mission almost succeeded.
The issue of Palestine used to bring everyone together: Communists and atheists, the Sunni and the Shia, Christians and Muslims, left- and right-wingers, anti-globalists and nationalists. Now the war in Syria has torn them all apart.
Fast forward two years, there are no more rallies against the occupation of Jerusalem, no ships trying to break through the Gaza Strip and the West Bank blockade. In the meantime, this blockade has grown even tougher after the military coup in Egypt, with the abuse of Palestinians in the West Bank escalating into ethnic cleansing.
The sponsors of the war repeatedly tried to get Palestinians to back intervention into Syria. But their efforts failed: from Hamas to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to the Popular Front to Fatah, not a single Palestinian organization has ever supported the campaign.
Nadezhda Kevorkova is a war correspondent who has covered the events of the Arab Spring, military and religious conflicts around the world, and the anti-globalization movement.
What does a Palestinian farmer who is living in a village tucked in between the secluded West Bank hills, a prisoner on hunger strike in an Israeli jail and a Palestinian refugee roaming the Middle East for shelter all have in common? They are all characters in one single, authentic, solid and cohesive narrative. The problem however, is that western media and academia barely reflect that reality or intentionally distort it, dis-articulate it and when necessary, defame its characters.
An authentic Palestinian narrative – one that is positioned within an original Palestinian history and articulated through Palestinian thought – is mostly absent from western media and to a lesser degree, academia. If such consideration is ever provided, everything Palestinian suddenly falls into either a side note of a larger Israeli discourse, or at best, juxtaposed to a pro-Israeli plot that is often concealed with hostility. Palestinian news stories are often disconnected, disjointed news items with seemingly no relation to other news items. They are all marred with negative connotation. In this narrative, a farmer, a prisoner and a refugee barely overlap. Due to this deliberate disconnect, Palestine becomes pieces, ideas, notions, perceptions, but nothing complete or never whole.
On the other hand, an Israeli narrative is almost always positioned within a cohesive plot, depending on the nature of the intellectual, political, academic or religious contexts. Even those who dare to criticize Israel within a mainstream western platform, do so ever prudently, gently and cautiously. The outcome of this typical exercise is that Israel’s sanctified image remains largely intact. In the meanwhile Palestinians constantly jockey for validation, representation and space in a well-shielded pro-Israeli narrative.
To counter these misrepresentations, the pieces must be connected to form a collective that would truly epitomize the Palestinian experience – the story and the history behind it. Once that has been attained, there are chances for greater clarity regarding the roots of the conflict, its present manifestations and future prospects. That can only happen if we return to the basics of a protracted tragedy that is draped with the names and stories of individuals. Doing so would ultimately articulate a consistent, generational discourse that deserves to stand on its own, without belittling juxtapositions or belligerent comparisons.
All tragic stories of the greater Palestinian narrative – of those enduring the ongoing ethnic cleansing, those who are fighting for freedom and those who are seeking their right of return have the same beginning – the Catastrophe, or Nakba. But no end is yet to be written. The storyline is neither simple nor linear. The refugee is fighting for the same freedom sought by the prisoner or the son of an old farmer, part of whose family are refugees in one place or another. It is convoluted and multilayered. It requires serious consideration of all of its aspects and characters. Perhaps, no other place unites all of these ongoing tragedies like Gaza. Yet as powerful as the Gaza narrative is in its own right, it has been deliberately cut off from urgently related narratives. This is the case whether it is in the rest of the occupied territories or the historical landscape starting with the Nakba. To truly appreciate the situation in Gaza and its story, it must be placed within its proper context like all narratives concerning Palestine. It is essentially a Palestinian story of historical and political dimensions that surpass the current geographic and political boundaries that are demarcated by mainstream media and official narrators. The common failure to truly understand Gaza within an appropriate context whether it is the suffering, the siege, the repeated wars, the struggle, or the steadfastness and the resistance being presented, is largely based on who is telling the story, how it is told, what is included and what is omitted.
Most narratives concerning Palestinians in Western discourses are misleading or deliberately classified into simplified language that carries little resemblance to reality. History however, cannot be classified by good vs. bad, heroes vs. villains, moderates vs. extremists. No matter how wicked, bloody or despicable, history also tends to follow rational patterns and predictable courses. By understanding the reasoning behind historical dialectics, one can achieve more than a simple understanding of what took place in the past. It also becomes possible to chart a fairly reasonable understanding of what lies ahead. Perhaps one of the worst aspects of today’s detached and alienating media is its reproduction of the past and mischaracterization of the present as it is based on simplified terminology. This gives the illusion of being informative, but actually manages to contribute very little to our understanding of the world at large. Such oversimplifications are dangerous because they produce an erroneous understanding of the world, which in turn compels misguided actions.
For these reasons, we are compelled to discover alternative meanings and readings of history. To start, we could try offering historical perspectives which attempt to see the world from the viewpoint of the oppressed – the refugees and the fellahin who have been denied the right to tell their own story amongst many other rights. This view is not a sentimental one. Far from it. An elitist historical narrative is maybe the dominant one, but it is not always the privileged who influence the course of history. History is also shaped by collective movements, actions and popular struggles. By denying this fact, one denies the ability of the collective to affect change. In the case of Palestinians, they are often presented as hapless multitudes or passive victims without a will of their own. This is of course a mistaken perception; the conflict with Israel has lasted this long only because the Palestinians are unwilling to accept injustice and refuse to submit to oppression. Israel’s lethal weapons might have changed the landscape of Gaza and Palestine, but the will of Gazans and Palestinians is what has shaped the landscape of Palestine’s history. This composition of farmers, prisoners, refugees and numerous other manifestations and characters of the oppressed are resilient individuals. It is essential that we understand the complexity of the past and the present to evolve in our understanding of the conflict, not merely to appreciate its involvement, but also to contribute positively to its resolution.
The Palestinian narrative has long been either denied any meaningful access to the media or tainted through the very circles that propped up and sanctified Israel’s image as an oasis of democracy and a pivot of civilization. In recent years however, things began to change thanks to developments such as the internet and various global civil society movements. Although it has yet to reach a critical mass or affect a major paradigm shift in public opinion, these voices have been able to impose a long-neglected story that has been seen mostly through Israeli eyes.
A narrative that is centered on the stories reflecting history, reality and aspirations of ordinary people will allow for a genuine understanding of the real dynamics that drive the conflict. These stories that define whole generations of Palestinians are powerful enough to challenge the ongoing partiality and polarization. The fact is Palestinians are neither potential “martyrs” nor potential “terrorists”. They are people who are being denied basic human rights, who have been dispossessed from their lands and are grievously mistreated. They have resisted for over six decades and they will continue to resist until they acquire their fundamental human rights. This is the core of the Palestinian narrative, yet it is the least told story. A true understanding would require a greater exposure of the extraordinary, collective narrative of the “ordinary people”.
- Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is: My Father was A Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press).
Nazareth – In the shadow of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s theatrics at the United Nations last week, armed with his cartoon Iranian bomb, Israeli officials launched a quieter, but equally combative, initiative to extinguish whatever hopes have survived of reviving the peace process.
For the first time in its history, Israel is seeking to equate millions of Palestinians in refugee camps across the Middle East with millions of Israeli citizens descended from Jews who, before Israel’s establishment in 1948, lived in Arab countries.
According to Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, whose parents were originally from Iraq and who has been leading the government campaign, nearly a million Jews fled countries such as Iraq, Egypt, Morocco and Yemen. That figure exceeds the generally accepted number of 750,000 Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war.
Israel’s goal is transparent: it hopes the international community can be persuaded that the suffering of Palestinian refugees is effectively cancelled out by the experiences of “Jewish refugees”. If nothing can be done for Arab Jews all these years later, then Palestinians should expect no restitution either.
Over the past few weeks that has been the message implicit in a social media campaign called “I am a refugee”, which includes YouTube videos in which Jews tell of being terrorised while living in Arab states after 1948. Ayalon has even announced plans for a new day of national commemoration, Jewish Refugee Day.
This month, the Israeli foreign ministry and US Jewish organisations formally launched the initiative, staging a conference in New York a few days before the opening sessions of the General Assembly.
Israel’s choice of arena – the UN – is not accidental. The campaign is chiefly designed to stifle the move announced by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in his General Assembly speech last week to begin seeking UN status for Palestine as a non-member state.
After opposition from the US forced the Palestinians to abort their bid for statehood at the UN Security Council last year, Abbas is expected to delay making his new request until November, after the US presidential election campaign to avoid embarrassing President Barack Obama.
Abbas’s move has spurred Israel to take the offensive.
Anyone who doubts that the Israeli government’s concern for Arab Jews is entirely cynical only has to trace the campaign’s provenance. It was considered for the first time in 2009, when Netanyahu was forced – under pressure from Obama – to deliver a speech backing Palestinian statehood.
Immediately afterwards, Netanyahu asked the National Security Council, whose role includes assessing strategic threats posed by the Palestinians, to weigh the merits of championing the Arab Jews’ case in international forums.
The NSC’s advice is that Arab Jews, known in Israel as Mizrahim and comprising a small majority of the total Jewish population, should be made a core issue in the peace process. As Israel knows, that creates a permanent stumbling block to an agreement.
The NSC has proposed impossible demands: contrition from all Arab states before a peace deal with the Palestinians can be reached; a decoupling of refugee status and the right of return; and the right of Arab Jews to greater compensation than Palestinian refugees, based on their superior wealth.
Israel is working on other fronts too to undermine the case for Palestinian refugees. Its US lobbyists are demanding that UNRWA, the UN agency for the refugees, be dismantled.
Bipartisan pressure is mounting in the US Congress to count as refugees only Palestinians personally displaced from their homes in 1948, stripping millions of descendants of their status. While another – and seemingly contradictory – legislative move would insist on Arab Jews being granted the same refugee status as Palestinians.
The Palestinians are deeply opposed to any linkage between Arab Jews and Palestinian refugees. Not least, they argue, they cannot be held responsible for what took place in other countries. Justice for Palestinian refugees is entirely separate from justice for Arab Jews.
Moreover, many, if not most, Arab Jews left their homelands voluntarily, unlike Palestinians, to begin a new life in Israel. Even where tensions forced Jews to flee, such as in Iraq, it is hard to know who was always behind the ethnic strife. There is strong evidence that Israel’s Mossad spy agency waged false-flag operations in Arab states to fuel the fear and hostility needed to drive Arab Jews towards Israel.
Likewise, Israel’s claim that it has a right to represent Arab Jews collectively and lay claim to compensation on their behalf ignores the reality that Israel was compensated handsomely for absorbing Jews, both through massive post-war reparations from countries such as Germany and through billions of dollars in annual handouts from the United States.
But there is a more fundamental reason to be sceptical of this campaign. Classifying Arab Jews as “refugees” skewers the central justification used by Zionists for Israel’s creation: that it is the natural homeland for all Jews, and the only place where they can be safe. As a former Israeli MP, Ran Hacohen, once observed: “I came at the behest of Zionism, due to the pull that this land exerts, and due to the idea of redemption. Nobody is going to define me as a refugee.”
Netanyahu’s government is making a deeply anti-Zionist argument, one it has been forced to adopt because of its own intransigence in the peace process.
Its refusal to countenance a small Palestinian state in the 1967 borders means the global community feels compelled to reassess the events of 1948. For most Arab Jews, that period is now a closed chapter. For most Palestinian refugees, it is still an open wound.
In his May 25 blog post for Foreign Policy’s The Cable, Josh Rogin provocatively asks, “Did the State Department just create 5 million Palestinian refugees?”
Rogin is referring to a letter Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides recently wrote to Senator Patrick Leahy expressing State’s strong opposition to an amendment introduced by AIPAC darling Senator Mark Kirk that, in the words of Rogin, “would have required more in-depth reporting on how many UNRWA aid recipients are now living in the West Bank, Gaza, and other countries such as Jordan.” In the letter, Nides notes matter of factly that “UNRWA provides essential services for approximately five million refugees.” However, according to Rogin, “To experts and congressional officials following the issue, that declaration was remarkable because it was the first time the State Department had placed a number — 5 million — on the number of Palestinian refugees.” As Rogin explains:
At the heart of the issue is what constitutes a “refugee.” The entire thrust of the Kirk amendment was to challenge UNRWA’s definition, which includes the descendants of refugees — children, grandchildren, and so on. That has resulted in the number of Palestinian “refugees” skyrocketing from 750,000 in 1950 to the 5 million figure quoted by Nides today.
Revealingly, one of the “experts” Rogin cites as finding State’s 5 million figure “remarkable” is Steve Rosen. Neglecting to mention that Rosen was indicted on espionage charges in 2005, Rogin merely describes him as “a long time senior AIPAC official who now is the Washington director of the Middle East Forum,” and provides him with a platform for the following provocative and offensive statement:
“How many generations does it go?” asked Rosen. “I’m Jewish, and as a grandchild of several refugees, could I make a claim on all these countries? Where does it end? Someday all life on Earth will be a Palestinian refugee.”
- Defining Palestinian refugee status and the consequences (thehill.com)
Beirut – Daniel Pipes, the anti-Arab Islamophobe is reportedly spooked these days. “Actually he has become an almost terrified man”, so says a colleagues at Pipes Islamophobic Middle East Forum and the MaCartyesque Campus Watch Organization.
MEF was founded by Pipes in 1986 and also the witch hunting, anti-Arab, McCartyesque, Campus Watch in 2001. CW’s function is to hound and intimidate faculty and students at colleges who are critical of the Zionist occupation of Palestine. Pipes and CW create “dossiers” on professors, students and university administrations thought hostile to Israel. Under civic pressure from Americans who opposed his tactics and insisted on having their own names added to his personal “terrorist list,” Pipes withdrew his dossiers from the CW website but he still circulates them to scores of “select and executive subscribers” and other hate groups in order to get the word out about academics and others who support Palestine or criticize Israel.
Pipes’ increasingly exposed racist views are carried by journals like the National Review as well as pro-Zionist Islamophobic internet outlets. In 1990 Pipes wrote in the NR that “Western societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene…All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most.”
Having briefly written anti-Muslim screeds for Rudy Giuliani’s failed White House quest in 2008, Pipes claims he liked the job and seeks to do the same for Mitt Romney (Pipes has labeled Mormonism “a cult”) or even Rick Santorum ( Pipes has referred to Rick as “one of those kook dispensationalist Christians”). Daniel told a copy editor at the Washington Times who edited his recent WT article noted below, that he would prefer to work for Newt Gingrich if he gets the nomination since they share the same views of Palestinians as “an invented people”.
The two also agree on moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem, increasing aid to Israel, and the inevitable necessity of transferring most of the remaining Palestinians out of “Eretz Israel” in order to stop once and for all the demographic and existential threat and pressure for a one state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict which Pipes and Gingrich consider, if not reversed soon will lead to the collapse of Israel.
Pipes makes his fears plain to readers in his recent 2012 Republican presidential candidates “application for a position as Middle East adviser” which he launched in the Washington Times on 2/21/12 but which was first presented in occupied Jerusalem at a recent MEF seminar.
Pipes chooses the low hanging fruit of the underfunded and over stretched UNRWA to target Palestinian refugees and to promote himself and his thesis. But even from the sarcastic title of his article, “Eventually, All Humans Will Be Palestine Refugees!” to his bizarre conclusions, Pipes demonstrates a preference for Arab bashing over truth. Pipes maintains that UNRWA has conspiratorially inflated the number of Palestinian refugees by including the children of the original nearly 800,000 (UNWRA uses a lower 750,000 figure who were ethnically cleansed in 1948 and adding Palestinians ethnically cleansed in 1967. Both groups absolutely should be included on Palestinian refugee’s lists since they are also victims of the original and continuing ethnic cleansing.
Pipes writes: “In contrast all other refugee populations have diminished in number as people “settle down” or die.
By Palestinians “settling down” one guesses Pipes means sardine canned into squalid refugee camps while Jews from Brooklyn or anywhere else can live on their lands and move into new housing financed partly from US taxes and enjoy swimming pools while nearby Palestinian orchards and crops are destroyed by drought, bulldozers or psychotic settlers.
Pipes laments to WT readers that the second thing that should have happened is that “almost all of the real 1948 refugees should have died by now” but for sure the last one will be dead in a few years. Instead, Pipes warns that rather than disappearing as they were supposed to “the Palestine refugee population has dramatically grown over time.” Pipes, claiming to be a historian, calls this apparently unanticipated unwillingness of the Palestinian refugees to forget their country and al Nakab a “bizarre historical phenomenon.”
Considering his “application-article” title about All Humans being Palestinians Refugees, Pipes is well aware that many Human Rights organizations, when it comes to the right and responsibility to resist the Zionist occupation of Palestine and to liberate their stolen land and homes, we are indeed all Palestinians.
We are all Palestinians because all people of good will who seek justice and the full right of return for those who were ethnically cleansed during the 1948 Nakba Palestinian holocaust identify with those brutally ethnically cleansed over the past 64 years.
Until Palestine is liberated and its refugees return, as Nelson Mandala has repeatedly instructed us, none of us is truly free. We are all Palestinians as we increasingly support international law’s rejection of any settlement or any colonist on any part of occupied Palestine.
What haunts Pipes also is Ben Gurion’s failed boast to fellow Zionist terrorists in Palestine during the Nakba. The Palestinian holocaust which saw the ethnic cleansing of 531 villages in Palestine by more than 62,000 well armed troops, many WW II veterans predictably decimated the approximately 2,500 Palestinian defenders scattered, approximately 25-30 per village across Palestine who were at a hopeless military disadvantage with largely Ottoman era rusting rifles and very little ammunition.
Given the above noted reality, the Zionist leaders worked arduously so that roughly one-half of the villages and approximately 50% of the population would not be discovered by the west and Ben Gurion’s words that “in any event, the old will die and the young will forget” were more than wishful thinking. Pipes and his associates in the Israel First culture have realized that not only was Ben Gurion fundamentally mistaken, but also that the 19th Century Zionists fundamentally erred in their calculations and hasbara.
Pipes basis for panic appears straight out of Edgar Allen Poe’s Novel “The Tell Tale Heart” where Poe’s character committed a savage crime and then was haunted because the evidence of this crime could not be hidden. The victim’s heart kept beating louder and louder and would not stop informing the World of the crime. Try as he might, the evil perpetrator could not get the heart to stop proving the crime and it drove the criminal more deeply into suicidal insanity.
In some aspects, Poe’s telltale heart appears a microcosm of the 19th Century Zionist colonial crimes which continue to this day in Palestine. The current efforts being made by Israel Firsters like Pipes include keeping Palestinian refugees invisible. They were to be erased by now but instead the global community and younger generations are increasingly taking up their cause and joining the BDS movement and other non-violent campaigns against their Zionist occupiers.
Pipes argues in his Washington Times article, “Were the Palestine refugee status a healthy one this infinite expansion would hardly matter. But the status has destructive implications for Israel which suffers from the “depredations” of a category of persons whose lives are truncated and distorted by an impossible dream of return to their great-grandparents’ houses; and the “refugees” themselves, whose status implies a culture of dependency, grievance, rage, and futility.” Pipes continues: “All other refugees from the World War II era (including my own parents ) have been long settled (ed; but not all on stolen Palestinian land) and the Palestine refugee status has already endured too long and needs to be narrowed down to actual refugees before it does further damage to Israel.”
Pipes and his ilk, which appear to tally on a daily basis the Nakba refugees and their families are horrified that Palestinian victims have refused to die off or forget the Nakba crimes committed against their families while at the same time the global community is beginning to support the Palestinians right to return.
Even many American taxpayers, long intimidated by Zionist hasbara and fears of being labeled “anti-Semitic” or “self-hating Jews” but who have long opposed Israel’s occupation of the political power centers in Washington DC, are outing themselves. Increasingly they are calling publicly for their government to break with Israel and its intensely promoted and sometimes engineered US wars in the region, and bring our troops home, heal and repair America while reclaiming American values.
This last remaining 19th Century colonial enterprise, which brutally implanted Israel in the heart of Palestine, has created more than six million refugees each of whom has the separate, personal, and inalienable right and responsibility to return home.
One remarkable quality of the Palestinian refugees which Pipes keeps from his readers, is that in the main they, unlike the European colonists who continue to ethnically cleanse them from their homes, may be willing to share their lands with any Jew who will agree to live as equals in a democratic one person one-vote governed country without religious preferences or a foreign “chosen colonial people” imposing an Apartheid regime.
Franklin Lamb in doing research in Libya and can be reached c/o firstname.lastname@example.org
He is the author of The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon. Dr. Lamb is Director, Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace, Wash.DC-Beirut Board Member, The Sabra Shatila Foundation and the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign, Beirut-Washington DC, Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp.
- Apartheid conference goes ahead in Paris despite university ban (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- ‘NYT’ continues to fiddle with the Nakba (alethonews.wordpress.com)