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BY NADIA HIJAB
HEN ASKED TO
describe what their cause is all about, most Palestinians will begin with the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917, when Britain promised the still small Zionist movement a “national home” in Palestine. Some will go farther back to 1897 and the Basel conference, where Zionism was born. Palestinians start in the past because they have lived the history of their dispossession every day since 1917. And they can never forget the original sin, the ﬂagrant injustice of an imperial power promising their country to another people. The Palestinians always ask: Why should we pay for what the Europeans did to the Jews? In 1917 the number of Arabs in Palestine—Muslims, Christians, and Jews—was about 650,000. A few A Palestinian Arab family gathers hastily-packed boxes, bundles, chickens, and ducks on the dock in Haifa, Palthousand Zionist Jews had emigrated estine, April 1948. Thousands of Palestinians from Haifa ﬂed the advancing Zionist army and were evacuated on to Palestine since the end of the 19th British military ships. As refugees, they believed they were leaving their lives, homes, and possessions temporarily; they were never permitted to return, and what they left behind was appropriated by Zionist statebuilders. century. The Palestinians resisted British rule and plans for their country. They urged Palestinians to ﬂee, to “rememThe Palestinians who stayed on have always seen Israel as both a ber Deir Yassin.” My grandmother, their land began the life of Arabs in result and a continuation of 19th cena widow, had eight children; she and a Jewish state. Although they were tury colonialism. And, indeed, Israel’s her four grown children got jobs to granted citizenship, they lived under colonization continues to this day sustain the younger ones. Israeli military orders between 1949 through the settlements it is building As a result of the creation of Israel and 1966—including curfews, detenin the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948, over 750,000 Palestinians tions, and expulsions. The 1.5 million in 1967. ﬂed or were forced to ﬂee. They were Palestinians now in Israel experience Richard Schlobohm My mother’s famnever allowed back to inequality and discrimination. ily left their home and their land and homes, It is sometimes hard for people to their lands on April 28, in violation of internaunderstand the Palestinian attachment 1948, seeking shelter in tional law. Palestinians to their homes and their land. It is Syria from the clashes in struggled to survive their partly because this was an agricultural Palestine and planning dispossession. The masociety rooted in the soil. But it is to return when quiet jority hailed from farms also because our society and country was restored. A few days and villages and lived in are so much part of how we Palestinearlier, on April 9, two refugee camps in Jordan, ians deﬁne ourselves. Being homeless terrorist Jewish groups Lebanon, Syria, and means being rootless, living without a (whose leaders both later Egypt, where millions sense of belonging, always exposed to Nadia Hijab is a senior fellow at the live to this day. The ones became Israeli prime threat. Institute for Palestine Studies, an ministers) had massawith education found Perhaps the hardest part of the author, and a development consulcred Palestinians at Deir tant to international organizations. work and re-settled Palestinian struggle was to counter She co-founded the US Campaign Yassin and a Zionist in Arab countries and the myths the Zionist movement had to End the Israeli Occupation and whispering campaign around the world. spread to justify taking the land. One serves on its advisory board.
T H E PA L E S T I N I A N Q U E S T F O R J U S T P E A C E
LIFE Magazine | palestineremembered.com
In the 1960s. injustice. Above: The author’s grandparents with their ﬁrst ﬁve children. This has since been the basis of many peace plans—none implemented. democratic state in all of Palestine for Muslims. from there. taking the box with her from country to country—but she died without ever going back home. the violence. the Palestinians were such good farmers of the country known in Biblical times as “the land of milk and honey” that in the late 1800s a US consul wrote back home and said Florida orange producers could learn from the Palestinian farmers’ techniques. peace. justice are called to support boycott. The ﬁrst suicide bombing For Palestinians. but how does the coloniviolent strategies to bring an end to zation of Palestinian land contribute Israel’s occupation. the PLO advocated a secular. and around the world. descendants have become part of the Palestinian global diaspora. is at far right.In pre-1948 Palestine. The Nashif family ﬂed Palestine in 1948. was for two states living side by side. the violence of the occupation. Israel constituting 78% of the country and Palestine the remaining 22% (lands occupied by Israel in the 1967 war). after of hope is that many Jews.” In reality.” S T E A D FA S T H O P E . The author’s grandmother carried all the family’s land deeds with her when she left Palestine. the earliest PLO political programs recognized that the Jewish community in Palestine was there to stay. and Jews. the divestment. When her father would take her with him from Taybeh to Jaffa on one of his trips to market their produce. a major source against Israel took place in 1994. the family also lost land between Taybeh and the Mediterranean Sea in 1948. greatly contributes to future peace Oppressed people will always resist among Palestinians and Jews. are active in Besides. Another Zionist myth was “making the desert bloom. the Nashif family earned a comfortable livelihood from agriculture and shopkeeping. Palestinian civil society Israel always expresses fears about has taken the lead in advancing nonits security. Most Palestinian resistance is nonviolent. and the hopelessness against Israel until it upholds internaof life without rights have escalated tional law. in Israel 27 years of Israeli occupation. developed by 1974.” But Palestine was settled and had been for millennia one of the oldest continuously inhabited parts of the world. settling as exiles in Syria. All who believe in to Israel’s security? On the contrary. ‘‘ 8 such myth was a “land without a people for a people without a land. The deed below shows family ownership of land around the village (now town) of Taybeh. The ﬁrst wants peace or that it Palestinian uprising against the Israeli will recognize that they occupation in late 1987 was an almost have rights in Palescompletely nonviolent movement by tine. The involvement of Jews is an and is a nuclear power believed to have important expression of solidarity that between 200 and 400 warheads. then why has the number of More recently. If Israel does want civil society. but that fact rarely makes G E R believe that Israel it into the American media.000 today? of the PLO. Abla. The author’s mother. in military terms. “We would share a meal with a Jewish family and spend the night with a Christian family. ALESTINIANS NO LON- My grandmother always said the Palestinians never had a problem with the Jews as people. Even though the Palestinians have dreamed of turning the clock back to 1917. and sanctions (BDS) endless injustice. rights. Christians. Israel is one of the strongest campaigning for Palestinian human states in the world. P The second PLO program. given the failure of Israeli settlers doubled since 1993 to the peace process and the weakness some 527. three more would follow by 1945.
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