A non-partisan journal of the left.

Palestine- The Right of Return

Thu 13th Sep 2012

The Israeli government justified stealing my father’s Palestinian lands in Netanyah under two pretexts.

The first one was that God promised it to them. I would like to quote Ben Gurion who commented that my father’s God was not his God. As far as I am concerned, this particular argument is ridiculous enough to be discarded immediately.

However, this argument has been used by Zionists and their evangelical Christian allies. I would not argue that some 1400 years ago Palestine was also invaded by the spread of Islam and that consequently it was given to us by our God through his Messenger (PBUH). I have sufficient conscience not to make such allegations.

And yet, a book allegedly written by Moses (hardly an impartial arbiter on whose land Palestine might be) thousands of years ago has a tale in it about the land being promised away by a God, presumably regardless of any consequences that might result to innocent people in the future. At best, this was rather bad planning on the part of the Almighty.

By now, you are smiling patronisingly (unless you happen to be a Muslim in which case you would be nodding frantically to hear a supportive voice in today’s Islamophobic world). That is precisely why these religious arguments are so banal. There is no place for them in sensible discussion. Israel has used faith persistently to disenfranchise, imprison, crush, deprive and murder Palestinians.

The second pretext that Zionists used for justifying the theft of Palestinian lands was the British ‘Absentee Landlord’ laws. Putting aside that these laws were themselves used by the British to seize other peoples’ lands as part of building a discredited and cruel empire, the very same empire that Zionists fought so hard against in Palestine and, in the process, killed several hundred British servicemen in a prolonged campaign of guerilla warfare .

Let us accord Israel the possibility that being absent from my land for 64 years I have lost my title to it. Let us put aside that my absence from my land was not voluntary but was the result of losing a military encounter and therefore, being the defeated party, I could not return anyhow.

However, under Article 8(1) of the European Human Rights Act 1998 I would be entitled to sell my house in Britain and return to my house in Palestine to set up home (Gillow v UK (1987) 13 EHRR 593 and Gillow v UK (1986) 11 EHRR 335).

International law supports my right of return to Palestine. My claim is supported by the European Human Rights Act 1998, the European Convention on Human Rights, the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 193 and 242, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, UN Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, UN Convention on the rights of the child, European Social Charter, Rules of the European Court of Human Rights and Ben Gurion’s own acceptance of the Palestinian Right of Return and many other legal and legislative sources.

The only obstacle in my way is the barrel of an Israeli gun supplied, cleaned, greased, oiled and loaded by the United States of America that has unconditionally supported Israel to the tune of several hundred billion dollars over the years.

In the West we wonder why Islamic fundamentalism is on the increase, why Hamas and Hisbollah are apparently so popular with the electorate. The Western response to this phenomenon? Bombing Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, helping military / unelected regimes in so called friendly Arab countries, lurching further to the extreme right as is evidenced by the ban of the Burka in France, the activities of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that consistently works for the benefit of Israel even at the detriment of its members’ own country the United States, burning the Holy Qur’an by Evangelical Christians who, incidentally, do not seem to have an ounce of Christian compassion in them… The list is endless.

I have made my peace with Israel. What is next? I have my land deeds. When do I move back? I have no weapons and come in peace. Am I welcome?

I doubt it. But I wait in hope – like millions of Palestinians. For we will return one day - even in two thousand years, since, presumably, the passage of time means nothing to nation builders.

In a few days it will be the Passover. Jews will be preparing for z’man cheirutaynu, the “season of freedom”, when everybody in the Jewish community gathers to tell stories, to reflect and to recommit to pursuing justice and liberation. I appeal to all our Jewish friends to include us Palestinians in their stories, reflections and in their reaffirmation of the justice of liberation – liberation from Egypt for the Jews and liberation from Israel for us Palestinians.

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