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Jewish gangs forced palestinians out 1947 { July 16 2003 }

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Are Palestinian Refugees Defying Reality?

Wednesday, July 16 2003 @ 09:03 PM GMT

By Ramzy Baroud*
For Palestine Chronicle

Outraged Palestinians have reportedly protested a survey, allegedly conducted by a Palestinian research center in Ramallah, which concluded that not many refugees are enthusiastic about their right to return to today’s Israel.

The alleged survey, now dismissed as sheer lies by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR), reported that only 10 percent of Palestinian refugees dwelling in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and Jordan wish to return to their land in Palestine, ending a forced exile that lasted for decades.

The survey was attributed to PCPSR. As a result, a crowed of angry Palestinians protested at the center’s main office in Ramallah, chanting angry slogans, and reportedly throwing eggs and the institute’s chief, Khalid Shikaki.

In a statement, quoted by Islam Online news service, the center vehemently denied that its survey offered such a conclusion; rather, “the poll conducted by the center in the Occupied Territories, Jordan and Lebanon asserts that any solution for the refugee issue that does not guarantee the right of return will never work out.”

The entire episode concerning this issue is indeed unfortunate. Shedding light on this event is vital, for it would prevent such regretful episodes in the future.

However, while egg throwing is certainly not an encouraged form of dialogue, one must recognize the fear that grips the hearts of Palestinians all over the world.

Once again, history is of essence.

In 1947-48, Jewish gangs and militias forced nearly one million Palestinian to evacuate their villages and towns in historic Palestine, setting the stage for the Palestinian exodus, which continues to taint Palestinian memory and serve as a symbol of the Palestinian quest for freedom.

The UN General Assembly recognized the injustice of the situation by adopting Resolution 194 in its third session, on December 11, 1948. The resolution concurred the Palestinian refugees wish to return home, and went even further by detailing the mechanisms of such return. The often repeated claim that such resolution has been rendered irreverent is false, considering the fact that the General Assembly reaffirmed its decision over one hundred times since its original passing in 1948.

When the Israeli cabinet recently gave its partial agreement to the Road Map for peace, a US-brokered peace initiative, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon handed US Secretary of State Collin Powell a list of 14 conditions. Powell was told that once these conditions are recognized, the Israeli government would sanction the Road Map. One of these conditions is revoking the Palestinian refugees right of return.

If Israel indeed thought of such a right as irrelevant, it would not labor to deny its legitimacy and would care little about listing it as a top condition for peace restoration in the Middle East. Israel’s aim is to maintain the exclusive Jewish identity of the State of Israel, a concept many see as racist. To achieve such purity, the refugee problem must be dealt with by any other way, but allowing the refugees to return home.

Res. 194 was adopted only six months before Israel’s admission as a U.N. member, an admission that was preconditioned by having the Jewish state carry out U.N. Resolutions, including Res. 194.

Decades after the resolution and the hope that hinged on its implementation, Palestinians are gripped with fear and fury.

First, since the initiation of the peace process in the early 1990’s, Palestinians observed how Israel tends to get its way on the consequential issues, while the Palestinian leadership often settles for symbolic and simple gains.

Second, international law and U.N. resolutions, no matter how often affirmed and reaffirmed, remain ink on paper, unless championed by a might state. Israel has violated more than 70 resolutions, while Iraq allegedly violated 17. The way the US and its allies reacted to these violations reflects the double standards exhibited by the United States government and its selective respect for international law.

Third, a few prominent and influential Palestinian figures expressed their willingness to compromise on the issue of refugees return. Relatively recent statements made by Sari Nusseibeh, the PLO representative in Jerusalem, in which he showed readiness to forge an unpopular conclusion to the right of return debate, still reminds many Palestinians that their officials cannot always be trusted to handling this almost sacred right with care and thoughtfulness.

It’s because of these reasons combined, Palestinians chanted for their right to return in Ramallah, in Lebanon and in the desolated refugee camps of Jordan. These chants should serve as a reminder, that neither an official who barely remembers what a refugee camp looks like, nor an alleged survey circulated over the Internet shall quell that unwavering desire to deliver the refugees back to their homes.

To return home, the Palestinian people should continue to march and to their side all peace loving nations of the world, to enforce a non-selective implementation of international law, most notability Res. 194.

As for those who deny the right of return based on the claim that such demand defies reality and pragmatism, I must remind them that the right of return is not their decision to make. It’s those refugees in Ein El-Hilweh in South Lebanon, the refugees living in tents in the Haifa schools in Baghdad, and those dwelling over the ruins of Jenin are the ones who earned such a right, after five decades of struggle, marred by blood and unending sacrifice.

True, Israel still holds many of the cards in this bloody game, but the Palestinian refugees still hold the card of memory. As long as they remember, not even Israel’s ‘invincible army’ can defeat their enduring spirit.

Ramzy Baroud is the editor-in-chief of Palestine Chronicle. His columns are widely distributed and were published in the Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor and the International Herald Tribune, among others. His book, “Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion” can be found at

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