In support of the Palestinians' right of return
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Fri Nov 10 05:20:06 MST 2000
Middle East Times, 3 Nov, International Edition
In support of the Palestinians' right of return
I am a Jew who participated in the Rally for the Right of Return to
Palestine because it was the right thing to do.
I have heard about the European holocaust against the Jews since I was a
small child. I've visited the memorials in Washington, DC and Jerusalem
dedicated to Jewish lives lost and I've cried at the level of atrocity
mankind is capable of sinking to.
No righteous malice can be held against the survivors of Hitler's
holocaust. These fragments of humanity were in no position to make
choices beyond that of personal survival.
But we must not forget that being a survivor or a co-religionist of the
victims of the European Holocaust does not grant a dispensation from
abiding by the rules of humanity. "Never again" as a motto, rings hollow
when it means "never again to us alone."
My generation was raised being led to believe that the biblical land was
a vast desert inhabited by a handful of impoverished Palestinians living
with their camels and ekin out a living in the sand. The arrival of the
Jews was touted as a tremendous benefit to these desert dwellers. Golda
Meir even assured us that there "is no Palestinian
We know now this picture wasn't as it was painted. Palestine was a land
filled with people who called it home. There were thriving towns and
villages, schools and hospitals. There were Jews, Christians and
Muslims. In fact, prior to the occupation, Jews represented a mere 7
percent of the population and owned 3 percent of the
Taking the blinders off for a moment, I see a second atrocity
perpetuated by the very people who should be exquisitely sensitive to
the suffering of others. These people knew what it felt like to be
ordered out of your home at gun point and forced to march into the night
to unknown destinations, or to face execution on the spot. The people
who displaced the Palestinians knew first hand what it means to watch
your home in flames, to surrender everything dear to your heart at a
Bulldozers leveled hundreds of Jewish villages, along with the remains
of the village inhabitants, the old and the young. This was nothing new
to the world. Poland is a vast graveyard of the Jews of Europe.
But Israel is the final resting place of the massacred Palestinian
people. A short distance from the memorial to the Jewish children lost
to the holocaust in Europe there is a leveled parking lot. Under this
parking lot is what's left of a once flourishing village and the bodies
of men, women and children whose only crime was taking up needed
space and not leaving graciously.
This particular burial marker reads: "Public Parking". I've talked with
Palestinians. I have yet to meet a Palestinian who hasn't lost a member
of their family to the Israeli Shoah, nor a Palestinian who cannot name
a relative or friend languishing under inhumane conditions in an Israeli
prison. Time and time again, Israel is cited for human rights violations
to no avail.
On a recent trip to Israel, I visited the refugee camps inhabited by a
people who have waited 52 years in these 'temporary' camps to go home.
Every Palestinian grandparent can tell you the name of their village,
their street, and where the olive trees were planted. Their
grandchildren may never have been home, but they can tell you where
their great-grandfather lies buried and where the village well stood.
The press has fostered the portrait of the Palestinian terrorist, but
the Jews who rose up against human indignity in the Warsaw Ghetto are
called heroes. The resistance fighters who lost their lives are called
martyrs. The Palestinian who tosses a rock in desperation is a
Two years ago I drove through Palestine and watched intricate sprinkler
systems watering lush green lawns of Zionist settlers in their new
condominium complexes, surrounded by armed guards and barbed wire in the
midst of Palestinian communities where there was not adequate water to
drink and the surrounding fields were sandy
University professor Moshe Zimmerman reported in the Jerusalem Post
(April 30, 1995), "The [Jewish] children of Hebron are just like
We Jews are suing for restitution, lost wages, compensation for homes,
land, slave labor and back wages in Europe. Am I a traitor of a Jew for
supporting the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their
birthplace and compensation for what was taken
that cannot be returned?
The Jewish dead cannot be brought back to life and neither can the
Palestinian massacred be resurrected.
David Ben Gurion said, "Let us not ignore the truth among ourselves...
politically, we are the aggressors and they defend themselves... The
country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here
and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their
Palestine is a land that has been occupied and emptied of its people.
It's cultural and physical landmarks have been obliterated and replaced
by tidy Hebrew signs. The history of a people was the first thing
eradicated by the occupiers.
And all this has been hailed by the world as a miraculous act of God. We
must recognize that Israel's existence is not even a question of
legality so much as it is an illegal fait accompli realized through the
use of force while supported by the Western powers.
The United Nations' efforts to curb Israel's violations of international
law have so far been futile.
In Theodore Hertzl's "The Jewish State," the father of Zionism said,
"...We must investigate and take possession of the new Jewish country by
means of every modern expedient."
I guess I agree with Ehud Barak when he said on June 3, 1998, "If I were
a Palestinian, I'd also join a terror group." I'd go a step further
perhaps. Rather than throwing little stones in desperation, I'd hurtle a
Hopefully, somewhere deep inside, every Jew of conscience knows that
this was no war; that this was not God's restitution of the holy land to
it's rightful owners. An atrocity was and continues to be perpetuated
against an innocent people who couldn't come up with the arms and money
to defend themselves against the western powers bent upon their demise
as a people.
We cannot continue to say, "But what were we to do?" Zionism is not
synonymous with Judaism. I wholly support the rally of the right of
return of the Palestinian people.
Judith Stone's grandparents were shot in the back attempting to flee the
Russian pogroms, leaving six orphaned children. Her father, one of the
children, never recovered. She can be
contacted at Meadowrock1 at aol.com
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Department of Political Science
SUNY at Albany
Nelson A. Rockefeller College
135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
Albany, NY 12222
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