The Palestinian Exile

Photo Source: Ansamed

By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Upfront

When a new nationalist movement was born in Europe, advocating the creation of a Jewish state in the First Zionist Congress of 1897, its delivery resulted in about exodus of 750,000 Palestinians who were made refugees in the Nakba of 1948 from Palestine, which was actually the part of Ottoman Empire. The end result was the enmity between native Palestinian Muslims and immigrating Jews from Europe.

The concept of being away from their land still emphasises their right to return - the most basic humanitarian law. It has been on the list of many leaders, most recently, in John Kerry's framework of peace, who actually wanted a quiet diplomacy in the Arab region.

Politically, the Oslo Accords of 1993 and Taif Agreement of 1989, were actually jolted by the intifada of the common people. In 1940, the British actually ended the mandate of Palestine and left the country on 14th May 1948. The ruling Jewish leader, Yitzhak Rabin, at that time, had signed an order expelling Palestinians from two towns of Lyyda and Ramala. By the end of 1949, in 'Deir Yassin' massacre, the war expelled 700,000 to 750,000. 

Only 150,000 remained in Israel. Over 150 towns were destroyed. Many were even forcibly expelled by Israeli forces. 

The 1954 'Prevention of Infiltration Law' allowed the Israeli government to expel any Palestinian.  The Battle of Karameh in 1968, however, resulted in a propaganda victory of Palestinians over Israelis, which actually establishes the cause of Palestinian nationhood.  It gave Yasser Arafat's Fatah group international attention and propelled the cause to an international scale. King Hussein of Jordan was so emotionally aroused by the Palestinian guerrilla victory that he branded all Palestinians as 'martyrs'.

In the context of Arab-Israeli conflict, many Arab countries like Jordan helped these refugees for temporary settlements, which has ultimately made them permanently homeless. There are also nearly half a million Palestinians living in refugee camps in Syria: entire refugee camps were established about 65 years ago. The people in them were either killed or fled safely elsewhere. Many shiver in the snow, without a dwelling. In many of these camps, the refugees who were kept under military seize literally got starved to death. Most recently, an investigative book 'Refugees of the Revolution' (2013) by author Diana Allan ascertained the plight of Palestinian living in exile, where she argued about the common assumption of their identity - from their credit associations, debt relations, emigration networks, electricity bartering and NGO planning. 

In many parts of Palestine, what is now Israel, everyone is more or less a refugee.  When PLO's provocation invoked a civil war from 1975 to 1990, including a horrendous 'War of the Camps' between 1985 to 1988, it did not integrate them with the Lebanese and even till now, the Israeli military is creating more Palestinian refugees, who are actually being thrown out of their ancestral homes. In West Bank, people's homes are demolished almost every week for a while. Palestinians, ironically,  are a bunch of people who do not hold any citizenship or any right of return. The influential and rich segment of the population has migrated to better countries due to a sense of isolation and neglect.

Palestinian refugees, however, are getting regrouped - near Handarat camp in Aleppo Syria, to 3,000,000 strong community in Chile, Lebanon, occupied Jerusalem, France, Australia, the United Kingdom to Balata camp in Nablus, Deraa camp in Syria and Al Amari camp in Ramallah. To initiate some sort of political courage, today many Palestinians are raising the flag of return under the banner 'Return Unifies Us', through an amalgam of civil coalitions from the besieged Yarmouk camp of Damascus. The Yarmouk youth band hold concerts in candlelight near the Turkish border. 

Posters, exhibitions, lectures, rallies and marching scouts define Palestinian unity, their sense of humanity and dignity. They have the power to fashion their fate, and this has rejuvenated the cause of their liberation and return.


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