Your Day of Independence is our Day of Catastrophe
יום העצמאות שלכם הוא יום האסון שלנו
Yousef M. Aljamal, CPDS
The year 1948 witnessed a massive expulsion of the indigenous people of Palestine carried out by Zionist gangs, which resulted in displacing almost 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland. The number of cities, towns and villages which were completely destroyed and ethnically cleansed that spring is estimated at 531. The crime of the century is still affecting Palestinians’ lives with absolute silence from the international community and the UN bodies. The huge amount of violations of human rights leave one bewildered about the role these bodies should play in the time of injustice, especially when it lasts too long, as in the case of Palestine.
No return from The Right of Return
The UNGA’s Resolution 194 resolves that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date . . .”
Today, 65 years later, refugees are still not allowed to return to their homeland, some are still refugees in their own homeland. Everyday there is a new refugee, deportee, prisoner, and victim of Israel’s policies of ethnic cleansing which still continues. .
In 1948, 85% of Palestinians were forced to leave their homes and properties and relocate to the West Bank and Gaza, and to the contiguous countries of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. Them and their descendents are assisted today by UNWRA in 58 registered camps; 10 of which were established in the aftermath of the Six Day War in 1967 to cope with new Palestinian refugees.
David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister and one of its founders was quoted as saying: “The old will die and the young will forget,” yet time has proven him wrong. The young generation of the descendants of Palestinian refugees is still clinging to the glimpse of hope of return. One can notice this by asking one of the many kids playing in the alleys of Palestine’s many refugee camps about his/her original village. They will respond with the names of villages and cities from which their parents and grandparents were expelled. “Yibna, Qastina, Breer, Aqer, Yaffa, Joura, Majdal, Swafeer, Barwqa, Zarnouqa, Beer Alsaba, and Lod,” they would respond.
Day of Independence?
Israel marks the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 as its “Day of Independence”. This contradicts the basic historical facts about what happened and is still happening in Palestine. Ethnically cleansing 531 Palestinian villages, towns and cities is never “independence”. It is a crime on a great scale that was committed against the real owners of the land, Palestinians, in a time of weakness.
Any negotiated settlement that does not guarantee the right of return will not last long. No force can prevent a refugee from returning home. Home is where the heart is.
 The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Available at http://palestine-studies.org/enakba/exodus/Pappe,%20The%20Ethnic%20Cleansing%20of%20Palestine.pdf)