Archive for the ‘Refugees’ Category


A very large and diverse coalition of groups have come together to launch a web site, United Against the Muslim Ban. The site offers visitors a variety of ways to take action not just against Donald Trump’s recent attempt to close the US off to Muslims from several countries and to refugees, but against his anti-Muslim agenda more broadly. The video below is short, but powerful. It will be very useful for you to use to educate others. Please disseminate the video, promote the web site, do all you can. Now is the time for all of our resources to be pooled.

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When I started getting serious about action on the Israel-Palestine conflict and the associated US foreign policy, I found it imperative to Talbieh Palestinian Refugee Camp in Jordanconvince people that the Oslo Accords were doomed to fail. There were the obvious critiques of the accords: the lack of any sort of human rights framework, the absence of consequences for failing to abide by conditions or fulfill agreed upon commitments, and the formal recognition of Israel without any mention whatsoever of a potential Palestinian state. But I saw an even bigger obstacle.

Conventional wisdom has it that Jerusalem is the most difficult stumbling block. But I have always maintained that it is the Palestinian refugees that were the most serious obstacle to a negotiated solution. Read more at LobeLog

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This week’s piece at Souciant deals with the anniversary of Israel’s independence and the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe). It takes off from the shameful op-ed the Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, placed two days ago in the Wall Street Journal, wherein he whines about the world not loving Israel while it holds millions of people under a regime of occupation that denies their basic rights.

It is focused in the need for Israel to acknowledge the Nakba, to recognize it for what it is, and to stop seeing it as mourning Israel’s creation, but as Palestinians mourning their own dispossession. Recognizing that, perhaps Israel can start taking responsibility for that dispossession, a necessary prerequisite for peace, no matter what form an eventual resolution takes.

In that same spirit, I’d also like to recommend two pieces from +972 Magazine. This one, by Lisa Goldman and this one by Larry Derfner.

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In response to my piece at the Daily beast today, the noted UK activist and author, Ben White, asked me, on Twitter, what I meant by the following sentence: “Yousef (Munayyer) implied that the only way to recognize Palestinian rights is to allow each refugee and their descendants to choose whether and where, within all of historic Palestine, to return to. That is an unfair standard.”

I respond here because it’s a fair question that deserves more than a 140 character response.

What I mean here is that, while I think it is perfectly legitimate for Palestinians to call for, and for others to support, the full right of return to their original homes, there are also legitimate reasons not to support that call.

In the piece to which my own was a response, Yousef Munayyer claims that Zionism is inherently incapable of recognizing Palestinian rights. His takeoff for this point is Daniel Levy’s statement that he cannot support the Palestinian civil society call for BDS. That call has three clauses, two of which I fully support and I would feel very safe in saying Daniel does as well: self-determination for Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and full equality for Arab citizens of Israel. So the issue is with the third, the call for the right of return for refugees.

I think it is not inherently anti-Israel to call for full RoR. I also think it is not inherently anti-Palestinian to say that RoR must be limited, and this is what i describe in my Daily Beast piece. But Yousef seemed to imply that anything less than full support for RoR proves that “liberal Zionists” like Daniel Levy (and non-Zionists like myself, presumably) cannot truly accept that Palestinians have the same rights as everyone else. I disagree, in that I think they do have the same rights as everyone else and, like everyone else, those rights exist within political realities that we all have to deal with. And, as I state in the piece, those  universal rights only entitle refugees to return to their home country, not to specific areas within it, necessarily.

Thus, I believe the standard Yousef set for what would be viewed as respecting Palestinian rights is an unfair one.

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My first piece for Open Zion, Peter Beinart’s blog at The Daily Beast, is live. It addresses the false accusation that one cannot be Zionist and also hold to liberal values, using the question of Palestinian refugees as the way to explore this question. Since i don’t identify as a Zionist, I think this makes it a more powerful argument.

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The phrase “degel shakhor,” lierally “black flag,” refers to a principle in the Israeli military which is supposed to encourage soldiers not to carry out immoral orders. “Just

Ben Dunkelman in 1948

following orders” was not supposed to be an excuse.

Reality never measures up to ideals, and it is just as hard for Israeli soldiers to defy orders as it is for any other. This was true in 1948 and, as we have seen in the many reports from B’Tselem and the extensive testimonies of Israeli veterans that Shovrim Shtika(Breaking the Silence) has published, it is at least as true today.

But Bernard Avishai, in his latest blog piece, reminded me of the story of Ben Dunkelman, who refused to carry out an order to violate an agreement the IDF had made with the Arab citizens of Nazareth and expel those citizens from the territory the fledgling state held at the time. In the end, Dunkelman’s refusal spared Nazareth’s population from expulsion.

Avishai recounts the story with some important context, and you should check out his rendering. For this space, here is the Wikipedia summary, which gives you the basics of what happened.

In his autobiography, called Dual Allegiance,[3] Dunkelman tells the story of how, between July 8 and 18, 1948 during Operation Dekel, he led the 7th Brigade and its supporting units as it moved to capture the town of Nazareth. Nazareth surrendered after little more than token resistance. The surrender was formalized in a written agreement, where the town leaders accepted to cease hostilities in return for solemn promises from the Israeli officers, including Dunkelman, that no harm would come to the civilians of the town.

Shortly following the capture, Dunkelman received orders from General Chaim Laskov to expel the civilian population in the town, but he refused to implement these orders. The Israeli journalist and translator Peretz Kidron, with whom Dunkelman collaborated in writing Dual Allegiance, reproduced his record of Dunkelman’s account of the capture of Nazareth in a book chapter entitled “Truth Whereby Nations Live”: (more…)

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In my latest piece for Souciant, I look at the very wide gap between Israel’s collective stance on the Palestinian Nakba and the understanding of events most Israelis have of that piece of history. It has been my experience that, while the average American, Jewish or not, is quite ignorant of the facts surrounding the departure of the majority of Palestine’s Arab population from 1947-1949, the average Israeli is not, and this was so even before the so-called New Historians blew the cover off the narrative that Israel continues to cling to publicly.

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