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globe logo     Caravan: Newsletter of the Alliance for a Responsible, Plural and United World
Number 8 June 2001

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"Peace of mind", King Dodge


Towards a Culture of Peace

Palestinian people in search of justice
Rim Natour (Palestine)

My mother was born in Ijzem, a small pleasant village in the mountains of Al-Karmel, to the north of the mandated Palestine1. On the 18th of July 1948, the Israeli army violated armistice and bombarded the village for seven consecutive days. Some of the inhabitants fled the village while others remained. Those who stayed back were expulsed later by the victorious army. Thus began the long path of exile and exodus for my mother who was six then. Neither she nor her family had the right to return to their home. Two of her brothers fled Palestine and went to Syria. They are buried there forever, far from their home. Completely wiped of its inhabitants, Ijzem became a Jewish colony and now bears the name of Kerem Mahrale.

The story of this small Palestinian village is that of the entire Palestine. A land conquered by Zionist Colonisation which is based on two principles: expansionism, or gaining as much land as possible and purifying racism or banishing all inhabitants of Palestinian origin. The Zionist enterprise does not spare any means to achieve its colonizing project: expulsions, military attacks, razing of villages or any Arab traces, geographical modification and changing names of places etc. All this in the name of a divine historical right that is 3000 years old! Israel pretends to be the "only democracy in the Middle-East", but it is a state justified by a divine right and defines itself as a "Jewish state". This young and modern state is, in fact, constructed on ruins and on the tragedy of a people who are constantly aimed by Israel's state sponsored terrorism.

The Zionist project and the state of Israel have always been aided by western powers inspite of very colonizing nature of this project. They have benefited from this vital aid since 1917, when the British ministry of external affairs had promised Great Britain's help towards the establishment of a national Jewish land in Palestine, till date, where the United States allocates an annual aid of about 5 billion dollars to Israel.

Today there are about 8 million Palestinians in the world. The Palestinian Diaspora is estimated at 4.5 million. According to the United Nations Relief Work Agency's record in 1999, there are 3.6 million refugees. Some have been refugees since 1948 and others since Israeli occupation of West-bank and the Gaza strip in 1967. About 3 million Palestinians live in the territories occupied since 1967 and one million in Israel.

A crime was committed against the Palestinian people

For these people, the question of Palestine is that of justice above anything else. The first injustice was committed against Palestinians in 1948 and later in 1967. No solution to this conflict (that has arisen since more than a century) can be envisaged if it is not fair and just. It is impossible to go back in time and find the Palestine of 1948. Today peace demands concessions. But peace that is not fair and which does not ensure dignity and security to Palestinians, is an impossible peace.

To envisage a peace that is fair, Israel and the international community must recognize that a crime was committed against the Palestinian people and that this fault is to be rectified. It is essential for any reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. And then peace can be negotiated only between equals and on the basis of mutual respect. As long as Israelis negotiate from the position of the 'powerful' ones with contempt and arrogance towards Palestinians, peace can never be obtained. This kind of historical compromise asks for good faith from both the parties. The logic of power and arrogance is the logic of war and not that of peace.

By recognizing the Israeli state, Palestinians have accepted the sharing of the mandated Palestine1 with Israelis Peace negotiations include defining a just framework of this sharing which would also allow Palestinians the right to live freely and with dignity. This framework will above all guarantee Palestinian refugees - the people who have suffered the most - the right to return to their homeland, and ensure a Palestinian sovereignty in East Jerusalem, occupied and annexed in 1967 by Israel inspite of international law.

A binational state in the mandated Palestine

The only framework that can ensure a just and lasting peace is a binational state in the mandated Palestine. In this state, Palestinians and Israelis - already a mixed population here - will share the territory and enjoy autonomy in the management of their community affairs. We will thus be shifting from a phase of conflict around square centimetres of land to a phase of true coexistence between equals. This way, we will be able to overcome the psychological obstacle that necessarily leads to a separation of two states as envisaged by the Oslo agreements or apartheid witnessed in the last few years.

This solution presumes giving up the Zionist ideology of expansion and 'purification' of Arab lands. A new round of negotiations can be envisaged only after immediate stoppage of savage assaults by the Israeli army against Palestinian civilians (400 Palestinians were killed and 21000 injured in six months), lifting the blocking of frontiers in West Bank and the Gaza strip, disarmament of Jewish settlers in these territories, stopping construction of settlements and giving up discourse based on threat and force by Israeli leaders. The international community also has the responsibility of terminating impunity or colonisation.

Palestinians have known exodus, persecution, massacres, hunger and misery but have survived and resisted as any other people would have done. They wish to live with dignity and freedom like any other people would like to. Palestinians are looking for just and fair peace and they deserve it like any other free people.


1 The mandated Palestine include Israel, Gaza and West Bank. It refers to Palestine under british mandat between 1917-1948, after the fall of the ottoman regime and before the creation of the Israeli State.

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