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50 years of Arab dispossession


David Ben-Gurion, one of the father founders of Israel, described Zionist aims in 1948 thus: "A Christian state should be established [in Lebanon], with its southern border on the Litani river. We will make an alliance with it. When we smash the Arab Legion's strength and bomb Amman, we will eliminate Transjordan too, and then Syria will fall. If Egypt still dares to fight on, we shall bomb Port Said, Alexandria and Cairo... And in this fashion, we will end the war and settle our forefathers' account with Egypt, Assyria, and Aram" *. 50 years after the Arab defeat in the1948 war, which resulted in the establishment of Israel, many of Ben-Gurion's stated aims can still be discerned in the language of Israeli and Zionist leaders. Some modifications have become apparent, in large part as a result of Arab resistance, but the biblical language in which Ben-Gurion chose to state his meaning starkly expresses the deeply-rooted nature of these violent fantasies of conquest and destruction. Resistance, in this instance through a better comprehension of the history of the struggle, as well as the writing of our own version of it, becomes more necessary than ever. Israel cannot be allowed to write the history of the past fifty years unchallenged. It is in this conviction that Al-Ahram Weekly presents the first in a regular series of articles designed to document the history and nature of Arab-Israeli struggle, as well as that of Palestinian dispossession and exile.

Documenting the catastrophe Interview by Amira Howeidy

The Palestinian yearning to return has been represented as a quixotic gesture, an impossible dream, in the face of Israel's efforts to obliterate the past and to massage history to make it serve Israeli interests. Yet for Salman Abu Sitta,* a Palestinian, in exile, the true picture of the past must be preserved if it is to come to the aid of the present; the painstaking reconstruction of what happened in 1948 and since must be undertaken to ensure that the aspirations of the defeated live on, despite the brute facts of their exile and dispossession.

Salman Abu Sitta's first act following the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Accords was to visit his former family home in Beir al-Sabe' (Beersheba) in what is now central Israel. It was his first visit for fifty years, and he took his daughter, Rania, with him. Nine years old in 1948, he and his family had been forced into exile by the establishment of the


State of Israel that same year. But in the interim, and for the past 30 years, Abu Sitta has been engaged in the painstaking task of collecting documents and memories about his homeland, both from before and after May 1948. His goal: to ensure that the past lives on in memory, and that one day the approximately 5 million displaced Palestinians may return to their homeland, Palestine. Thus far, friends say, Abu Sitta has put together what they describe as the most valuable, and perhaps unique, collection of documents and papers on Palestine and on land and property ownership there since the begining of the century. He possess hundreds of maps of Palestine going back to the 19 th century, through the establishment of the British mandate in 1917, and after. There are more than 150 eye-witness accounts on video by survivors of the Nakba, or 'Catastrophe', as the Palestinans call the disaster which befell them upon the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948 . His aim however is to collect 1,500 such accounts, "three from each of the 532 villages which were depopulated". Such a library of first-hand accounts will, he says, be a powerful tool with which to prevent the obliteration of the past. In the making of these testimonies "we discourage political statements," he says. "We simply ask these witnesses to remember what happened, and what they saw, how many people there were in their villages, how many survived, and so on. Although we already know what happened in 1948, there is still a shiver when we hear the story anew from each new eye witness." Through these accounts and other sources, Abu Sitta has compiled details of the numbers and the names of the Palestinians expelled from their homes in 1948. He has also been able to gain a greater understanding of how these expulsions were carried out. There are other documents in the collection, which he prefers not to make public "at the moment". It has been, after all, through such discretion over the past 30 years that he has been able to put together a collection of rare documents covering different aspects of the history of modern Palestine. The project has several goals. The first of these, he says, is to "revive the collective memory of the Palestinians and the Arabs." And this "should be no mere emotional exercise; it should constitute the core of the Palestinian collective psyche, which can never be erased." Secondly, however, he says that there must come a time when the Israelis themselves will be willing to admit their collective guilt, in the same way in which the Nazis were called upon to admit their crimes against the European Jews. And the collection will help them to do this. Thirdly, the project should serve the Palestinian right to return, a right which Abu Sitta describes as "sacred." "It is both legal and possible," he says with confidence; "there is no doubt that it will happen one way or another. But in order for it to happen, you have first to document your home, your history and your roots." The author of dozens of articles on the right to return, this forms the theme of Abu Sitta's first book, which will appear soon.


Abu Sitta remembers his own exile in the following terms: "My family's land and town bears the family name, Maein Abu Sitta (the Abu Sitta springwell), and this appears on all the maps of Palestine from the eighteenth century onwards. I never saw a Jew as a child, and I never knew what one looked like. But in 1948 they came from Poland and from Hungary in bullet-proof cars, with machine-guns and mortars, while we resisted them with Ottoman Turkish guns. We became refugees at the muzzle of the gun." Abu Sitta was at the time a pupil at boarding school in Beir al-Sabe'. He remembers that in April 1948, the Headmaster summoned the boys and told them that the Jews now occupied large areas of central Palestine. "He told us that it would be better if we returned to our families immediately, because he could no longer protect us". So he walked, a nine year old boy with two older relatives, for some 20 km, before being warned that "the Jews" were patrolling the countryside in cars, shooting at anything in sight. They were advised to throw themselves to the ground in the corn fields and smother themselves in dirt should they hear cars approaching. The three made it to their homes, where Abu Sitta spent three days in bed to recover from the ordeal. And soon after the family moved to Gaza and joined the first wave of refugees. "Older people stayed there, while the young travelled further to resume their education or to look for work," he says. At that time, Kuwait was in the early stages of development, and it proved attractive to three of his brothers, who went there to work to support their families. Abu Sitta himself was sent to Helwan near Cairo to resume his schooling. "I remember that as a boy I used to ask myself: what is this faceless enemy who has come from far away to make me a refugee?...I couldn't imagine that these people, or anyone, could have so much hate and animosity in them to kill people, to take away their homes and their right to live." "But the real shock came later when I went to the UK as a young man to continue my post-graduate studies only to find that this crime was hailed as a 'victory for humanity' and a 'miraculous act of God'. I was unable to comprehend how the West could be taken in by the baseless and criminal notion that the crime committed against us was in some way an act of divine redemption," he says. One powerful impetus behind the documentation project has been to correct this misconception. Since he left his homeland, Abu Sitta's dream of returning has never left him. "I have kept in contact with those inside and have closely followed all the news; I have collected maps of Palestine whenever I could find them." Abu Sitta's yearning to see his homeland was so strong that he obtained satellite pictures of Palestine. "I could then see it from the sky, and see what changes had occurred. I could compare these pictures with the older maps or pictures I already had." Through these pictures, he has monitored the changes made to the old roads and alleys and the complete destruction of Palestinian houses and towns. This made it easier for him, when he visited his hometown 47 years later, to find his way, despite all the changes that had taken place. He was even able to locate the sites of his family's house and his school, though the buildings themselves had been destroyed in the interim.


"All the houses of our relatives and friends, everything had been destroyed. But because I had learnt every detail by heart, and had the new and the old maps to compare, finding my house and school was easy. But it was painful to see how they had deliberately changed the features of the place. They had chopped the trees down and ploughed the soil in the opposite direction, as part of a studied plan to obliterate all signs of our people." However Abu Sitta carefully documented and videotaped even that first visit. It was Abu Sitta's engineering background that first helped him in his hunt for maps and documents on Palestine. After graduating from Cairo University in 1958, he received his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of London. He is the founder and director of a construction and development company that has worked for the World Bank, the Arab Fund, the Kuwait Fund and other organisations in the Middle East and Africa. He is a former member of the Palestine National Council (the Palestinian parliament in exile) and is currently a member of the Geneve-based Palestinian Welfare Association. The documentation process began when he was 30 years old, he says, when he began recording his father's experiences. His father told him about his memories of 1917, when British forces moved into Palestine, which was then under Ottoman rule. "He fought with the Turks --since they were Muslims-- and against the British," Abu Sitta remembers. "My father came to know the Turkish chief of the Beir al-Sabe' garrison many years later, I met the son of this man by chance, and he sent me his father's memoirs from the period, together with many pictures of Beir al-Sabe' dating back to the early years of the century." From then on, one thing lead to another. "It sort of started from there, and it has never stopped. I kept collecting all and any material on every inch of my homeland." But it is still "painful to know that the Palestinians do not yet possess adequate documentation of their version of the story, or of the 1948 Nakba,"he says. In the 1980s, Abu Sitta began examining the documents and maps from Napoleon's expedition to Palestine in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. "Luckily the Europeans are masters of documentation, even the documentation of our countries", he says. Over the years Abu Sitta has collected a wealth of such historical material --such as documents from the Palestine Exploration Fund, which date from 1871 when a group of British scholars travelled to Palestine to survey the Holy land. Under the patronage of Queen Victoria and the then Archbishop of Canterbury, the mission produced 10 volumes of reports and 26 maps, covering all aspects of the people living there at the time, their towns, cities, villages, as well as the natural history of Palestine. "Of the 15,000 names of Palestinians listed in these volumes, not one is Jewish" comments Abu Sitta. "Contrary to prevailing beliefs, this proves that there was then no Jewish population in the place." Although documentation remains a powerful tool in the Palestinian cause, it has, nevertheless, not been accorded priority by Palestinian officials. When asked if he had received financial support from the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) for his efforts, Abu Sitta said, "the simple answer is no."


Though a wealth of documentation was accumulated during the 1970s up until the 1982 Israeli invasion of the Lebanon, and the subsequent Palestinian expulsion, "unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority has not cared to make use of the massive amount of documents that have been collected, be these title deeds, birth certificates, or whatever." Had the Palestinian leadership not chosen to make the Oslo negotiations secret, Abu Sitta points out, and had made use of documents in the possession of the Palestinian people, then the resulting agreements would have been very different where the rights of the Palestinians were concerned. So why wasn't this project -- of collective memory, of the documentation of the true picture of Palestine -- embarked upon earlier? Why did it take so long to get underway? According to Abu Sitta, the main reason was the aftermath of shock following the 1948 catastrophe. "During the fifties, when the shock of '48 was still overwhelming, the Palestinians' main concern was the attempt to return to their homes; documentation was considered to be of secondary importance. Organizing national action was the top priority," he says. It was only the second Arab defeat in 1967, he adds, that brought new awareness and new goals for the Palestinian national struggle. Thus "the golden age of Palestinian mobilisation took place between 1969 and 1982, when the media was used in more sophisticated ways, more information was gathered, and there was a growing realisation of the importance of documenting the true state of affairs." Besides its importance in maintaining Palestinian collective memory, documentation is, for Abu Sitta, also the key to engineering the return of the approximately 5 million Palestinian refugees to their country. Reduced to its essential components, he says, the Arab-Palestinian/ Israeli conflict is about the conquest of Palestine in 1948, and the expulsion of its people in order to accommodate newcomers from overseas. Half a century later, there are 4,942,121 refugees, expelled from 532 localities, without a home, identity or certain future. After 50 years of strife, it is abundantly clear that there can be no peace if their interests are not taken into account, and that they have no wish to go anywhere except Palestine. "The yearning for the homeland is at the core of the Palestinian collective psyche,"Abu Sitta says. "Demographically, their return will cause only a minimum Israeli relocation, in striking contrast to Israel's plans," and he has published many studies showing the feasibility of return. "The Palestinians are under no obligation, moral, legal or otherwise, to accept Israeli occupation of Palestine at their expense. By any standards, it is the Israelis who are under an obligation -- to rectify the colossal injustice they have committed," he says. Salman Abu Sitta is a Kuwait-based construction engineer. He is a former member of the Palestine National Council (the Palestinian parliament in exile) and is currently a member of the Geneve-based Palestinian Welfare Association. He was interviewed this week in Cairo by Amira Howeidy.


War by other means By Saleh Abdel-Jawad

Israeli policy since 1948 has, explicitly or implicitly, been designed to force the Palestinians into exile. Sometimes this has taken the form of war, sometimes of measures designed to make daily life for the Arab population as difficult as possible. Its single aim, however, has always been Palestinian "sociocide"

Judaising Palestine has always been the aim of the Zionist movement. The 1948 war produced devastating results: 85 per cent of the palestinian villages that fell under Israeli control during the war were entirely destroyed, while their inhabitants were forced to flee beyond the borders of the newly declared state of Israel. These villages, constituting 50 per cent of the Palestinian villages within the former historical borders of Palestine, were demolished one after the other, though most of them had suffered little damage from military operations, that is if they had engaged in military operations at all. Some of these villages were only demolished many years after 1948, and this despite the Israeli urgent need to provide housing for the million Jewish immigrants who arrived in Israel in the few years following the war. Palestinians in the cities fared no better. Cities such as Beir al-Sab' (BeerSheba), Bisan, Tiberius and Safd were entirely evacuated of their original inhabitants. Others such as Jaffa, Acre, Lod and Ramla were partially evacuated, leaving only a few thousand in each. For weeks following the fall of their cities, the remaining inhabitants watched in horor as hundreds of Palestinians were subjected to summary executions. These drastic measures, employed in 1948, to expel the indigenous population, have been refined over time, and have given way to a policy which I shall call "sociocide", that is the gradual undermining of the communal and psychological structures of Palestinian society in order to compel the Palestinians to leave by other means. The use of the June 1967 war to achieve this aim is a case in point. The Israeli government had already, before the outbreak of war, undertaken a comprehensive survey of Palestinian society in the West Bank and Gaza. Once occupied in June 1967, Israel imposed its military rule and, through this, it set out to achieve four main aims: firstly, to destroy the Palestinian economy; secondly, to decimate Palestinian national spirit and identity; thirdly, to deprive Palestinians of their political and civil rights, and fourthly, to transform Palestinian daily life into an endless chain of hardship. Over the years, the Israeli government has stripped the Palestinian people of their land under a variety of pretexts. They have been told that their land was actually government property, that the land they lived on no longer belonged to them, since they were no longer physically present in the country (naturally, since they had had to flee Israeli troops in 1967, some for the second time...), or that their land was needed for 'public welfare'. But, after the signing of the Oslo accords, the Israelis have come to feel that that they do not have to give any notification at all for their decision to confiscate Palestinian


land. Israel now owns or controls over 70 per cent of the land on the West Bank and approximately 30 per cent of the land area in Gaza. In addition, it has gained total control over Palestinian water resources. As Palestinian farmers' crops have withered, Israeli settlers on Palestinian land have been able to sunbathe around their newly installed swimming pools. Palestinian markets have been flooded by Israeli products. There are no customs controls, and no form of protection is afforded to Palestinian products. 92 per cent of imports into the West Bank come from Israel, and 22 per cent of Israeli exports are destined for Gaza. As a result, the majority of Palestinian farmers, who constitute about 65 per cent of the population, have found themselves without land, without water and without safeguards against the influx of Israeli agricultural products. Palestinian industry is stagnant. Already the victim of British colonial policy and Jordanian rule, the latter concentrating all Palestinian industry on the East Bank when the West Bank was under Jordanian control, the Palestinian economy has now been subjugated to the Israeli, not only in terms of the dependency of the periphery upon the centre, but also as part of Israel's policy to de-develop the Palestinian economy. According to Sara Roy of Harvard University, "de-development not only distorts development, but forestalls it entirely by depriving the economy of its capacity and potential for rational structural transformation and preventing the emergence of any selfcorrecting measures." De-development, therefore, is not merely a form of political control and economic exploitation, it also has the long-term aim of thoroughly dislocating Palestinian society and development.

"These intimate mementos of a past irrevocably lost circulate among us, like the genealogies and fables of a wandering singer of tales". Left, the former mayor of Jerusalem, Ruhi Al-Khatib, and his wife, in exile in Jordan. Right, Bassam Al-Shaka'a, former mayor of Nablus and the victim of an assassination attempt that cost him both legs. Photographs by Jean Mohr, from Edward Said's book After the Last Sky


Once again the original land owner -- the Palestinian farmer -- has been the victim of these policies. As was the case both before, and in the wake of the 1948 war, Palestinian farmers have had no alternative but to put themselves on the Israeli labour market under very singular conditions in which political, rather than economic factors, have prevailed. Palestinian labourers have been forced to work at rates varying from 40 to 60 per cent of the pay of Jewish workers doing the same jobs. They have been confined to areas in which opportunities for career and personal advancement are limited, such as fruitpicking, cleaning and janitorial services, and construction. These have absorbed some 51 per cent of the Palestinian labour force. As was the case with cheap Arab labour at the time of the first Zionist settlements in Palestine in the late 19th century, Palestinian workers today are forbidden to sleep near their work places, which are frequently located near the areas their forefathers had lived in. They are therefore obliged to travel an average of 100 kilometres a day, to work like machines, and to return home exhausted so that their families can "enjoy" the fruits of Israeli production. They have also been forbidden to set up Palestinian labour unions, and, deprived of any opportunity to defend their rights at the workplace, and forced to accept discriminatory wages, they have been denied the kind of protections commonly accorded workers elsewhere. Palestinian workers have also been forced to pay a portion of their salaries into a fund, the volume of assets of which remains a mystery, and from which no Palestinian has ever received any benefit. These circumstances have not been solely dictated by the nature of the Israeli economy. Beyond the opportunity for exploitation signalled by a mass of cheap labour, there has been, among Israelis, the very conscious fear of developing a Palestinian working class, which could generate polarisation between a Jewish bourgeoisie and a Palestinian proletariat. At all events, as a result of industrial stagnation, a decline in tourism and a decline in the Palestinian agricultural sector, there has evolved in the West Bank and Gaza a malignant dependency on the Israeli labour market. More than 50 per cent of the per-capita income in Gaza is derived from this source. The proportion is less for the West Bank, although it is still significant and has had a profound social, economic and political impact. When Israel blockades the West Bank on the pretext of security precautions, it effectively commits a major crime and one that can not be equated to blockades which Western European countries, under the strains of unemployment, have imposed in an attempt to stem the influx of foreign labour. Fifty years ago, Israel dispossessed these workers of their land and the land of their children, who now live in refugee camps. It has pillaged the economic foundations of the people whose land it occupied in 1967. It has destroyed their entire social structure with the aim of converting them into a source of cheap labour to serve the Israeli economy and the state's long-term political aims. It has made no gesture of remorse for the crimes it committed in 1948, felt no moral obligation to make redress for the rights it has usurped and made no attempt to alleviate the suffering inflicted by its racist policies.


Parallel to its economic policies, Israel has also targeted, from the outset, Palestinian civic institutions. It dissolved the municipal council of East Jerusalem, and among the first to be expelled following the occupation were the head of the council, Ruhi al-Khatib and Sheikh al-Hamid al-Saih of the supreme Islamic commission. It has also routinely closed down universities for extended periods of time. Beir Zeit university in the West Bank, for example, had been closed 15 times since it was founde in 1974 for periods ranging from several weeks to several months, and this does not include the innumerable de facto closures intended to disrupt university life by setting up military barricades. The last closure of Beir Zeit lasted four years. And the closure not only interrupted studies: No one --professors, cleaning staff, lab technicians -- were permitted to enter the university, and this disruption of education, research, and the maintenance of the university and its facilities has taken an incalculable toll. It is also seldom appreciated that the libraries these universities contain are the only libraries available to citizens of the West Bank and Gaza, and closure has meant that for years Palestinians have been deprived of access to sources of information and cultural stimulus. Schools, including nurseries, have been routinely shut down, if for shorter duration, causing disastrous disruption to the curriculum and children's education. Other institutions such as cultural centres and youth clubs have been closed down permanently. Freedom of travel for the purpose of cultural and educational exchanges within the Arab World, long a primary stimulus to Palestinian cultural life, has been curtailed. After thirty years of occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel, the so-called "democratic oasis of the Middle East" can boast that it has transformed generations of Palestinian young people, once a major tributary of the Arab intelligentsia, into a mass of undereducated, overworked labourers. Democratic institutions, such as municipal councils, have also been subjected to systematic destruction. The last municipal elections in the West Bank were held in 1976 and in Gaza in 1967, when the Israeli government dismissed the popularly elected representatives and replaced them with corrupt Israeli officers. The councils themselves were then replaced by committees, most of which were run by appointees, individuals with criminal records, or individuals who had dubious connections with the Israeli authorities. Four Palestinian municipal leaders from some of the West Bank's larger cities were dismissed or banished during the period 1969 - 1981. In a single day in June 1980, three other municipal leaders were the target of assassination attempts. Two of these suffered severe and permanent injuries. Exile has long been the Israeli government's main weapon for depriving the Palestinian people in the occupied territories of their popular leaders. Up until the Madrid peace conference in 1991, the Israelis had exiled more than a thousand Palestinian figures. To put this figure into some kind of perspective, even under the emergency laws in force under the British mandate, laws which Menachem Begin himself described as more horrendous than Nazi ones, exile was exceptional, and even then subject to specific time limitations.


Under these circumstances, the only explanation for Israel's policy is to drive home to the Palestinians that they are aliens on their own land, a perception that today is being forced upon the Arabs of Jerusalem, Muslims and Christians alike. All individuals who do not hold an Israeli passport find themselves divested of their natural right to citizenship; Palestinians have been transformed into 'permanent residents', and even that status is open to question. Two years ago, the Arab population of Jeusalem, whose ancestors lived in the city for hundreds of years, suddenly found themselves at risk of losing their "permanent resident" status, if one of three instances could be said to apply. Firstly, if they left the country and obtained a foreign nationality, then the occupation authorities would consider them aliens, who would have to obtain a visa to "visit" their native country. The law, of course, is discriminatory, as most Israeli Jewish citizens are permitted to hold dual naionality. Secondly, if a Palestinian from Jerusalem resided for more than six years outside the city's boundaries, then, according to the new law, they would lose their residence status. This provision has been applied to thousands of young Palestinian couples, whom, by virtue of Israel's racist housing policies, have been unable to find housing inside Jerusalem. Thirdly, if a Palestinian resided outside the country for a period beyond that specified in his exit permit and was unable to obtain an extension from an Israeli consulate abroad, he would also forfeit his resident status. Little wonder, then, that the expression "silent transfer" has been coined to describe this phenomenon of exile by other means. One of the worst aspects of Israeli policy (unique, it might be thought, in colonial experience) is the use of prisons as instruments of sociocide. Throughout the world, prisons are used to punish offenders, but, in Israel they have other purposes. Since 1967, more than a quarter of a million Palestinians have been imprisoned, many more than once and for periods of up to 12 years. Many have languished in prison for years on end without charges being brought and without prospect of trial. To imprison a quarter of a million people out of a total population of two million is in itself extraordinary. And the philosophy underlying this extends beyond combating Palestinian resistance. In fact, Israeli prisons have been transformed into large-scale means of control and investigation, designed to enable the Israeli authorities to tighten their control. Palestinian prisoners have routinely been subjected to various forms of torture, often for the most innocuous reasons such as being members of student unions, or participating in peaceful demonstrations. Since 1976, however, prison authorities have relied primarily on psychological torture, or forms of physical torture that do not leave visible marks, such as covering the victim's head for several days. Interrogations are conducted with the aim of furnishing an in-depth profile of the individual concerned. Interrogators compile data on their victims' political leanings, family life, personal strengths and weaknesses, sex life, leadership capacities, powers of endurance, and so on, so as to weaken his or her resistance. In addition to instilling fear and degradation, Israeli prisons are also recruiting grounds for thousands of informers, a further instrument for psychologically breaking the prisoners and destroying their confidence in themselves and in their society.


In spite of the fact that Israel had inherited dozens of British prisons, built in virtually every town and city in order to subjugate Palestinians during the 1936 revolution, the Israeli occupation authorities have built many more. Some, such as Ansar-2 in the Negev, can accommodate several thousand detainees. Another unique phenomenon that sets the Israeli occupation apart is the excessive, deliberate use of administrative measures to dominate the Palestinian population. Every detail of the Palestinians' day-to-day life is subject to bureaucratic controls, creating enormous psychological pressure upon the individual. Even the simplest concerns, concerns that should constitute natural individual rights in every country of the world, must pass through Israel's apparatus of military rule. This includes obtaiing a work permit, travel abroad, marriage to a person from abroad, being reunited with one's relatives, forming cultural societies, establishing hospitals, obtaining an identity card, obtaining a building permit, taking driving lessons, obtaining a driving licence and obtaining a birth certificate. Of course many of these permits require a certain amount of red tape in all countries. However, approval there can generally be expected, and the paperwork is routine. In Israel, on the other hand, every request for a permit must be put through the security mill, even those that could not possibly have security implications. Moreover, a large number of requests are turned down with no explanation. After all, what logical justification could be offered for refusing dozens of applications to build hospitals in an area where public health services have seriously deteriorated since 1967? At a time when Zionist propaganda has succeeded in projecting the Palestinian struggle as a terrorist movement, two million people are suffering under a deliberate policy of state terror. The constant threat of harassment and even of murder, of curfews, arbitrary arrest and road blocks plague Palestinian daily life, and have gradually forced the population to retreat behind closed doors as soon as night falls. As the occupation has grown more arrogant, people have been forbidden to go to the seaside, to pray in holy places, to take walks in mountains which had once belonged to them. The few cinemas and amusement parks have vanished. All these and other measures have generated a climate of fear, anxiety, and unbearable depression and frustration. Simply to go on living under these conditions demands a high degree of personal sacrifice and commitment to the national cause.

The Challenge of Israel: Fifty Years On By Edward Said

There can be no erasing of the historical truth that the existence of Israel is predicated, indeed imposed upon, the obliteration of another society and people. Every Israeli knows this, as much as every Palestinian does: the question, writes Edward Said, is how long can an intolerable situation of proximity and injury be endured by the victims, and how long can it be deferred by the victors?


The scars are still unhealed, the wounds fester, the past will not be forgotten. And yet there is no overriding consensus in the Arab world as to what Israel represents, and how we should deal with it. Even using the collective pronoun "we" suggests a unity of views that is more presumed than actual. At some higher level of politics and ideology Israel is an objective ally of some Arab policies and politicians, not all of them right-wing Christian Lebanese. Jordan, for example, has signed a peace treatywith it, as have Egypt and the PLO: still, very few Arab writers, intellectuals, academicians, artists, and even policy makers will say that they are ready for normalization with Israel, so long as it remains in occupation of Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese territory. An enormous grey area exists in our collective consciousness. Israel is there, but how are we to think about and above all act toward it? Everyone wants and speaks about peace, yet how for Palestinians whose entire territory was captured an society destroyed is one to declare a statute of limitations and say, what is past is past, let us reconcile ourselves to a future with Israel? When it comes to the present, how are we to say that we will coexist with a state that still has not declared its boundaries and still describes itself not as the state of its citizens but as the state of the whole Jewish people entitled to the entire "land of Israel"? As for the future, where is the glimmer of a new Israel which is neither imperialist and exclusivist but somehow at one with the Islamic Arab world in whose midst it has been planted as idea and as reality since l897. By posing the challenge of Israel in this manner a number of irreconcileable facts leap out at us. There can be no erasing of the historical truth that the existence of Israel is predicated, indeed imposed upon, the obliteration of another society and people. There has been far too much sustained damage done to the Palestinian people for this easily to be surmounted. Israel in short exists as a political fact superimposed upon and intertwined with another fact, the Palestinian people, whose existence and history are denied, and whose claims have never been heard inside the discourse of Israeli life. Surely every Israeli knows this, as much as every Palestinian does: the question is how long can an intolerable situation of proximity and injury be endured by the victims, and how long can it be deferred by the victors? Israeli policy has always consisted of two parts. On the one hand, strenuously absolve yourself of any responsibility for the existence of a Palestinian "problem" and, on the other, try to make compromises on the basis of that self-absolution with whatever Arab or Palestinian leadership exists at the moment, and continuing to settle the land. The premise of both parts of this policy is the same, that given enough time and pressure Palestinians will forget, give up or variously accomodate themselves to he permanent loss of what was once theirs. In the main, this policy has not really been successful, despite the existence of a peace process and two treaties with Arab states. Far from forgetting the past, Palestinians and other Arabs have been obliged to recall it because of Israeli insistence on endlessly repeating its original sin. By what perverted, diseased logic can Benjamin Netanyahu proclaim to the world that he wants the peace process to continue at the same time that he says that the West Bank and Gaza are part of the land of Israel? Every house demolition, every expropriated dunum, every arrest and torture, every barricade, every closure, every gesture of arrogance and intended humiliation simply revives the past, re-enacts Israel's offenses against the Palestinian spirit, land, body politic. To speak about peace in such a context is to try to reconcile the irreconcileable, which cannot be done.


But the fantasy of somehow removing Israel and its people is equally unthinkable. Yes, they can be made to withdraw from the occupied territories, but it is a dream to expect that "they" will disappear or go back to Poland, Russia, America. There is now an Israeli nationalism and a society independent of what we think and autonomous also from the Diaspora. Behind it are memories of the Holocaust and centuries of Western antisemitism from which it would be folly for us to expect Israelis to disconnect temselves. But there is also a history of anti-Palestinian behavior which demands recognition as injustice and cruelty of the first order. Just as Jews require recognition from the world, we too must continue to make the same demands not on the grounds of vengeance but because justice requires it. Thus the misery of Oslo is that our leaders simply brushed off our history along with Messers Rabin and Peres, whereas it behooves us to remember what Zionism did, and -- no less important -- what Britain, the United States, and other pro-Zionist Western governments have done who conspired in our dispossession. The first challenge of Israel then is the need to extract acknowledgement from it for what it did to us and to other Arabs whose sons and daughters were killed in its wars, conquests, military occupations, settlements. This is a moral mission for each of us to pursue by not forgetting, by reminding each other and the world, by testifying to the continued injustice against us. I simply cannot imagine that history will ever excuse us for failing in this task. But then, I believe, we must also hold out the possibility of some form of coexistence in which a new and better life, free of ethnocentrism and religious intolerance, would be potentially available. It is the present poverty of Zionism and Palestinian nationalism that accounts for the void in vision and moral energy that we suffer from today. I am certain that if we present our claims about the past as enabling a form of mutuality and coexistence in the future ( although the response will initially be negative and dismissive) a long term positive echo on the Israeli and Western side will develop. It is also evident to me that we cannot detach our views of Israel from our attitudes and policies towards the United States. Since l949 America has poured about 140 billion dollars into Israel. Not only is this a major financial investment, but the American political establishment has a longterm investment in the country as well. To expect the US to lessen support of Israel, or even to become critical of it -- these are real possibilities in my view -- is unthinkable without a massive campaign in the United States on behalf of Palestinian political and human rights. This is so obvious as not to require much insistence here. The only question to ask, however, is why has this not been done before? Everyone of us who knows the West knows full well that Israel's successes on the ground have been prepared for and supported by assiduous propaganda about Arab intransigeance, the Arab wish to drive Jews into the sea, the Israeli desire for peace and tranquillity, and, central to all this, that Israel as a Jewish state was created by the national liberation Jewish movement (Zionism) which found the place deserted and made it a garden. Zionism, along with all the other successful mass movements in the twentieth century (including fascism) learned the lesson of propagnda: that the battle for opinion is the most important one to win. This is something that we still have not completely grasped, and until we do we shall always be the losers.


In short, Israel is the measure of our failings and our incompetence.We have waited for a great leader for years, but none came; we have waited for a mighty military victory, but we were defeated roundly; we have waited for outside powers (the US or, in its time, the Soviet Union), but none came to our aid. The one thing we have not tried in all seriousness is to rely on ourselves: until we do that with a full commitment to success there is no chance that we can advance towards self-determination and freedom from agression. Take as a simple case in point the current Palestinian case, where the failures seem the most glaring and the remedies more easily at hand than anyone has suspected. We have been saddled with poor leadership ever since I can remember, and still we persist in supporting the same bankrupt group through all its mistakes and disasters. On the other hand, we pride ourselves on the many successes of our people -- doctors, lawyers, engineers, entrepreneurs, businessmen, intellectuals, academics, artists. We claim that we want statehood and independence, yet none of the most basic institutions of statehood are in anyone's mind. There is no basic law where the Palestinian Authority rules today, the result of one man's whim not to approve such a law, in flagrant defiance of the Legislative Assembly. Our universities are in an appalling state, starved for money, desperately run and administered, filled with professors who struggle to make a living but have not done a stroke of research or independent work in years. We also have a large and impressive group of extremely wealthy businesspersons who have simply not grasped that the essential thing for any people is a massive investment in education, the construction of a national library, and the endowment of the entire university structure as a guarantee that as a people we will have a future. I have attended meetings for almost twenty years in which hundreds of little projects are funded, but without a central vision of what it is that as a society we need. The absence of a collective end to which all are committed has crippled Palestinian efforts not just in the official realm, but even among private associations, where personality conflicts, outright fights, and disgraceful backbiting hamper our every step. Looked at the from this perspective the fundamental challenge that Israel poses is to ourselves -- our inability to organize, our inability to dedicate ourselves to a basic set of principles from which we do not deviate, our inability to marshall our resources singlemindedly, our inability to devote all our efforts to education and competence, finally, our inability to choose a leadership that is capable of the task. It is no use blaming the failures of the current PLO on a few inadequate and corrupt individuals. The fact is that we now have the leadership we deserve, and until we realize that we are being driven further and further from our goal of self-determination and the recovery of our rights by that leadership which so many of us still serve and respect, we will continue to slide downwards. Antonio Gramsci put it very succinctly: pessimism of the intelligence, optimism of the will. Yes, our situation vis-a-vis Israel is calamitous and under Netanyahu the situation will get worse. But we need to ask what it is that we can do, and then by an act of collective will we must do it. The rest is simply a waste of time. The choice of better leaders is an imperative, but we must also improve our own conditions so that our workers do not have to build Israeli settlements just to put food on their tables, and our students do not have to settle for incredibly backward curricula in an age when


our opponents are sending people to the moon, and our people have to accept lamentable conditions of tyranny and oppression where dissent is punished and torture is used to cow the citizenry by our Authority, all in the name of national unity. Until we awake from the sleep of reason, we will continue to lose more land and power to Israel. But we cannot fight for our rights and our history as well as future until we are armed with weapons of criticism and dedicated consciousness. In this we need the support of the Arab intellectual and cultural community which has devoted too much time to slogans about Zionism and imperialism and not enough to helping us fight the battle against our own failures and incompetence. The challenge of Israel is the challenge of our own societies. We are now unequal to the task because we are still chained to methods and attitudes that belong to an earlier time. The struggle of the twenty first century is the struggle to achieve selfliberation and self-decolonization. And then Israel can be properly addressed.

Unite and sacrifice everything By Ahmad Hussein As I have been here (Damascus) for some time, closely observing the preparations to combat the Jewish gangs, and as my stay in Syria afforded me the opportunity of direct contact with those who will be leading the battle of liberation in Palestine, at least on the northern front, I must report that Syria is the one major Arab country to have shouldered the responsibility of preparing for the organisation of the battle.

As I have been here (Damascus) for some time, closely observing the preparations to combat the Jewish gangs, and as my stay in Syria afforded me the opportunity of direct contact with those who will be leading the battle of liberation in Palestine, at least on the northern front, I must report that Syria is the one major Arab country to have shouldered the responsibility of preparing for the organisation of the battle. This, to a great extent, is natural: the French and British have evacuated Syria, removing any obstacles to its defence of Palestine. The Zionist menace, too, is primarily directed against Syria. Many people are probably unaware that a number of Jewish colonies are inside the Syrian borders, concentrated around Lake Tiberius and close to the province of Hawlah. While on a fact finding mission on the Syrian border, with Salah Harb Pasha, we witnessed how the Zionist arteries extended into Syrian territory. Syrian concerns with the Palestinian question, in this context, is only to be expected. Yet despite monumental efforts on the part of the Syrian government it continues to lag behind the Syrian people, who insist on participating in the battle with all they have, be it money or man power. Syria is the most advanced front line for the defence of Palestine, and it is, therefore, my duty, to place before the people of Egypt and the rest of the Arabs, some observations that must be taken into account if we are to win the battle of Palestine. First -- we exaggerate in belittling the power of our opponents. I hate to say that this belittling is not only habitual among the man in the street, but is indulged by many of our rulers. Many now say that we can crush Zionism in the blink of an eye, while others insist that one Arab can stand up to a thousand Jews, and the battle will last only a few months,


if not a matter of weeks. Without casting any aspersions on the bravery of the Arabs, to make so light of our enemy is ridiculous. We are facing a resolute and strong foe, an enemy whose overriding will can be measured in the efforts they are exerting around the world in rallying support to their cause. More importantly, it is necessary that we understand that our foes will spare no effort or weapon, whether honourable or not, in their attempts to defeat us. We face a cruel opponent, without mercy, resolved to fight to the very end, and we have to be prepared for a very fierce battle. My second remark concerns the way news about what is taking place in Palestine is being broadcast. Newspapers and reporters persistently speak about Arab victories and the defeat of various colonies of Zionists. Whoever reads these reports is led to believe that the Zionists have been finally defeated in Palestine. The danger of such reporting is that it depicts the Arabs of Palestine as being capable of winning the battle alone, persuading other to relax, contenting them with offering words of support. In my opinion the news of each and every clash in Palestine must be depicted accurately, so that the Arab people are not lulled into a false assurance of victory. My third remark concerns the differences and problems regarding the way we perceive the future of Palestine. Let us first remember that our main concern now is to rescue Palestine. Once this is achieved and Palestine is free from Zionism, we can begin discussions of its future and address any differences in opinion if such differences are invitable. I am writing these lines and infront of me are all those young people of Misr al-Fattah who have volunteered to fight in defence of Palestine. They are government employees who have left their jobs, officers, workers and lawyers. They have families and they left everything behind for the sake of the liberation of Palestine. Let my appeal be one from the bottom of my heart to the Egyptian people and the Arab leaders: unite, unite, and forget everything except the rescue and liberation of Palestine. Sacrifice everything, even personal pride, for the sake of the pride of us all, and of the homeland. * Ahmad Hussein, leader of Misr al-Fattah, from al-Ahram, January 2, 1948.

I am from Ain Al-Helwa By Nagi El-Ali

Nagi El-Ali was one of the most prominent cartoonists in the Arab world. Sarcastic, poignant and perhaps too bold, El Ali's cartoons were drawn from his experience as a Palestinian refugee since childhood and clearly reflected his political stance, which was often critical of the Arab regimes.


The following extracts are drawn from an interview with Radwa Ashour, novelist and professor of English literature at Ain Shams University, during the summer of 1984 in Budapest.. It was published in the periodical Al Muwagaha in 1985, only two years before El-Ali was assassinated in London in 1987 at the age of 50. Where do I begin? Perhaps from the day we left Palestine on our way to the Ain AlHelwa camp in southern Lebanon. And from those looks in the eyes of our mothers and fathers that did not speak of facts, but expressed a sorrow which was the language in which we learned about the world, a language of anger that finds its outlet sometimes in speech, sometimes in deeds. Most of the boys and girls of the fifties generation, to which I belonged, suffered a profound dejection. We would cast our eyes beyond our small prison in Ain Al-Helwa, searching for some force of good that might come to our rescue. When the July 1952 revolution broke out, we poured out into the streets of the camp shouting, "Long live the revolution!" and writing slogans on the walls. We were unable to do more than that, although we had dedicated ourselves and our lives to the revolution. As I recall these scenes of my youth, I think how much we miss that spirit now, at a time when the Arab World has, for all practical purposes, become an American ocean, and the Palestinian revolution itself has been struck down. One should try not to seek consolation, but to come to terms with one's experience. Yet I feel that no one is doing this. We are being bombarded from all directions. This is not a random strike, but a thoroughly planned and targeted assault. I was born in 1937 in the village of Al-Shajara, located between Tiberias and Nazereth in Galilee. In 1948, I emigrated to one of the refugee camps in southern Lebanon -- Ain Al Helwa, located near Saida [Sidon]. Like others in the camp, I felt a need to express myself, to take part in protest demonstrations, to participate in national events, to subject myself like others to mistreatment and prison. At that point in my life, I developed a strong desire to draw. I began to try to express my political attitudes, my anxiety and my grief through paintings on the walls. I always made sure I had my pen with me when I was taken to prison. Incidentally, the first person to give me encouragement was the late Ghassan Kanafani who had visited the camp in order to attend a seminar we held in a small club that we had built out of sheets of zinc. When Ghassan saw the cartoons I had drawn on the wall, he introduced himself to me and took two or three of them to publish in the Arab nationalist magazine, Al-Huriyya, where he was working at the time. Although I had obtained a diploma in mechanics and electrical engineering, I worked as a seasonal farm labourer, picking oranges and lemons. There were no other available jobs. Palestinians were not permitted to have municipal jobs. I tried to continue my studies in drawing and enrolled in the Academy of Arts for a year. But during that time, I was arrested and imprisoned six or seven items. I worked as a drawing instructor for a short period of time in Al-Jaafriya College in Sur [Tyre]. Then I was given the opportunity to


travel to Kuwait to work on Al-Tali'a al-Kuwaitiya, published by the Kuwaiti Progressive Party. That was when the character Hanzala was born. I introduced Hanzala to the readers at some length: "I am Hanzala from the Ain Al-Helwa camp. I give my word of honour that I'll remain loyal to the cause..." That was the promise I had made myself. The young, barefoot Hanzala was a symbol of my childhood. He was the age I was when I had left Palestine and, in a sense, I am still that age today. Even though this all happened 35 years ago, the details of that phase in my life are still fully presentto my mind. I feel that I can recall and sense every bush, every stone, every house and every tree I passed when I was a child in Palestine. The character of Hanzala was a sort of icon that protected my soul from falling whenever I felt sluggish or I was ignoring my duty. That child was like a splash of fresh water on my forehead, bringing me to attention and keeping me from error and loss. He was the arrow of the compass, pointing steadily towards Palestine. Not just Palestine in geographical terms, but Palestine in its humanitarian sense -- the symbol of a just cause, whether it is located in Egypt, Vietnam or South Africa. I am from Ain Al-Helwa, a camp like any other camp. The people of the camps were the people of the land in Palestine. They were not merchants or landowners. They were farmers. When they lost their land, they lost their lives. The bourgeoisie never had to live in the camps, whose inhabitants were exposed to hunger, to every degradation and to every form of oppression. Entire families died in our camps. Those are the Palestinians who remain in my mind, even when my work takes me away from the camp. I was working in Kuwait when Al-Safir began publication in Beirut. [Editor-in-chief] Talal Salman called me up and asked me to come back to Lebanon to work for the newspaper. I thought I would find some salvation in the move. However, when I returned I was pained by what I saw. I felt that Al-Helwa had been more revolutionary before the revolution, that it had a clearer political vision, that it knew its enemies from its friends. It had a specific goal: Palestine, the full return of the land of Palestine. When I returned, the camp was an armed jungle, but it lacked political clarity. It had been divided into tribes. Various Arab regimes had invaded it and Arab oil dollars had corrupted many of its young. The camp was a womb that generated true freedom fighters, but the outsiders were trying to stop that process. Many people are to blame for this. Although one can draw a line between negligence and treachery, no one is exempt from guilt. The Arab regimes committed crimes against us and against the Palestinian revolution itself. These circumstances explain much of what happened during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. When the 1982 invasion began I was in Saida [Sidon]. The Palestinians in the camps felt that they had no one to lead them. Israel pounced upon us with all its military might in an attempt to make us forget that there was something called Palestine. The Israelis knew that the overall situation was in their favor. They had nothing to fear from the Arab World, the international powers or the Palestinian revolution. The Arab regimes had effectively neutralised themselves after Camp David.


In the past, the Palestinian revolution prophesied an all-out war of liberation. In 1982, however, all our military leaders had anticipated the invasion. Although I am not a military man and I have never used a gun in my life, I believe that it would have been possible to inflict far greater losses on the invading Israeli forces. That is why one begins to sense that the Arab regimes and other parties were part of a conspiracy to cleanse the south of Lebanon, to destroy Palestinian military power and to impose "peaceful" solutions. That was the "carrot" to make us run after the American solution. I believe that we could have inflicted some severe damage on Israeli, but our camps had no leaders. How could the people of the camps have countered the Israeli military machine and the daily bombardment from land, air and sea? In addition, the situation in the camps was decrepit, with houses built of zinc and mud. The Israeli forces flattened them like a football field. Still, even as the Israeli forces continued their invasion as far as Beirut and the edge of Dawfar, the resistance inside the camps did not let up, as both Israeli military personnel and I personally can testify. My family and I along with all the other people of Saida were taken prisoner, and spent four or five days on the coast. After the occupation, my first concern was to inspect the camp to learn of the state of the resistance and its leaders. I took my son with me. He was 15-years-old at the time. We travelled by day. The corpses of the victims still lay in the streets. The burnt-out hulks of Israeli tanks still stood at the entrances to the camps. The Israelis had not removed them yet. From my inquiries into the circumstances of the resistance, I learned that it consisted of a group of no more than 40 or 50 youths. The Israeli had burned the camp while the women and children were still inside their shelters. Israeli missiles had penetrated deep inside the camp, claiming the lives of hundreds of children in the camp in Saida. The young men in the resistance group had spontaneously taken an oath to one another that they would die before they ever surrendered. And, in fact, the Israelis never captured a single one of them. In daylight, the Israeli forces would attack. At night, the resistors would strike. This is what happened in Ain Al-Helwa, as I saw for myself. But I also know that there were other forms of resistance in the camps of Sur, Al-Burj Al-Shamal, Al-Bass and AlRashidi. People in the streets and shelters prayed to God to curse the regimes and their leaders. They exonerated no one. They felt as though no one but God would help them endure their fate. The people of the south of Lebanon, including our destitute Palestinian masses, they are the people who fought and bore arms. In dedication to that great people which gave us more than any other party and suffered the destruction of their homes, I must record here that the resistance fighters of the Lebanese national movement have embodied the spirit of resistance in virtually legendary proportions. In my opinion, the Arab media has not done them justice by stressing their true spirit of resistance. As families were dispersed amidst the debris in Ain Al-Helwa, the Israelis rounded up all the young men (I myself, for example, was put through a screening process four or five times). They arrested most of them and transferred them to the Ansar prison camp. This


is when the women began to play an active role. I think it is impossible for any artist to convey these circumstances. Immediately, while the corpses still littered the streets, the women returned to their homes and set to work alongside their children to rebuild their homes with any wood or stone they could find in order to provide shelter for their children. They worked like ants in order to rebuild their hovels which had been demolished. One reason the Israelis and the Lebanese authorities struck so hard at the camps is because they are the true breeding ground of the revolution. While the men were detained in prison camps or hiding out from Israeli patrols, the women and the children rebuilt Ain Al-Helwa. I saw for myself how afraid the Israeli soldiers were of the children. A child of ten or eleven had sufficient training to carry and use an RBG rifle. The situation was simple enough. The Israeli tanks were in front of them and the weapon was in their hands. The Israelis were afraid to go into the camps, and if they did, they would only do so in daylight. When I left Lebanon over a year ago, Ain Al-Helwa had been restored. The walls which had been demolished have been rebuilt and once again carried the slogans, "Long live the Palestinian revolution," and "Glory to martyrs". This feat was not accomplished under the directions of any specific person. It happened spontaneously, in a sort of collective harmony. It must have been the people's pride and sense of dignity that compelled them to persist. Otherwise, under such circumstances, despair would have driven many to prefer death. The Israelis brought us to this psychological state in which we have overcome our dread. The line dividing life and death has been effaced. Our younger daughter, Judy, was struck during a random bombardment of the camp of the Saad Haddad group. That was in 1981, a year before the Israeli invasion. I was awakened from my sleep by the sound of her screams. I carried her screaming to the hospital where she was operated on. She is still being treated for her wounds. This tragedy pales before the catastrophes that struck others. There were families that lost five or six of their children; homes that became desolate of life. I was always troubled by my inability to protect people. How were my drawings going to defend them? I used to wish that I could save the life of only one child. The Israeli invasion was so brutal that many took leave of their senses. One day, on my way home, I saw a man walking around naked. People were looking at him aghast. I called out to Wida, my wife, and asked her to fetch me a shirt and a pair of trousers. The man was larger than I, so I fetched one of my larger shirts and a pair of trousers from one of the neighbours and we put them on him. I asked him some questions, but he remained silent. After making some inquiries, I learned that he was from Saida. After several days of relentless bombardment, he had been forced to leave his home in order to find some bread -- any kind of food -- for his children. He hoped that he could find a store oen, because many of the streets in old Saida were covered over and one could walk there in relative safety. The man's efforts had proved futile. There were no stores open. When he returned home, he found that his house had been destroyed, killing his wife and seven or eight children. When the Israelis were taking us to the coast, we passed in front of that house. I noticed a small sign written in


charcoal: "Take care! Here lies the family of ..." The man had written the sign himself, because the corpses were still buried beneath the debris.

Memory for forgetfulness By Mahmoud Darwish Mahmoud Darwish was born in 1942 in the village of Birwe, in Upper Galilee. Birwe was destroyed in 1948 after its inahbitants were made to flee the village. The extract which follows is taken from a memoir Darwish wrote during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. In it, he remembs his first encounter with Beirut in 1948, before his family stole back into what has since become Israel, where Darwish remained until 1972

The sky of Beirut is a huge dome made of dark sheet metal. All-encompassing noon spreads its leisure in the bones. The horizon is like a slate of clear grey, nothing colouring it save the playful jets. A Hiroshima sky. I can, if I want, take chalk in hand and write whatever I wish on the slate. A whim takes hold of me. What would I write if I were to go up to the roof of a tall building? "They shall not pass"? It's already been said. "May we face death, but long live the homeland"? That's been said before. "Hiroshima"? That too has been said. The letters have all slipped out of my memory and fingers. I've forgotten the alphabet. All I remember are these six letters: B-E-I-R-U-T. I came to Beirut thirty-four years ago. I was six years old then. They put a cap on my head and left me in Al-Burj Square. It had a streetcar, and I rode the streetcar. It ran on two parallel lines made of iron. The streetcar went up I didn't know where. It ran on two iron lines. It moved forward. I couldn't tell what made this big, noisy toy move: the lines of iron laid on the ground or the wheels that rolled. I looked out the window of the streetcar. I saw many buildings and many windows, with many eys peering out. I saw many trees. The streetcar was moving, the buildings were moving, and the trees were moving. Everything around the streetcar was moving as it moved. The streetcar came back to where they'd put the cap on my head. My grandfather took me up eagerly. He put me in a car, and we went to Damur. Damur was smaller, and more beautiful than Beirut because the sea there was grander. But it didn't have a streetcar. Take me to the streetcar! So they took me to the streetcar. I don't remember anything of Damur except the sea and the banana plantations. How big the banana leaves were! How big they were! And the red flowers climbing the walls of the houses. When I came back to Beirut ten years ago, the first thing I did was stop a taxi and say to the driver: "Take me to Damur." I had come from Cairo and was searching for the small footsteps of a boy who had taken steps larger than himself, not in keeping with his age and greater than his stride. What was I searching for? The footsteps, or the boy? Or for the folks who had crossed a rocky wilderness, only to reach that which they didn't find, just as Cavafy never found his Ithaca? The sea was in plac, pushing against Damur to make it bigger. And I had grown up. I had become a poet searching for the boy that used to be in him, whom he had left behind some place and forgotten. The poet had grown older and didn't permit the forgotten boy to grow up. Here I had harvested my first impressions and here I had leaned the first lessons. Here the lady


who owned the orchard had kissed me. And here I had stolen the first roses. Here my grandfather had waited for the return to be announced in the newspaper, but it never was. We came from the villages of Galilee. We slept one night by the filthy Rmesh pool, next to pigs and cows. The following morning, we moved north, I picked mulberries in Tyre. Then our journey came to an end in Jizzine. I had never seen snow before. Jizzine was a snow farm, and it had a waterfall. I had never seen a waterfall before. And I had never know that apples hung from branches; I used to think they grew in boxes. We took small bamboo baskets and picked apples from the trees. I want this one. I want that one. I washed them in streams flowing down from the foot of the mountain into channels between small houses crowned with red tiles. In winter we couldn't bear the biting cold of the wind, so we moved to Damur. The sunset stole time from time itself. The sea writhed like the bodies of women in love until it raised its cry in the night and for the night. The boy went back to his family there, in the distance, in a distance he did not find there in the distance. My grandfather died counting sunsets, seasons, and heartbeats on the fingers of his withered hands. He dropped like a fruit forbidden a branch to lean its age against. They destroyed his heart. He wearied of waiting here, in Damur. He said goodbye to friends, water pipe, and children and took me and went back to find what was no longer his to find there. Here the number of aliens increased, and rfugee camps got bigger. A war went by, then two, three, and four. The homeland got farther and farther away, and the children got farther and farther from mother's milk after they had tasted the milk of UNRWA. So they bought guns to get closer to a homeland flying out of their reach. They brought their identity back into being, re-created the homeland, and followed their path, only to have it blocked by the guardians of civil wars. They defended their steps, but then path parted from path, the orphan lived in the skin of the orphan, and one refugee camp went into another. * From Memory For Forgetfulness, translated from the Arabic by Ibrahim Muhawi, University of California Press, 1996

Jerusalem revisited Edward Said returns home 45 years after the Nakba to find his family's house in Jerusalem occupied by a right-wing Christian fundamentalist and militantly pro-Zionist group.

There were four prosperous and new Arab quarters largely built during the Mandate period (1918-1948): Upper and Lower Baqaa, Talbiya, and Qatamon. I recall that during my last weeks in the fall of 1947 I had to traverse three of the security zones instituted by the British to get to St. George's School from Talbiya; by December 1947 my parents, sisters, and I had left for Egypt. My aunt Nabiha and four of her five children stayed on but experienced grave difficulties. The area they lived in was made up of unprepared and unarmed Palestinian families; by February Talibya had been taken over by the Hagganah.


Now as we drove around, looking for my family's house, I saw no Arabs, although the handsome old stone houses still bear their Arab identity. I remembered the house itself quite clearly: two stories, a terraced entrance, a balcony at the front, a palm tree and a large conifer as you climbed toward the front door, a spacious (and at the time) empty square, designated as a park, that lay before the room in which I was born, facing toward the King David and the YMCA. I do not recall street names from that time (there are none, it turns out) although Cousin Yousef (now in Canada) drew me a map from memory that he sent along with a copy of the title deed. Years before, I had heard that Martin Buber lived in the house for a time after 1948, but had died elsewhere. No one seemed to know what became of the house after the middle 1960s. Our guide for the trip was George Khodr, an elderly gentleman who had been a friend of my father's and an accountant for the family business, the Palestine Educational Company. I vividly recalled the main premises (comprising a wonderful bookshop at which Abba Eban had been a regular customer): These were built against the stretch of city wall running between the Jaffa and New gates. All gone now, as we drove past the wall, and up the Mamila Road, then a bustling commercial centre, now a gigantic constrction site where a Moshe Safdie settlement was being built. Khodr's family had also lived in Talbiya in a house he took us to so as to orient himself. Despite the Mediterranean foliage one might have been in an elegant Zurich suburb, so patently did Talbiya bespeak its new European personality. As we walked around, he called of the names of the villas and their original Palestinian owners - Kitaneh, Sununu, Tannous, David, Haramy, Salameh - a sad roll call of the vanished past, for Mariam a reminder of the Palestinian refugees with the very same names who fetched up in Beirut during the fifties and sixties. It took almost two hours to find the house, ad it is a tribute to my cousin's memory that only by sticking very literally to his map did we finally locate it. Earlier I was detained for half an hour by the oddly familiar contours of Mr. Shamir's unmistakably Arab villa, but abandoned that line of inquiry for the greater certainty of a home on Nahum Sokolow Street, 150 yards away. For there the house was, I suddenly knew, with its still impressive bulk commanding the sandy little square, now an elegant, ven manicured park. My daughter later told me that, using her camera with manic excitement, I reeled off twenty-six photos of the place which, irony of ironies, bore the name plate "International Christian Embassy" at the gate. To have found my family's house now occupied not by an Israeli Jewish family, but by a right-wing Christian fundamentalist and militantly pro-Zionist group (run by a South African Boer, no less, and with a record of unsavory involvement with the Contras to boot), this was an abrupt blow for a child of Palestinian Christian parents. Anger and melancholy took me over, so that when an American woman came out of the house holding an armful of laundry and asked if she could help, all I could blurt out was an instinctive, "no thanks." The coincidence was too much for me at that point, suddenly vitalizing my family's history with this astonishing serene likeness of my young father as I really never knew him, and, as I thought back to the silent Talbiya house, with its lamentably foreclosed


destiny now in "Christian" hands, that world seemed condemned to intermittent scraps and shards of memory and melancholy. I think I knew at that instant why I should have left politics and resigned from the PNC, as I did, in late 1991, andwhy I felt I had to return to Palestine just then. Wasn't it that the shocking medical diagnosis I received in September of a chronically insidious blood disease convinced me for the first time of a mortality I had ignored, and which I now needed to experience with my own family, at the source, so to speak, in Palestine? And then the reminder of other earlier histories starting and ending in Jerusalem seemed for me a fitting accompaniment to the ebbing of my life on the one hand, and, on the other, a concrete reminder that just as they had started and ended, I did and would too, but so too would my children, who could now see for the first time the linked narrative of our family's generations, where that story belonged but from which it had been banished.

Would I ever see my home again? By Father Audeh Rantisi In these extracts from his controversial memoir, "Death March", Father Audeh Rantisi * remembers the horrific scenes that confronted him, aged 11, when his family were brutally deported from their home of many generations to make what life they could for themselves in the refugee camps of Ramallah

I cannot forget three horror-filled days in July of 1948. The pain sears my memory, and I cannot rid myself of it no matter how hard I try. First, Israeli soldiers forced thousands of Palestinians from their homes near the Mediterranean cost, even though some families had lived in the same houses for centuries. (My family had been in the town of Lydda in Palestine at least 1,600 years.) Then, without water, we stumbled into the hills and continued for three deadly days. The Jewish soldiers followed, occasionally shooting over our heads to scare us and keep us moving. Terror filled my eleven-year-old mind as I wondered what would happen. I remembered overhearing my father and his friends express alarm about recent massacres by Jewish terrorists. Would they kill us, too? We did not know what to do, except to follow orders and stumble blindly up the rocky hills. I walked hand in hand with my grandfather, who carried our only remaining possessions - a small tin of sugar and some milk for my aunt's two-year-old son, sick with typhoid. The horror began when Zionist soldiers deceived us into leaving our homes, then would not let us go back, driving us though a small gate just outside Lydda. I remember the scene well: thousands of frightened people being herded like cattle through the narrow opening by armed soldiers firing overhead.


In front of me a cart wobbled toward the gate. Alongside, a lady struggled, carrying her baby, pressed by the crowd. Suddenly, in the jostling of the throngs, the child fell. The mother shrieked in agony as the cart's metal-rimmed wheel ran over her baby's neck. That infant's death was the most awful sight I had ever seen. Outside the gate the soldiers stopped us and ordered everyone to throw all valuables onto a blanket. One young man and his wife of six weeks, friends of our family, stood near me. He refused to give up his money. Almost casually, the soldier pulled up his rifle and shot the man. He fell, bleeding and dying while his bride screamed and cried. I felt nauseated and sick, my whole body numbed by shock waves. That night I cried, too, as I tried to sleep alongside thousands on the ground. Would I ever see my home again? Would the soldiers kill my loved ones, too? Early the next morning we heard more shots and sprang up. A bullet just missed me and killed a donkey nearby. Everybody started running as in a stampede. I was terror-stricken when I lost sight of my family, and I frantically searched all day as the crowd moved along. That second night, after the soldiers let us stop, I wandered among the masses of people, desperately searching and calling. Suddenly in the darkness I heard my father's voice. I shouted out to him. What joy was in me! I had thought I would never see him again. As he and my mother held me close, I knew I could face whatever was necessary. The next day brought more dreadful experiences. Still branded on my memory is a small child beside the road, sucking the breast of its dead mother. Along the way I saw many stagger and fall. Others lay dead or dying in the scorching midsummer heat. Scores of pregnant women miscarried, and their babies died along the wayside. The wife of my father's cousin became very thirsty. After a long while she said she could not continue. Soon she slumped down and was dead. Since we could not carry her, we wrapped her in cloth, and after praying, just left her beside a tree. I don't know what happened to her body. We eventually found a well, but had no way to get water. Some of the men tied a rope around my father's cousin and lowered him down, then pulled him out, and gave us water squeezed from his clothing. The few drops helped, but thirst still tormented me as I marched along in the shadeless, one-hundred plus degree heat. We trudged nearly twenty miles up rocky hills, then down into deep valleys, then up again, gradually higher and higher. Finally we found a main road, where some Arabs met us. They took some of us in trucks to Ramallah, ten miles north of Jerusalem. I lived in a refugee tent camp for the next three and one-half years. We later learned that two Jewish families had taken over our family home in Lydda.


Those wretched days and nights in mid-July of 1948 continue as a lifelong nightmare because Zionists took away our home of many centuries. For me and a million other Palestinian Arabs, tragedy had marred our lives forever. Throughout his life my father remembered and suffered. For thirty-one years before his death in 1979, he kept the large metal key to our house in Lydda. After more than four decades I still bear the emotional scars of the Zionist invasion. Yet, as an adult, I see what I did not fully understand then: that the Jews are also human beings, themselves driven by fear, victims of history's worst outrages, rabidly, sometimes almost mindlessly searching for security. Lamentably, they have victimised my people. Four years after our flight from Lydda I dedicated my life to the service of Jesus Christ. Like me and my fellow refugees, Jesus had lived in adverse circumstances, often with only a stone for a pillow. As with his fellow Jews two thousand years ago and the Palestinians today, an outside power controlled his homeland - my homeland. They tortured and killed him in Jerusalem, only ten miles from Ramallah, my new home. He was the victim of terrible indignities. Nevertheless, Jesus prayed on behalf of those who engineered his death, "Father, forgive them..." Can I do less? * Father Rantisi was born in Lydah, now the site of Ben Gurion airport, in 1937. From 1955 to 1958 he attended the Bible College of Wales, moving in 1963 to continue his studies at Aurora College in the state of Illinois. He then served as a missionary in Sudan. In 1965 he opened the Evangelical Home for Boys in Ramallah, West Bank. In 1976 Father Rantisi was elected as Ramallah's deputy mayor and he is now the director of the orphanage of the Evangelical Home for Boys. "Death March" faced a strong wave of criticism, orchestrated by the Zionist lobbies, on its first publication in the United States in 1991. His publishers eventually bowed to pressure and decided not to reprint the book. The rights have now reverted to the author. The following extracts are published here courtesy of the Sakakini Cultural Center.

Arabs, Muslims and the Nazi genocide of the Jews By Abdel Wahab El-Messeri In this extract from his recent book, Abdel Wahab El-Messeri reflects on the many mutations of anti-semitism in the Western mindset, and interrogates one of the strangest transformations in the history of the 20th century -- how, as death approached, the Jews in the Nazi camps became "muslims" It is important that we, as Arabs - both Muslims and Christians - examine our position towards the Nazi genocide of the Jews. As Muslims and Christians, our stance is incontrovertibly clear. Our religions (Islam, Christianity and Judaism) all contain strong prohibitions against murder. The Qur'an says, "for whosoever killeth a human being for


other than manslaughter or sewing corruption on earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind." (The Table Spread:32) The West has attempted to taint Arab history with the Nazi crime as a way of justifying implanting the Zionist settler state at the centre of the Arab World, in order to compensate the Jews for the injustices they suffered within the western cultural formation and the geographical boundaries of Europe. Zionist propaganda, with Western collaboration, employs certain fundamental techniques to accomplish this. Firstly, Zionist propaganda portrays Arab resistance to the Zionist invasion of Palestine as a form of direct or indirect support for Nazi genocide, on the grounds that the resistance sometimes hampered the entrance of Jewish immigrants into Palestine. This argument is entirely baseless. The Arab resistance was not directed against immigrants in need of refuge; it was directed against settlers who had come to usurp the land and expel its native inhabitants. Many settlers came under western flags and recived the support of the British mandate government (as well as support from the Nazis themselves, a point to which we will return below) at a time when many countries of the West had closed their doors to Jewish refugees. However the Zionists acted towards the original inhabitants (with unreserved western support), the right to resist them was and remains a legitimate human right, indeed a duty incumbent upon every human being who reveres humanity. Men and women's fight against oppression will always be an indication of their dignity, their greatness and their humanity. Zionist propaganda is also quick to depict several Arab leaders as Nazi sympathizers. This is another myth. Most Arab governments during the war sided with the Allied powers (since in any case the Arab World fell within their colonial sphere). Moreover, Nazi racist theory put the Arabs and Muslims on a par with the Jews. Therefore, any putative alliance their might have been would have been as pragmatic and temporary as that between Hitler and Stalin. Any sympathy for the Nazis on the part of certain Arb leaders and of certain segments of the Arab public was not motivated by hatred for the Jews nor by any love for the Nazis, but by hostility towards British colonial rule and Zionist colonisation. In all events, it was a naive sympathy, uninformed, lacking adequate knowledge of the nature of the Nazi project, its grounding in Western imperial culture and the extent of its racist contempt for Muslims and Arabs. In no way was such sympathy as existed translated into active participation in the Nazi crime, which remained throughout a properly and exclusively Western phenomenon. These Western and Zionist aspersions do not alter the geographical, historic, moral, religious and humanitarian facts. Nazi genocide was never a part of Arab or Muslim history. The Arabs and Muslims did not taint their hands with the blood of the Nazis' victims, whether Jews, Slavs or Gypsies. Rather, these attempts to distort the Arab and Muslim image ultimately demonstrate the extent to which the West is consistent with itself. In doing penance for the crime of genocide committed in Germany, it is perpetuating a no less atrocious crime against the Arab World. Whenever the Muslims and Arabs did come into direct contact with the fact of Nazi genocide, their actions were above reproach. The Muslims in Bulgaria, for example, were


very active in protecting Jewish groups from persecution, and King Hussein V of Morocco refused to hand over his Jewish subjects to the Vichy government in France. In the course of my research for the Encyclopedia of Jews, Judaism and Zionism, I was surprised to find how frequently the word "Muselmann" (Muslim) appeared in the Auschwitz concentration camp lists. According to one source, the victims who were led off to the gas chambers were called "aliens" ((??)) and according to other sources, "Muselmanner". In the Encyclopedia Judaica, I came across the following entry: "Muselmann (Muslim in German) was a commonly used terms in the concentration camps, used to refer to the prisoners who were on the brink of death, that is to say those who began to show the final symptoms of starvation, disease, mental apathy and physical weakness. The term was primarily used in Auschwitz, but was also used in other camps." We see here an epitome of one central dimension of the Western mentality. Whenever it destroys its victims it perceives them as "other," and the other, since the time of the Crusades, has always been the Muslim. In the Middle Ages, moreover, Muslims and Jews were closely linked in the Western mind. One can find, for instance, many paintings which portray the Prophet flogging Christ. The Nazi experience is an authentic product of this Western mindset. The Nazis were the standard bearers of this vision. They epitomised the Western confrontation with the oriental civilisation closest to Europe: the Islamic civilisation. They never forgot this burden, even when annihilating millions of inhabitants of Europe. The connotation of the term "Muselmann" was simply extended to include the "other" in general, whether Slavs, Jews or Gypsies (as has occurred in a similar mannr with the word "Arab" in Zionist discourse). The writer of the preceding entry in the Encyclopedia Judaica attempted to explain how this term came into currency in the camps. The Nazis' victims, he said, would crouch cross-legged in the "oriental" manner and the expression on their faces would be wooden, as lifeless as a mask. One notes that the writer, in his definition, made no attempt to avoid the customary Western stereotype of Muslims. He simply substituted the word "oriental" for "Muselmann". The term "Muselmann" as applied to the victims of the Nazi gas chambers brings to the fore two issues, the first practical, the second a question of historical understanding. With regard to the first issue, various news agencies in the Arab/Muslim world should disseminate this piece of information, in order to drive home how the West perceives us. Knowing this can also help us explain why the West felt a compulsion to "compensate" for the crime of Auschwitz with the crimes of Dir Yasn, Kafr Qasem and other Palestinian villages. It is important to stress that this knowledge of the history of the term "Muselmann", as it has been used to signify the "other" in Nazi Germany and in Palestine, will serve to undermine the monopoly the Jews pretend to as the only victims of fascist brutality. This issue also simultaneously gives rise to another question, concerning the dissemination of information. Information is a powerful tool that can be used to serve the interests of a particular party. Why, one wonders, has the use of the term "Muselmann" in the Nazi concentration camps received such little attention in the press?


Turning to the question of historical understanding, this is a domain in which we are clearly at the mercy of the West. We do not read Western history from our perspective, but rather from their perspective, just as it is fed to us. That is our fault, not the fault of the West. The history books and references are there for all of us to consult. It is up to us to examine these sources and reinterpret the facts, in the light of careful scrutiny of the subtext of their contents and in the light also of newly discovered information, or information that has not previously been accorded the centrality it deserves. (From: Zionism, Nazism and the end of history (in Arabic), Abdel Wahab El-Messeri, Dar alSharouk, Cairo, 1997).

Israeli-Arabs: reading a fragmented political discourse By Azmi Bishara * Azmi Bishara, member of the Israeli Knesset, reviews the manner in which the contradictions inherent in the position of Israeli-Arabs as supposed citizens of a democratic state are rationalized There has always been some confusion in assessing the position and role of Israeli Arabs vis-a-vis the rest of the Arabs. Before 1967 they were either ignored or viewed with much suspicion; then, in the aftermath of the 1967 defeat, they became the focus of admiration as people who stayed rooted in their homeland against all adversity. And now Israeli Arabs have become increasingly visible to neighboring Arab countries as a result of the available margin of democracy on Israeli television, on which they can be seen snubbing heads of government and ministers in the Knesset. The question, however, remains: How much of this is an indication of their Arab-Palestinian patriotism, and how much of it is an indication of the strength of the Israeli hold over a people severed from their Arab context? In other words: could all this be a case of Arabs attempting to imitate the Israeli's self-assurance in his state, an Arab playing at being an Israeli? On the same television screens one sees Arab-Israelis congratulating Israeli ministers and heads-of-state on "independence" day. Indeed, Arabs can be seen actively participating in the culminating event of "independence" day. For three successive years a place has been reserved for an Arab to participate in the lighting of the 12 candles representing the various sectors of Israeli life. Gone forever is the Arab of the "so-called state of Israel." But gone too, it appears, is the Israeli-Arab as the "last defiant remnant" holding out on his land. Once an inverse image that offered some solace for the despair of defeat and the Palestinian dispersion, defiant endurance became a narcissistic mechanism to compensate for the absence of a political strategy among a defeated minority inside a state that was founded on the ruins of the Arab-Palestinian people.


More recently, defiant endurance has been absorbed into the process of Israelification after having been stripped of its Arab-nationalist dimension. One must remember, though, that the process of Israelification is, of necessity, curtailed from the outset, since it is not based, and cannot be based, on equality. This is not because the Arabs in Israel are part of a greater Arab nation "at a state of war" with Israel, nor because the "modernity gap" between Israelis and Arabs impedes the realisation of equality, as the claims of the two prevalent sociological theories in Israel have it. (Even if we grant these claims for the sake of argument, they only serve, in the best of circumstances, to explain what currently exists in Israel. They do not explain why the realisation of equality will remain impossible in the future, even in the event of peaceful relations between Israel and the Arab World, as long as the current structure of the state of Israel remains unchanged.) The circumstances of the Palestinian minority in Israel are not fixed and immutable. In spite of the continuing gap between the Arabs and the Jews in income levels, standards of living and other such criteria, Arabs in Israel, since 1967, have been part of the on-going process of development and the concomitant increases in investment rates, consumption and rising levels of education etc. One is tempted to ask the unanswerable question as to which factor is more operative: the rising standards of livingor the continuing gap between the Jews and Arabs? That this question cannot be answered, however, does not imply that there is no framework in which the two variables -- development and on-going discrimination -- operate simultaneously. In this framework -- the Israeli framework -Arabs in Israel have become Israelified even in their manner of dealing with the gap that separates them from the Jews. In their dominant political discourse they attempt, as much as possible, to circumvent the crucial question of the instrumental relationship between Jews and their level of prosperity, and the state. In this respect one notes a significant change in one of the primary indicators which Arabs have used to demonstrate Israeli discrimination against them: the per capita budgetary allocation to local authorities. Whereas in the seventies the Arab per capita share of these allocations stood at less than a tenth of the Jewish per capita share, the figure now stands at approximately a third. The prevailing misconception is that this change happened as a result of the Israeli Labour party being in power. In fact the change began with the inception of the two party system in Israel at the end of the seventies, at which point the Arab electorate began to acquire greater significance on the political map. This development, or dynamic, though, has not yet extended to three crucial factors: firstly, the continuing discrimination in the distribution of the common good and social wealth; secondly, and contiguous with the first, that the state of Israel, in essence and in the delineation of its priorities, rests upon the notion of a Jewish majority; and, thirdly, that the Arabs in Israel do not enjoy collective rights -- rights as a national minority -other than those rights accorded to religious denominations. Moreover, these latter rights are not fully accorded to Muslims, who are deprived of the right to manage the affairs of their waqf (religious endowments) foundations and of the right to appoint religious judges.


How might one rationalise this situation in a state, at the end of the 2Oth century, that defines itself as a democracy? Clearly, the customary explanations of the theorists of the Israeli establishment are no longer adequate, particularly those pertaining to the "modernity gap" between the Jewish settlers and the "native" society. To the Palestinians, as a people, Israeli modernism severed the historic continuum of the Palestinian process of modernisation. This process had begun well before 1948. With the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948, Palestinian society lost its political, cultural and economic elite. More importantly, Palestinian society lost the Palestinian city, having been reduced to a village society, separate from but dependent for its subsistence upon a Jewish city that refuses to allow integration. Moreover, with the loss of agriculture as a basis for subsistence, village society became neither rural nor urban. The only avenue to modernisation that remained open to the Palestinians, therefore, was that laid out by the Jewish state and the only alternatives available to Palestinians were marginalisation, imitation or, in the best of circumstances, pressing for some rights. Thus any refutation of the theory attributing the wide gap between the Arab-Israelis and Jewish-Israelis to relative levels of modernity must not over look the very real distortion the imposed, coercive mode of modernisation has had upon the remnants of Palestinian society inside Israel. As for the second claim, that the current circumstances of the Arab minority are the result of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the concomitant distrust of Arab citizens' loyalty to the state -- this claim is cited in positive as well as negative contexts. It is cited positively by those who believe in the supremacy of the nationalist struggle, hence the disloyalty of the Arab minority inside Israel to the state. It is cited negatively by those who believe that "peace" will prevail at the end and that the Palestinian minority has, in general, proven its loyalty to the state. The latter position is largely represented by social scientists in Israel who remain in favour of the peace process. One is at pains here to determine how "loyalty to the state" can be accommodated in liberal discourse (What exactly is loyalty to the state in a liberal democratic society. Why should it constitute a condition for granting rights of equal citizenship? What means and standards are to be engaged in determining loyalty in the first place?). One is also struck by the incongruous demand upon the Arab individual to be loyal to a state that was built on the vestiges of his national entity. Regardles of these considerations, however, what is of essence here is that Zionist political parlance has adopted the discourse of loyalty as if the state had an intimate personal relationship with the Arab citizen, encompassing broad sectors of the representatives of the Arab minority, and assuming interaction by this elite with "Jewish democrats" who are pressing for the rights of the Arab national minority on the basis of loyalty to the state. Not only does this discourse sever the Arabs from their Arab cultural identity, it alienates Israeli Jews from their own liberalism. Recently, a new conceptual model has been forwarded in an attempt to explain the paradox of the situation of the Palestinian minority within the context of an Israeli democracy. This model is potentially far more dangerous, because on the one hand it is


more consistent with reality, while on the other, rather than criticising this reality with the aim of changing it, it serves to rationalise such reality in order to enshrine it. This model rests on three propositions regarding the nature of Israeli democracy. Firstly, it holds that Israel is not a multi-national state possessing a system of neutral consociational democracy under which diverse national groups retain their distinctive collective will, possess the right of veto and enjoy a range of autonomous powers. In juristic terms, Israel, by definition, is neither multi-national, multi-lingual nor multi cultural as is the case with Belgium, Switzerland and Canada. The nationa minority in Israel is not a national group on terms of parity with another national group. Indeed, it is not recognised as a national group at all, but rather as a segment of the population that is defined as "non Jews", the term used in Israel's annual census. Secondly, Israel is not a liberal, assimilationist democracy in which the individual is regarded as a citizen, regardless of ethnic or religious affiliations. Nor is Israeli democracy founded upon the civil definition of the nation as is the case in France and the US. Israel is not a state for all its citizens, it is the state for Jews. Arabs who live in Israel do not make up, together with the Jews, a single, democratic Israeli nation. Rather, "the people of Israel" are, even in Hebrew, the Jewish nation. It is, furthermore, difficult to describe the system in Israel as apartheid or as a form of herrenvolk democracy, in which democratic rights are restricted to a specific segment of the populace. For, the argument goes, Arabs in Israel are not excluded from democracy in Israel, albeit a democracy for the Jews. Officially, they are considered equal in their individual rights. And although this democracy cannot pass the test at the national level, although it treats a segment of its populace as enemies when they put the nation to the test -- as occurred on Land Day in 1976 for example -- Israel is not apartheid (unless we take the West Bank and Gaza into consideration, which in my opinion constitute a form of Bantustan). What remains then? Instead of aiming at democratising the existing reality, reality itself has been transformed in accordance with a readymade model of "democracy", one already labelled: an "ethnic democracy" (see Sammy Smooha's work on the the status of the Arab minority in Israel). When control of the state rests in the hands of a national, ethnic or cultural majority, there can be no question of any talk about a civil nation. On the other hand, within such an "ethnic democracy", the state grants individuals belonging to minorities certain rights as citizens, and theoretically they can aspire to some collective rights as a national minority, although this is the most they can aspire to. Experience suggests that coexistence is possible under such circumstances. However, and as mentioned above, this theoretical model remains an attempt at rationalising the existing reality, rather than an attempt at making use of the theory of democracy as a tool for reaching a critical understanding of a given reality. The primary flaw in this theory is that it posits the autonomous administration of the national minority, on one hand, and liberal democracy on the other, as two separate and


distinct things. It also assumes that there could be no meeting ground whatsoever between liberal democracy, which does not take full account of the particularity of both Arab and Jewish cultural groups, and consociational democracy which provides a framework for the coexistence of distinct national groups but not for the rights ofindividuals as citizens. Yet it is not true that the two models -- liberal and consociational democracy -- are mutually exclusive, particularly if we take into consideration the fact that the application of liberal democracy in the contemporary multi-national state must also include the recognition of the existence of distinct and diverse national, ethnic and cultural groups. In all events, Arab and Jewish democrats have no other model to accommodate them, and rather than attempting to construe the current realities as democratic, but of a special variety, it would be more constructive to use theory in order to expose the flaws or absence of democracy as it is applied in Israel. Another attempt at rationalising the situation of the Arab minority in Israel, predating that of Sammy Smooha's concept of "ethnic democracy", was forwarded by Claude Klein, former dean of the school of law at the Hebrew University, who proposed self-rule for the Palestinian minority in Israel as a way of preventing the struggle for equal rights rather than as a step on the road to equality. The reason for trying to avert the struggle for equal rights is understandable, for any such struggle annot but question the very essence of the foundation of the Jewish state. It is important to remember that, contrary to what many believe, self-rule for the Arabs inside Israel was not an idea initially forwarded by Arab intellectuals. Rather, it is an idea developed and favoured by the Israeli Academic establishment in an attempt to abort any other development of a conceptual framework capable of reconciling the notion of self-rule with that of equal rights, something that would require by necessity a redefinition of the essence of the state as it exists now. Successive Israeli governments have established their discrimination against and control over the Arab minority by engaging the state apparatus in the service of the interests of the Jewish majority, as its definition of such interests. And as has been elucidated by many researches into the status of the Arab minority in Israel, this policy has been responsible for the confiscation of Arab land and the economic and infrastructural gap between Arabs and Jews. The model of "ethnic democracy" clams that it is possible to generate a form of equilibrium between the partiality of the state in terms of national groups and impartiality in terms of individual rights and the collective rights of the national minorities. Opponents to this view have asserted that this model bears the seeds of its own downfall in the long run. History, particularly the experiences in Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka and Cyprus before 1974, has demonstrated that such structurally institutionalised discrimination against national minorities inevitably leads to conflagration. On closer inspection, one could suggest that there is a distinction between discrimination against immigrant or migrant minorities and discrimination against indigenous national groups who consider themselves the original proprietors of the land. Both experience and common sense tell us that it is virtually impossible to placate indigenous national groups with a deficient democracy. Under such conditions, national, religious and cultural tensions continue to smoulder until the conflict erupts, yielding one of two results: either


separation or a reformulation of a historic compromise in the form of a consociational democracy. This distinction, however, is insufficient unless it is accompanied by some modification in patterns of thought and behavior. The status of the indigenous minority is not a question of place of birth, but primarily one of culture. If, as a result of numerous factors, the Israeli culture of marginalisation prevails among Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel this will mean, at least in the foreseeable future, that they will accept the status of a minority in an "ethnic democracy", in other words,less than full equality as individuals and as a collective national entity. The dominant political discourse, which is simultaneously the product of and formulator of culture, appears to accept this model of a deficient democracy. It is this acceptance that provides the model with its primary impetus, rather than its logical coherence and argumentative force. What presents itself as a form of pragmatism -- and how frequently the Arabs confuse pragmatism with shrewdness -- is an integral part of the dominant culture of the Israeli-Arab -- inside Israel the appeal for more rights is counterbalanced by acceptance of the Jewish character of the state and its claims to loyalty, while for Arabs it is justified as a coming to grips with reality. What is culture if not a mode of interacting with reality? It is the way Israeli Arabs are presently dealing with their complex reality that I call Israelification, a process of a cultural and psychological adaptation to the status of half-Israeli citizen, on the one hand, and half-national group, on the other. Yet we must always remind ourselves that "reality", like our ways of dealing with it, is not a given, is something constantly in a process of formation and change; and that the acceptance of injustice is part and parcel of the creation of an unjust reality. Thus the only possible way for the Arab minority inside Israel to confront the challenge of Israelification is not to deny the existence of such a process, but to engage in a struggle for equality. A struggle which can simultaneously challenge the Zionist-Jewish essence of the Israeli state, while at the same time mobilising the Arab minority in battle for gaining their national rights as Arabs belonging to a wider collective national identity than that of the Arabs inside Israel.


Top: A New York Times photo dated August 1948, dispatched with the following caption: "A small portion of the Arab population of Jaffa and Haifa, the two most important Arab centres of the new state of Israel continues, assisted by their Jewish neighbours, to live in peace. In Jaffa approximately 5,000 Arabs, all that remains of the 90,000 which constituted the Arab population of the city, live and work under the direction of a Jewish military governor who provides them with food and lodging. [In the picture] a policeman chats with a street vendor. In Jaffa food is plentiful. Source: Al-Ahram Photo Archive

* Azmi Bishara is a member of the Israeli Knesset.

Portents and prophecies Mona Anis recovers the wider Arab context from the pages of Al-Ahram Looking through the pages of Al-Ahram for the first month of the year 1948, the modern reader blessed (or damned) with hindsight cannot help but pick up on the countless portents of impending disaster. The great expectations nourished during the first two years following the end of the Second World War among the peoples of the ex-colonies, and in particular by the Arab people, were beginning to turn sour. The November 1947 UN resolution stipulating the partition of Palestine, Britain's announcement that it was going to pull out of Palestine by May 15 1948, the escalation in violence between the Arabs and the Jews in Palestine, and the prospect of war looming over the region, all combined to alter the priorities on the national agendas of the Arab countries, especially Egypt and Iraq where the struggle for national independence had been resumed with a new impetus following the end of the war.


In both Iraq and Egypt the national struggle prior to November 1947 had been focused on one goal: evacuation and independence. Throughout the years 1946 and 1947, successive Egyptian governments struggled to negotiate -- without success --ĂŠan agreement with Britain which would have replaced the 1936 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty. Meanwhile, civil disturbances erupted periodically in most of the country's major cities and towns calling for independence, inevitably leading to the downfall of one government and the formation of another, each of which hoped it might succeed where its predecessor had failed. Thus when Al-Ahram announced on its banner of January 16, 1948 that an Anglo-Iraqi treaty had been signed the previous day in Portsmouth, included in the coverage of the event was a Reuters analysis describing the treaty as a model to be emulated in the Egyptian case. On January 18, in the lead story of the front page, Al-Ahram's special correspondent in London revealed that sources close to the British Foreign Office had disclosed to him that "the British government considers that the Anglo-Iraqi treaty establishes a precedent to be followed by treaties with the other countries of the Middle East and is a model for those treaties to follow." Later in his story, Al-Ahram's correspondent added: "Top officials in the British government think that it is possible to persuade the Arab countries to understand and appreciate Britain's policy in Palestine, and that more solid Anglo-Arab treaties can be erected on the ruins of the old policy." In anticipation of the end of Mandate rule in May, Britain was trying hard, during the first two months of 1948, to reach agreements with the Arab countries that would bind them in to what was officially termed "A Middle East Regional Defence System". The news item below the banner of the issue for January 18 revealed that preparations were underway in London for drafting treaties similar to the Anglo-Iraqi treaty with Saudi Arabia, TransJordan and Yemen. Along with Egypt and Iraq, these countries together represented five of the then seven independent Arab states which had formed the Arab League in 1945 (the other two being Syria and Lebanon). The next day, Al-Ahram's front page was again dominated by news of the embryonic treaties and of how the Jordanians were expected in London the following week, while Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia might make the journey at the beginning of February. On January 20 a news item on the front page revealed that the Anglo-Iraqi treaty was not faring well back home in Iraq. However, members of the Iraqi delegation who had initialed the treaty, and who were still in London, assured Al-Ahram's correspondents that some opposition back home was to be expected and was unlikely to change the course of events. On January 21 the two main banners on Al-Ahram's front page declared: "Attack across the Lebanese borders on a Kibbutz near Acre", and "A bomb targeting Ghandi misses him but injures nine who were with him." With the exception of the Ghandi drama, which was fast approaching its tragic close, and which had been closely followed by Al-Ahram since the day (January 14) the Mahatma had begun his fast in protest at the sectarian


disturbances which were then shaking the sub-continet, the front page was almost exclusively devoted to matters Palestinian. The main story dealing with the attack on the Jewish Kibbutz included a statement by Abdel-Qadir Al-Husseini, the leader of the Arab troops in Palestine. According to Al-Husseini, "Palestine was at a crossroads," and his fighters "[would] spare nothing in their organised struggle for their rights, though they [would] avoid the treacherous means the Jews resort to in the battlefield, since the history of the Arabs and their traditions and morality forbid treachery." Husseini concluded his statement by saying: "We still need arms and equipment, and the duty of the Mujahdeen is to fight on the battlefield, while any other matter is the concern of the Supreme Arab Authority." Even the news item that day on the newly-initialed Anglo-Iraqi Treaty, reporting an escalation in the anti-treaty demonstrations in Baghdad, linked those demonstrations to the events in Palestine. Al-Ahram's special correspondent in Baghdad reported: "Informed circles here say that Iraqi anti-Zionist sentiments have had a major influence on the escalation of the demonstrations in Baghdad in protest against the new treaty between Iraq and Britain." He continued: "As is well known, some Palestinian Arabs have voiced their rejection of a new alliance between Iraq and Britain at a time when the Arabs in Palestine are being killed." The Al-Ahram correspondent concluded his report by stating: "It would seem, to judge by the demonstrations in front of the American installations in Baghdad, that the [UN] partition resolution has played a leading role in stirring up feelings." On the second page of the same issue of January 21, under the headline "An Act of Royal Generosity", we read that "His Majesty the King [Farouk] expressed the supreme wish that no parties be held or festive decorations be put up on the occasion of the Royal Birthday (February 11), out of respect for the present conditions in Palestine". Al-Ahram commented, "no doubt this generous royal sentiment will be received with the greatest appreciation in Egypt and throughout the Arab countries. May God keep the Great Farouk a treasure and bastion of Arabism." On January 23 the main story on the front page carried the official Arabic text of the Anglo-Iraqi treaty, while a Reuters report from Baghdad below the story, headlined "A dangerous Iraqi decision" declared that "A statement by the Royal Palace said that Crown Prince Abdel-El-Ilah had invited a number of former prime ministers, dignitaries and representatives of the various political parties to exchange views about the new AngloIraqi Treaty". The report reveals that after five hours of deliberations the meeting concluded that "the new treaty does not fulfill the national aspirations of Iraq" -- and the rest is a forgone conclusion. On January 25 Al-Ahram's banner blared: "Iraqi Treaty in the Hands of Fate", while below the main story was a UP report from Damascus, headlined "A proposed Arab Charter banning Arab countries from entering into agreements with any of the major powers". According to the report, "informed sources in Damascus said that the Lebanese government has proposed to the Saudi Kingdom that an Arab charter preventing any Arab country from signing a pact with the four major powers should be signed, and that


an envoy carrying the reply of king Saud is expected soon in Damascus." The report continued: "It is common knowledge that if King Saud answers in the affirmative, the Lebanese government will present a similar proposal to the Egyptian government." News of the demonstrations in Iraq continued to dominate the front page the following day, while the banner of January 28 announced the resignation of the Iraqi cabinet and the killing of dozens of people as the demonstrations drew to a bloody close. The main banners for January 29 announced "End of bloody demonstrations in Iraq", "Call for the formation of a government representative of the people", and "Participation of 300,000 Iraqis in a procession mourning those who were killed during the demonstrations". On January 30 the banner carried the news that the task of forming a new cabinet had been entrusted to the Shi'te leader Al-Sayed Mohamed Al-Sadr, over an interview with him in which Al-Sadr said that his main concern was with "the national feelings of the Iraqi nation and the Arab interest, as well as with the future of the Arabs in the light of developments in the world arena." On the same front page of January 30, Al-Ahram's correspondent in London filed a report to the effect that a "top British official, who is a well informed source on Iraqi affairs, said that the recent crisis in Iraq could be attributed to two factors. First, the question of Palestine, which every Iraqi perceives to be an Iraqi question. Second, the mishandling of the situation by the Iraqi delegation in London, as well as by the Iraqi authorities inside Iraq, who showed weakness in dealing with the psychology of the mob." Al-Ahram's correspondent ended his story by saying that the British official "threatened that if Arab officials did not act firmly then the whole Middle East will turn into an inextricable problem over the coming few months, because of the question of Palestine, and cooperation between the Arabs and Britain may fall victim to that decline" -prophetic words if ever there were. When the news that the Mahatma Ghandi had been assassinated while on his way to pray for peace was announced the following day, it resonated with a funereal tone encompassing far more than the death of one man in India. As violence continued to escalate in Palestine, the news of Ghandi's murder announced on the banner of the front page of Al-Ahram of 1 February sounded like a requiem for all the great hopes of decolonisation. Those few months following the end of the Second World War, when India was the model looked to by all the peoples of the imperial colonies as they tried to invent or imagine a new independent future for themselves, seemed to have been buried alongside the man who more than anybody else incarnated the ideals of tolerance and peace.

Tragedy in context The Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre web site provides an insight into the past and present of Palestinian cuture


Unlike most Palestine-related web sites which tend to be more politically oriented, that developed by the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre (KSCC) has opted to focus on a rather different aspect of Palestinian life, namely the arts and culture. The KSCC site aims to show Palestinian culture as a culture that works to bind past and present generations together, as well as representing "a window on Palestinian art" to the outside world. The KSCC has been operating for a year now from Ramallah, Palestine. It was initiated in January 1997 and has since made remarkable progress in disseminating the art and culture of the Palestinian people. The building from which KSCC has been operating was given a pride-of-place review in the KSCC site. A whole section was devoted to shedding light on the history of this "model of traditional Palestinian architecture." Built in 1927 from massive pink stone, its floors tiled with traditional Palestinian tiles, it is surrounded by a large garden and orchard. It was built for Khalil Salem Salah as a family home. Salah was mayor of Ramallah from 1947 to 1951. But his house is not just another historic building, it is also the headquarters of some of the leading players in Palestinian literary life. Besides the centre, it also houses the offices of Al-Karmel quarterly, Palestine's most prestigous literature magazine edited by poet Mahmoud Darwish. Throughout the site, the organisers seem bent on emphasising the fact that KSCC's mission is purely cultural and artistic. In the words of its organisers, its aim is to contribute to "a renaissance of Palestinian arts and culture". In the Events section, there is a review of recent cultural events in the self-rule areas, focusing mainly on those which reflect local culture. There are lectures by poet Mahmoud Darwish, a review of the new issue of al-Karmel, as well as information about the latest theatre performances, films, etc.. The range covered is wide, running from the latest activities of the Ashtar Theater company which is seeking to establish a theatre institute in Palestine under the name of the "Mediterranean Theatre Arts Institute", to a photo exhibit which was organized by WAFA, the Palestinian press agency, at Gaza City YMCA, showcasing war pictures taken by Palestinian photographers over the last thirty years in Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan. We also learn that the soon-to-be-officially-opened Baladna Cultural and Community Center in El-Bireh has hosted the premiere of the monodrama "Ayn Qandil", starring Amer Khalil, directed by Jan Willems, written by Jackie Lubeck, and produced by Theater Day. However, one of the most important tasks performed by the KSCC site is to be found in a section entitled El-Nakba (Catastrophe). KSCC has devoted the major part of its autumn 97 and 98 programme to the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 1948 Nakba [the date of the establishment of the state of Israel]. The web site is still under


construction and is periodically updated to include more testmonies by survivors of the Nakba and more information on the villages depopulated and demolished in 1948-49. The Nakba website has been divided into five sections, including material on the destroyed villages, a photo gallery, bibliography and chronology. The chronology link reviews the events in the years before El-Nakba and the three years after including 1948 and 1949. The "related sites" section in the Nakba brings together links to articles, documents and organisations concerned with the politics of Palestine, but stops short of dealing directly with the peace process or any current events. One link, Yafa, includes the Yafa diaries of Selim Tamari, a history of the city by expatriate writer Jafites, travel memoirs, recollections, reviews and commentaries: again the site is still under construction. There are also links leading to sites devoted to Deir Yassin Remembered, land day, and the September 1996 martyrs. Using the organisations link, readers can browse through the Birzeit University site and the Inaash Al-Usrah society, a woman's organisation aiming to empower Palestinian women. It's a strange and in some ways refreshing experience, browsing through a Palestinerelated site without being bombarded with articles and documents devoted exclusively to the latest events in this ongoing tragedy. But the result is a site that transcends the merely documentary nature to provide new insights into the past and present of those troubled lands. Reviewed by Omayma Abdel-Latif

Treacherous memories: electronic return to Jaffa By Salim Tamari * Salim Tamari tours Jaffa, the town of his birth, accompanied by a young Arab woman resident, negotiating a path between the place of his memories and the city that is her home A DATE WITH MURJANA: Yesterday I went to Jaffa to meet my first (probably also the last) date arranged on the network. It all began four months ago when this young woman introduced herself on my screen as interested in talking to somebody in Ramallah. She is a computer technician from Tel Aviv, born and raised in Jaffa. When I suggested that I might come to Jaffa on a Friday afternoon, she said she will show me around.


We decided to meet by the clock tower at 2.30 p.m. I told her to look for a man with gray hair (was that a sigh of disappointment?). She described herself as blond and wearing high heels. I decided to take Alex and Rima for protection. Liza Bouri, who is visiting us this winter, was dying to go to Jaffa, her birth place. So she too came along. Liza was crying all the way in anticipation of the encounter with her lost city. Later, she told me that she was crying because her father died without having the chance to visit Jaffa. I personally have no particular feelings for Jaffa. I was concentrating on the event, and the meeting with Murjana. We arrived fifteen minutes late, and Murjana was waiting next to a bakery. She was indeed blond. Actually, her hair was platinum silver with streaks of gold. She suggested we meet her family. We all went to a new working-class neighborhood of Jaffa where her family lives. Russian yuppies have been moving in that neighborhood. The mother is a social worker with fighting spirit. She belonged to a community group that was trying to get Arab representation on the city council. The father, a mechanic, had just waked up and greeted us in Hebrew, to Liza's great discomfort.

"We decided to meet by the clock tower at 2.30 p.m. I told her to look for a man with gray hair. She described herself as blond and wearing high heels. I decided to take Alex and Rima for protection. Liza Bouri, who is visiting us this winter, was dying to go to Jaffa, her birth place. So she too came along. Liza was crying all the way in anticipation of the encounter with her lost city. "

AL-KHADER:When we went on the tour we found that Murjana, our great tour guide hardly knew what was where. At Al-Khader, we saw young Jaffite boys and girls playing in the yard and Liza started crying again. She took pictures of everything that moved. We passed Yafet street and my mother's father's house. Fakhri Jdaii, my mother's distant cousin still has his pharmacy there, and pays rent to Amidar, the Custodian of Absentee property. We did not stop at the Jadiis Pharmacy. It was late and Fakhri would feel obliged to invite such a large crowd for dinner.


One of the most peculiar memory of that evening was the manner in which our E-mail chaperon related to Jaffa. She had absolutely no feeling for the place. Freedom to her meant Haifa, where she had an occasional job, and a place away from family oppression. Which is fair enough, except for a missing ingredient. To us Jaffa cast a very dark shadow. A city abandoned and now being rejuvenated by Jewish gentrification seeking abandoned Arab houses, or pushing houses to be abandoned. To her, growing in Jaffa meant that she grew up under squalor. The remnants of the community were the poorer Arab villagers whose homes were destroyed and they were forced to relocate to the city. Today, Arabs constitute about 20,000 inhabitants out of a total of 35,000 people. But less than a quarter of those are original Jaffites, the rest are refugees from Salameh, Rubeen, Sheikh Muwanis, Manshiyyeh, etc.. and workers from the Galilee working in Tel Aviv. Unlike the situation in Haifa, there is a weak communal bond engulfing the Arabs of Jaffa. There is also a strong feeling of confessionalism and worse --atomization. Prostitution and drug gangsterism is rampant, and the few pockets of nationalist groups are completely isolated. Our friend had no feeling of locality for the place. She could not identify the landmarks -- except for the French Hospital (were incidentally I was born) and the church of Al-Khader. THE HARBOR: One of the saddest moments was our visit to the Harbor were Rima narrated how her father, Hassan Hammami, a teenage boy then, embarked a boat with his family, as did hundreds of families on May 10th 1948 and left Jaffa for the last time in the direction of the ship that took them to Beirut and permanent exile. As they embarked, gun shells were exploding all around them, spreading panic and mayhem. Last year, Hassan came on a visit, as an American tourist. He went straight to his house in Jabaliyyeh, next to the Christian cemetery. The house was abandoned. Then he saw a light next door were the Andrawus family used to live. He vividly remembered the Andrawus girls he used to know as a growing boy. It was 9:30 in the evening and despite protest from Rima and his wife, he knocked at the door. To their utter astonishment they found the four Andrawus girls, now matronly ladies in their sixties, facing them at the door. After a tearful scene of embracing and hugging, they told him that none of them were married, since "all the men of stature" were gone. That says a lot of what happened to the city. My electronic friend was completely oblivious to this. Her main interest was to take us to the Hinawi brothers ice-cream shop were they had 22 flavors. But tears were still pouring from Liza's eyes. All of the time she was silent, trying to take it all in. THE ILLUSION OF AJAMI: After a brief snack at Murjana house she took us on the unguided tour of the town. Her brother, Muhammad, wants to come along, but there is no place in the car. We arrange to meet him later at Abul-Afyeh's cafe-restaurant. We go through the main thoroughfare of Ajami, now called Yafet Street, past the French Hospital (where I was delivered by Dr. Sfeir half a century ago as recorded in my treasured birth certificate), past terra sancta, past Sbeil Abu Nabbout, and finally past Kemal Pharmacy, on top of which stands my Grandfather's house, Salim Jabagi, where my mother and 12 other siblings were born. Now it is occupied by two Moroccan


families who, ten years ago when I went to visit with Suad, denied us entry. Diagonally across the street is the decaying house of Elias Tamari, where my father and my uncles Fai'k, Abdallah and Emile, and my two aunts were born. Ajami today is a divided quarter. Only the disintegrating old mansions of Jaffa patrician merchants speak of its former glory. Beyond Yafet, going West towards the sea one faces squalor everywhere. Arab and Jewish prostitutes mingle and fraternize, and drug dealers everywhere. By the seashore Arabs are encouraged to relocate south (to housing estates near Bat Yam) and a new Marina is being built for rich condo invaders. A new ring of gentrified single story houses are sprouting everywhere. For the last decade Ajami has become the real estate destiny of hip Jewish artists, gallery owners, professionals, and foreign embassy staff. There is an easy co-existence between the newcomers and the destitute Arab community. In the middle have remained few established families of Jaffa, and another dozen nouveau riche Jaffites who made their fortunes from building contracting and drug dealing. By the old water reservoir (Hawuuz), Murjana pointed out a lot confiscated from her grandfather. In 1949 Amidar (the Israeli Custodian of Absentee Property) took his two and a half dunums away and offered him compensation. He refused the money and contested the confiscation in court. Since he had not left the city he had a good case. But he lost, and the money was deposited in his name in Bank Leumi. He refused to touch it. When he died 15 years later, the family could not trace the money. But they still hold fast to the Kushan Tabu, their family patrimony. Murjana's maternal grandfather had left the city for Egypt, leaving his wife behind, the encounter 40 years later is one of the saddest stories I have heard, but I will leave this for later. THE OLD CITY: Now we moved to the Old City. In 1936, at the height of the Rebellion, the old city was the hideout of armed rebels and its alleys were formidable. The British-in an act reenacted by Arik Sharon in Gaza forty years later--moved in with a huge force and dynamited a Y shaped passage, linking the harbor to an opening towards Clock Square. Then they bulldozed the rubble to make a swift passage for armored cars. This surgical act of urban clearing was captured in its razor sharpness in three photographs shot from the air (you can see them in Sarah-Graham Brown's social history of Mandate Palestine). The old city today encapsulates the magnificence and tragedy of historic Jaffa. The Israelis, meaning the greater Tel Aviv Jaffa council, have completely renovated the area as a major tourist attraction and an 'artists colony'. An operation which was later replicated in old Safad, and in Ain Hof. Visually the place is outwardly attractive if you are ignorant of its historical context. Full of restaurants, cafes, galleries, promenades, and so on. It is a favorite vista for Arab and Sephardic newly weds who come here with Video teams to take photo opportunities. Several signposts and coin-operated machines narrate the history of Jaffa in four languages (I suspect Arabic will be added soon for the benefit of impending tourists from the Gulf). But nowhere is an indication that this was once a thriving Arab city--the biggest and richest in Palestine.


The tape-narrative is as concise as it is laundered. Philistines, Phoenicians, Mamlukes, Turks, British, all had their share in plundering the city, until it was delivered by the combined Jewish forces of the Haganah and LEHI in May of 1948. A ragged sculpture of Napoleon Bonaparte, who seized the city in the year 1800, points his finger to a restaurant overlooking the harbor. The cafe's and restaurants were blaring music and full of a mixed Tel Avian and tourist clienteles. Rima pointed out an remarkable absence. There were no young people around (except for the two wedding parties being photographed). Even the noisy cafe-bar by the harbor landing, with disco music was full of couples over fifty. We differed on how to explain this. Rema and Alex (in a rare moment of consensus) thought it was the antiseptic atmosphere of the neighborhood. Not only quaint but intimidating. Murjana thought it was the prices. No young couple can afford a cup of Cappuccino in old Jaffa. And it was intended this way. On the way to the harbor, I met Basma Abu Swayy, a former student of mine, showing an Egyptian friend of hers the town. This strange encounter brought me back to reality. Jaffa is really a figment of the imagination. There is not parallel between the city of our parents, and this bleached ghost town. But Arab visitors construct the past from their memory (or their parents and grandparents memory) using the rubble as their nodes. Only in one short lane the great city has retained its past--that is the stretch between the old mosque, past St. Michael's orthodox monastery, and the attached Church, down the stairs to the old harbor. Here the walls, the staircase, and even the engraved Greek and Arabic signs have been retained. The feeling is eerie and haunting and here there is complete silence. Thanks to the Greeks, the Arabness of the city has been preserved. November 1995 * Salim Tamari is the Director of the Institute of Jerusalem Studies, delegate (and coordinator) of the Multi lateral Peace Negotiations Team and Professor of sociology at Bir Zeit University. The Electronic Jaffa Forum, where this extract first appeared, was created in 1995, with the aim of gathering testimonies by Palestinians in exile discussing their various reactions to the idea of returning to Jaffa, and attempting to interpret what happened in 1948 to this dismembered city.

"I cannot visit my father's grave..." By Samia Abdennour Samia Abdennour recalls the diaspora of her family 50 years ago, its impact on her as a child and, later, as a mother One bright morning in June 1947 my mother woke up and exclaimed "Children, I have been giving the matter a lot of thought. We are going to Egypt". My father had died five years before, leaving us well taken care of financially, though not rich. My eldest sister and brother were now graduated from high school and wanted to enroll at university, and the options we had were either Cairo or Beirut. My mother's


choice was agreeable to us all. We fully intended to return back after completing our studies, and left the keys of our home with an uncle to look after the house. Early in August, we bade our adieus to family and friends and boarded the train that ran from Haifa directly to Cairo, to the land of glory and learning. Upon arriving at Bab El-Hadid, our eager faces turned to bewilderment. It was past midnight, yet the station was buzzing with life. Crowds were bustling here and there, porters were shouting and pushing, peddlers were singing their wares and the neon lights cast a greenish glow that made people look grotesque. My aunt and uncle came to meet us and drove us by hantour to their home in Choubra. It was a memorable night. Within less than a week, we found and rented a beautiful villa in Heliopolis. My eldest sister, Aida, and brother, Farouk, were accepted by the Faculties of Art and Pharmacy respectively. Amal, Souhail and myself were enrolled in school and all our misgivings were allayed. Many relatives, whom we children did not know, came to visit and through them we met and befriended many families with children of our own ages. Also, before long, we became friends with all our neighbours. Life was smiling at us. Most of the cities and towns in Palestine were small, and practically every body in town knew every body else. We grew up in the friendly atmosphere of a large family. Moreover, both a maternal and a paternal aunt had died in childbirth, and my mother did not hesitate for a second to accept both infants to be raised with her brood. For many years, we were seven boisterous children living under the same roof. As soon as we settled in our new premises, the entire family began an intensive correspondence with our friends in Haifa, Nablus and Jerusalem. The postman came to know us by name, and nearly every day he would smilingly call to deliver one or more letters. Even the Post Office officials at headquarters got so used to the sudden influx of letters bearing our name that they directed a letter to my sister which was simply addressed "Miss Aida Abdennour, Heliopolis, Egypt". Though we settled down quickly to a happy normal life, yet we were apprehensive for our loved ones left behind in these disturbing times. We did not really appreciate the horrors they were living through, until the unexpected arrival of our grandmother, aunt and cousin Chibly. They described to us the nightmare they had suffered while still living in Haifa and related why they had fled to the safety of our home. A group of well armed Zionists raided the area where my grandmother and her two married children lived with their families. The whole family ran to the shelter of their basement. Some Arab residents, poorly armed, retaliated and incurred very heavy losses. Following this barbaric attack, the Zionists broke into the three-storey building firing left and right, smashing whatever was in sight -- furniture, windows, crockery, doors -leaving behind only rubble. We were horrified to hear of such barbaric monstrosity and welcomed them with open arms, relieved that they were safe. But we worried over the rest of my uncle's and aunt's


families. Eventually we heard from them a couple of months later, from Lebanon and Syria. Unlike my grandmother, they had stayed behind trying to salvage some of their belongings. But when the tension grew too strong to bear, they made their escape on foot, in a small rowing boat and on the back of a donkey. It was hard to believe that this was the country and the people we had left a few months ago. Palestinians -- Moslems, Christians and Jews - had faced no problems living together. They had lived amicably, sharing traditions, interests and experiences. All our cities - Jerusalem, Haifa, Jaffa, Nazareth - held very dear heirlooms to all three religions. Even the Baha'is had a magnificent shrine in Haifa, surrounded by well-kept gardens. The arrival of the Zionists changed this peaceful coexistence. How could these emigrants profane this sacred land? What right did these monsters have to come from the four corners of the world and usurp our homes? Haifa, where I was born and spent my early childhood, holds many cherished memories. It is a jewel of a city. It extends from the top of Mount Carmel, sloping gracefully to the sea, combining both mountain and sea air. Its scenery is lovely. None of the houses rose higher than three storeys, allowing everyone to enjoy the gorgeous panorama. Traffic was very well organised, we queued at bus stations and I remember the decorous manner with which the police officers directed the flow of the cars. There were public gardens, playgrounds, tennis courts and beaches. All were kept clean and functioning. Our school, Notre Dame de Nazareth, was built on the mountain slope, surrounded by huge trees which we used to climb mischievously to hide from the nuns and their punishments. My father owned a plot of land on the slope of Mount Carmel, planted mainly with olive trees, with a few scattered citrus and carob trees. There was also a two-storey house and small shack for the keeper. We did not actually live there, but rented it to a Jewish family. Before coming to Egypt, we lived for a few years in Nablus owing to my father's work. However, whenever we were in Haifa, we visited our tenants and played on the swing my father had installed on the lower porch. The climax of course was May 1948. The Zionists took over our beautiful country and in Cairo we suddenly found ourselves destitute. The regular monetary transfers that we had arranged from Haifa came abruptly to a stop. The problem of feeding nine people - six growing children with very healthy appetites - was no simple matter. Believing this to be a temporary episode, we started by selling mother's jewelry. One by one her jewels were sold but still no silver lining appeared on the horizon. We then set about, each in his or her own way, to find a solution. My mother, who normally sewed our dresses, became a dressmaker, sewing first the uniforms for our school, then accepting clients at home. Aida left her faculty and taught in two different schools, also doing secretarial work in the evenings. Whenever his time permitted, Farok worked in a pharmacy during the day and paid home visits in the evenings to give injections. My aunt taught kindergarten and my grandmother took over the task of housekeeping and cooking. The nuns at our school very kindly and discreetly allowed my sister and I to finish our studies without paying tuition fees. During the summer holidays, we all


worked. The twins, Souhail and Amal, painted wooden toys in a toy factory, while I helped a newly-established shop with its advertising campaign. I was given an old Remington typewriter (with the letter Q missing), a few cartons filled with envelopes, the "Who's Who in Egypt and the Middle East" book, and told to type out the names and addresses found therein. I was paid the exorbitant amount of half a piaster for every four typed envelopes. Quite a score - one Egyptian pound for every eight hundred typed envelopes! My mother firmly believed in higher education, and she also believed in priorities. Men came foremost in this respect . She held the opinion that they are the bread winners and must be "armed with all the necessary equipment to ensure a happy and comfortable life for their families," whereas women depend on their husbands for their livelihood. Therefore her daughters, falling under the second category, worked, while the boys went to university. We did not feel we were making a sacrifice, nor were we envious of our brothers and cousin, but took our mother's argument for granted and did as required. Eventually, the male members of our family graduated from university and each found a job in his field. Our financial situation eased considerably, and Amal regained her ambition to become a painter. She went to Les Beaux Arts to further her studies, got involved with a political group and landedin jail for twenty eight months. Upon her release she accepted a job with FAO in Libya and from there traveled and settled in Paris to pursue her artistic ambitions. We all led a normal life, except for occasional jolts. One such incident concerned my brother Souhail and his residence visa. Palestinians, like all foreigners, were required to obtain an annual residence visa. One of the clauses in the application necessitated a written letter from his employer. The time for the renewal of the visa coincided with a time when Souhail was not on good terms with his superior. The latter seized the opportunity and wrote a letter to the effect that Souhail was not in the least indispensable. This resulted in the Passport Authorities issuing an order for Souhail's deportation within a few days. It was a catastrophe! We argued our statelessness and pleaded with the authorities, but to no avail. As a last resort, Souhail sent a telegram to President Nasser outlining his case, whereupon the order was cancelled and the visa immediately granted. Shortly afterwards, Souhail went to Lebanon in search of work. He applied and obtained Lebanese nationality, based on his argument that we were part of a Lebanese family bearing the same surname. He then accepted a job in Doha, Qatar, which he left after three months to join cousin Chibly in Kuwait. Returning to Lebanon, he got married and settled with his wife and two children, only to be ousted once again during the Lebanese civil war. He now lives in Jordan. Farouk was quite content living in Cairo, until the emigration bug hit his family - wife and two sons. To comply with their nagging, he applied and obtained his emigration papers to Canada, but assured every body he was coming back. He accompanied the family to Montreal, but with the exception of his younger son, Nadir, both his wife and elder son disliked life in Montreal and returned to the safety of Egypt and its people.


While helping Nadir settle in his new surroundings, he discovered that he had very advanced lung cancer. He returned to Cairo for one week, straightened his finances, allotting all his material possessions to his family, bade us good-bye and returned to the hospital in Canada where he passed away. Aida is married to an Egyptian and lives in Paris where, before retirement, she held an important position at UNESCO. Our mother passed away ten years ago and is much missed by her family and the Palestinian organisations in Cairo with which she worked. She had helped organise and supervise workshops where young girls did knitting and needlework and also acted as interpreter whenever foreign delegations visited their organisations. Now, nearly 51 years have passed since our arrival in Egypt and I feel exceedingly happy and very lucky in many ways. Through marriage, I have acquired Egyptian nationality and Egypt has definitely become my home, so much so that, when I accompanied my husband to Nigeria in 1967, where he had accepted a temporary job for two years, I became very depressed, in spite of the fact that I lacked nothing. I had my husband and three children with me, we lived in a mansion on the campus, life was comfortable, but I had a nagging feeling that I was living on quick sand. I felt again uprooted and made to live in a country that was not my own. Luckily the two years passed without any unpleasant incidents, and we returned to the comfort of home, family, friends and to welcome the arrival of our fourth child. My only regret is that our family is so dispersed. I have uncles and aunts living in Lebanon, England, Switzerland, Honduras, Canada, the US, Paris, Jordan, Syria and have lost contact with most of them. I was pleasantly surprised to discover, two years ago, that the wife of the Ambassador of Honduras was my cousin, whom I had last seen in August 1947. I also feel sad that my children hardly know their uncles, aunts and cousins, which is a far cry from the happy, clannish way we were brought up. Though, I thank my lucky stars for all the benedictions with which I have been endowed, yet I feel sad, angry and bitter at the injustice of life, the barbarity with which Palestinians were and are still treated, the wasted lives of the millions of dead youth, the grief of parents and widows, the inhuman state of the orphaned children, the oppression of the camp refugees. I cannot go back to my homeland, I cannot retrieve our possessions, I cannot claim our land, I cannot take my children back to Palestine to share with them my happy past and I cannot visit my father's grave in Haifa. February 1948 February 10 Haganah office set up in US under name "Land and Labor" for recruitment of professional military personnel(MAHAL). February 14 Ben-Gurion issues orders to Haganah commander in Jerusalem for conquest of whole city and its suburbs. February 18 Haganah calls up men and women aged 25 - 35 for military service. February 20 Ship Independence arrives at Tel Aviv with 280 volunteers under oath to


Haganah on board, implementing policy of illegal immigration of military personnel. February 24 US delegate to UN says role of Security Council regarding Palestine to keep peace, not enforce partition. Syrian delegate proposes appointment of Committee to explore possibility of Jewish Agency - Arab Higher Committee agreement. February 27 Jewish Agency announces it will establish state even without backing of an international force.

Fawzi Al-Qawuqji: Yesterday's hero By Mona Anis and Omayma Abdel-Latif To those who still remember him, today, his name is synonymous with the bitter taste of defeat: of hope deferred, then disappointed. But he was a hero, then, write Mona Anis and Omayma Abdel-Latif: the man who would liberate Palestine Fawzi Al-Qawuqji's name is probably unknown to anyone too young to have lived through the events of 1948. During the months preceding May of that year, however, his name, along with that of the leader of the Palestinian guerrillas, Abdel-Qadir AlHusseini, entered the hearts of the common people on Arab streets. They chanted his name in demonstrations, and bestowed upon him the legendary status of a saviour. He was the leader of the Arab Liberation Army (ALA), a voluntary force of some few thousand Arab irregulars formed to help Palestinians resist the partition of their homeland after a recommendation made by the Arab League in December 1947. Unlike AbdelQadir Al-Husseini, whose martyrdom in Al-Qastel Battle in April 1948 lent his name a lasting glow, Al-Qawuqji lived on, long after the humiliating defeat of the Arabs, regulars and irregulars, to see his name ridiculed as it became synonymous with empty talk. When he died in Beirut in December 1976 -- he was Lebanese, although at the time of his birth there was no such a thing as a Lebanese nationality -- few remembered him. But the PLO executive committee, still in Beirut at that time, issued a statement mourning his death and recognising the "role he played on the land of Palestine". Quite why Al-Qawuqji became the figure on whom people pinned their hopes when his record on the battlefield was nothing but one defeat after another is a question beyond the scope of this article. It would seem, however, that part of the celebrity surrounding his name was due to his constant defiance of the dominant powers. A perpetual rebel, he participated in almost every major Arab revolt during the first half of this century. He graduated from the Military Academy in Constantinople in 1912, fought in the first World War, then returned to his native Tripoli. There he met Prince Faisal, the son of the Sherif Hussein, the leader of the first Arab revolt. Faisal asked him to join the Arab forces marching to Damascus under his command, where they intended to establish an Arab state. He fought the French in the battle of Maisloun, in Syria, and in 1925 participated in the Mount Lebanon revolt, led by Sultan Al-Atrash against the French.


Following the quashing of the revolt, he went to live in Saudi Arabia, where he remained until 1932. In the Kingdom, however, he fell out with King Abdel-Aziz, who had him arrested and then expelled. In Baghdad, he entered the Military Academy for further studies and remained there as an officer in the Iraqi army until his departure to Palestine in 1936. The revolution had broken out, and he led guerrilla operations against the British and Zionist gangs until the revolution, too, was crushed. On his return to Baghdad in 1941, he joined Rashid Ali AlKilani's movement against the British, and fought fiercely on the Jordanian borders against the Transjordan Army, led by General John Glubb, the foremost British officer in the Middle East, who was wounded in one of these battles. Later, Al-Qawuqji was seriously injured on the battlefield and was taken to Germany. There he underwent treatment, met and married his German wife, and remained until the end of the second World War. The story of his return to the Arab world after the end of the war is a series of adventures, and it is only thanks to top-secret British documents, released only last year, that we know the true story of his flight from Germany to France, his narrow escape from arrest in Palestine, and his arrival in Cairo on 23 February 1947. The documents at the British Public Records Office prove that Al-Qawuqji's name was legendary not only among the common people, but among the British authorities as well. The British, however, considered him not a hero but a dangerous man, and exerted every effort in attempting to stop him. On his way from Paris to Cairo, the plane carrying him was diverted to Lydda airport and a British officer accompanied by a Hebrew soldier boarded in search of Al-Qawuqji. If they failed to recognise him, it was only because he was sitting next to his wife, speaking in German. In the House of Commons, British Colonial Secretary Arthur Creech Jones was asked what would have happened if the British authorities had been able to identify Al-Qawuqji in Lydda. Creech Jones revealed: "Had security forces recognised him they would have done something, but he remained in Lydda airport for only one hour, he was carrying a false passport and his luggage was registered under a different name." A telegram to London from the British ambassador in Cairo, dated 1 March 1947, provides further details of Al-Qawuqji's arrival in Egypt: "Fawzi arrived in Almaza [Cairo] airport on 23 of February. Upon our request his name was put on the black list, hence the passport officer refused to grant him a permit to leave the airport." After some argument, the ambassador continued, Al-Qawuqji persuade the officer to let him talk to Abdel-Rahman Azam Pasha, and the Secretary-general of the Arab Leagueinstructed the officer to grant him 24-hour visa. Then Azam phoned Nuqrashi Pasha, the Egyptian prime minister, who feared the news of Al-Qawuqji's arrival. At first Nuqrashi refused to allow Fawzi to stay in Egypt, and asked that he leave immediately. But Azam drew his attention to the fact that any cruelty against Fawzi "must remain within limits, as he is a national hero." Finally, Nuqrashi agreed that Al-Qawuqji spend four days in Egypt. "He


is now residing at the Hotel Continental," the ambassador wired, "and will be leaving to Beirut midnight tomorrow." From Lebanon Al-Qawuqji made his way to Syria, where on 3 November 1974 the British chargĂŠ d'affaires in Damascus reported to the Foreign Office that his American counterpart had been to tea with Al-Qawuqji at the house of his host, Ahmed AlSharabati. The British official noted with not a little spite: "He is living in a plush house in the best neigbourhood in Damascus, owned by Sharabati, the minister of defence, who gives him a monthly allowance of 1,000 lire."

Al-Sharabati's generosity, he told the American diplomat, was due to the fact that "he is rich while his friend is poor." As for the encounter with Al-Qawuqji himself, the American diplomat had apparently learned that the regular armies of the Arab countries would be inefficient, "as the Arab countries are divided among themselves and cannot fight a united battle." People's war is the solution, the Arab revolutionary revealed, adding that he had "great experience in that kind of war". The British chargĂŠ d'affaires concluded that, according to his American colleague, it was that Al-Qawuqji was exerting every effort in preparing for this project, which he had returned to carry out. On 2 February 1948, Al-Ahram published an interview conducted by the UP correspondent in Damascus, Samir Souqi, with Fawzi Al-Qawuqji. The UP correspondent described the headquarters as follows: "This Arab leader, motivated by utmost resolve, has made of his home a military headquarters guarded by irregulars in American military uniform. Not an hour of the day passes without Bedouins, peasants and young men in modern clothes turning up on his doorstep, demanding to enlist as volunteers in th Arab Liberation Army. He also has headquarters in Qatanah, where


volunteers are undergoing military training, waiting to be sent to Palestine. He refused to let me visit the place, though, which no journalist has ever seen. In his house there is a special room entered only by trusted people: the room of his aide-de-camp, Mahmoud AlRifa'i, a graduate of the Potsdam Military Academy. While we were talking, Taha AlHashimi Pasha, whom military experts say is one of the greatest military leaders in the Arab world, entered. Al-Qawuqji asked to be excused and took him to another room. I noticed that Al-Hashimi was carrying several large maps of Palestine." Al-Qawuqji told the UP reporter: "American policy on the partition of Palestine threatens all American interests throughout the Middle East. How on earth can America think of laying pipelines in the region now? They have angered the Arabs so much that now they will never be able to carry out a single project." The tension rose further, and Al-Qawuqji's plans made front-page headlines. Al-Ahram of 9 February reported: "Attack on Palestine begins next week." Below the headline, AlAhram's special correspondent in Damascus wrote: "Well-informed sources reveal that the Arab leaders have decided to stage the first phase of their attack on the Jews in Palestine in the coming week. The same sources reveal that Ismail Safwat Pasha [head of the technical committee formed by the Arab League has been appointed general commander of the Arab Liberation Army, while Fawzi Al-Qawuqji has been appointed commander of the forces stationed in Syria and Lebanon." Al-Ahram's correspondent added: "Instead of the scattered battles that have taken place in Palestine until now, Palestine will be divided into three main fronts, so that military operations can be coordinated according to a master plan. Al-Qawuqji will command a front including northern Palestine and the coastline, including Haifa, Jaffa and Tel Aviv. He is now in Beirut, working on the final details of his plan." The other two fronts, the correspondent wrote, "will be Jerusalem and southern Palestine. The Grand Mufti, Hajj Amin Al-Husseini, will designate the leader of the Jerusalem front. It is said that the post will go to Abdel-Qadir Al-Husseini, while the southern front will be placed under the command of an Egyptian leading battalions of Egyptian volunteers as well as Libyans and the Bedouins of the Sinai Peninsula." The report concluded: "Of course, Taha Al-Hashimi Pasha who has been appointed General Inspector of the Arab Liberation Army will be supervising the overall logistics." On 15 February, Al-Ahram's main banners announced: "Arab forces preparing to march on Palestine. Plans for the war of liberation. The regular armies' mission. Damascus to be the Arab Army Command headquarters." Below, the paper's correspondent in Beirut reported: "The Arab forces are ready to launch the Jihad outside and inside Palestine according to a master plan, to be implemented in several phases." He added: "Four thousand mujahidin [guerrillas] are fighting alongside the Palestinians inside the country, while hundreds of others are awaiting the orders of General Ismail Safwat to cross the borders under the command of Fawzi Al-Qawuqji." The reporter went on to discuss the positions of the Arab regular armies: "On the southern front, Egyptian forces are stationed in Al-Arish and Rafah near the coast.


Behind them are small Egyptian units stationed at various posts along the EgyptianPalestinian borders." As for the Transjordan Army, the Al-Ahram correspondent in Beirut did not neglect to mention that "some of the units of that army are cooperating with the British troops". As for the Syrian and Lebanese armies, he noted: "Their forces constantly patrol the borders and carry out frequent military maneuvers before the Zionist settlements." Though the role of these regular armies, reported Al-Ahram, "is not yet clear: there is speculations that they will enter the Arab areas evacuated by the British troops, and supervise from there the military operations carried out by the Arab Liberation Army." He added: "It is also possible, however, that these armies will engage in combat with the Zionists. Informed sources, however, assert that the Arab countries will not send their armies to fight inside Palestine as they are members of the UN. The sole mission of the Arab armies will be to police the area in order to cut off any weapons or food supplies to the Zionists in Palestine." In an interview in Le Monde, reported in Al-Ahram the same day, Fawzi Al-Qawuqji said: "Major military operations have not started yet, but when the war breaks out, we will stun the Jews and the whole world. The war may last for a month; it could last for a century. But we will surely win." At the beginning of March, there was still no news of the Arab Liberation Army, or its leader, Fawzi Al-Qawuqji, entering Palestine. Al-Ahram of 3 March reported the "Arab Liberation Army is anxious to fight"; the attack, however, was postponed "until discussions in the Security Council are concluded." Below the headline, Al-Ahram's special correspondent from "somewhere in Palestine" reported that "crossing into Palestine from Syria or Lebanon has become easy now". He himself had crossed the border by car and met Al-Qawuqji's men at a post 30 miles inside Palestine. His guide during that journey was a 19-year-old Saudi, who had told him that the soldiers longed for the battle to begin, for all they had done thus far was "child's play". The young guerrilla mused: "War today is not the war our fathers and grandfathers fought. Politics are part of war now." MARCH: Transjordanian prime minister Tawfiq Abu al-Huda secretly meets British foreign secretary Bevin. They agree that Transjordanian forces will enter Palestine at end of Mandate but will restrict themselves to area of Arab state outlined in Partition Plan. March 2: US delegate tells Security Council US favors implementing partition by "peaceful measures" only. March 5 - 7: Qawuqji enters Palestine and assumes command of ALA units in central Palestine. March 6: Haganah declares general mobilization. March 10: British House of Commons votes to terminate Mandate on May 15th.


March 19 - 20: US delegate asks UN Security Council to suspend action on partition plan and to convene General Assembly special session to work on a trusteeship and truce if Jews also accept. Jewish Agency rejects trusteeship. March 19: Ben-Gurion declares Jewish state dependent not on UN partition decision but on Jewish military preponderance. March 25: President Truman secretly receives Chaim Weizmann at White House and pledges support for declaration of Jewish state on May 15th. March 30 - May 15: Second coastal "clearing" operation carried out by Haganah Alexandroni brigade and other units. Attacks and expulsions drive out almost all Palestinian communities from coastal area from Haifa to Jaffa prior to British withdrawal. * Quotations from British Foreign Office documents were translated from the Arabic study on Al-Qawuqji, by Jean Daiah, published in the London-Based Al-Hayat newspaper, Feb. 8 & 9, 1998.

Guerrilla warfare Battles bewteen Arab guerrilla troops and the Haganah, aided by the Zionist gangs, intensified during the month of March. Five Arab villages around Jaffa, Tibyris and Safd were attacked and razed to the ground during that month, while a bomb, which killed 11 and left other 27 seriously injured, was planted in the Arab quarter in Haifa on March 3. Leader of the Arab volunteer guerrillas, Fawzi Al-Qawuqji, entered Palestine on March 7, and during the month the Arab resistance also intensified. Of that month, the Palestinian historianWalid Al-Khalidi writes: "The most noticable phenomenon during the month of March was the intensification of the combined efforts of the Arab volunteers [led by Al-Qawuqji] and the Palestinian Mujahdeen of the "Sacred Jehad", the military arm of the Arab Supreme Committee [headed by the Grand Mufti Amin Al-Husseini], despite the poor cordination between the two groups, and the limited arms and numbers of the latter." Together, the Palestinian and Arab guerrillas controlled virtually all the roads linking the different Jewish colonies, manged to infiltrate the defences around the headquarters of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem and bomb the place on March 11, as well as leading 3 succesful ambushes on Haganah units while on the road killing 126 soldiers and injuring and capturing many more. Walid Kalidi writes: Had it not been for the intervention of the British army in those battles, the losses incured by the Haganah would have been far greater, and scores of Jewish slodiers taken as hostages would not have been released."


The intensification of the fight during that month persuaded some circles in the American State Department that the partition plan was unworkable. On March 16 the US delegate at the Security Council, Warren Austin, asked the UN Security Council to suspend action on partition plan and to convene General Assembly special session to work on a trusteeship and truce if Jews also accept. Michael Cohen considered that trusteeship proposal "the biggest defeat Zionist diplomacy had encountered since the White Paper of 1939." The Arabs were jubliant with that turn in the events. what they did not know was that only a day before Warren Austin made his trusteeship proposal, the US president himself, Truman, had met Chaim Weizmann giving him a "specific commitment" that he will back the establishment of a Jewish Sate that includes the Negev.

Reasons of defeat * By Kamel Ismail El-Sherif Some have the mistaken belief that guerrilla warfare, or war carried out by irregulars, is tantamount to anarchy. The experience of the Moslem Brothers, however, in Palestine may shed some light on how complimentary guerrilla warfare is to war by regular armies. It must be remembered, however, that Guerrilla warfare cannot be carried out except by men who firmly believe in the justice of the cause they are fighting for. To insure optimum results, those men must be highly trained and in possession of a high degree of intelligence, as they confront in their fight various difficult situations. As the main task of guerrillas is fighting the enemy in a land occupied by the troops of that enemy, they have to be capable of spreading terror in the ranks of the enemy's forces by carrying out fleeting attacks on roads used by the enemy thus cutting off roads, and whenever possible destroying the enemy's arms and equipment. The aims of any guerrilla warfare can be summed up as follows: -First, making the enemy incur heavy loses without engaging in direct battles. -Second, forcing the enemies troops to be dispersed, thus exhausting the enemy in chasing and combating the guerrillas. -Third, forcing the enemy to constantly guard its installations and transportation roads, thus keeping the enemy in a constant state of worry. -last, inciting all national elements against the enemy, preventing any cooperation with its troops and mobilizing those elements in gathering information on the enemy's moves and locations. We can now move to examining whether the Muslim Brothers succeeded in their guerrilla war in Palestine.


Many wars were not decided except by the help of guerrillas.... In the second world war when many of the European armies were smashed under the blows of the Nazis, many of the leaders, as well as the liberation movements, in these occupied countries resorted to guerrilla warfare to disturb the German occupying forces leading the Germans to give up many of the regions they occupied, only maintaining strategic centres. The guerrillas were one of the direct reasons behind the defeat of the Nazis when Europe itself became the battlefield. They were the best allies of the allied armies who went in later to liberate Europe. Jews in Palestine have resorted to guerrilla warfare tactics, forming their forces on the basis of attacking the centres where Arab armies were stationed, dealing a blow to those armies without engaging in a direct battle. When the Arab armies stopped the war in accordance with the Security Council imposed truce, the Jews were organised in regular troops, as well as irregular gangs. The regular army would engage in battles with the aim of acquiring land, while the terrorist gangs provided help to the regular troops. Thus the gangs were able to continue fighting when the army was not, and the excuse the Jews could always give was that the gangs were irregular forces and that the state of Israel had no control over them. Similarly, the Arab armies in Palestine were in great need of cooperating closely with irregular forces. And there is no doubt that the Palestinians themselves should have been the main source to draw upon for these irregular forces. However, seeds of doubt and distrust, the work of the enemy, were planted between the Arab armies and the Palestinians and the result was catastrophic. ...... In conclusion I'd like to discuss an opinion held widely by many: that the entry of Arab armies into Palestine was the beginning of the catastrophe that led to the loss of Palestine, and that there was no need in Palestine for any troops other than the guerrillas who could have worked freely without adhering to any decisions by the Security Council or the UN. This opinion became widely held after the defeat of the Arab armies, which was caused partly by adhering to the Security Council imposed cease fire, especially the first fourweek-truce (imposed on june 11), during which the Jews were able to obtain arms and equipment which they did not have before that date. My answer to that opinion is that guerrillas can never decide the result of the war on their own. They remain an important and effective weapon if they coordinate with an organized army and if they themselves are well trained. While the regular army can occupy cities and strategic centres and maintain the locations they occupied, trained guerrillas would carry attacks on the enemy's backlines, cutting transportation roads, spreading fear and anarchy among the troops of the enemy. The entry of the regular Arab armies to achieve the aim we were struggling for was inevitable; the mistake lies somewhere else.


Firstly and foremost those armies were not well trained or equipped to carry out the mission they were supposed to fulfill. They were totally ignorant of the enemy they were fighting. Another mistake was that of the Arab political leaders who did not calculate well the influence of the international organizations on them and how vulnerable they were vis-avis those organizations, as they were totally dependent on them. There is no doubt about the necessity of regular armies in a battle such as ours; they were a necessity in the past, they are for the future- that is if we really want to liberate the holy land.

* From The Muslim Brothers in the Palestine War, 1949, Cairo. pp 87-91

Who will listen to me now? In these excerpts from his diares, Khalil Al-Sakakini records the conditions of life in Jerusalem in March 1948, and gathers reports of a great Arab victory when a Jewish convoy returning to Jerusalem was ambushed and destroyed Saturday, January 17, 1948 I was sitting behind my desk, and [my son] Sarri was standing next to me reading AlAhram newspaper when he said listen to that and began reading loud: "Fouad the First Academy of Arabic Language held a session yesterday and elected two new members: Mr. Mohamed Reda Al-Shabibi from Iraq and Mr. Khalil Al-Sakakini from Palestine." What I began in the spirit of playing has now turned into a serious matter, and here I am a member of the Academy of Arabic Language. I an now one of the immortals, let it be known to all! Tuesday march 16, 1948 I do not know how for God's sake are we supposed to hold off before the agression of the Jews, who are well-trained, organised, united and equipped with the most sophisticated weapons while we lack all that. Cannot we understand the unity and organisation will win over fragmentation and anarchy, and that prepardness wins over negligence? We formed a delegation and went to the [headquarters] of the [Arab] Supreme Committee. We were received by Dr. Hussein Al-Khaldi and Ahmed Helmi Pasha. We asked for arms. They said: "We have no arms." We asked for guards. They said: "We have no guards." We said: "What shall we do then?" They said: "Arm and defend yourselves." We said: "We do not have arms, and even if we buy some we do not know how to use it. This is very serious, our neighbourhood following the blasting of the Semiramis Hotel,


the Shahin block of flats, the houses of Dr. Freig, the Anatbawis' and the Bediris', as well as other houses, has become very hazardous, and we can be attacked again any minute. It is your duty, being members of the Supreme Committee to provide us with arms and men. Where are all those trained volunteers? Where is all that money being collected from Arab and Islamic countries? Is it a matter of much addo about nothing?" Following that meeting a delegated from the Supreme Committee in Jerusalem came to visit us and enquire about how we were faring. He assured us that gurds had been stationed in Katamon. Sunday, March 21, 1948 The Jews launched a severe attack on Katamon last night at mid-night. It is mid-day now and they have not finished yet. The amount of shells fired by cannons, bullets from all sorts of guns and machineguns, and mines used are unprecedented. Kitchner, perhaps, had never heared in all his battles such shelling as that we have been hearing since last night.

Abdel-Qadir Al-Husseini (centre) with his men shortly before he was killed on April 7, 1948, at Al-Qastel battle

Last week Abou Moussa (Abdel-Qadir Al-Husseini) visited us along with some of his men: Abou Al-Abd Ibrahim Abou Diah, from Soreif; Mukhtar Rafat Abou Atta and Kamel Erikat. I seized the opportunity and drew their attention to the ethics to be followed in every war, anywhere and at all times: 1- The wounded must be taken good care of. 2- The hostages must be well-treated. 3- Anybody killed must be handed to his people.


4- We must follow Abou Bakr's (the first Guided Khaliph) commandments to his army on its way to Palestine: "Do not kill a child; an elderly, or a woman; do not burn trees, or demolish a single house; do not chase someone running away; do not mutilate bodies of the dead; and do not come near those who dedicate themselves to worshipping." If it were for me I would say: "let your swords rest in their shields, do not fight anybody, there is enough room in the world for all." But who would listen to me nnow or pay any attention to what I think. Like Jesus, I say "my kingdom is not of this world". *** The hiss of bullets goes day and night, unabated, the sound of like we had never heard before, not even during the past world wars. Whenever we get into our houses we expect the celling to fall on our heads, and wehnever we walk it is always in the shadow of a wall or san-filled barrels as we are always afraid of a stary bullet hitting us. It is worth recording that whenever the roaring of bombs and mines or the hissing of bullets intensify, friends and family members phone us one after the other, no matter at what late hour. Our house is located at an area of Katamon that looks from afar like the mouth of a volcano constantly throwing fire and smoke. They keep phoning to know whether we still exist. We congratulate each other on safety, though we feel the same way Mutanabi felt when he said: "Though safe now, I may not exist for long. For I walk from death to death." No wonder, with such a state of affairs, that inhabitants of Katamon are constantly thinking of moving to another neighbourhood, or even another country. They want to run away from this constant worry and the danger confronting them day and night. What depresses one so much is the terror which overtakes women and children. Many people have left either to the old city, to Beit Jala, to Amman, to Cairo or wherever. Very few of the proprietors have remained. Us, the Mahfouz brothers, Farid Srouji, Daoud Taleil and Youssef Abdou. Sunday, March 28, 1948 All day we have been collecting whatever news we can get on the battle in the south between a Jewish convoy and the Arabs. All what we knew at the beginning was that the Arabs attacked the convoy while on its way back to Jerusalem. We also learned that the Arabs erected barracades like high walls in the way of the convoy, and that the [British] army was unable to get to the battlefield. We kept hearing deep shelling from afar, and we were afraid that the army was ponding the Arabs with its cannons. It was even said that the Jews bombed the Arabs from aeroplanes using tons of bombs. At nine o'clock we opened the radio and listened to what it had to say: "14 Jewish men were killed, while nearly 45 others were injured. The rest ran to shelter in an empty house but the Arabs surrounded the place and kept firing. When the army interfered the only thing it could do to stop the fighting and prevent more blood shed was


to ask the Jews to surrender their weapons and equipment and to walk out with their arms above their heads and that they be searched on their way out. The Jews could not but accept as they came out shaking away the dust of death. The Arabs won 150 mortar and other guns, a ton and half of amunitions, bombs, armoured vehicles, many light weapons and first aid and medical equipment. The Jews transported to Jerusalem by vehicles belonging to the [British] army." This battle was so far the biggest blow dealt to the Jews, and the biggest victory achieved by the Arabs. It is worth recording here that many inhabitants of the neighbouring villages participated in this battle, under the leadership of Ibrahim Abou Diah from Soreif. He advised on the planting of the mines here and there, and the erection of strong barracades, he armed those without arms, he deployed his men everywhere, and his orders were obeyed by all, as if a great general who had mastered the art ofwar, with many victorius battles to his name. What made all the peasants from the neighbouring villages respect him and follow his orders was the fact that he was one of them, they knew him the same way he knew them, and they knew he was fighting for the sake of his country and nothing else. He is the first to be seen when death looms, and the first to shun away any of the gains to be obtained from war. He shares everything with his men, attends to their needs, eats when they eat and gets hungry if they hae nothing to eat. He works and stays the night awake with them. He treats his men very well, while being firm at the same time, not tolerating any negligence. If he appoints one of his men to a nightshift and, upon inspection, finds that man asleep he immediately expels him from his army that is if he does not punish him severely. When it comes to duty he has no friend. He is very young and small in physique, but when it is battle time he is as the strongest of lions. Despite all this newspapers never mention his name as if he was the unknown soldier. It was that little known young man who dictated his conditions on the British Army and they had to obey. Had he been a city boy, or a member of the family of so and so they would have waxed lyrics around his name. Holding parties in his honour, putting huge amounts of money to dispense of. I am afraid that he himself would notice how he is being treated, or that somebody will draw his attention, and then we be divided, good borbids, as peasants versus city people, as what happened before. I must record here also that among those who did well in that battle was Kamel Erikat. Some say that it was him who lead the battle and that Ibrahim Abou Diah was under his command, but only God knows the truth. Another person who deserves mention here is the Mayor of Rafat, Abou Atta who oversaw the guarding of Katamon in the absence of Ibrahim Abou Diah. This mayor is highly intelligent, skillful and patriotic. In talking to him one might mistake him for a graduate of the highest academy. He expresseshimself in a combination of eloquent speech and mature opinions, and he possesses the strongest of resolves. Wish so and so be it this or that mayor were like him ...wish even a great number of the members of the Supreme Committe, highly educated but illiterate compared to him, were like hthat man. I have evidence that he provides Ibrahim Abou Diah with money whenever in need. Another man who always responds to the call of duty, and whose name must be recorded here is Abou Fouad Jawdat Al-Amd. In the


morning, he works at his shop, and in the evenings he carries his gun and spends all night up in the ranks of the fighters. * Khalil Al-Sakakini, writer and educationalist, fled his home in Jerusalem on the last day of April, 1948. He took refuge in Cairo, where he died five years later and is buried. The extracts above are translated from his book Kaza Ana Ya Donia (That is the way I am), published posthumously in 1955.

Scenes from Palestine Edward Said, returning to Palestine for a BBC documentary to be shown in England to coincide with Israel's 50th anniversary, finds the once small, compact city -- Jerusalem -- in which he grew up overwhelmed by continuing, unrelenting Judaisation I have just returned from two separate trips to Jerusalem and the West Bank where I have been making a film for the BBC to be shown in England on May 3, and then later in the month on the World Service. The occasion for my film is Israel's 50th anniversary which I am examining from a personal and obviously Palestinian point of view. For our shooting in Palestine we have had an excellent crew: an English director, a young AngloIndian woman (whose idea it was to approach me for the film in the first place),a Palestinian cameraman, and an Israeli sound man. We concluded work on the film in New York a few days ago; all that remains is cutting, editing, and assembling the many hours of interviews, scenes from Palestinian life, etc. into a one-hour film. This is obviously the most difficult part of the job since we already have far too much material to be conveniently stuffed into a meagre 55 minutes. But so powerful for me was the experience of going around Palestine and recording what I saw that it seemed to m worthwhile here to reflect a little on the experience itself. I should say also that director and crew were immensely cooperative and helpful; even the Israeli sound engineer, who is employed by the BBC in Jerusalem, found the actual business of talking to Palestinians and a few Israelis very rewarding and, given his conventional Zionist upbringing (he is a liberal, by no means a dogmatic Zionist), enlightening and a definitive challenge to longheld and unexamined views about Israel's history. "It is hard to be an Israeli again," he said at the end of the shoot. Two completely contradictory impressions override all the others. First, that Palestine and Palestinians remain, despite Israel's concerted efforts from the beginning either to get rid of them or to circumscribe them so much as to make them ineffective. In this, I am confident in saying, we have proved the utter folly of Israel's policy: there is no getting away from the fact that as an idea, a memory, and as an often buried or invisible reality, Palestine and its people have simply not disappeared. No mater the sustained and unbroken hostility of the Zionist establishment to anything that Palestine represents, the sheer fact of our existence has foiled, where it has not defeated, the Israeli effort to be rid of us completely. The more Israel wraps itself in exclusivity and xenophobia towards the Arabs, the more it assists them in staying on, in fighting its injustices and cruel measures.


This is specially true in the case of Israeli Palestinians, whose main represtentative in the Knesset is the remarkable zmi Bishara: I interviewed him at length for the film and was impressed with the courage and intelligence of his stand, which is invigorating a new generation of young Palestinians, whom I also interviewed. For them, as for an increasing number of Israelis (Professor Israel Shahak in the forefront) the real battle is for equality and rights of citizenship, given that Israel is explicitly a state for Jews and not for its nonJewish citizens. Contrary to its expressed and implemented intention, therefore, Israel has strengthened the Palestinian presence, even among Israeli Jewish citizens who have simply lost patience with the unendingly shortsighted policy of trying to beat down and exclude Palestinians. No matter where you turn, we are there, often only as humble, silent workers and compliant restaurant waiters, cooks, and the like, but often also as large numbers of people -- in Hebron, for example -- who continuously resist Israeli encroachments on their lives. The second overriding impression is that minute by minute, hour by hour, day after day, we are losing more and more Palestinian land to the Israelis. There wasn't a road, or a bypassing highway, or a small village that we passed in our travel for three weeks that wasn't witness to the daily tragedy of land expropriated, fields bulldozed, trees, plants, and crops uprooted, houses destroyed, while the Palestinian owners stood by, helpless to do much to stop the onslaught, unassisted by Mr Arafat's Authoriy, uncared for by more fortunate Palestinians. It is important not to underestimate the damage that is being done, the violence to our lives that will ensue, the distortions and misery that result. There is nothing quite like the feeling of sorrowful helplessness that one feels listening to a young man who has spent fifteen years working as an illegal daylaborer in Israel in order to save up money to build a little house for his family, only to discover one day upon returning from work that the house has een reduced to a pile of rubble, flattened by an Israeli bulldozer with everything still inside the house. When you ask why this was done -- the land, after all, was his -- you are told that there was no warning, only a paper given to him the next day by an Israeli soldier stating that he had built the structure without a license. Where in the world, except under Israeli authority, are people required to have a license (which is always denied them) before they can build on their own property? Jews can build, but never Palestinians. This is racist apartheid in its purest form. I once stopped on the main road from Jerusalem to Hebron to record on film an Israeli bulldozer, surrounded and protected by soldiers, plowing through some fertile land just alongside the road. About a hundred meters away stood four Palestinian men, looking both miserable and angry. It was their land, I was told, which they had worked for generations, now being destroyed on the pretext that it was needed to widen an already wide road built for the settlements. "Why do they need a road that will be 120 mters wide; why can't they let me go on farming my land?" asked one of them plaintively. "How am I going to feed my children?" I asked the men whether they received any warning that this was going to be done. No, they said, we just heard today and when we got here it was too late. What about the Authority? I asked, has it helped? No of course not, was the answer. They're never here when we need them. I went over to the Israeli soldiers who at first refused to talk to me in the presence of cameras and microhones. But I kept insisting, and was lucky to find one who clearly seemed troubled by the whole


business, even though he said he was merely following orders. "But don't you see how unjust it is to take land from farmers who have no defense against you,?" I said, to which he replied, "it's not their land really. It belongs to the state of Israel." I recall saying to him that sixty years ago the same arguments were made against Jews in Germany , and now here were Jews using it against their victims, the Palestinians. He moved away, unwilling to respond. And so it is throughout the territories and Jerusalem, with Palestinians powerless to help each other. I gave a lecture at the University of Bethelehem in which I spoke about the continuous dispossession that was taking place, and wondered why those 50,000 security people employed by the Authority, plus the thousands more who sit behind desks, pushing paper from one side of their desks to the other, cashing handsome checks at the end of each month, why they were not out there on the land helping to preent the expropriations, helping the people whose livelihood was being taken from them before their eyes? Why, I asked, don't villagers go out to their fields and simply stand in front of the bulldozers, and why don't all our great leaders give support and moral help to the poor people who are losing the battle? One night I came back from filming all day and discovered that the hotel restaurant was sponsoring a Valentine's Day dinner at $38 (yes, $38) per person. I was told that since I didn't have a reseration I couldn't be served, but I insisted that as a guest in the hotel I was at least entitled to a sandwich or something equally simple. I was shown a table in the corner and duly served a plate of rice and vegetables. A moment or two later I saw a Palestinian minister enter the room with seven guests, and sit at a prominent table weighted down with the seven-course Valentine's Day menu, plus wine, and drinks for all. I was so sickened by the sight of this large, fat, smiling man who spends so much time negotiating" with donor countries and with the Israelis, eating away happily while his people were losing their livelihood a few meters away, that I left the room in disgust and shame. He had arrived in a gigantic Mercedes; his bodyguards and driver -- three of them -- were sitting in the hotel lobby eating bananas, while their great leader stuffed himself inside. This is one reason why wherever I went, whoever I talked to, whatever the question, there was never a good word for the Authority or its officer. It is perceived basically as guaranteeing security for Israel and its settlers, furnishing them with protection, not at all as a legitimate, or concerned, or helpful governmental body vis-Ă -vis its own people. That at the same time so many of these leaders should think it appropriate to build gigantically ostentatious villas during a period of such widespread penury and misery fairly boggles the mind. If it is to be anything today, leadership for the Palestinian people must demonstrate service and sacrifice, precisely those two things so lacking in the Authority. What I found staggering is the absence of care, that is, the sense that each Palestinian is alone in his or her misery, with no one so much as concerned to offer food, blankets, or a kind word. Truly one feels that Palestinians are an orphaned people. Jerusalem is overwhelming in its continuing, unrelenting Judaization. The small, compact city in which I grew up over fifty years ago, has become an enormously spread-out metropolis, surrounded on the north, south, east and west by immense building projects that testify to Israeli power and its ability, unchecked, to change the character of Jerusalem. Here too there is a manifest sense of Palestinian powerlessness, as if the battle


is over and the future settled. Most people I spoke to said that afterthe tunnel episode of last September they no longer felt the need to demonstrate against Israeli practices, nor to expose themselves to more sacrifice. "After all," one of them told me, "sixty of us were killed, and yet the tunnel remained open, and Arafat went to Washington, despite having said that he would not meet with Netanyahu unless the tunnel was closed. What is the point of struggling now?" It is not only the Palestinian leadership that has failed in Jerusalem: it is also the Arabs, the Islamic states, and Christianity itself, which bows before Israeli aggression. Few Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank (i.e. from cities like Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem, Jenine and Nablus) can enter Jerusalem, which is cordoned off by Israeli soldiers. Apartheid once again. On the Israeli side the situation is not as bleak as one would have expected. I conducted a long interview with Professor Ilan Pappe of Haifa University. He is one of the new Israeli historians whose work on l948 has challenged Zionist orthodoxy on the refugee problem, and on Ben Gurion's role in making the Palestinians leave. In this, of course, the new historians have confirmed what Palestinian historians and witnesses have said all along -that there was a deliberate military campaign to rid the country of as many Arabs as possible. But what Pappe also said is that he is very much in demand for lectures in high schools all over Israel, even though the latest textbook for classes on Israel's history simply make no mention of the Palestinians at all. This blindness coexisting with a new openness regardng the past, characterizes the present mood, but deserves our attention as a contradiction to be deepened and analysed further. I spent a day filming in Hebron, which strikes me as embodying all the worst aspects of Oslo. A small handful of settlers, numbering no more than about 200 people, virtually control the heart of an Arab city whose population of over l00,000 is left on the margins, unable to visit the city center, constantly under threat from militants and soldiers alike. I visited the house of a Palestinian in the old Ottoman quarter. He is now surrounded by settler bastions, including three new buildings that have goneup around him, plus three enormous water tanks that steal most of the city's water for the settlers, plus several rooftop nests of soldiers. He was very bitter about the Palestinian leadership's willingness to accept the town's partition on the entirely specious grounds that it had once contained 14 Jewish buildings dating back to Old Testament times but no longer in evidence. "How did these Palestinian negotiators accept such a grotesque distortion of the reality," he asked me angrily, "especially given that at the time of the negotiations not one of them had ever set foot in Hebron when they negotiated the deal?" The day after I was in Hebron three young men were killed at the barricade by Israeli soldiers, and many more injured in the fighting that ensued. Hebron and Jerusalem are victories for Israeli extremism, not for coexistence, or for any sort of hopeful future. Perhaps the most unexpected highpoint of experiences with Israelis was an interview I held with Daniel Barenboim, the brilliant conductor and pianist who was in Jerusalem for a recital at the same time I was there for the film. Born and raised in Argentina, Barenboim came to Israel in l950 at the age of nine, lived there for about eight years, and has been conducting the Berlin State Opera and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra -- two of the world's greatest musical insitutions -- for the last ten years. Ishould also say that


over the past few years he and I have become close personal friends. He was very open in our interview and regretted that 50 years of Israel should also be the occasion of 50 years of suffering for the Palestinian people; during our discussion he openly advocated a Palestinian state, and after his Jerusalem recital to a packed audience, he dedicated his first encore to the Palestinian woman -- present at the recital -- who had invited him to dinner the night before. I was surprised tha the entire audience of Israeli Jews (she and I were the only Palestnians present) received his views and the noble dedication with enthusiastic applause. Clearly a new constituency of conscience is beginning to emerge, partly as a result of Netanyahu's excesses, partly as a result of Palestinian resistance. What I found extremely heartening is that Barenboim, one of the world's greatest musicians, has offered his services as a pianist to Palestinian audiences, a gesture of reconciliation that is truly worth more than dozens of Oslo accords. So I conclude these brief scenes from Palestinian life today. I regret not having spent time among refugees in Lebanon and Syria, and I also regret not having many hours of film at my disposal. But at this moment it seems important that we testify to the resilience and continued potency of the Palestinian cause, which clearly has influenced more people in Israel and elsewhere than we have hitherto supposed. Despite the gloom of the present moment, there are rays of hope indicating that the future may not be as bad as many of us have supposed.

One event, two signs On the one hand, "calamity"; on the other, "liberation". How can two contradictory narratives be reconciled in a common destiny? Hassan Khader investigates the semiotic sleights-of-hand which serve to obscure the historic responsibilities -and to obstruct the creation of a future. Language is a mode of communication between a transmitter and a receiver. It is also a vehicle for thought, fantasy and dreams. The reality we attempt to describe is not immune to the emotional and political dynamics we project on it. Rather, in our linguistic representations of reality, we transform language into a system for encoding, at both the individual and collective levels. As the purpose of communication develops and as the features of reality increase in complexity and grow ever more intricately intertwined with present interests and historical and social ramifications, the more convoluted become the masks that we affix upon reality and the more difficult becomes the task of freeing it from attempts to alter or obliterate it. The purpose of this article is to analyse the linguistic signs in Palestinian and Israeli discourse concerning the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. The comparison involved in this context is not intended to place two narratives in a state of conflict on equal footing, but rather to treat their respective representations of an event that occurred at a specific time and place and to shed light on the implications of the elimination of a specific signification or the selection of another signification for an historical event experienced by both sides.


The Palestinians have epitomized their defeat in the War of 1948, their loss of large portions of their country, the transformation of the greater majority of them into refugees and the collapse of their political, geographical and social entity in the word nakba (calamity). Lisan al-Arab lists numerous synonyms for the word ((which may be rendered in English variously as: -- and then leave out the transliterated Arabic -- ) among which are: hadath (misfortune), naa'iba (vicissitude), nawba (evil turn of fate), riziya (heavy loss), aamma (cataclysmic disaster), ghaashiya (oppressive misery), jaa'iha (devastation), mulimma (tribulation), aariqa (sudden affliction) , haaqa (infliction), and naaqira (grievous hardship). It defines nakbaa' , derived from the same triliteral root, as "any of the four winds that shifts madly, wreaking havoc among the winds, so as to engulf the land and wreak great devastation." The connotative significance of all these synonyms taken together is, firstly, a deference to nature, with all its latent violence and its impetuosity; secondly, a resignation to the vicissitudes of fate; and, thirdly, a relinquishment of responsibility for the catastrophe. Do we find in the Palestinians struggle against the Jewish settlement movement, which began in the late 19th century and which was interspersed with violent confrontations and dire predictions for the future, and which engendered the emergence of political parties and organizations, cause to support the element of surprise and the arbitrariness of fate? Or is there cause to entertain the notions of a gradual decay in forces and a disposition to the necessary elements for defeat? In the conflict that arose between an immigrant settler minority and an indigent majority, which eventually led to the defeat and expulsion of the majority, were there elements to suggest an oncoming catastrophe? Could there be a question of historic responsibility, in light of which the entire Palestinian entity (before 1948), with all its social, political, cultural and economic institutions, might be subject to accountability, revision and criticism? The sign, nakba, represents an attempt to hone in on the human drama entailed in the event and to transform it into a key for discourse. The attempt was nurtured by two phenomena: the absence of critical Palestinian self-analysis and the birth of a body of literature heavily imbued with a longing for a lost paradise. This literature is inhabited by refugees whose tents are tattered by the winds, whose hearts burn for revenge, and who suffer the degradation of having to live off foreign relief assistance as they await the day of salvation. This was the context that gave birth to the Palestinian refugee denizen of the literary text, and, with him, to Palestine. Palestine, in reality, was never a paradise; nor was it lost. It was a remote part of the Ottoman Empire, inhabited by poor peasant-farmers. The West Bank and Gaza, which were in and of Palestine, possessed the constituent elements for the perpetuity of Palestinian existence that might have stemmed the deterioration resulting from the annihilation of the larger entity.


However, for the idea of nakba to be complete, the idea of entity could not exist. Consequently, 'refugee' became the catchword for identity, which in turn required ignoring the existence of approximately 180,000 Palestinians who remained in that portion of Palestine that was lost. Their continued presence in their country was not viewed as proof of the impossibility of uprooting a people from their land, or as proof of their attachment to their land. Rather it was viewed as cause for embarrassment due to the certain contamination engendered by their daily contact with the usurpers of the land. Although the land was the object of the conflict between the Jewish minority and the Palestinian minority, it was not to be found with the literary refugee. Nor was it in Palestine, as the object of mental abstractions incapable of depleting the significations of paradise. The irony is that the Palestinian identity that became rampant in the seventies, with its revival and glorification of the land , was, in fact, the new utopia created by the manufacturers of Palestinian identity who grew up and thrived in Galilee, not in the refugee tents (e.g.: Emil Habibi, Mahmoud Darwish, Samih Qasem, etc.) If the use of nakba had conformed to the circumstances that afflicted a society consisting largely of peasant farmers, the conversion of this sign into hard political currency did not occur with the same measure of innocence or spontaneity. Following the 1948 defeat, the Palestinian question became an Arab question. The remainder of Palestine had fallen under the administration of two Arab countries (Egypt and Jordan), large numbers of Palestinian refugees had fled to these and other Arab countries, an the defeat of the Arab armies left a widespread and deeply felt rancor. The Palestine issue was thus absorbed into the movement of the social elite in the Arab world, particularly in those countries bordering on Palestine where the blame for defeat and the loss of Palestine was cast on defective weapons and treachery. At the Arab level, therefore, the signification of nakba was reinforced. It became essential for the incitement and mobilization of opinion within the context of the domestic power struggle, in which faulty weapons and treachery were the catchwords for toppling some of the existing regimes. This process in turn required that the question of Palestinian accountability be shunted aside and turned into a technicality that could be resolved with non-defective weapons and patriotic rulers. For their part, the Palestinians took on board entire excerpts of the Arab narrative and merged them with their own, as new evidence of their commitment to their national-Arab identity. It is only possible to understand the sudden radicalism that pervaded the discourse of the Palestinians following the Arab defeat in June 1967 as a backlash against the Arab narrative which had countered in many ways the Palestinian ontological existence. It is only possible to understand the Palestinians' insistence on political autonomy, their assault on the idea of the refugee, their elevation of the refugee camp from a place of misery and degradation to a production plant for freedom fighters and the birth of the idea of the state at the expense of the idea of paradise as a retaliation against the two intervening decades between 1948 and 1967 and as a reproach against their social and political leaders.


If, for the Palestinians, the sign, nakba, had as its reference the vicissitudes of 'nature', for the Zionists 'history' served as the reference out of which they modeled two designations for the event of 1948: "independence" and "liberation." It is impossible to understand the relationship between these two terms and the victory of a minority of immigrant settlers over an indigenous majority population outside of the context of Zionist discourse itself. This discourse is suffused with the notion of normalising Jewish life, of transforming the Jews from a religious group outside history to a national group that acts on history and is acted upon by history in the same manner as other national groups. "Independence" in this context renders three signfications. Firstly, it identifies the Zionist movement with the other national liberation movements in the wake of World War II. Secondly, it locates the Jewish settler drive in Palestine in history as the last and most recent manifestation of the purported Jewish continuity with this land from the collapse of the Jewish entity in AD 70 until the first half of the 20th century. Thirdly, it elevates the notion of statehood advocated by a handful of Jews from Eastern Europe to a vanguard movement that rests its political enterprise on the ontology of a people as a preexisting nation (though without a land). For this sign to be complete, certain facts that would undermine the possibility of normalising Jewish life would have to be excluded. Customary political thought presupposes existence of a people as proof of the existence of a nationalist movement. In Zionism the equation is inverted, whereby the existence of a national movement became proof of the existence of a people. Normally a nation of people projects itself onto the land it inhabits. Zionism required the land in order to project itself onto the people. Even with this conceptual inversion the Zionists could not stretch the sign ('independence') to its absurdest limits: to signify the liberation of Palestine from Palestinians and the realization of Israeli independence with the overthrow of a Palestinian occupation of the land. The Zionist classics, including Hertzle's The Jewish State, speak of the "Jewish settlement fund in Palestine" and the possibility of buying the land from the Ottoman authorities or obtaining the land under international guarantees. Never before in history has a national liberation movement had to buy its own nation. Nor could a demographic minority that had been living on the land for only a matter of decades and that controlled less than seven per cent of that land possess sufficient historical or nationalist cause to comport itself as a national liberation movement in this sense. Consequently, Zionist discourse suppressed its conflict with the Palestinians and transformed the Palestinian uprisings into disturbances instigated by armed Arab groups. It excluded the Palestinians from the dynamic of colonialism and liberation and accorded this significance to the British. Thus, three decades of the British mandate in Palestine became the "colonial era" and the operations mounted by the Zionist gangs against the British forces became the primary expression of the Jewish war of liberation and independence in Palestine. Conveniently forgotten was the fact that the British were the fathers of the Balfour Declaration and the original guarantors of the Jewish settler movement in Palestine.


The Zionist narrative thus transformed its conflict with the Palestinians into a quirk of fate: two rival nationalist movements had emerged in the same place at the same time, along with the consequent misunderstanding and inability to seek a mode of cooperation against the British occupiers. As for the expulsion of the majority of the indigenous population, it was the tragic result of the Arab military intervention intended to dislodge the nascent Jewish "independent" entity. The subsequent objective existence of refugees became, in turn, a political device, invented by Arab states for the purposes of perpetual agitation against Israel. In spite of its inherent contradictions and aberration of history , the notion of "independence" is still a central sign in Israeli narrative and discourse. Nevertheless, in the new generation of (Israeli) historians and social scientists, it is possible to come across new developments, the results of which are difficult to predict, but which suggest that the official narrative has depleted many of its ideological defenses and ideological fallacies. These developments have revolved around two points: te investigation into the origins of the Palestinian refugee problem and the reexamination of the Zionist movement's omission of the Palestinians until 1948. These inquiries have yielded a recognition of the centrality of the Zionist conflict, not with the British, but with the Palestinians in conjunction with a realization that the Zionist leaders can not be exonerated of their responsibility for the expulsion of the Palestinians and for ignoring their nationalist ambitions at the time of the British protectorate. Even if they only exist within a narrow scope of academicians, the importance of these developments can not be underestimated as they intersect with the anxieties and qualms that have emerged in the works of a number of Israeli novelists and poets over the past three decades. The process of linguistic codification is intertwined with a range of cultural elements, among which are the relationship of a specific culture with itself, the extent of its capacity for self-criticism and the relative importance of a specific linguistic sign at a specific time and place for the cultural group in question. However, the sign is not immutable. It is perpetually mutating, which explains the constant change in beliefs in various societies. While nakba may have shrouded what the Palestinians were incapable of doing or expressing five decades ago, their present circumstances are very different. The current minority-majority conflict in Palestine is in need of a revision of its signs. Specifically the problem summons a restoration of the former element of demographic superiority. The lost Palestine will never return. As for the real Palestine, it exists in the Palestine of today with its particular demographic, cultural and linguistic characteristics and notably with its narrow majority of Jews and its Palestinian minority that stands to become a demographic majority within a few decades. What occurred five decades ago, apart from the human drama, was that Palestinian sovereignty over the land was violently wrested away and supplanted by a model for exclusive Jewish statehood. The displaced Palestinians did not counter with a model of statehood of their own until the latter half of the seventies. Even then they were incapable of elevating that model from the status of a political slogan to a sign of significance in


their own narrative of events and, sadly, it was forgotten in the rush of subsequent political developments. The Palestinians still have the task of deriving a model of statehood capable of solving the Palestinian-Jewish question. Today, this task appears more urgent than ever. This year the Palestinians have been commemorating the passage of fifty years since they lost their country. If the aim of this attention is to incite the collective memory to defend the land of its identity by invoking the names of more Palestinian villages that were eradicated and the human suffering that this engendered, then we must conclude that the war juxtaposing the Palestinian memory against the Zionist colonizer still dominates the Palestinian mindset at the threshold to the next fifty years after the elimination of the Palestinian political entity. The rationale that regenerates the search for the lost Paradise may have its advantages, but only if we distance ourselves from the memories of bitterness and grief engendered by reality in the past which alienate us further from reality today. The backlash against the sign, nakba, offers proof that the Palestinian narrative has reached the age of maturity. Every narrative of what happened inherently contains proposals of what should be. The way in which we narrate our stories determines the end we want to hear. The conflict between two stories - between the Palestinian and Israeli narratives - is the essence and the key to the conflict. I do not believe that the rifts that have emerged in the Israeli narrative of the event should remain a purely Israeli concern. On the contrary, we should make these rifts into one of our most important priorities. The more we can contribute to expanding those rifts and to discovering the potential they offer, the closer we will come to the perception of the end we seek. We who are alive today and who have experienced the war between Palestinian memory and the Zionist colonizers will not live to see the end of the next fifty years. However we can start to think about what it should be like and to sew the seeds for what our children will reap half a century from now. Palestine will always be where it is. The problem will be how to judge those who have not understood the lessons of the past and remain mired in the repetition of the mistakes of that past.


Driven back into the earth: A 1949 AP photo with the caption "Some 216,000 of the poorest of the estimated million Arab refugees are living now in Gaza"

Fresh off the train of modernity: The Zionist Commission arriving in Palestine, 1948

* Hasan Khader is the recipient of this years Palestine Award for best newspaper writing and is an expert on Israeli literature. He has published a study on the subject "Hawiyyat al Akhar" (1996, Ittihad el Kuttab publications), & translated a novel by David Grossman

April is the cruelest month Exactly fifty years ago today, thousands of Arab guerrilla fighters assembled at Al-Aqsa Mosque to honour their charismatic leader, Abdel-Qadir Al-Husseini, who had been shot the day before at the battle of Al-Kastel. There would be more burials to come. As the men prayed over the body of their dead commander, a full-scale carnage was unfolding barely three miles from the spot where he had died -- the massacre of 254 Arab civilians at the village of Deir Yassin. At the beginning of April, the Haganah launched Plan Dalet, seeking first to occupy and demolish villages along the Jerusalem road and, later, to occupy major towns which would become part of the state of Israel. By the end of the month, Tiberius, Haifa, Jaffa and West Jerusalem had all been taken, and their Arab residents driven out. Many of the atrocities that took place in Deir Yassin, including the parading of hostages, can be better understood in light of the death of Al-Husseini the previous day. Raji Sahioun, describing the atmosphere in Jerusalem during the funeral, recounts: "Sitting in my flat in Upper Baqa [West Jerusalem], surrounded by petrified friends, we could hear bullets, explosives, automatic rifles, machine guns. It was like everyone had gone mad. The Arabs were firing in the air in mourning and honour of Al-Husseini, and the Jews were also firing in the air, some to terrorise the Arabs, others in jubilation and spiteful glee at the death of the hero who had terrorised them more than all the Arab armies combined. The Irgun Zvai Leumi seized this opportunity -- the absence of most men from all the neigbouring villages of Jerusalem -- to commit their crime against the old people, women and children of Deir Yassin."

'It's difficult to count'


Few survived the massacre of Deir Yassin 50 years ago, and of them, even fewer are alive today to recount its horrors. Amira Howeidy reviews the carnage through their words Despite controversy over the exact number of those slain in the Deir Yassin massacre, the length of time their murder took and the strategic significance of the location of the village, the survivors' accounts unanimously agree in their descriptions of the atrocities committed by the Jewish gangs begining around daybreak on Friday 9 April 1948, and lasting until dusk. Abu Mahmoud (1) was 21 when the massacre took place. He and his young friends "were ready for whatever might happen after the battle of Kastel." A day earlier the leader of the Palestinian guerrilla, Abdul-Qader El-Husseini, had been seriously wounded at AlQastal. Residents of the neighboring town of Deir Yassin were alarmed. "By 4.30 pm on Thursday 8 April, El-Husseini was dead. We were watching the battle from a distance. After his death we took precautionary masures in case anything happened: we guarded the village until 2.30 the next morning when the Jews began to enter using spot and search lights to look for our fighters. The Jews closed in on the village, exchanging fire with us as they came." Mahmoud Kassem El-Yassini (2) who witnessed the massacre at age 15, clearly remembered that the village had actually been surrounded since the night before. His mother was in labour, "we could not get to a hospital because the village was under siege and there was no way out by night. At four o'clock on the morning of Friday 9 April, we heard shots coming from all directions. Then people started screaming: "The Jews have taken us," and "The Jews are taking hold of Deir Yassin." In the whole village, he says, there were "40 British-made guns... and no mortar of any kind." By contrast, Abu Mahmoud points out, "The Jews had all sorts of automatic weapons, tanks, missiles, cannons." "Once they entered the village, fighting became very heavy on the eastern side, and later it spread to other parts, to the quarry and the village centre, until it reached the western edge. The battle was on three fronts: East, South and North," Abu Mahmoud recounts. The Western front, following the pattern of phase 1 of Plan Dalet (3), was open for survivors to escape and tell others of the horrors they had seen with their own eyes. The fighting, says Abu Mahmoud, continued till around 3.30 in the afternoon. Most survivors describe what happened during the preceding 12 to 14 hours as "indiscriminate" killing. "They used to enter houses and kill women and children indiscriminately," Mahmoud for one recounts. "I saw how Hilweh Zeidan was killed, along with her husband, her son, her brother and Khumayyes. Hilweh Zeidan went out to collect the body of her husband. They shot her and she fell over his body... I also saw Hayat Bilbeissi, a nurse from Jerusalem who was serving in the village, as she was shot before the door of Musa Hassan's house. The daughter of Abu El-Abed was shot dead as she held her baby niece. The baby was shot


too... Whoever tried to run away was shot dead," says Um Mohammed (4), 64, who was fifteen when the events took place. El-Yassini tells of horrific details. "Everything seemed strange. There was blood everywhere. A dead woman holding her baby reminded me of my mother, so I dashed to our house. I found my mother hiding in fear in the basement and when she saw me she cried and started screaming. She told me to go to my uncle's house next door through a hole in the wall to make sure that the rest of the family was still alive. When I peered through the hole, I saw horror. I could see traces of blood all over the place. All that I could see was blood. I knew that they had all been massacred... I had lost my uncles Youssef and Mohammed Hamida." Rape, mutilation and humiliation were the norm. Says El-Yassini, "there were [corpses of] women lying in houses with their skirts torn up to their waists and their legs wide apart; children with their throats cut open, rows of young men shot in the back after being lined up at an execution wall. There were even bodies of babies." Moreover, "some had vivid crimson or black scars down the left side of their throats. One of the women held a tiny baby against her body. The bullet had passed through her breast and killed the baby. Someone had slit open her stomach, cutting sideways and then upwards, perhaps trying to kill her unborn child. Her eyes were wide open, her dark face frozen in horror." The number of the victims of the Deir Yassin massacre remains controversial. Most researchers, following a statement given to the press by Mordechai Ra'anan (the then Irgun Zvai Leumi commander for Jerusalem, and commander of the Deir Yassin operation), use the figure 254. That same figure was confirmed by The 254 figure appears in almost every account of the massacre at the time it occured. Sources endorsing that figure include: the Jewish Agency, a Red Cross official, the New York Times and Dr Hussein AlKhalidi, spokesman of the Jersualem-based Arab Higher Committee. However, this figure has been periodically contested, mainly by extreme right wing Zionist researchers. They claim that the figure cannot be more than 120-140. Yet whatever sources we adopt, it remains an undisputed fact that the number of victims was immense and horrified the survivors. El-Yassini recalls, "I remember hearing a Jewish terrorist who was touring the village and reporting the massacre, saying, 'Minus 15 Arabs. Minus 60 Aras.' After a while his message on the radio to headquarters became: 'It's difficult to count.'" Fifteen-year-old El-Yassini did not count, but "came across the evidence of widespread murder. Dozens of bodies of men littered the streets... Down an alleyway, no more than 50 yards from our house, there lay a pile of corpses. There were more than a dozen young men whose arms and legs were wrapped around each other in the agony of death. All had been shot at point-blank range through the cheek, the bullet tearing away a line of flesh up to the ear before entering the brain... We found out later that whole families were killed. I heard that the Zahran clan lost 40 men, women and children. They were the first family in Deir Yassin to be slaughtered by the Jewish terrorists." Despite the complete destruction of the village, which was now firmly under Jewish control, the killing frenzy continued unabated. According to Abu Yousef (5) who was 21,


"after the battle, the Jews took elderly men and women and youths, including four of my cousins and a nephew. They took them all. Women who had on them gold and money were stripped of their gold. After the Jews had removed their dead and wounded, they took the men to the quarry and sprayed them all with bullets... One woman saw her son taken some 40 to 60 metres away from where she and the rest of the women stood, and shot dead. Then they brought Jewish kids to throw stones at his body. Then, they poured kerosene over his body and set it ablaze, while the women watched from a distance." "Later, we collected together and checked who was missing. We were brought to Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem by the Arab Higher Committee. Each of us was looking for a son, a daughter, a sister or a mother." "The elderly men were told to remove the dead, both Arabs and Jews. They took the bodies of the Jews and left the Arab bodies; later they were thrown down a well in the village centre." Abu Mahmoud makes a similar account. "They took about 40 prisoners from the village. After the battle was over, they took them to the quarry where they shot them dead and threw their bodies into the quarry. After they had removed their dead and wounded, they took the prisoners and killed them." Although the survivors of Deir Yassin were given shelter in the Al-Aqsa mosque, they were still not safe. "I saw many Jewish assailants targeting the Dome of the Rock with mortar bombs" says El-Yassini. "After a while, we had to go to the village of Abu Dies, because in Jerusalem we were constantly under attack. My [pregnant] mother was overdue and on her way to the hospital with her brother, Jewish terrorists threw a bomb at her. She died but the baby survived. We decided to name him Jihad as she had wanted to call him." "A Jewish terrorist reporting the massacre was saying, "Minus 15 Arabs. Minus 60 Arabs." After a while his message on the radio to headquarters was, "It's difficult to count." Footnotes (1) Elias Zananiri, Gulf News, 9.4.1997, Sakakini Cultural Center website (2) Omayma Abdel-Latif, Al-Ahram Weekly, 17.4.97 (3) Salman Abu Setta, paper presented to the Arab Centre for Futuristic and Developmental Research, Cairo, 1996. Pointing to that phase of Plan Dalet (which aimed at capturing villages along the Tel-Aviv-Jerusalem road from local Palestinian militia), Setta said,"This was the case, always; surrounding the village from three sides, and leaving the fourth open. The murder and mutilation was deliberate, and also the leaving a number of survivors to recount the story. These massacres were one of their tools of war." (4) Elias Zananiri, Gulf News 9.4.97 (5) Elias Zananiri, Gulf News 9.4.97


The making of a martyr When Abdel-Qader Al-Husseini fell at Al-Kastel, his death seemed to mark the beginning of the end for the Arabs in Palestine. Some historians even claim that had the Arabs not lost this battle, there might be no Jewish state today. Omayma Abdel-Latif reflects on the career of a great warrior "A military commander and a Palestinian fighter." This is the description of Abdel-Qader Al-Husseini in information file number 3101 in the archives of Al-Ahram newspaper. Abu Mousa, Abdel-Qader Al-Husseini, is acknowledged in there as the Palestinian commander most committed to the cause which he gave his life for. Abdel-Qader was born in Jerusalem in 1908 to Mousa Kazem pacha Al-Husseini, one of the pioneer commanders who led the early struggle in Palestine from 1919 to 1933 and was elected to chair the first Arab Conference in Jerusalem in 1919. The young boy witnessed from an early age the battles against the British mandate rule, which acted as an eye-opener, initiating him into the true situation of Palestine at the time. Right up to the end of his life, Mousa Kazem Pacha, despite his considerable age (he was 83 when he died in 1934), still took to the streets, organising protests against the British Army's connivance with the Zionist movement who were actively colonising Palestine. In one of those demonstrations in Jaffa, Mousa was attacked by a British solider and seriously injured. He was pronounced dead on 23rd March 1934. Abdel-Qader, by then, was old enough to follow in his father's footsteps. In that same demonstration, the young man had been among the injured. As he later recalled, "the slogans of the protest called for the 'fall of zionism' and of Britain which protected it.' Al-Husseini was educated at Roudat al-Ma'aref al-Watanyia in Jerusalem. Most wealthy Palestinian families at the time would send their sons to complete their higher education in Egypt, and Al-Husseini was duly dispatched to Cairo, where he entered the American University in Cairo, majoring in history and journalism. He graduated with honours in 1934, the first ever Palestinian student to receive such a degree from the AUC. Describing the scene 25 years later in a profile of Al-Husseini, AlMessa newspaper of May 15, 1959 (edited at the time by Anouar Saddat) reported that the young man had addressed the audience, telling them, "This university is but a colonial and missionary establishment. It is also a base for the enemies of the Arabs. To express my protest at the existence of such a place in the heart of Cairo, I will tear up this degree... This university aims to destroy the pillars of Islam and Arabism and to turn young Arabs into voices of colonialism." This account is probably highly exaggerated, yet similar stories appear in many of the sources for his life. Whether he gave the long speech reproduced in Al-Messa, or just shouted "Long live Palestine," as other sources claim, the incident itself is indicative of both the climate that prevailed in the thirties and the legends that were woven around Husseini's name much


later. Upon returning to Palestine, Al-Husseini turned down a job with the British mandate authorities in the Land Settlement Circle, a body which was to oversee the settlement of land disputes between Arabs and Jews. To his dismay, Al-Husseini realized that his job as an assistant to the settlement Sherif ? was effectively to hand the land of Arab families over to their Jewish rivals. In 1936, Al-Husseini took part in the Palestinian revolution. As commander of Al-Jiha Al-Mouqadas (Sacred Jihad) troops in Palestine, he was delegated the authority to declare war against the British mandate authorities, which he did on 7 May. The revolution began with systematic attacks on British troops stationed in Jerusalem and its environs. The enemy sustained heavy losses, which provoked the British authorities to lay ambushes to try and hunt down Al-Husseini. Despite their efforts, he managed to scape unscathed. The revolution reached its peak in July of the same year when the remaining forces of Ezz ElDin Al-Qassam joined the ranks of Al-Husseini along with scores of fighters from around the Arab world. After a series of attacks in Ramallah, Jericho, Bethlehem and Bab ElWad, the British troops managed to lay siege to the village of El-Khodr, and Al-Husseini was captured in a fierce battle. Seriously wounded, he was transferred under heavy guard to the military hospital. While the British authorities awaited his recovery to put him on trial, Abdel-Qader's comrades attacked the hospital and spirited Al-Husseini away to Damascus, where he remained for three months to complete his treatment. In response to a plea from the Arab kings and the Arab Supreme Committee for Palestine, the revolution was then brought to an abrupt halt, after the British authorities promised to consider their demands. By the end of 1937, Al-Hussini was back in Palestine. He was stationed in Beirzeit, which was to be the headquarters of the second stage of the holy Jihad against British occupation and Jewish immigration. A few months later, the fighters had taken the old city of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho and Ramallah, as well as scores of villages. Faced with such considerable victories, the British troops moved to crush the revolution. While Al-Husseini was moving towards the coast to attack Jewish settlements in the Beit Gebrin area, he came under fire from British artillery and was so severely injured that he was counted among the dead. Yet somehow, he manged to resurface in Damascus, where he again received treatment for his wounds. Shortly afterwards, the Second World War broke out and the Palestinian revolution came to a halt once again. Al-Husseini moved on to Baghdad where he joined the military officers' college. In 1941 he supported the revolution of Rashid Ali Al-Kilani against the British army and, as a result, was arrested and put on military trial, where he was sentenced to three years imprisonment. At the end of the Second World War, Al-Husseini reappeared in Cairo, where he was hard at work preparing the next stage of armed struggle in Palestine. He began by training Palestinian youths in guerrilla warfare. While thus occupied with purchasing arms and training the young soliders of the holy Jihad in Cairo, he also met with a number of the nationalist officers in the Egyptian army to agree on goals for the Palestinian fighters. The Mufti declared him the commander of the holy jihad. Thus made ready, Al-Husseini moved back to Palestine after nearly a decade's absence. His return


coincided with the declaration of the November 1947 UN resolution on the partition of Palestine. As clashes between Arabs and Jews intensified on the eve of the establishment of the Jewish state, zionist guerrilla gangs resorted to terrorism against the Arabs by planting bombs in Arab quarters. Abdel-Qader and his men engaged in a series of battles against these gangs in Beit sourek,Beit Mehiaser, berk Suliman, Sourif , Ramallah and other villages. Having run out of weaponry, their commander then headed to Damascus, the headquarters of the Arab Liberation Army (the army of irregulars formed by the Arab League), to seek ammunition and mortar cover. In Damascus, Al-Husseini did his best to describe the deteriorating situation in Palestine and how the Jews were becoming more influential every day. He went on to explain how the Jewish gurreilla were well-equipped while the Palestinian fighters didn't lack courage, but had no weapons save old Ottoman guns.

The funeral of Abdel-Qader Al-Husseini, at Al-Aqsa Mosque, on Friday 9 April

It was while Al-Husseini was making his plea for help, that the battle of Al-Kastel broke out. The village of al-Kastel, west of Jerusalem, was to be occupied under the first phase of Plan Dalet, whose goal was to capture the villages along the Tel-Aviv-Jerusalem road from local Palestinian militia. According to many Arab historians, the battle of Al-Kastel was one of the decisive battles -- if not the decisive battle -- of the 1948 war. It was the battle which determined the possibility of the Jewish state. Both the Arab fighters and the Jewish terrorists realised the strategic importance of the village. Whoever controlled alKastel could control Jerusalem and the ammunition road linking the Jewish settlements


with both Tel-Aviv and Jaffa, as well as the Palestinian coast. That is why the battle turned into one of the fiercest and bloodiest encounters of that time -- a prelude to the atrocities committed in Deir Yassin a day later. In his book, The Struggle of the Palestinian People, the writer and journalist Ahmed Boyassir explains that the response of the Arab League military committee to AlHusseini' request for arms simply reflected the policies of the countries they represented. "During this time, news broke that Al-Kastel has fallen into the hands of the Jews, AlHusseini was outraged by the news and addressed Taha Pacha Al-Hashemi, former general commander of the Iraqi Army and chief inspector of the Arab Liberation Army, in these terms: "Al-Kastel is a strong fortress which we cannot hope to get back with the little ammunition we have. Give me the weapons that I ask for and I will recapture it". Al-Husseini's request was refused. His final words to those who denied him arms were, "History will record that you made the loss of Palestine possible. I will go back to Kastel even if I die with all my comrades." He was killed a day later at Al-Kastel." Following his death, Al-Ahram's Jerusalem correspondent wrote: . "The killing of the late Abdel-Qader Al-Husseini, the commander-in-chief of Jerusalem area, has come to be regarded as an example of self-sacrifice which all the Arabs should take pride in." The correspondent reported that while the Arab fighters continued their attacks on the village of Al-Kastel, "Al-Husseini, who had just returned from Damascus to recapture Al-Kastel village, was killed during the attack [...] "Informed sources said that Abdel-Qader was in the forefront of the attack. He had entered a house to blow it up; he never came out again. Haganah circles, however, claim that Abdel-Qader was buried under the ruins of a house which was blown up by explosives planted by Jewish troops." On Sunday 11th April, Al-Ahram's Beirut correspondent filed a story describing the state of shock the Palestinians have been through after the news broke out of the killing of Abdel-Qader Al-Husseini in the battle of Al-Qastal. "When the news was carried to the Mufti of Palestine, Amin Al-Husseini-AbdelQader's uncle - he received it calmly saying we apologetically congratulate ourselves for the death of this courageous commander. Those are few who are credited with martyrdom in the battlefield. I condole you in the Arab hero, he said to those who came to pay condolences indicating that Abdel-Qader did not only belong to the Husseini family but rather to the Arab family. Al-Ahram correspondent went on to describe the scene in the Hussini's family by saying that while many of the people who came to condole the Mufti would burst into tears, he remained calm and collected and showed no signs of distraught. The mufti was visited by the then Syrian president Shukry el-Qawatly and Prime minister Gamil Merdem Bek.


The correspondent went on to mention his last encounter with 'the hero' before he meets his tragic end. "It was on a Monday, before he launches his attacks to liberate Al-Qastal and I requested an interview with him, but his reply was 'great deeds are going to happen and they are better than words' It was as though, the correspondent went on, he felt his death was nearing as he looked at his officers and told them "there should be no more meetings" for he was keen on heading to Palestine to liberate Al-Qastal. Then he addressed me by saying I will immediately head to Palestine and we will fight them until we kill them to a man," He went back to the holy land the same night carrying with him the plans drawn out to finish off the Zionists in Al-Qastal and there he was martyred after achieving victory.

Sheikh Amin Al-Husseini receiving condolences for his nephew Abdel-Qader Al-Husseini

Where the village of Deir Yassin once stood there is now a mental hospital, originally established to care for Holocost survivors. Nidal Rafa, a Palestinian citizen of the state of Israel, ventured into the follies of the past capturing these photos.


Clockwise: An old Arab house inside the hospital compound used as a store; the sign of the Kfar Shaul Mental Health Center; a well-preserved Arab house inside the compound; a dilapidated dwelling, once belonging to an Arab family, in an exclusively Jewish area of the neigbouring town

History with Arabs An Israeli television series has provoked widespread controversy after it recognised the fact that Palestinians were deliberately expelled from their land in order to create the Zionist state. Graham Usher reports from Jerusalem


Last week, Israelis tuned in to watch the latest episode of Tkuma (Hebrew for "Resurrection"), a 22-part televised history of Israel being shown on Israel's Channel 1 TV to commemorate the State's 50th anniversary. The entire series has been controversial, especially earlier episodes which showed how the establishment of Israel was at least partly realised through the deliberate expulsion of Palestinians from their lands in what had been, prior to 1948, mandate Palestine. But the latest episode succeeded in causing an outrage even before it was aired. Entitled the "Path of Terror - Biladi, Biladi ("My country, my country"), the programme looked at the emergence of the PLO as a national movement advocating and practising armed struggle as a strategy to liberate Palestine. It began with a 1969 interview with Yasser Arafat vowing that "Palestinians will return to their homes" and ended with some archive PLO footage of Palestinian guerillas evacuating Beirut in 1982 to the strains of the Palestinian national anthem, "Biladi, Biladi". In between, nine Israelis and six Palestinians gave contrasting interpretations of such events as the killing of nine Israeli athletes by the PLO's Black September movement at the 1972 Munich Olympics, the 1978 Camp David accords signed between Egypt and Israel and Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon. For most Palestinians, the episode was largely a conventional Israeli reading of the years 1967 - 1982, though some admitted that in allowing Palestinians to speak of their own history there was at least an attempt at balance. "Tkuma has shown bits and pieces of the real history, but not the complete history," PLO spokesman Bassam Abu Sharif said. Israeli reviewers associated with the Labour and Meretz parties also saw the "Biladi" documentary as an attempt to place the PLO's armed rsistance (or "terrorism," as the Israeli interviewees insisted on calling it) in the wider context of Palestinian nationalism, so as to "know the motives of the other side in the war, the side we will have to make peace with in the not too distant future," as the retired army general, Shlomo Gazit, expressed it in Israel's Yediot Aharonot newspaper on 6 April. Yet, for other Israelis, any attempt to understand the PLO as a nationalist phenomenon rather than a "terrorist" one proved a transition too far. Nor was their criticism limited to reviews. Prior to "Biladi's" screening, the episode's writer and director, Ronit Weiss-Berkowitz, received death threats and hate calls accusing her of being an "Arab lover" who "glorified terrorism". On the day of transmission, Israel's High Court of Justice heard a petition from a Jewish Organisation dedicated to "protecting the state of Israel's identity". It called on the Court to ban the entire Tkuma series for "twisting history and making Israel the aggressor and not the victim". The Court threw out the petition on the grounds that it was not the "censor" of the Israeli Broadcasting Association (IBA). Communications Minister Limor Livnat also lambasted the programme, warning ominously that she looked forward to the day when the IBA would "carry out its duty to produce a Zionist broadcast which doesn't purport to represent only the Palestinian side". Why the furore? For Tom Segev - one of Israel's "new" historians who has done pioneering research on Israel's early years - Tkuma was bound to be controversial


because it deals with history. And "history in Israel is a sensitive subject in ways that politics is not," he says. This is because "Zionism is a particular interpretation of Jewish history. So, in addressing this history, Tkuma is addressing the most basic ideological and existential discourses of Israeli society." Another "new" Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe, agrees. He believes that the fuss whipped up by Tkuma is due less to the answers it provides - which are couched in traditional Zionist terms - than to the questions it poses. "The very language Tkuma uses to describe Israel's establishment is provocative to many Israelis," he says. "The series refers to the war of 1948 rather than the liberation of 1948. It talks about the expulsion of Palestinians from their lands. It concludes that the expulsion was morally justified, but it no longer disputes that expulsion took place. This is to strike at one of the founding myths of Zionist history." And this - according to the Israeli writer, Arie Caspi - is what has triggered the various attacks on the Tkuma series and its makers. Writing in Ha'aretz newspaper last week, Caspi says that "the anger at Tkuma is rooted in the fact that the series ruins the denial mechanisms we [Israelis] have developed to repress the wrongs done to Arabs during the establishment and growth of the state". In commemorating Israel's Jubilee, "Tkuma's critics would have preferred a history without [Palestinian] refugees, without a military government, without occupation and, indeed, without Arabs at all." Tkuma thus reveals -- however partially -- that in the end such denial can be no defense against history, and that until the Palestinian question is fully acknowledged, there can be no solution for the future.

Remembering Deir Yassin Fifty years after Deir Yassin, and in the midst of a dying peace process, the Zionists of America are denying historic facts so as to continue to deny justice to the Palestinians, writes James Zoghby This is an article I never thought I would have to write. It was 50 years ago that the Zionist terrorist groups Irgun and Lehi (Stern Gang) committed a massacre in the Arab village of Deir Yassin. Now, 50 years later, the President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), Morton Klein, is waging a campaign in the United States denying that a massacre took place. Not unlike the historical revisionists who deny the Holocaust, Klein's work "Deir Yassin: History of a Lie," has the appearance of scholarship. It is heavily footnoted, and documented and relentlessly plods through every quote and claim made about the events at Deir Yassin. Klein's methods are similar to the Holocaust deniers. He uses half quotes, specious arguments and ad hominem attacks in an effort to confound an ordinary reader. He


admits what cannot be denied, but minimizes its importance. In the end he claims that Deir Yassin was only a minor but necessary skirmish. It was fought Klein says, to eliminate a hostile Arab presence that was threatening to the Jews of Jerusalem. And its reality he says was distorted by a combination of Arab propagandists, Jewish establishment enemies of the Stern and Irgun Gangs, Jewish leftists and the exaggerated boastings of those who were there (whom, he says, only made their claims as a part of their psychological propaganda campaign against the Arabs). Klein's purpose is larger, of course, than the discrediting of Deir Yassin. He and his movement seeks to rewrite history by eliminating from its record one of Zionism's more odious events. Klein knows that the terrorism at Deir Yassin did not stand-alone. As modern Israeli historians now acknowledge (and as Arabs have always known), Deir Yassin was but one piece of a concentrated Zionist strategy to terrorize Arabs in order to expel them on the way to depopulating their villages in order to either repopulate them with new Jewish immigrants or to erase them from the map. All this would be frightening enough if Klein were merely a liar and a deliberate distorter of fact. But the reality is even more frightening. He is a fanatic true believer for whom Zionism can do no wrong. And Klein is not alone. He heads an organization, which he has effectively used to intimidate opponents. By preying on fear, Klein has silenced foes in the media, in politics and even within the Jewish community. He has, over the past decade won minor battles, forcing newspapers to change maps, forcing Jewish organizations to disinvite speakers, forcing politicians to change their votes. Now it appears he has trained his guns on a major campaign to erase a massacre from history and intimidate those who would resist. That Klein's efforts must be combated goes without saying. If his campaign goes unanswered, he will win and politicians, the media and even historians may come to question either the fact that a massacre did take placed at Deir Yassin or that it was an important component in the effort to terrorize some Palestinians to leave their homes. In this context, it is important to note that a small but potentially important effort is underway to defend history. "Deir Yassin Remembered" is a new organization dedicated to preserving the memory of that outrage by publishing materials, both documentary and commentary, and by constructing a monument to the massacre in the place where the village of Deir Yassin once stood. The founder of "Deir Yassin Remembered" Dan McGowan, a professor at Hobart College in New York, was a guest on my ANA weekly call-in television show "A Capital View." Not only did we have the opportunity to commemorate the massacre and discuss the work of the committee, but the program also provided a number of survivors the opportunity to call-in and share their reminiscences with our nationwide audience. One caller had been a young girl at the time of the massacre. She described in harrowing detail what she saw and survived. Her grandmother, uncle and two-and-a-half-year-old brother killed-- the rest of her family was forced to flee. Another, a male nurse, recalled


seeing survivors, prisoners of war, paraded through Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. Still another reported how these same prisoners were taken to a quarry outside of the village and shot in cold blood. Beginning next month Arab American organizations will take the campaign one step further. A huge quilt has been created with one large hand-embroidered patch for each of the 418 Palestinian villages destroyed by Israel since 1948. The "Quilt Project" will travel throughout the month of May across the United States. It will be greeted by rallies and events in major U.S. cities. This effort to remember and defend our past is a vital component to the struggle to create justice in the future. The ZOA effort to deny and rewrite history is a continuation of the Zionist campaign to deny not only justice to the Palestinians, but their very history and existence as well. Deir Yassin was a massacre. There are too many witnesses, Arab, Jewish, and European to deny that fact. But it was more than that; it was a deliberate act of terrorism with a clear political objective. It was callously used. After the massacre, Haganah sound trucks drove through Arab areas warning "unless you leave your homes, the fate of Deir Yassin will be your fate." As Menachem Begin himself declared in the The Revolt, "Arabs throughout the country, induced to believe wild tales of 'Irgun butchery' were seized with limitless panic and started to flee for their lives. This mass flight soon developed into a maddened, uncontrolled stampede. Of the almost 800,000 who lived on the present territory of the State of Israel, only some 165,000 are still there. The political and economic significance of this development can hardly be overestimated." It was an offensive campaign to conquer Arab land and depopulate (now called "ethnic cleansing") Arab villages. Noted David Ben Gurion in his Rebirth and Destiny of Israel: "Until the British left (May 15, 1948) no Jewish settlement, however remote, was entered or seized by the Arabs, while the Haganah...captured many Arab positions and liberated Tiberia, and Haifa, Jaffa, and Safad.... So on the day of destiny, that part of Palestine where the Haganah could operate was almost clear of Arabs." Add to this, the admission of Yitzhak Rabin that he ordered the forced expulsion of 40,000 Arabs from the Palestinian village of Lydda. Said Rabin: "The inhabitants of Lydda must be expelled quickly without attention to age...implement immediately." The same has been admitted by Yigal Allon, who headed the Palmach. His goal, he wrote was "the need to clean the upper Galilee of Arabs." His tactic was to use fear and terror to force Arabs to flee. Forced expulsion and terrorism defined the Palestinian exodus of 700,000. Ethnic cleansing and erasing villages defined the formation of the Jewish state in 1948. This we have always known. This some Israelis now admit. And this is what Klein and his Likud cohorts now seek to deny.


Fifty years later in the midst of a dying peace process, the ZOA seeks to deny and intimidate others into denying these historic facts so as to continue to deny justice to the Palestinians in their ancestral homeland. To demand justice, we must defend the past.

A 1948 Achme Photo with the caption: "Menachem Beigin, leader of Irgun Zvai Leumi cogratulates one of his men during a parade in Jerusalem, on which occasion he made one of his first public appearances. Behind Beigin is his 'adjutant', a man who dresses exactly like him, even to glasses, presumably to foil a would-be assassin."

* The writer is President of the Washington-based Arab American Institute

The hour of our going On 18 April the first Arab town-- Tiberias-- fell to the hands of the Haganah. Four days later Haifa's Palestinian population had to flee under the Haganah's combined shelling and ground offensives. Amira Howeidy recounts the story the Palestinian exodus After the capturing of Arab villages along the Tel-Aviv-Jerusalem Road, the Haganah started in the second half of April its offensive against Palestinian towns. By the night of April 18 Tiberias' approximately 6,000 Arabs were fleeing the town, constituting the first batch in the mass exodus of approximately 800,000 Palestinians by the end of the 1948 war. According to Palestinian historianWalid El-Khalidi, one of the most significant aspects in the fall of Tiberias was the way the British forces handled the situation. Till they were due to withdraw on May 15 ending the mandate, it was their duty to maintain security


and peace in Palestine. However, the only effort exerted in this respect while Tiberias was under the heavy mortar firing, was an "advice" to the commander of the Arab garrison "to stop fighting and evacuate the Arab inhabitants." Justifying this passive stance, the British military historian Major Wilson said that the British forces were obliged to stick to a certain time schedule for the anticipated withdrawal. By the time the Haganah attacked Tiberias, the number of British troops was "too weak in numbers", ultimately making material intervention impossible. The degree of British complicity with the haganah was further questioned when few days later it was Haifa's turn. The twon of Haifa was the concentration point for the would-bewithdrawing British troops who were waiting for May 15 to sail away. Haifa had a population of 140,000, more than half of which were Jews. The Jewish quarters were situated high on Mount Karmel, completely overlooking the Arab quarters-- a factor which facilitated the Haganah attacks later on. Since the UN partition reslution, fighting between the two parties became a common aspect in the daily life of Haifa; continuous snipping, explosions and exchange of fire. The British troops were in charge of safeguarding the security in the town, and policing the main roads separating the Jewish quarters from the Arab ones. On April 1, a liaison office was formed between the British army and the Arab local national committee, in response to the orders of General Stockwell, the British commander. Although they established good relations for some time, it did not last too long. According to El-Khalidi, the passive stance of the British troops in Tiberias.was an encouraging signal for the Haganah to carry on the launching of Operation Misparayim to attack and occupy Haifa, and they were right. On 21 April the British suddenly evacuated the residential quarters of Haifa. At 11:00 AM, General Stockwell summoned Amin Ezzedien, commander of the Arab garrison, and informed him that he had ordered his troops to withdraw from the areas separating the Arab quarters from the Jewish ones, adding that he will not intervene in any clashes between the two parties. Meanwhile the Haganah were launching their 'general attack' on Haifa using mortar vessels indiscriminately. They filled barrels with explosives and rolled them down to the Arab quarters below. Despite the Arab's repeated pleas to the British army to send help, they were turned down. In his book 'The Jihad of the Palestinian people in half a century', Saleh Masou'd Bouyassir points that the number of Jewish fighters in Haifa was 5,000, well trained and armed with American weapons and Russian armored vehicles. The Arabs on the other hand were desperately searching for weapons. They succeeded in buying some from their own money and asked for more from the military committee formed by the Arab League. However out of 205 machine guns sent by the committee, only 89 were operating. Moreover, Haifa which was surrounded from its four sides with Jewish settlements "with the help of the British forces" was in a difficult situation, says Bouyassir.


The Jewish attack continued throughout the night of the 21st till the following day. The fighting grew fiercer "it continued, non stop for 76 hours; in the homes, alleys and sometimes with knives, sticks or hands" points Bousier. As the number of wounded Arabs swell- parallel to the escalation of the attacks- another plea was made to the British. And again, there request was rejected. A state of chaos prevailed as thousands of terrified Arab women and children rushed towards the port hoping to escape. But as the entire Arab area was exposed to the Jewish quarters above, the Haganah snipers killed tens of those trying to flee. And according to El-Khalidi, 10,000 refugees made it to the port and were placed into boats and ferries by the British which took them North to Acre. As this was happening , the Arab Higher Committee was meeting with Stockwell who refused their demand to stop the Jewish attack which literally developed into "a human massacre" or to reconsider the passive British stance. His only suggestion was to "mediate" between the two parties and resisted the repeated efforts of the committee to reach a better compromise. And in a bid to put a fast end to the ongoing massacre, the committee's spokesman said the Arabs were ready for a truce but wanted to know its conditions. Stockwell immediately excused himself from the room claiming that he will contact the Jews. Fifteen minutes later, he was back with a printed copy of a prposed 'truce'. But as El Khalidi points, it amounted to "unconditional surrender". The conditions were : disarmament of the Arabs completely and handing in all their weapons within three hours, the assembly of all "male foreign elements" in a certain location on the condition that they depart Palestine in 24 hours, and finally a curfew. The Arab delegation objected and asked Stockwell to add one more condition stipulating that signing this list would not entail any recognition on their part of the leadership of the Haganah or of any political changes in the country. The British commander promised to pass this to the Jews but asked the Arabs to meet with the Jewish delegation in his presence in the afternoon. When the meeting took place, the Jews flatly rejected the proviso. The Arab delegation which felt the need to consult their co-inhabitants, asked for a 24 hour respite to think it over, hoping they can contact the Arab countries too. But both the Jews and Stockwell refused and the latter boldly stated that the Arabs have to sign the truce this evening if they want to avoid "300-400" casualties among them. Despite the strong pressure of the Arabs, Stockwell would not delay the meeting later than 7:00 pm that same day. Once they departed the meeting, the Arab delegation called the largest number of the Haifa's men to discuss the situation. They agreed to delegate the committee to negotiate for the interest of the Arabs, which, at this stage, was simply to eliminate the killing of innocent people. However, the committee felt it should not force the people of Haifa to recognize the authority of the Haganah, even if this resulted in a political backlash. At the seven o'clock meeting, they refused to sign the truce and asked to facilitate the departure of the inhabitants. Moreover, they requested delaying the meeting to the following day to work out the departure procedures.


On Friday April 23, all the parties met. The Arab delegation presented a memo addressed to Stockwell, quoting his warning that if the Arabs do not accept the Haganah's provisions, they will endure 300-400 more casualties. The memo also pointed out that "despite the fact the departure [of the Arabs] is our request, yet the main reason for this request remains your refusal to take up any action to protect the lives and the properties of the people." But Stockwell refused to receive the memo. The delegatio presented another memo during the meeting addressed to the Jews this time. It objected to the continuing of shooting and killing of Arabs and the looting of their shops, homes and cars in addition to the detainment of hundreds. Moreover, the memo demanded that each Arab who chooses to remain in the city should enjoy full freedom in living and working. The property of those who depart, it added, should preserved. The Jewish party did not respond decisively. A few days later, they established an 'administration for the enemy's properties', whereby they considered all of Haifa's Arabs as enemies. Therefore, all their properties, whether left behind or taken, subject to the regulations of property sequestration. By this, the Jews managed to prevent those who departed to take but the simplest personal belongings. Within a week, only 8000 Arabs out of Haifa's approximately 70,000 Arabs remained in the city; the rest were driven out to a diaspora that remains until the present day.

Operation Chametz Tiberias fell on 18 April, Haifa on the 23rd; then it was the turn of Jaffa, a city which was not included in the UN partition plan as part of the would-be State of Israel. Between 23 April and 13 May, the people of Jaffa fought desperately to save their town from the land grab of Plan Dalet and Operation Chametz to take over the city. Chametz means yeast in Hebrew. The Zionist offensive to occupy Jaffa, launched on 22 April 1948, coincided with the Jewish feast of Pesach (Passover). During the month preceding the Pesach, Jewish housewives are obliged to rid their households of any remnants of yeast (chametz) products. It was no coincidence, therefore, that the Haganah dubbed its drive to expel the Arab inhabitants of Jaffa "Operation Chametz". The codename signified exactly what the operation intended: an ethnic cleansing of the Arabs. The Arab inhabitants of Jaffa numbered around 70,000. The Arab fighters trying to hold back the Jewish attack were 450 of the city's inhabitants, beside another 300 fighters from the Arab Liberation Army formed by the Arab League. Jaffa was in a most vulnerable position because of its proximity to Tel Aviv, where the largest Jewish population (170,000) was based. Tel Aviv was also the base for the Haganah's Kiryati Brigade, with its 3,000 fighters; 15 km south-east of Jaffa the Haganah's Givati brigade, with an equal number of fighters, was stationed. The Arabs fought desperately for 10 days, but on 3 May, the Arab commander in charge of the defence of the city, Michel Al-Issa, cabled to the Arab League Military Committee in Damascus: "There are no forces left to defend the city. All


the inhabitants have already left. The British authorities advise that Jaffa is declared an open city." A few days later, there were only 500 Arabs left in Jaffa.

After the matriculation At first it seemed that the Zionists' assault on Jaffa could not succeed. But, as Abou Loghd*, then a student in his final year of high school, recalls, the Palestinian population was soon forced to realise that the enemy had got the upper hand No sooner had the UN General Assembly passed its partition resolution in November 1947, than Palestine was torn apart by a war waged between its two historically antagonistic communities -- Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Jews. From 29 November 1947 to 15 May 1948, each of these two communities endeavoured to establish a sovereign State. The first shots were exchanged between Jaffa and Tel Aviv on the eve of 30 November 1947 during a three-day general protest strike declared by the Arab Higher Committee. What started then, with the passage of that UN Resolution in 1947, continues still to this day, in different ways and forms. The hostile peace that had previously prevailed was shattered once and for all. It does no good now to say that the outcome was a forgone conclusion, that the betterequipped, better-commanded and Western-supported Jewish militias would inevitably overcome what were for the most part poorly-led, essentially weaponless and badlyorganised, though more numerous, Palestinian Arab forces. What began slowly soon developed into a mass exodus, especially following the death in battle of the Palestinian leader Abdel-Qader Al-Husseini and the Deir Yassin Massacre. After the Jewish victories at Haifa and Jaffa in the last ten days of April, the pressure of war forced the Palestinians to relocate. At first they moved internally, to "safer" areas within exposed cities and in Arab-dominated areas of Palestine, as they sought to get out of harm's way. The relentless pressure of the Jewish militias (the Haganah, the Irgun, and others), together with the random but deliberately orchestrated bombardment of the largely civilian population, lay behind this initial exodus. On the eve of the UN Partition Resolution, Jaffa's Arab population numbered over 70,000. By and large they supported the traditional Palestinian leadership headed by Haj Amin Al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti, though he himself had been exiled and was then residing in Cairo. To organise resistance, two members of the Arab Higher Committee, Sheikh Hassan Abou Al-Seoud and Rafiq Al-Tamimi, were sent to Jaffa to supervise the establishment of a National Committee. The composition of the Jaffa National Committee reflected the rather conservative leanings of the majority, though it did include some younger people who stood for less conservative trends. Besides the supporters of Haj Amin, there was also a Christian representation and some elements from the City Council. The Mayor, Dr. Youssef Heikal, was excluded because he was considered to be an enemy of the traditional supporters of Haj Amin, and a supporter of king Abdullah.


The formation of this committee represented a significant development in the attempt to fill the political vacuum left after the crushing of the 1936-1939 revolution. But it also reflected the belief that a decisive battle with the Zionists was approaching, though I do not think we realised just how decisive that battle was going to be. The committee was provisionally located in Sahat Al-Sa'a [the square where the clock stands] near an old Ottoman building called the palace, which was once a court. During November the Committee moved for security reasons to another headquarters in the neighbourhood of Ajami, where the French Ambassador to Israel now lives. Many students volunteered to work with the Committee. I myself was then a student at Al-Amriya secondary school in my final year, preparing for the matriculation exam. I still remember raging debates with our teachers, and especially with our history teacher, Zohdi Jar-Allah. He was the first to predict that the Partition resolution would be passed in the UN, and he used to believe -- though he did not say so in public -- that we had to accept the resolution, as we would lose if we went to war with the armed Zionists. Though we very much respected our history teacher, we used to think that said all this because he was a relative of Sheikh Hossam El-Din Jar-Allah, Sheikh Amin AlHusseini's opponent ,who had obtained more votes than Haj Amin in the elections for the post of the Grand Mufti, but was never appointed, as the British for their own political reasons chose to give the job to Haj Amin. Now, when I think of those days, I am inclined to think that the inhabitants of Jaffa in general believed -- like most of their fellow Palestinians throughout the land -- that the Palestinian was braver than the Jew and more capable of standing hardship. They thought that, as the country belonged to the Arabs, they were the ones who would defend their homeland with zeal and patriotism, which the Jews -- being of many scattered countries and tongues, and moreover being divided into Ashkenazi and Sephardic -- would inevitably lack. In short, there was a belief that the Jews were generally cowards. Thus the people of Jaffa, as well as the members of the National Committee, believed that if they made ready a bit, and if the British army did not interfere on the side of Jews, as it had done previously, then they were sure to emerge victorious. They believed this, despite the fact that the National Committee had not succeeded in mobilising people or in finding a substantial number who were willing to engage in military action, and despite the fact that the results of the first encounters between the Arabs and the Jews had not been promising. Indeed, the Jewish forces were quickly able to establish most of the areas bordering on the Jewish quarters as no man's land, and the majority of the Arab inhabitants in those areas had to relocate to safer parts. This did not directly lead to any deterioration in Arab morale during the first few weeks, as everyone was to busy following reports of the battles and the destruction, analysing the situation and drawing lessons, while the local press kept reassuring them that all would turn out well. However, insights into the true gravity of our situation did begin gradually to emerge.


During the first three weeks following the UN Partition Resolution people began to evacuate the frontline district, and by the end of December 1947 all these areas had become a no man's land. Those who had had to leave their homes began to adapt to the new situation, renting or squatting houses that had been deserted by their owners when they fled the city to safety. Those who remained began to wonder when all this was going to end, and they began to pin their hopes on the arrival of the Arab military forces to rescue them. We used to follow attentively the news of the delegations that were dispatched to Damascus (the headquarters of the military committee formed by the Arab League), or to Cairo, or to Amman to talk to King Abdullah. At the beginning, those who left Jaffa were the affluent. They were ashamed of their desertion, and gave various excuses for leaving, such as that they were going to Cairo for a honeymoon (my family squatted in a flat of a newly-wed couple who never returned from their honeymoon); that they were having to go abroad for medical treatment or for some other personal emergency; and so on. We young ones used to view these people with disdain and talk about how typical their desertion was of the behaviour of the rich and well-to-do. On 24 January, the Palestinian Education Council announced that the Palestine Matriculation Examination would start on 30 March, rather than in June as usual. After the exams ended and we were free, some of the students volunteered to work for the National Committee. The committee had decided to levy a tax on every family who insisted on leaving. With my two friends Safiq Al-Hout and Mohamed Lasawi, I worked in a branch of the committee based in the headquarters of the Muslim Youth Association near the port of Jaffa. Our job consisted mainly of harassing people to dissuade them from leaving, and when they insisted, we would begin bargaining over what they should pay, according to how much luggage they were carrying with them and how many members of the family there were. At first we set the taxes high. Then as the situation deteriorated, we reduced the rates, especially when our friends and relatives began to be among those leaving. We continued collecting this tax until 23 April, when the combined force of the Haganah and the Irgun succeeded in defeating the Arab forces stationed in the Manshiya quarter adjacent to Southern Tel-Aviv. On that day, as we realised that an attack on the centre of Jaffa was imminent, I and my family decided that they had to be evacuated temporarily. We rented a van, into which we crammed all the women and young children and sent them to Nablus. I and my elder brother Yehia remained behind to "defend" our city. Life had become very difficult for those who remained, and people were getting more desperate by the day, with no leadership to guide them. Leaving the city had become difficult, as the Haganah had cut the land road, and the only way out was the sea with all its risks. Then on 3 May word began to spread -- until this day I do not know how, as there were no press, and the Radio was not the source for that item of news -- that the last ship that would be making a humanitarian relief mission, a Belgian ship called the Prince Alexander, was in the port ready to take whoever wanted


to leave. My friend Shafiq Al-Hout had already left for Lebanon ith his family. By then there was only myself, Mohamed Lassawi and a third friend from the old city left. The three of us went to the port, taking nothing with us. We got on the barge which was carrying luggage out to the ships standing out to sea one kilometre away from the port. In 15 minutes we reached the ship, but at the last moment we felt ashamed of our desertion and decided to turn back to the port. We stayed on the barge. We spent the whole afternoon searching for something to eat all, but in vain. At 3 pm we heard the siren of the Prince Alexander, and we looked at each other thinking this might be our last opportunity. We ran swiftly to the barge and returned to the ship. At 3.30p.m on Monday 3 May, 1948, we set sail for Beirut. A day after our departure, Dr. Youssef Heikal, the Mayor of Jaffa, left for Amman where he reported that not a single Arab remained in Jaffa. On 10 May, however, according to the Associated Press, there were still 2,000 Arabs out of the more than 70,000 in the city. I arrived in Beirut on 4 May, I believed that we would be returning to Jaffa in a couple of weeks. But it was in Nablus, while sitting idly in a cafe one day in July 1948, that I heard the results of the Palestine Matriculation Examination broadcast over Radio Israel. I and my friend Shafiq Al-Hout had passed the exam. I sent him a cable in Beirut, and armed with the Matriculation he was able to enroll at the American University in Beirut. I, for my part, left for America, where my certificate reached me by mail in December 1949, thus enabling me to pursue my education there. The next time I saw Jaffa was on 8 Dec. 1991. In the company of Mohamed Ma'ri, then a member of the Knesset, I inspected every street, alleyway, school and market. Though Jaffa is my city, I could not help feeling that the life that runs through its veins today is a very different life from the one that I had lived. * The writer is Professor Emeritus at Northwestern University, Evanston, and Professor of International Studies at Birzeit University. An expanded Arabic version of this article will be appearing soon in a special issue of the Ramallah-based periodical Al-Karmel commemorating 50 years of Arab dispossession.

Ghost city Abdel-Qader Yassin, veteran Palestinian political activist, recounts his last sight of Jaffa in 1948 "On the night the UN issued the partition resolution, fires and demonstrations broke out across Jaffa. Everything changed. Since then nothing has ever been the same. I was ten years old at the time and I had four sisters and an infant brother. My parents, together with the rest of our family, decided to leave the neighbourhood where we used to live, ElManshia, which was now on the front line, as we were very close to Tel Aviv. We moved to a hotel downtown called El-Inshirah and stayed there for around four months until the fighting broke out again in April.


"The Jewish families who were close to the front line retreated then too. So there was a void that was immediately filled by the fighters from both sides. From the night we departed El-Manshia till the time the fighting started again, Jaffa was like a ghost city. "Tel Aviv was the major point of Jewish convergence. It was the headquarters of the Jewish Agency and the Zionist leadership. Limited fighting broke out from time to time between the Arabs and the Jews, but it was always contained. Before the partition resolution, it was common for the Arabs to visit Tel Aviv. But once the resolution was announced, everything changed; instead of normal life, there was mutual boycott and two warring parties. "The partition resolution was like a war signal. Even though Jaffa was not included in the would-be Israeli state, we knew the Zionist gangs would not stick to the declared borders. Being so close to Tel Aviv was another factor that intimidated most of the fleeing families, who were expecting a fierce Jewish assault. I remember visiting El-Manshia with my father three days after the partition resolution and seeing three Haganah fighters dressed in black crawling towards the Arab quarter. They were beaten back by Arab fighters, but anyone could see that a war was coming, even before the Haganah launched its attack against Jaffa in April. "On later visits, some of my fathers' friends who had remained in El-Manshia told us how the Arab fighters suffered from lack of ammunition. Each fighter had only five bullets. The machine guns they used were either the British-made 303s or Italian ones brought from Egypt's Western desert by the National Committee in Jaffa. "I used to read the three daily Jaffa-based Arabic papers: Al-Defa'a (Defence), Phalestine (Palestine) and Al-Sha'ab (The People). It was evident from the material they published and from what I heard from the older people, that the balance of power favoured the Jews. They had advanced weapons, well-trained fighters and ample ammunition. The Arabs, on the other hand, were running out of everything. To make things worse, the British troops handed over their military camps to the Zionists prior to their departure from Palestine. "My father, like many Palestinians, didn't join the Arab fighters simply because there weren't enough weapons. The vast majority of fighters used to buy their weapons with their own money, as the Palestinian political leadership could not afford to supply us. On top of that, most of the available weapons were really old. "Nevertheless, morale in Jaffa was quite high. Despite the scarcity of weapons and ammunition, victory seemed very close at certain points. It was so close that on 19 March, America's UN representative asked the UN to cancel the partition resolution, because he felt that the Jews might be defeated. But on 9 April the Jewish gangs deliberately committed the Deir Yassin massacre to demoralise the Arabs, and it worked. "We all heard about the massacre. I remember that I read extensive coverage of the horrors in our press, which republished a story from the New York Times. Besides this


terrifying news, the Arabs in Jaffa feared they would not be able to defend their honour if they were attacked by the Jews. They were afraid that their women would be subject to the humiliation of Deir Yassin. I was young, but I sensed just how much this worried the people in Jaffa. Having four sisters was enough reason for us to leave, as the Jews considered everything and everyone in the villages they invaded as theirs. "When the Zionists launched their onslaught on Jaffa, they surrounded it on three sides, leaving the fourth, which was the port, free. Then they bombarded us with mines, as Menahem Begin?? later admitted in his book, The Revolt. When the shelling began, everyone rushed to the port, including my family. I can still remember the noise of the bombs, getting closer and closer to the port, as the weak Arab defence gradually collapsed. "When we left Jaffa, we all thought we'd return when the Arab armies liberated our land. The scene of that departure is still clear in my mind. Thousands gathered at the port and the only thing that could absorb this huge number were the barges that were used for transporting the ships' goods. We were packed into hundreds of these small barges like sardines and took off. Some went to Egypt, like my family, and others sailed to Gaza. I recall that Jaffa had 70,000 inhabitants. After the Jewish offensive, only 5,000 remained. "In Egypt, all the Palestinian refugees followed the news day by day, and it was my daily task to read the papers for the illiterate. I remember reading that those who had remained were besieged in the neigbourhood of Ajami and were prevented from restoring their destroyed homes. Later on, as more Palestinians flocked to Egypt, we were told that when the Jewish gangs entered the Arab quarter after the fall of Jaffa, they slaughtered a number of innocent and unarmed civilians. Those who managed to stay alive did so only by playing dead among the corpses, so that the Jews wouldn't notice them. Once the Jewish fighters walked away, the Palestinians ran to the port and took the first boat or ship they saw. "I never visited my home in Jaffa again. Many of those who wanted to see their homes after 1976 couldn't do so. The Jewish families who had occupied their homes denied them entry, so they died of grief. But I don't want to die." Interview by Amira Howeidy

Tiberias: the Beginning and the End By Anis Sayigh

Thirty years ago I was on a flight from London to New York. To ward off the tedium of conversation with unknown fellow-travellers I had taken a book along. But here was an American man in the seat beside me and Americans abroad chatter incessantly...


Turning to me, the American man said: "I am So and So, from Such and Such a state." "And I am So and So, from Tiberias," I answered. Naturally, he took no note of my name, which is unrecognisable to foreign ears. But Tiberias rang a bell, though he couldn't remember where and when he'd heard it. "Where is Tiberias?" "It's a town in Palestine." "Palestine?" he asked in astonishment. "Yes. The country you [Americans] helped usurp and where you founded a state you call Israel." "Oh, Israel. Right. Now I know where it is. But where exactly is Tiberias in Israel?" "It's on the west bank of Lake Tiberias, or what you call in English the Sea of Galilee." "I know I have read about Tiberias, but my memory fails me. Would you remind me of the famous figures associated with it?" "Christ, for one, came to Tiberias. He wandered along its shores, walked on its waters and did not drown. He made miracles in Tiberias, fed the multitudes with two or three fishes. There, at His cry, the swine from Trans Jordan became mad and ran to their death. He healed the blind, raised the paralysed and turned the fishermen into philosophers and exegetists." He nodded in agreement for he had recalled. Then he asked: "And who are its famous citizens?" "There was Peter, the chief apostle of Christ and His most loved disciple. And ... and..." I went on to enumerate the names of 11 out of the 12 disciples, all of whom were from Tiberias and its environs. Only one among the dozen was from Jerusalem -- Judas Iscariot, who betrayed his master and sold him to the Jews for 30 pieces of silver." He was a very insistent neighbour, prodding me for more names of famous figures. I recited names of Romans, Muslims, Jews and Crusaders who were either born in Tiberias or lived there. He just couldn't get enough and kept asking for more[...] but I had run out of names. I knew I had to dredge up some name with which to end the litany, before we could both fall silent. Finally, I said: "Anis Sayigh."


"I've never heard that name before. Could you please spell it out for me so that I can look it up in the Encyclopedia Americana. There's not one famous person who's not in it." I said: "S-A-Y-I-G-H." He pulled his diary out of his pocket, jotted down the letters which he intoned aloud to make sure he got them right: "S-A-Y-I-G-H." I went back to my book[...] After the plane landed I went through security and customs where the officers satisfied themselves that I was not carrying explosives, hashish or Communist pamphlets. Walking towards the exit I saw the American.... "Good-bye. I'll go to the public library first thing tomorrow morning and look up that famous man from your hometown: Mister S-A-Y-I-G-H." Then he gave me a triumphant smile, for he had not forgotten the name.

Palestinian refugees who in 1948 flooded the Gaza Strip from all over Palestine had two links with the outside world: the narrow road through the 200 miles of Sinai Desert to Cairo, and the Mediterranian Sea. Both links were cut off by 1967 war. The photo shows Palestinians leaving the Gaza Strip on small fishing boats

Ours was the last house to the north of the town. From there the road took you to Safad and Umoum, in the north of Palestine. Only a kilometre away from the house is a series of some of the most important archaeological, touristic and Christian sites, among them Al-Tabgha and Kafr Nahoum. There you find scenic vistas where the sea meets the land in stretches that are neither land nor sea: when the tide flows, they become sea; when it


ebbs, land. Sugar-cane stalks, reeds and papyrus cover them. Monks and nuns tend them and look after the thousands of visitors from all over the world. I confess here, and for the first time, that Al-Tabgha and Kafr Nahoum surpass Tiberias in beauty. Because they were under the supervision of Catholic monasteries while we are Protestants, we rarely visited... but whenever we had guests we would make that an excuse to go with them to these marine paradises... I see that green strip of trees between our house and the seashore where the Lido, the most famous and certainly the classiest establishment in north Palestine, once stood. This was built in the 30s by a German man called Grossman. During the war, the British charged him with Nazi sympathies and threw him in prison where he committed suicide. Then the Jews took over the Lido and changed its name, in revenge against Grossman. One of the things I remember is that Grossman had a sign at the entrance which said, in Arabic, English and German, literally: "Dogs and Jews Forbidden on the Premises."... Our gardener was the brother of the gardener at the Lido, so our family and the Grossmans used to trade flowers and compare notes about them, and on feast days we'd exchange gifts with them. I, of course, used to get the lion's share of the lovely German toys and clothes, being the youngest son, and therefore spoilt rotten by everyone, even the Nazis. Indeed, the Grossmans, the hospital doctors..., the minister and the Scottish Protestants -- all used to call me "the little minister" because, like my father, I am plump and have a rotund face set in a big head, though obviously I was not, at the time, bald like my father. The sobriquet did not bother me at all because it guaranteed that I would get most of the nice presents. What did cause me distress was that people would always pinched my cheeks by way of greeting, particularly during visits. How I envied my brothers their lean cheeks which nobody ever pinched... ... Adjoining our house inland was Yakfi, an elegant villa built by a Scottish (or maybe Australian, I can no longer remember) retired missionary called Miss Varten. Some of the simple townswomen used to call her El-Sitt Miss Varten. My father, who for reasons unknown to me, mistrusted her, used to say that she was in fact Armenian and that her real name was Vartanian but that she had changed it to claim she was Scottish or Australian and therefore blue-blooded. Miss Varten had two infirm, elderly women living with her who in their youth used to help her spread the word. One of them, Sitt Mariam, was a Sunni Muslim from Syria, while the other, Sitt Saadi, was a Druz from 'Ebiah, Lebanon. They had both converted to Christianity long before we met them, and in fact before they came to live in Yakfi as Miss Varten's guests. With the passing of time Miss Varten died, followed by Mariam, and Saadi was left alone. She was poor, and my mother felt sorry for her, so she invited her to have lunch with us every day of the year. But Saadi was so frail and sickly that she couldn't come and go on her own. My brother Mounir and I used to take shifts going over to the villa to collect and then escort her back. Sitt Saadi's only worldly possession was a gold watch.


When I went to fetch her she would say she had willed her watch to me after her death, as an expression of gratitude and I was overjoyed, only to discover that the following day she had said the same thing to my brother Mounir on his shift. So it was that, between Mounir and Anis, the promise of the watch alternated 360 times a year. Then Saadi died while we were away at boarding schools (Mounir in Beirut, I in Jerusalem). I still do not know to whom the watch fell -- exactly like Palestine, promised us but lost in a moment of forgetfulness, to become Israel.

Anis Sayigh *Born in Tiberias in 1931. Was in Boarding school in Jerusalem when Tiberias fell and his family had to leave the city. *Received his undergraduate education at the American University in Beirut, and his Ph.D in political studies at Cambridge. * Wrote more than 20 books on the history of the Arab world and the question of Palestine. *Editor-in-chief of the monthly magazine Palestinian Affairs (1971-1981), and director of the PLO's Research centre in Beirut (1966-1976). *The target of three Israeli assasination attempts, one of them a letter bomb, in 1972, which left him blind. * Presently resides in Beirut.

* Source: Anis Sayigh's book 13 September, Beirut, 1994

Jaffa: Land of oranges * By Ghassan Kanafani When we had to leave Jaffa for Acre there was no sense of tragedy. It felt like an annual trip to spend the feast in another city. Our days in Acre did not seem unusual: perhaps, being young, I was even enjoying myself since the move exempted me from school... Whatever, on the night of the big attack on Acre the picture was becoming clearer. That was, I think, a cruel night, passed between the stern silence of the men and the invocations of the women. My peers, you and I, were too young to understand what the whole story was about. On that night, though, certain threads of that story became clearer. In the morning, and as the Jews withdrew threatening and fulminating, a big truck was standing in front of our door. Light things, mainly sleeping items, were being chucked into the truck swiftly and hysterically.


As I stood leaning against the ancient wall of the house I saw your mother getting into the truck, then your aunt, then the young ones, then your father began to chuck you and your siblings into the car and on top of the luggage. Then he snatched me from the corner, where I was standing and, lifting me on top of his head, he put me into the cage-like metal luggage compartment above the driver's cabin, where I found my brother Riad sitting quietly. The vehicle drove off before I could settle into a comfortable position. Acre was disappearing bit by bit in the folds of the up-hill roads leading to Rass ElNaqoura [Lebanon]. It was somewhat cloudy and a sense of coldness was seeping into my body. Riad, with his back propped against the luggage and his legs on the edge of the metal compartment, was sitting very quietly, gazing into the distance. I was sitting silently with my chin between my knees and my arms folded over them. One after the other, orange orchards streamed past, and the vehicle was panting upward on a wet earth... In the distance the sound of gun-shots sounded like a farewell salute. Rass El-Naqoura loomed on the horizon, wrapped in a blue haze, and the vehicle suddenly stopped. The women emerged from amid the luggage, stepped down and went over to an orange vendor sitting by the wayside. As the women walked back with the oranges, the sound of their sobs reached us. Only then did oranges seem to me something dear, that each of these big, clean fruits was something to be cherished. Your father alighted from beside the driver, took an orange, gazed at it silently, then began to weep like a helpless child. In Rass El-Naqoura our vehicle stood beside many similar vehicles. The men began to hand in their weapons to the policemen who were there for that purpose. Then it was our turn. I saw pistols and machine guns thrown onto a big table, saw the long line of big vehicles coming into Lebanon, leaving the winding roads of the land of oranges far behind, and then I too cried bitterly. Your mother was still silently gazing at the oranges, and all the orange trees your father had left behind to the Jews glowed in his eyes... As if all those clean trees which he had bought one by one were mirrored in his face. And in his eyes tears, which he could not help hiding in front of the officer at the police station, were shining. When in the afternoon we reached Sidon we had become refugees.


Ghassan Kanafani * Born in Acre in April,1936. Spent his childhood in Jaffa where he received his education in a French missionary school. Left Jaffa in 1948, first for Lebanon then Syria and Kuwait. * Moved to Beirut in 1961, where he wrote novels, short stories, film scripts, political articles and edited a number of political and literary publications, including Al-Hadaf, the organ of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Appointed official spokesman of the Popular Front in 1970. * Was blown up in a car explosion, which also killed his niece, on July 1972. Amid the wreckage a scrap of paper from the Israeli Embassy in Copenhagen was found, a reminder of the fate awaiting those who fought Israel.

* Source: Kanafani's short story "The Land of the Sad Oranges", collected in his Complete Works, Beirut, 1975;

Haifa: Wadi Al-Nisnass & Abbas Street By Emile Habibi I claim to be one of those people who cannot see the moon except for its luminous side. It is thus I justify those Jewish friends with sensitive souls who claim they do not believe it when we declare that we want a lasting peace based on a Palestinian state alongside an Israeli one. I find excuses for their mistrust, telling myself and my people that perhaps their suspicion of our intentions comes from their sense of guilt at everything they have committed against us, expressed once in Moshe Diyan's phrase: "If we were in their place..." There is no place for "if" in actual history. However, if one wants to argue using such logic, then I would say that if we were in your place we would not have allowed our reactionary forces to do to you what your forces of reaction have done to us. Furthermore, I would add that if you combined all the "ifs" in all the languages of the world, you would be unable to justify a single harm -- not even the minutest -- that you have wreaked on what you call "the other people"... Umm Wadie [Habibi's mother] was unable to overcome the shock of those days [1948]. By then her life was behind her, and most of her sons and grandchildren were scattered in the diaspora. Once she came down to the premises of our old political club in Wadi AlNisnass to participate in a joint Arab-Jewish women's meeting. Those were days of a raging general election campaign. The Jewish speaker was emphasising our struggle for the rights of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. Umm Wadie interrupted her saying: "Will my sons and daughters return?" Taken aback, the Jewish-Hungarian speaker replied: "They will return when peace is achieved." "Lies," shouted Umm Wadie, "my son Emile never lies to me. He told me that their return -- if ever they return -- will take a long time. By then I won't be here to see them: I'll be in my grave."


Ever since that meeting, and without me knowing, it became her custom to go secretly to a corner of Abbas Garden near our house. She would lean against a stone shaded by an olive tree and bemoan her destiny -- lonely and separated from children, especially her youngest son Naim. "Naim, where are you now? What has happened to you without me?" Little did I know of her newly acquired habit until one day I overheard my two daughters playing at being Granny Umm Wadie bemoaning "O Naim". That year Umm Wadie left us, crossing the Mandelbaum Gate on her way to her children who had taken refuge in Damascus. It was there, in Damascus, and not in Shafa Amre [her native village, now part of Israel] that her soul returned to its maker. "As for you, you can stay. Your life is before you, and you can afford to wait until they return." Those were the last words of my mother, Umm Wadie, when we parted on the Israeli side of the Mandelbaum Gate. I remained. I returned to Haifa and wrote my very first story as a citizen of the State of Israel. It was entitled "Mandelbaum Gate". And I remained. But, until this day, and for as long as I live, I think of my mother as having remained with me, for mothers are of the roots. *** In our alley, the search for those Arab women who had smuggled themselves in along with their children never ceased. Those women of the neighbourhood who were registered used to take shifts at the top of the alley staircase to alert the rest whenever there was a search campaign. Among the residents of the neighbourhood were two Jewish women, one Polish married to a Pole, the other from Tiberias, also married to a Pole. The latter spoke Arabic like a native -- indeed, she was a native. She was humorous and, when it was her shift, used to alert everyone in a mock-Polish accented Arabic. As for the Polish woman, she tried her hardest to give her Arabic the intonations of an Arab from the tribe of the Prophet Mohammed. Her name was Masha, and her husband's name was Leon. They had adaughter, the same age as my children, whom Masha used to take along to her vigil at the top of the staircase. The child would run up the stairs, alerting the hunted women so that they would run carrying their children to the Abbas Garden. I allow myself here to divulge the names of Masha and her husband because they couldn't bear to remain in our ill-fated alley, nor could they bear to be with us and segregated from us. They left the country and emigrated to Canada. As for the woman from Tiberias and her Polish husband, I keep their names hidden in my innermost soul. She was the one who insisted


at the beginning of every raid that the hunted women and her children should hide in her house. The women would reply: "No, our good neighbour. Enough what we are suffering. Why should you and your children suffer too? At least when we hide in Mount Karmel, they won't be able to harm a tree or a stone we hid behind." One summer evening in 1995, I returned to my house in Nazareth to find a female voice recorded on my answering machine. Masha and her husband Leon were staying with a friend in a house near Tel Aviv. She was speaking in English, and she asked me to try and phone them soon before their return to Canada. Immediately, I called the number she left on the answering machine and, giving my name, asked to speak to Masha or Leon. He came to the telephone first, and informed me, in English, that they were on their way back to Canada that same night and that they had tried to reach me several times but got no reply at my home. He insisted that I should visit them in Canada, as soon as possible, then passed Masha on to me. Her voice sounded as if she was weeping. She pleaded with me to visit them as soon as possible in Canada, before her husband's imminent death. I didn't wish to tell her that I was in the same boat as her husband, and promised that we would meet soon. Our neighbour from Tiberias had already died, having buried her husband. Although my children and their children had grown up together, it would seem that life made them drift apart -- I, for one, would rather not think of any other reasons for the total break of communication between our offspring.

Emile Habibi *Born in Haifa in August, 1921, where he remained until his death in May 1996. *Joined the Communist Party in the 1940s and was member of the Israeli Knesset from 19531972. * Began writing short stories in the 1960s, and was editor-in-chief of the Communist Party's Arabic newspaper, Al-Ithad, in the 1970s. Resigned from the Knesset in 1972 to write his first novel: Saeed the Pessoptimist, depicting the life and fortunes of an Arab citizen of the state of Israel. Published in 1974, it was an instant success, and remains one of the greatest of modern Arabic novels.


* Source: Special issue of Masharif Magazine, founded by Emile Habibi, commemorating the first anniversary of his death, Haifa, May 1997; Israel's 50th anniversary celebrations were in full swing last Thursday, the day when, according to the Jewish calendar, the state of Israel was established. The celebrations, held in major Western capitals, were attended by leading public figures and heads of state. Hollywood joined in the jamboree with a special programme hosted by Michael Douglas and Kevin Costner, featuring luminaries such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kathy Bates, Winona Ryder and President Clinton, all of whom paid tribute to Israel's greatness. Common to all the celebrations, as Edward Said notes, was the attempt to project the old-fashioned image of Israel as a haven of enlightened liberalism in a sea of Arab fanaticism and to obliterate the fact that half a century has gone by without Israeli restitution or acknowledgement of Palestinian human rights and without connecting the abnegation of those rights to Israel's official policies

Israeli soldier standing guard on the roof of the Israeli prime minister's office where US and Israeli flags flutter in the wind;


Toasting the anniversary of Israel and US Vice-President Al Gore's belated 50th birthday;

The Prince of Wales wearing kippa at the United Synagogue in London where he attended a service to mark Israel's 50th anniversary on 29th of April

Fifty years of dispossession By Edward Said In the United States, celebrations of Israel's fifty years as a state have tried to project an image of the country that went out of fashion since the Palestinian Intifada (1987-92): a pioneering state, full of hope and promise for the survivors of the Nazi Holocaust, a haven of enlightened liberalism in a sea of Arab fanaticism and reaction. On 15 April, for instance, CBS broadcast a two hour prime-time program from Hollywood hosted by Michael Douglas and Kevin Costner, featuring movie stars such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kathy Bates (who recited passages from Golda Meir minus, of course, her most celebrated remark that there were no Palestinians) and Winona Ryder. In the United States, celebrations of Israel's fifty years as a state have tried to project an image of the country that went out of fashion since the Palestinian Intifada (1987-92): a


pioneering state, full of hope and promise for the survivors of the Nazi Holocaust, a haven of enlightened liberalism in a sea of Arab fanaticism and reaction. On 15 April, for instance, CBS broadcast a two hour prime-time program from Hollywood hosted by Michael Douglas and Kevin Costner, featuring movie stars such as Arnol Schwarzenegger, Kathy Bates (who recited passages from Golda Meir minus, of course, her most celebrated remark that there were no Palestinians) and Winona Ryder. None of these luminaries are particularly known for their Middle Eastern expertise or enthusiasm, although all of them in one way or another praised Israel's greatness and enduring achievements. There was even time for a cameo appearance by President Bill Clinton, who provided perhaps the least edifying, most atavistic note of the evening by complimenting Israel, "a small oasis," for "making a once barren desert bloom," and for " building a thriving democracy in hostile terrain." Ironically enough, no such encomia were intoned on Israeli television, which has been broadcasting a 22-part series, Tkuma, on the country's history. This series has a decidedly more complicated content. Episodes on the l948 War, for instance, made use of archival sources unearthed by the new historians (Benny Morris, Ilan Pappe, Avi Schlaim, Tom Segev, et al) to demonstrate that the indigenous Palestinians were forcibly expelled, their villages destroyed, their land taken, their society eradicated. It was as if Israeli audiences had no need of all the palliatives provided for diasporic and international viewers, who still needed to be told that Israel was a cause for uncomplicated rejoicing and not, as it has been for Palestinians, the cause of a protracted, and still continuing dispossession of the country's indigenous people. That the American celebration simply omitted any mention of the Palestinians indicated also how remorselessly an ideological mind-set can hold on, despite the facts, despite years of news and headlines, despite an extraordinary, if ultimately unsuccessful, effort to keep effacing Palestinians from the picture of Israel's untroubled sublimity. If they're not mentioned, therefore they don't exist. Even after fifty years of living the Palestinian exile I still find myself astonished at the lengths to whichofficial Israel and its supporters will go to suppress the fact that a half century has gone by without Israeli restitution, recognition, or acknowledgment of Palestinian human rights and without, as the facts undoubtedly show, connecting that suspension of rights to Israel's official policies. Even when there is a vague buried awareness of the facts, as is the case with a front page New York Times story on April 23 by one Ethan Bronner, the Palestinian Nakba is characterized as a semi-fictional event (dutful inverted commas around the word "catastrophe" for instance) caused by no one in particular. When Bronner quotes an uprooted Palestinian who describes his miseries, the man's testimony is qualified by "for most Israelis, the idea of Mr Shikaki staking claim to victimhood is chilling," a reaction made plausible as Bronner blithely leapfrogs over the man's uprooting and systematic deprivations and immediately tells us how his "rage" (for years the approved word for dealing with Palestinian history) has impelled his sons into joining Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Ergo, Palestinians are violent terrorists, whereas Israel can go on being a "vibrant and democratic regional superpower established on the ashes of Nazi genocide." But not on the ashes of Palestine, an obliteration that lingers on in measures taken by Israel to block Palestinian rights, domestically as well as in territories occupied in l967.


Take land and citizenship for instance. Approximately 750,000 Palestinians were expelled in 1948: they are now more than 4 million. Left behind were 120,000 (now one million) who subsequently became Israelis, a minority constituting about 18 per cent of the state's population, but not fully-fledged citizens in anything more than name. In addition there are now some 2.5 million Palestinians without sovereignty on the West Bank and Gaza. Israel is the only state in the world which is not the state of its ctual citizens, but of the whole Jewish people who consequently have rights that non-Jews do not. Without a constitution, Israel is governed by Basic Laws of which one in particular, the Law of Return, makes it possible for any Jew anywhere to emigrate to Israel and become a citizen, at the same time that native-born Palestinians do not have the same right. 93 per cent of the land of the state is characterised as Jewish land, meaning that no non-Jew is allowed to lease, sell or buy it. Before 1948, the Jewsh community in Palestine owned a little over 6 per cent of the land. A recent case in which a Palestinian Israeli, Adel Kaadan, wished to buy land but was refused because he was a non-Jew has become something of a cause cÊlèbre in Israel, and has even made it to the Supreme Court which is supposed to but would prefer not to rule on it. Kaadan's lawyer has said that "as a Jew in Israel, I think that if a Jew somewhere else in the world was prohibited from buying state land, public land, ownedby the federal government, because they're Jews, I believe there would have been an outcry in Israel." (New York Times, 1 March, l998). This anomaly about Israeli democracy, not well known and rarely cited, is compounded by the fact that, as I said above Israel's land in the first place was owned by Palestinians expelled in l948; since their forced exodus their property was legally turned into Jewish land by The Absentees' Property Law, the Law of the State's Property, and the Land Ordinance (the Acquisition of Land for Public Purposes). Now only Jewish citizens have access to that land, a fact that does not corroborate The Economist's extraordinarily sweeping statement on "Israel at 50" (25 April-1 May l998) that since the state's founding Palestinians "have enjoyed full political rights. What makes it specially galling for Palestinians is that they have been forced to watch the transformation of their own homeland into a Western state, one of whose express purposes is to provide for Jews and not for non-Jews. Between l948 and l966 Palestinian Israelis were ruled by military ordinance. After that, as the state regularised its policies on education, legal practice, religion, social, economic and political participation, a regime evolved to keep the Palestinian minority disadvantaged, segrgated and constantly discriminated against. There is an eye-opening account of this shabby history which is rarely cited and, when it is, elided or explained away by the euphemism (familiar from South African apartheid) that "they" have their own system: it is the Report of March l998 entitled "Legal Violations of Arab Minority Rights in Israel," published by Adalah (the Arabic word for justice), an Arab-Jewish organization within Israel. Especially telling is the section on the "discriminatory approach ofIsraeli courts", routinely praised by supporters of Israel for their impartiality and fairness. In fact, the report notes that the courts having delivered progressive and decent-minded decisions on the rights of women, homosexuals, the disabled, etc. have "since l948 dismissed all cases dealing with equal rights for Arab citizens, and have never included a declamatory statement in decisions regarding the protection of Arab group rights." This is borne out by a survey of criminal


and civil cases in which Arabs get no help from the courts and are far more likely to be indicted than Jews in similar circumstances. It is only in the past year or two that investigations of Israel's political makeup, hitherto assumed to be socialist, egalitarian, pioneering, forward-looking, have turned up a rather unattractive picture. Zeev Sternhell's book The Founding Myths of Israel (Princeton l998) is the work of an Israeli historian of twentieth century right-wing European massmovements who finds a disturbing congruence between those movements and Israel's own brand of what Sternhell rightly calls "nationalist socialism". Farfrom being socialist, Israel's founders and subsequently the polity they established were profoundly antisocialist, bent almost entirely upon "conquest of the land" and the creation of "selfrealisation" and a new sense of organic peoplehood that moved steadily to the right during the pre-l948 years. "Neither the Zionist movement abroad," Sternhell says, "nor the pioneers who were beginning to settle the country could frame a policy toward the Palestinian national movement. The real reason for this was not a lack of understanding of the problem but a clear recognition of the insurmountable contradiction between the basic objectives of the two sides." (p.43). After l948, policy towards the Palestinians clearly envisioned that community's disappearance or its political nullity, since it was clear that the contradiction between the two sides would always remain insurmountable. Israel, in short, could not become a secular liberal state, despite the efforts of two generations of publicists to make it so. After l967 the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza produced a military and civil regime for Palestinians whose aim was Palestinian submission and Israeli dominance, an extension of the model on which Israel proper functioned. Settlements were established in the late summer of l967 (and Jerusalem annexed) not by right-wing parties but by the Labour Party, a member, interestingly enough, of the Socialist International. The promulgation of literally hundreds of "occupiers' laws" directly contravened not oly the tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but the Geneva Conventions as well. These violations ran the gamut from administrative detention, to mass land expropriations, house demolition, forced movement of populations, torture, uprooting of trees, assassination, book banning, closure of schools and universities. Always, however, the illegal settlements were being expanded as more and more Arab land was ethnically cleansed so that Jewish populations from Russia, Ethiopia, Canada and the United States, among other places, could be accommodated. After the Oslo Accords were signed in September l993 conditions for Palestinians steadily worsened. It became impossible for Palestinians to travel freely between one place and another, Jerusalem was declared off limits, and massive building projects transformed the country's geography. In everything, the distinction between Jew and nonJew is scrupulously preserved. The most perspicacious analysis of the legal situation obtaining after Oslo is Raja Shehadeh's in his book From Occupation to Interim Accods: Israel and the Palestinian Territories (Kluwer, 1997), an important work that demonstrates the carefully preserved continuity between Israeli negotiating strategy during the Oslo process and its land occupation policy established in the Occupied Territories from the early 1970s. In addition Shehadeh demonstrates the tragic lack of


preparation and understanding in the PLO's strategy during the peace process, with the result that much of the sympathy gained internationally for the Palestinians against Isaeli settlement policy and its dismal human rights record was frittered away, unused and unexploited. "All the support and sympathy," he says, "which it took years for Palestinians to rally, returned home, so to speak, with the mistaken belief that the struggle was over. The Palestinians, as much as the Israelis, helped in giving the false impression through, among other things, the highly publicised media image of the Arafat-Rabin handshake, that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was resolved. No serious attempt was made to remind the world that one of the main causes of the conflict after 1967, the Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, remained intact. This is not to speak of the other basic unresolved questions of the return of refugees, compensation, and the issue of Jerusalem" (p.131). Unquestionably the moral dilemma faced by anyone trying to come to terms with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a deep one. Israeli Jews are not white settlers of the stripe that colonised Algeria or South Africa, though similar methods have been used. They are correctly seen as victims of a long history of Western, largely Christian anti-Semitic persecution that culminated in the scarcely comprehensible horrors of the Nazi holocaust. To Palestinians, however, their role is that of victims of the victms. This is why Western liberals who openly espoused the anti-apartheid movement, or that of the Nicaraguan Sandanistas, or Bosnia, or East Timor, or American civil rights, or Armenian commemoration of the Turkish genocide, or many other political causes of that kind, have shied away from openly endorsing Palestinian self-determination. As for Israel's nuclear policy, or its legally underwritten campaign of torture, or of using civilians as hostages, or of refusing to give Palestinians permits to build on their own land in the West Bank -- the case is never made in the liberal public sphere, partly out of fear, partly out of guilt. An even greater challenge is the difficulty of separating between Palestinian and IsraeliJewish populations who are now inextricably linked in all sorts of ways, despite the immense chasm that divides them. Those of us who for years have argued for a Palestinian state have come to the realization that if such a "state" (the inverted commas here are definitely required) is going to appear out of the shambles of Oslo it will be weak, economically dependent on Israel, without real sovereignty or power. Abve all, as the present map of the West Bank amply shows, the Palestinian autonomy zones will be non-contiguous (they now account for only 3 per cent of the West Bank; Netanyahu's government has balked at giving up an additional 13 per cent) and effectively divided into Bantustans controlled from the outside by Israel. The only reasonable course therefore is to recommend that Palestinians and their supporters renew the struggle against the fundamental principle that relegates "non-Jews" to subservience on te land of historical Palestine. This, it seems to me, is what is entailed by any principled campaign on behalf of justice for Palestinians, and certainly not the enfeebled separatism that movements like Peace Now have fitfully embraced and quickly abandoned. There can be no concept of human rights, no matter how elastic, that accommodates the strictures of Israeli state practice against "non-Jewish" Palestinians in favour of Jewish citizens. Only if the inherent contradiction is faced between what in effect is a theocratic and ethnic


exclusivism on the one hand and genuine democracy on the other, can there be any hope for reconciliation and peace in Israel/Palestine. Fudging, waffling, looking the other way, avoiding the issue entirely, or accepting pabulum definitions of "peace" will bring Palestinians and, in the long run Israelis, nothing but hardship and insecurity.

'Real Jews' How does Israel defend its interests abroad? In the first of an occasional series, Peter Snowdon in Paris calls round for a cup of coffee and a chat with the young Zionists of the Betar-Tagar It wasn't difficult to get in touch with the Betar. I'd imagined that any organisation which went round Paris shouting racist slogans and issuing communiques claiming responsibility for beating up Arabs must be relatively low profile, if not completely underground. Of course, the Front National do that kind of thing, and they're in the phone book. But they do it on behalf of the French people. The Betar do it on behalf of Eretz Israel. On 27 February, the Betar brought the Middle East "peace process" to the Ile de la CitĂŠ in central Paris. As supporters of Roger Garaudy left the court room opposite Notre Dame where sentence had just been handed down on the revisionist philosopher, a crowd of Betarim were waiting for them. Insults were traded, and amid cries of "Dirty Jews" and "Kill the Palestinians", a fight broke out. Several people were injured. Among the victims were two Egyptian journalists, who were attacked a little later as they were making their way to a nearby Metro station. According to Le Monde, it was the Betar who started it.

Hardly the kind of people who are likely to advertise their services in the yellow pages. Yet, as it turned out, nothing could have been easier than to contact them and arrange a meeting. I rang the Consistory -- the governing body of French Judaism -- and explained my problem to Yitzhak in the Press Department. Of course, he cried, but of course he could put me in touch with the Betar. I wondered aloud if they were a marginal group. "Mais non, mais non!" he replied, as if shocked by the idea that a Jewishgroup could be marginal. "They have an office. I will give you their telephone number. You can go and see them. They will make you at home. You will see that they are very fine young people. It is an excellent idea for you to write something about them to correct all the misleading information in the press." I promised I would do my best. "You have heard of the Jewish Defense League?" asked Yitzhak. "Sometimes, my dear sir, it is necessary for Jews to organise and defend themselves, because nobody else will help them." My Jewish friend, N, had told me something about the Betar approach to self-defence. In his youth, the Betar were famous because they travelled everywhere dressed as if for a golf match. "That way," he explained, "they could always have a few golf clubs with them, without anyone asking any questions." In the 1980s, they specialised in breaking


up private parties among Front National supporters. Their actions rarely made it into the press, since their adversaries preferred direct reprisal to legal proceedings. Until I spoke to Yitzhak, I hadn't met a single French Jew who had a good word to say for the Betar. But N told me he remembered his younger brother saying, at the time when the FN was just beginning its rise to power, "At least, if things get really bad, there'll always be the guys from the Betar." Today, the FN has more than 15 per cent of the national vote and controls the balance of power in a number of French regions. The Betar-Tagar have their Paris office on one of the city's less glamorous boulevards, lodged in between a cafe serving spécialités d'Alsace and an Afro-Caribbean hairdresser's. On the main door is a plaque advertising courses in Kinomichi. The Betar really like to be in the thick of it -- as if one diaspora wasn't enough for them, and they have to muscle in on everyone else's as well. The walls of the staircase leading to the first floor were daubed with violently anti-semitic slogans. I knocked on the heavily-armoured door and a young man showed me into a corridor festooned with wiring where the ceiling was in the process of being disembowelled. I had come to meet Moti. I didn't know what Moti did exactly, and I never discovered his second name. He had been "delegated" by the Jewish Agency, he told me. His office was small, cramped, papers piled high on every available surface, walls covered with maps, postcards, pictures. When it had Moti in it, it was even more cramped. Moti wasn't fat, so much as he was bulky. He seemed constrained by all the papers, the tracts, the furniture, and yet at the same time, he wasn't in revolt against those constraints: he had accepted them. They were part of his bulk, his mass: part of what had to be dealt with. "Coffee?" said Moti. While he went to fetch it himself from the vending machine in the hall, I looked round at the posters and slogans that filled the room: "Tremble antisemites", one intoned, "the Tagar is watching you." A small postcard showed a group of Ancient Egyptians in Pharaonic dress whipping a group of slaves on a building site. Underneath were the words: "Ever since then, the Jew has only been free in Israel." A photograph of Netanyahu shaking hands with Arafat was completed by the legend: "Let's get him a portable phone -- just like Yehia Ayache!". I was beginning to feel at home already. Moti came back with my drink. "I'm sorry," he said, "I just have to send a fax." He leaned back in his chair, and his girth loomed proudly towards the edge of the table, as if daring it to try and push him back within his negotiated limits. I was just wondering what this urgent message might be --instructions to an active unit to mount a raid or spring a trap? - when Moti turned to me and asked: "Do you know the Musée André Jacquemart?" I had to admit I'd never been. "You really ought to go," said Moti, reproachfully. Running a bomb-detector deftly over an envelope, he ripped it open, removed a handful of brochures, and handed me one. "They've just reopened after restoration," he explained. "One of the finest collections of decorative art in Europe. I'm trying to fix up a guided tour for next Tuesday."


I wasn't sure if this was an invitation or not. But as our interview wore on, and Moti repeatedly broke off explaining his movement's ideology or his view of the peace process to haggle over the price of an air ticket or discuss the arrangements for a dance class, it slowly dawned on me that that's the funny thing about the Betar-Tagar. It isn't a front, an elaborate cover -- a gang of thugs masquerading as an art appreciation association. It's an organisation run by and for people who genuinely believe that a passion for Empire-style furniture and the willingness to give those whom they perceive to be their enemies a good beating are not merely morally compatible, but are, in some sense, equally important social functions. Doubtless that's how they come to be an official association, part of the Jewish Agency's Education Department and affiliated in France to the Ministry for Youth and Sports. Betar is an acronym which stands for brith Joseph Trumpeldor -- the Joseph Trumpeldor alliance. They were founded in 1923 as the youth wing of the Revisionist movement within the World Zionist Organisation (WZO) by Trumpeldor's friend Vladimir Jabotinsky, with whom he had organised the Zion Mule Corp to fight alongside the British at Gallipoli. Trumpeldor and Jabotinsky have quasi-mythic status in Revisionist circles: Trumpeldor, as the First Jew to die for the homeland (he was killed defending the colony of Tel Hai in 1920), Jabotinsky as the man who created the first Jewish army sincethe fall of Massada in 135 -- the Jewish Legion, formed in 1916 to fight with the British against the Turks in Palestine. The Revisionists sought to "revise" the policies of the WZO, in the sense that they were more clear-sighted than their mainstream rivals about the need for force if the Zionist project was to succeed. They could see that the conventional strategies -- secret diplomacy and large-scale financial facilitation (bribery) -- were unlikely to achieve their ends, since none of the great powers had at that time any real interest in seeing a Jewish state established in Palestine. The Zionists would only get their state if they fought for it. Jabotinsky said as much in 1923: "Zionism is a colonising adventure, and therefore it stands or falls by the question of armed force. It is important to speak Hebrew, but unfortunately, it is even more important to be able to shoot." Whether Jabotinsky really felt the need for guns was unfortunate is unclear. Some time later he told an American journalist: "Revisionism is naive, brutal and primitive. It is savage. You go out into the street and pick any man -- a Chinaman -- and ask him what he wants and he will say one hundred per cent of everything. That's us. We want a Jewish Empire. Just like there is the Italian or French on the Mediterranean, we want a Jewish Empire." I guess Moti knew all this, but he wasn't volunteering any of it when we met. He was very strong on all the mythic stuff, though. He quoted Jabotinsky to me at some length on the importance of keeping Zionism 'pure'. I'm not sure quite what 'pure' means in this context, though for Moti it seemed to imply the nobility of what he was doing. Speaking of Jabotinsky (or of Trumpeldor -- it wasn't always clear who exactly he had in mind), he told me: "He was a new kind of Jew -- not a ghetto Jew, a Jew attachd to his immediate community, but a proud Jew, who learned how to use a gun, and once he had learned, put


this skill at the service of his country. He was a descendent of King David -- a poet and a fighter, an officer and a gentleman". But in fact this aristocractic vision of his mission was Jabotinsky's problem, as much as his solution. He saw himself as a Jewish Garibaldi, but he collaborated with Petliura, Mussolini and the Polish Colonels. About the only good thing one can say about him is that he drew the line at Hitler -- which is more than can be said for many of his lieutenants. It was Mussolini's naval academy at Civitavecchia which turned the Betar from just one more impetuous brownshirt gang into the disciplined organisation which would become, in turn, the Haganah, the Irgun and the Stern Gang. As one Jewish historian has put it: "He was the liberal-imperialist head on a totalitarian body." If revisionism is pure, it is in the sense that it is more or less entirely empty of any specifically "Jewish" content -- indeed, of any content at all. It is a complete break with tradition, as Jabotinsky's one-time disciple Arthur Koestler saw. It replaces the Torah and the Midrash with the Kalashnikov and the Smith and Wesson. Once you have your state you can fill it with whatever you like: old French armchairs, Habad rabbis, illegal settlements. It is against the diaspora, not because it is all overthe place, but because it saps the moral character of "the Jew". Indeed, listening to Moti was like being transported back in time: in his conversation, nations are not inherently complex and selfdivided collectivities, but types, to be summed up in a single capitalised figure: "the Jew", "the Arab", "the German". Moti told me: "We say: It isn't normal that an Israeli Jewish mother should send her children to protect a kibbutz in the north, and that a French Jewish mother shouldn't do the same. The Jew of the diaspora isn't and never has been capable of defending a Jewish child who calls out for help." He added, dismissively, as if it was just another example of this kind of generalised incompetence: "We saw that with the six million". Once I'd got over my initial trepidation, I'd been quite genuinely prepared to like Moti, even if I wasn't prepared to believe everything he said or approve of everything he did. Can a man who devotes his life to introducing adolescents to the pleasures of ormolu and Meissen be all bad? But by the end of the interview, I wanted to pick him up and shake him -- metaphorically, at least. (Literally might have been quite risky.) In his hands, the Holocaust is no longer a human tragedy, just a statistic whic shows both how seriously Israel ought to be taken, and how careless, how "negative", Jews who deny Israel can become. Just as Zionism has always agreed with other racialist ideologies that there really is a "Jewish problem", so Moti seemed all too happy to blame the diaspora for the Final Solution. But that's always been the Revisionists' problem: they can't wait to eliminate the Jews of the diaspora and replace them with that organic, self-assertive monad, "the Jew". As Jabotinsky himself put it: "Liquidate the diaspora, or the diaspora will liquidate you". So Moti and his friends are doing their best to create a new race of "proud" Jews in France, and prepare them for emigration to Eretz Israel. They do this through providing low-cost informal education for the children of Jewish families who can't afford the private Jewish schools. Their aim is to develop in their charges "good behaviour, good citizenship and good 'Jewishness'". This education, Moti explained, covers a variety of different activities: current affairs and media analysis ("Often, the young person, he is


stupid"), games, debates, dancing and singing (in Hebrew), help with homework, and sporting actitivies. I was tempted to ask at what age they began practising their golf. "All our monitors have a monitor's certificate from the French state. That's the great thing about informal education," said Moti, "you can use it to convey any kind of message you want". I was intrigued by the games. What kind of games do you play, Moti? "We have board games where you have to progress around the map of Israel. Or we take a silhouette of a man, and we say: Write down five things about this man which make him Jewish." That sounded a little racist: wasn't he worried about that? This, it turned out, was Moti's favourite subject: "What makes someone a Jew? Not wearing the kippa, not respecting kosher and the sabbath. There are many different ways of feeling Jewish. It's not up to me to tell people which is the right way. But to realise one's Judaism, there must be a national value. Here we have nothing to protect us against mixed marriages or anti-semitism, so the Jew has a problem of responsibility." He paused. "Have you heard of Entebbe?" Yitzhak had asked me the same question the day before. In 1976 a cell of BaderMeinhoff terrorists with support from a Palestinian splinter group hijacked an Air France flight from Ben Gurion to Paris and diverted it to Entebbe in Uganda. While the rest of the world hesitated, Israel sent a crack special services unit to storm the plane. The only Israeli soldier killed during the operation was Yoni Netanyahu -- the brother of Binyamin. As Moti told me the story of Entebbe all over again, I began to realise how much for the Revisionists, Netanyahu's election isn't an aberration, but a homecoming -- how for them, even more perhaps than under Menachem Begin (himself a former Betar leader), Israel now finally has the government it deserves. Binyamin Netanyahu's father was Jabotinsky's first political secretary, and Yoni is a hero to the Betarim on a par with their founders -- a modern Jabotinsky, a second Trumpeldor. They've even named the programme they run in Israel to prepare new immigrants for military service after him. "The French Jews," said Moti, employing a rare (derogatory) plural, "have never really said thank you to Yoni Netanyahu. He was the first to volunteer [for Entebbe]. As soon as he heard what had happened, he said: 'I don't care what anyone thinks, I have to go and help them.'" Moti looked me straight in the eyes and laughed: "I was almost going to say: That is a real Jew!" Moti may have laughed, but I don't think he was joking. The real Jew, for the Betar, isn't the most pious or the most ethnically pure: he's the one who is most inhabited by the 'will to Jewishness', and most ready to translate that will into an act of physical force. You can tell a real Jew, not by his skullcap, his features or his diet, but by the notches on the butt of his rifle. Yet for all their talk about making the aliyah, about emigrating to Israel and defending the kibbutzim of the north, most of the hard-core Betarim end up staying on in France,


where at least they can pick on someone smaller than themselves. And when they do go to Israel, they don't like it: they can't stand being in a country that's "overrun" with Arabs (not to mention a large number of "ungrateful" Jews, who would like to make peace with them). Yoni would have come in handy at the Garaudy trial, that's for sure. But was beating people up and shouting "Death to the Palestinians" really a demonstration of good behaviour, good citizenship, good Jewishness? "I don't have to answer false accusations," said Moti, feigning an Olympian indifference. "There are some young Jews who came. That's all." That's all? "I can't reply to and refute everything that has been said. There were so many people there. But I can tell you that I'm not worried about the eople who got beaten up." Really? "I can condemn violence in general." Of course. "But those people were not pure and innocent. They were there to defend Garaudy. They are antiSemites. If we shouldn't defend ourselves, then the Warsaw uprising was wrong too! I don't like the fact that antiSemitism dares come out and appear in public. It should be ashamed, and if it is to be shamed, there has to be a Jewish youth that is proud of what it is, and which condemns all this verbal, intellectual and racist violence." I began to get the feeling that Moti wasn't very concerned with conceptual nuance. Just as he seemed unwilling to differentiate between people of different races who hate each other and people of different races who fall in love with one another (mixed marriages/anti-Semitism), so he didn't seem to distinguish, other than at the pragmatic level of what might be an appropriate and effective response, between the might of the German army massed on the banks of the Oder and a couple of unarmed Arab journalists trying to catch the Metro back to their hotel. I tried to steer the conversation back onto firmer ground. Didn't you issue a communique? "When we issue a communique, we say what happened there," Moti huffed: "No one says that it was a guy from the Betar, that it was a Jew who did this or that! All we say is that the negationists were 'corrected'. I suppose it was a Jew -- responding to a racist provocation," he added disingenuously. So there you have it: the Betar weren't taking responsibility, they were just acting as a kind of volunteer news agency, keeping the world informed. Maybe all those classes in media analysis aren't so good for the Jewish character after all. Surely, if it wasn't the Betar who did this, you should issue a denial? Moti affected a certain world-weariness: "I don't have to react to defamatory statements and false information." He laughed again. "If I had to reply every time that people said the Betar smashed up such and such a place, I'd never leave the office!" I told him I quite understood how irritating that could become. But what about Palestine and the Palestinians? Have they no place in the Betar's vision for Israel? This, in my opinion, is were things got really nasty. "If I had to answer as one human being to another human being who is called the Palestinian or the Arab," said Moti, weighing each word, "if the person opposite me has a humanist vision, then we can find a solution. But if," and here his voice rose, "if he doesn't have a humanist vision, if


he isn't a human being, if he is an anti-Semite -- then I have to find another kind of solution." Moti didn't tell me what that solution would be; but then, he didn't need to. You can see it unfolding every day, as "the Jewish revolution that is Israel" tightens its grip on Judea and Samaria, and the people who live there are driven out of their homes, stripped of their rights and herded into ghettos, just as surely as the Jews of Warsaw ever were. But that's what happens whenever a people becomes a 'problem' to be 'solved'. And that's the Palestinians' tragedy: to live in a country where a bunch of self-appointed 'humanists' get to decide who is and who isn't fully human. I thanked Moti for his time, and left. I could have kept on asking questions, but what was the point? Walking slowly back along the boulevard, past the snack bars selling merguez frites, the Indian haberdashers and the Turkish newsstands, I tried to imagine what an Israel run by Moti and his friends would look like: walls of bronze against a hostile world, very cheap flights, very extensive golf courses, flashy European furniture to impress the visitors, the Arab 'servants' discreetly out of sight -- and the wiring hanging out everywhere.

Menachem Begin, former Betar commander and Israeli prime minister


Vladimir Jabotinsky, founder of the Betar-Tagar

Swimming against the Seine It was a great 50th birthday party for Israel in France, writes Hosni Abdel-Rahim*, where anti-Zionism is now tantamount to anti-Semitism

The huge posters are everywhere, all bearing the Star of David and inviting the reader to "come with us to dance, sing, laugh and weep". Where? To a free party at the Paris TrocadĂŠro on Thursday 30 April 1990, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the State of Israel. Open a newspaper, and you'll find a special dedicated section or supplement. Not all of them are as objective as the eight-page insert in Le Monde, which was not afraid to deal with the inherent contradiction of the Israeli state -- between its supposedly democratic nature and its systematic discrimination against its Arab citizens, or between the socialistZionist values of its founding fathers and the free-market militaristic creed of today. Elsewhere, the mainstream media was entirely devoted to uncritical congratulations.

Israeli Ambassador Avi Pazner (centre), flanked by Jaques Chirac and Lionel Jospin at the festival celebraiting the founding of Israel at the TrocadĂŠro in Paris, on 30 April


Why this extraordinary bias? The 50th anniversary party follows in the wake of the widely-publicised trials of Roger Garaudy and Maurice Papon. For a whole year, these two court cases have monopolised public consciousness. Garaudy's book, and the AbbĂŠ Pierre's solidarity with its author, aroused fears of a return to traditional anti-Semitic Catholic values, while Papon's trial reminded the French of the Vichy government's collaboration with the Nazis and played on their sense of guilt. As a result, it is now more or less impossible in France to question the achievements -- even less the existence -- of the state of Israel. Those who do are immediately tarred with the same brush as Garaudy and Papon, even if they don't share a single one of their ideas, and even if they clearly see Papon for what he is -- a fascist bureaucrat who sent Jews to Auschwitz in much the same spirit as he later in 1961 ordered the murder of hundreds of Algerian immigrants who supported the FLN. Nevertheless, some French Arabs together with a handful of progressive French intellectuals are trying to organise an alternative 'celebration', to commemorate "Fifty Years of the Occupation of Palestine by the Zionists". They have got up a petition in support of the right of return for Palestinians from the diaspora, and have organised a number of events aimed at exposing the aggressive and militaristic nature of the Israeli state. They are also trying to distribute two documentaries about the Palestinian refugee camps, but not surprisingly, finding buyers is proving hard. The average French citizen has little sympathy for the Arabs, whom he thinks of as mainly poor immigrants and terrorists. Those who attempt to redress the balance are swimming against the tide of opinion, though a number of French intellectuals, especially Daniel Bensaid and Pierre Bourdieu, have been actively engaged in this campaign. Perhaps the participation of such respected figures, who are well-known for their antiracist and anti-discriminatory positions, may help. But whatever they can do will only ever be a drop in an ocean of pro-Israeli sentiment.

Fifty years of struggle 50 years today the Zionist provisional council, forerunner of the Knesset, met inside the Tel Aviv Museum at 4pm to hear David Ben-Gurion read the proclamation announcing the establishment of the state of Israel. The following day the whole region was at war. Ben-Gurion encapsulated Israeli aims in 1948 thus: "A Christian state should be established, with its southern border on the Litani River. We will make an alliance with it. When we smash the Arab Legions and bomb Amman, we will eliminate Transjordan too, and then Syria will fall. If Egypt still dares to fight on, we shall bomb Port Said, Alexandria and Cairo... And in this fashion, we will end the war and settle our forefathers' account with Egypt, Assyria, and Aram." This supplement attempts to capture, in word and pictures, the mood of the Arab world on the eve of the first Arab Israeli War, document events leading to the war


and highlight the main stations of a struggle that will not end so long as Israel continues to pursue its dreams of conquest and destruction

The Arabs divided When the League of Arab States came into existence on 22 March, 1945, there were only seven independent nations to join: Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. All the Arab League state members, however, had for decades been languishing under British and French colonialism, accorded a degree of autonomy inadequate to allow them to function as modern states. In 1948, Egypt and Iraq were still actively negotiating the evacuation of British troops stationed in military bases on their national territories; the army of Transjordan was under direct British command; Syria and Lebanon had just emerged from under French mandate and British occupation and their minuscule armies were ill-equipped. The only two totally independent Arab armies were those of Saudi Arabia and Yemen, though they were such primitive forces that it is debatable whether one should use the term army in the modern sense of the word.

A meeting of the Arab League with Nouri El-Said Pasha (far right), Prince Faisal, and Lebanon's prime minister Riad El-Solh


King Abdullah of Jrodan flanked by King Farouk and his sister princess Fawzia dressed in military uniform

The combined Arab armies were outnumbered on the battlefield. As Mohamed Hassanein Heikal writes in Secret Channels: "If this now seems difficult to believe it is because of the success of the Zionists in presenting a David and Goliath version of the first ArabIsraeli war." Nothing could be further from the truth than the official Israeli version. On 15 May the total Jewish fighting force comprised 64,000 men armed with the modern and sophisticated weapons which the Arabs lacked. By October 1948 the Jewish fighting force had increased to 80,000, while the Arab armies were in a state of disarray. "The fighting took place in four phases, interspersed with ceasefires between May 1948 and January 1949. The struggle was intense at first, but dwindled as the hopelessness of the odds against them became clearer to the Arab forces. The combined Arab armies, outnumbered approximately two to one by Israel's better trained and -equipped troops, were unable to prevent expansion of the Zionist state," writes Heikal. The leaders of the Arab world on the eve of the war were wracked with divisions and greatly suspicious of each other's ambitions and intentions. Egypt and Iraq were competing for supremacy; the Saudis and the Hashemites were enemies. Meanwhile the Palestinian leaders, headed by Hajj Amin Al-Husseini, were at loggerheads with King Abdullah, suspecting that if his forces entered Palestine they would never leave. And yet it was King Abdullah who was chosen, a few days before the war, as the commander-in-chief of all Arab armies. It later transpired that the king had been holding secret meeting with Jewish leaders since 1946. In November 1947 he met Golda Meir, then acting head of the Jewish Agency's political department, and told her the he agreed to the establishment of Israel in the parts of Palestine already occupied by Jews on condition that Jordan would annex the rest. In March Abdullah's prime minister, Tawfiq Abu Al-Huda, secretly met the British Foreign Minister, Ernest Bevin, and they agreed


that Transjordanian forces would enter Palestine at the end of the British Mandate, restricting themselves to the area of the Arab state outlined in the UN partition plan. Abdullah's secret agreements, unknown to the other Arab parties at the time, contributed to the general state of disarray of the Arab armies. He delayed the passage of Iraqi troops across Jordanian territories insuring, in the process, that those military missions assigned to Baghdad were doomed to failure. His troops evacuated Lydda and Ramleh without consulting the other Arab armies, thus exposing the Egyptian army's flank in the Negev. This allowed the Israelis to launch a major offensive against the Egyptian army on 15 October, successfully splintering the Egyptian forces into three disconnected groups. Israeli forces were then able to break through Egyptian lines in the south, surround the Egyptian army at El-Arish in the Sinai and encircle an Egyptian brigade at Falluga and hold it under siege for four months. Gamal Abdel-Nasser was one of the besieged Egyptian officers at Falluga. The humiliating Arab defeat and Israel's victory in the 1948 war led to a state of turmoil, bitterness and recrimination throughout the Arab world. The Egyptian prime minister, Mahmoud Fahmi Al-Noqrashi, was assassinated in Cairo before the war ended; a year later the prime minister of Lebanon, Riad Al-Solh, was assassinated, and in 1951 King Abdullah was assassinated while entering Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City, annexed to Jordan by that time. In 1952 Nasser led the revolution which toppled the monarchy in Egypt, and in 1958 another officer, Abdel-Karim Qassim, humiliated by the defeat he witnessed in Palestine, led a revolution in Iraq in which the Iraqi monarch, the Prince Regent, Abdel Ilah and Nouri Pasha Al-Said were all killed on the streets of Baghdad. Heikal, covering the 1948 war, travelled on the eve of the war in King Abdullah's cavalcade to attend a military parade of Arab troops outside the West Bank town of Jericho. In Secret Channels he tells an amusing story that eloquently sums up the whole situation: "Abdullah made a speech from a podium exhorting the troops to battle, and then called for a certain blind Palestinian Sheikh to give a sermon... The king, who had turned away to talk to the officers, suddenly heard the Sheikh's words coming over the loudspeakers: 'Oh Army--' a long pause; 'Oh Army, I wish you were ours.' ... 'Get him out,' the king shouted. 'he deserves his blindness.' The blind man, who could see too much, was hurried away."


King Farouk in Air Force uniform

King Faisal II of Iraq (right) and his uncle, Abdel Ilah, the Prince Regent

King Abdel Aziz Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia (right) with King Abdullah


In December 1947 the Arab League declared the partition of Palestine illegal and resolved to send to Palestine 10,000 rifles and 3,000 volunteers. Taha Al-Hashmi Pasha (right) was appointed General inspector of the Arab League organised army of volunteers, while Fawzi Al- Qawuqji (left) was to train the volunteers in a camp near Damascus

On the eve of war In the first of a series of interviews with senior politicians and political analysts who lived through the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, who covered the war from the battlefield, talks to Amira Howeidy and Omayma Abdel-Latif about the genesis and development of a struggle that still rages 50 years later "Until 1 May 1948, Egypt remained equivocal about placing its regular troops on the front line in Palestine. There were two general trends in Egypt regarding this matter: the first exemplified by Egypt's then prime minister, Mahmoud Fahmi Al-Noqrashi Pasha, who was opposed to such a move; the second being the pan-Arab trend advocated by people like Abdel-Rahman Azam Pasha, then secretary-general of the Arab League, and Mohamed Ali Alouba Pasha, who advocated Egypt's active participation in the war. "The roots of these two trends date back to the turn of the century when Egypt was at a crossroads as far as its identity was concerned: should it embrace Arabism or, because of the Suez Canal, adopt a neutral Swiss model, or ally itself to Europe, signing mutual defence agreements with major Western powers and becoming, to all intents and purposes, a kind of poor European dependent. There were, too, other options: there was the pan-Islamic trend, which at this point always appeared a little far fetched. "Participation in the Second World War, however, boosted the notion of Egypt being an integral part of the Arab world. Following the war, the issue of Syrian and Lebanese independence was raised, and Egypt came out firmly in favour. Egypt's bonds with the Arab world were becoming stronger, a movement exemplified by the signing of the Arab League charter in 1945. During the second half of the 1930s, with the escalation in Jewish immigration to Palestine and the publication of the white paper on Palestine (1939), the Palestinian question began to impose itself as a litmus test for Arab countries.


Like other persistent issues, such as Arab-related unity and independence, it became an integral part of the national debates raging at the time in the Arab world. When the war ended, and in 1947 the UN partition plan became a fact of life, the Arabs were faced with a situation where they could neither accept partition nor remain silent. "It was at this point that King Abdullah of Transjordan decided to enter the war with his army, the Arab Legion, to take over the Arab parts designated in the UN partition plan. He could see that a Jewish state would be established in Palestine, and all he wanted was to annex the remaining parts to his Jordanian kingdom. This move placed great pressure on many Arab countries, particularly Egypt and Syria. Iraq, though, wavered: on the one hand it did not object to an expanded Hashemite kingdom, while on the other it worried about what such a plan entailed for Syria. Also, Iraq was suspicious of Egypt's role and intentions. Egypt, for its part, felt uncomfortable with the idea of King Abdullah expanding his kingdom and thus pursuing his ambitions of ruling over a "Greater Syria" . "The internal pressures created then pushed the Arab world, particularly Egypt, into taking military action. But in Egypt there were two conflicting opinions. King Farouk entertained dreams of entering Palestine and facing down the Hashemite monarch, ambitions encouraged by King Abdel-Aziz Ibn Saud, of Saudi Arabia, who resented Hashemite expansionism. The Egyptian monarch feared, though, that if he were to send in the Egyptian army the British authorities would be unlikely to allow them to proceed beyond Rafah, or even the Suez Canal. "The Egyptian prime minister, Noqrashi Pasha, was opposed to Egyptian participation in the war, whatever the circumstances. His opinion was shared, though for a different reason, by some members of the Senate, especially Ismail Sidki Pasha. Sidki, who maintained good relations with Egypt's Jewish community, argued that Egypt had no interests at stake in such conflict. Noqrashi's rationale for opposing Egyptian military intervention, on the other hand, centred on his belief that such a course of action would compromise Egypt's bid for independence -- he was, at the time, involved in strenuous talks with the British over evacuation. He feared that if the Egyptian army entered Palestine and put on a poor show, this would furnish the British with a pretext not to evacuate, claiming that such a course of action would leave a vacuum around the Suez Canal."


'We were in Haifa when it fell to Jewish forces, and we visited a Jewish settlement called Khodirah. There they were armouring vehicles in preparation for the war, and we took pictures of the vehicles being armoured and filed a story for Akhbar El-Youm. When I returned to Egypt for a brief period, I was summoned to the office of the prime minister, Noqrashi Pasha. The moment he saw me he launched an attack on me. He said that I had exaggerated the figures that I published...He had no practical understanding of the size and nature of the Jewish forces, conceived of as merely gangs'

EGYPT ENTERS THE WAR "Several important points must be made here. In my book, Malafat El Sues (The Suez Files) there are documents indicating Britain's seeming desire to push us to war. I believe that the decision to go to war was right; the timing, however, and how we prepared for the war, is the problem. We had no idea, no concept of what this war was. Everything, from training, preparation, tactics, to our ability to handle weapons points in this direction.

"At some time King Farouk had made a deal of sorts with the British military to supply weapons from their military base in the Suez Canal Zone. So we were getting weapons. Yet you would find very strange statements about the amount of weapons that came out of the British base in the Suez Canal. These included armoured vehicles, which clearly could not have left the base unnoticed, or without permission. "It was King Farouk who made the decision: he wanted to take part in the war for the reasons stated above. As far as the shortage of weapons, which had been a problem, was concerned, Farouk could now assure the prime minister that supplies had been insured. The minister of war, Heidar Pasha, went to the Ministerial Council and told them that the Egyptian army had arms and ammunition sufficient for three months. At that time, three


months seemed like a long time. All this is stated in the minutes of the Ministerial Council. "So, during the early stages, we relied on the weapons provided to us by the British army. And even if we could say that when Ahmed Abdel-Aziz's forces went to Palestine via Arish they sneaked in despite the fact that the British had bases in both Rafah and the Suez, the same cannot be said about the three battalions that later joined Major-General Ahmed Mohamed El-Mawawi, commander of the Egyptian forces. Upon entering Rafah, Mawawi himself was kept waiting for 30 minutes at the British check point and then issued with a permit. What is noteworthy is that the British did not interfere; armed units passed through Arish, then Rafah and the British army did not move."

TO THE BATTLEFIELD "I had known in Cairo that the Egyptian volunteer force, led by Ahmed Abdel-Aziz, which went to Palestine at the beginning of 1948, as part of the Arab League organised army of irregulars, was preparing to advance on Hebron. So, in April, we set off, myself and photographer Hamas, with the intention of joining them and covering the action from the battlefield.

"During this time one prevalent view in the Arab world, espoused in Egypt by Dr Waheed Raafat, royal counsellor at the foreign ministry, believed that, similar to Spain in the civil war, the regular armies must be kept from engaging in battle. This mission was to be left to irregular forces of volunteers while the job of the armies would be to encircle the battlefield. It was within this framework that some Egyptian officers, led by Ahmed Abdel-Aziz, who belonged to the cavalier division, and including Kamal El-Din Hussein, Hassan Fahmi Abdel-Maguid and Mustafa Kamel Sidiki, resigned from the Egyptian army and left Egypt to lead guerrilla warfare in Palestine. They were joined by others, such as the Muslim Brothers. "I knew that these forces were there. So I went with Mohamed Youssef, first to Amman, then to Jerusalem in a car. Once we arrived we realised that there was no longer any means of transportation. Everything was in chaos. The British would leave their camps and the Jews would immediately occupy them. It was a state of total loss. No one knew who was leading the war. No one knew the aim of the war. No one knew anything. "We were in Haifa when it fell to Jewish forces (22 April), and we visited a Jewish settlement called Khodirah. There they were armouring vehicles in preparation for the war, and we took pictures of the vehicles being armoured and filed a story for Akhbar ElYoum. When I returned to Egypt for a brief period, I was summoned to the office of Noqrashi Pasha. The moment he saw me he launched an attack on me. He said that I had exaggerated the figures that I published, and even said that our photos were faked. Only when we showed him the negatives did he believe us. "I told him in detail about the situation and he listened attentively. Initially I thought this was because I had taken the trouble to organise my thoughts but later I realised he had absolutely no idea about what was going on. He had no practical understanding of the size and nature of the Jewish forces, conceived of as merely gangs. He did not know that


when they started their offensive the Jewish forces had three times the manpower of the so-called Arab armies."

OTHER FORCES IN PALESTINE "Other than the Egyptian volunteer force, there were two groups of irregulars in Palestine in the days preceding 15 May: the Holy Jihad, affiliated to the Arab Higher Committee, led by Hajj Amin Al-Husseini, and the Salvation Army of Fawzi El-Qauoqji. The second, I believe, was almost totally ineffective. The Jewish forces, on the other hand, were a real military force, prepared much earlier and for a specific aim.

"When we talk about the Haganah especially, we are talking here about a military force formed very early, in 1918 or 1919, even before the Balfour Declaration. It quickly established connections with the Jewish community in Palestine and became part of it, ultimately increasing in number and arms. When the Second World War began, this force became the Jewish legion and fought in the war. It was, then, an army that had had experience of combat, experience the importance of which should not be understated. There is a difference between having a vague idea about war and a firm idea about winning. "No one can imagine how we fought. I was near El-Qastel when it fell. I was in Jerusalem, with our Consul General, Kamal El-Din Salah, when we received the news about the death of Abdel-Qader El-Husseini. El-Husseini was a hero, I agree, but the truth is not even El-Husseini was equipped to fight a battle such as this. It was not his fault, but simply a result of the absence of any concept of modern warfare. War is not the same as scrapping. War requires strategy. Without strategy you are talking about nothing more than brawling, which has nothing to do with making war. The resistance forces were not well trained, had very little idea about strategy, had not even grasped the concept of war, and none of this was their fault. "Seeing people with good intentions ready to die led to the most ghastly feelings of impotence. And perhaps, really, it is not dying that is important but knowing how to die. The catastrophe was that no one had taught us how to die. Death has to be learned. To die cheaply is a nonsense.


Heikal (left) with Ahmed Abdel Aziz, commander of the volunteer force in Palestine in April 1948

ENTER ARAB ARMIES "The Arab armies, when they entered the war on 15 May, also had very little idea about the war and its aims. Letters such as those sent by the two consecutive commanders-in-chief of the Egyptian army in Palestine (Major General Mawawi, then Major General Fouad Sadeq) to Egypt, asking "what is the target we want to achieve?" say it all. I don't know what the Syrian or Iraqi commanders were asking their governments.

"The only country whose army knew what it was doing was Jordan. King Abdullah, who was appointed Supreme Commander of the Arab Armies days before the war, had a political plan. And Glubb Pasha, the British commander of Jordan's Arab Legion, was on the battle-ground, and had a military plan. To cut the story short, neither the Arab governments, their armies or politicians knew what they were doing. They did not have a single practical idea on how to stop the implementation of the partition plan. In short, Jordan was the only country with clear political and military objectives. "We must remember, however, when we speak about King Abdullah as the Supreme Commander of the Arab Armies, that there is a difference between being the Supreme Commander on paper and leading national local forces in practice. King Abdullah was not Eisenhower leading the allied forces in the war. And in practice there was no such thing as an effective Supreme Commander. King Abdullah did not have the means to order any army whatsoever. He was interested only in keeping the cadres of the Arab armies inert, which is exactly what happened.


"The Syrian army entered the battle but got stuck in Sabkh. The Lebanese made no progress. The Iraqi army entered the Nablus-Tulkarem-Jenin triangle, engaged in military battles, but did not know what to do next. And all the time Abdullah was making deals. The Jews, on the other hand, feeling that they had nothing to fear, continued to violate the borders imposed by the partition with impunity. In 1948, 67 per cent of Palestine was gone. "Egypt's was the only army for which the Jews showed any concern. The Egyptians were, compared to the others, more organised, and thus were able to achieve something at the beginning. The volunteer force, for example, crossed Bethlehem, went to Hebron and converged there, but again they got stuck. The Egyptian volunteer force comprised some 3,200 to 4,000 men. They were far from homogenous, containing Egyptian, Sudanese and some Libyan volunteers. Most of the volunteers, perhaps three-quarters of them, were from the Muslim Brotherhood, and they created real problems later on, especially when Al-Noqrashi Pasha dissolved their organisation. "As for the Egyptian army which entered the war on 15 May, it also suffered problems, the most basic arising from the lack of clear cut objectives. I remember, for example, that when, later during the war, we managed -- myself and Mohamed Youssef -- with the help of a lieutenant from the Ahmed Abdel-Aziz volunteer battalion, to get to the headquarters of the Egyptian Commander-in-Chief, Major General Mawawi, in Al-Majdal, we were asked whether we had permits from the ministry of defence to meet the commander. When we said we had nothing he at first refused to meet us. Then he felt sorry for us because we had taken so much trouble to get there and permitted us to take a few photos. Then he called the Ministry of Defence in Cairo to tell them of our presence and he was immediately ordered to deport us. Luckily, on our way back my leg was injured by a stray bullet, so they had to take me to hospital for treatment. By the time I got well they had forgotten about the deportation. "You can gather from this story the degree of concern then experienced: the simple fact of my presence [writing about what was happening] was considered so troublesome because they used to send exaggerated reports to Cairo about what was happening, and they did not want anyone on the ground. And still they did not know how to react."

EXCLUDING THE PALESTINIANS? "To answer such a question we must ask ourselves first: were the Palestinians capable of or did they have the power to perform better than the Arab armies even in a guerrilla warfare, which still needs professionals?

"Back in 1948 the Palestinians were divided, tribally and politically. Also there were many elements in favour of King Abdullah which allowed him to overshadow the Palestinians. First, the British worked actively in suppressing Palestinian resistance. Second, the main force within the resistance, Hajj Amin El-Husseini, was also far from the scene. It is not that he stayed away for a day or two, but he had been away since the suppression of the Palestinian 1936 revolution. And during this period, he consistently placed his bets on the wrong horses. I have great respect for him, and believe that he was


a noble mujahed, but he was a throwback to another age. Don't tell me that a Sheikh with a religious background can lead a modern armed struggle. He can lead a guerrilla warfare, but only on the condition that he is actually present on the ground. Or he could lead an organisation, though the situation in Palestine did not permit this. "There were three major players in Palestine: the Jewish forces, the British army and King Abdullah, who was in Palestine precisely because the Jordanian army was considered a part of the British army. And between them it was impossible for the Palestinians to effectively rescue their country, I saw that for myself. This was not their fault. They were unprepared, and faced the existing powers on the ground. So it was inevitable that the Palestinians could do very little for reasons that had nothing to do with Jihad or the eagerness to sacrifice. "True, during the month of April the holy Jihad, under the leadership of Abdel-Qadir AlHusseini, led some successful operations against the Jewish forces, but those operations were not going to be effective once a full-scale war erupted. If we are talking about underground resistance, then yes, but even on that level, the Palestinians had very little idea about what guerrilla warfare might be. "If the Palestinians say they were denied arms to defend their homeland, part of this is said in retrospect to answer the accusations that they were unable to defend themselves. I don't think that the Palestinians need to answer such nonsensical accusations. Like everybody else, they were effectively taken by surprise by a situation that was more than they could handle. Think about the volume of land sold since the 1920s by feudal families that were not even Palestinian, without any seeming awareness ofthe results. We were all overwhelmed by a Zionist project that belonged to the 20th century, while we were still living in the 18th. Anyone who tells me the Palestinians should have lead a guerrilla warfare say so only because they are wise after the event. The failure of the Arab armies was not, after all, evident at the time. And think, if the Arab armies were in such disarray, what would be the condition of any possible Palestinian resistance? The reality was of a nation overwhelmed by a settler colonial project for which it was disastrously unprepared.

ISLAM AS A MOBILISING FORCE "Let us not confuse what I say in 1998 about the danger of mixing religion with politics with what you say about the important role Islam played in mobilising against Jewish settlers during the 1930s and 1940s. To do so leads to a confusion of the past with the present. I accept what you say about religion, at certain times, being the main frame of reference within which people are mobilised, and I accept that religion can be an important mobilising force. The relevant question though, is just how far can religion go in winning wars. Religion might raise a force, but can it give you victory?

I would like to take what you say about Hamas as a case in point, since it emerged at a time when the Arabs had won a semi-military battle [1973]. Yet if anyone thinks that


Palestine will be liberated by suicide operations he is wrong. Religion can be a major mobilising force but we are far from the dawn of Islam. "To return back to 1948, yes Hajj Amin El-Husseini mobilised from within the framework of Islam. All the Arab countries were mobilised in the same way, but mobilisation is one thing and winning a war is an all together different matter. Could religion alone successfully direct the course of a war. In the case of the 1948 war, it was a regressive mobilisation that ultimately destroyed itself. "Even today, with all the experience the Islamic resistance movements have, the role played by Hamas and even by Hizbullah in Lebanon is to create obstacles and inflict financial damage. What we are talking about, then, is a resistence that constitutes a thorn in the Israelis' side but which is not in a position, indeed, lacks any workable strategy, to secure the liberation of Palestine."

CURRENT SITUATION "The Arab World could have accepted neither the Peel Plan nor the UN partition plan at the time. We should not judge with hindsight, and we are in no position to say that the Arabs should have accepted partition. Even when the Arabs decided to fight -- reading between the lines -they maintained recognition of the partition plan. The first communiquĂŠ issued by the Arab league stated that "the Arabs are dispatching their armies to protect the 400,000 Arabs who live in areas given to the Jews according the partition plan." So here we find a tacit recognition of partition. These 400,000 Arabs outnumbered the Jews living in the same areas. So I ask you, is it possible that we could have accepted partition when the number of Jews in Palestine, until the war broke out, numbered no more than 500,000?

"The Israelis had always wanted all of Palestine and I believe that the only thing left now is for Yasser Arafat to sign the final status agreement so that what remains of Palestine is handed over to the Israelis. This will not terminate the Arab-Israeli conflict though. Israel is an imperial project: were it not to take over all of Palestine then its theoterical underpinnings will have failed. The very concept of Israel requires its taking control of the whole of Palestine, ghettoising the Arabs a la South Africa. "Yet this aim is difficult to achieve. People refuse to leave their land and continue to multiply. Four million Palestinians will not disappear overnight, nor will the other four million in the Diaspora. There are approximately eight million Palestinians, almost half of them live in Palestine. The Palestinian people will not disappear and so need to be dealt with. This seems to be a complicated issue for an Israel in thrall to the religious fanaticism and racist extremism reflected in its right-wing government. And on this point, I don't think there is much of a difference between Netanyahu and Peres. "Israel's main obssession is with its security, a concept of security determined by the army and its related think tanks. These are the centres which define Israel's security interests. Israeli politicians may fiddle with the equation, but its components remain the same.


"Today we don't talk about the holocaust or refugees; rather we discuss US links with the Zionist scheme and its biblical call; Israel's claim to all of the land. There is no talk of Palestinian people, because if they accept the presence of Palesinians in their midst then Israel will be just like any other country in the region, something that Israel does not want to be. Israel would live within the imperial Zionist dream and for that to happen the conflict must go on."

THE LONDON CONFERENCE "There is a huge difference between the London conference held in 1929 and the one this month, so much so as to invalidate any comparison. Now we are talking about two parties: one claims all the territory and has conducted every immigration wave it could possibly wish, the other is seeking a slither of land.

What we are witnessing now has no relation whatsoever with what was happening then. Now they are discussing what has already been decided, which is what made the London conference so humiliating. Rather than discuss the rights of people, the language has been eroded into that of a bank manager -- should the Palestinians receive nine per cent, or 11 or 13. People's rights have been converted into percentages. Time after time a false target is given, which people clutch, only to find it rejected and replaced by another, smaller equally false target. "The Palestinians are to be driven into signing the final status agreements and even then they will receive nothing. Israel will not give in on Jerusalem and will not cease settlement activities. I will tell you a shocking fact. The area of land handed to the Palestinian Authority since the Oslo accords amounts to 150,000 feddans, exactly the amount of land Israel has managed to confiscate in the West Bank over the same period. The danger, then, is that Netanyahu will accept the 13 per cent figure mooted and that Arafat, thinking of this as some kind of achievement, will sign a whole lot of new agreements. And then we will face a new disaster."

Heikal with Editor-in-Chief and staff of Al-Ahram Weekly

Chronology


Copy of the Balfour Declaration addressed to Lord Rothschild favouring the establishment of a national home for the Jews in Palestine

THE BALFOUR DECLARATION November 2, 1917 Copy of the Balfour Declaration addressed to Lord Rothschild favouring the establishment of a national home for the Jews in Palestine

Foreign Office November 2nd, 1917 Dear Lord Rothschild, I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet. "His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which


may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country." I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation. Yours sincerely, Arthur James Balfour

1947 January: London Round Table Conference reopens. February: British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin proposes variant of Morrison-Grady federal plan at London Conference and to Jewish Agency. Arab delegates and Jewish Agency reject proposal. Bevin announces British submission of Palestine problem to United Nations. March: Arab League blames Britain and US for deteriorating situation in Palestine. April: UN General Assembly special session on Palestine problem leads to appointment of eleven-member Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP). June: Stern Gang claims responsibility for letter bombs addressed to leading British government officials in London. August: Haganah terrorist attack on Palestinian orange grower's house near Tel Aviv kills twelve occupants including mother and six children. September 8: Publication of UNSCOP report. Majority of members recommend partition and minority recommend federal solution. September 16-19: Arab League denounces UNSCOP partition recommendation and appoints Technical Military Committee to supervise Palestinian defense needs. September 26: British Colonial Secretary Arthur Creech Jones announces Britain's decision to end Palestine Mandate. September 29: Arab Higher Committee for Palestine rejects partition. October 2: Jewish Agency announces acceptance of partition. October 11: US endorses partition October 29: Britain says it will leave Palestine in six months if no settlement reached. November 27: Technical Military Committee chairman warns of virtual impossibility of overcoming Zionist forces with irregulars; urges prompt Arab action in organizing military forces; advocates training Palestinians to defend themselves.


November 29: UN General Assembly recommends slight variant of UNSCOP partition plan by 33 to 13 votes with 10 abstentions. Arab representatives walk out of assembly. November 30: Haganah calls up all Jews in Palestine aged 17-25 to register for military service. December: Haganah launches Plan Gimmel, designed to destabilize Palestinian population and occupy strategic positions in country. Arab League organizes Arab Liberation Army (ALA), a voluntary force of Arab irregulars under guerrilla leader Fawzi al-Qawuqji to help Palestinians resist partition. December 2: Palestinians start three-day strike protesting UN partition resolution. Intercommunal clashes result in death of eight Jews and six Palestinians. December 5: US State Department announces US embargo on arms shipments to Palestine and Arab states. December 8: Britain recommends to UN that Palestine Mandate be terminated on 15 May 1948 and independent Jewish and Palestinian states be established two weeks later. December 8-17: Arab League declares partition of Palestine illegal; it resolves to provide 10,000 rifles, 3,000 volunteers (including 500 Palestinians) and additional 1,000,000 pounds. December 15: British turns policing of Tel Aviv and Petah Tikva over to Jews and that of Jaffa to Palestinians. December 17: Jewish Agency Executive reports that American Jews will be asked for $250 million to help Jewish community in Palestine. December 19: Haganah attacks village of Khisas (Safed district) killing ten Palestinians. December 20: Haganah attacks village of Qazaza (Ramleh district). December 1947-January 1948: Arab Higher Committee organizes 275 local committees for defense of Palestinian towns and villages.

1948 January: British sells 20 Auster planes to Jewish authorities in Palestine. Palestinian guerrilla leader 'Abd al-Qadir al-Husseini secretly returns to Palestine after ten-year exile to organize resistance to partition. January 8: First contingent of 330 ALA volunteers arrives in Palestine.


January 14: The Haganah concludes $12,280,000 arms deal with Czechoslovakia, including 24,500 rifles, 5,200 machine guns and 54 million rounds of ammunition. January 16: British report to UN estimates 1,974 people killed or injured in Palestine from 30 November 1947 - 10 January 1948. January 20: British administration announces that predominantly Jewish or Palestinian areas will be gradually handed over to local majority group in every area concerned. January 21 & 28: Second and third contingents of 360 and 400 ALA irregulars arrive in Palestine. January-March: JNF leaders encourage eviction from villages of Haifa area. February: Haganah office set up in US under name "Land and Labor" for recruitment of professional military personnel (MAHAL). February 14: Ben-Gurion issues orders to Haganah commander in Jerusalem for conquest of whole city and its suburbs. February 18: Haganah calls up men and women aged 25 - 35 for military service. February 20: Ship Independence arrives at Tel Aviv with 280 volunteers under oath to Haganah on board, implementing policy of illegal immigration of military personnel. February 24: US delegate to UN says role of Security Council regarding Palestine to keep peace, not enforce partition. Syrian delegate proposes appointment of Committee to explore possibility of Jewish Agency - Arab Higher Committee agreement. February 27: Jewish Agency announces it will establish state even without backing of an international force. March: Transjordanian prime minister Tawfiq Abu al-Huda secretly meets British foreign secretary Bevin. They agree that Transjordanian forces will enter Palestine at end of Mandate but will restrict themselves to area of Arab state outlined in Partition Plan. March 2: US delegate tells Security Council US favors implementing partition by "peaceful measures" only. March 5-7: Qawuqji enters Palestine and assumes command of ALA units in central Palestine. March 6: Haganah declares general mobilization. March 10: British House of Commons votes to terminate Mandate on May 15th. March 19 - 20: US delegate asks UN Security Council to suspend action on partition plan and to convene General Assembly special session to work on a trusteeship and truce if Jews also accept. Jewish Agency rejects trusteeship.


March 19: Ben-Gurion declares Jewish state dependent not on UN partition decision but on Jewish military preponderance. March 25: President Truman secretly receives Chaim Weizmann at White House and pledges support for declaration of Jewish state on May 15th. March 30-May 15: Second coastal "clearing" operation carried out by Haganah Alexandroni brigade and other units. Attacks and expulsions drive out almost all Palestinian communities from coastal area from Haifa to Jaffa prior to British withdrawal. April 1: Ship Nora delivers first consignment of Czech arms in Haifa. UN Security Council resolutions call for a special session of General Assembly and agree to US proposal for truce to be arranged through Jewish Agency and Arab Higher Committee. April 2: Haganah captures Palestinian village of Castel, west of Jerusalem, expelling its inhabitants. April 5: Palestinian and Zionist leaders object to US proposals presented to Security Council for temporary trusteeship agreement. Haganah launches Operation Nachshon (first phase of Plan Dalet); Haganah Giv'ati Brigade and other units capture villages along Tel-Aviv - Jerusalem road from local Palestinian militia. April 8: Haganah starts offensive against Palestinian town of Tiberias. April 9: Abdel-Qadir Al-Husseini, charismatic Palestinian militia commander in Jerusalem district, is killed leading counterattack to recover Castel village. Irgun and Stern Gang massacre some 200 inhabitants in village of Deir Yassin, western suburb of Jerusalem and three miles from Castel. April 12: General Zionist Council decides to establish independent Jewish state in Palestine on May 16th. April 13-20: Operation Har'el under Plan Dalet launched at conclusion of Operation Nachshon. Villages along Jerusalem road attacked and demolished. All subsequent Haganah operations until May 15th undertaken within framework of Plan Dalet. April 16: British evacuate town of Safed. April 17: Security Council resolution calls for military and political truce. Haganah starts offensive against town of Safed. April 20: US submits Palestine trusteeship plan to UN. April 21: British suddenly evacuate residential quarters of Haifa. April 22: Haganah launches Operation Misparayim to attack and occupy Haifa. Resistance of local Palestinian militia in Haifa collapses. Haifa's Palestinian population flees under combined shelling and ground offensives. April 25-31: Launching of Operation Chametz to conquer Jaffa, Haganah attacks suburban


villages of Tell Rish, Yazur and Salameh. April 26: Lauching Operation Yevussi for conquest of whole of Jerusalem; Haganah attacks Palestinian residential quarter of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, cutting off the city from north, but are forced to hand it over to the British. Haganah's attempt at cutting off Jerusalem from Jericho fails. April 27: Haganah announces coordination of plans with Irgun. April 28-30: Palestinian ALA unit under Michel Issa succeeds in fighting its way into Jaffa in order to break Haganah siege. April 30: All Palestinian quarters in West Jerusalem occupied by Haganah and residents driven out. May 1: Lebanon and Syria decide to send troops to Palestine at end of Mandate on May 15th. May 2: Iraq dispatches troops to town of Mafraq, in Transjordan, en route to Palestine after May 15th. Three planeloads of arms for Haganah arrive from France. May 3: Between 175,000 and 200,000 Palestinian refugees are reported to have fled from areas taken by Zionists. Jewish colonists from Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem, ambush traffic on road to city. May 4: Unit of Transjordan Arab Legion, operating in Palestine under British command, shells Gush Etzion in retaliation for ambush. British announces it is studying transitional trusteeship regime for Palestine to take effect at end of Mandate. May 5: ALA unit under Michel Issa withdraws from Jaffa, ending city's resistance. May 10: Haganah enters Jaffa. May 11 - 12: Haganah captures Safed and surrounding villages. May 12: State of emergency declared in all Arab countries and able-bodied Palestinian men barred entry to them. Egyptian parliament decides to send troops to Palestine at end of Mandate. May 12-14: Arrival of second and third Czech arms consignments for Haganah. May 13: Jaffa formally surrenders to Haganah. May 14: State of Israel proclaimed in Tel Aviv at 4pm. Haganah launches Operation Schfifon for capture of Old City of Jerusalem. May 15: British Mandate ends. Declaration of State of Israel comes into effect. President Truman recognizes State of Israel. First Egyptian troops cross border into Palestine and attack colonies of Kfar Darom and Nirim in Negev. Three Transjordanian Arab Legion


brigades cross Jordan River into Palestine. Lebanese troops retake Lebanese villages of Malkiya and Qadas (on Lebanese border), attacked and captured earlier by Haganah.

At the first Zionist Congress, held in Basle in 1897, its organiser, Theodor Herzl, stated: "At Basle I founded the Jewish state. In 50 years everyone will perceive it." Fifty years and 85 days later, on 29 November 1947, the UN approved the partition of Palestine.

Tel Aviv Museum, 4pm, 14 May 1948: David Ben-Gurion reads the proclamation declaring the establishment of the state of Israel.


Moshe Dayan, then chief of staff of the Israeli Army, and other high-ranking Israeli officials, dig a ditch in the Gaza Strip during the 1956 Tripartite Aggression.

June 1967: Israel occupies Sinai, the Golan Heights, east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Moshe Dayan at the Aqsa Mosque Compound.

Egypian soldiers raising the Egyptian flag after crossing the Suez Canal on 6 October 1973. The same day, Egypt and Syria launched an attack against the Israeli forces occypying Sinai and the Golan Heights. Part of Sinai was liberated, but the Golan Heights remain occupied until today.

Golda Meir, then Israel's prime minister, and Moshe Dayan, minister of defence, visiting the Golan Heights on the Syrian front in November 1973. Meir stated during the visit, "Israel can hold out as long as we want."


On 21 December 1973, the Middle East Peace Conference, opened at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. Syria's absence left several chairs empty. Egypt's foreign minister at the time, Ismail Fahmi, threatened to withdraw if the Egyptian delegation was seated next to the Israeli.

UN-sponsored negotiations between the Egyptian and Israeli armies to reach a disengagement agreement began on 20 January 1974. In the photo, Lieutenant-general Abdel-Ghani El-Gamasi, then chief of staff of the Egyptian army, is walking out of the tent where the negotiations, dubbed "Kilometre 101", were held.

No progress was made in the negotiations until 1977, when President Sadat declared that he was prepared to go to the Knesset in order to have the Israelis withdraw from Sinai. Sadat addressed the Knesset on 20 November. In the photo, Shamir, later Israel's prime minister, is listening to Sadat.

US-sponsored talks led to the signing of the peace agreements between Egypt and Israel in 1979. In the photo, Egypt's prime minister, Mustafa Khalil, sharing a laugh with US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance at Camp David.


In June 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon, bombed Beirut for over two months, and finally entered the city in August. In the photo, PLO fighters are exiting Beirut.

December 1987: the popular uprising known as Intifada broke out in Gaza and spread to the West Bank. The Intifada continued for five years.

In October 1991, the Madrid Peace Conference opened. In the photo, Shamir is listening as the head of the Palestinian delegation, Dr Haidar Abdel-Shafi, demands total Israeli withdrawal.

In August 1993, a deal between the PLO and Israel, secretly negotiated at Oslo, was announced. On 13 September, Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin signed the first Oslo Accord at a ceremony on the White House lawn.


Rabin was assasinated in November 1995 for "giving in" to the Palestinians. In the photo, Arafat pays his condolences to Leah Rabin.

Israeli general elections in May 1996 bring Binyamin Netanyahu to power and oust Shimon Peres, Rabin's partner in the Oslo peace bid.

From All that Remains, Walid Khalidi, Institute for Palestine Studies, Washington, 1992.

New history, old ideas Yes, we want peace with the Palestinians, but no, there was nothing wrong with what we had to do in l948': this seems to be the gist of much of the0 writing of Israel's new historians. Edward Said, back from a Paris seminar on the topic, discusses the profound contradiction, bordering on schizophrenia, which makes the new historians reluctant to draw the inevitable conclusions from their own evidence The French monthly Le Monde Diplomatique together with the Revue d'etudes palestiniennes, a quarterly journal published in Paris by the Institute of Palestine Studies, held a conference last week which I attended and participated in. Although it was announced as the first time that the so-called "new" Israeli historians and their Palestinian counterparts had exchanged ideas in public, it was actually the third or fourth time; yet what made the Paris meeting so novel was that this was certainly the first time that a prolonged exchange between them was possible. On the Palestinian side there were Elie Sambar, Nur Masalha and myself; on the Israeli side Benni Morris, Ilan Pappe, Itamar Rabinowitch (who is not really a new historian, but a former Labour Party adviser, Israeli ambassador to the United States, professor of history at Tel Aviv University, and an expert on Syria, but whose views seem to be


changing), and finally, Zeev Sternhell, an Israeli historian of right-wing European mass movements, professor at the Hebrew University, author of a very important recent book on the myths of Israeli society (the main ones of which -- that it is a liberal, socialist, democratic state -- he demolished completely in an extraordinarily detailed analysis of its illiberal, quasi-fascist, and profoundly anti-socialist character as evidenced by the Labour Party generally, and the Histadrut in particular). Because it was not well-advertised, the conference attracted rather small audiences on the whole, but because of the quality of the material presented and the fact that sessions went for several hours, it was a very valuable exercise, despite the unevenness of some of the contributions. One very powerful impression I had was that whereas the Israeli participants -- who were by no means of the same political persuasion -- often spoke of the need for detachment, critical distance, and reflective calm as impotant for historical study, the Palestinian side was much more urgent, more severe and even emotional in its insistence on the need for new history. The reason is of course that Israel, and consequently most Israelis, are the dominant party in the conflict: they hold all the territory, have all the military power, and can therefore take the time, and have the luxury to sit back and let the debate unfold calmly. Only Ilan Pape, an avowed socialist and antiZionist historian at Haifa University, was open in his espousal of the Palestinian point of view, and, in my opinion, provided the most iconoclastic and brilliant of the Israeli interventions. For the others in varying degree, Zionism was seen as a necessity for Jews. I was surprised, for instance, when Sternhell during the final session admitted that a grave injustice was committed against the Palestinians, and that the essence of Zionism was that it was a movement for conquest, then went on to say that it was a "necessary" conquest. One of the most remarkable things about the Israelis, again except for Pappe, is the profound contradiction, bordering on schizophrenia, that informs their work. Benni Morris, for example, ten years ago wrote the most important Israeli work on the birth of the Palestinian refugee problem. Using Haganah and Zionist archives he established beyond any reasonable doubt that there had been a forced exodus of Palestinians as a result of a specific policy of "transfer" which had been adopted and approved by BeGurion. Morris's meticulous work showed that in district after district commanders had been ordered to drive out Palestinians, burn villages, systematically take over their homes and property. Yet strangely enough, by the end of the book Morris seems reluctant to draw the inevitable conclusions from his own evidence. Instead of saying outright that the Palestinians were, in fact, driven out he says that they were partially driven out by Zionist forces, and partially "left" as a result of war. It is as if e was still enough of a Zionist to believe the ideological version --that Palestinians left on their own without Israeli eviction-- rather than completely to accept his own evidence, which is that Zionist policy dictated Palestinian exodus. Similarly, in his book Sternhell admits that the Zionists never considered the Arabs as a problem because if they did they would have openly admitted that the Zionist plan to establish a Jewish state could not have been realised without also getting rid of the Palestinians. But he still insisted during the conference in Paris that although it was morally wrong to expel Palestinians, it was necessary to do so.


Despite these discordances it is impressive that when pushed hard either by Pappe or by the Palestinians, both Morris and Sternhell appeared to hesitate. I take their changing views as symptomatic of a deeper change taking place inside Israel. The point here is that a significant change in the main lines of Zionist ideology cannot really occur within the hegemony of official politics, either Labour or Likud, but must take place outside that particular context, that is, where intellectuals are more free o ponder and reflect upon the unsettling realities of present-day Israel. The problem with other attempts by intellectuals on both sides to influence Netanyahu's policies, for instance, is that as in the case of the Copenhagen group they take place too close to governments who have a much narrower, much shorter range view of things. If the years since l993 have shown anything it is that no matter how enlightened or liberal, the official Zionist view of the conflict with the Palestinians (and this is as tru of Left Zionists like Meretz or centre left people like Shimon Peres) is prepared to live with the schizophrenia I referred to above. Yes, we want peace with the Palestinians, but no, there was nothing wrong with what we had to do in 1948. As far as real peace is concerned this basic contradiction is quite untenable, since it accepts the notion that Palestinians in their own land are secondary to Jews. Moreover, it also accepts the fundamental contradiction between Zionism and democracy (how can one have a democratic Jewish state and, as is now the case, one million nonJews who are not equal in rights, land owning, or work to the Jews?). The great virtue of the new historians is that their work at least pushes the contradictions within Zionism to limits otherwise not apparent to most Israelis, and even many Arabs. It is certainly true that the great political importance today of the new Israeli historians is that they have confirmed what generations of Palestinians, historians or otherwise, have been saying about what happened to us as a people at the hands of Israel. And of course they have done so as Israelis who in some measure speak for the conscience of their people and society. But here, speaking self-critically, I feel that as Arabs generally, and Palestinians in particular, we must also begin to explore or own histories, myths, and patriarchal ideas of the nation, something which, for obvious reasons we have not so far done. During the Paris colloquium Palestinians, including myself, were speaking with a great sense of urgency about the present since, in this present, the Palestinian nakba continues. Dispossession goes on, and the denial of our rights has taken new and more punishing forms. Nevertheless, as intellectuals and historians we have a duty to look at our history, the history of our leaderships, nd of our institutions with a new critical eye. Is there something about those that can perhaps explain the difficulties as a people that we now find ourselves in? What about the conflict between the great families or hamulas, the fact that our leaders have traditionally not been elected democratically, and the fact, equally disastrous, that we seem to reproduce corruption and mediocrity in each new generation? These are serious, and even crucial matters, and they cannot either be left unanswered or postponed indefinitely under the guise of national defence and national unity. There is perhaps a start of critical self-awareness in Yezid Sayegh's new book on the history of Palestinian armed struggle, but we need more concretely political and critical works of that sort, works whose grasp of all the complexities and paradoxes of our history are not shied away from.


So far as I know neither the work of Morris, Pappe, or Sternhell has been translated into Arabic. This absence should be remedied forthwith. Just as important, I think, is the need for Arab intellectuals to interact directly with these historians by having them invited for discussions in Arab universities, cultural centres, and public fora. Similarly I believe it is our duty as Palestinian and yes, even Arab intellectuals to engage Israeli academic and intellectual audiences by lecturing at Israeli centes, openly, courageously, uncompromisingly. What have years of refusing to deal with Israel done for us? Nothing at all, except to weaken us and weaken our perception of our opponent. Politics since l948 is now at an end, buried in the failures of the Oslo process of attempted separation between Israeli Jews and Palestinians. As part of the new politics I have been speaking about in these articles, a splendid opportunity presents itself in continued interaction with the new Israeli historians who, while a iny minority nevertheless represent a phenomenon of considerable importance. Their work, for instance, had a great influence on the 22 part film series, Tekuma, shown on Israeli television as a history of the state produced for its 50th year celebrations. They are greatly in demand in Israeli schools as lecturers, and their work has attracted the attention of historians and others in both Europe and the United States. It seems anomalous, not to say retrograde, that the one place they have not been fully heard is the Arab world, but we need to rid ourselves of our racial prejudices and ostrich-like attitudes and make the effort to change the situation. The time has come. "The Palestinian side was much more urgent, more severe and even emotional in its insistence on the need for new history. The reason is of course that Israel, and consequently most Israelis, are the dominant party in the conflict: they hold all the territory, have all the military power, and can therefore take the time, and have the luxury to sit back and let the debate unfold calmly"

In the chains of theocracy In this essay on state and society in Israel, 50 years after its founding, Tikva Honig-Parnass* traces the roots of the new populist authoritarianism emerging under Netanyahu. Based on the marriage of Zionist colonialism and aggressive clericalism, the new regime is the logical expression of the Zionist project Fifty years after its establishment on the foundations of the Palestinian Al-Nakba (catastrophe), the Jewish state is still in the midst of a continuous process: that of realising the goals of the Zionist colonialist enterprise. From the start, the Zionist movement set itself the goal of establishing an exclusivist-Jewish state in the territory of historical Palestine, by dispossessing the Palestinians of their land and their homeland. This goal was only partially achieved in 1948, and was completed in 1967 with the conquest of all of Palestine. Nevertheless, the Oslo Accords were needed so that world public opinion, Arab states and the Palestinians themselves could legitimate the Zionists' preferred "solution to the Palestinian problem": continued Israeli control over the territories occupied in '67, both by direct annexation (including, but by no means limited to, the settlements and bypass roads), and by means of a small Palestinian client state on Bantustan lines in areas with


high concentrations of the Palestinian population. The emerging apartheid system here is thus designed to meet the ideological requirements shared by all streams of Zionism, including the Zionist Labour movement: separation to establish exclusive Jewish sovereignty.

'The violation of women's rights, inherent in the Israeli laws of marriage and divorce never particularly bothered the leaders of the secular Zionist parties, including those of the Zionist left... Even now, as in the past, they are prepared to sacrifice full, universal civil rights, especially women's rights, on the altar of tribal unity around a fragile status quo'

COLONIALISM: On its 50th anniversary, the colonialist policies of the state of Israel are still in force, and are also applied to those Palestinians who remained within Israeli borders after the expulsion of most of the Palestinian people from their homeland in 1948. As is the case in the territories occupied in '67, within the green line the attack continues on what little land remains in Palestinian hands after 93 per cent was declared "state land", i.e. land on which only Jews are permitted to settle. Similarly, the discriminatory planning and development policies instituted by all previous Israeli governments remain in force: to severely restrict construction and building in the "recognised" Arab towns and villages, and to destroy the approximately 180 "unrecognised" ones altogether by refusing to grant building permits or to allow such elementary infrastructure as water and electricity, and such basic services as education and health care. The Zionist movement itself, and the colonialism of the state of Israel, is designed first and foremost to serve the regional interests of Western imperialism. Currently it is the US's interest in controlling the oil resources of the Middle East within a neo-liberal framework that is being introduced to the region, and is beginning to be implemented in Israel. The policies of a "free" economy are destroying the remnants of the universal welfare state within Israel, leading to fierce unemployment rates and the pauperisation of broad sectors of the working class and petite bourgeoisie. In the 50th year of a state designed, ostensibly, to provide prosperity to all the Jewish people who settled in it, the gaps between rich and poor are among the widest in the Western world. The pauperisation taking place now is not the fruit of Netanyahu's policies alone. It is the result of the cumulative effects of long-standing policies implemented by the Zionist Labour movement, whose continuous hegemony in the pre-state Zionist movement and in


the state of Israel was interrupted only in 1977, when the Likud won the elections. The subsequent Labour governments, like the opposition Labour Party today, were not in principle any different from the Likud with regard to the policies of privatisation and a "free" economy, and the neo-liberal ideology that accompanies them. In parallel to the convergence of Labour and Likud around neo-liberalism's economic policies, the differences between their respective programmes for the final solution under Oslo are becoming ever more blurred. The essence of the Beilin-Abu Mazen plan of March 1996, which Arafat recently announced is acceptable to him, will leave most of the Israeli settlements in place; on the territory that remains (not more than 50 per cent of the West Bank) a Bantustan state will be established, with its capital in the village of Abu Dis (adjacent to Jerusalem). This programme is now accepted (although not explicitly) by both Netanyahu and Labour. The main difference, however, under Netanyahu's reign is the nature of the political regime, which is designed to mobilise support for neo-liberalism: the destruction of the old political parties and the old elites, the tendency to blur the distinctions between the three branches of the government, the refusal to cooperate with the Knesset and the criticism of the Supreme Court: these authoritarian features of Netanyahu's government are paving the way to a populist regime based on a direct, charismatic connection between the leader and the "people". Such a regime is reminiscent of the contemporary South American-style neo-Peronism, whose Israeli version is characterised by the close union of Zionist colonialism and aggressive clericalism. In place of traditional party politics, Netanyahu conducts a "sectoral politics" consisting of the cultivation and bribery of the political representatives of various groups, including the Russian immigrants, ultra-Orthodox groups and the Shas movement, which sponsors a network of community health and education services. This sectoral bribery serves neoliberalism, as it both reflects the ideological preference for private charity over the principle of the universal rights of the citizen and is economically advantageous: the cost of sectoral bribery is less than that of financing a universal welfare policy. THE SECULAR-RELIGIOUS RIFT: Granting power to the Orthodox establishment is not a novelty introduced by the Netanyahu government, but rather one of the structural features of the state of Israel since its establishment. During the years of Labour Party rule, however, there was a coordinated division of labour between the state and the Orthodox establishment in the form of the Supreme Rabbinate, initiated and supported by the nationalist-religious party within the Orthodox community (as opposed to the various ultra-Orthodox groups, who relied on their own religious authorities, and who were rather alienated from Zionism and the state). The active cooperation of the nationalist-religious sector with Zionism and the state led the rabbinical establishment to adopt a more moderate position. This prevented them from interfering with secular life beyond the borders of the agreement known as the "status quo", and allowed them to play the role of mediator between the state and the Orthodox. The power of the Chief Rabbinate was weakened, however, as the young


generation of the nationalist-religious sector turned to both ultra-Orthodoxy and extremist Zionism, a process which began after the '67 War. These young people now look to the heads of yeshivoth (religious seminaries) in the Occupied Territories and Israel as an alternative source of authority. This process, together with the ongoing "orthodoxisation" of the once secular extreme right, has led to the increasingly arrogant interference in secularist life by ultra-orthodox circles, with the Chief Rabbinate trailing behind. The sharpening of the religious-secular rift was recently revealed during the main ceremony commemorating the 50th year of the state, which was characterised by militarist and religious symbols intended to mark the "victory of Zionism": the modern dance Anaphasa, by the Bat Sheva Ballet Troupe, was censored at the last moment under pressure from a middle-ranking Orthodox official (the deputy mayor of Jerusalem), because the dancers stripped down to short pants as the hymn "God Is One in Heaven and Earth (from the Passover ritual) was heard. The troupe refused the compromise solution suggested by President Weizman -- to wear long underwear -- and cancelled their appearance. None of the other distinguished Israeli artists who were scheduled to perform joined the dancers, and only the next day did dozens of artists organise a militant demonstration. It was the first demonstration ever organised by Israeli artists against the ongoing violations of the right to free artistic or political expression in either Israel or the territories occupied in '67. The demonstrators pledged to continue the struggle against "religious coercion" and for "artistic freedom". The mass media hastened to describe these events as the beginning of a "cultural war" and an indication of "the greatest rift in Israeli society, one which threatens its unity". But even a superficial examination of the discourse which developed around this incident throws light on the ideological chains that secular Israelis place on themselves, and which prevent them from developing a principled and systematic struggle against the rule of religion. These chains are their deep commitment to Zionism and the Jewish state, which from its beginning has been half theocratic. The most senior artists and writers, Israeli cultural heroes, the majority of whom support and celebrate the Oslo "solution", have repeatedly emphasised, in the debate which followed the incident, that they are struggling for "a Jewish and Zionist-democratic state, without religious coercion". Their discourse, however, has not reached the point of speaking in the name of universal rights, including freedom of expression in the areas of the press and politics; nor have they mentioned the rights of more than two million Palestinians in the territories occupied in '67 and the discrimination against them in Israel. After all, such an attitude would have forced them to identify the essential contradiction between the Jewish-Zionist state and secular liberal democracy. ZIONISM AND RELIGION: As Professor Zeev Sternhall of Hebrew University indicates, the conceptual-ideological framework in which Zionism operates has been shaped by the organic, tribal nationalism of "blood and soil" which developed in eastern and central Europe as the antithesis to the liberal nationalism with values rooted in the notions of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution.


This organic nationalism defined national belonging not according to political-legal criteria, but on cultural, ethnic, and religious bases -- which could easily be perceived as reflecting biological or racial uniqueness. The individual is not perceived as an intrinsic entity or value, but as an integral part, regardless of personal choice, of the national unit, to which he or she owes absolute loyalty. The Labour Zionist movement, in addition to this "organic nationalism", also adopted national socialism in its Israeli version, known as "constructive socialism". This variant of socialism in the service of the nation required the subjugation of social and economic demands and the interests of the working class to "national aims". Mobilising the working class to build the capitalist economy of the Zionist state-in-themaking was one of its "national aims". Building an egalitarian society was not among the goals of the leaders of the Labour movement. They were satisfied with existence of a system of services, such as health and education, which would prevent "excessive" inequality from undermining the foundations of national unity. Religion was always a central component of national identity for organic nationalists. The centrality of the Bible in Zionism, however, helped make the religious dimension of Zionism even stronger than in other radical national movements. The Bible was used by Zionism not only as a means of cultivating national unity, but also as a source for legitimation of the Zionist claim of exclusive rights to all of Palestine. As Baruch Kimmerling, professor of sociology at the Hebrew University, claims, "from the beginning, the Zionist project was made captive by its choice of Palestine as its target territory for colonisation and as the place for building its exclusive Jewish state. Neither the nation nor its culture could be built successfully apart from the religious context. This has been so even when its prophets, priests, builders and fighters saw themselves as completely secular." Thus, Zionism preserved religious myths and symbols among its central symbols, including the cardinal "commandment" of Zionism: immigration to Palestine ("Eretz Israel"). The biblical connection to the land and the connection between the Bible and present-day life in the "old-new land" were strongly emphasised, both in the pre-state secular Jewish community (in which one used to learn the Bible six days a week) and in the state of Israel. Moreover, "the nucleus of the state's symbols remain today Jewishreligious. The rest is but a thin veneer of what only appears to be secularism [...] All the civic symbols and essentially the entire collective identity became subservient to religion, and Zionism itself turned into a sort of Jewish religion, incorporating civic elements as well." This was the basis for the support of the leaders of the Labour Party (not just the Likud) for the settlements in the '67 Occupied Territories. They had inherited from the founders of Zionism the belief in the exclusive Jewish claim to Palestine as the ethical and moral basis for Jewish national existence. On the other hand, the '67 occupation necessitated a renewed and even more unequivocal religious legitimation. The heretofore small and


marginal groups of religious Zionists became of central importance: the colonising and fighting pioneer vanguard, marching before the Zionist camp. As Kimmerling states: "The settler with the kipah (skullcap) on his head and submachine gun in his hands is the most authentic representative of the hard core of their collective identity, whether Israelis want it to be or not. It cannot even be said that this is a distortion of Zionism, but rather that it is its logical expression, carried to the point of absurdity." DISCRIMINATION AGAINST ARABS: The notion of an exclusive Jewish state is built on the identity between nation and religion accepted by Zionism. Three fundamental laws enacted in the first years of the state's establishment, and based on the religious definition of the "national" collective, were meant to ensure exclusive Jewish sovereignty, given the continuing presence of Palestinians within the borders of the state, even after 1948. The first two of these laws are the Law of Return (1950) and the Law of Citizenship (1952), which allow any Jew to immigrate to Israel and to automatically become a citizen, while at the same time, deprive all Palestinian refugees outside the borders of the state of the possibility of returning to their homes. The third basic law, the World Zionist Organisation-Jewish Agency (Status) Law (the "WZO Law"), ensures that Jews, in actual practice, enjoy preference over the Palestinian citizens of the state i all matters pertaining to land ownership and budgetary allocations for building and development. The WZO Law does this in a most cunning and hypocritical way: it authorises the various Zionist bodies, founded in the early 1900s, to function in Israel as quasi-governmental entities, in order to further advance the goals of the Zionist movement. They were assigned the functions of maintenance and support of cultural, educational and welfare activities, as well as the work of developing land, building projects in the existing Jewish communities and the establishment of new Jewish localities. The religious definition of citizenship in the state of Israel, on which these discriminatory laws are based, violate the norms of modern nation-states, in which citizenship is generally defined in universal terms of political allegiance. The state of Israel is not defined as a state of all its citizens, but rather as the state of all the Jewish people throughout the world. In other words, the right to "membership" in the state, with all the rights that it entitles one to enjoy, is determined by the religious criterion of religious affiliation. Two additional laws ensure the perpetuation of discrimination against non-Jewish citizens: the Amendment to the Basic Law: The Knesset (1985), provision 7(A), and provision 5(1) of the Law of Political Parties (1992). According to the Israeli Supreme Court's interpretation of these laws, a political party platform which calls upon the state of Israel to provide full and equal rights to Palestinian citizens, and/or challenges the Jewish character of the state, might find that it is disqualified from running in the national elections.


DEFECTIVE DEMOCRACY: Inevitably, however, the "Jewishness" of the state, which "justified" the denial of Palestinians as full citizens, boomeranged and denied a substantial part of basic civil rights to the Jews as well, both secular and religious. Thus, the Orthodox establishment and the Chief Rabbinate were given control of the delineation of the national-collective borders which determine who is entitled to full membership in the Jewish state (an individual born to a Jewish mother or a convert in accordance with the definition of Orthodox Jewish religious law). This was done by means of absorbing religious personal status law as the law of the state and by assigning exclusive jurisdiction in this area to the rabbinate and its courts. In other words, the legal and judicial system that relates to marriage, divorce and even burial, and which is based mainly on the Orthodox interpretation of the religious law, was assigned to the religious courts, and is not under the full control of the state. Moreover, the incorporation of the Jewish religious laws into the corpus of state legislation (particularly in the area of personal status) confers on the Orthodox establishment the authority to enforce them on the Jewish citizens (equivalent powers have been given to Muslim, Christian and Druze courts to rule the personal lives of the state's Palestinian citizens). And indeed, in "the only democracy in the Middle East", civil marriages are not available to the citizenry to this day. Of course, it is women who are the most discriminated against in accordance with religious law. Thus, for example, a Jewish woman cannot even obtain a divorce without the consent of her husband, even if he beats her, or is in prison or insane -- or if he has been missing for years but is not known to be dead. It was not "religious coercion", however, that turned Israel into a half-theocratic state. This was made possible by the above-mentioned "status quo" arrangement, which was proposed to the Orthodox party, Agudat Israel, by the secular leader of the Zionist movement, David Ben Gurion, in June 1947, five months before the United Nations vote approving the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Palestinian states. According to this arrangement, the religious and Orthodox parties were promised that, in the ewish state which was about to be established, the Sabbath and laws of kashrut (Jewish dietary laws) would be enforced. The Zionist movement also accepted the authority of the Orthodox Jewish establishment over all legislation having to do with birth, marriage, divorce and burial. In return the Orthodox, who until then had fiercely rejected Zionism, accepted the Zionist leadership as a representative of the Jewish people, came to terms with the state, and even signed the Declaration of Independence and participated with the Zionist religious party in the first government. The violation of citizens' freedom of conscience in general, and that of women in particular, inherent in the Israeli laws of marriage and divorce never particularly bothered the leaders of the secular Zionist parties, including those of the Zionist left, because of their indifference to and even contempt for civil and women's rights. Even now, as in the past, they are prepared to sacrifice full, universal civil rights, especially women's rights, on the altar of tribal unity around the fragile "status quo".


The delay in enacting a secular constitution has been one of the main mechanisms perpetuating the suffocating sentence the secular Zionists have imposed upon themselves. A constitution would ensure the implementation of the promise made in Israel's Declaration of Independence to provide equal rights to all its citizens "without regard to gender, race or religion". In the first days of the state, and despite a promise contained in the Declaration of Independence, the coalition headed by Mapa'i, the predecessor of the Labour Party, decided not to enact a constitution immediately, but instead to rely on a gradual enactment of basic laws -- without committing themselves to completing them within a definite time period. Thus, until 1992, not even one basic law which relates to the issue which is the heart and rationale of any constitution -- namely the defence of the basic rights of minorities and individuals -- was enacted. The basic law designed to deal with this subject, the "Human Rights Law", was introduced in the Knesset, but got bogged down for years in various committees until, under the pressure of the religious parties, it was split into several separate basic laws. Only two of these have been enacted till now (both in 1992): the Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation (1992) and the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom (1992), which is considered a mini-bill of rights by Israeli legal scholars. However, it lacks any clear clause guaranteeing equality of rights to all citizens, and any clauses explicitly protecting freedom of the press, expression and the right to demonstrate -- which are the foundations of democracy. Moreover, the Human Dignity and Freedom Law explicitly declares that its aim is to anchor "the values of the state as a Jewish and democratic state". Thus, on its face, the law entrenches the superiority of the Jewish majority and ignores the Arab-Palestinian citizens in Israel. However, this superior status, which is based on the legal and ideological definition of Israel as a Jewish state, is also responsible for the denial of the basic rights of secular Jews as well. The interpretation of the term "Jewish state" by Justice Aharon Barak, a secular Zionist thought of as representing the "liberal" position within the Supreme Court, locates his views very close to the religious perception of the Bible and tradition as the sovereign authority on the life of the Jews. "[The] Jewish State is, therefore, the state of the Jewish people... It is a state in which every Jew has the right to return... It is a state of which the language is Hebrew, and most of its holidays represent its national rebirth... A Jewish state is a state that developed a Jewish culture, Jewish education and a loving Jewish people... A Jewish state is also a state where the Jewish Law fulfills a significant role... A Jewish state is a state in which the values of Israel, the Torah, Jewish heritage and the values of the Jewish halacha [religious law] are the bases of its values." Thus, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, Israeli society finds itself paying the price of its commitment to the ongoing Zionist colonial project, in its new Oslo form. It needs, perhaps now more than ever, religious legitimation for the "exclusive historic right" of the Jewish nation to all of Palestine.


As long as it continues to apply religious criteria to determine which members of society are entitled to full citizenship rights in the Zionist state, however, the Jewishness of the state will continue to generate chains of clerical control that prevent the realisation of full rights for the Israelis themselves. Therefore, the opposition expressed by broad secular circles to "religious coercion" appears pathetic: their commitment to the Jewish-Zionist state -- and thus their collective identity, which is religious in essence -- distorts their very humanity when it comes to all that concerns the Palestinians. This prevents them from realising their own full civil rights, and freeing themselves from the chains of religion. * The writer is the editor of News from Within, published by the Alternative Information Centre, Jerusalem/Bethlehem.

Facts, lies and videotapes Thomas Gorguissian reports from Washington on the "hate campaign" led by pro-Israeli groups to prevent the American public from hearing a different voice Last Friday, the Coalition of Mosques in the Washington area called for a prayer service in Lafayette Park, across from the White House. The service was attended by almost 1,000 people, according to the sponsors of the event. On the same day, The Washington Times published a whole page paid advertisement commemorating "The 50th Anniversary of the Loss of Palestine", which listed "a few troubling facts" about the state of Israel. The Washington Post had refused to print the same advertisement unless the sponsors agreed "to soften the language" -- which they refused to do. The participants in the event which took place in Lafayette Park expressed their solidarity with the Palestinian people, and praised First Lady Hillary Clinton's "courageous stand" when she announced two weeks ago that she personally supported the creation of an independent Palestinian state. In recent weeks, the American public has been subject to a massive barrage of elegies in praise of Israel at the occasion of its 50th anniversary: celebrations at the Kennedy Centre; CBS's Hollywood-style two-hour special about Israel, which featured President Bill Clinton praising the Jewish state for "making the desert bloom"; Vice-President Al Gore speaking of Israel as the fulfillment of a Biblical promise; special TV programmes and newspaper and magazine supplements. All this was "too much and too


disgusting, especially when the Palestinian element is completely and deliberately denied," one participant at the prayer gathering said. Last Friday's gathering represented the culmination of weeks of alternative events organised in the US by Arab Americans and supporters of the Palestinian national struggle. At Georgetown University in Washington DC, the Centre for Contemporary Arab Studies and the university's Arab Club organised a programme of activities which opened with a lecture by Hisham Sharabi, Palestinian history professor at Georgetown University, in which he asked: "Will the Palestinians be the Jews of the 21st century? Perhaps. But they will not be the Zionists of the 21st century." The Georgetown University programme covered various aspects of the 50-year Palestinian experience, as well as the special nature of American-Israeli relations. In the month-long series called "50 Years of Occupation", topics discussed in different panels included: "human rights"; "selective morality: US aid to Israel"; "Zionism and its discontents"; and "facts, lies and videotapes: media reporting." The series also included a screening of the film "Jerusalem, an occupation set in stone," and closed with a speech by Palestinian minister and human rights activist, Hanan Ashrawi, about the future of Palestine. During the same period, Georgetown's Centre for Contemporary Arab Studies also held a photo exhibition on "the Palestinian experience" and hosted PalestinianAmerican poet Lisa Majjaj, who lectured on "narrating the diaspora: Palestinian literature in the US." A few weeks earlier, on 9 April, a full-page advertisement commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Deir Yassin massacre appeared in The Washington Post, under the headline: "Remember". Though there was nothing in that advertisement that Arabs did not know, it was a shock to those unaware of the bloody history of the creation of the state of Israel. Two days before the publication of The Washington Post advertisement, Georgetown University's Gaston Hall was the gathering place for a Deir Yassin remembrance meeting. Speakers in the meeting included Prof. Dan McGowan, founder of the "Deir Yassin Remembered" campaign, and Ahmed Assad, a Deir Yassin survivor who was 15 when the massacre took place. McGowan described the work completed, and what still is to be done by "Deir Yassin Remembered". The accomplishments include a new book, "Remembering Deir Yassin," maps and a Web site. The present challenge is to get Palestinian support for a memorial to be built in Deir Yassin for the victims of the massacre. The events organised by the Arab Club at Georgetown University were repeatedly challenged by the Georgetown Israel Association. Members of the association first tried to have many of the events cancelled, noting that the main subject and target of the lectures was to counterpoint the celebration of the birth of Israel. When their attempt failed, they tried, through administrative channels, to change the name of the series "50 Years of Occupation", questioning the accuracy of the word "occupation." Members of the Israel Association at Georgetown voiced their doubts concerning the identity and the intentions of those who might participate in, or support, or finance these events. They distributed and posted hate flyers on campus, both anonymous and under the pseudo-


name of "Concerned Georgetown Students." They accused the organisers and their guests of being "anti-semite" and "denying the Holocaust". Finally, they tried to mobilise public opinion outside the university campus turning the whole issue into a topic of concern for local and national Jewish circles. The Jewish weekly Forward claimed that at stake was the issue of federal funding of some studies in the university, especially those related to the Centre for Contemporary Arab Studies, which -- as it happened -- was not financially sponsoring this series of lectures and activities. The front-page story on the 24 April issue of Forward screamed in the headline "Uncle Sam Funds 'Hate 101' at Georgetown Teach-In". The story warned: "Check out how Uncle Sam is celebrating Israel's 50th birthday with your tax dollars." Though there was plenty of evidence of squandering tax dollars on commemorating 50 years of Israel's existence around Washington, the events at Georgetown were certainly not among them. While the debate was raging on campus,The Hoya, the university's newspaper, provided the too-often silenced voices with an opportunity to be heard. The moment the controversy reached the mainstream media, however, the hawkish, pro-Israeli voices were loud enough to deafen all ears.

More than a thousand citrus trees Land or an education: this choice was at the beginning of it all. Then the Zionists moved in on Palestine, and the war was on: a war in which the scales were tipped from the start. On one side, a powerful, organised and well-equipped colonial army. On the other, uneducated peasants, a corrupt king, and a divided leadership. Haidar Abdel-Shafi talks to Mona Anis about guerrilla warfare, the rabbi's daughter and the orders that never came FORMATIVE YEARS: "I was born in Gaza, just at the end of the Ottoman occupation of Palestine, in 1919. My father, who had graduated from Al-Azhar, was a high-ranking official in the Higher Islamic Council, the authority which administered the affairs of the Muslims in Palestine. Palestine at that time was a society of peasants and landowners who cherished the value of land above everything else. In Gaza, the social prestige of a person was measured by the number of the citrus trees they owned and the size f their plantations. My father had no land, and when people asked him why he did not buy a plantation he would answer: I have six children, and I want to give all of them a higher education. That is a more worthwhile investment for the money I have than buying land. He was a eloquent orator in the traditional Arabic way, and he liked playing with words. When there was an attempt on the life of the British High Commissioner in Palestine by the Zionist gangs in 1947, my father sent him a telegram congratulating him on his safety. The message read: "Thank God you escaped this evil, the source of which is none other than a British favour," in reference to the sentence in the Balfour Declaration stating that "His Majesty's government views with favour the establishment in Palestine


of a national home for the Jewish people." My father was a great believer in the value of education, and education was not as universally accessible as it is today. "In the whole of the southern sector of Palestine, there was not a single school that offered a full secondary education. The secondary school in Gaza offered only the first and second years. There were three primary schools in Bersheeba, Al-Majdal and Khan Younis. The two best students in these three schools could come to Gaza to continue their education at the secondary school there. The two best students from the Gaza secondary school could go to Jerusalem to continue their secondary education at the Arab College in Jerusalem, which was the only school offering a complete secondary education in Palestine at the time. I am speaking, of course, of government schools, not foreign missionary schools, which also existed in Palestine. "When I completed my second year of secondary school in Gaza, I went to Jerusalem and entered the Arab College there as a boarder for another three years. I received my certificate in 1936. After that I left to Beirut, to study medicine at the American University (AUB).The Arab College in Jerusalem was a very good school. Discipline was extremely rigorous. All our teachers were highly qualified, with university degrees. The majority were Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese, though of course we had British teachers to teach us English. The director of the school was Ahmed Sameh Khalidi, the father of Walid Khalidi, the historian. He was a great man and he continued to serve as director of the school until 1948. During the war, the Jews occupied the school, although it was officially in an area designated as no-man's land. Khalidi senior was pained beyond words by the loss of the school. He left, to Lebanon, and died soon after." AN OFFICER IN THE ARAB LEGION: "I started my practice as a medical doctor immediately after my graduation from AUB in 1943. I returned to Palestine and worked in a government hospital -- the British mandate government, that is -- in Jaffa. The hospital was called Mustashfa Al-Baladiya (the Municipal Hospital). I worked there for a couple of years, until a friend who worked as a doctor in the Transjordan army came to visit me in Jaffa and told me that they were recruiting doctors for a new division in th army. At that time, the Jordanian army was divided into two sections: the regular troops in the cities and towns and what they called Jaysh Al-Badiah (the desert army). They were establishing a mechanised force within that second section, and they needed welltrained doctors for the officers, most of whom were British. My friend, who was originally from Jerusalem, persuaded me to join, saying that he was having an exciting time. It seemed an opportunity full of adventures and the whole thing had a romantic appeal that tempted me greatly. We were young, then, and such things as military


uniform and action had their appeal. So when I signed in and put on my military uniform, I was very excited. "That was during World War II, and at the time the British were training the division in which I worked in the Arab Legion, along with other divisions, to be part of what was then called the Ninth army. It was supposed to open a second front in the Balkans. So they moved us from Al-Azraq, where we were stationed, to Ashona, on the Jordanian side of the River Jordan. Then they moved us again, to Jericho and from there to Gaza. In Gaza, Glubb Pasha, commander-in-chief of the Arab Legion, came to inspect te preparations and informed us that we would be heading to Port Said, and from there to Greece, where the second front were to be opened. It was beginning to look serious, and I started to have second thoughts about the army. A week later, however, the idea of opening a second front was cancelled. The Russians were advancing in the Balkans, and it was decided that the Allied forces should concentrate on the Western front in France. Thus we were sent back to Al-Azraq in Jordan. I felt I had had enough of the army, so I resigned and went back to Gaza in mid-1945. There I opened a private practice." RETURNING TO GAZA: "In those days, there could not have been more than ten doctors practicing in the whole southern sector of Palestine. There were three or four doctors in Gaza, and an equal number in an area extending from the Egyptian border at Rafah to Yibna in the north and Bersheeba in the east. But we founded a branch of the Palestine Medical Society in the southern sector and participated in the first Palestine Medical Congress in 1946. There were five branches of the Society all in all, in Jaffa, ablus, Jerusalem, Haifa and "A friend who worked as a doctor in the Galilee. It was from within the Society that we started to Transjordan army came organise our efforts as medical doctors to participate with our people in their legitimate struggle. As the clashes between the to visit me in Jaffa and told me that they were Jewish settlers and forces and the Arabs intensified following recruiting doctors for a the UN partition resolution in 1947, we became actively new division in the army... We were young, engaged in the military resistance waged by the guerrillas. then, and such things as Those doctors whose age permitted it used to accompany the military uniform and fighters to provide medical aid in case of casualties. I action had their appeal. prsonally remember accompanying a group of guerrilla So when I signed in and fighters to the Kfar Darom settlement in Deir Al-Balah. I had put on my military uniform, I was very my first-aid equipment with me and they arranged for me to excited" stay in a small mud hut near the main road. Among the group of fida'iyin who went to attack Deir Al-Balah were several Egyptian Muslim Brothers. A large number of Muslim Brothers had come from Egypt to participate in the guerrilla warfare against the Zionists, and they were based at Nseirat. They participated with the Palestinians in tht attack, which took place sometime during March of 1948. As a matter of fact, the Muslim Brothers were at the forefront of the attack. They were very brave and took matters seriously. Unfortunately, though, bravery alone is not sufficient in a war like


that which was being waged in Palestine. The Jews were organised and most up-to-date in their military tactics. The colony was surrounded by circles and circles of barbed wire, and in between these circles the land was mined. The mines exploded, killing and maiming many of the Muslim Brothers who led the attack. Twelve of them were killed that night. The attack lasted from nightfall till daybreak, making them an easy target for the Jewish snipers, stationed high in observations towers inside the settlement. "All this was taking place under the nose of the British, who were until then the rulers. They did not interfere, however, at least in Gaza. An elderly doctor I knew was called from Bersheeba to accompany the British soldiers into the settlement and collect the dead. He told me he found there Jews, who spoke Arabic like we did and treated him very rudely. They said to him, "Tell your people, 'Illi bidaqq 'al-bab biyalqa al-jawab' (he who knocks on our door will find the answer ready). Those were very sad days. Particularly so since we had grown up with Arab Jews, who were our friends and playmates. "In the 1920s, when I was still a child, my father worked for few years in Hebron. As I mentioned earlier he was a a member of the Higher Islamic Council, an Islamic religious leader. But we used to exchange family visits with the rabbi of Hebron. He had a very pretty daughter, with whom I used to play. I liked her very much. I will never forget how sad I felt when, after our departure from the city, I heard that the rabbi had been killed when the Buraq (the wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque where the Prophet Mohamed's horse is said to have rested) was attacked by the Jews in 1929. But then everything changed over the next decade or two, and the polarisation between Jews and non-Jews deprived us all of the close affinities we had felt towards each other. "Of course, by the beginning of 1948 the antagonism had reached its climax and we were enemies. From January 1948 onward, refugees from all over the southern sector began to flood into Gaza. We thought that, as doctors, we had to do something. It was then that we established a medical clearing station in Gaza to handle the seriously wounded and to ease the pressure on the one hospital we had. The station remained in operation until the Egyptians arrived to take over the administration of the Gaza Strip. At that point, they started running the station." THE QUAKERS: "By the end of 1948, the Quakers came. They were the first to arrive in Gaza on a humanitarian relief mission. They were there when the Israelis violated the UN resolution and occupied Bersheeba. They stayed all through 1949, and until the UNRWA was established in 1951. I worked with them. They were such a wonderful group of people. They were of different nationalities: Americans, Dutch, Swedish, Finnish, even Japanese. The head of their medical team was an African-American doctor, a highly competent and dedicated man. The Quakers kept organising reunions until recently. When I was in Washington in 1993, they organised one there and invited me to attend. We were all very old, but it was a very endearing meeting, one at which we shared many fond memories. I am still in contact with one Dutch nurse from that time, and when I visited Holland last year I called on her and we talked a lot about those days.


"To go back to 1948: you cannot imagine how thing were then. In the course of three or four months, between the beginning of the year and the month of May, refugees poured into Gaza. They were twice as numerous as the inhabitants of the strip. The people of Gaza received them with open arms, providing them with shelter in any place they could make available, their homes, mosques, schools... All the doctors were working for free at the time. As people started to realise what was really happening, a general mood of aggravation settled." PALESTINE LOST: "No one, with the possible exception of a very few, knew then the size of the catastrophe we were facing. Our people had emerged, just a few decades before, from centuries of Ottoman rule. They were simple peasants, on the whole, incapable of fully comprehending the challenge such a modern and organised force as the Zionist movement posed. The traditional leadership of the Palestinian people under British mandate were incapable of raising the consciousness of the simple masses as to what the Zionist threat really meant. Actually, they helped in deluding the people regarding the threat. At the time there was much talk of the 'cowardly Zionists who would not be able to stand up to the Arabs once the battle began'. "There was a marked difference between the sophisticated Jewish leadership, which knew how to organise and mobilise all its forces, and the Arab leaders, who knew nothing of the sort. The Arabs declared that the question of Palestine was a national issue which concerned all the Arabs; these were fine words, but nobody knew how to implement them, or make them deeds. The Palestinian leadership should have played a role in mobilising the Arab world behind the cause of Palestine, insisting that these words be translated into concrete commitments, but they were as weak and divided as the Arab leaders in general. "So there was King Abdullah, appointed General Commander of the Arab armies, and we all know by now of the secret deals Abdullah had made with the Jewish Agency and with the British. The Jews were able to take an extra 22 per cent of Palestinian land that was not allotted to them in the UN partition plan, thanks to King Abdullah's collaboration. Of course, all the Palestinian inhabitants of those lands were expelled. If there was no unified leadership or aim, how, then, can we speak of a combined attack by all the Arab armies? The Egyptians were suspicious, quite rightly, about the Jordanians. The Jordanian army double-crossed everybody else, and the Iraqis, who had reached Tulkarem and were only 12km away from the coast, did not know what to do. Mako awamir (we have no orders): these were the Iraqi army's famous words, repeated by generations of Arabs. How could there be orders, when it was the British who were supposed to issue them? Add to this the poor preparation of the Arab regular armies, who knew very little about the force of the enemy, had done no intelligence work before the battle, and were completely taken by surprise when they found the Jewish forces achieving victory in the battlefield, and you realise what a farce the 1948 War was." Interviewed by Mona Anis


Haidar AbdelShafi at various moments of his long and arduous mission as Palestinian chief negotiator to the Madrid ME Peace Conference

Bonfire of the vanities Despite immense sacrifices, and extraodinary cases of heroism, all the efforts of Palestinians and the Arab armies were in vain. But why? Kamal Al-Sherif, speaking to Amira Howeidy, recounts his experiences in 1948, his feelings on the ground, as an active participant in the struggle, and in retrospect, as a supporter of ongoing Palestinian resistance. Kamel Al-Sherif is secretary-general of the International Council for Islamic Call and Aid. He has held several important posts in the Jordanian government, serving as both a cabinet minister and as Jordan's' ambassador to several countries. He was one of the leadersof the Egyptianvolunteers in the 1948 War, fighting with Iraqi and Syrian volunteers in Jaffa, the Tolkaram-Nablus-Jenen Triangle and Jerusalem and later held a leading post with the Egyptian and Palestnian volunteers in the Negev. During that period, Al-Sherif was in direct contact with key players in events, including Abdel-Rahman Azzam, the first secretary-general of the Arab League, Hajj Amin Al-Husseini, the Palestinian mufti and head of the Arab Higher Committee, and veteran military commanders such as Maj.Gen. Al-Mawawai, Maj.Gen. Fouad Sadeq, Abdel-Qader AlHusseini, Hassan Salama, Abdallah Al-Tal, Fawzi Al-Qawuqji, and many others.


Al-Sherif's dramatic experience in the war was published in 1949 in The Muslim Brotherhood in the Palestine War. As a fighter in the 1948 War, how do you see the situation 50 years later? Right from the start the 1948 War was an unequal battle. The Jews had worked and planned for years, perhaps even centuries, to place themselves on the map of the world and to secure positions of power, financially, politically and in the media, so they might influence the policies of the super powers. At the same time the Arabs were under British occupation, an occupation that deprived them from everything. Within the Palestinian arena the situation was as follows: the Jews, who had planned well in advance for war, were exceptionally well prepared. Settlers had been brought from all over the world, secured settlements had been constructed in strategic areas, forces such as the Haganah and Palmach had been trained and organised. And the Jewish gangs had no hesitation in committing the most heinous crimes. Furthermore the British mandate assisted them in achieving their aims as the British relied heavily on the Balfour Declaration to facilitate the establishment of a homeland for the Jews in Palestine. The Palestinian leadership comprised the mufti, Hajj Amin Al-Husseini, and other exiled leaders of the Arab Higher Committee. On the ground the Palestinian leadership was dispersed, often in conflict, and lacked any coherent military direction. Training was unprofessional, arms were in short supply and when they were available, were hopelessly expensive. Military operations tended to assume the character of a tribal conflict rather than modern, technological warfare. This is not to denigrate the courage of the Palestinian Arabs and the Arab armies and volunteers who helped them. They made immense sacrifices and there were many cases of extraordinary heroism. But all these efforts, all these sacrifices, all the bloodshed was in vain. Everything was negated due to the lack of preparation and planning. The presence of the Arab armies also gave rise to a number of specific problems, since they arrived in Palestine as vehicles for their political leaders' ambitions, leaders who had placed their bets on maintaining military security in return for temporary regional gains. Why did you call for guerrilla warfare after the war was over? And if that had happened, would the situation have been different? I called for guerrilla tactics when the war was already in progress, a call that implied arming and training young people under a single, unified plan. Their remit would be to


operate behind enemy lines, destroying roads and bridges and hampering the movement of vehicles. My colleagues and I actively worked on such projects in Jaffa, in the Tolkaram-Nablus-Jenein triangle and in the Negev. Such activities, however, could not replace the role of regular armies that occupy and defend the land and support the building of national institutions. Within such a context one should perhaps point out that in certain situations, as was the case with the communists in China and Vietnam, guerrilla units developed over a period into fully fledged armies. I underlined the necessity of training groups to undertake guerrilla actions during the war, alongside the Arab armies. But I also called for the pursuit of guerrilla tactics against Israel after the war was over and continued with this policy in the Gaza Strip and in Jerusalem with the aim of keeping the issue alive so that the enemy would not enjoy the fruits of security or peace. I also waited for the resistance to transform itself into an army, or else for the armies to upgrade themselves into forces capable of successfully engaging in battles. It was our efforts in this respect that later developed and affected the course of the Palestinian resistance. "One of the most successful strategies exercised by the Jews against the Palestinian people was to plant the suspicion that they were actually working as spies...so successful was this tactic that the Arab armies effictively excluded the Palestinians from the war"

Where did the Arabs go wrong in 1948? To what degree could the Arab armies have performed better, given that Palestine was under British mandate? At the time, there was a trend that supported a political solution that would avert the necessity of going to war. King Abdullah of Jordan, Nori Al-Said in Iraq and Ismail Sidki in Egypt were the main propagators of this view, a view based on the notion that the Arabs could not defeat the Jews militarily if only because of logistic inequalities. Such a view was reinforced by the support of the super powers for the Jews. Their suggested alternative was to accept pre-war British projects in return for stopping Jewish immigration and establishing a unified state with a Jewish minority. When the UN resolved on partition, they agreed. Yet such a position was out of step with Arab public opinion which believed that the Jews had no legitimate claim to an inch of Palestine, and that any part they occupied would have been wrested from its rightful, Arab inhabitants. Such opinions could hardly be argued against since they remain beyond dispute. To say, now, then, that we should have accepted the logic of those who were antagonistic to the war is to over-

simplify the situation. In retrospect, too, it is clear that the Jews were prepared to violate any agreement and would not have hesitated to expand the Jewish area. Any agreement, after all, needs at least the threat of force if it is to be implemented, and saved from violation. The Arabs lacked the force necessary to ensure that Israel hold to any agreement -- something


which, incidentally, they still do. I can only say that from my experience fate and history made combat between us and the Jews inevitable. Was there any real coordination between the different Arab armies? There was no co-ordination between the Arab armies. In fact, sometimes they clashed with each other, as was the case with the Egyptian and Jordanian armies in Hebron and Bethlehem. There was a "unified" Arab leadership, but this was in reality a false image of a leadership that had absolutely no control on the course of the war itself. I think that one of the reasons there was so much chaos is that the Arabs underestimated the power of the enemy, believing that it would surrender quickly, making it possible for the Arabs to expand their influence in Palestine. And on the ground we suffered greatly because of these conflicts. For example, the Egyptian army, in a very theatrical move, permitted the proceeding of some light troops lead by Egyptian officers to Birshiba, Hebron and Bethlehem, without dealing with a considerable number of Jewish settlements on the way, something which they paid for dearly later. They were interested in extending the battlefield lines and making their presence felt in as many places as they could without securing themselves, which was a major mistake. And they were far from being the only ones to make such mistakes. How was the British mandate or UN support of the Jews implemented on ground? The British mandate facilitated the establishment of a national home for the Jews. In this respect, Herbert Samuel, a staunch Zionist, was appointed British high commissioner to Palestine, while Norman Bentwich, another Zionist, became the chairman of the governmental authority in charge of property, and was thus able to issue laws that allow immigration and give the Jewish Agency large areas of land to build settlements and for agricultural expansion. Operationally, the Jewish legion was well trained. It had fought with the allies in the Second World War and arrived in Palestine fully equipped. And yet more weapons were shipped to the Jews through ports controlled by the British forces. In contrast, should an Arab be found in possession of even an old rifle he could be subjected to imprisonment or a large fine. Britain decided to leave Palestine and end the mandate only after it was sure the Jews were powerful enough to defend what they had built up under the noses of the British. Of course Britain did not want to give all of Palestine to the Jews. They wanted to give the Arabs something. But because the Arabs believed that they were the legal owners of the land and refused to give anything to the Jews, the Arabs, in the eyes of the British, were stubborn. It is this that lies at the root of the crisis that pushed some Arab leaders to negotiate with the British on what should be given to the Arabs. The UN officials' concern was to supervise the partition and prevent any attempt to change its borders by force. This, in itself, represented a victory for the Jews since it preserved as the status quo something that was in essence unfair. Moreover, many UN soldiers were Jews of various European nationalities, and they got on much better with


the Jews than with the Arabs. This does not negate the fact that the stand adopted by the UN tilted towards the Arabs later on. Yet this tilting occurred after the establishment of the Jewish state. Some Israeli politicians, I recall, said that they needed the UN in the establishment stage, but now the situation has changed. To what degree were Britain and the US responsible for arms supplies to the Jews during the war? The Israelis had various sources of supply. Besides the US and Britain, there was France, Italy and Czechoslovakia. And in addition to these countries, there were Zionist agencies specialised in purchasing weapons and shipping them to Palestine. We shouldn't forget too that the Jews owned light arms and artillery manufacturing factories in the larger settlements which the British knew about but chose to turn a blind eye to. Mortar guns, mines and various ammunition were manufactured in the settlements together with armour for vehicles. These might seem primitive arms now but 50 years ago they made a decisive difference, particularly given that the Arabs had no such weapons. And at the beginning of the conflict the Jews did not reveal everything they possessed. They did this only when it was necessary. Their advanced weapons appeared all at once, and only after the Arab armies had arrived in Palestine. Later on, we saw how air and naval lifts continued to support Israel in all its wars. Why the West supports Israel to this extent needs a much lengthier analysis than is possible here, one that would include the interface between religions, a historical hostility towards the Arabs and Islam, the guilt complex left by Jews in the Christian conscience and the pressure exercised by the Zionist lobby on Western politics. How would you describe the general mood concerning the Palestinian question in the Arab world in 1948? Has this changed during the past 50 years? Public opinion in Egypt, Syria, Iraq -- indeed in all the Arab countries -- was spurred by the idea of war and this greatly mitigated against any political solution. However, it did not change the fact that some Arab countries were still under the British mandate while others were under foreign occupation or ruled by weak regimes. The experience of Arab armies, if it existed at all, was limited to training and very primitive manoeuvres. Because there was no confidence between the governments and the people, the former continued to place obstacles before the volunteers, fearing that they might come, eventually, to constitute an internal threat. Yet thinking of the state of enthusiasm that then existed, it appears in retrospective extraordinarily positive compared to the situation today. Interest in Palestine weakens daily, as people turn their backs on a history of recurrent defeats, or else are seduced by their governments' attempts to force them to accept feckless solutions. This situation holds dangers for the future, since I believe the aims of Zionism have remained unchanged. The Zionist strategy is to move stage by stage, adopting whatever tools and methods suit the particular phase we are in. But the aim is constant -- to establish a greater Israel exercising control over the entire Arab region.


Although I believe that we should play the political game properly, I still think it necessary to prepare as if for a war that will take place in the near future. And one of the most important aspects of such preparation is for the Arab people to continue to carry out the duties and sacrifices this entails. Zionism must be viewed always as an alien force that usurped an Arab land and ousted an Arab people from their homes. We must remember that this is an unfair reality, one that has to be reversed no matter how long it takes. What about the role of the Palestinians, both then and now? Palestinians were living under harsh conditions, imposed on them by a mandate intended to establish the Jewish state. Despite the fact that the Balfour Declaration said that the establishment of a national home for the Jews should not harm the interests of the nonJewish people, the Zionist project contrived to ignore the existence of the Palestinian people, as exemplified in Weizman's dictum that "Palestine is a land without people, for a people without land." Golda Meier similarly denied the existence of Palestinians. "This word, Palestinian, means nothing more than a passport, and by this definition, I am a Palestinian of course." Continuing Palestinian resistance and sacrifice changed this concept gradually. But the Zionist scheme did not attempt to satisfy the Palestinian people or give them rights. On the contrary, it continued to attempt to destroy them, either by winning the acceptance of leaders for the Jewish project, by purchasing land, by liquidating "obstacles"... to cut the story short, to deal with the problem as cowboys dealt with the Indians. This approach is exemplified in Ben-Gurion's posthumously published Me, the Palestinians and the Arabs. Palestinian resistance, though, continued on several fronts. They resisted Israeli settlement and rejected the process of selling land to the Jews. The amount of Palestinian land purchased by the Jews before 1948 did not exceed 3 per cent, most of which was sold by Arab investors from neighbouring countries, and not Palestinians. The rest of the land was seized by armed force. One of the most successful strategies exercised by the Jews against the Palestinian people was to plant the suspicion that they were actually working as spies, in cahoots with their oppressors. So successful was this tactic that the Arab armies effectively excluded the Palestinians from the war. In so doing, the armed struggle lost an important pillar of potential support, alienating the only Arabs who were actually familiar with the lay of the land. This lead to major strategic mistakes and the loss of huge areas of land without fighting. After the war, the Arab countries tried to rectify that mistake but committed yet others. They handed the Palestinian issue back to the Palestinians, but only after Palestine had been completely lost and its people made refugees. It is my belief that the aim of some Arab leaders is to evade any responsibility for the consequences of the defeat and instead place it on the shoulders of the Palestinians. Indeed, one can argue that Arab countries played a role in pressuring the Palestinians to


accept defeatist solutions. It is important to remember, in this context, that the Palestinians assumed responsibility for their cause only after that cause had been destroyed. What was supposed to happen in 1948 happened in the 70s and 80s and now, as a consequence, any Arab leader can say "we accept what the Palestinians accept," or can blame the Palestinian leadership and criticise it whenever this seems necessary to placate public opinion. I think this is a wrong, indeed a dangerous, situation. The case must revert to its original terms, terms which state that Palestine belongs to its Arab people, Muslim and Christian, and that they have the right to a state on its land. The responsibility for liberating it from the Zionist occupation falls on the shoulders of the Arabs and Muslims. Israel represents a major threat to the region, and Palestine is but the first stage in an ongoing scheme. Put out the fire in the neighbour's house before it grow and reaches you. And besides all this, there are religious, historical and sacred rights in Palestine which belong to the Arab Islamic nation, rights that it is forbidden to lose.

Left, the Egyptian army beseiged at Falouga, right, Maj. Gen. Fouad Sadeq, commander of the Egyptian army from November 1948 to the end of the war

Slinging out the David-Goliath myth By Mona Anis A few resilient settlers heroically facing the massed forces of all the Arab countries that surrounded and threatened to swallow them. The official Israeli version of the 1948 War, carved, by now, on tablets of stone, could hardly be further from the truth.


In the official Israeli narrative the first Arab-Israeli war (15 May 1948-20 July 1949) is presented as a battle between David and Goliath. It is an image consolidated by pre-war Arab propaganda. On 21 May 1948, Yigael Yadin, the Israeli army's chief of operations, wrote: "The regular forces of the neighbouring countries -- with their equipment and their armaments -- enjoy superiority at this time. However, evaluation of the possibilities cannot be merely a military consideration of arms against arms and units against units, since we do not have those arms or that armoured force. The problem is to what extent our men will be able to overcome enemy forces by virtue of their fighting spirit, planning and tactics." Yet this version of a war between the combined armed forces of the Arab world and a well organised but small and ill-armed number of Jewish men (and women?) is a gross falsification, though one that prevailed worldwide for almost two decades. It was not until the June 1967 War that Israel revealed to the world the strength of its military machine.

Chronology 15 May: President Truman recognises State of Israel. First Egyptian troops cross border into Palestine and attack colonies of Kfar Darom and Nirim in Negev. Three Transjordanian Arab Legion brigades cross Jordan River into Palestine. Lebanese troops retake Lebanese villages of Malkiya and Qadas (on Lebanese border), attacked and captured earlier by Haganah. 17 May: Haganah captures Acre. 18 May: Syrian troops retake Palestinian town of Samakh, south of Lake Tiberias, and capture Zionist colonies of Shaar Hagolan and Masada. Arab Legion units reach Latrun and consolidate blockade of coastal road to Jewish


The truth is that Israel, even before its official creation, has constituted the most militarised community in the region. It has never been less than armed to the teeth.

quarters in Jerusalem. 19 May: Haganah breaks into Old City of Jerusalem. Arab Legion comes to the According to Hitham Al-Kilani in a study published in the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat, marking the 50 years rescue of Old City. 20 May: UN Security that have passed since the 1948 war: "The American Council appoints Count Intelligence Agency, in a report dated 27 July 1948, Folke Bernadotte as its estimated the figures of the forces engaged in combat inside Palestine as follows -- 27,000 Arabs (with the ability mediator in Palestine. 22 May: Security Council to draw upon another 19,800 stationed near), while the resolution calls for ceaseJewish forces engaged in combat were estimated at fire. 97,800." 11 June - 8 July: First In another study, however, also published in Al-Hayat, Prof truce. Walid Khalidi estimates the number of Arab troops during 28-29 June: Count Bernadotte suggests the first stage of the war (15 May-11 June) as 18,000 economic, military and maximum. Add to this the fact that Jewish forces were political union of well-equipped and trained and under united leadership, Transjordan and Palestine while the Arab forces were ill-equipped, ill-trained and containing Arab and without any convincing leadership, and the David and Goliath version of the conflict, that gained such hegemony, Jewish states: Negev and is revealed for what it is, nothing but a myth. Indeed, at no central Palestine to go to Arabs, Western Galilee to point throughout the entire war did Israeli combat forces outnumber their Arab counterparts by less than two to one. Jews, Jerusalem to be part of Arab state with administrative autonomy to Neither should we forget that before the Arab armies entered Palestine on 15 May the Jewish forces had already Jews, Haifa and Jaffa to be taken over not only many Arab villages in the area allotted free ports and Lydda free airport. Rejected by both to the Arab state in the UN partition plan, but also a sides. number of major towns, including Tibireus, Haifa, Jaffa, Acre and Safed. In the process they expelled more than 400,000 Palestinians. STAGES OF WAR: The war can be divided, however roughly, into four stages, including cease-fire periods. (It is, after all, important to remember that most of the territorial gains made by the newly established state of Israel were acquired during periods of cease-fire): Period one includes the first round of battles (15 May-10 June 1948); period two the first truce (11 June-8 July); period three the second round of battles (9-17 July); and period four, extending between the second indefinite truce imposed on 18 July 1948, until the signing of the four cease-fire agreements with Egypt (24 February 1949), Lebanon (23 March 1949), Jordan (3 April 1949) and Syria (20 July 1949).


In his study Khalidi says that the first meeting to take place between the commanders of the Arab armies before the war was held on 30 April in Amman. At that meeting the military commanders agreed that to ensure victory over the Jewish forces they must have under their command "no less than six completely organised divisions and six squadrons (72 aeroplanes) of bomber fighters." The politicians assembled to listen to the opinions of the military at the meeting decided that their demands were more than they could afford. The Arab armies, they decreed, should enter Palestine with whatever could be made available, and that the force could be gradually increased during the course of the war. So what were the forces available on the eve of the war? Prof. Khalidi details them as follows: EGYPTIAN TROOPS, according to a secret report of the Egyptian army, comprised two forces: the main group lead by Major General Ahmed Ali Al-Mawawi, and a lighter, mobile force lead by Ahmed Abdel-Aziz. The first force comprised the 1st Infantry Battalion (numbering 700-750), the 6th Infantry Battalion (700-750), the 9th Infantry Battalion (700-750), an armoured reconnaissance battalion (35 armoured vehicles), a light tank battalion (seven tanks), three 25 pound cannon batteries (24 cannons), one 18 pound cannon battery (eight cannons) and one six pound anti-tank cannon battery (eight cannons). The light mobile, essentially commando force, commanded by Ahmed Abdel-Aziz, comprised four officers and 124 soldiers armed with personal guns, eight Bren machineguns, four light cannons (3.7 inch) and four two pound anti-tank cannons. The Egyptian air force was divided across two fronts. The front-line force in Arish included six fighter bombers (Spitfires) and two reconnaissance planes. The second force, based in Cairo, comprised six Spitfires, five Dakota transport planes and one reconnaissance plane. THE IRAQI TROOPS, according to the memoirs of General Saleh Sa'eb Jabouri, chiefcommander of the Iraqi army, comprised a mechanised and infantry force. The first included three battalions and two engineering and intelligence units (106 officers, 1,837 soldiers, 47 tanks and 18 cannons). The second comprised 3 battalions and three small medical, engineering and intelligent units (97 officers, 2,257 soldiers). Iraqi troops, then, numbered 4,200. The Iraqi air force comprised 12 Anson light transport planes, three gladiator transport planes and ten Fury fighters. However, in a secret report cited by Khalidi, it is stated that "the Fury fighters were unable to participate in the battles because of lack of ammunition... other Fury fighters purchased never reached us... 18 planes were held in India and all efforts to get them failed."


SYRIAN & LEBANESE TROOPS: The Syrian troops comprised one brigade of 1,876 officers and soldiers with personal arms, six tanks, 32 armoured vehicles and 12 75mm cannons. Estimates of the size of the Syrian air force range from between four to ten Harvard training aeroplanes. The Lebanese troops were minuscule and adopted defensive tactics. In his memoirs, Jabouri mentions that the commander of the Lebanese army, Major General Fouad Shehab, informed the commanders of the Arab armies in their 30 April Amman meeting that Lebanon, owing to a lack of ammunition, would participate with only one battalion. During the war, though, two battalions were actively engaged in retaking Malkiya on the Lebanese borders on 4 June 1948. The Lebanese force comprised the 3rd Snipers Battalion (436 officers and soldiers), supported by an armoured battalion of four armoured cars and six tanks. TRANSJORDAN'S ARAB LEGION was the best equipped and trained of the Arab forces. According to the memoir's of Abdullah Al-Tal, commander of the 6th Battalion of the Arab Legion in 1948, Transjordan's forces numbered 7,850. However, General Sir John Glubb (Glubb Pasha), commander-in-chief of the Arab Legion in 1948, gives a lower estimate in his memoirs, insisting that there were 6,000 men, though only 4,500 of them were ready for combat. Glubb adds that the Arab Legion, which depended on Britain for supplies of ammunition, had no reserves and was effectively paralysed following the UN embargo on arms sales. According to Glubb the army possessed ammunition "enough in theory for one battle only". Soon exhausted, Transjordan's forces had to wait for 16 months, until September 1949, before it could replenish supplies. In conclusion, the Arab armies lacked the freedom of action and the organisational skills required to confront the Zionist aggressors. The top brass of the army of Transjordan consisted of British officers, while the movements of both the Egyptian and the Iraqi armies were restricted by the defence agreements they had signed with the British government. And both the Syrian and Lebanese armies, they were reeling from years of being under French mandate. Some Arab countries, such as Iraq and Syria, did make attempts to acquire up-to-date arms but their endeavours failed and the war ended before they could achieve such a goal. ARAB PLAN OF WAR: The Arab armies' plan was not finally approved until 10 May, when the political committee of the Arab League met in Damascus with the military commanders and approved their plans after lengthy deliberations. The plan stipulated that: the Lebanese army should proceed along the coast in the direction of the Israeli settlement Nahariya, and to Acre (occupied by the Haganah on 16 May); the Syrian army should proceed from Lebanese territory to Safed (occupied by the Haganah on the day of the meeting) and Nazareth; the Iraqi army should proceed across the River Jordan, south of the Sea of Galilee, and then advance in the direction of the Jewish town of Afula; part of the Arab Legion was to cross the River Jordan 15km south of the Iraqi army, and converge with the Iraqis at Afula, while the larger part of the Arab Legion headed north


to Afula from Jenin. Meanwhile the Egyptian army was to proceed from Sinai along the coast to Tel Aviv. The plans, based upon massive underestimates of the size and strength of the Jewish forces as well as exaggerated assumptions about the capabilities of the Arab armies, assumed that the Egyptian forces would be able to threaten Tel Aviv and thus draw all the Jewish forces in that direction, leaving Afula vulnerable to Arab takeover. It was also assumed that there was no danger involved in exclusively focusing on Tel Aviv and Afula. Jerusalem, indeed the whole of middle Palestine, it was naively thought, were in no danger. On 14 May, King Abdullah, general commander of all Arab armies, changed the plan. Now Syrian troops were to proceed from Lebanese territory and retake the Arab town of Samekh, south of the Sea of Galilee, and establish a bridge-head for crossing the River Jordan. Jordanian forces were also diverted from Afula, and were now expected to head towards Nablus, Ramallah and Khan Al-Ahmar, east Jerusalem. The remaining Arab forces were to keep to the original plan. These changes, as Khalidi points out, were responsible for the exaggerated belief among many Arabs that the Arab defeat was based solely on Abdullah's treason and last minute change of plan. "There is no doubt," Khalidi writes, "that these changes were politically motivated [the Jordanian-British secret agreement]... but it also had some military logic..." ACTION IN THE BATTLEFIELD: On the Northern front, the Israeli and Lebanese armies took turns in invading Al-Malkiya village. Then the Lebanese and Syrian armies coordinated in recapturing it. On 18 May, the Syrian troops retook the Palestinian town of Samakh, south of Lake Tiberias, and captured the Jewish settlements of Shaar Hagolan and Masada, establishing a bridgehead across River Jordan.


On the central front, the Iraqi army, having reached Netanya, withdrew to Nablus. Jenin, which had been The saving of the Old City in captured by the Israeli army, was liberated by the Jerusalem was a major Iraqis. Meanwhile, Transjordan's Arab Legion achievement the Arabs attained reached Latrun on 18 May, attacked two settlements, during the war and besieged Jerusalem. On May 19 the Haganah broke into the Old City of Jerusalem, but the Arab Legion came to the rescue of the Old City, and broke into the Jewish quarter. Although the Arab Legion failed to recapture any part of the areas of West Jerusalem, which had fallen into the hands of the Zionist gangs earlier, the saving of the Old City was the major achievement the Arab attained at that stage--and possibly through the whole war. On the southern front, the Egyptian army, with some Saudi units, entered Palestine along two fronts. The first convoy proceeded along the coast, the second inland. The first convoy attacked Nirim and Kafar Daroum settlements, and then entered Gaza. Meanwhile, the Egyptian air force effected some air raids on Tel Aviv. Subsequently the Egyptian forces intensified their attack on the Deir Sneid settlement, finally capturing it on 24 May. They then proceeded north to assist the Arab Legion under heavy fire in Latrun and reached Asdod on 29 May, 17km north of Majdal, site of the Egyptian command. The Egyptian forces occupying positions in and near Asdod comprised two battalions supported by anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns, two batteries of cannons and four light tanks. All in all the force numbered some 2,000 men. On 30 May, and for two consecutive days, Jewish forces waged a major counter-offensive against these troops but failed to retake the position. On 7 June the Egyptians took over the Jewish settlement, Nitsanim, which occupied a strategic location on the road from Majdal to Asdod. On 8 June Jewish forces launched a counter offensive to retake the settlement and failed. On 10 June the Israelis occupied a hill overlooking the settlement. The following day Egyptian forces succeeded to capture the hill, just as the first truce was imposed on 11 June. Meanwhile, on 2-3 June, Egyptian forces took the fateful decision to proceed eastward from Majdal via Iraq Sweidan and Faluja to Bet Jebrin and Hebron. In doing so they extended the battle lines horizontally, isolating 25 Jewish settlements from the main body of the Jewish state designated in the UN partition plan as they extended the line to cut separate the Negev desert (which comprised one third of the Jewish state allotted in the UN plan) from Northern Palestine. THE FIRST TRUCE: Fighting stopped for four weeks (11 June-8 July) in compliance with Security Council resolutions. After 26 days of fighting, the Arab forces remained in control of the greater part of Palestine. The Arab League Arab Liberation Army was stationed south of Nazareth. The Syrian army controlled an area extending from Hebron to the southern shores of the Sea of Galilee, except for a few settlements in eastern Galilee. The Iraqi army controlled central Palestine and were stretched along a front


extending west to Tolkarem and Qalqilya, 12km from the coast. The Jordanian army was in control of the southern portion of the Jordan Valley, the area around Jerusalem, the Old City, Ramallah, Lod and Ramla. The southern part of Negev and the Gulf of Aqaba were under the control of the Egyptian army. However, and as Khalidi notes, "what matters in war is not the occupation of large tracts of land -- Germany swept the Soviet Union during the Second World War without being able to defeat it -- but the ability to break the military capabilities and the will to fight of the enemy." By the end of the first round of the war the Arab forces were far from achieving this. It is important to remember that Israel, at this stage, far from standing alone, had the support of both the US, the Soviet Union and the UN. As Khalidi rightly notes, these three forces "were Israel's midwife", the friends on whom Israel relied for arms and men. The Arab armies, on the other hand, were stretched as far as possible. And increasingly they were subject to pressures, political and military. The UN Security Council appointed a UN envoy, Count Folk Bernadott, to negotiate the terms of cease-fire, and imposed an embargo on the sale of arms. The Jewish forces used the period of the cease-fire to re-organise themselves, strengthening their numbers and resources. Israel managed to recruit pilots from all over the world and to purchase 40 bombers from Czechoslovakia and three from the US. The Arab countries adhered to the UN imposed truce, lacking the power or backing to enable them to violate anything. Attempts to purchase arms proved unsuccessful. The US insisted on implementing the UN arms embargo when it came to the Arabs, and even those arms purchased from Britain prior to the war never arrived, despite the joint military agreements binding the Arab countries to Britain.

Major General Ahmed Abdullah Al-Mawawi General Commander of the Egyptian Army in Palestine Born 1897. Graduated from the Military Academy in 1916. Was appointed at the rank of Major as head of the training department of Military

Lieutenant Colonel Ahmed Abdel-Aziz Commander of the Egyptian Commando force in Palestine Born 1907. Graduated from the Military Academy in 1928. Joined the Cavalry division in the same year. Joined the Staff

Count Folke Bernadotte; UN mediator in Palestine Born 1895. Swedish diplomat, president of the Swedish Red Cross and nephew of King Gustav V of Sweden. Negotiated the truce which began on 11 June but soon broke down, leading to further


Operations. Promoted to the rank of Brigadier in 1945, and became the commander of the 4th Infantry Brigade. Was appointed in 1947 Commander of the Infantry Division. With the intensification of clashes in Palestine moved his headquarters to Arish where he was stationed along with an infantry force. Promoted, by Royal decree, to the rank of Major General on 14 May, and appointed commander of the southern sector of Palestine, the theatre of the Egyptian army operations. Married with four children.

College in 1942, and was appointed, upon graduation, to the Military Operations sector. Was appointed commander of the 1st Cavalry Brigade. Resigned from the army in March 1948 and went to Palestine to lead the volunteer force. Married with one son. Died in August 1948 in Palestine.

heavy fighting in July. He was shot dead by 3 members of the Stern gang on 17 Sept., as he crossed from the Arab into the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem. Yitzhak Shamir, later prime minister of Israel, was reported to have been on of the three. Shamir's memoirs refer to the incident without denying the report. The irony was that Bernadotte had saved thousands of Jews from extermination during the Second World War and was sympathetic to Israel in his analysis of the PalestinianZionist conflict.

Sources: Hitham Al-Kilani, "Fifty years since 1948", Al-Hayat, 21-25 March 1998; Walid Khalidi, "Fifty years since 1948", Al-Hayat, 15-23 May 1998; Mohamed Heikal, Secret Channels, 1996; Harold Wilson, The Chariot of Israel, 1981; Selected editions of AlAhram and Akhbar El-Yom from 1 May-30 June 1948.

Palestinian history, Israeli terms Arab historical writing may have successfully exploded the founding myths of Zionism. But, writes Maher Al-Sherif, it still follows an agenda set by the conquerors The term Qadiyat Falasteen (Palestinian cause) designates a political issue which first emerged in the early 1920s as a result of the interplay between three factors. The first of these was the British occupation of Palestine and the imposition of the British mandate, resulting in the creation of a distinct geo-political entity, separate from the rest of Greater Syria and defined as "Mandated Palestine". The second was the birth of political Zionism which secured a British promise to facilitate Zionist efforts aimed at creating a "Jewish national homeland in Palestine". Finally, there was the nascent Palestinian Arab resistance movement against both the British occupation and the Zionist enterprise. The relationship between Palestine and the Palestinian cause, on the one hand, and history and the writing of history, on the other, is a complicated one. Writing about the Palestinian cause emerged as a response to a political movement -- Zionism -- which was itself a product of a particular vision of history, one which made historical legacy, both factual and mythologised, the moral basis for the founding of a nation.


Walid Khalidi, in his introduction to Before the Diaspora: An Illustrated History of the Palestinian People 1876-1948, interprets the nature of the relationship between Palestine and history as follows: "The parties to the conflict tend to be deeply immersed in the history of their struggle. The injustices and their origins overwhelm the oppressed more than they do the oppressor. The intensity and duration of this feeling is affected by several factors: the nature of the injustice that was inflicted, the attitudes of other parties towards the injustice, and, finally, the conduct of the oppressor after it committed the injustice." He continues: "In the case of the Palestinians -- the wronged party in their conflict with the Zionists -- we find that these factors have combined to perpetuate and increase the weight of the millstone of history." Zionism not only forced the Palestinians and their Arab brothers to make history a weapon of war. It imposed the subject matter for their writing of history and the agenda for their research. A cursory reading of Emile Toma's massive history of the Palestinian people testifies amply to the truth of this remark. The aim of Toma's fourteen-volume work was to offer an alternative to the Zionist interpretation of history and thereby demonstrate the continued presence of the Palestinian people on their land, their Arab affiliation and the legitimacy of their cause. Simultaneously, he also sought to refute the customary Zionist myths and clichĂŠs, such as "Palestine being a land without people", the "eternal" history of Zionism, and the notion that "the resurrection of the Jewish nation on the land of Israel is what created the Palestinian nation."

"Every piastre you pay will go to the military effort in Palestine. In one night, at a conference in Chicago, the Zionists collected LE24 million. Gold must be fought with gold"; text of an advertisement placed in Al-Ahram of March 1948 by the Nile Valley High Committee for Solidarity with Palestine, headed by Mohamed Ali Alouba Pasha

Modern historiography on the Palestinian cause dates from the 1930s. Eissa Al-Safari's Arab Palestine from the Mandate to Zionism, published in 1938, was the first work to establish clearly that the Palestinian cause is the product of two factors: the imposition of the British mandate and the promulgation of the Balfour Declaration. The author concludes that the most important consequence of the revolution that erupted in 1936 was the expansion of the Palestinian cause from a local to a universal Arab issue. The mandate period saw the emergence of a number of other Palestinian historians. Among the most prominent were Aref Al-Aref and Mohammed Ezzat Darwaza. AlAref's work chronicled the history of countless Palestinian towns and cities and demonstrated a particular interest in their archaeology. Darwaza, according to Adnan Abu Ghazala's study of Palestinian historians in the age of the mandate, began his career as a representative of the tradition of Islamic biographers of the life of the Prophet and


pioneered the transition, under the influence of the nascent pan-Arab movement, to the modern pan-Arab orientation in Arab historiography. In the 1950s, there appeared a number of serious studies on the Palestinian issue. Of particular value are the works of Ahmed Tarbin and Akram Za'itar. However, their approach to the Palestinian cause was largely influenced by eye-witness reports and was governed by an idealism that held that the "Nakba/catastrophe" of 1948, in the words of one writer, "inflicted such a painful wound in the heart of every Arab political leader and people" that it would impel the Arabs to eradicate "the monstrous Jewish state" which was founded "on a very narrow patch of land, with no economic prospects, in the midst of a vast sea of Arabs, rich in numbers, capabilities and potential." This uncritical and naive outlook continued to prevail, even in the wake of the defeat of June 1967. It is best illustrated by The Palestinian Struggle over Half a Century by the Libyan journalist and parliamentarian Saleh Masoud Abu Yassier. Relying on a few widely-circulated secondary sources and on the Palestinian and Arab newspapers, the result was highly emotive and very popular; its first edition sold out within a few months of its publication in 1967 and a second edition was issued the following ear. For Abu Yassier, the Palestinian question was the product of a conspiracy, woven by the British and supported by the "crusading" nations. The Palestinian people had resisted the conspiracy for thirty years and now, following the creation of Israel, they persisted in their struggle. But, the eradication of the Palestinian problem at its source demanded the concerted efforts of the millions of Muslims around the world. The author concluded by asserting: "If the European Christian nations had ignored their sacred sites in Palestine, which Islam has safeguarded for many centuries, and if they did not act to rescue these sites from the Zionists, that is all the more reason to compel us, the Muslim and Christian Arabs, to act so that we might render to all of humanity -- including the Christians in Europe and the USA -- the historic service of delivering these sacred sites from the abyss of Zionist deception and tyranny." Unfortunately, in spite of considerable advances both in methodology and access to resources, this ideologically-charged mode of history writing has not entirely disappeared. In 1988, there appeared in Kuwait a book entitled How Palestine Was Lost: A Study of the Economic, Political and Cultural Factors Contributing to the Loss of Palestine by the Saudi Arabian scholar, Eissa Ben Mohammed Al-Madi. The author wrote in his introduction: "The loss of Palestine, and before that the loss of Eastern Europe and Andalusia and many other lands that had once been in the hands of the Muslim people, is indicative of the continual retreat of the Muslims before the advancing forces of heresy." After presenting an analysis of the various economic, cultural and political aspects of life in Palestine, Al-Madi concludes that the loss of Palestine was brought about by the removal of the two major obstacles which had stood in the way of the creation of a Jewish national homeland. The first was the Ottoman Sultan, Abdel-Hamid II, who had blocked Jewish ambitions in Palestine and who he described as "Palestine's first victim and martyr". The second was Tsarist Russia, whose government was "intensely devoted


to the traditions of Orthodox Christianity" and viewed the holy sites in Palestine with "the deepest piety". This form of historiography, however, has been in decline since the seventies, when academics began to avail themselves of primary sources such as the British Foreign Office and Colonial Office archives, the files of the Zionist movement and Palestinian documents and private papers. The results of this coal face scholarship have been enormously illuminating. In 1967 Nagi Aloush published a critical-analytical study of The Arab Resistance in Palestine from 19171948. Abdel Wahab Al-Kiali, in 1970, produced is impressive Modern History of Palestine. Al-Kiali concludes in this work, which was thoroughly documented from British government archive sources, that the failure of the Palestinian uprising from 1936 to 1939 was inevitable. The author cites several reasons for this. Firstly, the Secretary-General of the Arab League Abdelbalance of forces were heavily tipped in Rahman Azam Pasha, with Arab delegates favour of the Zionists as a result of the on the doorstep of the League in Cairo fragmentation of the Arabs and the subordination of Arab governments to colonial powers. Secondly, the Palestinian leadership was narrow-minded and lacking in foresight and ambition. Thirdly, there was an absence of revolutionary vision and mass organisation as a result of the underdevelopment of both the leadership and society. Finally, he adds that international circumstances between the two world wars were not propitious for national liberation movements. Most of the studies that appeared in the 1970s had a political focus. The primary aim of the historians was to examine the origins of the Palestinian struggle in relation to colonialism and Zionism, with an eye to demonstrating that the modern Palestinian resistance movement, as epitomised by the PLO, did not emerge out of nowhere, but was rather an extension of a national movement that appeared in embryonic form toward the end of the Ottoman era and which had shown an early awareness of the dangers posed by the Zionist movement. This was the objective of Kheiriya Qasmiya in her study of the early Palestinian challenges to Zionist activity and their development and institutionalisation during the mandate period. A similar orientation was adopted by Bayan Noweihad Al-Hoot in her work on Leadership and Political Institutions in Palestine from 1917-1948. Within this framework as well, there emerged numerous studies of the British mandate, its role in generating the


necessary conditions for the success of the Zionist enterprise, the Zionist immigration movement to Palestine, the history of Zionism and its political and military organisation. Exemplary of such endeavours was Sabry Grace's two-volume work on The Histry of Zionism from 1862-1948. Also, since the mid-seventies, in close conjunction with political developments, there appeared a spate of studies attempting to analyse the origins and development of Palestinian political thought and ideology. Particular attention was given to certain contentious subjects, notably the problematic of acceptance and rejection of the Zionist entity, and the relationship between Palestinian nationalism and pan-Arab nationalism, which was the focus of several studies by Faisal Hourani. Others attempted to investigate the origins and development of specific political orientations. Thus Musa Bederi produced several studies of the Palestinian Communist Party, while I myself published a three-volume work on Communism in Palestine, covering the period from the beginning of this century to the 1980s. It is noteworthy that most such research projects have also been closely linked with the changing modes of political action and expression, a trait that continues even today. Thus, the growth of political Islam in the wake of the Intifada has coincided with a large number of studies attempting, from various starting points, to chart the historic development of this trend since its first manifestations under mandate Palestine. An outstanding work in this genre is Ziyad Abu Amr's history of the Islamic movement in the West Bank and Gaza published in 1989. The peace process initiated by the Madrid conference has also inspired several historians to examine the history of peace efforts. In his three-volume critique, Mohammed Hassanein Heikal traces the peace process back through secret negotiations between the Arabs and Israel, while Abdel-Azim Ramadan, in his work, adopts a more emotional and vindictive stance. Other historians have dealt with the attitudes of other Arab peoples, particularly in the adjacent countries, to the Palestinian cause and their role in the fight against the Zionist enterprise. In her book, Egypt and Palestine, published in 1980, Awatef Abdel-Rahman analyses the Egyptian newspapers of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, in order to assess the trends of public and political party opinion vis-Ă -vis the Palestinian cause during these periods. According to the author, Egyptian concern for the Palestinian cause and the dangers of Zionism was evident as early as the 1920s. Moreover, she concludes that this awareness was influential in modern Egypt's discovery of its Arab identity. Hussan Ali Halaq, by contrast, turned to Lebanon in a series of studies that he began to publish in the 1980s. He investigates the history of Lebanese attitudes towards the Palestinian cause, with particular attention to the role of the Union of Lebanese Parties in combating Zionist plans in Lebanon itself. He also examines the Zionists' promotion of one minor and ineffectual trend in Lebanon in the 1930s, where they advocated the establishment of a "Christian national homeland" on the model of the Jewish national homeland in Palestine.


Since the 1980s the development of a more rigorous methodology in writing history has influenced historical writing on the Palestinian cause. Increasingly, researchers turned their attention to economic and social matters, so as to produce a more comprehensive and detailed account of Palestinian Arab society before 1948. This trend represents a belated sequel to two pioneering studies which appeared during the 1930s and 1940s: The Economic System in Palestine by Said Hamada (1939) and Mohammed Younis AlHusseini's Social and Economic Development in Palestine (1946). These research projects included a great variety of studies on rural life, land ownership, industry, education, the working class and the labour and trade union movements. Rosemary Sayigh's compelling Palestinians: From Peasants to Revolutionaries, which appeared in English in 1979 and was translated into Arabic the following year, stands out in this regard. Sayigh was inspired by the belief that the voice of the Palestinian people had become muted and distorted behind the catchwords of the "cause" and the official Arab and Palestinian narrative of the conflict. In order to restore an element of human substance to increasingly empty words, she conducted countless intervies with the Palestinians of the refugee camps in Lebanon, compiling their oral accounts of their experiences and life-stories so as to allow them to speak with their own voice. Sayigh argues that the "Palestinian belonging" never constituted a rejection of Arab identity. Rather, it was the natural response of refugees who had been reviled, in the absence of proper Arab historiography on the process of their uprooting, for having sold or deserted their land -- as mercenaries or cowards. In this context, one should also single out for praise Walid Khalidi's efforts to produce at last a comprehensive and scholarly history of the process of that uprooting. Also in the mid-1980s, there was a revival of interest in ancient history. Thus, Shawqi Shaath embarked on the study of ancient Palestinian culture and civilisation, while Abdel-Wahab Elmesseiri proposed a study of the history of the Jews that would distinguish between the history of Judaism as a religion with various denominational creeds and divisions, and the histories of the diverse Jewish minorities around the world. His typology is intended to refute the Zionist myth that the Jewish people must be treated within a single historical framework. Elmesseiri believes this is scientifically impossible. Another exciting attempt to deconstruct the historical roots of Zionist mythology is Kamal Salibi's The Bible Came from Arabia (1985). Through a minute analysis of Old Testament place names, corroborated by contemporary Pharaonic and Mesopotamian sources, the author locates the ancient land of Israel, not in Palestine, but in the Najran province of what is now Saudi Arabia. On this basis, he draws a distinction between the ancient Hebrews -- the "sons of Israel" -- and the "Jews" and "Judaism". Thus, while the ancient Hebrews became extinct through their assimilation into other peoples, the religion founded by the Hebrew prophets continued to flourish and spread among other peoples who had no connection with the original Hebrews of the Old Testament. The implication, of course, is that the Jews today are not descendants from the Old Testament tribes and, consequently, that they have no claim to the "promised land", whether it is located in Palestine or elsewhere.


From a different perspective, Bayan Noweihad Al-Hoot, in Palestine: the Cause, the People, the Civilization, tracing Palestinian history from the time of the Canaanites to 1918, also probes ancient historical sources in order to determine who Palestine belongs to and who the Palestinian people are. Her work represents a new trend towards comprehensive specialisation, producing a field of inquiry we might term "Palestinology". Under this heading, we must also include the Encyclopedia of Palestine, edited by Anis Sayigh, which, in six volumes covers many various aspects of Palestinian geography, history and civilisation -- not forgetting the Palestinian question. In conclusion, it is possible to say today that Arab historiography, which, over the past six decades, has honed and diversified its methodologies, unearthed and taken on board a wealth of new resources and expanded the scope and orientation of its subject matter, to produce a rich body of scientific knowledge on Palestine, the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause. In the course of its development, it has helped shatter most of the Zionist myths and narratives. Nevertheless, it is my impression that these writings have failed, up to the present, to offer a convincing and cohesive answer to one important question: Why did Israel win, and continue to win, in spite of the emergence of new Palestinian leaderships in the wake of the defeats of 1948 and 1967, and in spite of developments in the strategies and styles on the part of the Arabs? To answer this question, I believe, Arab historiography must free itself from the terms of reference imposed by the Zionist reading of history. It must look at the Arab and Palestinian experience in its own terms, in order to locate the roots of underdevelopment and fragmentation. These two phenomena, which existed well before colonialism, though they were both exacerbated by it, gave the Zionists the advantage throughout. Explorers drawn to this new field of inquiry should take their inspiration from te ideas of Qostantin Zouriq in his The Meaning of the Nakba, and Yassin Al-Hafez who has discussed the reasons underlying Israel's victory. Both writers offer new hypotheses as the basis for their studies. Focusing on the disparity between the Arab and Israeli communities in assimilating the concepts and mechanisms of modernity, Zouriq argues that underdevelopment was the Arabs' most fundamental problem. Were it not for this backwardness, he writes, "we would not have been deceived by colonialism to begin with, ignorance would not have been so widespread and we would not have suffered the catastrophe of defeat in Palestine." In a similar vein, Al-Hafez contends that Israel was erected upon the ruins of Arab omissions and errors and continued to prevail over the Arabs as a result of the fragmentation and paralysis of Arab societies and the traditionalism which stifled the emergence of a modern Arab ideology.

Soweto on the Jordan In the first of a two-part series on the lessons for the Palestinian struggle to be drawn from black liberation struggles in the US and South Africa, Elaine C. Hagopian* explains why identifying Israel as an apartheid regime will not be enough to set international public opinion against the Zionist project


The Oslo "peace" process was doomed to failure from its inception. Its flaws have become quite clear, even though there will be those who feel that the real problem is Netanyahu, not Oslo. Some may even claim that the major obstacle is Palestinian terrorism. Suffice it to say that Oslo was an attempt to dissolve -- not resolve -- the Palestinian national question and the demographic problem Israel had recreated for itself as a result of the 1967 War. Madrid/Oslo became the vehicle for consolidating not only US interests in the region, but also Israeli control of the territories captured in 1967 and their resources. By establishing dependent, apartheid Palestinian entities, the option of Israeli citizenship was canceled and the occupiers thus no longer had to bear the burden of occupation. Oslo has not worked and cannot work. Why? There are two basic reasons. The first is that Israeli policy toward the Palestinians has been "residual". Israel has always insisted on keeping land, resources and allegedly strategic sites that it defines as essential to maintaining a powerful and secure state. Hence, what is left over, ie., residual, can be "leased" to Palestinians in the occupied territories under a limited autonomy arrangement in noncontiguous enclaves. The second reason is that the Palestinian leadership, and even a significant segment of the Palestinian intelligentsia, have allowed their role as actors on behalf of the Palestinian people to "[A] crucial factor ... in the demise of the apartheid state [in South Africa] was that the West had an internationally respected, be diminished. popular and strong Black leader whom it could depend on not to Instead, the leaders threaten existing domestic and international interests ... neither have developed a Israel nor the United States need or want to deal with a strong mind-set that has and widely-respected Palestinian leader, since Israel is able to "accepted", for the act as a guarantor of its own domestic interests and shares most part, to negotiate responsibility for US strategic interests in the area" within the limits of what Israeli leadership and society will tolerate -- the current Palestinian Authority "rejection" of Netanyahu's disingenuous proposal for withdrawal from a small portion of the West Bank notwithstanding. A number of observers have assumed that if it could be shown that Israel's current policies towards the Palestinians were similar to the policies of the pre-1994 South African apartheid government, then American policy toward Israel would be forced to change under public pressure, and the Palestinian cause would be warmly embraced by


Uncle Sam. However, while it may be important and helpful to make this demonstration, we should not expect any radical change in American and Israeli policy as a result, even if the analogy were to become widely accepted. Indeed, exploring the correlations between the two racist regimes will above all help us to understand how Israel gets away with all it does, and why the Palestinians have let them. Israel has often been compared to pre-1994 South Africa. In so many ways, the comparison holds true. Yet pre-1994 South Africa differed from modern Israel in four important ways. First, the white settlers had no historical roots in the area. Second, they were a numerical minority in the country they ruled. Thirdly, they did not systematically attempt to transform the country's demographics. Fourthly, while the West had significant interests in South Africa, it was not ultimately and irrevocably committed to an Afrikaner-dominated white state. Another crucial factor that should not be underestimated in the demise of the apartheid state was that the West had an internationally respected, popular and strong Black leader whom it could depend on not to threaten existing domestic and international interests. The situation in Israel with respect to these points could not be more different. The Jews did have historical roots in Palestine. Israeli Jews are now a majority in Israel. They did transform the country demographically, though not as yet decisively, given the consequences of the 1967 War. Moreover, while the West, and in particular the United States, does have a strong coalescence of interests with Israel, the existence of Israel as a Jewish state is not based on those interests alone. The international community is strongly committed to Israel as a Jewish state. Although the international community, minus the United States, has also come to support the notion of a two-state solution, to date it has not known how to promote it. In addition, neither Israel nor the United States need or want to deal with a strong and widelyrespected Palestinian leader, since Israel is able to act as guarantor of its own domestic interests and shares responsibility for US strategic interests in the area. The similarities between Israel and pre-1994 South Africa lie rather in the ideological underpinnings of Jewish and Afrikaner nationalism, and in the consequent apartheid systems each has deployed in order to assure purity of and power through their respective nationalisms. Afrikaner Calvinist belief that Afrikaners were predestined to settle and develop the land of South Africa, along with a strong exclusive national culture fostered through the Afrikaner language, gave justification and legitimacy to their expropriation of the land. There was simply no moral space in Afrikaner thinking for indigenous Africans. Apartheid was embraced as a way to ensure white survival, and was rationalised as providing an opportunity for Black development in tribal Bantustans. The South African National Party believed political power to be an essential safeguard for Afrikaner survival as a nation, just as the major Israeli political parties believe Jewish power is necessary to Israeli survival and security. Zionist exclusivism, based as it has come to be on Abraham's covenant with God and the notion of redemption, has its own agents of intellectual legitimisation. Afrikaner intellectual Van Wyk Louw castigated his


fellow intellectuals who formulated and accepted Afrikaner exclusivism and rationalised racist laws and practices as absolutely necessary for white survival and security over the decades. What Van Wyk Louw said of South Africa then is equally true of Israel now: "Any threat to it instantly call[ed] for resistance which [could] be stirred to fantastic vehemence by the urge for national self-preservation." From the inception of Zionism, the Zionist leaders developed a vision and action plan that defined Jewish nationalism in the most symbolically potent and cohesive way possible. Rooted as it was in the recreation of ancient history and the horrors of the Jewish experience in Europe, it offered a highly emotive account of how the Jewish problem could be solved. Only a Jewish state could combat the twin concerns of the Jews: on the one hand, assimilation, and the threat assimilation was thought to pose to Judaism and Jewish community solidarity; on the other, anti-Semitism. The Zionists understood, as too many Black Americans and Palestinians have not, that they have to combine a strong cultural/ideological vision of identity and society with political strategy and a community controlled economic resource base to support political action without compromise. The Zionists achieved this integrated programme in a way so compelling to Jews that no moral space was left for Palestinians in Israeli thinking. This is not to say that there were no Israeli intellectuals to protest against the projected fate of the Palestinians under Zionism, nor is it to say the state of Israel has no internal critics today. There are in fact many Jewish voices raised both in the West and in Israel in support of Palestinian national sovereign rights. But as a society, Israelis are unable to break out of the narrow, hermetically-sealed ideological definition of themselves and of their Palestinian neighbours. As such, the internal challenge by Israeli Jewish intellectuals has never achieved anything like the scale and importance of white South African protests against apartheid. Threats to Israel's survival and security are assumed and anticipated. Draconian measures are taken to respond to Israeli asserted Palestinian threats to Israel's security without ever linking Israeli measures to suppress and oppress Palestinians as causal. This can help us understand why even Israeli intellectuals who are aware of the consequences of the establishment of a Jewish State at the expense of the Palestinian people, believe the imperative of Jewish nationalism is more important than Palestinian rights. For example, Hebrew University Professor Yehezkiel Dror offered the following response to a lecture given by Professor Noam Chomsky at Ben Gurion University on 8 June 1997 in which Chomsky had urged the need for an overriding commitment to justice: "As to mending the world, not yet. This is my starting point, that I want a Jewish state here. We are either going to accept this value, or not. If we accept this starting point, as I do, and as I recommend my fellow Jews to do, we have to dirty our hands. This requires regret, but not repentance. We would do it again. Hopefully better, maybe more effectively, but fundamentally, there is no doubt that the Palestinians lose because Zionism is here. I accept that they pay and we get our values."


Iraqi-Israeli Professor Ella Shohat tries to explain why Jewish nationalism has remained so exclusive and why Jewish power is exercised in such a disproportionate way. Commenting on Edward Said's work on Zionism as seen from the point of view of its victims, she says, "[His work] testifies to a [sic] historical irony by which the cultural signifiers of Jewishness -- exile, diaspora, wandering, homelessness -- have become applicable to the Palestinians themselves." She goes on to say: "The question of vitimisation is crucial for the representation of Jewish experience and identity and for the liberationist Zionist project. The suggestion that a history of other victims might be told, that there might be victims of Jewish nationalism, leads to violent opposition, or in the case of liberals, to epistemological vertigo. Zionist discourse betrays the symptoms of acute discomfort with the very idea of a Jewish victimiser, since Jewish popular tradition characteristically narrates its suffering at the hands of the oppressors." Shohat identifies the ways in which Israeli and other Jewish intellectuals circumvent discomfort by drawing attention to the Holocaust, trying to associate all Arabs with Nazis, and by pointing to the case of Arab Jews whom they claim to have saved from the Arabs. These reference points are offered to negate the reality of Palestinian victimisation and allow the intelligentsia to feel at ease with injustice. Given the powerful ideological traits described above, the residual policy of the Israeli state can be understood, but not accepted. In a cynical sense, it represents progress compared to the earlier policy of denial and the disingenuousness of the early autonomy proposals. The Israelis have always focused on those things they feel are essential for them to maintain a powerful and secure Jewish state. Hence what is left over, i.e. residual, can be "leased" to Palestinians in the territories under an autnomy formula. The result is Bantustan enclaves without even the South African rationalisation that Israeli apartheid would allow Palestinian self-development to proceed at its own pace. The Israeli Labour government was allegedly willing to offer more autonomous areas than the Likud. But the point is not a matter of how much more or less. The point is that very little attention is paid to the Palestinian side of the equation. No one asks the question: What are the basic conditions of justice required and due to a wronged people? In all of this, Israel has the support of the United States. Apartheid did not work for South Africa, and it will not work for Israel, but for different reasons. Aside from the fact that Afrikaner apartheid policy was understood by the world as racism and colonial oppression, demographic reality and the continued dependency of white society on Black labour were the major factors that told against the continuation of white supremacy. DeKlerk was able to perceive the implications of this in advance of reaching a full crisis point, and in hopes of salvaging a powerful position for whites in a Black-led South Africa. The apartheid system being established by Israel in the Occupied Territories is still not fully understood by the world as racism and colonial oppression. At the same time, Israeli dependency on Palestinian labour is gradually being dismantled. Palestinian labour is being replaced by foreign labour. Steps are constantly being taken to try to limit any


potential demographic reversal. Palestinian labour can still be exploited, but in situ in the autonomous areas, and in collaboration with Palestinian elites who seek to profit from it. Focusing on apartheid alone will not do it for Palestinians, and the Palestinians should not rely exclusively on this approach. Israel's status in the international community is different from that of pre-1994 South Africa under the Afrikaner regime. Moreover, it should not be forgotten that the "Zionism is Racism" UN General Assembly resolution was overturned at a time when the present Israeli apartheid system had already been forecast and was being visibly put in place. Therefore, the first lesson Palestinians have to learn from the South African Black experience is that while their situation is similar, there are substantial differences that will checkmate any analogous path to a negotiated solution. It is these differences which allow Israel to feel justified in blindly pursuing its residual policy. Indeed, we should never forget that there are many Israelis, and some overseas Jews, for whom the greatest fault of this policy is not that it is unjust, but that it is too generous to the Palestinians. Nonetheless, Israeli apartheid will fail because the area is too small. The Palestinians are encaged in enclaves where they have no access to sufficient resources. The result is to produce rage and violence on a daily basis. Even though Israelis outnumber Palestinians in the immediate area -- but not by much, being approximately five million to three and a half million Palestinians, including Palestinian citizens of Israel -- the task of constantly repressing and containing a population will one day mak the justification of this violence in terms of assuring one's own survival and security ring empty, as the quality of Israeli life declines. Nonetheless, Israel seems bent on pursuing its present policy in one form or another, and the United States keeps looking for the sugar coating to make it palatable, Secretary Albright's criticism of Netanyahu's policies notwithstanding. What is needed now is not more confrontation, but a credible Palestinian vision backed by a systematic and effective strategy to offer an alternative which the world can embrace and support as best for both peoples and for stability in the area. Over the past years, Israeli and American thinking has been neither generous nor innovative. True, Israel clearly tips the scales in terms of the balance of power. But if it wishes to exist in the region and enjoy real security and good relations with its near neighbours, it needs to find an act of generosity that would enable it to go far beyond its present residual policy. Although inadequate to resolve Palestinian national grievances comprehensively, a real two-state solution as an historic compromis might have worked, but Israel seems to be essentially incapable of forfeiting either real land or the control over it. Engaged as they are in a strategy to dispose of the Palestinian claim to national sovereignty, Israel and the US keep reverting to failed policies from the past -- as witness the search for the ever-mythical projects which by providing employment for people might absorb their anger and neutralise their motives for political action. This tactic failed in the 1950s, and it has failed again today, in spite of the innovation of engaging profitseeking and often corrupt elements in the Palestinian elite in joint projects, while simultaneously repressing and restricting the Palestinian people's movement and activities.


This is the same strategy that was earlier used against Palestinian refugees as a means of permanent resettlement. It is now being tried (to even less effect) on the Palestinians in the territories. Today, Israeli strategy for refugees is not even projects, but the reduction of UNRWA and "forced resettlement" in the Arab world. Even with the addition of an airport, seaport and new hotels in Gaza, there will never be enough sugar-coating for so bitter a pill, even though the Clinton administration keeps pressuring for these "extras", as if they were the key to getting the Palestinians at last to accept injustice. Given the tenacity of Zionism and its adherents -- in spite of the existence of a small, liberal post-Zionist voice -- Palestinians and other Arabs must recognise that Israel will refuse to yield to the establishment of a fully sovereign Palestinian state as long as the imbalance of power favours Israel, and the United States still stands 100 per cent behind its Zionist allies. Israel, backed by the US -- failing a miraculous and sudden enlightenment on the American side, for which there is no historica precedent -- will continue to bring forward untenable proposals as at present, and the residual approach will persist. The Palestinians therefore cannot wait for Israel and the US to wise up and take the long view. They need to develop, independently, a long-term strategy as subjects of their own fate. In addition to bringing Israeli apartheid racism to the attention of the world, as did the ANC, they must also develop an inclusive democratic vision of identity and society that can challenge the narrow exclusivist ideology of Zionism, and the exploitative policies of the American/Israeli alliance. Interestingly enough, when the PLO adopted the notion of a democratic secular state in all of Palestine for Palestinian Arabs and Jews, it found no real international support. Separation by partition or agreement was what the international community supported. And this is because they were committed to a Jewish state, whereas the African National Congress could refuse separation, and the world accepted that. Now, because of the failure of Oslo to produce a viable two-state solution, the international community may come to support a democratic secular state for Arabs and Jews in all of pre-state Palestine. This can only happen if the Palestinians can offer a credible inclusive, democratic and secular vision of that state. With this message and the exposing of Israeli apartheid, the Palestinians have a real alternative to present to the international community, and the conditions are such that the world will listen. * The writer is a Boston-based professor Emerita of Sociology and a former president of the Association of Arab-American University Graduates. (An expanded version of this article was presented to the Middle East Seminar, Centre for Middle East Studies, Harvard University, on 25 September 1997).

From Black America to Palestine Are there lessons to be learned for the post-Oslo struggle from the Black liberation movement in the United States? Drawing on the work of two prominent Afro-American political theorists, Elaine C. Hagopian* argues that only a reunited Palestinian people with an inclusive democratic secular state vision and


leaders who can transcend ethnicity will help the Palestinians break out of the straightjacket of the peace process There are two major traditions that have dominated African-American thinking on the issue of equality and justice for Blacks in the United States: one is the Black selfdevelopment position, and the other is the demand for immediate civil rights through integration. These two positions are usefully represented in their more modern refined versions in the works of Harold Cruse and Cornel West. Cruse stresses the need to focus inward, in order to build up community strength. From that strength as a national group, it is then possible to confront society with the reality of injustice and challenge it to positive social change. This change would be based on the recognition that America is a plural society, not merely a society of individuals as the US Constitution would have it. In his controversial book, The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual from Its Origins to the Present, Harold Cruse criticises Black intellectuals for their failure to develop a comprehensive Black strategy to bring about equality in American society. His critique focuses on four main points: 1. Blacks need to develop both a cultural sense of selfhood and a vision of society that could offer America something better than what it is and has been. For Cruse, America is a nation defined essentially by racial/ethnic groups, both politically and socially. He does not suggest a political system based on group identity, with appointed or reserved elected positions, but rather constitutional guarantees of real equality for groups as communities, as well as individual civil and political rights. 2. The revolutionary transformation of America which Cruse felt Black cultural definition could inspire and lead, would require a comprehensive strategy combining economic resources and sustained political action. Parenthetically, it should be noted that Cruse admired Booker T. Washington's efforts to promote Black enterprise and economic success over the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People's (NAACP) drive for civil rights through integration. However, he criticised Washington's approach as one that worked within the American capitalist system as it was, rather than developing a Black, group-based economy that could support political action for the equality of all ethnic groups. Cruse decried the fact that Black leaders and intellectuals


never brought the various cultural, economic and political components together into a comprehensive strategy. The relevance of this critique for the Palestinian movement cannot be underestimated, as we will see below. 3. The failure to develop a comprehensive Black strategy is explained in large part by the fact that Black intellectuals and leaders allowed themselves to be diverted from their course by white liberals and radicals, who advised them to seek individual civil rights through integration, i.e. the NAACP approach, or to merge with the labour movement to confront capitalism, i.e. the American communist party approach. Funding for these efforts, from liberal or radical white sources, only reinforced their appal for Black intellectuals. True, the NAACP liberal approach did bring gains for some individual Blacks, but the Black community as a whole remained in a condition of alienation, or what one Black sociologist has called "asset accumulation deficiency." However, for Cruse, the NAACP approach failed to understand that just as it is possible to have independence without liberation, as Fanon pointed out long ago, so too, as is all too clear today, it is possible to have integration without real equality and justice. As I will note below, the Palestinians in Israel have, until recently, effectively adopted an NAACP approach, seeking equal rights through legal integration in Israeli society, and thus achieving neither integration nor equality. Cruse also heaped criticism on the American communist party and a number of the white radicals who belonged to it for diverting the Black intelligentsia from focusing on their unique experience of slavery and post-slavery racism in American society. They thus prevented them from developing a strategy relevant to their history, and based on Black needs, rather than on a class solidarity with labour. In fact, Blacks often met with racism from the left. The danger of well-intentioned friends -- liberals or radicals -- diverting the community from defining its own needs and strategies is also highly relevant to the Palestinians' predicament. 4. Black intellectuals also suffered from residual cultural differences among themselves. Thus, West Indian Blacks did not see eye to eye with American Blacks, who were themselves divided by the divergent experiences of Northerners and Southerners. These differences conspired to obstruct the development of a common cultural vision that might have been able to confront American society head on with the fact of its racism. The gap between these communities still has not been bridged. This failure is relevant to the Palestinian struggle where differences have developed through the years of national defeat and through the division of the the original community into three groups. Unlike Cruse, Cornel West in his Race Matters advocates integration. But he is nevertheless critical of the liberal approach which proposes integration into the system as it is, and as the NAACP accepted. West wants the system reformed to guarantee social values respecting the rights of all in a multi-racial/ethnic democracy. He calls for a new moral leadership and moral framework for Blacks, founded on a mature Black identity, a coalition strategy and Black cultural democracy. He advocates Black perspectives that champion Black dignity and decency and which do not devalue any given group.


The quality and orientation of Black leadership and intellectuals are crucial in West's thinking. He identifies differing political and intellectual leadership styles as the major problem that Blacks have to solve, in order to assert their right to participate equally in a coalition with others in the anti-racist struggle. The three types of political leadership West identifies are: race/ethnic-effacing managerial leaders, race/ethnic-identifying protest leaders and race/ethnic-transcending prophetic leaders. The race/ethnic-effacing manager is politically sophisticated, accommodating to the dominant white constituency, pragmatic, and as such, tends to neutralise progress and mute the prophetic voices in the black community by insisting that the mainstream is the only game in town. The race/ethnic-identifying protester tends to confine him or herself to the black community, and serves as a power broker with nonblack elites. The race/ethnic-transcending prophet is a rare figure in today's Black America. But it is only such leaders who will be capable of bringing into existence the new moral framework of which West speaks. The 1988 Jesse Jackson came close to being a race/ethnic-transcending prophetic leader, but as West observes, he was undone in the end by his past record of opportunism. This type of leader requires both integrity and political know-how, organisational skills allied with a moral vision and the ability to defy the pragmatism of the managers, the limitations of race/ethnic-identifying protester and to wait patiently for his moment. The approaches taken by West and Cruse differ in emphasis more than in substance. Cruse wants Black intellectuals and leaders of quality to create the Black community first within the national and demographic context of America, and to have that cohesive community spur America as a whole towards a society based on group equality. West, for his part, wants Black leaders and intellectuals to relate to the needs of Black street people, not use or misdirect them, and simultaneously reach out to other groups so as to promote a better life, not just for their constituency, but for all Americans. It is this reaching out towards a universal vision, grounded in a particular experience, which constitutes their common message. Nonetheless, Cruse calls for social revolution, i.e. radical transformation of American society, while West calls for social reform that will accumulate as radical change. Can Cruse and West help us understand how the Palestinians have come to confine their struggle so completely within the terms dictated by Israel? Since 1948, the Palestinian leadership has taken Palestinians from a vision of liberating all of Palestine and restoring its Arab character, through the plan of a democratic secular state for Arabs and Jews, to the two-state solution, followed by negotiated Bantustans, and now, de facto residual enclaves. Unable to liberate Palestine, no longer able to secure the necessary Arab support, unable to convert an international consensus on a two-state solution into real currency, and yet determined to be a player in any negotiations, Arafat has accepted Israel's terms across the board. Yet, regardless of this capitulation, he has continued to


assure his exhausted people that a fully sovereign Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital will ultimately be the final outcome of Oslo. Why has this been the case? Granted, the Palestinian struggle is set in a complex international political context, but there are still lessons to be learned from the American Black experience as we try to come to terms with the errors and setbacks of the last 50 years. In particular, Cruse's formula for organising and bonding a community for political action, through a programme supported by a self-developed economic resource base, and a cultural vision of self and society which mobilises the community as well as being morally compelling for others, can help us to understand where the Palestinian movement went wrong. To take the question of culture first, the PLO under Arafat was able to preserve the Palestinian sense of identity with the land. It even elaborated a set of Palestinian institutions which gave that identity a concrete form and located it on the international map. But it was a still-life identity, based on symbolic markers -- clothing, names, villages, slogans, and so forth. It held the people together, but it could not embody a vision beyond the abstract ideal of liberation and a residual status for Jews in Palestine in the original PLO covenant. It was in this context that the notion of a democratic secular state for Arabs and Jews seemed to offer a viable model for the future. But this proposal tended to function as a slogan, rather than a well-developed and authentic social blueprint. Next came the twostate solution, which simply iterated two sovereign states living side by side in peace. Once again, there was no vision beyond the determination to salvage something of the homeland. The diplomatic period, during which the two-state solution was in favour, saw the Palestinians at the peak of their international recognition. However, aside from one isolated 1978 article in Foreign Affairs by the distinguished Palestinian scholar Dr Walid Khalidi, defining the restrictions Palestinians would accept on their proposed state in order to satisfy Israeli and American concerns, there was no real public attempt to define the future Palestinian society except in general normative terms. Then, finally, there was Oslo, which paid only lip-service to a mythical notion of a Palestinian state. Throughout all this protracted process of its own demise, not only was the Palestinian movement lacking in a clear contemporary cultural and ideological sense of self and society, but it had no concept of how to develop one, nor how to articulate it with the political and economic components of the movement -- a flaw which Cruse had diagnosed in the Black struggle in America. In term of economic resources, aside from the financial aid received from Arab states, PLO investments in various areas of the world (which tended to be pocketed by individual leaders), and small businesses that developed in the refugee camps, the Palestinians had no reliable economic resource base to sustain their political action and support its people once the regimes withdrew their aid. Palestinian millionaires were able


to provide some welfare help, and support small projects, but that was as far as it went. When the Arab states backed off, political action collapsed. Not only that, but the political action itself was already lacking in direction and vision. Politically, as the American Blacks, whose intellectuals and leaders allowed their white liberal or radical friends to define their goals, Palestinians have also suffered willingly from the good intentions of others, both Arabs and non-Arabs, as well as from their own incompetent leadership. In so doing, their ideological development has been seriously stunted. This is not to recommend that they should cut themselves off from the rest of the world, but rather to suggest that they need to sift and analyse the implications of any suggestions they receive through the filter of a cohesive Palestinian programme. Some would say that political realities forced the Palestinians into their present dilemma. However, the point being made here is that if they had had a cohesive cultural, political and economic strategy, their force as a destabilising factor for American and Israeli interests would have allowed them to persevere until a just solution was obtained. Without a cohesive strategy, they soon found themselves trapped within the terms laid down by their enemies. Drawing on West's analysis of different leadership styles, it is clear that none of them as they stand accurately captures the character of the present Palestinian power elite. Nonetheless, Arafat and his colleagues started out rather like "ethnic-identifying protest leaders", insisting on self-reliance for liberation. After merging with and taking charge of the PLO, they became more like ethnic-effacing managerial leaders in relation to the Arab regimes on whom they were dependent. From 1970 to 1974, when the PLO was promoting a single democratic secular state, they tried to claim the mantle of ethnictranscending prophetic leaders. But their vision was little more than a slogan, and they were also heavily engaged in the "armed struggle", ineffective as it was. It was this slogan which should have been converted into a real political programme. What Palestine needs are true, profound, uncompromised and inclusive-thinking ethnictranscending leaders and intellectuals who can devise an international political strategy, supported by untainted community resources. Fortunately, there are a growing number of them to be found, of whom Edward Said has the longest and most consistent track record. Given the failure and retreat of post-colonial Arab nationalism and socialism, and the irrelevance of Western liberalism, it was inevitable the Islamists would win some popularity not only among Palestinians, but elsewhere in the Arab/Muslim world. Their ideology is extremely narrow and exclusivist. However, not only has Hamas provided much-needed assistance to Palestinians in the territories, it has also begun to position itself as an alternative to the PLO and the PA. In this, it shows a number of similarities with the Black American movement, the Nation of Islam. Yet Hamas, like the PLO, lacks a cultural vision appropriate to the present and future. It may have an economic base to support its outreach in the community, but its "fundamental" ideology and its methods of emotional rage and violence do not off a real strategy for liberation.


The issue of the use of violence in resisting oppression has been debated by the American Black community in the past, which for the most part came out in favour of self-defence as the acceptable limit. The Zionists, for their part, have used violence abundantly, offensively and effectively to transform Palestine and to sustain that transformation. There was nothing moral about this, but it did form part of an effective and cohesive cultural/ideological, political and economic plan, which was widely understood as necessary for the establishment of a Jewish state. Today, however, violence which goes beyond self-defence is not a viable option in the Palestinian struggle to regain their national rights, nor should it be. Their best chance lies, as ever, with the forceful articulation of a persuasive, humane and inclusive vision for co-existence, as an alternative to the horrors and injustices of the present. The Palestinians in Israel are the remnants of the population which was dispersed from the 78 per cent of Palestine conquered by the Zionists in 1948 and recognised internationally as the State of Israel thereafter. At that time, these displaced Palestinians numbered about 150,000. Today, they have grown to about 900,000, representing approximately 18 to 19 per cent of the Israeli population. A number of books have been written about the Palestinian citizens of Israel. They clearly document the legal, cltural and social disparities which exist between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs. Indeed, up to December 1966, the Palestinians lived under Israeli Military Government rule. In addition to being constantly reminded that they live in a Jewish state, surrounded by Jewish national symbols, Palestinians do not enjoy equality, whether in education, land ownership, political power or social privileges. These facts are well known. Meanwhile, two liberal Israeli social scientists, Sammy Smooha and Jacob Landau, in their study of the same issues, accentuate the possibility for improvements in Palestinian status in Israel, yet in the end always come back to the idea that, to paraphrase, "They have to realise that they live in a Jewish state." While they have resisted the Israeli takeover of their land and country as fiercely as anyone, the Palestinian citizens of Israel have also over the years sought to secure equality through participation in the Israeli system. In a sense, they had an NAACP policy of integration. Of course, they did not succeed in this endeavour. But even if they were to be integrated, legally, culturally (in terms, at least, of state symbols and educational curriculum content) and socially, they would not necessarily be equal, since they would still be limited by the conditions of disparity imposed on them earlier. Blacks in America are discovering this fact daily, and are seeking to regroup and organise to try and overcome it. This portion of the Palestinian population finds itself between a rock and a hard place. The PLO could at least initially claim to represent them, but as it moved towards a twostate solution -- and even before -- it came to focus primarily on the Palestinians under occupation and in refugee camps. Today, even the latter category is excluded from active PLO concern. Hence, there are really three juridical categories of Palestinians: the citizens of Israel; the diaspora refugees; and those under occupation and living within the autonomous areas.


This separation defines the challenge. The future for the Palestinians must lie in the recreation of an integrated community, politically, economically, culturally and ideologically. The new Palestinian leadership must understand that the three Palestinian groups are now divided by cultural and class differences which have grown out of their differing experiences, just as Blacks in America continue to have problems thinking and acting as a community, due to the diversity of the experiences through which they have gone. It has been observed that the Palestinians in Israel have absorbed many aspects of Israel's Western-oriented culture, while the Palestinian refugees, particularly those in Lebanon, have adopted some of the local norms, while also feeling increasingly embittered at the PLO and other Palestinians, who seem to have forgotten them and their plight. As a result, Palestinians in Israel, in the diaspora and under occupation, presently experience at least some mild discomfort with each other. It will take a sensitive and well-informed leadership to bridge these gaps, and recreate a common Palestinian community based on a shared culture, an inclusive society, a reasonable economic resource base and a political strategy that can enable its members to assert their rights on an equal basis. Only, however, if this is achieved, will the Palestinian people at last be able to press forward with the social revolution that is their true mission -- the radical transformation of life for both Palestinians and Israelis in the whole of Israel/Palestine. * The writer is a Boston-based professor emerita of Sociology and former president of the Association of Arab-American University Graduates. The text above is the second installment of a two-part article, the first of which appeared last week. An expanded version of this article was presented to the Middle East Seminar, Harvard University, Sept 1997.

One problem, one solution As the prospect of a viable independent state in the West Bank and Gaza recedes, As'ad Ghanem* argues that only a binational state can ever hope to meet the needs of the whole Palestinian people A large number of Palestinians are engaged today in exploring possible ways out of the crisis in which they are embroiled. Fifty years have elapsed since the Nakba befell their people, with the occupation of their land, their exodus, and the denial of their right to the establishment of an independent sovereign state that would assure them of their rights to dignity and progress. These years, however, have brought no serious indication that they may one day be able to retrieve whatever they have lost -- or what was stolen from them. This crisis has only deepened since the early 1990s, especially after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the wake of the Oslo agreement.


The present phase of this crisis has its origins in one simple fact: that the establishment of an independent state as the solution to the Palestinian "problem" has become an impossibility. This assertion rests on several facts: 1. The establishment of a Palestinian state is not mentioned in any of the clauses of the Oslo agreement, thus leaving the matter to be determined by the balance of power in the region. This balance tilts in favour of Israel, which rejects the establishment of a Palestinian state, in spite of its recognition of the Palestinian people and its national movement. No Israeli party, neither Labour nor Likud, is ready to accept a Palestinian state as the expression of the right of the Palestinian people to sef-determination. The Labour Party is ready to negotiate with the Palestinians in order to give them an advanced form of self-rule that will be called a state, and through which the Palestinians will be enabled to possess certain selected features of independence, such as a Palestinian flag, a national anthem and a police force. The Likud Party, on the other hand, is not prepared to give the Palestinians anything like self-rule. Their vision of the future is rather that the Palestinians should be allowed to run their own affairs under strict and binding Israeli tutelage. 2. Meanwhile, settlement activity in the West Bank continues, as does the confiscation of land and the opening of roads to service the settlements. Israeli governments, past or present, have never been willing to commit themselves to the evacuation of settlers from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Yet this is a basic pre-condition for the creation of an independent Palestinian state, especially in the light of Israel's obligation towards the settlers which drives it to control the greater part of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in order to guarantee the security of the settlements and ensure their future development. Furthermore, in any future solution it is certain that Israel will invoke its security needs to justify continuing to tighten its control over the Jordan Valley (Al-Ghor), thus rendering the Palestinian project impossible. 3. Jerusalem has suffered and is still suffering from the continuation of settlement activity, the building of Jewish neighbourhoods, the confiscation of Jerusalem IDs and the policy of "facts on the ground" which leaves no room for future Palestinian control over the city. The proposal made by certain Palestinian intellectuals and politicians that Abu Dis should be their future capital, is nothing but a recognition of this reality and an admission that a return to Palestinian control over all those parts of Jerusalem that were occupied in 1967 is a quasi-impossibility. 4. Israel's continued exploitation and depletion of the natural resources of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for the benefit of Israelis, settlers or otherwise, is another probably fatal obstacle. Israel deliberately persists in drawing down water reserves in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, while at the same time rejecting any call to give up control over these resources for the benefit of the Palestinian people, in the context of a future settlement. 5. The basic characteristics of the PA and the manner in which Palestinian officials have used the power vested in them since the establishment of the Authority, indicate their


inability to move towards establishing a modern and independent state. Their methods of managing those areas of Palestinian life which fall under their control are among the most important obstacles to the creation of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In addition, Palestinians living outside the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are experiencing increasing difficulties. The Palestinian community in Israel is unable to integrate or assimilate with either of the two sides, Israeli or Palestinian. It is this fact which underlies its failure to act politically and its deepening sense of social, cultural and economic crisis. "Jerusalem has suffered and is still suffering from the continuation of settlement activity, the building of Jewish neighbourhoods, the confiscation of Jerusalem IDs and the policy of "facts on the ground" which leaves no room for future Palestinian control over the city. The proposal made by certain Palestinian thinkers and politicians that Abu Dis should be their future capital, is nothing but a recognition of this reality and an admission that a return to Palestinian control over all those parts of Jerusalem that were occupied in 1967 is a quasiimpossibility"

IF THE GOAL OF AN INDEPENDENT Palestinian state is indeed unattainable, for the reasons set out above, is there then an alternative solution? One answer that is increasingly to be found in the writings and pronouncements of certain Palestinian intellectuals and politicians is the idea of a binational state (Israeli/JewishPalestinian/Arab) in Mandatory Palestine. A binational state is one inhabited by two national groups and run on the basis of equality and parity both between the individuals as citizens and between groups (or representatives of groups) which have collective rather than individual aspirations. Inherent in such an arrangement is the condition that the groups living there are enabled to coexist and to develop on the following fundamental bases: 1. There exists a broad coalition of representatives of the two communities and a balance of power is preserved. The representatives or ruling strata of the two communities should agree on the principles of cooperation, coexistence and the shared administration of the state or the society. 2. Both groups should have the right of veto. This is basic in a binational state, in addition to the right of groups in each community to oppose or object to practices by the


representatives of other groups which might be construed as threatening their own interest or position of equality in the shared state. 3. Representation on all bodies and governmental apparatuses should respect balance and equality between the two communities. For example, each ministry will have two ministers, one from each community. 4. Institutional or regional self-rule for each group: each group will conduct and develop its own private affairs through an apparatus of self-rule, particularly in the cultural and educational fields. Such a system may appear at first sight unwieldy and even unworkable. However, it is not only possible, but is even a desirable outcome. It is proposed here, not just because it is the fashionable concept of the moment, but as a long-term solution that will need much nurturing, following the political demise of the project of an independent Palestinian state. Some claim that a binational state is a theoretical concept which could never be implemented. But how can it be less possible than the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip? Indeed, the whole reality of Palestine is one of binationality. This reality has to be developed, so that it becomes the basic structure upon which equality among Israelis and Palestinians can be built. Those who support the concept of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have to believe that the Palestinians in Israel will be able to continue to live there as citizens, and will solve their problems within the Israeli framework. Yet if so many of the problems besetting these people have not been solved already, it is precisely because they cannot be solved in an Israeli context, in which Palestinians, far from being treated as equals, are viewed as foreigners and, sometimes, even as enemies. Nor can their problems be solved as long as they continue to be cut off politically and culturally from the rest of the Palestinian people. Thus, for them the way forward can only lie through fundamental changes in the nature of their position vis-Ă -vis these two communities. Such a change can only come about in the context of a binational state. In this new Israel, the "old" Israeli Palestinians would, on the one hand, be citizens with equal rights; while on the other, they would be part of the Palestinian community, thus transcending their present position as a weak numerical minority. Their reintegration with the Palestinian community living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will bolster their confidence and expand the scope of their development. It is only within such parameters that both their identity as citizens and their national belonging can find some form of completion. Supporters of a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip also tend to assume that Palestinian refugees in neighbouring Arab countries will be able to immigrate to the future Palestinian state at some later stage. But we have only to consider this supposition for a moment to realise that it is not true. One of the conditions for the establishment of a Palestinian state set by Israel is that the Palestinian Authority will not open its doors to


Palestinian refugees, as this would result in a rapid change in the Israeli-Palestinian demographic balance. The majority of these refugees have in any case been forcibly removed from areas where the State of Israel stands today. They are subject to continuing discrimination wherever they are in the Arab world, which explains why, over the last few years, large numbers of these refugee youths have emigrated to the West, especially Europe. FOR ALL THESE REASONS, it is necessary to find a political solution to the Palestinian problem that can guarantee these people, theoretically at least, the possibility of return to their country of origin. This solution can only be a binational state based on equality and parity. For in such a state, the right of return that has been exercised by millions of Jews since 1948, would have to be extended to the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who would thus be able to return to their villages, or at least to areas close to them. Some of those who oppose a binational approach, and call instead for a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, claim that Israel together with the overwhelming majority of Jews throughout the world will reject such a solution, on the grounds that it would spell the end of a pure Jewish state. This claim may well be true. But it ignores two crucial points: Firstly, it can apply equally to the rival proposal for a Palestinian state. Will Israel and the Jews agree to the establishment of such a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip? Have those who call for such a solution obtained their prior consent? Or do they intend to force Israel to comply regardless? Secondly, it neglects the fact that solutions to national and ethnic problems have never been achieved with the agreement of the majorit or the ruling group, but have always been arrived at by force and in spite of the position of the dominant group. This has been the case with every national liberation movement: consider the overthrow of the apartheid regime in South Africa, for example. Consequently, the evolution and implementation of a binational state does not necessitate the agreement of Israel at this stage, but merely that of the Palestinians. Israel's consent will be needed at the end of a process by which that concept is forcefully imposed upon the attention of the Jewish community -- a process which may well take many decades. Some of those opposed to a binational state claim that the concept will abort the Palestinian national project. This opposition comes from two directions. On the one hand, there are those who support the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on the grounds that this state is the Palestinian national project. To these the answer is that a binational state will not abort the concept of a Palestinian national project; on the contrary, it is an expansion of it, as it will include the Palestinians in Israel, and as the state will be established on all of Mandatory Palestine, with the proviso that the other national-ethnic group there -- the Jews -- deserves to be treated according to the same criteria.


On the other hand there are those who claim they support a secular Palestinian state, and who go on to argue that a binational state does not reckon either with the intense national feeling of the Palestinians or with their power. This view is misleading and has to be corrected. A secular-democratic state is not a national or an ethnic state; it is a state of citizens and not of nationalities. As such, it represents the inevitable termination of the Palestinian national project. Yet some of those who promote a secular state mean a Palestinian national state and not a state for all citizens, irrespective of their national or religious affiliation. Moreover, they do not recognise the existence of a Jewish-Israeli national group worthy of a national project. To do so is to ignore the reality of Israel. If we envy Israel for the cohesiveness of its Jewish society while we beg that society to concede to us some of our rights, how can we then go on to ignore its national integration and deny its members their right to express themselves as a national group? While we reject the expression of this right when it takes the form of an independent Jewish state, we should accept it in the context of a shared binational state. THIS ACCEPTANCE HAS CERTAIN consequences about which we should be clear from the outset. Firstly, the establishment of a binational state (irrespective of the number of years this may take) is an admission that the future of the Palestinian people differs from that of the rest of the Arab peoples and does not coincide with the concept of Arab unity and Arab integration. The Palestinians thus have to accept an identity and affiliation that are in keeping with the nature of a binational state. While they should remain aware of the necessity of intellectual and cultural integration with the Arab world, they should also be aware that that integration cannot take a political form. Secondly, establishing a binational state will not necessarily mean that Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will have to ask for Israeli identity, as some would have us believe. However, it is possible that such requests will have to be made, when the need arises for cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in various fields and for the establishment of joint committees and bodies that would evolve towards binationalism. Palestinians in Israel will have to seek possibilities of cultural, social, economic, political and syndical cooperation and integration with those Palestinians living under the rule of the PA. The Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, for their part, will have to encourage their compatriots in Israel by engaging extensively in Arab activities taking place inside Israel -- an exchange that would take place under the auspices of the PA. The establishment of a binational state on the principles outlined above is the only way to resolve the many complex problems facing the Palestinian people today. It should certainly not be promoted simply as a path that has been forced on us by the insuperable


obstacles that stand between us and a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It should rather be our solution of choice, and one whose virtues we are eager to promote. The first to call for it have been those Palestinian intellectals and politicians who see the reality and its complexities, and who recognise both that a shared IsraeliPalestinian state is highly desirable, and that a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, even in the best case, could hardly constitute a comprehensive solution to the Palestinian problem, but would only contribute towards the solution of the problem of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Such a "solution" would necessarily lead to a permanent fragmentation of the Palestinian community, and to the perpetuation of the problems of the many Palestinians who live outside this limited state, who would be obliged to seek their own way within different political frameworks. * The writer is an Arab citizen of the state of Israel and a history lecturer at Haifa University.

The incidental fruit of Oslo A stalemate preserving the status quo was the inevitable outcome of the Oslo process, writes Naseer Aruri There is a new reality, unwittingly produced by the Oslo Accords -- a reality which had escaped the minds of many who watched the "historic" signing in September 1993: today, the requirements of a just and durable peace are very different than they used to be. The Oslo Accords dealt a crippling blow to the foundations of the global consensus which defined the prerequisites for a just and durable peace during the 1970s and 80s-- that peace was predicated on the right of the Palestinian people to establish their own independent state alongside Israel. That peace was to occur after Israel completed its withdrawal from the Occupied Territories in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 242, and after the Palestinians recognised Israel's existence and sovereignty in the largest part of their own national patrimony.

Almost five years after the "historic handshake", it has become clear that the pursuit of a negotiated settlement based on two states has run its course. That project was dealt a severe blow by a colossal imbalance of power, by a steady and growing Israelisation of


American Middle East policy, by a vigorous drive of settler colonisation, by Arab disarray and failure to respond to the Israeli challenge and to the exigencies of the postCold War era. The Oslo process has demonstrated that the so-called partners are not only far apart conceptually but are hopelessly divided over interpretations and what the end results of the process should be. We have seen one agreement after another -- from Oslo I to Oslo II, from Cairo I to Cairo II, from early empowerment to the disempowerment of the Hebron Agreement. Oslo was a unique agreement that lacked a framework defining the rules of negotiations and the ends of the negotiating process. There is neither an overarching principle -- a vision -- nor a road map. The Palestinians were invited to discover whether they have rights, but not to claim their internationally-guaranteed rights. They came on the implicit assumption that Israel's military occupation does not even exist, and therefore, Israel's claim to the disputed (but not occupied) territories was at leastas good as theirs. The Israeli side, however, knows exactly what it wants; the Palestinian side dreams about what it wants. The Israeli side continues to adhere to the letter -- their own letter -- of the agreement; the Palestinian side continues to invoke the spirit. The letter says that the enterprise is a mere agreement to reach agreement, that Palestinian sovereignty with jurisdiction over land and resources, and at the points of entry and exit is utterly out of the question; that Jerusalem is an Israei city; that the Palestinian struggle for emancipation -- from the status of refugees and that of an occupied people -- will be dependent on Israeli goodwill, when and if final status negotiations are held, and after the Palestine Authority complies with ever-expanding requirements, which totally negate all prospects for Palestinian emancipation. The letter of Oslo renders the goal of Palestinian statehood both impractical and obsolete; and yet the Palestinian Oslo dream continues to hinge on the spirit, a tenuous thread of hope devoid of any substance. For not only has this spirit been firmly excluded from the discourse, butthe agreement itself, seen largely as farcical, has all but collapsed. Paradoxically, the Oslo process has led to an inevitable conclusion, which its architects neither envisaged nor pursued. Now the struggle is towards integration not separation, towards a pluralistic existence, not exclusion, towards parity, mutuality, common humanity and a common destiny. This is the new and important reality which the Oslo process has generated. Ironically, this reality may be laying the foundations for a joint Palestinian-Israeli struggle, which would emanate from a realisation that te lives of Palestinians and Israelis are inextricably intertwined. There is a common interest in the economy, employment, water distribution, ecology, human rights, and foreign relations. Even if the Oslo process were to miraculously lead to some kind of a breakthrough, the maximum gain for the Palestinians would be a fractured collection of bantustans or noncontiguous enclavescovering 30-40 per cent of the West Bank and on 65 per cent of Gaza. Moreover, under optimal conditions, with social engineering similar to that designed by Yossi Beilin and Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazin), something called Palestine may emerge, though it will be only nominally independent.


INDEPENDENCE HAS ALREADY been ruled out by the Labour-Likud agreement of 22 January 1997. The "National Agreement Regarding the Negotiations on the Permanent Settlement with the Palestinians" effectively excluded Palestinian sovereignty, removal of the settlements, negotiations on Jerusalem, repatriating the refugees and dismantling the occupation, thereby upholding the status quo though with a great deal of cosmetic surgery. We must keep in mind, however, that Netanyahu's team of surgeons lacks the skill of Rabin's and Peres's, who were more prepared to disguise structural flaws and exaggerate the beauty. To those who argue that Labour's classical Zionist doctrine, which espouses separation, would grant the Palestinians separate political existence, I say that the doctrine of separation has already been adapted to Likud's notion of "population mixture". That "mixture", enunciated by Begin and Shamir, and inherent in the autonomy scheme, now translates into cantonisation. How can one celebrate a process leading only to ghettoism and apartheid on the eve of the 21st century ? How can one applaud the birth of bantustans in the Middle East after their demise in South Africa? Since Oslo II, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have begun to realise that they are residents of enclaves separated from each other and from Israel, but nonetheless part of a "greater Israel". They are separated from the settlements, from Jerusalem, from each other's cities and villages and from the Palestinian diaspora. And this fragmentation is now becoming social, economic, physical and of course regional, despite Oslo's provision for a single-unit Palestinian entity. In view of all this, if something called a state were to emerge, it would be economically strangled by Israel, financially dominated by the World Bank and the IMF, constrained by the requirements of globalisation, militarily at Israel's mercy, always anxious to please Washington and the international donors. It will be intolerant of dissent, which has already been classified as terrorism. It will be pressed to seek a confederal relationship with Jordan and some kind of association with Israel in a Middle East version of NAFTA. QUITE CLEARLY, this is not what the Palestinian people have struggled for. Nor, for reasons already cited, is their struggle for an independent state within the Oslo framework likely to succeed. Which brings us to the new reality that is emerging out of Oslo's inherent flaws. This includes a new discourse about a broader social-economic struggle for equal rights, equal citizenship and equal legitimacy within a single Israeli-Palestinian entity. It is seen by a growing number of people on both sides as aviable alternative to perpetual conflict. On the Palestinian side for example, Edward Said advanced the idea in an interview in the Christian Science Monitor (27 May, 1997): "The whole idea of trying to produce two states is at an end. The Oslo peace process is really in tatters... The lives of Israelis and Palestinians are hopelessly intertwined. There is no way to separate them. You can have fantasy and denial, or put people in ghettos. But in reality there is a common history. So we have to find a way to live together. It may take 50 years. But...


the Israeli experience will gradually turn back towards the world they really live in, the Islamic Arab world. And that can only come through Palestinians." Other Palestinian intellectuals, including Nadim Rouhana and Adel Samara have been calling for a single state -- in the case of the latter, "The only just and feasible form of binational state is the socialist one... It will have to be a state which will dissolve the Zionist regime... cancel the Law of Return, stop importing new settlers, guarantee the Palestinian right of return, equality of land and resources" (News from Within, April, 1997). On the Israeli side, endorsement of bi-nationalism comes from an unusually divergent group, including liberal politicians, secular leftists and right-wing rabbis. For example, Meron Benvinisti wrote: "The reality in Eretz Israel is a bi-national one. The reality inside the green line is also bi-national... The model which is closest to my heart is that of Belgium. Two peoples, the Flemings and the Walloons; two regional governments, and one central government... The direction I would prefer is cantonisation, the division of Eretz Israel West of the Jordan River, into Jewish and Arab cantons..." Haim Baram, a secular leftist, who is known to Western audiences through his regular columns in Middle East International, has also adopted the idea of bi-nationalism in order to avert an apartheid regime. On the religious right, Rabbi Menachem Fruman supports the idea of bi-nationalism on the grounds that it would guarantee the "wholeness of the land of Israel". "I prefer loyalty to the land over loyalty to the state. I see the whole Israel movement as a post-Zionist movement which represents an advance for Zionism..." Fruman, however, expresses no apologies for advocating two legal standards in the single state -- one for Jews and one for Arabs. Obviously it is difficult to propose a blueprint for bi-nationalism or to even debate at this juncture the democratic secular state versus the bi-national state; suffice it to say that the two people have been connected and are therefore being challenged to explore the basis fora common existence, the proper modalities, the redress of grievances, and paths to a common vision. FOR THE PALESTINIANS, this path of political development will not be entirely new since it constituted their first programme of liberation after the 1967 occupation. That program, however, which was linked to armed struggle, was summarily dismissed before it had even been debated, in order to accommodate the Arab states' agenda of a diplomatic struggle. In fact neither the PLO, nor its programme, were deeply rooted among Palestinians. There were institutions and there was rhetoric, but the money came frm Arab states. The renunciation of the unitary state idea came as a quid pro quo: the PLO would scale down its ambitions, while the Arab states would provide diplomatic and material help for a mini independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. On the surface, diplomacy was declared to have succeeded, particularly as Israel was isolated in a world


that came to endorse Palestinian self-determination. In reality however, it was a Phyrric victory, as the endorsed Palestinian state was never actually established. By contrast, the South Africans, who had also declared armed struggle, continued to cling to a unitary state and refuse all attempts to consider armed struggle as a form of terrorism. A separate independent existence was not high on their diplomatic agenda. In the case of Palestine, the UN focused on the human rights of the people under military occupation and on their right to a separate existence. But in spite of international recognition of their right to independence, they were never able to experience true emancipation. They continued to endure the refugee status of an occupied people, an ethnic minority in a country in which during the life time of many they had constituted a majority of the population. When the Palestinian struggle finally shifted during the Intifada, the goal of a separate independent existence remained intact. It was however, a struggle suited more towards empowerment and social and economic progress than towards coexistence in a single state. Its principal goal was to make the end of occupation not only desirable, but also manageable. Now that the pursuit of independence has been impededby the structural arrangements inherent in Oslo, Palestinians are challenged more than ever to resurrect the political struggle of the Intifada: building mass organisations and alternative institutions that would enable them to cater to social, economic and political needs of the populace. The on-going and ever-increasing land grab will not be halted by diplomatic action, but will only be slowed down by mobilization and mass action. Undoubtedly, the task is daunting, for it challenges not only Israel's occupation, but the PA's authority. Any form of struggle would be considered seditious and hence subject to repression under the guise of fighting terrorism, guarding Israel's security and meeting the requirements of "reciprocity" Ă  la Netanyahu. There are no short cuts to genuine emancipation. The privations and hardships associated with the status of refugees, or of second class citizens, will continue to retard Palestinian political development despite all the trappings of statehood -- a president without executive power, a council without legislative powers, courts with insignificant jurisdiction, an overblown civilian bureaucracy prone to corruption, and a pervasive military apparatus focused on suppressing dissent. ANY ALTERNATIVE TO OSLO must ensure the removal of the legal, social and economic discrimination faced by Palestinians. No degree of independence or liberation is meaningful without their eradication, which requires a systematic and protracted struggle together with those Israeli Jews who wish to be neither masters of another people, privileged in an apartheid system, or colonial settlers denying theexistence of the indigenous population. The goal of the struggle would have to be equal protection under the law -- as in the 14th amendment to the US Constitution. Equality for every single human being in


Palestine/Israel would be the motto of the new struggle. That, of course, is bound to collide with the interests of the major players -- in Washington, Tel Aviv and in Ramallah. It would signal that the US domination of Middle East diplomacy had failed. It would serve as an indictment of Zionism -- the classical version of Rabin, Peres, and Barak as well as the revisionist brand of Jabotinsky, Begin, and Netanyahu. It would serve, too, as an indictment of the narrow brand of Palestinian nationalism, which seems either unwilling or incapable of re-examining the past with all its errors, pitfalls and misconceptions. Call this kind of struggle unrealistic and the goal idealistic or utopian,but it certainly has more prospects for success than the present open-ended formula, whose explanation continues to be pursued more energetically than its application, and whose future is doomed by a grotesque disparity in power, divisions within the respective camps, and the reluctance of the self-styled peace-maker to devote any more energy to an issue that is no longer vital to the US's national interest. Negotiations between Israel and the PA are like encounters between the elephant and the fly. The current stalemate will continue to be fueled by divisions inside Israel, which now centre not on whether Oslo will end the occupation and restore a measure of normality to Israelis and Palestinians, but on the most efficient and least disruptive approach to preserving the status-quo under a more benign label. The method of repackaging the occupation is what really divided Rabin from Netanyahu, a fact that has not been lost on a sizable sector of the Palestinian community, inside and outside Palestine. While some comprehend it well, others feel it instinctively, irrespective of Arafat's constant expressions of nostalgia for and repeated devotion to Rabin's legacy. Arafat has placed himself in the untenable position of being unable to deliver to either Israel and the US or to his own constituents, who were ready to scale down their aspirations but not surrender their rights. His denunciations of terror and vows to eradicate violence, repeatedly urged by the US and Israel, are seen in the Palestinian street as an ominous attack on civil liberties. Moreover, his assumption of responsibility for Israel's security is becoming increasingly incontrovertible when that security keeps on assuming dimensions which negate Palestinian rights -- water security, settlements security and demographic security, which negates the rights of refugees. All of these factors confirm and prolong the stalemate. Oslo was not designed as a normal traditional agreement. It has now become a guarantor of disagreement and the legitimiser of the status quo. The Palestinians have no other choice but to struggle for equal rights and equal dignity. Not only had Oslo foreclosed on their option of a separate and sovereign existence; it has also denied them the right to struggle for that existence, inasmuch as most variants of the struggle are bound to be classified as either terrorism, lack of reciprocity, failure to abide by commitments or acting against peace. OPPOSITION POLITICS in the West Bank and Gaza will be considered as a security issue. Oslo, whether managed by Labour or Likud will remain as part of Israel's negotiating strategy calculated to put the onus on Arafat to prove his ability as an


effective gendarme for Israel, while the latter is released from the pressure of finding a solution to its continuing occupation. As long as suicide bombings go on, Arafat's obligation to Israeli security will continue to dominate the diplomatic agenda and to overshadow the national rights of the Palestinian people. It is for this reason that the Israeli supplied framework of Oslo and its various corollaries, which in themselves are part of Israel's negotiating strategy, have placed Palestinian leaders in a "no win" situation. Arafat's deal with Israel is predicated on an impossible equation. for what Israel wants, Arafat cannot deliver without becoming Israel's puppet. The process which began in Oslo will reach nowhere because the nature of the Israeli state precludes genuine coexistence with the Palestinian people on equal basis. As long as the Zionist ideology of acquiring the land without the people prevails, a negotiated settlement based on the right of the two people to dignity and self-determination will continue to be elusive. Binyamin Netanyahu did not repudiate Rabin's strategy; he only rejected his tactics. We should recall that when Rabin diverted the negotiating venue from Washington to Oslo in 1993, he was making an important shift from the stalling tactics of his Likud predecessor, Shamir, while creating his own gridlock that had the appearance of diplomatic progress. In a subtle contrast to Shamir, Rabin opted for an agreement with built in conflict over meaning and objectives. It is because of that gridlock and the built in conflict that the Oslo process was born in a stalemate and continues to be stalled. Segmenting the Palestine question into issues, population, regions, towns, villages, and stages of negotiations has constituted one of the biggest obstacles to peace. Had the issue of land and settlement not been deferred, the question of settlement security would not have become a barrier for redeployment. Had the issue of Hebron not been singled out and also deferred, the question of "further" redeployment would not have arisen. Had the issues of Jerusalem and sovereigntynot been put off the violence associated with the closure, the tunnel, Ras Al-Amoud and Abu Ghneim would not have loomed on the agenda of the "honest broker". Had a pattern of deferral not been set, matters relating to self-governance, further redeployment, easing the closure, releasing tax funds, and even resuming negotiations would not have been treated as probationary. Could such a selfdefeating process have ever been intended for implementation? ANY FORWARD MOVEMENT beyond the present no peace/no war situation would require a debate of Zionist ideology and history, in which difficult questions, suppressed since the establishment of Israel, would surface. At the heart of the debate would be the main Zionist narrative and its negative portrayal of Arabs, distortion of history and the requirements of peace. Already, we are told, a post-Zionist debate is taking place inside Israel. The question is how extensively has it been followed by the general public. Political Scientist Ilan Pappe has written a series of studies on this post-Zionist critique and its manifestations in various Israeli cultural products, including films, plays, music, novels and short stories as well as in scholarly discourse. Pappe's writings reveal how intertwined the lives of Israelis and Palestinians have become. There is an implication in his work that Israel cannot prosper as an isolated Western outpost in the region:


A democratic pluralist Israel as a part of the Mediterranean is also an Israel with many historical narratives. Such an Israel has a chance of a common future. The question of whether Zionism is a movement of national plundering or a movement of a persecuted people acting according to a human ethic, seeking compromise and peace is being increasingly raised by Israeli intellectuals. The historian Benny Morris framed the question in terms of the accuracy of the "Zionist ethos claims that we came to this land not to exploit the natives and expel them, and not to occupy them by force." Only when this kind of critique is broadened to include the mainstream and penetrate the consciousness of the average Israeli will the so-called peace process begin to assume some hopefuldimensions. Only when the Palestinians decide to rediscover their democratic secular state framework and begin to adapt it to the present realities will hopes for real peace be rekindled. Call it a bi-national solution, a federal system or a cantonal system on the Swiss model, the common denominators will have to be equal rights, equal citizenship, plurality, coexistence and common humanity. That requires a de-Zionised Israel and a normal polity which exists for its own citizens, devoid of any privileges based on religion, ethnicity, race or gender. * The writer is member of the Palestine National Council and chancellor professor of political science, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.

'He died a hero' On 15 May 1948, the Akhbar Al-Yom correspondent in Palestine filed a lengthy report on the performance of the "young men at the helm". Topping a long list of these young fighters' names was that of Lieutenant Ahmed Abdel-Aziz, whose talent for leadership and outstanding performance in battle seemed to suggest an illustrious military career ahead. Abdel-Aziz was only 41 when he was named chief commander of the Egyptian volunteers. Abdel-Aziz was certainly no stranger to army life. Born in July 1907 into a family which embraced the military career -- both his father, Brigadier Mohamed Bey Abdel-Aziz, and his brother, Captain Salaheddin Sherif, held high ranks in the military -- he naturally followed in their footsteps. In 1928, he entered the Military Academy and later the Cavalry Division (today the Armoured Corps). Shortly afterwards, he was promoted to head of the military operations division. He also lectured in military history at the Royal Military Academy. Events took a new twist when he decided to resign from the army and lead a volunteer battalion into Palestine. The victories he won during the first few days prompted King Farouk to name him


commander-in-chief of the volunteer troops that went to fight in Palestine in 1948. The troops fought battles in Birsheeba, Al-Khalil and Bethlehem. According to Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, who covered some of Abdel-Aziz's battles in Palestine, the irregular forces he led were charged with distracting the enemy and preventing the Arab soldiers from engaging in heavy fighting, which their military capabilities would not have withstood. A few days before he died, Abdel-Aziz was moving with his forces toward Jerusalem. According to the account published in Al-Ahram on 24 August 1948, he managed to raise the Egyptian flag over the municipality of Jerusalem. Following a conference in the city, where the terms of the truce between the Arab forces and the Zionist forces were to be ratified, he was mistakenly shot dead by Egyptian soldiers, who had taken him for an enemy. Back home, the news of Abdel-Aziz's death left the nation numb with grief over "the loss of a great commander", as Abdel-Rahman Azzam Pasha put it.

The hand of fate Salah Salem was at the wheel that dark night -- the night Ahmed Abdel-Aziz was tragically struck down by "friendly fire". In 1953, he wrote his recollection of the hero's death in Al-Tahrir magazine August 1948: The fighting between us and our enemies in Palestine has stopped in implementation of the truce. However, the reality is that not a day goes by without the outbreak of an armed clash somewhere along the front. The Egyptian forces had divided Palestine in two across a line extending from immediately south of Jerusalem to the coast north of Asdod. The Zionists were in a panic over the fate of over 30 Zionist settlements in the south of Palestine which had been completely cut off by Egyptian forces. Jewish forces had tried to break through the Egyptian ring surrounding the settlements, but without success. They were forced to seek other means to send in provisions to the settlements. At times they dropped supplies from planes and, at others, they tried to smuggle through convoys at night. Many of these convoys were ambushed by Egyptian forces. I recall that, one night, a brave but silent young officer, with only a handful of soldiers, attacked a large convoy carrying water and food. As the convoy was passing near Al-Faluja, the courageous young man confiscated its contents. These provisions, particularly the dry biscuits, served to sustain Al-Faluja until the end of their blockade. This young but silent officer was Captain Hassan El-Tuhami.


At meeting in Jerusalem, only hours before Ahmed Abdel-Aziz's death. He is standing next to Moshe Dayan

The eastern sector from the south of Jerusalem to Bethlehem was occupied by the forces of the martyr Ahmed Abdel-Aziz. These forces, referred to at times as "light forces", and at others as "commandos", were made up mostly of volunteers. His sector witnessed continual skirmishes virtually throughout the truce. At one point, the barbed wire barriers put up by the two sides were almost on top of each other. In fact, I saw stretches where the barbed wire of both sides was attached to the same poles. This is why there was perpetual tension in this sector. By the middle of August, under the supervision of the truce observers, we finished drawing up the demarcation lines for the truce and delineating the sectors along the front. But no sooner had we finished this task than the Jews mounted a series of attacks against the no-man's land. In Jerusalem, they occupied the Red Cross-controlled area and took down the international organisation's flags. They also occupied some buildings near this area. I cannot At the front: the Iraq Suwaydan attack, 1948 forget Colonel Ismail Sherin's tireless efforts in drawing up the truce lines in conjunction with the UN observers. He spent days walking dozens of miles with the observers in the Central Sector, which was inaccessible to light vehicles. The Jewish assault had international repercussions. The subject was brought before the Security Council. Resolutions were passed, but these were no more effective than the paper they were written on. The Jews protested that the Egyptian forces, volunteers in particular, had occupied Jabal Al-Mukabbir, and refused to withdraw from the area they occupied unless the Egyptians withdrew from that strategically vital position. Their aim,


of course, was to occupy Jabal Al-Mukabbir without having to give anything in exchange. From that position, they would threaten the only line of communication between Egyptian forces, southern Jerusalem and the Jordanian forces in old Jerusalem. In the midst of the commotion, General Riley contacted the Egyptian, Jordanian and Israeli governments, which agreed to convene a conference, chaired by him and attended by representatives from the military forces of these governments. Riley set the day of the meeting -- the day on which Abdel-Aziz was killed, and the place -- the no-man's land between the Jordanian and Jewish lines in Jerusalem. The meeting was to be held in the former British consulate building. These instructions reached the Egyptian forces, which were in the field in Al-Majdal. The forces were under the general command of General El-Mawawi, whom I served as a chief of staff. The Commander-in-Chief summoned me, gave me the relevant papers for the conference and told me to represent him. His instructions to me were clear. Egyptian forces would not give up one inch of the land they had won through the sacrifice of many lives. The Commander-in-Chief also implied that Colonel Ahmed Abdel-Aziz would be attending the conference in his capacity as commander of the sector under dispute. I got to work right away. I transmitted by code the Commander-in-Chief's instructions to Ahmed Abdel-Aziz. The night before the meeting, I took a jeep from Al-Majdal. Riding with me was Captain Mohamed El-Wardani, who had arrived in the field only a few hours before, and had expressed his desire to accompany me in order to get an idea of the front. I followed a roundabout route that took all night. I had wanted to pass by Bir AlSab', where I had some work to do, first. I arrived in Bethlehem in the morning, about half an hour late. I discovered that Ahmed Abdel-Aziz had already left for the conference in the company of Major Hassan Fahmi Abdel-Meguid. In Jerusalem, Abdel-Aziz met up with the delegation and General Riley, and together they crossed the truce lines on foot under UN flags. The Jewish delegation crossed at the same time. Both sides had agreed to a cease-fire while the delegations made their way to the meeting place. When I learned of these arrangements, I was bewildered. How was I going to get to the meeting? I went from Bethlehem to old Jerusalem, where I sought out the Jordanian command. I asked them where the delegations had crossed, and they sent an armoured car along with me to show me the place.


A moment of calm: during Cavalry demonstrations against the British, a pause in the Ezbekiya Gardens, 1934

At the front,1948

Ahmed Abdel-Aziz's first promotion: the beginning of a promising career, cut brutally short by a tragic accident

My problems were only just beginning, however. How were El-Wardani and I supposed to cross the street separating the Jewish and Jordanian forces in order to get to the building where the conference was being held? Even if I could ascertain that I would not be hit by a Jordanian bullet, how could I guarantee that the Zionists would not shoot me? The distance we had to cross was no more than 50 yards. I contemplated running, knowing that "speed is the best armour against gunfire." However, I looked up at the many nooks and crannies in the buildings around us and realised that we did not stand a chance if we took the risk. At such close quarters, even a brick would do us in. Then too, our running would arouse suspicion. Suddenly, I had a flash of inspiration. I went over to General Riley's car, took off the UN flag and waved it over our heads as we very slowly and uncomfortably crossed the street. It took no more than half a minute to cover the distance, but it seemed like an entire lifetime. The conference building was filled with journalists of all nationalities. In the assembly room, General Riley was sitting in the seat assigned to the chairman. Commander Abdallah Al-Tel was there, at the head of the Jordanian delegation. The Israeli delegation was headed by the deceitful Colonel Dayan. Originally Polish, Dayan had fought in World War II on the Russian front, where he lost an eye. He was wearing a black patch. Ahmed Abdel-Aziz was speaking furiously. I took Major Abdel-Meguid aside and asked him what had happened. I learned that the Egyptian side was acting contrary to the instructions of the Commander-in-Chief with regard to some details in the talks, and that Abdel-Aziz had not yet been apprised of these


details. I went up to Colonel Abdel-Aziz and whispered to him the Commander-inChief's instructions. Discussions in the room involved the creation of a neutral zone that might include Jabal Al-Mukabbir. This would mean that the volunteer forces under the courageous Senegalese commander Abdallah Al-Ifriqi would have to withdraw from that area. Al-Ifriqi was standing a short distance away, shouting that he would refuse to carry out any order to leave his position, even if it came from the Egyptian command. As for Abdel-Aziz, he thought that this concession would be countered by a withdrawal of Jewish troops from an important site under their control. He may have been right. But my job was to implement El-Mawawi's instructions, in which I had faith. When I explained to Abdel-Aziz the point of view of the Commander-in-Chief, he too agreed and asked me to explain the instructions to those attending. The meeting ended at about 3.00 in the afternoon. It had produced several resolutions. Jewish forces were to withdraw from the areas they had occupied within 24 hours. There would be an immediate cease-fire along the entire front. A third resolution called upon the concerned governments to consider the creation of a neutral zone and, as I recall, to give their responses within a week.

Al-Batal Ahmed Abdel-Aziz Street in Mohandessin is the Bermuda Triangle of fast food, where Cairo's teens converge, of a hot summer night, for an ice cream or a donut. Of the man whose desire to know "the outcome of the battle" even as death was almost upon him, there is no trace. Only his name remains -- for posterity. The memory, at least, of a hero


We returned to Bethlehem about half an hour before sunset. There we met Kamaleddin Hussein, who was known as Abu Kamal. We had not had a bite to eat all day. El-Wardani, the driver and I went to get the jeep. I asked for permission to leave. I wanted to get to the general command in Al-Majdal that night. I tried to think of a way to force the Jews to respect the resolutions. Only force would be effective. I wanted to explain this to the Commander-in-Chief. But even if I was able to convince him, he would have to convince Cairo, and perhaps even the Palace, where the most minor official had more authority in running the campaign in Palestine than the Commander-in-Chief himself. Even if he convinced everyone, we would still need time to transport the necessary arms, particularly artillery, in order to back up any operation in that sector. But we only had 48 hours, of which three hours were taken up by the craggy road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. Abdel-Aziz had asked me several times to spend the night in their camp. I explained to him why I felt I had to get back to command quickly. He insisted on accompanying me. That is when fate played one of its tricks. Abdel-Aziz's men, particularly Kamaleddin Hussein, were against his traveling that night. They feared the Zionists would mount a major assault. Still, he insisted on accompanying me. There was really no need for him to come with me. But I could sense what was on his mind. The relations between him and the Commander-in-Chief were a bit strained. I took Abdel-Meguid aside and told him that I would only tell the Commander-in-Chief the final results of the conference. I had no intention of getting into matters that would only complicate relations between El-Mawawi and Abdel-Aziz. Perhaps it was fate that caused Abdel-Aziz to sit next to me. I was driving, because I preferred to drive. El-Wardani had moved into the back seat with the driver. We took off into the night. As the darkness closed in around us, we felt we were entering an unfamiliar world. We were driving through an area fraught with tension because of the thirty colonies cordoned off by Egyptian forces. We had 150 miles to go. I knew that night's password -- "Gaza". We managed to pass the danger zone between Hebron and Beit Jebrein. Soon we were in a sector controlled by Palestinian irregulars. We passed through one check point after another. As soon as they found out who we were, they let us pass, wishing us a safe journey. All went smoothly until we approached a village called Iraq Al-Manshiya, located about two kilometres east of Al-Faluja. From about 600 yards off, I heard the sound of a gun fire and I saw the flash of the gun from the trenches around the village. At the same time I heard Ahmed Abdel-Aziz groan. Throughout the trip, Abdel-Aziz had been speaking to me in low tones, so that our comrades in the back seat could not overhear. I slammed on the brakes, bringing the jeep to a stop after a metre or two. I turned onto the shoulder of


the road. We jumped out of the car and threw ourselves down on the ground. Abdel-Aziz was writhing in pain. After a few moments, we heard the sound of small artillery fire from the village defense line. Fortunately, we were a good distance away. We stayed on the ground, protected by the irregularities of the landscape. The driver was lying next to the jeep, flashing the headlights on and off in order to signal the garrison that ours was not an enemy vehicle. At the same time, I tried to find out how badly Abdel-Aziz was injured. He was covered in blood. I told the driver to turn the jeep around in the direction of Beit Jebrein, which was about 20 kilometres away, even though I knew the village did not have a doctor. The garrison began to fire flare-bombs, preparing to launch mortar bombs and, perhaps, artillery fire. The driver hesitated, but began to move when I repeated my harsh command. He jumped into the car. I heard the sound of the motor turning; then it stopped. He jumped out of the jeep and said that it was stalled. I felt that my head was about to explode. If all we had to do was save our lives, we could have walked to Beit Jebrein easily. But we could not leave behind that courageous commander, as he lay writhing in agony, exposed to such imminent danger. How could we carry him that distance? In addition, he was already beginning to lose consciousness. The shooting had to stop. Then we would be able to take him to a place where he could be treated. We had to save his life, if his life was destined to be saved. Our voices were not loud enough to be heard at the garrison. One of us would have to get close enough in order to shout out the password. I was the only one who could do that. El-Wardani had seen enough for his first day in the field. I crawled forward about 400 metres on my hands and knees. Then I shouted out the password, identified myself and shouted out the names of the soldiers' commanders. I heard a voice ordering me to stand up and raise my hands. I obeyed. The voice ordered me to approach. I did as ordered. It took some effort to put one foot in front of the other. At every moment, I expected a gun shot to end this ill-fated day. After the soldiers had convinced themselves of my identity, I took them back to where the wounded commander was lying. We put him in the jeep and pushed it all the way to the village. There we transferred him to another jeep and drove to Al-Faluja. The trip took a quarter of an hour. A doctor was waiting for us. Death had intervened before he could act, however. The doctor told us that Abdel-Aziz would have died anyway, even if he had made it to the operating table. Later I learned that the reason the garrison had been so hasty in opening fire was that, only minutes before we arrived, they had had an encounter with a Jewish convoy seeking to break through the lines in order to reach the besieged settlements. The Egyptian forces had just repelled the convoy when our jeep arrived. As they had no idea we would be passing this way, they thought our jeep was an enemy vehicle and opened fire.


I called up the Commander-in-Chief from the office of the late El-Sayed Taha and told him what happened. He had told me not to complete the trip until morning. Needless to say, we did not sleep a wink that night. Early the next morning, I reported to General Command. My nerves were frayed from having spent two days without sleep and having traveled more than 800 kilometres. ElMawawi greeted me in a fury. "Why did he leave with you?" he shouted. "Why didn't you wait?" The only answer I could offer was: "Fate".

In military attire

Horom and her younger son, Amr Ahmed Abdel-Aziz with a prizewinning horse at the British Army Gymkhana, 1933

A legacy of remembrance Remembering little, but aware of his father's legendary status, the son of Palestine war hero Ahmed Abdel-Aziz talks to Amira Howeidy about his father's legacy The brass plaque on the right of the entrance to the chic Zamalek flat reads: "The widow of the late Qa'immaqam (Colonel) Ahmed Abdel-Aziz". Inside, a display cabinet full of trophies and red-ribboned gold medals, positioned in the centre of the elegant reception area, is yet another reminder that Ahmed Abdel-Aziz, a near mythical figure of the 1948 Palestine War, once lived here. Abdel-Aziz left behind a young wife and two sons. At 57, the features of the eldest son, Khaled, despite his white beard and bald head, are not unlike those of his father.


But Khaled, who was only six when his father died 50 years ago, lives in a completely different world. He isn't a political activist, and is only modestly acquainted with the 50year-old Palestinian struggle. Throughout his youth, he cannot remember even once being recognised as the son of Ahmed Abdel-Aziz. Khaled shrugs. "We were kept away from this [environment] after my father died so that we wouldn't be affected by the grief that surrounded us." Khaled recalls that when his father told his half-Turkish mother, Horom, that he had resigned from the Egyptian army to go to Palestine to fight as a volunteer, she broke down in tears, "probably as any other wife and mother would in such circumstances. "On the day he died, she was expecting his return. She was very excited, went out shopping and bought new clothes and ran to my grandmother, who was living with us, to show her what she had bought. My mother kept asking her Khaled Ahmed Abdel-Aziz which dress she should wear. By that time, my grandmother knew that my father had been killed. My mother knew something was wrong when my grandmother didn't respond. Then she realised. It was terrible. She collapsed." The tragedy did not end there. Two weeks later his grandmother's dress got caught in a heater. She was burnt to death. "That doubled our sadness, which was too much for my mother," Khaled recalls. His mother took him and his younger brother to Istanbul, where they resumed their education. The family visited Egypt every summer until the Tripartite Aggression of 1956. Khaled went away to Switzerland to study hotel administration. "Because we were gone for so long, I wasn't in an environment that knew anything about me. So, no, it didn't really feel special that I was the son of a war hero in the sense you mean." What does he know about the most famous Egyptian veteran in the 1948 war, the father he hardly knew? "He was married to a woman from a very good family, the granddaughter of Ali Pasha Mubarak, had two beautiful sons and held a prestigious post in the cavalry. He had everything. To give all that up and jeopardise his life... definitely that wasn't easy. He was a real believer. These are not just words, he really did believe in the [Palestinian] cause." Surprisingly, Abdel-Aziz's personal documents are not in his family's possession. Says Khaled: "When we went to Istanbul, I remember that my uncle collected my father's papers and notes, probably because someone was writing a book about him. I don't think


any of this was retrieved, expect for the letters my father sent my mother. No one got close to those." But didn't anyone try to look for the material? "All the period spanning the war is missing. You can find some of this information only in books. Perhaps they were deliberately stored away because they contained anti-government material, for example... I don't know... maybe my uncle destroyed it on purpose. I don't know. I was only six then." Khaled is very proud of his father, though. "I am really convinced that he was an idol. I am convinced of what he did and I believe that it is in the interest of young people today to know that such people existed." "There was heroism in everything he did throughout his life," adds Khaled. "He was a champion horse-rider. He won these in championships," he adds, pointing to the shiny silver trophies in the cabinet behind him. "He was a great writer who won awards, especially in military history. And he was a hero on the battlefield. He was also an ideal father and husband and the fact that my mother loved him so much proves it. I remember her once describing their relationship this way: 'I loved, respected and feared him very much'." Although Khaled admits knowing little about his father, he wants to instil in his three children the kind of respect Ahmed Abdel-Aziz embodied. "My father left everything at a young age. He gave everything, and he died, not for his country, but for Palestine. My children, too, must know that they have to give." According to Khaled, his father was driven to Palestine by patriotism and religion, centred on Jerusalem. "Jerusalem is a big thing. I wish I could also die for its liberation... It feels like fire inside me, seeing what is happening now. Fifty years after the sacrifices, they [the Israelis] are still stronger. "My mother told me that my father once said that if the Palestine problem was not resolved [when it began] in 1948, it would never be resolved. He was right." Contrary to widespread belief, Abdel-Aziz did not join the Muslim Brotherhood, says Khaled. "He was influenced by them, became more religious as a result of direct day-today contact at the front, but he never joined the group." Khaled is satisfied with the Egyptian government's acknowledgment of his father's place in history. But he has one unfulfilled wish. "I was hoping that they would issue stamps with his picture on them marking the 50th anniversary [of his death], as they do for singers and other celebrities."

So many prophets The last entry in Ahmed Abdel-Aziz's diary


"I sighed and touched the gun hanging from my belt. I asked myself: 'What if the Jews advance on this area?' The answer surfaced in my mind: 'I'd fight, even if I had nothing left but my gun. I'd leave the last bullet for myself.' I looked around. The beautiful, ancient Monastery of Mar Elias stood ahead of me at the end of the road. At the top of the mountain on which it stands is the village of Beit Jala. The river-bed was beneath our feet. Wild flowers exuded a magnificent fragrance. Their colours seemed to be swimming on liquid waves of sunlight. "My hand tightened on the gun. I thought: 'These are our most critical moments.' I recalled the people back home. 'What are they doing now? I wonder if they know?' Another minute passed. I muttered something to myself. A checkpoint officer heard me and said, 'At your service, sir.' I returned to my thoughts. 'No. I know that they will remember this day. They will commemorate us as martyrs and say, 'Those were the finest moments of their lives.' "I asked myself, 'Are we going to die?' A tape recording was running at top speed inside my head. I imagined what would happen when the officer beside me called the next checkpoint on the radio and said: 'The major has died, sir.' What would happen to my officers and soldiers? How would the people back home react? And my family? How would they take the news? I asked myself the strangest question: 'And me... what will I say when I die?' I laughed. 'You won't be saying a word, son. You'll be dead. You'll be in another world where you won't be able to say a thing.' A voice inside my head demanded: 'How is it that I won't even know how the battle plays itself out? I have to know!' "I took another look around me and thought, 'What a beautiful place for fate to seal the play that was my life.' I noticed a stone bench next to the road. It was there for people to sit on in times of peace. They could rest their feet when they got tired of walking in the late afternoon on this idyllic road between the river-bed and the mountain. I thought: 'Good, people who want to visit my grave will be able to sit there. They'll be able to take a rest after climbing the mountain. From that bench they will look at my statue. "My statue? Of course, they will have to make a statue of me. Right here. Or at least they will put up a plaque with my name and the date of my death written on it. Yes, a simple plaque will do; no need for a statue. There will be many visitors. "My son, Khaled, will come. He will be a man by then. He won't sit down, because the climb to my grave will not have tired him out. He'll stand with his head bowed and say proudly, 'This is where my father died. He died a hero.' And he won't cry.' "The word, hero, reverberated in my mind. I recalled Nietzsche's words: 'The hero is the man who knows how to die, when to die and where to die.' I looked around me again. I took in the river-bed, redolent with the fragrance of wild flowers with their radiant colours, the scenic mountain road bordered by olive trees, the lofty mountain peak. Mar Elias was ahead of me. Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ, was behind me. Behind that was Al-Khalil -- the tomb of Abraham, surrounded by so many prophets. I thought, 'Yes, Nietzsche would like this spot'."


War of night and day Down the long roads of exile, memory becomes a nation peopled by the ghosts of fear, sacrifice, loss and generosity. Faysal Hourani remembers 1948, and the long flight into Gaza I would like, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the occupation of Palestine, to write about a child in the year of the catastrophe. The child was me, a nine-year-old in his third year of primary school from the small village of Al-Musammiya, halfway between Jaffa and Al-Majdal, near the road to Jerusalem. Was I really just a child? What could have remained of the childhood of a boy who grew up in the thick of the battle, and whose soul had been burdened by the successive cares that buffet the hearts of the young as much as they do the old?

Taking refuge in memory. Main picture: the Nahr Al-Bared camp, created to accommodate 6,000 Palestinian refugees. Later, their numbers swelled to 25,000, and cement huts were built. (photos: UNRWA)

Is that repository guarded by memory for 50 years truly the property of a child of nine? Is it an accretion formulated and honed over time by the stories of my elders, my mother, my father, my grandparents? Or is it the assemblage collated by the refugee from replaying, over and over again, in his mind, the events of the crucial days, as he is pursued down the roads of exile?


Why should I not say that the Palestinian's memory is the treasure of his soul and that, like any treasure, it has become richer and more resplendent with every passing day? Why should I not also say that memory is the nation which shelters the person who has been driven from his home? If so, is it odd that one should watch over one's memory, perfect it and cherish it? *****

the Pontifical Mission Centre for the Blind, Gaza, operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and the Gaza Authority;

a Palestinian refugee mother with her child at the Beqaa Emergency Camp;


We took the rugged back trails because the paved roads were too dangerous. As we walked, we split up into groups, each group heading towards one village or another. Our group, which my grandmother was leading, had chosen Deir Al-Dabban. The mukhtar (mayor) of this village was a young man from Hebron and a relative of ours -- my grandmother was his aunt. He welcomed us warmly and showed us the greatest hospitality. It was not long before other surviving relatives joined us -- my grandfathers and their older Palestinian refugee children at children. Following in their wake were many other one of the schools run by survivors from our village and other villages which had UNRWA and UNESCO suffered invasion and devastation. I am unable to recall how many days exactly we stayed in Deir Al-Dabban. But every day, it received more refugees. Soon people's homes became so crowded that the refugees had to be sheltered in the village mosque. When the mosque could accommodate no more, refugees had to camp in the village square and in the small garden patches around the houses. Soon Deir Al-Dabban's turn came. The invaders attacked, forcing residents and refugees into the open countryside. The countryside between Deir Al-Dabban and Beit Jubrein was very rugged and inhospitable. We wandered in this hostile stretch of land, without the most basic necessities, on the point of starvation, and enduring the various indignities that are visited upon a proud people when they are brought to the extremes of degradation. I recall the days in that harsh terrain, scorched by the blazing August sun. They have been so etched into my memory that nothing could efface them. Hungry children would roam languidly from one circle of people to the next in the hope of finding a scrap to eat. Their eyes would search the faces in the circle, pleading for anything that might soothe their pangs of hunger. Once, we were gathered around a small meal that my grandmother had prepared. Children from a family nearby approached, beseeching us with their weary eyes. One child -- the youngest -- drew up to our circle and stood right behind me. Our own hunger pangs and the small quantities of food we had to appease them combined to enforce the needy person's propensity to selfishness. Our eyes remained glued to the bowl that stood in the centre of our circle. In our minds, the situation was clear. If we let that cild have some of our food, his brothers and sisters would follow, and we would be left without anything to quell the pain. Each of us had to decide, consciously or unconsciously, whether to sharpen his selfishness or to release the human being pent up inside him and take the risk. I could feel the child's burning gaze of hunger pierce me even though my back was turned to him. I could sense the perplexing question making its rounds in the minds of the people in the circle: should we feed that starving child?


I could not hold out any longer. I voiced the question. No one answered. I would have thought that no one had heard me were it not for the sudden silence that gripped us. In the midst of this silence, I reached out to the bowl and dipped in a piece of bread. I was going to eat it, but an indescribable urge made me turn my head. The child had his eyes glued to the piece of bread in my hand. He would not take his eyes off it. I made up my mind. I got up, gave the bit of food to the child and sat him down in the place I had occupied. I stood slightly apart from my group, staring at them accusingly. Later, I would realise that my initiative at that moment marked the turning point in the development of my personality. That was when my childish egotism ended; indeed, my childhood itself. It was when I began to formulate a sense of responsibility toward others. I would remember that moment whenever I decided to share my belongings with my peers: as teenagers, young men and old men. In that barren place, my act initiated in others a torrent of human feelings which they had felt forced to repress. My aunt, who was still very young at the time, pierced the air with a scream: "My God! What have we come to?" My elder uncle, Nafiz, stopped eating and left the circle. My uncle Omar, who only a few days earlier had been bursting with pride at the duty assigned to him, brke down in tears. I could see the muscles in the faces of my other uncles quiver and they, too, stopped eating. My grandfather did not utter a word as his wife called over the child's brothers and sisters to eat what remained in the bowl. Only my grandmother's face remained steady. When the bowl was empty, she got up, extracted a handful from the sack of cracked wheat which she was saving for harder times, filled a jar with goat's milk and returned to where we had been sitting. Her face remained composed as she gave the children what she had brought and said, "Tell your mother to feed this to your baby brother."

"As the sun rose in the sky, we began to grow faint from the heat. Then the war planes came, and we were overcome with fear. Three planes were approaching from behind us, coming from the occupied territories. This was the first time many of us, including me, had seen an airplane. "The planes disappeared in the direction towards which we were heading. But then they turned around... Within seconds, explosions shook the world around us, followed by screams and wailing. The bombing continued, claiming more and more victims. We were forced several times to stop in order to bury the dead and console the bereaved... "The bombers kept up their vicious pursuit. We asked ourselves, 'What do the invaders hope to gain by bombing defenseless people who are fleeing their homeland anyway?'... Suddenly my uncle Nafiz shouted, 'They want to turn us away and make us head east, towards Jordan!'..."

People got tired of staying out in the hills without a purpose and without hope. A group of men, among them my grandfather, set out to Beit Jubrein to find out what was happening there. That evening, my grandfather returned with good news: the Egyptian army was in the village, so it had been decided that we would go there. My grandfather also brought back for the children as much as he could carry of the fruit grown in the village. We filled our stomachs with fresh grapes. Our spirits rose.


With the first rays of morning light, the noise of our preparations for departure spread through the vastness of the craggy terrain around us. Even before the sun rose, we set out. Nobody came forward to organise the movement; nor was there a specific system to follow. Yet it seemed as though some subtle authority had given instructions and people moved along the rugged tracks as water flows between the furrows of the field, smoothly and ceaselessly. Matters were made easier this time because there was a specific objective -- Beit Jubrein -- and winning our long sought-after safety. I walked next to my grandmother. My feet had grown accustomed to walking barefoot long distances on the rugged roads. The goat trotted alongside me. She had been my companion during the long days and we had developed a special friendship. She walked calmly, as though she understood. Frequently, she would look up at me with a certain gratitude and affection in her eyes. My grandmother was in high spirits. Beit Jubrein offered the prospect of stocking up on provisions. She had decided to dig into her savings in order to buy them. Therefore, she splurged and allowed us an enormous breakfast. We had bunches of grapes and a lot of bread, and the older people got coffee into which they poured milk without restraint. My grandmother was very indulgent, even towards those who violated her explicit instructions. Everything went so smoothly that it almost seemed we were out on a picnic. It did not last, however. As the sun rose in the sky, we began to grow faint from the heat. Then the war planes came, and we were overcome with fear. Three planes were approaching from behind us, coming from the occupied territories. This was the first time many of us, including me, had seen an airplane. The planes disappeared in the direction towards which we were heading. But then they turned around and headed straight for us. Soon I saw pot-shaped objects plummeting towards the ground. Within seconds, explosions shook the world around us, followed by screams and wailing. The bombing continued, claiming more and more victims. We were forced several times to stop in order to bury the dead and console the bereaved. When the grownups had to bury people, my grandmother made sure to keep us, the children, away from the scene in order to spare us the sight of blood. We overcame our curiosity so as not to anger her. The bombers kept up their vicious pursuit. We asked ourselves, "What do the invaders hope to gain by bombing defenseless people who are fleeing their homeland anyway?" We would hear answers from the grownups while our march, or rather flight, turned into a run. Suddenly my uncle Nafiz shouted, "They want to turn us away and make us head east, towards Jordan!" My uncle, always fond of debate, felt he had to back up this inspiration and said, "They don't want the people of Palestine to seek refuge in other villages in Palestine." The attacks only let up when night began to fall. By that time, we were in the vicinity of Beit Jubrein and we thought our tribulations were almost over. However, we had a surprise in store. While the groups who were ahead of us had made it into the village, we were stopped on the outskirts by a battle between the Egyptian forces and the Zionists.


The noise and flare of gunfire were at their most intense. It was difficult for us to make out where the missiles were coming from and where they landed. We had to be extremely cautious and stop in a place overlooking the village. There was no way we could risk breaking through the barrier of artillery fire. When the fighting began to subside into intermittent exchanges of gunfire, some people took advantage of the intervening silent periods to make a dash towards the village. Our group was very large and there were too many children among us to take the risk. Once again, the grownups gathered around to deliberate. My grandfather suggested that we, too, should run for it. Others said we should stay where we were until we could get a clearer picture of the situation, or until sunrise. The women, too, voiced different opinions. One said, "I'll die here before I move." My uncle Mahmoud's wife said, "Let's do what the men say." My great-aunt muttered a prayer without offering an opinion while my grandmother kept silent. During one of the successive rounds of fighting, large flares soared into the night sky, lighting up the scene in front of us. We spotted a passageway beneath a bridge spanning the gully outside the village. My grandmother said, "It's safer to enter the village that way once this hubbub has died down." In one of the silent intervals we moved. The goat, which had calmed down after the guns fell silent, trotted alongside me obediently. Suddenly, as we were descending the slope of the gully, the goat slipped and tumbled downhill. The leash slipped from my hand and the goat ran off. I was terrified that, if I lost the goat, I would be scolded by my grandmother who had been so proud of my behaviour throughout the journey. So strong was the fear of her wrath that it prevailed over my anticipation of the terror ahead of us. All my energies were focused on finding the leash again. I fell behind the group. No one had sensed my absence as they crossed to the other side while I continued my frenzied search. A flare lit up the sky and I found the goat and grabbed the leash. Suddenly, fighting broke out again and I froze in my place. I cannot find the words to describe the terror I felt as I lay sprawled on the ground at the base of the gully, alone and isolated from my family. The only reason I held on to the leash was because my hand, with a will of its own, was frozen. When silence fell again, the mind of that nine-year-old boy began to move again. I thought it would be safer to turn back. But then where would I turn back to? I knew I had to go forward, but another thought paralysed me: what if the bombing started up again before I could make it across? Once on the other side, which way should I turn? Should I go to the right or to the left? I had seen my family split up and go in both directions, but how could I be sure that I would find any of them? It was the goat that spurred me into action. As soon as the fighting broke out again, it bolted towards the crossing point, dragging me behind it. My only thought was the fear of losing it again. Once on the other side, the goat decided my fate and headed right. Then it was my turn to slip. I fell face down on the ground, which is where I was found by those members of my family who had headed to the right. As for the goat, its leash slipped from my hand when I fell, and it ran off and was lost.


Ultimately, after repeated tragedies, the people who headed to the right on the other side of that gully ended up in the Gaza Strip while those who had headed to the left ended up in what became the West Bank. My family had spread itself over both sides. I continued my voyage through exile until I reached Gaza.

To each his Via Dolorosa Why should one of England's leading playwrights choose to write, and then perform, a dramatic monologue on the Arab-Israeli conflict? Sir David Hare speaks to Aleks Sierz* about the reasons behind the choice of subject of his latest play Eight decades ago Britain provided Israel with its birth certificate, the Balfour Declaration, the product of a decade-long friendship between a Russian ĂŠmigrĂŠ, Chaim Weizman, and a leading British statesman, Arthur James Balfour. "Continental Zionists had dreamed dreams. But British statesmen could see visions and possessed power to begin to make them a reality," wrote former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson in his book The Chariot of Israel. And until today the interplay between Zionism and Britain's political establishment continues to capture the imagination of British intellectuals. Last week a new play on the subject opened at the Royal Court Theatre in London. Via Dolorosa, a one-man show written and performed by the prominent British playwright Sir David Hare, received rapturous reviews from all sections of the British press. It was even depicted as an enormous creative risk that may prove to be detrimental to Hare's career now that he is bent on taking on Israel. Many Arabs who watched the play, however, felt disappointed that Hare's depiction of the 50 year Arab-Israeli struggle stopped short of tackling the fundamental moral issues involved. In an interview conducted for Al-Ahram Weekly in London, David Hare says: "When I first did a workshop version of Via Dolorosa, people said to me: 'Oh the Palestinians come off so much better than the Jews.' Some Jews said that the play made them ashamed of being Jewish. So I changed the balance, whereby I hope I have made the Israelis, apart from the settlers, as attractive as the Palestinians."


Playwright David Hare takes to the stage

"I have just received from Herbert Samuel a memorandum headed 'The Future of Palestine'. He goes on to argue, at considerable length and with some vehemence, in favour of the British annexation of Palestine, a country the size of Wales, much of it barren mountain and part of it waterless. He thinks we might plant in this not very promising territory about three or four million European Jews, and that this would have a good effect upon those who are left behind. It reads almost like a new edition of Tancred brought up to date. I confess I am not attracted by this proposed addition to our responsibilities, but it is a curious addition to Dizzy's favourite maxim that 'race is everything' to find this


Just when London intellectuals were convinced that almost lyrical outburst proceeding from the wellthere is no space for political drama in London's ordered and methodical brain theatreland (which is now divided between populist musicals, boulevard comedies and postmodern "in-yer- of H. S." Personal diary of Asquith, then face" work by young dramatists), Sir David Hare's new Britain's prime minister, 28 play, Via Dolorosa, has captured the attention and January, 1915 imagination of Britain's liberal intelligentsia and received rapturous reviews from all sections of the press for its account of Middle Eastern politics. Like a traveller returning after a long sojourn in distant lands, Hare has enjoyed a warm welcome on his own home ground. Via Dolorosa is a 90-minute monologue based on a series of visits to Israel and the Palestinian territories. In it, Hare recreates the characters of the people he met and talked to on his trips. But what has particularly attracted audiences to the Royal Court Theatre (at present temporarily situated in the Duke of York's in St Martin's Lane) has been the fact that Hare has agreed to perform his own play. He has not acted since he was 15, when he appeared with Christopher Hampton (who is now also a playwright) in a school production of Robert Bolt's play A Man for All Seasons, a piece aptly enough about Sir Thomas More and his crisis of faith. Every night, dressed simply in an open-necked white shirt and grey trousers, Hare takes the stage and quietly but passionately performs his monologue. In its journalistic style of reportage, Via Dolorosa marks a break from Hare's last two plays -- Skylight (1995) and Amy's View (1997) -- which were mainly about personal relationships, and also from his epic political trilogy of the early 1990s which anatomised the state of the nation to see what effects the legacy of Thatcherism has had on British public life. Yet there is no real contradiction here. In Via Dolorosa, Hare says that: "It is only now that I realise, almost without noticing, that for some time my subject as a playwright has been faith. My subject is belief. And so it comes to seem appropriate -no, more than that, it comes to seem urgent -- that the 50-year-old British playwright should finally visit the 50-year-old state." But why the fascination with faith and why this particular state? "Well," says Hare, "people always say that in England we lead shallow lives. Our lives are shallow because we live in a country where nobody believes in anything any more. My whole life, I've been told: 'Western civilisation? An old bitch gone in the teeth.' And so people say, go to Israel. Because in Israel they're fighting for something they believe in." When I talk to Hare, my first question is about his choice of the Middle East. After all, there are many places in the world where faith plays a strong role in society. What was his personal motivation for going to Israel and the Palestinian territories? "It's a bit weird," he says. "When I wrote the film Paris by Night in 1988, the character who's an English MP, and is played by Charlotte Rampling, goes to France and finds herself at a table of French Jews who are having an argument about the meaning of


Jewishness. She envies their vitality -- because she's English and fucked up, she doesn't have the same authenticity as they have. "And then, six years ago, the night before I got married [to fashion designer Nicole Farhi], I was sitting at a table of 13 French Jews and I thought: this is bizarre, I've already written this scene. It was one of those prophetic situations -- a writer writes something and then it happens. So obviously, part of my interest in the Middle East comes from marrying into a Jewish family and being intrigued by the arguments between assimilationists and isolationists. And by the very different attitudes of Jews to Israel. "Then when the International Department of the Royal Court Theatre asked me to write a play about the British Mandate in Palestine, I went to the Middle East. While I was there, I felt that the situation couldn't really be made into a play -- I became troubled by questions about the role of art. Are there some things, like the Holocaust, which you simply cannot represent? So the only way of doing justice to what was happening was by me standing up on stage and just talking about it. Then the first idea was to suggest that three of us do it together. In other words, a Palestinian writer, an Israeli writer and myself would all write monologues and we would present them on the same evening." Although this project was one way of resolving Hare's doubts about the problems of representing politics in art, it soon ran into another kind of problem. "However," he says, "the Palestinian was not at this point willing to sit on the same stage as the Israeli, however friendly they might be in private. Such a public gesture would have been too great. Who knows what will eventually happen to the idea of the three of us appearing together, but at moment I'm just doing my monologue." To illustrate the tensions in the region, Hare talks about the George Ibrahim and Eran Baniel co-production of Romeo and Juliet in Jerusalem (when the Palestinians played the Capulets and the Israelis the Montagues), and points out that "the Palestinian producer would not allow this version of Shakespeare to happen today because, since the decay of the peace process, these kind of gestures by the Palestinians are very, very rare and unwelcome in their society." Hare is extremely discrete about not giving the names of some of the people he met in the Middle East. "It's no joke writing a play about Palestine -- I had to protect the identities of people who said things to me in private. It seems to me that I have no moral right to endanger anybody. Open criticism of the Arafat regime is not an easy thing to do. Of course, there are people like Edward Said who enjoy a high status within Palestinian society and who are effectively bulletproof. Said can say what he likes and he has said some very harsh things about the regime. But ordinary Palestinians cannot publicly say harsh things about the regime and so nine-tenths of what was said to me by Palestinians I have had to cut or to subsume into the text. "By the way, Said is very excited by the play: he feels that Palestinians are in such an impoverished state in the world media that for anyone to speak about Palestine is


wonderful. For a Western playwright to put on a play about the subject in the centre of London is for him a great thing to do." But Hare is also acutely aware of the "ethical problem of portraying people in what is after all a fictional context". One of the strengths of Hare's performance of Via Dolorosa is its simplicity -- he never tries to imitate or mimic the people he quotes. But what about the politics of representation -- isn't Via Dolorosa just a liberal form of orientalism? "Well," he says, "the reason the play is called Via Dolorosa is that I don't pretend to be anything but an outsider. I come from a Christian culture and the play is saying: the Middle East is very interesting to me because I come from a different tradition. In fact, the play wouldn't make sense without the epilogue in which I return up the Finchley Road in London, 'passion receding up the broad tree-lined streets' until I come home to Fitzjohns Avenue. So the play is tied to my own life and to th question which to me is the most important: Do we in England lead shallow lives in comparison with people in the Middle East? And I leave everyone in the audience to judge for themselves. On some nights when I mention Fitzjohns Avenue it gets a roar of laughter because it's so banal; but on other nights it gets a deep sigh as if people are thinking: 'Well, Fitzjohns Avenue may be less dramatic but it's just as profound.' So I'm not pretending to be anything but a bloke who is interested from the outside -- and that is the only honest position." But being an outsider doesn't mean you can't be critical. "It's the right to criticise that I'm asserting in the play and I'm against being blackmailed into silence." Talking about the Palestinians, Hare says: "In Gaza, I was very surprised by how profound the antagonism was to the incoming leadership from Tunis. They were seen as people who have come from abroad who were not there during the years of struggle and who are now reaping the financial benefits. I have a lot of material about corruption but I didn't use it because I don't need to make this point at length. People in Gaza feel that they were fighting for something else in the 1980s and that the men from Tunis have stolen their revolution: Arafat is building a casino in Jerico which ordinary Palestinians are not even allowed to go to -- that typifies the sort of society he wants to create. Arafat was once meant to be a revolutionary. His regime is now so corrupt and relies so much on torture that it is hard to defend it. "Just compare him to Nelson Mandela. Mandela instinctively understood what his people wanted -- he may have failed to deliver, but he understands what they have suffered because he's suffered with them. But Arafat has been a leader in exile and is behaving like an itinerant tyrant, unresponsive to his people's needs. Socialist politics in Palestinian territories are at a low ebb and are dissipated either in terrorism or in the moral position taken by Haider Abdel-Shafi, who says: 'Until we have internal reform, we cannot negotiate with Israel.' I have a great deal of respect for Shafi -- if I lived in Gaza I would feel the same." The theme of a revolution betrayed has particular resonance for Hare because he began his theatrical career as a writer who was clearly identified with the socialist left, which was equally critical of liberal-left playwrights such as Arnold Wesker as of right-wing


writers such as Tom Stoppard. In his early work -- for example, Slag (1970) and Fanshen (1975) -- Hare's commitment to left-wing ideas was clear. "What I mean by saying that my subject is faith," Hare says, "is that continuously I've written about people who have an ideal, some motivation that is higher than filling your stomach and being nice to your neighbour. This does not have to be religious -- in the 1970s, I wrote about political belief and people's disillusionment with that belief." Since then, he has followed a trend which, in common with much of the cultural and political left in Britain, has grown into a more humanistic and liberal position which, while it criticises Tony Blair's Labour government, does not have a specifically radical agenda for Britain. Hare's research about the Middle East has convinced him that the question of Palestinian identity is central. "The Palestinians are a deeply confused and displaced people -- if their government is malfunctioning, this is hardly surprising given the circumstances. The leaders don't know what territory they're administering or for whom they speak. In Via Dolorosa, I deal with the philosophical question: 'What is a Jew?' But there is also the philosophical question: 'What is a Palestinian? And what is their relationship to the rest of the Arab world?' Plainly these are fantastically complex questions which cannot be dealt with adequately in one short play." Quoting Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir's remark that "there is no such thing as a Palestinian, only southern Syrians", Hare says that "the Palestinians are a people almost denied an identity." Discussing the situation of Palestinians living in Israel, Hare praises David Grossman's book Sleeping on a Wire, and goes on to mention divisions within the Palestinian camp. In Via Dolorosa, for example, he meets the poet Hussein Barghouti in Ramallah. Commenting on an argument with George Ibrahim, co-producer of Romeo and Juliet, Barghouti says: "This has been a typical Palestinian conflict. No search for common ground whatsoever." Barghouti also makes a strong point about the cultural politics of seeing the Middle East through Western eyes. "Did you see The English Patient? Foreground action: white people, noble, fine feelings, strong, full of laughter, walking in gardens, taking showers, standing up! Background action: Arabs, shifty, mysterious, dirty, untrustworthy, sitting down!" Why this negative vision of Arabs? "Because the world needs an enemy," says Barghouti. After the Cold War, the West needs another scapegoat. Hare is acutely conscious of the problems involved in the politics of representation. He says: "When I first did a workshop version of Via Dolorosa, people said to me: 'Oh the Palestinians come off so much better than the Jews.' Some Jews said that the play made them ashamed of being Jewish. So I changed the balance, whereby I hope I have made the Israelis, apart from the settlers, as attractive as the Palestinians."


As a result, Via Dolorosa is presented as a humanistic, well-balanced and liberal account of the Middle East seen by a fair-minded visitor. Much of its humour comes from Hare being an outsider who is watching another family's quarrel. But being an outsider, claims Hare, also gives him a more general insight into the possibilities of creating peace. "One of the reasons for writing the play," he says, "is that it seems to me unhealthy for a passionate argument to be conducted only by those who are involved. If you let outsiders into the quarrel, then some of the sting will be taken out of that quarrel. But at the moment, Netanyahu won't let any voice of reason be heard." Only outside intervention, argues Hare, can put the peace process on track again. "Plainly, the way the Palestinians are being treated by the Israelis is outrageous. Which brings me back to Shafi's argument when he says that only by reforming ourselves will we solve the problem. We won't solve the problem by being a corrupt little cryptocapitalist state arguing over inches of land. But Shafi spent 20 months in Washington and he came back with a profound sense of futility because he did not believe that the West has any real wish to see this region's problems solved. Clinton has a sense of vision about Northern Ireland, but he has no sense of vision about the Middle East." But did going to the Middle East help Hare to confront the crisis of his own beliefs? "Yes, exactly. I liked meeting people on both sides who were articulate and impassioned. It was wonderful to go to a place where that kind of discussion was going on. As a privileged visitor from the West, it's like a night class. Going to hear people who are thinking deeply about the kind of society they want to create. Both sides have an admirable tradition of airing ideas within the context of political action. This contrasts with the present poverty of political discourse in Britain. In fact, what I'm doing with Via Dolorosa is trying to pull theatre back to a fact-based theatre where the audience knows more when they leave than when they went in." Hare's conclusions about the nature of belief arise from what you could call his passionate neutrality. "As I've said, what's fascinated me as a writer has been the question of living by some higher motivation, some ideal. For Via Dolorosa, I had to go to a region where the idealism is not always very attractive. I go to places where there is an apocalyptic tinge to idealism and sheer brute ignorance and antagonism to the way that other people live, all of which comes out of the so-called idealism. In the Israeli settlements, there is this distasteful mixture of idealism about your own values and complete insensitivity to other people. So in my play I am saying that idealism can be a double-edged sword." For London audiences, Via Dolorosa has been both educative and entertaining. The news that Hare brings from the Middle East both confirms the public's need for balanced reportage and affirms the power of theatre to stimulate and provoke. * Aleks Sierz is a theatre critic who is currently writing a book on contemporary British theatre.


For a shared Jerusalem Revered by Muslims, Christians and Jews, this beautiful city is holy and cursed, drowned in blood yet still magnificent. Last year, the Arab ministers of information designated 26 September as Jerusalem Day. Rashid Khalidi* unravels modern myths and ancient passions in his search to locate the united heart of this torn and worshiped place The idea that Jerusalem constitutes the exclusive property of one party, which has privileged rights there, is an old one. In ancient times, and many, many other times during its more than 40 centuries of history, Jerusalem has been conquered, and then treated as if it belonged to the conqueror alone. Each time, of course, the arguments used to justify such behaviour went far beyond the simple conqueror's claim that might-makesright. Most frequently, religious justifications were utilised to give a patina of legitimacy to such appropriations, and to the attendant dispossessions which went with them. Quite often, such forcible takeovers were accompanied by wholesale slaughter, while at other times, the indigenous population was expelled or subjugated by that of the conqueror. While somewhat barbaric, at least this oldfashioned approach had the merit of simplicity. The spirit in which old-time conquerors approached this matter was generally refreshingly straight-forward: "Jerusalem used to belong to them, we took it because of divine favour, and now it is ours to do with exactly as we please." The religious arguments in which this argument from brute force was usually clothed in fact generally mattered far less than the brute force involved, which was the nub of the matter. Thus, while there was a fair share of hypocrisy and cant in the old approach, it generally relied in essence on the sword, sometimes quite unashamedly. I mention this ancient history not because I plan to focus on tales of Jebusites and Israelites, but rather because we are constantly told that there are special, privileged and exclusive Israeli claims to Jerusalem today because of the ancient attachment to it of the Jewish religious tradition. This is an argument which carries enormous force, since followers of all three of the monotheistic faiths which grew out of the Abrahamic heritage revere this tradition, both in general and as it applies to Jerusalem.


But in fact, the ancient, enduring and indisputable attachment to Jerusalem of the Jewish religious tradition is today exploited to cloak what is at base no more than the old, brutal legitimation-by-conquest approach. We must remember that what is being argued by those who do this is NOT that this ancient and enduring religious attachment justifies a modern religious attachment, or freedom of worship for Jews in Jerusalem today. What is being claimed is that this attachment takes precedence over all others, and that it is more ancient, more sacred, and more important than whatever others may feel for the Holy City. This in turn is used to justify exclusive Israeli sovereignty and control over the entire city today, both its Jewish and Arab sectors, and including its Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy places. What is at work here is particularly insidious because it is so subtle. Since no believing Christian or Muslim could possibly deny the Jewish affiliation to Jerusalem without denying a central tenet of his or her faith, this indisputable Jewish religious connection is employed to serve two purposes. The first is to make plausible a seamless continuity between the enduring centuries-old spiritual yearning for Jerusalem among Jews the world over, and the secular political purposes and rapacious nationalist ambitions in today's Jerusalem of the modern nation-state of Israel. The second is to delegitimise the political claims of others by projecting a relatively recent political connection with Jerusalem three thousand years back in time. Thus, it is argued, while Christians of Muslims can claim two thousand or one thousand four hundred years of continuous attachment to Jerusalem respectively (and indeed the continuous nature and the intensity of these attachments are sometimes called into doubt), Jews can claim three thousand. Then -- and note the sophisticated bait and switch technique which operates here -- it is first claimed that this ancient Jewish religious attachment is in fact nothing other than an early variant of modern-day ntionalism; it is then assumed that David and Solomon were nothing other than very early prime ministers of a very early state of Israel; it is thereupon assumed that the sources whereby we know what we know of Jerusalem in the time of David and Solomon are genuine historical sources rather than accounts of religious traditions, myths and beliefs compiled over 500 years after their time; all of this is then tarted up with the results of generations of biblical and nationalistically driven archaeology which has taken these historically questionable biblical texts as its underground road-map; next, a couple of thousand years of intervening history are conveniently forgotten; and, voila, we have the modern myth whereby the only legitimate claim to Jerusalem is that of the modern Israeli nation-state. All of this serves to obscure a very important fact: this is that the ancient Jewish connection with Jerusalem has profound meaning for both Christians and Muslims. For Christians and Muslims, this connection has been fully incorporated into their central religious narratives in such a way that to argue, as some do, for the exclusivity of these attachments is in fact to misunderstand the beliefs of others. Thus in the Christian Bible, the Old Testament is an integral part of the Scriptural under girding of faith -- and it is thus not just the Passion of Jesus which causes Christians to venerate Jerusalem, but also the traditions and beliefs which Christians share with Jews about the city.


Similarly, Muslims believe in the Jewish connection with Jerusalem as an integral part of God's messages to mankind; they see the biblical prophets, without exception, as among their prophets and venerate them all, notably David and Solomon, and it is not simply the night journey of the Prophet Muhammad to Jerusalem described in Sura 17 of the Quran which causes them to venerate the city. What is at issue therefore is not the Jewish claim to Jerusalem: that claim is in fact endorsed and upheld by all believers in the Abrahamic tradition; it is rather the exclusivity of that claim, and its present utilisation for political purposes. all of this leads directly to the crucial matter at issue, which is that just as modern Israeli nationalism has been constructed in part through a reweaving in nationalist political terms of Biblical and other narratives, so has modern Palestinian nationalism been constructed in part on the basis of these same Biblical, and related Quranic narratives. What is at issue is not refutation or advocacy of any of these nationalist claims. Nationalism after all is a matter of belief, and sometimes quite irrational belief. As the historian Eric Hobsbawm puts it, "No serious historian of nations and nationalism can be a committed political nationalist... nationalism requires too much belief in what is patently untrue." Rather, what we should be trying to do, if we are serious about looking for a solution for Jerusalem, is to avoid denigrating the claims of others. We must recognise that these claims, both the national claims, and the religious ones on which they are in part based, exist, and have a power which cannot be denied. Put more bluntly, we can not tell others what they believe, or what they should believe. We must recognise further that these claims must be reconciled in some fashion if there is ever to be a resolution of the conflict which has Jerusalem as its core. This conflict simply cannot be resolved on a basis of might-makes-right, nor can it be done by attempting to privilege one of two national claims, or one religious tradition among three, or one archaeological stratum in a city which has at least 21 known major strata. It simply will not do to pretend that Jerusalem has three thousand years of history - back to the time of King David in other words -- when in fact the archaeologists agree that it has been in existence for well over four thousand years. Similarly, it will not do to ignore, and indeed to actually undermine, the Arab-Muslim structures which make up the physical fabric of the Old City of Jerusalem in an obsessive search for the remains of structures from 2000 or 3000 years ago. If the conflict is to be resolved, those who search for a real solution in Jerusalem will have to find a formula for sharing this holy city in ways which give real empowerment and the full exercise of political rights to all of those who live there or look to Jerusalem as their capital, without infringing on the rights of others. This formula at the same time will have to give all believers in the faiths of the Abrahamic tradition a sense that they are free to worship without coercion, and are not doing so on sufferance. This is a tall order, and it will not be easy to do, but it is not impossible. It can be done without redividing Jerusalem. But those who do it must take also into account the cold hard fact that all the windy rhetoric about "reunification" notwithstanding, this city


includes two national communities which have been in conflict with one another for over five generations now, and that one has subjugated the other. For this reason they are rigidly segregated from one another in virtually every significant aspect of their existence, and are likely to continue in this fashion for at least some time into the future. What is crucial, however, is that the veil of cant and deceit which envelops discussion of this question, especially in the United States and Israel, be lifted: the fact is that asserting the primacy of one religious tradition in effect demeans the others; the fact is tat asserting the absolute primacy of one nationality in practice means the subjugation of the other. This is not to say that believing Jews or Christians or Muslims should not regard their affiliation with Jerusalem as special, unique an distinct; each group will naturally and necessarily do so. It is rather the assertion that their affiliation gives them the right to primacy in the here and now which is dangerous. Similarly, no one could expect either Palestinians or Israelis to cease to regard Jerusalem as the supreme focus of their national aspirations. They will continue to do so whatever we do. Rather, these aspirations have to be realised in such a way that their realisation does not prevent the realisation of the legitimate aspirations of others. Like religion, nationalism can be an uncompromising and elemental force which is singularly unamenable to such reasoned arguments. It is the task of those who seek a mutually acceptable resolution of the conflict over Jerusalem to resist these uncompromising and elemental tendencies in religion and nationalism, and to challenge the exclusivist political claims which they engender. What this means on one side is to resist a new exclusivism regarding Jerusalem which is associated with some voices in the Islamic, Arab and Palestinian communities. Important though these voices are, they probably represent a minority, whether in Palestine or in the Arab-American community, where a majority seems committed to some form of sharing in Jerusalem. What this means on the other side is far more difficult. For it involves a willingness to stand up to an apparent consensus calling for exclusive Israeli control over Jerusalem. This consensus is not in fact as monolithic as it may seem, but it is intimidating and even terrifying to some who would defy it, whether in the US Congress, or in the Christian and Jewish communities in North America and Europe. Indeed the only reason that the partisans of this exclusivist approach to Jerusalem can claim tha they represent a consensus is that this issue has not yet been openly debated. If this issue involved in a resolution of the dispute over Jerusalem were dispassionately laid before most people, Muslims, Christians or Jews, it might be easier than many expect to arrive at a consensus for a shared rather than an exclusivist solution. It is imperative that we arrive at such a consensus, for an exclusivist solution -- whatever the religious or other justification in which it might be dressed up -- is at bottom based on the bayonet and the barbaric argument that might-makes-right, and cannot possibly lead to peace or justice.


I will not dwell on how important a just resolution of the issue of Jerusalem is to the achievement of an overall Middle East peace settlement. Of course, there is the possibility that I am being wildly naive in saying all of this. Perhaps we have not progressed since the days of the Jebusites. Perhaps mankind has not reached a stage where the idea of sharing can prevail. I prefer to take a somewhat more optimistic view, and to believe that we have progressed past the era of the caveman, and of our warlike ancestors and others who have fought over Jerusalem for centuries, in doing so sometimes wading in the blood of their opponents, and sometimes operating less dramatically with legal writs and bulldozers. If I am right, and if a compromise solution is possible, it will be one which, while it respects the three different religious traditions which give Jerusalem its sanctity, and the two national claims which today envelop it, will privilege none of them, but will rather enable all to share jointly in the wonders of this magnificent, beautiful, great, holy and cursed city, Jerusalem. photo: Antoune Albert

* The writer is professor of history at the University of Chicago. The above article appeared in a special issue of Jusoor: The Arab American Journal of of Cultural Exchange entitled The Open Veins of Jerusalem, Maryland, 1998.

Time to meet the Mizrahim? In reply to a recent article in Al-Ahram Weekly by Fawzi Mansour, Shiko Behar speaks out on behalf of the "uncommon sense" of the Middle East's own Jews In an essay entitled "Culture and Conflict" (Al-Ahram Weekly, 386, 16-22 July), professor emeritus Fawzi Mansour responded to five articles by Edward Said that had appeared in the Weekly between 9 April and 25 June. His argument rested on the following contention: "There is running through Said's articles a constant refrain that jars and it jars because I find it demobilising at a time when we need to gather all our strength." One of the first issues Mansour raised was Said's suggestion that possible links should be explored between Arabs and Middle Eastern Jews in Palestine/Israel. (These Jews,


incidentally, call themselves "Mizrahi", plural Mizrahim, meaning Eastern Jews, not "Sephardic Jews"). Mansour wrote: "I must admit to being surprised at hearing that those Sephardic Jews who emigrated to Israel could be counted among those seeking justice for all. [...] As far as I know, those Sephardic Jews who opposed the creation of a Zionist state in Palestine, or objected to the more extreme practices of that state, either stayed where they belonged or left for Europe. [...] More to the point: aren't Israel's Sephardic Jews the section which most heavily tips the electoral balance in favour of the ultrachauvinist, ultra-Zionist Likud?" What first strikes me on reading Mansour's remarks is the diametrical resemblance between such arguments and those advanced daily by the Ashkenazi (European) Zionist "left" in Israel. It would be hard to imagine a statement which better mirrors the confusion, whether conscious or unconscious, that suffuses academic and political perceptions, in Israel and the Arab World alike, of the history of the Mizrahim, both pre- and in-Israel. Since Mansour's statements can be elucidated only within the overall academic/political context of these perceptions, I shall discuss this context first, then provide eight counter-arguments to Mansour's statements. Finally, I shall conclude by my own interpretation of Said's argument. PALESTINIANS AND MIDDLE EASTERN Jews did not encounter each other in any significant political manner prior to the 1950s for two reasons. First, the indigenous Palestinian Jews were inconsequential when counted vis-a-vis the number of nonPalestinian Middle Eastern Jews. Second, the vast majority of Middle Eastern Jews who ended up in Palestine/Israel were brought there during the 1950s after the Ashkenazi Zionists had completed their 1948 destruction. Hence, any discussion of the pre-1950s deals principally with non-Palestinian Arabs and Jews. Most academic and political discussions about Middle Eastern Jews address their "preIsrael" or "in-Israel" history. "Both" histories are rarely discussed conjointly and the reason, as suggested below, is not so mysterious. Within the prevailing trend of "two histories" the academic/political division of labour in the region has long remained as follows. As far as the "pre-Israel" history of Middle Eastern Jews is concerned, Zionists present it as a history of oppression and religious prejudice within the Arab world from time immemorial. After establishing this ludicrous (a)historical fable, Zionists usually move on to stress the (alleged) ideological commitment of Middle Eastern-Jews to Zionism.


Writers with an Arab orientation, on the other hand, tend to present this period somewhat idealistically, as nearly flawless in terms of inter-religious relationships. They therefore conceptualise the (politically engineered) emigration of Middle Eastern Jews as the exclusive end result of Zionist activities and propaganda. Zionists present this as a component of the "happy ingathering of the exiles." On those rare occasions when they discuss the sharp divisions in Israeli society along ethnic and class lines, their terminology is duplicitous. Thus one finds that Middle Eastern Jews "suffer" from an "inferiority complex" and "culture shock", or that they "came" from "primitive" Arab societies, which thus explains "the gap". In short, Zionists never employ any of the terms needed to account for the Jewish ethnic split, namely: racism, orientalism, oppression, exploitation, internal colonialism and Ashkenazi anti-Semitic tendencies. A further glance across the regional continuum reveals that Arab writers outside academia (Palestinian journalists excluded) tend to disregard "in-Israel" issues. Nevertheless, a few Arab-oriented scholars have been able to express some sympathy for the Middle Eastern Jews as far as their "in-Israel" history is concerned. Take, for example, Abdel-Wahab Elmessiri's The Land of Promise (1980) or Roger Garaudy's The Case of Israel (1985). Both these authors devote paragraphs to the oppression of Middle Eastern Jews under Ashkenazi-Zionism. They feel a little sorry for them, hint at their "false-consciousness" and imply that their interests lie in allying themselves with the Palestinians. Rest assured: nothing is too drastically wrong, according to such studies. But the situation of the Mizrahim as presented in these works is, in fact, a serious problem for the internal consistency of their anti-Zionism. If these assessments do not originate in purely instrumental considerations -- that is, do not seek simply to use the Jewish split to vindicate their authors' undoubtedly justified opposition to Zionism -- but instead are the result of a genuinely universal, consistent anti-Zionist/anti-racist position, then, one wonders, why is it that even these few Arab scholars almost always restrict their analyses to the "in-Israel" history of Middle Eastern Jews under Ashkenazi Zionism, and never express the slightest concern or solidarity with their "pre-Israel" history? I should like to suggest that the answer is to be found in the deeply dichotomous political/academic context within which these discussions are currently held. Given the apparent partiality of virtually all the voluminous literature surrounding the modern state of Israel, it is hardly surprising that countless obstacles are placed in the way of those critical Arabs and Mizrahim who actually initiate unorthodox alliances and, in so doing, also come to talk about Middle Eastern Jews in a manner that rejects the primordial/nationalist assumptions generally governing discussion of their "two" histories. Thus, for example, a person who chooses to address the racistpolicies to which the Mizrahim have been subjected under Ashkenazi Zionism may sometimes be approved of by certain Arab circles and is always disapproved of in Zionist circles. The Arabs approve because this person demonstrates that Zionist Israel -- in addition to being utterly racist against non-Jews generally and Palestinians in particular -- is also racist against


non-Europeans even if they are Jews. The Zionists, for their part, proceed in one of two ways: if this person is not a Jew, s/he is automatically defined as an "anti-Semite"; while if this person is a Jew, s/he is immediately defined as a "self-hating Jew", a "traitor" or a "knife in the back of the nation". This picture changes slightly when instead of concentrating on the "in-Israel" cultural and educational massacre of the Mizrahim, the very same person chooses to focus on the politics pursued towards their Jewish communities in the 1940s and 1950s by certain Arab regimes and/or groups such as the Egyptian Muslim Brothers, Misr al-Fatat, the Iraqi Istiqlal, and their pseudo-secular or religious analogues in seven other states. In this case, this very same person will be approved of by the Zionist circles that had just now turned against him or her, and will usually be disapproved of by a majority of the Arab circles who would previously have been supportive. The Zionists approve, because s/he has now chosen to investigate the xenophobic trend within Arab nationalism. The Arabs for their part will express their disapproval in two ways: if this person happens to be an Arab and proclaims his or her solidarity with the situation of these non-Zionist Jews publicly and loudly, then s/he may be defined as "playing into the hands of Zionists" or "a breaker of the united front". If this person is a Jew, however, s/he will instantly be defined as too "hesitant" "confused" non-Zionist Jew or, worse, as really having "hidden" Zionist motives. FIVE DISTINCT AND INDEPENDENT arguments may be marshalled against Mansour's contention that "Sephardic Jews who opposed the creation of a Zionist state in Palestine, or objected to the more extreme practices of that state, either stayed where they belonged or left for Europe." They are as follows: 1. Focusing exclusively on individual choices which were allegedly wide open to members of the Jewish minorities, Mansour omits one pivotal factor: that the conflict between Ashkenazi Zionists and Arabs in Palestine unleashed religiously-informed feelings which altered the domestic context and created constraints within which "choices" had to be made. This is why Mansour does not consider the political push-andpull factors behind what are still euphemistically described as "population movements". This vision of "emigration" has been cleansed of all the relevant domestic politics. 2. For the sake of argument, let us freeze these political variables. As an economist, Mansour must know that, even then, the most decisive constituent element determining the destination of Jews had little to do with the ideological, super-structural realm, and was instead primarily rooted in the material infrastructure. Most Middle Eastern Jews who could afford to emigrated to countries other than Israel. 3. Compared to Western states and their "immigration" policies, Israel posed fewer obstacles. The newborn Zionist entity had to import the "black" manpower it needed to kick start its undeveloped economy. As Ben Gurion explained with typical Ashkenazi clarity: "Hitler, more than he hurt the Jewish people,... hurt the Jewish state... He destroyed the substance, the essential building force of the state. The state arose and did


not find the nation which had waited for it." Only then were the Arabised Jews suddenly needed. Middle Eastern Jews were pushed into -- and undoubtedly pulled towards -- Ashkenazi Israel thanks to the coincidence of three political forces far more powerful than themselves. The first was the deliberate "assistance" they received from Israel and its Ashkenazi emissaries throughout the region, who worked hard to consolidate separations between Jews and non-Jews, as their European Zionism dictated. The second was the equally deliberate "assistance" they received from such regimes as those of Nuri al-Sid or Zaydi Imam Ahmed, which were well-remunerated for delivering their Jewish subjects by air to the promised land. The third was the unintentional "assistance" given to Ashkenazi Zionism by the Arab groups mentioned above. On top of this triple force, the "enlightened" Western states were as ever reluctant to absorb "third world" people, "third world" Jews included. On more than a few occasions, they even refused to take in the Ashkenazi victims of their European-Nazi creation. In so doing, they extended their sins to include the Palestinians, who thus became indirect victims of Nazism, as well as the direct victims of Zionism. 4. Contrary to the prevailing belief among some Arabs, the overwhelming majority of Middle Eastern Jews -- the majority of Egyptian-Jews included -- neither held a foreign citizenship that could enable them easily to emigrate to Europe, nor had they ever benefited from the imperialist legal system of capitulations. In addition, all these Arab Jewish communities were composed of many different classes. With the exception of the ethnically diverse Egyptian community, most mirrored their societies exactly in terms of their relationship to the means of production. Ergo, "Middle Eastern Jews" and "capitalist compradors" are not, and must never be used as, synonyms. Even in Egypt, no more than 23 per cent of Jews could ever plausibly have been categorised in this way. Moreover, the term itself is a popular neologism which has no recognised place in neo-Marxist economists. Granted, there were Middle Eastern Jews who were Zionists. Like others around them, during the 1940s and 1950s, some of these Zionists were undoubtedly involved in horrendous acts. Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of Middle Eastern Jews were non-Zionists -- not "traitors", "collaborators", "capitalist compradors" or a "fifth column" -- and a significant portion of them were anti-Zionists, whether on Marxist, liberal or religious grounds (his Eminence, the Egyptian Grand Rabbi Haim Nahoum, included). This is simply fact, even though it remains "beneficial" for the two nationalistic academic versions of this people's history to argue that most were fully-fledged Zionists by their own free choice. Critical Jews and Arabs who wish to account properly for the departure of 800,000 Jews from their countries of origin would do well to shift the focus of their research away from the micro-study of the inner, super-structural or ideological, workings of these nine miniminorities, and towards the colossal interactions going on above their heads between Ashkenazi Zionism and Arab nationalism. It is there that they can find the answers to their questions. This approach would also have the advantage of sparing us the


exhausting and tedious nationalistic fervour which sadly governs most existing accounts of the subject. 5. One should also recall here the successful campaign against the participation of Arab Jews in the ThÊâtre de Beyrouth symposium to commemorate the 1948 Nakba -- a campaign which was, once again, implemented exclusively by Ashkenazi Zionists. On these issues, Mansour knows more than he was prepared to say in these columns. But it is counterproductive for universal anti-racist Arabs and Jews to cut round these thorny corners. Even for anti-Zionist Arab Jews such as Ibrahim Sarfati, Salim Nssib, Edmond Malih and others, it does not always matter whether they "opposed the creation of a Zionist state" or "objected to its practices" or "left for Europe" (Malih and others) or "stayed where they belonged" (Nassib, or Sarfati, the Marxist, in jail). Mansour knows that it is not only several Lebanese newspapers and the Syrian National Party (backed by the Syrian second bureau) who consistently contradict his contentions. He knows that there are other establishments which still manage to have so-called "problems" with (even non-Israeli) anti-Zionist Jews. Why is this so? Because, as one of the Arab organisers of the Beirut symposium wrote, "we are being accused of collaborating with Israel because ... we discuss with Jews from the Arab world and voice a critique as much against Zionism as against repressive Arab regimes and Arab nationalism." I am familiar with other universal anti-Zionist Arabs who think like this gentleman, and like myself. Their work has another, crucial contribution to make, beyond its own intrinsic value: it is of primary importance for the non-Zionist consolidation of young, and otherwise "fearful" Jews, whose lives are largely dictated from above by a European, non-Middle Eastern Zionist-Jewish memory. True, this function may be secondary. But is it bad for anyone other than Zionists -- and, perhaps, their diametrical mirror images? There are three additional arguments I should like to make, with respect to Mansour's surprise that "those Sephardic Jews could be counted among those seeking justice for all" and to his (Ashkenazi) question "aren't Sephardic Jews those who most heavily tip the electoral balance in favour of the ultra-chauvinist Likud?". First, there is one key issue which divides pro- and anti-normalisation Egyptians. While the small pro-normalisation group believes that it is important to engage "left" Zionism -meaning sub-sections of the affluent Ashkenazi elite, such as Peace Now and Meretz -the anti-normalisation camp believes that this is counterproductive. It follows that the anti-normalisation majority-- quite justly -- does not distinguish seriously between the right and left Zionist fists, since it is the same head that decides when to use them, just as it is the same head which they strike against. But if this is the case, then one wonders why is it that Mansour, as an anti-normalisation intellectual, should suddenly choose to distinguish between right and left Zionism where "Sephardic" Jews are concerned? Anti-Zionism needs to be consistent on this point: it should distinguish always, or never, between right and left. There should be no "Mizrahi exceptionalism".


Second, rereading Mansour, it is depressing to realise how Zionist fallacies can be recycled in the most unusual places. Ashkenazi-controlled Israeli scholarship, newspapers, television and "left" groups have been remarkably successful in their tireless attempts (beginning in around 1977, when the authoritarian "Labour" party lost power) to demonise and scapegoat the Mizrahim for all the ills and contradictions that are an integral part of their creation (i.e. Zionism and Israel). There is no space to g into this issue in depth here. I can only refer the reader to the writings of one (Iraqi-Jewish) Mizrahi: Ella Habiba Shohat. Her 1988 study of how the Zionist "left" generated this fallacious image of the Mizrahim is available in English, Hebrew and Arabic (in the Palestinian Journal Kan'an), thanks to the long-standing collaboration that exists between Palestinians, critical Mizrahim and others. This Ashkenazi fallacy is responsible for the common and unfounded identification of post-1977 Mizrahim and "ultra-chauvinist Zionism". Lastly, I must be consistent myself. Critical Mizrahim do not, must not and, unfortunately, cannot argue that there are no Mizrahi Jews who vote for right (and "left") Zionist parties (as do 40% of the oppressed Palestinian "citizens" of Israel, be they Muslims, Christians, Druze, Bedouin or Circassian). Therefore I neither offer here, nor ask for, a primordial apologetic "discount" on their behalf. But circular restatements of well-known Zionist problems do not get anyone anywhere, unless one merely wants to help consolidate the current socio-political impasse and play (again) into the hands of the divide-and-rule camp. This is why critical Mizrahim prefer to invest their precious time in finding solutions to these problems with and within the community. Such critical Mizrahim do not ask for help or admiration from anyone. Unlike the Ashkenazim and all too many others, they know perfectly well why and how the colossal transformations of the 1940s and 1950s shattered the already heterogeneous Mizrahi community beyond all recognition. Critical Mizrahim also know that because post-1950s Mizrahi Jews were born into Israel's apartheid system of citizenship, they have serious obligations to the victims of Zionism, the Palestinians. They therefore support unconditionally and unequivocally the right of the exiled Palestinians to return to their land, a right which must stand inalienable regardless of whether the Mizrahim themselves wish to remain in this land where they now find themselves or not. But critical Mizrahim, whose ancestors have a long continuous history across the entire region and are in no sense merely "guests", do retain one right: the right to remain sensitive to the often condescending and moralising tone in which they are addressed by both Ashkenazi Jews and non-Palestinian Arabs. For the sake of a better future for this remarkable region, perhaps it would be politically advantageous if Ashkenazi Jews and non-Palestinian Arabs would first apply their lucid analytical skills either to their own history, or to each other's, instead of fabricating convenient simplifications of the "preIsrael" Middle Eastern Jews or the "in-Israel" Mizrahim. Likewise, critical Mizrahim should perhaps devote more time both to the radical political reformation of the disordered Mizrahi block and to the dual de-nationalisation of its current historical representation.


More fundamentally, any truly rigorous analysis of the Jewish collectivity would target socio-political processes without necessarily equating them with voting patterns. These processes affect the Palestinians whether one likes it or not. One thing, in any case, is clear: Mizrahi Jews constitute the only critical mass within the Jewish collectivity that possesses the reservoirs of historical, political, cultural and class-based experience from which a sufficiently large question mark can be extracted and placed at the end of every Zionist, or racist, proposition. I hold this truth to be self-evident, even if Mizrahi Jews -perhaps like their Arab counterparts across the nine countries from which they originated -- have thus far proved quite incapable of the political unity to which their destiny calls them. BACK TO EDWARD SAID, who like other Palestinians before him was generous enough to mention the "Sephardic topic". I, for one, was unable to find in his articles that demobilising "constant refrain that jars". All that my (outsider's?) eyes could see was a committed Palestinian who stated firmly what at least some other Arabs, Mizrahim and others can only whisper, because they are less well-known: that the old ways formulated for us by previous generations have failed, first and foremost in terms of the objectives set for them by their inventors. The previous generation failed to deliver the goods it had promised. Zionism still prevails, and is perhaps "kicking even more strongly than before", as the Mizrahi regional universalist Mordechai Va'anunu wrote from his Israeli jail. In the post-Oslo period, genuine democracy, political and economic equality throughout the region, and, consequently, the possibility of a just peace for the Middle East, are perhaps more remote prospects than ever before. Hence, in conclusion, I would like to suggest the possibility of exploring certain original, horizontal alliances on the basis of shared political values. These are cross-national, regional alliances which should attempt to transcend truly, not artificially, yet with mutual respect, those religious identities that even Marxist groups throughout the region have ultimately failed to come to terms with. If one happens to wish that some elements of the new South African model is to have even some small chance of influencing the Middle East over the course of the next millennium, then one absolute prerequisite is to institute a new type of society-based political communication, right here, right now. This means communication between critical human beings across the entire region -between all Palestinians, all kinds of anti-, non- and post-Zionist Jews, and also progressive Arab nationalists -- because the conflict is regional, and has been at least since the intifada of 1936-39. This communication should be pursued even if the opening positions of the various parties are far from identical (especially given that non-critical people in the region do not wait for anyone and do communicate with each other). As long as one does not intend to move to heaven soon, or to exchange opinions only with one's own shadow, these positions will most likely never be entirely identical. If I recall right, this is the definition of democracy, anti-Zionist democracy included. I may be wrong but this is my Mizrahi reading of Said.


Permit a final word to some of the most committed readers of the Weekly, the personnel of Israeli authorities. Neither myself, nor other critical Mizrahim have anything personal against Zionists or Ashkenazim as human beings. As many pre-Zionist Ashkenazi knew well, democracy can never be divided along religious, ethnic or racial lines. So please loosen your grip: this is the main reason why we are where we are politically.

photos: courtesy of Look magazine

* Shiko Behar is the first member of an extended, lower-Middle-class Egyptian Jewish family to be born in Palestine/Israel.

A portrait of Felicia Langer Ostracised by Israeli society and repeatedly threatened with death at the hands of her own people, Felicia Langer has not flinched since the day in 1967 she adopted the Palestinian cause as her own. Faiza Rady met her in Jerusalem A beautiful petite woman with intense blue eyes, Felicia Langer radiates extraordinary strength and determination. She needs to. Langer, an Israeli of Polish-Jewish origin, who is married to a Holocaust survivor, spent close to 23 years of her life working as a defence lawyer in the Occupied Territories, representing Palestinian political prisoners. Though she now lives in self-imposed exile in T端bingen, Germany, where she lectures at the university, her life is still dedicated to the cause she first took up in 1967. Back in Jerusalem to address a conference, Langer has lost none of her disillusionment with the policies of the state.


"The failure of the peace process was already inscribed in the Oslo Accords," she said. "The 'peace of the brave'", she added bitterly, "brought the Palestinians the Israeli bulldozer." Bitterness and anger at continuing Palestinian dispossession by Israel are not new emotions to the 68-year-old lawyer. Her autobiography, aptly entitled Fury and Hope, expresses her alternating states of being as an Israeli who has adopted the Palestinians' suffering as her own. Fury at the senseless killings of Palestinian resisters, the razing of entire villages, the bulldozing of houses, the wide-scale confiscation of land, the thousands of administrative detention orders slapped on Palestinian youths -- but most of all, rage at the continued occupation of Arab land and the denial of the Palestinians' aspirations to national self-determination which has precluded any hope for the establishment of a Palestinian state and peace between the two peoples. "How do you define your love of country," a journalist from the Israeli daily Hadashot asked Langer some years ago. "My love of country fulfills itself in hatred of the occupation," she replied, without a moment's hesitation. Fury and rage are powerful emotions running as a leitmotiv through Langer's tale, motivating her work as an act of resistance and defiance, and defining her solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people. Born in Poland in 1930, Langer fled her native country for the Soviet Union after the outbreak of World War II. Returning to Poland after the war, she married Mieciu Langer, a Holocaust survivor. Unimpressed with Zionism and happily settled in Poland, the young couple emigrated to Israel in 1950 for personal reasons -- Langer wanted to join her mother, who had settled there.


Deeply disturbed by the racism and class-based inequalities inherent in Israeli society, both Langer and her husband joined the Israeli Communist Party -- which offered them an alternative vision and a channel for political activism. "1967 was a hard winter, as if nature wanted to add to the catastrophe that had befallen the Palestinians," recalls Langer in her autobiography, who had by then decided to "become active". Having resigned her job in a Tel-Aviv law office, she established a private practice in Jerusalem to assist Palestinian political prisoners. Her first clients that winter were an imam and his wife, whose son had been jailed in Hebron for "membership in a Palestinian resistance organisation". As he explained the case to Langer, telling her how he had fetched his son's bloodstained shirt from jail, the man's eyes suddenly filled with tears and his wife broke down, sobbing. "There was silence in the room... And what I feared, happened: tears came to my eyes, and instead of radiating authority, strength and confidence, I cried with them. So there we sat, three adults crying over the fate of a tortured son." Looking back on this episode, Langer believes it was necessary to break down the barriers between her and the people she wanted to represent -- "creating a bond of trust and closeness, crucial for both sides."

'Overturning Bassam Shaka's expulsion orders in November 1979 counted among Langer's most important victories. But the joy was to be short-lived. Shortly after, a Jewish terrorist group boobytrapped the mayor's car. Barely escaping with his life and gravely injured , Shaka's legs were amputated.'

Over two decades of representing Palestinian political prisoners in the Occupied Territories, Langer relentlessly worked at consolidating this bond -- in solidarity with the Palestinian people. In effect, a major part of her autobiography consists of documenting cases of flagrant Israeli human rights violations in Palestine. Recording the history of the occupation, the writer testifies lest people should ever forget. Since the early days of her work as a defence attorney, Langer has turned to writing -- writing everywhere: in taxis, in prison yards while waiting for her clients, she used the written word to express her personal anguish at the effects of the occupation. Throughout her 23-year-long struggle against the Israeli military court system, Langer was driven by a stubborn sense of hope -- seemingly against all odds. Motivated by the powerful need to crack the system open -- even if only fleetingly -- so as to be able to defend her clients beyond the available token legal manoeuvres, Langer relentlessly fought her way to the Israeli Supreme Court time and again. Basing her claims on the


legality of binding international treaties, Langer cited countless violations of the Geneva Convention -- to which Israel is a signatory -- fighting an uneven and usually losing battle, with a few notable exceptions. Overturning Bassam Shaka's expulsion orders in November 1979 was such an exception and counted among Langer's most important victories, "the most important of all", she recalls. The celebrated nationalist mayor of Nablus, Shaka had been one of the most vocal and virulent opponents of the Camp David Accords. As a result, the military governor of the West Bank accused Shaka of inciting terrorist attacks and sheltering their perpetrators, arrested him and signed an expulsion order against him. When the Supreme Court overruled the mayor's deportation, the whole town of Nablus celebrated along with Langer, who at that time was briefly able to believe that "reality may sometimes surpass our wildest dreams.". But the joy was to be short-lived. Shortly following the Nablus celebration, a Jewish terrorist group booby-trapped the mayor's car. Barely escaping with his life and gravely injured, Shaka's legs were amputated. As Langer left her friend on his hospital bed in Nablus, he told her: "I am here and the struggle is just beginning." "What stuff are you made of, Bassam," she wondered as she left the ward. Yet Langer herself is made of equally 'strong stuff'. An extraordinarily courageous and resilient woman, she kept on working despite appalling conditions, social ostracism, death threats and even physical assaults. In 1968, when Langer first started publishing articles in the Israeli press to denounce the occupation, she was castigated by the average Israeli. She became an outcast and an alien. It all began with the demolition of Hamdi Tukan's house in Nablus. Tukan's father had shown Langer the bulldozed concrete rubble in the midst of which she could still see the vestiges of flowers stubbornly sprouting among the debris. Standing on the Nablus hills overlooking the ruins, Langer felt an overwhelming urge to tell Tukan that "this was not the only face of her people." She did so in an open letter addressed to "my brother Hamdi Tukan", published in the Arabic language weekly AlIttihad and the Hebrew Zo Haderech. "The day would come," wrote Langer, "when Tukan would be able to build a new house and plant new flowers that will bloom with a myriad of colours." The reaction to Langer's article was swift and to the point. Returning home to Tel-Aviv from her Jerusalem office one night, she was startled by a growing commotion coming from one her neighbours balconies. "Look at her, look at this piece of shit, this traitor. This dirty Arab is her brother! Let her go to Nablus, we don't need her here," a woman screamed at Langer. "I went out to my balcony with Michael [her son] who had turned white. My neighbours faces were distorted by a hatred I had never seen before. I tried to say something, but my words were drowned out by a flood of insults and hysterical screams. 'Get out of this house,' they shouted, 'we won't stand for you to live here. You


want to plant flowers for this Arab? You can have some of these here on your grave.' And they pointed to the well-kept flower beds growing in my part of the yard." Throughout the years, recalls Langer, her every step was followed by piercing hateful stares, accompanied by the occasional insult. "I walked by with my head held up high, although each and every time something inside me would shrivel," she wrote. "When I was lucky, I didn't bump into those groups of youths who would spit in my direction whenever I walked by." More ominous than the daily harassment and aggression, were the occasional death threats. "We are a terror organisation against those responsible for terrorist acts. If you don't stop working, you will have a bad and bitter end," warned a sinister voice over the phone on a warm June night of 1974. Ten years later the message was much the same, though more political in tone. "Felicia Langer is a PLO whore. The day of your death is near," the Jewish Defense League, a fascist terrorist group established by Rabbi Meir Kahane, spray-painted on the door of Langer's Jerusalem office. Beyond the humiliating daily wear and tear of social ostracism and the real fear for her life, Langer was constantly harassed by the authorities. From denying and delaying her the right to consult and meet with her clients, to dismissing her petitions, to overruling her defense arguments in court, her work was obstructed at every step of the way. But slapping down her clients with inordinately severe prison sentences was the most dramatic way of punishing the Israeli lawyer for defending Palestinian political prisoners. Langer recounts the case of one client, Tawfik Aharam, who was sentenced to ten years in jail for membership of an "illegal terrorist organisation". Since Aharam had never actively opposed the occupation, his sentence should not have exceeded two years. "My client's father was probably right when he told me: 'Felicia, you are the one who is being sentenced here'," she recalls. In Aharam's case, as in similar cases, Langer appealed such sentences with a measure of success. Determined to defend her clients and often driven by the sheer will to survive, Langer bravely continued to fight her battles against the occupation -- until 1990, the third year of the Intifada. During the Intifada the military court system had broken down completely, becoming a total travesty of justice, with hundreds of prisoners herded into daily sentencing sessions lacking even a minimal decorum. Said Langer: "They made justice into a farce and I refused to provide them with a stamp of legality... They still hadn't understood that nothing matters when a people fight for their freedom, which to them is dearer than life." She goes on, "I was supposed to represent clients I had never met before, so I could not prepare myself to defend them. It came to the point where I was no longer physically able to walk into a courtroom and address the judge as 'your honour', I felt I just couldn't say the words anymore. As a gesture of protest I closed my Jerusalem law office and left the country."


Are things any different now? "Absolutely not," replies Langer vehemently. Her visit to Jerusalem has merely reinforced what she knew and felt already. "The time has come to tell the truth about the myth of the Israeli system of justice. Since 1993, Israeli forces have killed and injured hundreds of Palestinians, destroyed the homes of over 500 families, taken away the rights of over one thousand people to live in Jerusalem, arrested, imprisoned and tortured thousands of people, leaving other thousands homeless." If anything, the rate at which Palestinian dispossession is proceeding has increased since the Oslo Accords. "The pace of settlement has actually spiraled since then," says Langer. "The Labour government headed by Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Yitzhak Rabin, provided three times as much financial support for the building of settlements in the Occupied Territories as the Likud coalition government had done in the past. Fortunately, Netanyahu's right-wing government has not been allowed to pursue its disastrous settlements activity in a quiet atmosphere of tacit consent. This time around, the policy of the bulldozer at Jebel Abu Ghneim and other places has been internationally condemned." * Felicity Langer has been honoured with the Alternative Nobel Peace Price for her political and human rights work. She is a long-standing member of the Israeli League for Human Rights and a prolific writer. She is the author of a number of books documenting Israeli human rights violations in Palestine -- among them: With My Own Eyes, Those Are My Brothers, Where Hate Knows No Boundaries, Bridge of Dreams, The Epoch of Stones and Rage and Hope, an autobiography.

The mountain to climb A Harvard University report based on a simulated negotiation exercise denies the Palestinian right of return and demands that Arab governments compensate Arab Jews for emigrating to Palestine. Salman Abu-Sitta deconstructs the dry run Who says Oslo is dead? The final status negotiations are well underway. Although it is only a dry-run for the real thing, carried out by a group of academics and aspiring politicians, it is a realistic blueprint of the future as the most sympathetic and 'moderate' Israelis would like to see it. Absent from the picture, however, is the weight of the majority of the Palestinians whose fate is being discussed in closed rooms -- namely, the refugees. According to Ha'aretz ('Inching up a treacherous slope', 9 September 1998), a group of Israelis and Palestinians under the auspices of Harvard University's International Affairs Centre, has produced a 'compromise' report for the 'final solution' of the refugee problem (the quotation marks are not explicit, but intended). The Israeli group is known to favour peaceful settlement with the Palestinians. Some of them have held official positions, all of them have an influence on Israeli public opinion


and decision-makers. So far, so good. The 'compromise', therefore, should be the best that can be hoped for from the Israeli side. What is this compromise? Israel agrees to share the practical (though not moral or legal) responsibility for Al-Nakba of 1948, and is prepared to admit some families under the 'Shaml' programme, with some compensation to others to be offset by compensation to Jews from Arab countries. In return, the Palestinians would forfeit their right of return to their homes. Only those lucky enough to be selected by the Israelis can go back to the West Bank and Gaza. The report's principal co-authors are Joseph Alpher and Khalil Shikaki. Alpher is an American-Israeli who was a Mossad officer for over a decade, chasing figures of the Resistance Movement, before becoming a director of the Jaffee Centre for Strategic Studies. He is now a director of the American Jewish Committee in Israel. Shikaki is a Nablus academic and leading pollster. He is a refugee from Zarnuga and his family is exiled in Rafah refugee camp where his father Ibrahim and brother Abdul-Aziz still live. He took a different political course from his eldest brother, Fathi, who was murdered by the Israeli Mossad in Malta in 1995. The report, or at least the Israeli portion of it, is based on the assumption that Palestinians do not belong to the land of Palestine, hence they have no 'right of return' to it. They are not a people, so they can be stowed away in different countries. Their plight is simply a humanitarian issue to which all countries, including Israel, should contribute. The report is far too sophisticated to say this bluntly, but every direction it takes leads to this conclusion. Moreover, it says that Russians, Ethiopians, Poles and Moroccans have the 'right' to return to Israel unconditionally if they are Jews, and they should be paid compensation by the Palestinians, among others, if they left their homes in Arab countries to settle in Palestine. So the message to the five million refugees who were expelled from 530 localities and whose land constitutes 92 per cent of the present state of Israel is, "sorry for everything that happened in 1948 -- that's all". The weight of human rights, UN resolutions and, above all, the dogged determination of the Palestinians, squeezes out nothing more than a hollow half-hearted apology. The report generously accepts the return of "tens of thousands" of refugees under a family reunification programme, but it neglects to mention that this is only a fraction of the three quarters of a million who were waiting to regain their homes when Israel promised in 1949 to allow the return of 100,000 as a price of admission to the UN -- a promise that was never honoured. How many refugees are allowed to return to the West Bank and Gaza (whose borders are left undefined in the report) should be regulated by the remaining territory's absorptive capacity and Israel's acquiescence. Those familiar with the present difficulty of getting a


Palestinian ID will know that "return" on these conditions is a misnomer. According to a 1996 study by K McCarthy of Rand Corporation, the absorptive capacity of the West Bank, not to mention Gaza, is far too low to sanction the admission of any appreciable number of refugees. Note, moreover, that these refugees are not actually going to be allowed to return home, but merely to change their camp address to Palestine. Present conditions are, of course, much worse than those that obtained before. Thus on both counts, the absorptive capacity and Israeli acquiescence, this 'compromise' is rendered useless. But the most blatant aspect of the Israeli position is the linkage of compensation for Palestinians to that of compensation for Jews. The report neglects to mention the fact that the Palestinians are entitled to both return and compensation. Careful studies put their total legitimate claims at US$511 billion, excluding homes and land. These are not for sale. The refugees are determined to recover their property. It is beyond comprehension that the report ignores these facts, even as Jews, thanks to the pressure tactics of the World Jewish Restitution Organisation, are seeing their former property in Europe restored to them without the benefit of a single UN resolution. The linkage of Palestinian claims with compensation for Jews who left Arab countries is irrelevant for three reasons. First, this Jewish immigration to Israel took place after the expulsion of the Palestinians, and as a result of it. Those Jews are beneficiaries of Palestinian property and they should be paying compensation, not receiving it. Second, any Jewish claims should be addressed to the countries which they left voluntarily. They should apply to those countries to recover their property and citizenship. This matter is of no concern to the Palestinians. Third, there is no UN resolution or international consensus to support this Jewish claim. The fact of the matter is that the Jewish claim, exaggerated as it is, is simply designed to thwart the legitimate claims of the Palestinians. The proposal to settle Palestinian refugees in other countries is as old and as persistent as the Transfer Plan advocated by Herzl, which became an integral part of hard-core Zionist doctrine. Last year, a new Transfer Plan, proposed by Donna Arzt under the umbrella of the American Council on Foreign Relations was flatly rejected by the Gulf countries. A cursory examination of the events of the last 50 years shows clearly that such settlement schemes are doomed to failure. The Palestinians are willing, the report says, to accept that the return of the refugees en masse is not feasible. The boundaries are lost and the country is full of immigrants. If this is not an echo of the Israeli position, it is grossly misinformed. Every single donum in Palestine is traceable. If it took Jarvis, the land expert of the UN Conciliation Commission, eight years to produce half a million records from the land owners registry in 1964, it will now take the Israel Land Administration (ILA) only a few minutes to retrieve any information from its computer database. After all, ILA rents Palestinian land to the bankrupt Kibbutz. As for the overcrowded country, the report failed to mention that only about 170,000 Kibbutz farmers control 17,000,000 donums of Palestinian land, wasting precious water and with very little to show for it.


The report never mentions that Jewish immigration is a threat to the stability of the region -- indeed a cause of war -- or a strain on its limited resources, especially water. It never questions the racist nature of the Jewish Law of Return. It never shows any recognition of the anomaly between the refusal of the Palestinians' right to return home and unlimited access for new immigrants to these same homes. The sad thing about the report is that it is intended to be the best that could be proposed by the most sympathetic Israelis. Israelis, it seems, are still the victims of the myths they have created and which they expect the Palestinians to believe. For a better future for both peoples, they should look outside their own cloistered world and recognise -- indeed address -- the injustice they inflicted upon the Palestinians. Ha'aretz described finding a solution to the refugee problem as being like climbing Mount Everest. It seems the Israelis will have to climb a lot more before they are in a position to see the new sun rise. * The writer is a former member of the Palestine National Council , with a number of studies on the question of Palestinian refugees.

A longer view By Edward Said Edward Said sees hope in such examples of dogged determination and resistance as are offered by Bir Zeit University Having just returned from a trip to attend an academic conference at Bir Zeit University on the West Bank it has seemed to me important to report on what, after an absence from Palestine of about six months, I saw and was impressed with. In the immediate aftermath of the Wye agreement I encountered no enthusiasm or surprise, just a kind of resigned but doubtless simmering anger that so many of our rights as a people had once again been handed away. If there were to be prizes for unpopularity surely Arafat's supine team of negotiators must rank very high on the list. The notion that the CIA was to be the arbiter in matters of dispute between the Palestinian Authority and Netanyahu's government struck everyone I spoke to as perhaps the final irony. As for the established political class, its notables, middle-aged functionaries and the like, there was a great sense of indifference expressed by literally everyone I spoke to, as there was with all the political parties and currents. The landscape was dotted with new settlements, especially the hilltops; while I was there General Sharon had enjoined the settlers to seize what they could and of course, with the Israeli army to help them, they did. The most striking physical change observed since I was there was the increase in the number and size of the by-passing roads, which are to be seen everywhere I went, cutting through the West Bank and the Jerusalem area, surrounding, punctuating, and of course destroying Palestinian land. The idea behind them is clear to see: to inhibit, if not actually


to totally prevent the emergence of any Palestinian polity, despite Arafat's repeated threats to declare statehood. Most people greet his announcements about declaring statehood with considerable, albeit bitter, mirth. Where there is considerable room for optimism is in the fact that institutions in civil society -- those that have little to do directly with the Authority or the Israeli occupation - press on despite the grim encirclement all round. I have in mind one of these, Bir Zeit University, where I and a large number of academic participants spent the better part of a week deeply involved in research papers, discussions and lively exchange on the subject of Palestinian landscape, a topic of extraordinary interest given the history of many invading civilisations in Palestine of which the Zionist is the latest, the ugliest physically and the most invasive. What struck me is that if there is any hope for the future it is in such national institutions as Bir Zeit which under tremendous pressures and remarkable odds still functions, often brilliantly and always sensibly. Founded in l924 as a girls' boarding school, the institution has always been associated with the Nasir family, whose senior member Butros Nasir and his sister Nabiha were the school's founders and earliest mentors. I remember Butros from my childhood: one of my aunts was his cousin and we knew the family -- they in the village of Bir Zeit, about ten kilometres from Ramallah, we in Jerusalem -- quite well. Butros was a civil servant who later became foreign minister of Jordan in l960. His oldest son Hanna, an AUB graduate and Purdue PhD in physics is now president. In l926 Bir Zeit School became a coeducational secondary school which some of my cousins attended, and whom I recall visiting as a child in the mid-1940s. Between l952 and 1960 a freshman year was added to the school: thus, students could get one additional year of university along with the four secondary school years; this was followed between 1962 and 1967 with the addition of a second (or sophomore) university year. Five years after the Israeli occupation of 1967, during the graduation ceremonies of 1972, Hanna Nasir announced that Bir Zeit would become a university, i.e. an institution offering a four year course leading to the BA. The next day a member of the Israeli military authorities visited him and was told that such an intention was "illegal" and tried to restrict the institution from implementing it. A whole series of threats from the Israeli military followed the announcement. In l974 Nasir himself was deported for "incitement against the security of Israel", a ludicrously inappropriate charge, but one entirely in keeping with Israel's policy against the emergence of any Palestinian civil life. Blindfolded, he was summarily taken to the Lebanese border, from which he went to Amman and remained there in exile until l994. Gaby Baramki, a professor of chemistry, ran the University, while Hanna directed it from Jordan. When the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem tried to intervene with the Israeli authorities he wasn't allowed to see Nasir's file. And to bring matters up to date the university was entirely closed under General Yitzhak Rabin's orders between l988 and l992, the intifada years. No other occupation regime in history declared war against educational institutions except Israel's: and still the country is celebrated for its "benign" occupation, which continues apace during the "peace process".


The sheer survival of Bir Zeit is of course one of the many stories of Palestinian resistance against outright Israeli oppression. In my opinion, that survival acquires added importance in the present because the political horizons are so bleak, and therefore the development of civil institutions, whose purpose is Palestinian development, the preservation of a vibrant national culture and identity, and the continued deepening of roots in the land of Palestine, is of the first importance as well as a safeguard against the fate of turning Palestinians into Red Indians being prepared for us by the US and Israel and to a great extent also by our uncomprehending and corrupt leadership whose main goal is its own survival and personal prosperity. Bir Zeit has expanded as a university over the past twenty years. It now has a student body of about 4,000 men and women from all parts of the West Bank and, when they are allowed to travel there, from Gaza. In addition to the BA, the university offers MAs in international studies, education, economics, modern Arabic studies, water engineering, law and health education. Its curriculum is an entirely liberal and secular one, even though a simmering dispute between those ideals and some of the Islamist students on the campus continues. What I have found admirable is that Bir Zeit, which is one of eight universities on the West Bank and Gaza, sees itself, and is seen by others, as the national Palestinian university. This is by no means to denigrate or lessen the importance of AlNajah in Nablus, for instance, or any of the Gaza universities: it is to say, however, that Bir Zeit alone has both the national and international reputation of representing Palestinian national life through education. Not that its life isn't a hard one. Bir Zeit is in Area B, which means that Israeli roadblocks can and often do interdict students and faculty coming from Ramallah, and elsewhere in Area A. Occasionally Israeli soldiers make their way onto the campus, and make arrests, break a few bones, then leave. Yet the university's physical setting is more impressive every time I see it. A large number of handsome white stone buildings dot the gently rolling hillsides just above the village of Bir Zeit; there is a campus of quite substantial size, the land donated to the university by the Nasir family, all of the buildings the result of donations from wealthy Palestinian expatriates. Thus our conference, for instance, took place in Kamal Nasir Hall -- the university's main auditorium built in memory of Kamal Nasir, a poet and PLO spokesman assassinated in Beirut in l973 by an Israeli hit-team headed, it is widely believed, by none other than Ehud Barak, the present head of the Labor Party -- whose main benefactors are Abdel-Mohsin and Leila Qattan, a remarkable (and remarkably successful) couple who have used their considerable wealth to benefit their people in quite unprecedented ways. Such buildings as the new library, the engineering school, the recent college of business are similarly the gifts of wealthy diaspora Palestinians, who have turned to Bir Zeit the way many years ago prominent diaspora Jews promoted and funded the Hebrew University, well before Israel's establishment in l948. Despite acts of individual generosity, Bir Zeit's graduates are very far from wealthy, and so the budgetary problems are immense. Bir Zeit has an annual budget of twelve million dollars, a little over half comes from tuition and from the Palestinian Authority; the rest has to be raised, mostly by Hanna Nasir, with results that are mixed. At least several


times in the past few years there hasn't been money for faculty salaries, and library acquisitions have dropped to near zero (1,000 new books in the past three years). Life is hard, as much because the confinements and dispossessions imposed by Israel on Palestinians are hard, as because with no Palestinian state as yet in existence, the local and regional economy is in terrible shape, with most Palestinians in dire financial straits, donations to universities are given low priority. Still, what is very impressive is that on campus at Bir Zeit there is an open and free exchange of ideas and opinions that simply doesn't exist anywhere else in the Arab world. Nasir and his colleagues are understandably proud of this, and very anxious to preserve it. Criticism of individuals and policies thrives, as does a boisterous debate between adherents of different political parties. When Arafat's Authority arrested some students two years ago, Bir Zeit took the Authority to court and got the students released. One hears a lot of complaining at the university, but the amazing thing from my point of view is that as an institution it thrives despite a large number of odds and innumerable obstacles. One reason why this is so, I think, is that even though the Nasir family founded it and is still involved in running it, Bir Zeit is not a family institution but in the minds of everyone associated with it as student, administrator or faculty, it is a public, national one. There is little of this sort of sentiment and activity in the Arab world except for such places as the American University of Beirut which, after all, is an American not a national or Arab institution. Bir Zeit's Board of Trustees is made up of 16 individuals from the West Bank and Gaza; their problems as Palestinians are also the university's. Many of the territories' most prominent names, from Hanan Ashrawi to Ali Jarbawi and Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, three of the best-known Palestinian intellectuals, are associated with Bir Zeit and so it has been quite natural that the Israelis have viewed the place as threatening to their interests as occupiers. Certainly in my opinion one of the university's main problems has been its isolation from the Arab world of which it is in culture and history a part. The languages of instruction are Arabic (mainly) and some English, but very few non-Palestinian Arabs have come to the West Bank, using the fact that they have to have Israeli visas as a pretext for not appearing. Egyptians can come via a permit from the PA, and that strikes me as an excellent way out of the whole problem of normalisation with Israel which few Egyptian writers and artists are willing to compromise. All the Bir Zeit people I spoke to said that in the current state of demoralisation they regard support by Arab academics and intellectuals as very important indeed. I could not agree more, and have stated my position to Egyptians when on a very brief visit to Egypt after my trip to Palestine. In any event, Bir Zeit University strikes me as uniquely placed to constitute one of the foundation stones of Palestinian civil society as it tries to strengthen itself against the Israeli onslaught and the abortive peace process. That so many people in and out of Palestine regard it as a significant element in that society-in-the-making is a sure sign that collectively Palestinian life goes on, the obstacles and hardships notwithstanding. Bir Zeit, and institutions like it, have to be seen as part of the longer view of our history, which the seriousness and acuteness of the present crisis tend to obscure. Without these institutions our political life and survival would be virtually non-existent.


'Our house' For three decades Gabriel Baramki was vice-president of Bir Zeit University. Now he plays a leading role in raising international awareness about the dispossession of the Palestinians but, as Mariz Tadros found out, his conversations often lead him back to When, at the age of 18, Gabriel Baramki set off to study chemistry at the American University in Beirut, it never crossed his mind for a second that he would not be returning home to Jerusalem for the summer holidays. But this was 1948. By May, Baramki was cut off from his family. Summer came, university closed and he was still stuck in Beirut. His parents, for their part, were at first adamant on staying put. They wouldn't leave Jerusalem, never, they told themselves. But as the fighting intensified, they began to realise they would have to let go. "One day the family was sitting in the living room, when a bullet passed over my mother's head and just missed her. My father sprang up: 'That's it', he said, 'we're not going to wait a minute longer'." Straight away they packed their suitcases and fled, leaving everything just as it was. "That day, my mother had just baked a cake. They were in a rush, and the cake was still in its baking tin, so she grabbed a knife to take with it -- that was all we took from our house. Our only possession from our past," Baramki whispers.


The family moved from one house to another, still hoping that they wouldn't have to leave the city. "There were Jewish cars parading through Jerusalem with loud speakers proclaiming that the Arabs would be given safe passage, if they left straight away. The Jewish army was also parading their prisoners -women and old people -- most of whom had been captured at Deir Yassin after the massacre, to remind people of their fate if they stayed. Many just couldn't take it. They left." The Baramkis left for Bir Zeit where they spent the summer with an aunt. Then they moved to Gaza, where they remained for three years. Gaby was reunited with his family in 1949. When they told him they had left everything back home, he looked them steadily in the eye and asked if that included the family albums. "Of course, there were many things that I loved and cherished back home, but what affected me most was that suddenly I felt I had lost my childhood, my school days and my teenage memories. It was almost as if without the family album, there was no proof of our past."

Students go about their studies in the shadow of the memorial to the dead of the intifada on the campus of Bir Zeit University (photo: Randa Shaath)

After visiting his parents in Gaza, Gaby returned to Beirut to finish his studies. When the Israelis invaded Jaffa, he and other AUB students learned that boatloads of Palestinian refugees had begun to arrive, swamping the port. "We decided to go and see how we could help these people, and there were my uncle and aunt. It never occurred to me that I might see them. We cried a lot. It was a very emotional ordeal." Even more painful was the sight of all those stepping out onto the shore with no clue where to go. Yet even they were not the worst off. "The most devastating experience for me was receiving the refugees who had walked from the north of Palestine into southern Lebanon. Some of them ended up in Beirut. These were people who had nothing at all, who had lost everything." They were farmers, who though poor, had previously been able to live off the land. Now they had been stripped of their only means of support. "The Palestinian resistance had urged them not to abandon their homes, but they too had found themselves surrounded."


Camps were set up on the beaches of Beirut. At the very least, Gaby thought, thank God it was summer. He never imagined how many times the seasons were to succeed one another while the tent poles were still deeply entrenched in the sands. Soon he was working with the Red Cross, moving from tent to tent, distributing milk for the children, and trying to alleviate the appalling "unconditions" in which they lived. In 1953, after completing his graduate studies, he returned to Ramallah where he joined the staff of what was then the Bir Zeit college. This was where he was to spend the next four decades of his life. "We were just a junior college at that time, so we announced in the papers that we would be expanding very shortly. We got a visit from the military governor who asked us what we were doing. 'We're just expanding, it's quite normal', we replied. 'You must have a permit', he said. We didn't want to apply for the permit. In the end, we just informed them that we had started expanding. Then they wanted us to renew the permit annually, which we refused to do. We told them we were not a liquor store. University students were coming here on a long-term basis, not just for one year, and they didn't expect to be thrown out suddenly in the middle of their studies because the licence had not been renewed. After four years of expansion, we just wrote to the military governor, saying we considered ourselves to have permanent authorisation. We had buildings made of stone and our programmes lasted for four years. We never received a reply." In 1974, Bir Zeit University president, Hanna Nasir, was deported. By then, Gaby was already acting president, a position which he was to occupy for the next three decades. "I refused to be called president. I kept the name of acting president for political reasons." Bir Zeit University was already perceived as the main centre of Palestinian nationalism and anti-Israeli resistance. "They always portrayed us negatively on the radio and TV. They would always say to us, 'Your centre reflects an anti-Israeli sentiment in the West Bank'. 'You mean there are centres in the West Bank that are pro-Israeli?' I would reply. You see, we wanted to develop education for Palestinians. We didn't want even to think about Israel, we wanted to think only of our own people." But despite everything, there is no spite in Gaby's voice. What he wants, he says plainly - educated leaders for his community, who do not see themselves as the Israelis' inferiors, but as their equals. "We told them we do not want our people to continue to be cutters of wood and carriers of water. The Israelis, of course, hated us because we did not submit to their orders. We had many confrontations with them. Students would demonstrate, the army would come and surround the university. Stones and gas would be thrown. One time, people rushed to tell me one of our students had been shot. We were not allowed to take him to hospital and he was left to bleed to death at an army post. He could have been saved." Gaby's life has been a constant struggle against an almost overwhelming sense of powerlessness. Despite his efforts to keep his immediate and extended family united in


his homeland, he met with one disappointment after another. His three children have long since emigrated, although they were born in Palestine and were raised, Gaby insisted, "in the love of the land". Now, his daughter is too traumatised even to come and visit. At fourteen, she was shot in the leg by an Israeli soldier. "It has left a great scar. To this day, she won't come home. She can't cope with the sight of an Israeli soldier or with the violence on TV or anything," he laments. Now she lives in Budapest. Yet despite such odds, Gaby has fought all his life against his family's fragmentation, as they were struck by one nakba after another. "In 1948, we were dispersed all over the globe. I remember my cousin came to Beirut to visit and we would be sitting together writing letters to people in Cairo, in the States, in Amman, in Europe. We were totally scattered. It really was uprootedness. You felt you had absolutely no hold on reality. Before the nakba, we were such a tightly knit community. We never imagined the time would come when we wouldn't know where we would be." Now, his family is divided between 18 different countries stretching from Australia to South Africa and the US. The list seems endless. In 1984, for the first time ever, three generations of Baramki decided to organise a reunion. They could not meet in Palestine, of course, so they chose Cyprus. There, they were surprised to find themselves speaking eight different languages. And you talked about the nakba? Gaby smiles mischievously, "Which nakba are you talking about? There's been quite a few..." His father was not with them in Cyprus. He had died, broken-hearted, twelve years earlier. When an armistice was declared after 1948, many of the Palestinians who went back to reclaim their belongings found nothing. Yet Gaby's father kept the faith, not doubting for a moment that he would one day return to his home. "When he went back in 1953, he kept on trying continuously, but to no avail. The house had been turned into an Israeli army post. When the army left, he still wasn't allowed to set foot inside. In 1967, he appealed again, and they told him straight to his face: 'You can't have your house because you're absent'. 'But how can I be absent if I am standing here right in front of you?', he said. 'You're absent', they repeated. What they really meant was, 'You don't exist'. "We took them to court to get the house back and they told us, you will get it back when there is peace between Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians. My father died in 1972. Between 1967 and 1972, almost every day he would catch a cab to his old address. He would just stand there, gazing at it. He was not allowed to set foot inside. People would come and tell me, your father is there again. He has been standing there for ages. They used to sigh and say, 'He is like Romeo, waiting for Juliet'. He was so close and yet so far." The injustice that such families felt is almost impossible for others to understand. "They can't grasp what it means to see your own property so near and yet completely unattainable. When you are in Ramallah, you can see Jaffa and Tel Aviv, your own land, and the longing wells up in you. You want to go back to your orange groves, even just a


shack that you call your own. Our house was right on the border. You could stand on a roof on the other side and see it, and the pain would come back. You see, it had become part of you, part of what you understand yourself to be." Gaby lapsed into silence, as if his energy had faded, worn out by the memories of the past. "It is difficult to explain how suddenly you become a nobody. How suddenly you no longer have a home you can call your own, and no country to belong to. I don't think people grasp that before 1948, Palestine was predominantly Arab, and suddenly we are talking about a Palestinian state in less than 25 per cent of Palestine, and even that we cannot have now." In the years before 1948, Gaby's family, like many others, had viewed the rising tide of Jewish immigrants with a certain anxiety, until in the end, they began to boycott Jewish shops in protest. This feeling too it is difficult to convey to those who did not experience it. Imagine he says, you are living in a house. A newcomer arrives. He is homeless. You allow him to come and take a room in your house, because you feel for him. But then this person brings in many more people, and before you know it, they are deciding between them how to divide up the property. You watch in disbelief -- after all, this is your house they are sharing out. And, the next thing you know, you've been thrown out -- of your own house.

Securing Occupation: The real meaning of the Wye River Memorandum By Norman G Finkelstein Paradoxically, the fruit of Oslo will perhaps be that the Palestinian struggle for justice will "return to the source," writes Norman G Finkelstein As a formal document, the Wye River Memorandum breaks no new ground. Its stated purpose is merely to reaffirm and "facilitate implementation" of "prior agreements". Nonetheless the memorandum illuminates the process set in motion at Oslo and dispels lingering illusions. In these remarks, I will first sketch the crucial historical background, then analyse the document and, finally, consider the prospects for a just settlement. The main obstacle to the realisation of this goal was the indigenous Arab population. In his recently published quasi-official history of Israel, British historian Martin Gilbert argues that "there was a strong desire among the Labour Zionists to live together with the Arabs, and not, as many of the extremists hoped, to make them subordinate to Jewish nationalist needs, or even to drive them out of Palestine altogether." Scholarship does not sustain this claim. Labour Zionism was committed to the "building of a Jewish society by Jews alone, from foundation stone to rafter" in "all of Palestine" (Anita Shapira). Accordingly, as Zeev Sternhell shows in his important study, The Founding Myths of


Israel, "nobody fought against the Arab worker more vigorously than [Labour Zionists]; nobody preached national, economic and social segregation with more determination than the Labour movement." Faced with indigenous resistance, European conquest movements in the post-Columbus era typically resorted to the most brute force: extermination. Yet, by the early twentieth century this extreme option was no longer available. The Zionist movement thus set its sights on "population transfer" -- the euphemism for expulsion -of the indigenous population. Indeed until after World War II, international opinion acquiesced in expulsion as a means of resolving ethnic conflicts. Historian Benny Morris observes that, for the Zionist leadership, "transferring the Arabs out" was seen as the "chief means" of "assuring the stability and 'Jewishness' of the proposed Jewish state". During the 1948 War the Arab population was effectively expelled from the conquered areas of Palestine, completing the first phase of Zionist conquest. "The Wye land-for-security formula means that in return for any land, the Palestinians forfeit the right to all resistance... Nelson Mandela renounced the right to armed resistance only after the South African government acknowledged the right of the indigenous population not to a Bantustan but full human rights. The indigenous population of Palestine was forced by Israel to forfeit its right to any resistance in exchange for a Bantustan"

In the course of the June 1967 War, Israel conquered the long-coveted West Bank and Gaza (as well as the Sinai and Golan Heights). In this second phase of conquest, the Zionist leadership confronted the same dilemma as earlier in the century: it wanted the land but not the people. The options available for resolving this dilemma, however, had considerably narrowed. Not only extermination but expulsion as well was no longer politically tenable. The Zionist movement accordingly opted for encirclement: appropriating as much of the resources (especially water) and land as was feasible while confining the Arab population to native reservations. This is the essence of the Allon Plan, first formulated in July 1967 and the operative framework of the Oslo process, allowing Israel to retain roughly half the West Bank.

Israel's partial withdrawal option fell afoul, however, of the international consensus that formed after the June 1967 War for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. Embodied in UN Resolution 242, this consensus called for a full Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab land in exchange for an Arab commitment to full peace with Israel. It bears recalling that the root of Israel's enduring quarrel with the international community has been the demand not for a Palestinian state but for full, as against partial, withdrawal. Indeed, 242 made no mention at all of a Palestinian state, referring merely to a "just settlement of the refugee problem". The Allon Plan is not incompatible with a Palestinian state: what to


call the arid patches of land ceded to the Arab natives is a matter of semantics. For Israel, the crux has always been its claim to "territorial revision" (Abba Eban). After the June War, Israel called for partial withdrawal on all the Arab fronts. Egypt offered in February 1971 to sign a bilateral peace treaty if Israel fully withdrew from the Sinai. Israel refused. In the name of "security", it demanded retention of part of Sinai, Moshe Dayan famously declaring that "we prefer Sharm Al-Sheikh without peace to peace without Sharm Al-Sheikh." Once Egypt proved itself a military force to reckon with in the October 1973 War, Israel came around, agreeing at Camp David in1978 to the peace terms it rejected in 1971. A core Zionist tenet, Zeev Sternhell observes, is "never giving up a position or a territory unless one is compelled to by a superior force". Israel did continue to bargain hard at Camp David, demanding (unsuccessfully) to retain control of the oil refineries, settlements and airfields it had built in Sinai. Yet Sharm Al-Sheikh figured not at all in these intense, often bitter, negotiations. Israel abandoned Sharm AlSheikh -- its crucial "security" asset -- without even a whimper. It is an instructive lesson in the substance, or lack thereof, of Israel's "security" concerns. Confronting, in the first years of the Intifada, the compound force of Palestinian civil resistance and widespread international outrage, Israel considered the prospect of full withdrawal. But the challenge to Israeli power soon receded. As the Intifada lost momentum, a concatenation of events -- Iraq's destruction in the Gulf War, the demise of the Soviet bloc, the open alignment of the Arab regimes with the US, the PLO's precipitously declining fortunes -- convinced Arafat to cut a deal with Israel, accepting partial withdrawal in exchange for the trappings of statehood. The PLO's capitulation at Oslo did not result from political ineptitude. Uri Savir's account of the negotiations shows that the Palestinian negotiators did, at every crucial juncture in the Oslo process, raise the right objections. The problem was, they had no power. Once Arafat conceded, as he effectively did at Oslo, that the West Bank and Gaza were "disputed territories", both sides having equal title, it was inevitable that, in the ensuing battle over percentages, a 50-50 split would be held up as the legitimate "compromise". Yet Netanyahu deserves the lion's share of credit for recasting public discourse. By tenaciously claiming that Israel had title to all and Palestinians to none of the West Bank, Netanyahu turned any withdrawal into an Israeli concession. Wh could then expect Israel to "give away" more than 50 per cent of "its" land for peace? Before Netanyahu, full withdrawal in exchange for full peace was the legitimate compromise, Labour's partial withdrawal the illegitimate one; after Netanyahu, partial withdrawal in exchange for full peace became the legitimate compromise, zero withdrawal the illegitimate one. Redefining the poles of debate with his pugnacious theatrics, Netanyahu has effectively legitimised the Labour Party's rejectionist stance, in the process also managing to "lower," as he put it, "the level of Palestinian expectations". Apart from "extremists", no one any longer speaks about full withdrawal. Indeed, the call for full withdrawal is now equated with the call for zero withdrawal, as pundits condemn the "extremists on both sides".


THE WYE MEMORANDUM is basically divided into two parts, "Further Redeployments" and "Security". (A third section takes up miscellaneous "Other Issues".) Bits and pieces comprising some 40 per cent of the West Bank are to come under "full" (Area A) or "partial" (Area B) Palestinian jurisdiction before final-status negotiations begin. According to Savir, Rabin was prepared to relinquish "roughly 50 per cent" on the eve of final-status negotiations. The putative ideological rift between Labour and Likud aounts to perhaps 10 per cent of the West Bank. Indeed, the various final-status maps of the Likud all fall within the parameters of Labour's Allon Plan, retaining for Israel roughly half the West Bank. For those who care to hear the truth, the Israeli press has been reporting for years that "there's almost no difference between Netanyahu's and Peres's concepts of the permanent agreement," indeed, "Sharon and Peres are not far from each other in their perception of the permanent settlement." This pragmatic convergence between Labour and Likud points up, incidentally, that partial withdrawal was the maximum Israel could have hoped for at Oslo. Israel did not effect a "historical compromise" with the Palestinians; only with reality. Technically, Wye marks a regression from "prior agreements". At bare minimum the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip (hereafter: Interim Agreement) stipulated a "complete redeployment of Israeli military forces from Area B" before final-status negotiations (Article XIII), placing 30 per cent of the West Bank in Area A. The memorandum, however, puts only 18 per cent of the West Bank in Area A. Yet, this quibbling over percentages is ultimately beside the point. The "Palestinian Authority" exercises no substantive authority anywhere in the West Bank -except as Israel's surrogate. The "security" provisions of the Wye Memorandum make this abundantly clear. The security section of Wye initially observes that "both sides recognise that it is in their vital interests to combat terrorism and fight violence." Yet to implement this protocol, Wye specifies an action plan only for the Palestinian side: "The Palestinian side will make known its policy for zero tolerance for terror and violence... A work plan developed by the Palestinian side will be shared with the US... to ensure the systematic and effective combat of terrorist organisations... In addition to thebilateral Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation, a US-Palestinian committee will... review the steps being taken to eliminate terrorist cells... In addition to the bilateral Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation, a highranking US-Palestinian-Israeli committee will...address the steps being taken to combat terror and terrorist organisations," and on and on. One would never suspect from this document that, according to the Israeli human rights organisation, B'Tselem, many more Palestinians have been killed by Israelis than Israelis by Palestinians since the onset of the Oslo process (356 Palestinians as against 251 Israelis through October 1998). The "vast majority" of killings by Israel, according to Amnesty International, were "unlawful". Wye also repeatedly emphasises Palestinian responsibility for the vigorous "investigation, prosecution and punishment" of "terrorist suspects". Yet according to Amnesty, "there continues to be almost total impunity for unlawful killings of Palestinians" by Israel: "Investigations are inadequate. The officers responsible rarely


appear before an inquiry; if they do so they are rarely punished; if they are punished the sanction is trivial in relation to the loss of life." To illustrate this last point, Amnesty cites the case of four soldiers convicted of killing a Palestinian motorist: "The court fined each soldier one agora, equivalent to about US$0.03." The Wye Memorandum reeks of the rancid Israeli (and American) discourse on terrorism. Terrorism is a self-generating force. It originates in the "terror support structure", "terrorists and their structure", "terrorist organisations and their infrastructure", "terrorist cells and the support structure that plans, finances, and supplies and abets terror", "organisations (or wings of organisations...) of a military, terrorist, or violent character", and -- lest we forget -- the "external support for terror". Detached from its Israeli environment, Palestinian terrorism is always the cause but never the effect of evil: assaulting Israeli innocents, it is by definition unrelated to Israel's brutal rule. Thus, to understand terrorism, it is irrelevant that, since the Oslo Accord, more than 600 Palestinian homes have been demolished and 140,000 dunums of Palestinian land confiscated. It is also irrelevant that, due primarily to Israel's illegal imposition of closure on the eve of Oslo, the Palestinian standard of living has fallen by nearly 40 per cent, with fully 30 per cent of the work force unemployed and fully 40 per cent of the population living at or below the poverty line. Given that terrorism is an implacable negative force, the only means to combat it is an implacable positive force: repression. And in this Manichaean struggle between good and evil, the more repression the better: any restraints will impede the struggle. Accordingly the Wye Memorandum gives short shrift to human rights concerns, despatching them in one sentence: "Without derogating from the above, the Palestinian Police will... implement this Memorandum with due regard to internationally accepted norms f human rights and the rule of law..." Presumably on account of its exemplary human rights record, Israel is not called upon to do even this much. Indeed, the record does impress. According to Amnesty, even after Oslo, Israel continued to engage in "mass arrests of Palestinians"; place "thousands of Palestinians" under administrative detention without charges or trial, sometimes for "years on end" ("many may have been prisoners of conscience"); "use torture systematically on Palestinian political suspects... Its use was effectively legal, an internationally unprecedented state of affairs" ("this legalisation of torture has, over the past five years, if anything, become a more entrenched part of the system in which Palestinian detainees find themselves"); resort to "brutality, amounting to torture or ill-treatment...at checkpoints"; and conduct "unfair trials... Convictions are almost invariably based exclusively on the accused's confession, usually extracted by the use of torture and ill-treatment." The Palestinian Authority's "deplorable" human rights record has been extensively documented. Without extenuating PA culpability, it bears recalling that Israel recruited Arafat precisely in order to facilitate repression. Thus Rabin boasted that the PA would quell Palestinian resistance "without problems caused by appeals to the High Court of Justice, without problems made by [the human rights organisation] B'Tselem, and without problems from all sorts of bleeding hearts and mothers and fathers." Truth be


told, "Palestinian Authority" is a misnomer. Apart from what Israel and the US authorise it to do, the PA exercises no authority whatsoever: in all respects it is beholden to them. The Oslo process marked, in Meron Benvenisti's phrase, the continuation of "occupation...albeit by remote control". In exchange for the perquisites of collaboration, the PA must ruthlessly crush all opposition to continued Israeli occupation. Human Rights Watch observes that "the role of Israel, the US and the international community in influencing the conduct of the PA should not be underestimated... External demands that the PA halt anti-Israel violence have been made in terms that condone a disregard for the human rights of Palestinians. Such pressure is highly potent, due in part to the situation of extreme political and economic dependency in which the self-rule entity exists." It goes on to recall that "the Netanyahu government...conditioned the easing of the closure of the West Bank and Gaza on a halt in prisoner releases by the PA"; that "the Clinton administration demanded that Arafat act more decisively to prevent anti-Israel violence, but made no reference to the need for due process, even as...massive, arbitrary round-ups were taking place"; that "as President Arafat cracked down on the opposition, particularly Islamist groups, by carrying out arbitrary arrests, detaining people without charge, and practicing torture, Israel and the US praised the crackdown while remaining largely silent on the facts"; and that "despite clear evidence of the systematically unfair practices of the state security courts, neither Vice-President Al Gore nor any other US official has publicly retracted the praise for their creation that Gore offered." The single most egregious Palestinian violation of Oslo is the size of its police force, which "well exceeds" (Human Rights Watch) the already extraordinary 30,000 figure allowed for in the Interim Agreement (Annex I, Article IV). Revealingly, Israel hasn't exerted any real pressure on Arafat to correct this. Indeed, already thinking ahead in the 1978 Camp David Accords, Israeli negotiators stipulated that the "self-governing authority" in the West Bank and Gaza should constitute a "strong police force"to assure Israel's "security" (Framework, paragraph A2). The same ominous phrase stipulating a "strong police force" reappears in the September 1993 Declaration of Principles (Article VIII), the May 1994 Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area (Article VIII), and twice in the Interim Agreement (Articles XII, XIV). The Wye Memorandum only calls on the "Palestinian side" to "provide a list of its policemen to Israeli side". So long as Israel can monitor in which direction the rifles are pointed, themore police, the better - especially as Palestinian illusions are dispelled and resistance mounts. The Wye "landfor-security" formula means, incidentally, that in return for any land, the Palestinians forfeit the right to all resistance, including the basically non-violent civil disobedience characterizing the first years of the Intifada, condemned by Israel and the US as "terrorist acts". Nelson Mandela renounced the right to armed resistance only after the South African government acknowledged the right of the indigenous population not to a Bantustan but full human rights. The indigenous population of Palestine was forced by Israel to forfeit its right to any resistance in exchange for a Bantustan.


PROSPECTS: Like the South African Bantustans, the fragmented Palestinian entity resulting from the Oslo process will no doubt eventually be granted statehood. And like the Bantustans, it will be a state in name only. Recall that the viability of a Palestinian state resulting from full Israeli withdrawal was never at all certain; much intellectual energy was expended to conquer these doubts. What then is one to make of a Palestinian state resulting from a partial Israeli withdrawal? Israel is now "resigned" to the prospect of an independent Palestinian state because it won't be one. Recall further that, for Bantustan critics, the issue was not only viability but equity: whites engineered a grossly inequitable division of South Africa's resources, keeping for themselves everything worth keeping. All the Bantustans won was the right -- in the words of one dissenter -- to "police themselves and administer their own poverty". This is also the only right Palestinians can expect to win under Oslo. The purpose of the protracted "transitional" period in the Oslo process is not to build "trust" between Israel and Palestine but rather to structurally consolidate Israel's domination over Palestine. In addition to settlement and road-building, this entails coopting Palestinian elites, refining "security collaboration", etc. The main alleged threat to Israeli security in June 1967 was not the West Bank but the Egyptian Sinai. In October 1973 Egypt launched a surprise attack, seeming to threaten Israel'sexistence and costing 2000 to 3000 Israeli lives (many times, incidentally, the total victims of Palestinian "terrorism"). Nonetheless once Israel decided on full withdrawal, trust somehow proved not at all an obstacle: a mere three years elapsed between Camp David and Israel's total pull-out from the Sinai. Yet the Oslo process is already in its fifth year with no end to the purported "trust-building" process in sight. The Camp David Accord and subsequent Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty combined came to less than a dozen pages. The IsraeliPalestinian Interim Agreement alone runs to hundreds of pages. Israel is not ending the occupation; it is dotting all the i's and crossing all the t's to secure it. Arafat must eventually choose between two equally bad alternatives. He may unilaterally declare an independent Palestinian state over 40 per cent of the West Bank, blustering, as the Bantustan leaders did, that this is "only the first stage". In fact, the main lesson of the South African experience was that emancipation was achieved despite and around, not through, the Bantustans: indeed the Bantustans impeded the struggle for justice. Declaring Oslo dead, Israel will then unilaterally annex the rest ofthe West Bank. The more Netanyahu postures indignation at the prospect of a unilateral Palestinian declaration, the better his pretext, if and when Arafat does so, to annex half the West Bank. Totally dependent, Palestinian elites will continue to do Israel's bidding, repressing dissent while enjoying the perquisites of collaboration. Pundits will no doubt wax eloquent over the "irony of history": although the "peace process" died, each side got what it wanted -- the Palestinians a "state" and Israel "secure borders." Enticed by a slightly larger Israeli withdrawal and an enlarged American "aid" package, Arafat may alternatively enter into a final settlement with Israel. Israel will then get an official deed to nearly all of Palestine: it would be the jewel in the crown of Zionist diplomacy. "At its heart," historian Martin Gilbert writes, "Zionism had striven for a hundred years for the recognition of its legitimacy by the Palestinians." Indeed, for all its


flouting of international law and contempt for "Goyim" opinon, Israel has always sought official imprimaturs of its proprietary right to Palestine. The Balfour Declaration and especially the 1947 UN Partition Resolution (181) loom large in Zionist histories. Property may be, as Proudhon memorably put it, theft, but it is also theft invested with the power of legitimacy. Hence Netanyahu's insistence at and since Wye that the Palestine National Council officially, democratically and without any ambiguity annul the Charter. For the longest time Israel exploited the Charter to discredit the Palestinian leadership: it "served as a gold mine of raw material" for "Israel's propaganda". Now that this same Palestinian leadership stands poised to collaborate, Israel wants all the official documents to be fully in order. Not a scratch of doubt must remain that Palestine belongs "by right" not at all to the indigenous population but only to the Jews. The Oslo process cannot produce a permanent settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict. The population between the Mediterranean and the Jordan will soon be half IsraeliJewish, half Palestinian-Arab. Lincoln long ago understood that a state of affairs in which the population is half free, half enslaved cannot forever endure. Israel no doubt also knows this. Edward Said rightly observes that Zionism's successes owe much to its pragmatic discipline of detail ("another dunum, another goat"). Yet ultimatey, Zionism has always depended on the "miracle" to break free from an impasse. Indeed, it harnessed the discipline of detail to make the "miracle" possible. The intractable Arab "demographic problem" was resolved in 1948 by the "miraculous clearing of the land" (Chaim Weizmann). The loss of Zionist ĂŠlan in the early 1960s was restored by the "miracle" of the June War. The resurgent Arab "demographic problem" in the 1970s was overcome by the "miracle" of Russian Jewry. Israel no doubt hopes for yet another "miracle" to resolve the conflicts inherent in the Oslo process. An Oslo settlement between Israel and Arafat would command international legitimacy. If Palestinians continue to resist, Israel may engineer -- alas, with impunity -- another "miraculous clearing of the land". Barring a "miracle", the inevitable if very distant future is one in which Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews, enjoying reciprocal individual and communal rights, coexist within a unitary entity. Yet, just as the centre of gravity of the Palestinian struggle shifted from southern Lebanon to the Occupied Territories after the defeat suffered in June 1982, so the centre of gravity of the Palestinian struggle may shift again from the West Bank and Gaza to Israel following the defeat suffered at Oslo. Only the Israeli Palestinians now have a clear goal -- full individual and communal rights -- and a leadership able to articulate it. Paradoxically, the fruit of Oslo will perhaps be that the Palestinian struggle for justice will -- in Amilcar Cabral's phrase -- "return to the source". * The writer is the author of The Rise and Fall of Palestine, Minnesota, 1996.

A right to return Palestinian refugees in Lebanon continue to suffer twice: for their expulsion from their homeland, and from the inhuman conditions in which they live. In this


anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Rosemary Sayigh* argues, we must challenge Israel's absolute refusal to repatriate the Palestinian diaspora -- the condition on which it was admitted to the UN 50 years ago One of the gravest consequences of the Oslo Accords was that the refugee issue, hitherto a central element of the Palestinian struggle, was swept under the carpet. Oslo not only de-prioritised the ref-gees, it gave space to the Israelis to consolidate their policy of total negation of refugee return. By making refugee settlement outside Palestine the most likely eventuality, Oslo put pressure on the Lebanese state to pre-empt such an outcome through policies aimed to reduce its Palestinian ref-gee population. Two key factors buttress this pol-cy: first, it does not arouse Syrian opposition; sec-nd, it enjoys considerable internal support. Towteen is the Arabic term used with equal hostil-ty by Palestinians and Lebanese to refer to the per-anent settlement of the refugees in Lebanon. The current situation threatens Palestinians everywhere, but for those in Lebanon it has a malign specificity unique to this diaspora region. While Israel cat-gorically refuses their repatriation, the Lebanese state and major political forces refuse not only tow-een but also any amelioration of their conditions, the primordial demand being civic rights. Their fu-ure is thus clouded by threats of transfer, while their present is deformed by an unyielding politics of marginalisation. Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are the second largest community in the Arab diaspora after those in Jordan, numbering today around 350,000, or 5.7 per cent of the total Palestinian population. Most of them come from the villages of Galilee, with a smaller number from the coastal cities -- areas that have been, and remain, the object of intensive Israe-i 'Judaisation' policies. The origins of this com-unity, its size and proximity to Palestine/Israel, its history as one of the backbones of the post-1948 re-istance movement, ensure that Israel will oppose even a 'symbolic' return of the kind some Palestinians have proposed as a compromise solution. Though at the popular level, Lebanese anti-Palestinianism -- always the product of sectarian mobilisation -- has somewhat abated since the 1980s, support for the refugee community is limited to individual politicians, Arab nationalists, pro-ressives and segments of the intellectual and stu-ent strata. Though I focus in this article on the harsh conditions of the Palestinians in Lebanon, I want to em-hasise at the outset that to blame Lebanon alone would be to ignore history, and the international and regional imbalance of forces that created the Palestinian diaspora, and keeps it in place. The Leb-nese resent international pressures on them to acommodate the refugees, given that Lebanon did not create the refugee problem, and that the international community has repeatedly failed to support Lebanon against Israeli attack. Lebanon's argument that it should not be forced to pay the price of Palestinian expulsion from Israel is as valid as the Pal-stinians' insistence that they should not be forced to pay the price of European persecution of the Jews.


LEBANON AS ENVIROMENT: One fundamental point that is often ignored in discussions of the Pal-stinians in Lebanon is the absence of reliable and accurate information about the refugee community. There are not even any accurate figures for its total size. This lack of even the most basic data has se-ious consequences. For instance, no one knows the number of Palestinians registered in Lebanon who live elsewhere, nor where they are, or what is their status in their countries of refuge or labour. It is not known for sure how many Palestinian emigrants have been removed from the list of those with res-dency rights in Lebanon, nor the number of those stranded abroad, without papers enabling them to return to Lebanon, and without citizenship in the country where they currently reside. One negative political consequence of the lack of exact statistics is that it allows some Lebanese to exaggerate the burden of the Palestinian presence. Further, no accurate figures can be given for any of the social problems that beset a marginal com-unity, whether in the field of employment, health, education, housing or deviance.

"Beirut had been the capital of a magnificent revolution that had resembled a firework display, a blaze that leapt from bank to bank, from opera house to opera house, from the prisons to the courthouses. [...] [Those who died in the massacres of 1982] died with their eyes wide open, knowing the terror of having seen every created thing, men, chairs, stars, suns, phalangists, shake, seize up, go to pieces. [...] The dying saw, felt, knew that their death was the death of the world"

Formal exclusion and threats of transfer: One basic element of the Ta'if Accords of 1989 was the exclusion of the Palestinians from Lebanese political life, including a formal veto on towteen.. A crucial point here is that Jean Genet Lebanon's refusal of towteen includes measures that could be construed as leading towards it. From a Lebanese statist perspective, granting the Palestinians civic rights would be an encouragement to them to remain. A mesh of pol-cies designed to pressure Palestinians to emigrate follows logically from Lebanese expectations of a regional settlement imposing towteen regardless of host and refugee wishes.

Lack of collective representation : The PLO's office in Beirut was closed by the Lebanese Army in September 1982 and has remained closed ever since. After Ta'if, in the context of 'pacification', a committee of Lebanese/Palestinian dialogue was formed, but after a single meeting it was suspended on the pretext that the Madrid Conference would soon produce a regional settlement, and has never resumed. The Palestinian National Authority


does not represent the refugees even though, as head of the PLO, President Arafat continues to control the PLO apparatus, including the Directorate of Refugee Affairs. The resistance groups that still exist in Lebanon are tolerated, but the government does not recognise them as representing the community. In this vacuum, informal national groupings have evolved, but such plurality does nothing to meet the need of ordinary Palestinians for a marja' (official representation). Lack of civic rights: The civic rights of Pal-stinians in Lebanon should be guaranteed by the international law covering refugees and by Arab League resolutions, for example the Casablanca Protocol of 1965. But in the early 1960s Lebanese laws were introduced designating Palestinian refugees as a particular category of 'foreigner', and tightening regulations governing their employment. Palestinians were thus excluded from practising all professions that require membership in a syndicate (e.g. medicine, law, engineering, pharmacy). They are also barred from all public sector employment, as well as important sectors of the formal economy such as transport, banking, tourism and major for-ign institutions. (UNRWA is the only institution permitted to employ a majority of Palestinians.) Further, every new minister of labour has the right to add to the number of job categories forbidden to non-Lebanese, so that the list has twice been length-ned since 1982. As foreigners, Palestinians must apply for work permits for any kind of job except daily paid manual labour. Work permits are not is-ued automatically, and have often been used as a means of political pressure. The absence of a code governing Palestinian rights and obligations allows particular govern-ents and ministers to issue decrees changing regu-ations, thus creating an atmosphere of instability that exacerbates basic rightlessness. Numerous in-tances of such arbitrary changes could be cited in addition to the extension of the number of excluded jobs mentioned above -- for instance, the changes in travel and visa regulations in 1995, in the wake of Gaddafi's threats to expel Palestinians from Lib-a. Like other foreigners, Palestinians are denied the right to form unions or associations or publish newspapers. Non-profit institutions such as NGOs may apply for licences, but they should have a ma-ority of Lebanese at every level -- governing board, executive committee and general assembly. Insecurity of residence rights: All Palestinians registered with UNRWA are recognised as having residence rights in Lebanon but, as the threat of towteen has been brought closer by Madrid and Oslo, the authorities have moved to make refugee residency rights less secure. Palestinians who live abroad have been impeded from returning; others known to have acquired a second passport have had their residence rights cancelled. But the main means by which residence rights have been 'insecuritised' has been the squeeze on camp living space. While unemployment and insecurity force a high proportion of Palestinians to live in camps, and while there are still an estimated 4,000 war-displaced Palestinian families, the authorities have enforced limits on camp-space, building and amen-ties. The reconstruction of camps destroyed by war has been vetoed as well as the establishment of


new camps. Building inside existing camps -- whether by UNRWA or individuals -- has been blocked. In addition, several camps are threatened with com-lete or partial demolition. Overcrowding and poor infrastructure -- polluted drinking water, lack of public electricity, sewage-seepage -- are all a form of pressure towards emigration. Restriction on movement: Legal constraints on employment have always forced Palestinians in Lebanon to seek work abroad. Travel documents are normally issued to them by the General Security department of the Ministry of Interior, but applica-ions have never been processed automatically, and since 1982 delays and costs have tended to in-rease. Often Palestinians abroad have been refused renewal of their travel documents by Lebanese em-assies, but if they try to return to Lebanon with out-of-date documents they are refused entry. Cur-ently an estimated 100,000 Palestinians are stuck abroad as a result of the latest visa requirements, in-tituted in 1995. According to the new regulations, Palestinians desiring to travel have to obtain an exit and re-entry visa, which must be renewed every six months, and costs from LL50,000 to LL100,000 (LE114 to 228) depending on duration. Systematic impoverishment: As a consequence of these stringent labour laws, Palestinian un-mployment has always been higher in Lebanon than in other host countries. Estimates vary, but a recent study estimates that 95 per cent of the Pal-stinian workforce is either unemployed or under-mployed. All but a small minority who work in UNRWA or with local NGOs are excluded from professional and skilled technical employment. Most available work is in the informal sector: petty commerce in camps, street vending, selfemployment in building trades, or occasional, daily-paid, manual labour in agriculture or construction. Such conditions have lowered the overall income of the community and increased the number of 'hard-hip cases' -- households that depend wholly or partly on aid. The decline in all sources of external aid must also be factored into this picture. These sources include: a) UNRWA, against the decline in whose services the refugees have demonstrated repeatedly; b) the PLO, once the largest employer as well as source of services, subsidies and indemnities: by mid-1994, even pensions to martyrs' families had ceased; c) other UN agencies, national and international NGOs which, since the Oslo Accords, have tended to prioritise Gaza and the West Bank at the expense of the refugees 'outside'; d) migrant remittances: always critical to refugee survival, these have been reduced by the expulsions from Kuwait, Libya, etc., and by the closure of most countries which previously allowed Pal-stinian immigration. Social problems: Most people say that of all the social problems generated by poverty, the most se-ious is ill health combined with deficiency of health care. Though UNRWA


and some other NGOs provide clinic-based health care, refugees who need hospital treatment are face with the high cost of private Lebanese hospitals, the decline in UNRWA's subsidies for hospitalisation, exclusion from government hospitals and reduced levels of Palestinian Red Crescent hospital efficiency. Health is also affected by stress, poor housing and poverty. Doctors who work in Palestinian communities say that signs of malnutrition are appearing among Pal-stinian children. A recent study of Palestinian health problems found the three perceived as being the most important were the reduction in UNRWA health services, the lack of a health insurance sys-em for Palestinians and the lack of specialised and qualified medical staff. Ordinary people talk about the health crisis, but for community activists the education crisis has more serious long-term implications. This matter is interpreted both as a clear signal of decline and as a threat to the future. Among the main symptoms of this crisis are the following: i) A decreasing percentage of children of school age are in school, especially at postprimary levels. The exact dimensions of the shortfall are unknown, because of uncertainty as to the exact size of the school-age population, but UNRWA's educational statistics show that twice as many Palestinian chil-ren attend school in Syria, though Syria has a smaller refugee population than Lebanon. ii) Decline in student ability: Whereas the success rate of UNRWA school children in public examinations used to be higher than that in Lebanese public schools, today it is lower. Some of the reasons given are overcrowded classes, the double shift in UNRWA schools, and a lower level of teacher training. Parents blame teachers, teachers blame parents. iii) Restricted provision of secondary and tertiary level education, and even more of technical training: UNRWA has one professional training institution in Lebanon, but each year it can admit only about one in three of those who apply. Government institutions are closed to Palestinians, and private sector institutions are financially out of reach. iv) Another symptom of educational decline is that whereas before 1982 the illiteracy rate was in sharp decline, today illiteracy has reappeared in the young adult population. Undoubtedly the most serious cause of the educational crisis is unemployment levels that negate the value of all skills except the least developed. Education no longer leads to salaried work. Put differently, the education offered to Palestinians in Lebanon has not been adapted to an employment situation totally unlike that of earlier decades. Such conditions naturally generate many kinds of social and psychological problem, including breakdown of family relations, domestic violence, aggressivity, drugs, suicide and theft. Indeed, many Palestinians believe that the authorities' intention in creating this ensemble of conditions is to criminalise the refugee population. This would erode what is left of Lebanese support, as well as the self-respect that has sustained the Palestinian community through the ordeals of its history.


VITAL SIGN: 'Palestinian' NGOs are evidence of the continuing vitality and social concern of the Pal-stinian community in Lebanon. There were only five such organisations in the days when the PLO provided an embryonic 'welfare state' (19701982). Today, there are more than 17, clear evidence of the need for them. To be legal, 'Palestinian' NGOs have to register under Lebanese law and conform to its regulations, which include Lebanese majorities on governing boards and executive committees. In 1994 a 'Coordinating Forum' composed of the ma-or 'Palestinian' NGOs was formed, with special-sed joint subcommittees, which meets regularly and coordinates with Lebanese and Arab NGOs. Their main action areas are: pre-school education; technical and commercial training; health; re-abilitation of the handicapped; social aid and care of orphans; and 'cultural heritage'. Children have always been the prime inspiration of local NGO work, and in the last decade this work has di-ersified and taken on new dimensions. Formidable obstacles face the 'Palestinian' NGOs in Lebanon, primarily the strength of the political/legal framework that creates community poverty, but also their own insecurity. This was underlined in July 1996 when one of them was closed by cab-net decree just after receiving a European Community grant to set up technical training workshops. Local NGOs also suffer from budget insecurity and dependence on donor agencies whose policies are not fully understood, and which exert a disproportionate influence because of the scarcity of alternative sources. Given this framework, it is difficult for them to create an overall development strategy, expand their programmes, retarget their services or democratise their structures. Yet compared with the NGOs of the West Bank and Gaza, they seem closer to the communities they serve. Historically they have formed a vehicle for camp Palestinians to professionalise themselves while doing 'national work' -- as kindergarten teachers, lit-racy instructors, social workers, administrators, technical instructors, and most recently researchers. WHY NOT RETURN? The international community cannot continue blaming the Lebanese for Palestinian refugee misery, and trying to coerce the weak into yielding to the 'solutions' of the strong. Israel's absolute refusal to repatriate the refugees, now taken as the starting point for all 'realistic' discussion, needs to be questioned and challenged. Israel has justified this refusal through the following arguments: i) Historic persecution of the Jewish people, their need for a refuge; ii) Palestinian and Arab responsibility for the flight of Palestinians in 1948; iii) Unfeasibility, lack of living space; and iv) National security. These arguments are either demonstrably false (ii, iii); or they are cases of special pleading that need to be weighed in the balance against the possibility of real peace in the Middle East. Underlying Israel's refusal to repatriate the ref-gees lies the rock of US support. In the short run, Israel's position is immovable because of US power -- in the UN, in the Middle East and in the world. We know that Israel will continue to use the security argument to block Palestinian return, and we know equally that the security argument will be supported by those who want an Israel able to control and out-gun the Arab world. It was ironic to hear Secretary of State Madeleine Albright recently calling for the return of the Bosnian refugees to Bosnia. Why should the Bosnians return and not the Palestinians?


Palestinian claims are supported by UN resolutions, international law on refugees and by laws on indigenous peoples' rights to land from which they have been displaced by force. Democratic principle supports the refugees' right to choose where to live. Ordinary property law -- which Americans claim to hold sacred -- also supports Palestinian rights to return. Many people concede the justice of Palestinian refugee claims, but describe them as 'unrealistic'. Those who refuse to consider repatriation as a solution should take note of a recent report in the Israeli press that over 27 per cent of Russian immigrants are not Jewish, making the continued exclusion of Palestinians even more indefensible. The argument that Palestinian return is unfeasible because the space they occupied is no longer available, or has been changed beyond recognition, also needs to be reconsidered in the light of continuing links of refugees with their original homes, and also of the relative distributions of Jews and Palestinians in Israel. A recent study shows that, up to now, most Jews (78 per cent) are concentrated in 15 per cent of Israeli territory, in predominantly urban areas, while 75 per cent of the land -- including those areas from which the refugees originated -- has remained sparsely populated, with relatively few Jewish residents. "Surprising as it may be, Palestinian land is still largely empty. It is currently controlled by 154,000 rural Jews". In Gaza, population density is 4,400 persons per square mile compared with 82 per square mile in 85 per cent of Israel. If refugees from Lebanon and Gaza returned to their land, the pop-lation to land ratio in Israel would be minimally raised. Now that the Oslo illusion of an imminent re-ional settlement has gone up in smoke, we are both forced and have the time to imagine another future, other actions. One way this time can be used is to re-tore the international Palestine solidarity movement to the level it had reached before Oslo. What better starting point than to attack the exclusivist nature of Israel's immigration laws? And to raise again Palestinian refugee rights, and the dependence of real peace in the Middle East on justice. In the long run, Israel has to choose between being a state only for Jews and being a democracy. We need to remember, and to remind America, that Israel's admission to the UN was made condi-ional on accepting the return of the refugees. In this year of celebration of the Declaration of Human Rights, we need to remember, and remind America, that the foremost violator of human rights in the world today is Israel. And we need to take courage from the internal opposition that increasingly chal-enges the American government's policy in the Middle East. * Rosemary Sayigh is the author of Palestinians: From Peasants to Revolutionaries, 1979; and Too Many Enemies: The Palestinian Experience in Lebanon, 1994. This article is a shortened version of a lecture given in Denmark this summer. United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

The plight continues


Continuing Exodus: 1968 They have just arrived in east Jordan, crossing the temporary bridge, near to the newly destroyed Allenby Bridge, from the Israeli-Occupied West Bank. Despite military action in the Jordan valley, there was a continuing exodus of Palestinians, from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, that numbered between two and four thousand a month from the autumn of 1967 until the early summer of 1968. The distances on the signboard, partially obscured, read "JERICHO 8 Km JERSLM 43 Km" Photo by George Nemeh


Rations in the Desert In the early 1950s, UNRWA used to deliver rations to Palestine refugees in remote areas of Jordan. Every three months, UNRWA convoys would drive out into the desert as here near Shobak. Refugees would come five miles from their homes to meet the convoy at an appointed bend on the road heading to Aqaba.


From 1948 until 1967, the Gaza Strip was administered by Egypt. The residence there were linked with the outside world by one narrow road through the 200 miles of Sinai desert to Cairo. Another exit was the Mediterranean Sea. Both links were cut off by the 1967 war. This photo shows Palestinians leaving the Gaza Strip on small fishing boats.


FOR PALESTINE REFUGEES Since the first days of the exodus of Arab refugees, people found shelter in the different convents around Bethlehem. In the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Convent, hard on the walls of the Church of the Nativity itself at one time 200 persons took refuge. Today still 15 families remain. Here in the Convent refectory is the home of Armin Seferian (43), standing between his wife and children, is a refugee for the second time in his life, having narrowly escaped a massacre by the Turks when he was twelve years old. After many wanderings, he managed to set up his own tailoring business in Jerusalem. Today he is a refugee again; for his shop lies in the side of Jerusalem today in Israel. Now he finds occasional work for which he earns very little. For eight years his family has been living in the Convent. Only at Christmas time, when the refectory is used each year as a dining room, must they carry out all their belongings into a vault below. On all festive occasions Armin's wife becomes the Convent cook, for which she is paid $ 10 a month.


Israeli Raids Bring Destruction to Refugee Camps in South Lebanon Nabatiah, Ein el-Hilweh, Burj el-Shemali and Rashidieh are Palestine refugee camps in south Lebanon for refugees who left their homes as a result of the first Arab-Israeli hostilities in 1948. In May and June of 1974, many of the 50,000 inhabitants of these four camps fled in terror as their shelters were turned to rubble during a series of Israeli air and sea attacks on south Lebanon in which 43 registered refugees were killed and 101 were injured. An estimated 1,500 shelters and refugee-built extensions were completely destroyed, as well as several UNRWA installations including a school. In Nabatieh alone, 80% of the concrete block shelters erected by UNRWA in which more than 3,000 refugees had been living, were hit. This refugee, a resident of Burj al-Shemali, lost his one-room shelter. UNRWA immediately issued blankets and dry rations to the homeless refugees who took shelter in nearby mosques and schools. The Agency also provided an emergency feedin programme and a mobile medical unit for the people of the area. Reconstruction and repair of damage to refugee shelters in Rashidieh, Ein el-Hilweh and Burj el-Shemali has been carried out on a self-help basis with the Agency providing building materials. But fearful of continuing raids on their camps, none of the residents of Nabatieh and less than half of those of Rashidieh have returned to their "homes".


Photo by Jack Madvo

Dheisheh camp (pop. 8,600), West Bank, is one of 59 camps established in the wake of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war to accommodate the thousands of Palestinians in their exodus from Palestine. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was established in May 1950 to care for these refugees until such time as a permanent solution could be found. However, almost half a century later UNRWA is still providing the Palestine refugees, now numbering 3.2 million, with education, health, and relief and social services. Photo by Myrtle Winter-Chaumeny


Aqabat Jabr refugee camp: Jericho, West Bank Every morning and evening these women go to fetch water from Elisha's fountain for their families who live in the Palestine refugee camp at Aqabat Jabr, which lies in the shadow of the near Jericho. Displaced from their homes in Palestine in 1948, a large number of refugees stayed here in the Jordan valley because there are many springs to provide them with that precious commodity - water. Elisha's fountain provides water for this camp, as it did for the ancient city of Jericho more than 6,000 years ago. As a result to the 1968 Arab-Israeli war only 2,273 persons put of 52,000 remain in the three camps in Jericho area, most of them concentrated in Aqabat Jabr. The others once


again fled, across the Jordan river into east Jordan.

A Street in Qalqilya According to UNRWA's Annual Report, "In Qalqilya (near Nablus) and five other small frontier villages in the Latrun and Hebron areas, many houses were damaged or


destroyed during the fighting or were subsequently demolished. The extent of the destruction varies from rather less than half the houses in Qalqilya to virtually total destruction in some of the smaller villages".

In the early years of UNRWA, the greater part of the Agency's resources was devoted to relief services. Now it is devoted to education. The Agency and the refugees themselves regard the education as the best means to improve their conditions. Today there are 330,000 Palestine refugee children at UNRWA school system which now is threatened with closure because of lack of money. Photo by Z. Mazakian


Arab Refugees Return to West Bank of the Jordan: August 1967 In July 1967, Israel announced plans for the return of displaced Arabs to the West Bank. Half to three quarters of the 200,000 Arabs who fled to east Jordan following hostilities in June 1967 applied to return. By 1972, 40,000 Arabs were allowed back to the West Bank; but, only 3,000 of this number were UNRWA-registered refugees. Photo by Myrtle Winter



50 years of Arab dispossession