Photo: Mohammad Attawi 4/12/2017
(Image by Meals for Syrian Refugee Children: Lebanon (MSCRL)) Details DMCA
[Photo: Mohammad Attawi 4/13/2017 as another ceasefire begins in Ein al-Helwe Palestinian camp in Lebanon]
Without the right to work or the right to own a home in Lebanon, there are few hopeful signs from young Palestinians here about their future. But there are some. And one is similar to the Arab revolts of 2010--11, being a growing rebellion among camp Palestinians in Lebanon against paternalism and their growing demand for elementary civil rights. For Palestinians this means the right to work and the right to purchase a home. The younger generation of Palestinians here is increasingly turning away from the traditional Arab reverence for "strong man paternalism" whether in politics, culture, or religion. They seek a reorientation and erosion of the current autocracy by sectarianized politicians in Lebanon who many argue have been the main barrier to the achieving the elementary right to work. This rejection of the old order is unfolding against the backdrop of changes in the Palestinian population's demographics and psyche.
Whatever is the veracity of the oft repeated claim that David Ben-Gurion tried to encourage militia under his control half a century ago during the 1948 Nakba when his forces ethnically cleansed 57% of Palestine's indigenous inhabitants and his followers: "Don't worry!. The old will die and the young will forget." He was partly right. But he could not have been more wrong about today's young Palestinians forgetting their history, culture and country as the 4th generation of Palestinians here increasing demand Full Return to Palestine.
Ben-Gurion's intent was clear and his thinking is reflected in a 1937 letter to his son, wherein he wrote: "We must expel Arabs and take their place. " if we are compelled to use force -- not in order to dispossess the Arabs of the Negev or Transjordan, but in order to guarantee our right to settle there -- our force will enable us to do so."
The old have indeed died among the three quarter million Palestinians who experienced the trauma of ethnic cleansing from their homeland by Zionist gangs. Only a few thousand of the original refugees are still living, half a century after the 1948 Nakba. A two year study of survivors in Balata camp in Nablus found that among the dozens interviewed in 2003 on one in 24 were still alive in 2015.
Today's 64 Palestinian refugee camps and scores of 'gatherings' bear witnesses to these massive crimes against humanity. Fifty eight camps are registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), being 19 camps in the West Bank, eight in the Gaza Strip, ten in Jordan, and nine in Syria and 12 in Lebanon.
Three of the original 16 camps in Lebanon were destroyed and one transferred its population other camps. In 1974, the Israeli air force demolished the entire Nabatiyeh camp, displacing about three thousand of its inhabitants. In the summer of 1976, the al-Kataeb Party (Christian) Forces and their allies besieged the Tel al-Za'tar, eventually destroying it after 52 days of resistance, with three thousand of its people killed, mostly civilians, and around twenty thousand displaced anew. In September 1982, the Sabra and Shatila massacre took place at the hands of the same forces, under Israeli military cover, killing about three thousand Palestinians and Lebanese; this bloodbath became one of the most prominent testimonies to the suffering of the Palestinian people in the countries of refuge.
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