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Al Nakba: Expelled from Home and Native Land but not from History

By       Message Bahija Reghai     Permalink
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'Here on the slopes of hills, facing the dusk and the cannon of time
Close to the gardens of broken shadows,
We do what prisoners do,
And what the jobless do:
We cultivate hope'

Mahmoud Darwish

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When asked for a definition of "peace' during a CBC interview, Canadian scientist, educator and renowned activist Ursula Franklin stated: "Peace is not just the absence of war. It is the presence of justice and the absence of fear." This simple definition helps explain why there is still no peace in Palestine. The man-made Palestinian plight has been characterized by a lack of justice and driven by fear and greed, from the decision of colonialist powers to give away more than half of Palestinian land without a referendum - including the valuable coastal strip - to the ongoing immoral blockade of Gaza.

Palestinians around the world commemorate on May 15 their collective national trauma, the forced exodus from their homeland in 1948, or Al Nakba (Catastrophe) - a historic injustice inflicted on some 750,000 unarmed civilian Palestinians. As they fled in fear, their properties were seized, their religious institutions destroyed, and close to 500 of their villages demolished or emptied.

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By accepting the declaration of independence - self-proclaimed one day before the end of the British mandate - and by recognizing the state of Israel, an entity with no defined borders, the international community officially placed the fate of Palestinians at the mercy of Israel. At that point, plans "A" "B" and "C" had already been formulated, and the fourth plan "Dalet" (letter "D" in Hebrew) which called for the systematic expulsion of Palestinians from strategic areas had been finalized in March 1948.

So, before any Arab forces entered the sectors designated as Arab under the Partition Plan, Zionists including Canadian recruits (Dan Freeman-Maloy quoting David Bercuson) - carried out terrorist activities and operations within them to ethnically cleanse them of indigenous population. Many well-known terrorists are recognized as Israeli heroes, amongst them Israeli prime ministers. It is odd that Israeli leaders can't see the similarity between their reaction to the British Mandate and that of the Palestinians under occupation.

The recent Israeli wars and ongoing campaigns of terror are nothing but means to fully realize the Zionist project that Ben Gurion failed to achieve. In the words of Israeli historian Benny Morris, "If the end of the story turns out to be a gloomy one for the Jews, it will be because Ben-Gurion did not complete the transfer in 1948. Because he left a large and volatile demographic reserve in the West Bank and Gaza and within Israel itself".In certain conditions, expulsion is not a war crime. I don't think that the expulsions of 1948 were war crimes. You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. You have to dirty your hands." (Survival of the Fittest? An Interview with Benny Morris by Ari Shavit, Haaretz, Jan. 16, 2004)

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Bahija Reghai is a Canadian Human Rights activist and a former president of the National COuncil on Canada-Arab Relations (NCCAR).

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