Many of you are here in this country, especially those who came after 1948, 1967 or 1990, because you are refugees, you lost your homes, property, nationality and your homeland. Your are victims of al Nakba.
Al Nakba is the largest, most comprehensive, pre-meditated, externally planned, externally supported, externally financed, externally armed, meticulously executed and still continuous ethnic cleansing in history.
There is nothing like in Palestine’s 5,000 year history. Marching armies, brutal rulers, changes in religion or language, such as the onset of Christianity and Islam, even the fanatic Crusaders, famine, epidemics, none of these drastic events which may have passed, emptied the country almost totally of its inhabitants, destroyed its physical landscape, erased its history, stole its geography.
Zionism did all that. It is still doing it. It committed this horrendous crime, and justified it as a Divine Providence and a victory of civilization over backwardness. The gullible West accepted it.
This Zionist scheme is the master colonial-settler project. It surpasses any other. The British in India, the French in Algeria, the Afrikaans in South Africa, had their colonial projects to exploit the land and people, but left both in place. Zionism took the land and eliminated the people. How could Zionism succeed in this extraordinary project in the 20th century? They had to rely on something no other colonial project used or needed. A myriad of myths, a cooked mixture of deliberate lies and fabricated concepts, such as: Palestine is a land without people; Israel recovered their God-given land; Israel was created by international law through UN resolution; Israel was in a state of self defense; Israel won because the righteous few were victorious over the savage multitude, (David vs. Goliath story); the refugees left their homes voluntarily or on Arab orders; the Arabs do not want peace; the refugees cannot return because they have nowhere to return to; the country is full; flooding it with returning refugees would alter the Jewish character of the country… and on and on. None of these statements has any valid foundation. Yet they have been drummed up in the minds of the gullible West, nourished and supported by opportunistic politicians. To this day. There is not a moral, factual, legal, demographic, geographic, economic or logistical reason why the Palestinian refugees could not return to their homes. When this happens, Palestine will be populated once again by its people, the Palestinians. This is the true Divine Providence. This is the true victory of civilization over evils of racism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.
I shall demonstrate now some relevant facts which would illustrate the nature of this tragedy that befell the Palestinians, how the robber should return the stolen goods and what remedy should be applied. This is the case before us today.
My case, as a Palestinian, is clear and simple. They took away my home by force, at gun point, and I want it back. I became homeless. They prevented me from returning to my home for 66 years, or to be precise, I was not allowed to sleep in my bed for 24,068 nights. I am determined to return to my home.
This is my homeland. This is Palestine which Allenby found when he came to conquer in 1917. It has a rich coastal plain; it has highly cultivated mountainous hinterland and has river Jordan and the Dead Sea. Allenby came to free Palestine from Turkish rule on the promise of free independent Palestine. Instead, Balfour, the British foreign minister, planted a colonial project in Palestine. He betrayed the “Sacred Trust of Civilization”, as stated in the Charter of the League of Nations, to bring a democratic government and independence to the people of Palestine. He conspired with rich European Jews to facilitate their entry into Palestine. His Declaration is a false promissory note, given by a party which did not own to a second party which did not have title, without the knowledge or consent of the owner, the natural inhabitants of Palestine.
Slide-3 A, B, C
At the end of the British Mandate, the open Jewish immigration policy allowed Jews to grow in number to 30% of the population, but they were only able to acquire 6% of Palestine land. Britain threw the case of Palestine into the lap of the United Nations, the successor to The League of Nations. The United Nations voted narrowly a non-binding resolution to suit the Zionist plan: that the European Jewish immigrants establish a government in 54% of the Palestine, without dispossessing any of the Palestinians who lived there, who were half the population. The Arab national majority in Palestine was allocated less than half of the country. Israel uses the partition resolution as its legal justification. It is not by any means. Moreover, in March 1948, the UN and also the US changed their position and abandoned the partition scheme when they realized that this will bring death and destruction to the region. The Zionists did not take notice and started to conquer Palestine.
Slide-4 A, B
Look at the map of Palestine when Ben Gurion declared his state on May 14, 1948. At that moment, Ben Gurion forces occupied only 13% of Palestine. His 120,000-strong army attacked defenseless Palestinian villages.
In the following 6 months, they expelled the inhabitants of 675 localities. They became homeless, To this day.
Let us now consider carefully a very critical period in the conflict which should debunk many myths propagated by the Zionists. In the six weeks, from early April 1948 to May 14, Zionist soldiers occupied 220 heavily populated villages and expelled their population, who made up half of the total refugees today. That was while the British were there, supposedly to protect the population. That was before Ben Gurion declared his state and before any Arab regular soldier set foot on Palestine’s soil.
The red areas denote areas occupied by Zionist forces in this period. You will notice that they even violated the Partition Plan.
Israel’s actions are based on Jabotinsky’s doctrine of 1923. Jabotinsky understood that the Palestinians will never accept foreign domination. The only way he saw for Zionism was to crush them mercilessly and build an iron wall around the colonists.
Thus, the massacres became a weapon of ethnic cleansing. Deir Yassin is a well known case. This week is its 66th anniversary. But there were at least 3 dozen massacres. See the drop of blood marks. In every one of the 31 Zionist military operations to conquer Palestine, there were at least two massacres of village inhabitants. The advancing Zionist soldiers and the trail of blood they left behind created what I call “Spheres of Influence”, (black line circles) within which villages were depopulated due to this effect.
This was not an accident. It was a pattern, constantly used in the following months, indeed in the following years.
This slide sums up the situation. Israel was not in a state of self defence. It was the aggressor. Israel was not David, it was Goliath. Arab regular soldiers came after 15 May 1948 to rescue the Palestinians from massacres and rescue what was left of Palestine and failed.
The massacres were the weapon of ethnic cleansing. This is the aerial photo of a village called Bureir, not far from the Gaza Strip. The standard way of depopulation was to surround a village from three sides, leaving the 4th open for the survivours to leave. Bureir was blocked from the south, attacked by artillery from the east. Tanks attacked from the west. They threw grenades into houses, killing father, mother and children. Then the village was set ablaze. One hundred people were killed. That was only 48 hours before Ben Gurion declared the state of Israel.
Here you can see captured civilians in al Ramla in July 1948. It was Ramadan, it was very hot, they were thirsty, they pleaded for water; a boy was allowed to get some water for them. Then they were forcibly taken to forced labour camps. Yes, forced labour camps. Only after 3 years after they were closed in Nazi Germany. Not only men, even boys.
This boy in circle, only 14 at the time. His name is Darwish; he is now living in San Francisco; he gave me this picture. In forced labour camps they were ordered to dig trenches for the army, carry ammunition, bury the dead and carry the loot from Arab homes. According to Geneva Conventions, it is forbidden to employ captured soldiers in the enemy’s war effort. Civilians should not be captured, detained or forced to work. This revelation is startling in view of the great many movies we saw about the German and Japanese forced labour camps. None about Palestinian labour camps.
The Red Cross visited only five labour camps. But when I interviewed several survivours, I found that there were 17 other forced labour camps all over occupied Palestine, not visited by the Red Cross.
Slide-11 A, B, C
Here we have al Nakba. Before al Nakba, Palestinians lived peacefully in about 1,000 towns and villages. In al Nakba, Palestine was empted of its population. Where did the survivors go? They became refugees in the remainder of Palestine and the neighbouring Arab countries.
Slide-12 A, B
Take the case of Gaza Strip, for example. All these red dots you see are depopulated Palestinian villages, now they are crammed in Gaza Strip. Why is Gaza heavily crowded? because that is where the people from 247 villages in southern Palestine were driven into 8 refugee camps.
They never had a peaceful moment in their exile in Gaza. Israel attacks the refugees regularly, in their camps, their shelters, their schools by air and by land, in Gaza, Rafah, Jenin, Sabra and Shatila and everywhere. Why? Because they are the body of the crime. If there is no body, there is no evidence of crime.
Slide-14 A, B, C, D, E
The rest of Palestine was occupied in 1967. Just to show that al Nakba is still ongoing, look what happens in the West Bank.
Palestinians under Israeli occupation are besieged in 60 cantons, separated by 500 road blocks, robbed of their land and water by Israeli settlers. These settlers are war criminals according to International Criminal Court.
What you see is a supreme manifestation of Apartheid, not dreamt of in South Africa. The Apartheid state built Jews-only roads, Jews-only settlements. Can you imagine driving here tonight, and not being allowed on the road because you are not a Jew? Arbitrary arrest, detention without trial and torture to death. This is the fate of most males and even children and women.
In the West Bank, Israel built the Apartheid Wall. The Advisory Opinion of the International court of justice stated on the 9th of July 2004 that this Apartheid Wall is illegal, must be demolished and compensations must be paid.
Women and children are terrorized daily. The sick cannot go hospital. Children cannot go to school. Agricultural products cannot reach the market.
From 1967 till today, 40% of all Palestinian males, including children, were jailed by Israel. If USA was similarly occupied, there would be 75 million Americans imprisoned at one point.
What is Israel’s answer to these crimes? This cartoon sums it up. The Israeli Law of return says: those who are not from here, from Russia, USA, North Pole, Amazon River and Mars, you are welcome. And those who are from here, go back to where you don’t come from.
Would any decent human being accept these evils? Of course not. The whole world, except a few, are supporting us. There are tens of UN resolutions supporting us. Let me quote one, resolution 2649 (30 November 1970). Para 2 says:
Recognizes the right of peoples under colonial and alien domination in the legitimate exercise of their right to self-determination to seek and receive all kinds of moral and material assistance, in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations and the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations.
We must restore justice.
We must reverse ethnic cleansing. We must let the refugees return to their homes. A criminal must not be rewarded. The thief must not run away with stolen goods. Let us plan for the return. Is it possible? YES.
Slide-19 A, B, C
Who and where are the refugees? First of all we know the people of every village in Palestine and where they were exiled. This is the village of Jiyya. They are exiled in the camps shown by blue circles. Here is the village of Beit Mahsir, just west of Jerusalem, this is where they are exiled. This is the village of Saffouriya in Galilee, this is where they are exiled.
Slide-20 A, B, C
But more importantly, we know where the refugees in any camp come from originally. This is Jabaliya camp in Gaza Strip and the red dots are the villages where they come from. This is Dehaisha camp, just south of Jerusalem. This is Ein El Hilweh camp in Lebanon.
Can we get them back? There are lots of Israelis who say: no, you cannot let them back, because the country is already full. They are replaced by immigrants from all around the world. This is not true.
The population distribution of Israeli Jews reveals a startling result, concealed from the world. Israel is largely empty. Eighty percent of Israeli Jews (4,366,000) live in 4 % of Israel’s area (20,600 km2). They live in 49 localities, (5%) out of about 1,000 listed localities on their books. The rest are tiny settlements.
Let us look at central Palestine. Jaffa top left. Gaza bottom left. Jerusalem at centre right. This is the highest concentration of Jewish immigrants. The red dots are depopulated villages. The black lines show the boundaries of village lands. About 250 of these village lands (shown in pink) have no Jews.
Another 250 village lands have few Jews, they live in Qibbutz and Moshav, ranging from 30 settlers to 300 each. A few village lands have a max of 5,000 settlers. So where are the Jews then?
They are in cities, such as Jaffa, Haifa and West Jerusalem. These have grown in size and swallowed Palestinian villages around them.
Slide-22 A, B, C
This is northern Palestine or Galilee. The situation is the same with a big difference. Half the population in Galilee today is already Palestinian. The green dots mean existing Palestinian villages. The rest of Galilee population is refugees in Lebanon and Syria who could literally walk back home.
Slide-23 A, B
The situation in the southern district, which is about half of Palestine, is even more striking. It is sparsely populated by Jews. We examined the existing occupants and where they came from. Then we identified the home owners and where they live today in exile. We found no problem in their return. Beer Sheba district is still largely empty. That is why Zionists are obsessed with passing the racist Prawer law, which says Palestinians do not exist and their land has no owner (mawat).With the exception of three Palestinian towns which have been enlarged, namely Beer Sheba, al Majdal, and Isdud, there are very few Jews living there. When the Palestinian refugees in Gaza return, they will return to their empty land.
We should never accept injustice. Let us build a plan for the future. We start by documenting and rebuilding destroyed villages.
Here is an example of a destroyed and depopulated village, Beit Jirja, just north of Gaza Strip. Here is how it looked in 1945. We identified the owners of each house (in green squares) and we know their names, we know where they live today and we can arrange for their return in probably a week.
We studied the construction of these villages. We need only one and a half million housing units, which is not a big deal. Palestinian engineers have built bigger projects in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia. The villages can easily be rebuilt at the hands of the Palestinians themselves, as labourers, engineers, managers, even as developers.
It is very instructive to note that the cost of reconstruction of villages and repatriation of refugees is less than 10% of the perennial cost of US aid to Israel, without counting the cost of wars, military and political losses incurred by the US, without counting the cost of death and destruction to the people in the region, without counting the tremendous cost of due compensation for Palestinian suffering according to international law.
The UN reaffirmed the Right of Return for Palestinians 135 times. As you have seen, there is no problem of return from either logistics, legality, demographics, land, property, economics, geography or history. The whole world and the UN resolutions support us, with the exception of Israel and United States.
The obvious question comes up: Why didn't we return?
Refugees did return to Bosnia, Herzegovina, Kosovo, Abkhazia, Uganda, Guatemala, Iraq, Kuwait, with much less support of international law. We didn’t. Why?
Why are wars waged against us for 66 years?
Why are our camps constantly bombarded and our people massacred and besieged?
Why does the world turn a blind eye to our expulsion and ethnic cleansing in 1948.
Ethnic cleansing is a war crime by all accounts. The denial of our right to return is a war crime. It is a perpetuation of ethnic cleansing. Schemes to settle us, anywhere in the world except our homes, are aiding and abetting a war crime. Tawtin is a war crime.
On behalf of Israel, Western powers pressured us to accept over 60 so-called peace proposals since 1948. None of them complies with international law. They are still doing this today.
We refuse to disappear into oblivion. We refuse to believe the myth that there is no Palestine and that we Palestinians do not exist.
The key to peace therefore is to apply justice. That can only be when Zionist laws and practices in Palestine are totally abolished.
More and more people in the Western world are coming to this conclusion, many of whom are young American Jews. The spread of BDS, ‘Students for Justice in Palestine’ chapters in universities, Solidarity Campaign for Palestine in UK, Human Rights and anti-war crimes committees in several European countries, all are a proof of this new awakening.
But the primary duty of the defense of our rights lies at our own doorstep, first and foremost. We are now 12 million people, seven of whom are refugees, including five registered with the UN, the largest ratio of any people in the world. Every day we have to take action about our rights. The smallest action, if effective and sustained, can produce results.
The most important action we have to take is to insist on our democratic representation. We must call for a new democratic election of the Palestine National Council to represent 12 million Palestinians, from which a new Palestinian leadership emerges, a leadership that we can trust, that defends our rights vigorously and efficiently.
This task is in our hands. We can do it. We did not relinquish our rights for almost 100 years since the infamous Balfour Declaration. We must continue to hold dear and high our national rights in our homeland, teach our children the same, do something for Palestine every day, never to give up on Palestine.
I am absolutely sure that justice will prevail in Palestine, however long it takes. Let us make this time as short as possible.
Wa ma dha’a haquon wara ahu mutaleb. We assalam aleikom.