The author looks at the particularities and precedent set by the resolution of other conflicts and the primacy and effectiveness of the principle of refugee return in all namely: Bosnia, East Timor, Tajikistan and Kosovo. In all cases international norms were respected and implemented, even when conflicts were fought over and resolved on the right of self-determination. Refugee return is not only a moral imperative but one that can be practically implemented and have long reaching pragmatic results in terms of nation-building and creating cohesive and potentially egalitarian societies.
This article conveys a Torah approach to the Palestinian struggle and a belief in the Right of Return as a basic moral obligation as well as an international legal necessity. It responds to Zionist criticism of the theological standpoint on Palestinian sovereignty and expounds a theory of cross-confessional solidarity. The author also looks at the Jewish notion of return to the Holy Land through a theological lens and discusses the implications and requirements for such a return based on a Torah viewpoint. Key to this view is the idea of commonality rather than coercion and co-citizenship rather than conquest.
The author argues that an effective strategy to implement the Right of Return depends on the success of anti-racist campaigners to expose and defeat the racist basis of opposition to Palestinian return by removing the ‘demographic’ issue from current discourse. Israeli opposition to the Right of Return based on so-called ‘demographic problems’ is in fact a code for racialised and racist policy. This article argues, that by doing so, the central obstacle to effecting the Right of Return will be excised, and the prospect of an egalitarian, bi-national state can become a realistic prospect.
The author looks at the reluctance of negotiators to adhere to the standards of international law with regard to established refugee regimes. In particular he discusses the role of referenda in conflict resolution discourse both popular and political as a means of obviating the inherent moral and legal duty of Palestinian return. The article puts the case that political resolution cannot be at the expense of international norms and that effecting the Return is part of the process of peace: sustainable peace can only be effected in turn by a recognition that international norms trump the politically unequal negotiations between the Israeli state and the PLO.
The Right of Return is too crucial an issue for any activist, academic concerned with Palestine and justice or indeed any person of conscience, to ignore. Sadly, however, a combination of the steady onslaught of Israeli violations of international law, atrocious human rights violations and an inability of mainstream media to contextualise the situation, the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees has been increasingly forgotten.
As the beginning of the Palestine Internationalist project, the Right of Return seems a natural place to start our discussions and inquiry into the core issues that define the Palestinian struggle but which are often left out of any attempt at a solution. The failure to achieve a just settlement to this crisis shames the international community – both governmental and civil. We hope that this project goes some way to raising the level of awareness of international civil society when trying to advocate for the liberation of the Palestinian people.
To this end, the contributors each deal with differing aspects of the Right of Return. Daud Abdullah focuses on preoccupation with referenda as a way of obviating obligations under international law in securing a just settlement. The formula of return, restitution and compensation has, in current discourse about Palestinian refugees, has been replaced by a rhetoric of political ‘pragmatism’ that belies not only a contempt for international law but of the principles behind the refugee regime as understood in international law and human rights conventions.
The applicability of these in other situations where the creation of refugees has been an issue is explored by Fahad Ansari. Ansari examines the resolution of conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, and Tajikistan mooting its importance and the integral relationship it plays with sustainable peace in a pragmatic as well as legal and moral sense.
Anthony McRoy presents the spectre of continuing injustice should –as is often the case – the plight of Israeli Arabs and their claim to return be ignored within the general discussions of return. Understanding their locus standi as refugees lends strength to the case for Return and challenges the ethnocentrism of the Israeli state and proposed solutions to the conflict.
Finally Rabbi Yisroel Weiss, underlines the solidarity and scope for Return from amongst the Jewish diaspora and those resident in the Holy Land – something often unrecognised by pro-Palestinian activism and decried by Israeli chauvinism.
We hope that you find this first issue of Palestine Internationalist a useful and challenging tool in your studies on and activism for justice for Palestine.
Editorial Team for Volume 1, Issue 1
Copyright © 2005 Palestine Internationalist
source: Volume 1 Issue 1 (Sep 2005), http://www.palint.org/mag.php?issuenum=11
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