By Arlene Kushner
May 16, 2008
The Nakba – wrought by the founding of
Where Palestinians rallying close to the
The true nakba (catastrophe) is the failure of the Palestinian Arab community to accept
When Mahmoud Abbas addressed a Nakba rally in the course of the commemorations, he spoke, ostensibly, on behalf of peace: "After 60 years, I say again that our hands are extended for peace, that is our strategic choice."
This sounds promising, until you examine his words and associated actions more closely.
For Abbas also said:
The reason they haven't forgotten the Nakba, of course, is because of the policies promoted by UNRWA for 60 years. The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) – which cares for all refugees in the world except Palestinians – sustains a policy of helping refugees get on with their lives fully. This sometimes means settling them in a new country if they cannot return home.
But UNRWA has declared for all of these years that Palestinians who fled Israel at the time of her founding are to be considered refugees – even if they have acquired new citizenship and have succeeded in their lives in other ways – until they and their children and grandchildren "return" to Israel. For 60 years, the Palestinian "refugees" have been kept in legal and emotional limbo and told that their inability to get on with their lives is
It is most certainly the case that "return" was not promoted for peaceful purposes: It was conceptualized, quite openly, as a way to destroy
And so, if Abbas talks Nakba even as he talks peace, what is it that he truly has in mind?
But the Nakba mourns the founding of the state WITHIN the Green Line. Yet, he doesn't say that it's time to release this mourning and to enter a new day, with building of a state at
And here is the clincher: He, along with other Palestinians at the rally on Thursday, signed a document that pledges him to continuing the "struggle" until all of the refugees have been permitted to return.
There is a wealth of material that provides evidence that Abbas is not a partner for peace. But every now and then some incident arises that makes the case so blatantly, so strongly, that no other documentation is needed.
Abbas' signing of this pledge is such an incident. He is not promoting a two-state solution, but rather the destruction as a Jewish state. What is more, the term "struggle" is a euphemism for terrorism and violence. He is not even promoting the return of all refugees via peaceful means.
It is important to realize that, although it is likely that Abbas truly does favor "return," he would have no option other than to support it in any event. The Palestinian political discourse is being set by Hamas – that discourse has radicalized over the last few years with the growing influence of Hamas. If Abbas values his life (quite literally), he cannot promote compromise on this issue.
A somewhat desperate President Bush came to
Abbas's actions expose the nonsense inherent in this plan. In fact, Abbas's actions demonstrate the futility of imagining that a genuine peace can be forged between
Arlene Kushner, who lives and writes in
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