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BTL:Palestinians Suffering in Lebanese Refugee Camps Hold Onto Hope for...

...'Right of Return'~Interview with Raida Hatoum, Lebanese activist and organizer, conducted by Between the Lines' Stefan Christoff
Palestinians Suffering in Lebanese Refugee Camps Hold Onto Hope for "Right of Return"

Interview with Raida Hatoum, Lebanese activist and organizer, conducted by Stefan Christoff

The United Nations estimates that there are over 400,000 Palestinian refugees living in impoverished camps scattered throughout Lebanon. Refugees there represent the living face of the displacement crisis for Palestinians worldwide, while also providing context for the Palestinian struggle for the right of return.

The issue of the right of return has been the focus of recent international headlines with the "disengagement plan" put forward by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, endorsed by U.S. President George W. Bush and vocally supported by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. The "disengagement plan" foresees the eventual evacuation of major Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip but rejects the internationally recognized right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees displaced during the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. For Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, whose political and social identity is defined by a belief in the right of return, the "disengagement plan" put forward by Sharon is a devastating blow.

Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon today say they are subjected to systematic repression by the Lebanese government. They are forbidden from owning property, traveling freely -- working in over 70 professions and unable to obtain proper health care. During a recent trip to Beirut, Between The Lines' Stefan Christoff spoke with Raida Hatoum, a Lebanese activist who works with Najdeh, a women's NGO network operating in Palestinian refugee camps throughout Lebanon.

For more information, visit the Beirut Indymedia website at www.beirut.indymedia.org

Related links:

To get more information about the global movement for the Palestinian Right of Return, visit: www.al-awda.org

The Electronic Intifada, at www.electronicintifada.net. Publishes news, commentary, analysis, and reference materials about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict from a Palestinian perspective Tikkun Magazine, www.tikkun.org. A community of people from many faiths and traditions, with a vision of healing and transforming our world. Guided by the principle of to achieve social justice, ecological sanity, and world peace, and the inner healing needed to foster loving relationships, as well as a generous attitude toward the world and toward others

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Lebanese treat fellow Arabs like Dogs

the reality is that the Arabs are the ones that are responsible for treating their fellows like Dogs.

Israel also had to contend with refugees when their fellow Jews were forced out of all the ARAB countries that they had lived in for centuries. Israel accepted them with open arms and integrated these Jewish refugess into the Israeli culture and society.

In the middle east its the ARABS that have treated their fellows with contempt and racism.
 

There is no more a right to return

First, the author does not mention opinion polls taken in the Palestinian camps outside of Israel in which only 10% indicate any interest in "returning" and that number drops to 5% if it means living under Israeli authority.

2nd, anyone who was really displaced in 1948 is a minimum of 56 years old now.

3rd, the Palestinian population on the West Bank has tripled since 1967. Obviously, a lot of "returning" has already happened--mostly due to illegal immigration and partially to the extremely high birth rate of the Palestinians today.

4th: Israel has already returned 170,000 Arabs into Israel through their normal immigration services. Palestinian Arabs displaced by the war in 1948, have simply filled out forms for re-entry, submitted proof of residency such as rent receipts, deeds, birth certificates, etc., and once approved were re-admitted into Israel as Israeli citizens. From what I understand, this process ended with the Oslo Accords in 1993.

That said, I do think we need to find a solution for the people living in the camps. They obviously deserve to have a decent place to live and the rights of citizenship somewhere. But I think Israel has already done more to help out the Palestinian Arab refugees whose plight began with the Arabs' decision to attack the brand new nation of Israel.
 

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