04 July 2007

The Key to Peace

Ever notice that Palestinian sites have pictures like this of people with the Keys to their houses? Like this one:

According to legend, when the Jews were also expelled from Spain in 1492, they took with them the keys to their homes and synagogues hoping that one day they would return.

Sound familiar?

Those keys - large iron keys in the old Spanish style - lay in drawers and boxes, gathering dust, getting lost among clothes and cooking pots, sometimes for years until the family moved or someone died. Others were hung proudly above the front door; reminders of a culture they had loved and hoped to maintain.

Some years ago an Indiana University professor named Joelle Bahloul wrote an article in a journal that told of a rabbi in New Jersey whose ancestors had lived in Spain. One summer, the rabbi went back to the city of Toledo and tried to fit the family's ancient key in the door of the house where they were supposed to have lived. According to the rabbi, it fitted the lock perfectly! But, of course, these are legends. We don't know for sure. As symbolism, however, his gesture was very meaningful. The presence of the key really did "open" the door to memories and traditions of the past, allowing later generations to learn about the old customs.

Sephardic Jews like Yair Dalal treat their Palestinian friends as friends and see the similarities not the differences.

Why should the law of return only apply to Jews in the Holy Land? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that: "Everyone has the right ot leave any country, including his own, and return to his country." This is reiterated in the International Convention on Elimination of Racial Discrimination (Article 13(2)). UN Resolution 194 ratified on 11 December 1948 was the first of many to affirm this right of return. There have been 130 UN resolutions on the Right of Return which have been ratified to almost unanimously (exceptions Israel and the US).

Support for Israel places the United States in violation of its own laws which require it to not fund regimes which violate human rights and basic freedoms. The right of return, as shown above, is a basic right. I could add that Israel is a rogue state as well, but that would include discussion of its attacks such as the one on the USS Liberty.

The US could exert enough pressure on Israel to force it to comply with international law, yet the US refuses to show the leadership to do this. In fact, the US slavishly aids Israel.

In short. The right of return is an inalienable right which politicians cannot negotiate. Israel has not fulfilled the legal conditions required for its membership in the UN based upon the enactment of these resolutions in practise. The international community can impose sanctions upon Israel until it complies with international law.

The right of return is not hard to implement.

The UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) has existed since 1948. This means there exists a huge database of millions of Palestinians - where they come from in Palestine, and where they are residing today, their family structure and their ages. Today, 90% of them reside within 100 km of their homes, 50% within 40km and many can actually see their home on the opposite hill.

That is not all. The refugees’ land is still sparsely populated. Eighty per cent of Israeli Jews still live in the same area they acquired during the Mandate and a little more, but 15% of Israel in total. About 18% of the remaining 20% of the Jews live mostly in half a dozen originally Palestinian or mixed cities, considerably enlarged. This leaves 2% of Israeli Jews who are the members of Qibbutz and Moshav.

This small number of population, in addition to the army, use and control 85%-88% of Israel’s area, which is the patrimony of 6 million Palestinian refugees. To take an example, all the rural Jews in the southern district from Ashdod (Isdud) to Eilat (Umm Rashrash) are less in number that one refugee camp in Gaza. Their density is six persons per square kilometre while that of Gaza population - the owners of this very land - is 6,000 per square kilometre. These owners of the land are held captive by the occupier in a concentration camp called Gaza.

I hope the Palestinians do not have to wait hundreds of years for their right of return to be implemented.

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