Monday, October 7, 2013

From Little Things Big Things Grow

I feel it's appropriate to preface this post with an excerpt from a conversation between the great Dr Fayez Abdullah Sayegh (1922-1980) and David Susskind, host of The David Susskind Show (WNEW-TV). At the time, Sayegh was acting as a consultant to the Kuwaiti delegation to the UN. The conversation/debate (Susskind was your typical American Zionist boofhead) went to air in New York on December 3, 1967:

Sayegh: Now you say we refuse to recognize Israel. Yes, we refuse to recognize Israel because the Israel you are speaking about is an act of usurpation of an Arab territory, an Arab land; an act of ouster of an Arab population. Every Israeli who is in Israel today is living in the home of an Arab who has not been compensated for his property. Every Israeli who is in Israel today is there because an Arab has been ousted. Israel is, because Palestine has been made not to be. The being of Israel is the non-being of Palestine. We do not endorse the non-being of an Arab country called Palestine. We will not recognize Israel as long as that means non-recognition of Arab Palestine...
Susskind: If she's a usurper state, and inhabiting your land, the only successful conclusion, from your point of view, would be her final demise, or defeat?
Sayegh: Not necessarily.
Susskind: What else would accommodate your ambition?
Sayegh: I - what would accommodate my ambition will be - my hope - and I say this now in the utmost earnestness, whether you like to believe me or not - my hope is that the human conscience will still wake up among the Zionists living in Israel, and will make them realize that they have usurped someone else's land, and will make them accept to live as human beings in a democratic Palestine, where they and the rightful inhabitants have a place, rather than to live in an exclusively Zionist state at the expense of the rightful inhabitants of Palestine.
Susskind: Give up statehood?
Sayegh: Give up statehood, but not give up existence.
Susskind: Well, that's charming. Don't die, but go away.
Sayegh: Well, sir, you have done that... Israel has done that to the Arabs of Palestine. And I believe that the human conscience of many people in Israel will still awaken to the tragedy that they have been instrumental in inflicting upon another people that was never guilty of their suffering, that was never guilty of their persecution in Christian Europe...
Susskind: Turn over the state to an Arab country, is that it? The state of Israel?
Sayegh: While they're there it will not be an exclusively Arab country. Any Jew who has no place else to go will be able to stay in Palestine; the rightful inhabitants of Palestine must be allowed to come back to their country; and you will have a binational state of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Druse, Baha'i, atheists; all in Palestine, as Palestinians, leading a Palestinian life.


Further to my 10 September post - Remember Two Israelis, Three Opinions? - on Israeli NGO Zochrot's conference From Truth to Redress: Realizing the Return of Palestinian Refugees (29-30 September), I'm pleased to say that it proceeded without a hitch. Zochrot has just issued the following conference summary:

"The conference is over and it was a huge success! It took place as planned, despite attempts to prevent it, at the Rothschild Auditorium on the campus of the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv, which was built on the lands of the Palestinian village of Ash-Shaykh Muwannis. Some 400 people attended the 2-day conference. It was broadcast live on the Internet and viewed by some 750 people from all around the world. Tens of thousands of people were exposed to posts uploaded during the conference on Facebook and Twitter. Over 25 volunteers helped with administering and documenting the conference. Speaking in English, Hebrew and Arabic, 35 presenters - academics and activists from Palestine/Israel, as well as Canada, the US, the UK, Serbia and Poland - presented their various concepts and ideas for realizing the return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland and its spatial implications.

"Over the coming weeks, Zochrot will publish all the lectures and visual and textual materials presented at the conference. Videos will be uploaded starting this week, and an electronic booklet with 10 texts by conference speakers will be published in mid-November.

"In the meantime, you are welcome to view 3 visions of return which were presented at the conference and moved the audience: Planning the Future Village of al-Lajjun, Future Return to Mi'ar, and Actual Return to Iqrit. These visions were conceived by groups of Palestinian youth living in Israel, who participated over the past year in a joint project for Zochrot, Baladna: Association for Arab Youth, Arab Association for Human Rights, and the Association for the Defence of the Rights of the Internally Displaced.

"Palestinian author Salman Natur, who mediated one of the conference panels wrote the following on his Facebook page: 'I have just returned from Tel Aviv, where I took part in a conference organized by Zochrot, an NGO which acts to promote awareness of the Nakba and disseminate information about it and about crimes against the Palestinian people in general among the Jewish public. The concepts that echoed in the auditorium were Nakba, Awda (Return), memory, displaced villagers, refugees, one democratic state from the river to the sea, acknowledgement and reconciliation. About 200 people, mostly Jews, filled the auditorium. The panel I mediated included 7 speakers from the US, UK, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, in addition to a video lecture by Dr Salman Abu-Sitta, who wrapped up the entire story by stating: 'I was kicked out of my home, and I want to return to it.' The conference is a turning point in the attempt to transform Israeli consciousness. Something noteworthy is happening here. I recommend following up on the conference's outputs. What has been said there is priceless. In fact, I recommend all Zochrot publications. The idea of a single democratic state is increasingly taking hold in the minds of many who are seeking a just peace. The one-state solution as outlined by the researchers and academics who spoke at the conference sounds more realistic than the two-state solution.'

"The conference is also receiving ongoing attention in the media. Recent articles include: Gideon Levy & Alex Levak, Haaretz; Esther Zandberg on the al-Lajjun Project in Haaretz; The Times of Israel; Ma'an News; Tom Pessah,"

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