From: Ismail Zayid
To: Globe& Mail
Cc: David Watson ; Patrick Martin
Sent: Monday, July 14, 2003 10:14 AM
Subject: Right of Return: An Inalienable Right.

Canada Palestine Association,
P.O.Box, 1085
Halifax, NS. B3J 2X1
Tel: 902.429.9100
July 14,2003
Dear Editor:
Your editorial:{ "Refugees of 1948" July 14} evades basic elemental principles and facts.
The Zionist movement, throughout its history, and as articulated by all its
leaders from Theodor Herzl to Ariel Sharon, planned and effected, through
massacres, intimidation and psychological warfare, a process of ethnic
cleansing to expel the Palestinian people from their native land.

Theodor Herzl wrote in his diaries in 1896, “We shall try to spirit the
penniless population [the Arabs] across the border ... Both the process of expropriation
and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and
circumspectly” (from R. Patai ed., The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl,Vol. 1).

David Ben-Gurion, in a letter to his son Amos in 1937, confided that when
the Jewish state came into being, “We will expel the Arabs and take their
places". Later, Ben-Gurion, while visiting the newly conquered city of
Nazareth in July 1948, exclaimed, “Why are there so many Arabs left here?
Why didn’t you expel them?”

Joseph Weitz, the Jewish Agency chief representative, also stated that he
and other Zionist leaders concluded in 1940 that there was “no room for both
peoples together in this country”. The achievement of Zionist objectives, he
realized, required “a Palestine or at least Western Palestine (West of the
Jordan River) without Arabs”. He wrote that it was necessary “to transfer
the Arabs from here to neighbouring countries – to transfer all of them, and
only after such transfer would the country be able to absorb millions of our

The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 brought about the expulsion
of over 750,000 Palestinians from their historic homeland. This calculated
policy was followed by the destruction of over 400 Palestinian towns and
villages, so as to prevent the return of the refugees to their homes. These
refugees, together with their children and grandchildren, number around 4
million people, living mostly in intolerable conditions in refugee camps in
Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for the last 54
years. Their determination to return to their homes has not waned or
faltered. They constitute the largest and most persistent refugee problem in
the world.

The Right of Return (ROR) is sacred and legal. It is enshrined in
international law and repeated UN resolutions. Article 13 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to leave any
country including his own, and to return to his country”. On December 11,
1948, The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted resolution #194, of
which paragraph 11 states that the General Assembly:

“Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at
peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest
practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of
those choosing not to return and for the loss of or damage to property
which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made
good by the governments or authorities responsible ….

It is vital to observe that the ROR is an individual right, with emphasis,
in these UN resolutions, on the free choice for each refugee to exercise
this right. This point is fundamental in the current political context,
making it illegal and unacceptable for any other body, be it the U.S.,
Israel or the Palestinian Authority (PA), to bargain away this
Furthermore, the emphasis in this resolution is that the refugees
have the free choice to return to their homes, and not merely to a future
Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, as some political manoeuvres
may imply.

In the context of Resolution #194, the international community felt a deep
responsibility for this tragedy, as expressed by the UN Mediator in
Palestine, Count Folke Bernadotte, who stated, “It would be an offence
against the principles of elemental justice if these innocent victims of the
conflict were denied the right of return to their homes” (UN Doc. A. 648,
1948). Tragically, Count Bernadotte, a man of nobility and honour, paid
dearly for making this point of elemental justice. He was assassinated on
September 17, 1948 in Jerusalem, by the terrorist “Stern gang”, on the
orders of its leader (and later prime minister of Israel) Yitzhak Shamir.

It is interesting to note that Resolution #194 has been reaffirmed by the UN
over a hundred times, but “the earliest practicable date” has not yet
arrived, 55 years later.

It is of relevance to point out that the implementation of Resolution #194,
as well as the Partition Resolution #181, was a condition stipulated in the
admission of Israel to the UN, as per Resolution #273, of May 11, 1949.
Thus. it can be reasonably argued that Israel’s UN membership is
illegitimate, given its refusal to implement these conditions.

The process of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians was continued in 1967,
when Israel expelled another 300,000 Palestinian refugees from the West
Bank, many of them expelled for the second time. The UN Security Council
ordered their return, as per Resolution #237 of June 14. 1967. Thirty six
years later this resolution remains unimplemented.

Another incredible aspect of the Israeli creation of refugees and denial of
their ROR is the experience of Palestinian Israeli citizens. Of the 1.2
million Palestinian citizens of Israel, approximately 250,000 are to this
day refugees in Israel. They are called, in the Orwellian Zionist lexicon,
“present absentees”. They acquired this label for having been away from
their homes in 1948 – even if only for a single day – yet still remaining
within the (pre-1967) boundaries of Israel. On the basis of this lsraeli
determination, their homes and land have been illegally confiscated for the
benefit of Russian and other immigrants of Jewish religion or origin.
Israel, we are told, is a “Jewish state”, not a state of all its citizens.
You refer to the " subsequent attack on the newborn state by Arab armies" , implying a cause and effect to the refugee problem. In fact over 350,000 refugees were expelled or fled, and scores of cities, like Jaffa and Acre, towns and villages, that were allotted to the Arab state, as per the UN Resolution #181, of Nov. 29,1947, were occupied by the Zionist forces, before a single Arab army soldier entered Palestine on May 15,1948. The entry of Arab armies was thought to bring to an end this process of ethnic cleansing.
You speak of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries, stating : " And they fled amid an atmosphere of anti-Jewish incitement and violence." Believe it or not, the incitement and violence against Jewish citizens of Arab countries came from Israeli politicians. Mordechai Ben Porat, an Israeli agent, is quoted to have been sent in 1950 by Yigal Allon to Iraq to 'bring about' the emigration of these citizens to Israel. Hand grenades were tossed into Masouda Shem-Tov synagogue, in Baghdad, killing and injuring many innocent worshippers, so as to blame it on the Iraqi Arabs. The operation succeded in bringing many thousands of immigrants to Israel.
Be that as it may, these Jewish refugees have,too, the perfect right to return to their homes in Arab countries and receive compensation. In fact, Arab countries, unlike Israel, have declared their willingness to allow their Jewish citizens to return to their homes.

Finally, it is important to emphasize that securing this elemental principle
of justice for the refugees – the free choice to return to their
homes – is a vital element in obtaining peace and security for both Israelis
and Palestinians in this tortured land.
Yours sincerely,
Ismail Zayid,M.D.
President, Canada Palestine Association.
P.S. Dear Editor: I recognise this contribution is far too long for a letter to Editor, and I would request if you would consider it as an opinion piece.