|Without justice, there'll be no peace
By Ismail Zayid
I AM VERY happy to answer Naomi Honey's questions ("Mideast
quiz," May 24 letter). She asks, "What was the name of the last
Palestinian president . . .?" Interestingly she, or one of her
group, asked me the same question when I spoke at Acadia University
two months ago. I answered that the bizarre insinuation in this
question is that a people under colonial occupation are not entitled
to rid themselves of colonial rule and become independent.
Many countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Western
Hemisphere, including countries like India, Pakistan, Nigeria,
Zambia, Brazil and even Canada, had no president until they rid
themselves of the colonial power and became independent. Do we
understand that, in her lexicon, these countries should have never
become independent? Palestine is a country that has been subjected,
for thousands of years, to continuing foreign invaders, including
the Hebrew tribes, Romans, Greeks, Persians, Babylonians, Egyptians,
Crusaders, Turks and British. Should that deny the Palestinian
people their right to rid themselves of foreign occupation?
The Palestinians, who constitute two-thirds of the population of
Jordan, are the refugees who were systematically and deliberately
uprooted and ethnically cleansed from their homeland by the Zionist
forces in 1948 and 1967. They remain as refugees determined to
return to their homes as stipulated by international law, the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the repeatedly reaffirmed
UN Resolution 194, of 1948.
It is the height of immorality and hypocrisy to imply that you
can drive people from their country, and it is the responsibility of
the countries that gave them shelter in their hour of need to allow
them to take over their own countries.
There are 54, and not 22, Muslim countries. They belong to
Indonesians, Pakistanis, Moroccans, Jordanians and others. The
Palestinians have always been and are an ethnically identified
people of different religious entities, including Islam and
Christianity, and are dedicated to return to their own homeland and
Yes, there have been millions of refugees in the world, and it is
their fundamental right to be allowed to return to their homes. We
have recently seen wars waged by the international community to
allow the Bosnian and Kosovo refugees to return to their homes. Are
the Palestinians, in the Zionist lexicon, less than human?
Ms. Honey reproduces the Zionist fable that the Arab countries
invaded Israel in 1948 to destroy it or, as she claims, to divide it
among themselves. This is totally wrong. Before a single Arab army
soldier entered Palestine on May 15, 1948, the Zionist forces had
driven out 350,000 Palestinians from their homes and occupied scores
of cities and towns assigned for a Palestinian state in the UN
Resolution 181 to partition Palestine into a Jewish and a
David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, affirmed that
had the Arab armies not intervened, Israel would have taken over
Palestine in its entirety and cleansed it totally of its Arab
Egypt and Jordan held the Gaza Strip and the West Bank,
respectively, in accordance with the armistice agreements signed in
1949, under UN authority, by Israel and the Arab governments. These
agreements were stipulated as temporary until final borders and
peace are obtained in compliance with UN resolutions 181 and 194.
Interestingly, Israel was admitted to UN membership in accordance
with UN Resolution 273, of May 1949, conditional on its
implementation of UN resolutions 181 and 194. To this day, these
resolutions remain uncomplied with, arguably making Israel's
membership in the UN illegitimate.
Ms. Honey states that "Palestinian land rights were not an issue
and Arab Palestinians did not identify themselves as Palestinians."
She and her mentors have clearly not been around and have not heard
how the Palestinians have always affirmed their dedication to their
identity as Palestinians and their land. They rose in revolt against
the British colonial rulers, in 1922 and 1936, against increasing
Jewish immigration to Palestine and the threats of loss of their
land, through facilitations made by the British rule.
Finally, let no one doubt that the Palestinians are dedicated to
their homeland and will continue to resist, with all the meagre
power they have, the continuing Israeli oppressive illegal
occupation, that has been allowed to stand for 35 years, in defiance
of international law and repeated Security Council resolutions. They
are calling for a modicum of justice, for without justice, I am
afraid, there will be no peace or security for Palestinians or
Israelis in this tortured land.
Ismail Zayid, MD, lives in Halifax.