|The photo was taken in the Galilee region|
On the far ridgetop is the Lebanese village, Maroun al-Ras
|[AP Photo] |
Israeli soldiers look across the
Lebanese border in the direction
of Maroun al-Ras in July 2006.
The discrepancy in numbers is explained by the fact that Lebanon’s Palestinian refugees, without any of the most elementary civil rights, than in any of the other 45 camps in the Middle East and in gross violation of international Law as well as Lebanon’s Constitution and bi-lateral and multilateral agreements, tend to leave Lebanon to seek work, decent housing, and a better life whenever they are able to secure a visa to Europe or elsewhere.
For the teen-agers on the crowded bus I rode on from Shatila Camp, their parents and grandparents stories and descriptions of Palestine on the Internet was what they talked about.
As we approached Maroun al Ras, some of them were anxious, others silent and reflective, and some, like many teenagers from my generation about to see the Beatles or Elvis were giddy and squealing as the bus rounded a bend in the road south of Aitaroun and we looked to the approaching hills. “Is that my country Palestine over there?,” Ahmad, a graduate in Engineering who was born in Shatila camp asked. “Nam Habibi!” (“Yes Dear!”) came the reply from the microphone of our “bus mother” gripping her clip board and checking the names to keep track of her flock. This bus seemed to inflate with delirium as we all smiled and shouted. Some of the passengers had prepared signs that read: “People want to return to Palestine,” inspired perhaps by the slogan made famous in Egypt and Tunisia, “People want the fall of the regime.”
The esprit was reminiscent of a Mississippi freedom ride James Farmer of CORE used to tell us about and I thought of Ben Gurion’s boast from 1948 that the old will die and the young will forget Palestine. The Zionist leader could not have been more mistaken. The old, many still vital and those who departed this life, continue to teach and inspire the young from their still remembered stories, guaranteeing that the dream of every Palestinian shall never die.
The organizers from the camps did a tremendous job, but no one could have anticipated the huge numbers who would participate in this truly historic and likely region changing event that was also fueled by Facebook, Tweeters and text messages.
All the Palestinian organizations and factions were united for this project.
Hezbollah kept a low profile so as to keep the focus on the Nakba. However, when the organizers discovered a shortage of buses last week Hezbollah arranged for more, even bringing them in from Syria who themselves used more than 800 buses yesterday to take Palestinians from Syria’s 10 Palestinians camps, including Yarmouk, to the Syrian Golan border with occupied Palestine.
The Mabarat Charity, founded by the late scholar Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, who was from the village of Bint Jbeil near Maron al Ras, and which charity operates several gas stations, the proceeds of which supports orphans, discounted gas on Nakba Day for the hundreds on buses & vans.
It is difficult to exaggerate the camaraderie, emotion and sheer power of the event. The came to renew their commitment and send the World a message that they are determined to return to their land no matter the sacrifices required. For some coming to see Palestine, including some of those who have been forced out of their homes and off their lands, 63 years ago, it appeared to be almost a sacred and religious act.
For the large American contingent and other international guests, it was a majestic and cherished experience observing Nakba Day 2011 at Maroun al Ras.
However as the World soon learned, 10 Palestinians were killed by Israeli snipers and more than 120 wounded, some critically. None of the demonstrators had weapons.
|“People want to return to Palestine,”|
Hezbollah decided not to kill them which would have accommodated Israel’s intent behind its deadly provocation—this time.
Meanwhile, Lebanon has filed a complaint against Israel with the UN Security Council calling on the Security Council to pressure Israel to stop its hostile and provocative policies against Lebanon and hold it accountable for killing civilians.
Today is a day of general strikes in the camps in mourning for the victims who were killed with funerals being held in the refugee camps of al-Bass, Burj al-Shemali, Mieh Mieh and Ain al-Hilweh. All UNWRA schools are closed.
Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassas Nassrallah commended Lebanon’s Palestinians this morning as he explained his interpretation of Nakba Day 2011: “You do not accept a homeland other than Palestine, and so let no one fear naturalization in Lebanon because your firm decision is to return. Your loud and clear message to the enemy is that you are determined to liberate the land no matter what the sacrifices are; and the fate of this entity (enemy) is demise and that no initiatives, treaties or borders will protect it. Your return to Palestine is inalienable right, and its realization has become closer than any other time. “
Hassan Nasrallah’s words require that Lebanon’s next Parliament, with the full, active, direct, and unequivocal support of Hezbollah immediately repeal the racist and discriminatory 2001 law that outlaws home ownership for Palestinians in Lebanon and that Lebanon’s Palestinians be immediately granted the right to work just as all refugees do globally and all foreigners in Lebanon enjoy.
There must be no more resistance to Palestinians being granted the elementary right to work and to own a home. Yesterday at Maroun al Ras Lebanon’s Palestinians once again earned the right to live in dignity and care for their families until Return. As the Palestinians continue their struggle for elementary civil rights here in the inhumane camps of Lebanon, they and the advocates are heartened by Hassan Nassrallah words of a few hours ago:
“We are with you, and by your side. We are happy for your happiness and sad for your sadness, we carry with you the same hopes and pains, and move on together in the path of resistance so that we continue our victories and liberate all our land and sanctities.
Hopefully Lebanon’s Palestinian refugees will, after 63 years in Lebanon, be granted internationally mandated civil rights.
He contribute to Uprooted Palestinis Blog and can be reached c/o firstname.lastname@example.org
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