The *FREE ARAB VOICE*
April 1, 2000
In this issue of the Free Arab Voice (FAV) we present an amended right of
return petition. Please add your signature at the addresses in section two
below. The sections in this issue of FAV are:
Dear Readers of the Free Arab Voice,
Below you shall find an amended right of return petition that we urge you to
sign by sending an email message to the addresses at the bottom of the
petition. The reasons for sending out an amended right of return petition
are pretty straightforward. Given that an initial right of return petition
currently circulating through different media in Arabic and English was
deemed to be seriously deficient, a group of Palestinian personalities found
it imperative to set the refugee question in its proper context as a matter
of principle. This group of intellectuals, community leaders, and activists
is located mainly in Jordan, the largest concentration of Palestinian
refugees in the world, but also in the West Bank, Lebanon, Egypt, the United
States, and the rest of the Diaspora. After attempting to suggest the
amendments below to some of the initiators of the currently circulating
petition and their explicit refusal to consider any changes whatsoever, we
are hereby releasing an amended petition which takes the following into
1) Any serious right of return petition must point that the refugee problem
was created by the Zionist occupation of Palestine and other Arab lands.
There is not a single reference to occupation in the currently circulating
petition. This amounts to granting "Israel" the recognition it craves a
priori, before anything is demanded.
2) The right of return is not only an individual right. It is also a
collective right for the Palestinian Arab people and an Arab national right
emanating from the historical identity of the land of Palestine. Posing the
right of return solely as an individual right, as the currently circulating
petition does, reduces the Palestinian question into a question of refugees.
By contrast, our people's struggle since 1965 has focused on presenting
our cause as a cause of a people whose land is occupied and whose identity
is under threat, not a question of refugees.
3) Starting out with the recognition of "Israel", and reducing the
Palestinian question into a question of refugees, effectively turns the
refugee question itself either into a matter of compensation or a matter of
obtaining "Israeli" passports. This pacifies the issue and turns it into
an appendix of Oslo in spite of the best intentions of many of the
signatories. We on the other hand see that the right of return can not be
separated from the question of LIBERATION.
4) Alternatively, the currently circulating petition does not include any
rejection of the plans to settle Palestinian refugees outside Palestine.
5) All of Palestine is still under occupation. There is no such thing yet
as 'Palestinian territory where 29% of Palestinian refugees reside'. We,
furthermore, do not subscribe to neocolonial idioms like the 'Middle East'.
The region proper name is the Arab World! Moreover, the Palestinian
evictees within the so-called Green Line need to be more explicitly
mentioned. Finally, there are important discrepancies between the Arabic
and English versions of the currently circulating petition that anyone who
can read both languages can catch. We don't believe in double-talk!
In the spirit of unity, however, and for the sake of not thwarting in the
least the momentum that the currently circulating petition has gained, we
have elected to amend the petition rather than write a wholly new one. The
points made above have been incorporated, while omissions have been made in
a couple of places where the letter or the intent of the initial petition
contradicts these points.
We believe what we have now is a better petition for the right of return
that does not unnecessarily give away concessions to Zionists. Surely some
will object that these concessions were made to win over public opinion in
the West. So here we cite an old saying by a hard-core Palestinian that is
very much revered in the West: WHAT DOES IT BENEFIT A MAN TO WIN THE WHOLE
WORLD AND LOSE HIMSELF!!
Editor/ The Free Arab Voice
Affirmation of the Right of Return of the Palestinian Arab People to their
We the Palestinian, Arab, and International signatories to this Declaration,
Cognizant of the facts that AS A RESULT OF THE ZIONIST OCCUPATION,
Our people have been expelled from their homes in 531 towns and villages in
Palestine in 1948 by Zionist military forces, and their lands, comprising
92% of "Israel", have been confiscated,
Our people have endured 51 years of foreign occupation, exile, ravages of
war, oppression, denial of national identity and racism and have been the
victim of the largest ethnic cleansing operation, unprecedented in modern
history designed to replace them with Jewish immigrants from all over the
Two thirds of our people, over five million refugees and uprooted, represent
the largest and oldest group of refugees in the world,
In spite of overwhelming international consensus supported by hundreds of UN
resolutions, our people are still unable to fulfill their natural right to
Therefore we affirm the following,
The right of the Palestinian refugees and the uprooted to return to their
homes is a fundamental right under the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination, the European, the American and the African Conventions on
The right of the Palestinian refugees and the uprooted to return to their
homes is an inalienable right and has been affirmed by the UN resolution No
194 over 110 times since 1948,
The Right of Return is derived first and foremost from THE HISTORICAL ARAB
RIGHT TO THE LAND OF PALESTINE, then from the sanctity of private ownership
which cannot be extinguished by new sovereignty or occupation and does not
have a statute of limitation;
The Right of Return is essentially a collective national as well as an
individual right which cannot be delegated, diminished, reduced or forfeited
by any representation on behalf of the Palestinians in any agreement or
Accordingly, we hereby declare that,
We absolutely do not accept or recognize any outcome of negotiations which
may lead to an agreement that forfeits any part of the right of
return of the refugees and the uprooted to their homes from where they were
expelled in 1948, or their due compensation, and we do not accept
compensation as a substitute for return,
We demand due reparations for the psychological suffering, the material
losses and damages and War Crimes which the refugees endured for 51 years in
accordance with international law and legal precedents,
As we sign here, members of the Palestinian people from all walks of life,
including the refugees in the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967 where
29% live, and the rest scattered in the rest of the world, in addition to
the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians evictees who are residing
currently within the so-called Green Line as the Zionists refuse to allow
them back to their villages occupied in 1948,
Appeal to fair-minded people, human rights advocates, the international
community, the United Nations, and the world governments, particularly those
who were involved in the Palestinian tragedy, to recognize and support by
all available means the right of the Palestinians to return home.
Finally we emphasize that there is no real peace without the LIBERATION OF
OCCUPIED LAND AND THE RETURN THEREBY OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE TO THEIR
HOMELAND, and that restitution and the settlement of refugees outside
Palestine, are unacceptable alternatives to Palestine.
Add your signature at the following addresses:
Ibrahim Alloush firstname.lastname@example.org
Ziad el Jishi email@example.com
Ibrahim Ebeid firstname.lastname@example.org
Or fax Abdallah Hammoudeh in Jordan at: 962-6-4640591
Or Dr. Adel Samara in Palestine at: 97022980903
Some of the signatories of the amended petition:
Bahjat Abu Gharbiyah, Jordan
Dr. Anis Sayigh, Lebanon
Bassam Al Shaka, Palestine
Dr. Adel Samara, Palestine
Ahmad Qatamesh, Palestine
Abdul Qadir Yassin, Egypt
Ibrahim Ebeid, the United States
Abdallah Hammoudeh, researcher, Jordan
Dr. Huda Fhakoury, Jordan
Naji Alloush, Jordan
Jawad Unis, Jordan
Ali Hattar, Jordan
Laith Shubeilat, President of the Association against Zionism and Racism,
Dr. Tariq Kayyali, Jordan
Dr. Subhi Ghosheh, Jordan
Hassan Khrashieh, Legislative Council, Palestine
Fakhri Qawar, President of Jordanian Writers Association, Jordan
Salah-eddin Hafez, General Secretary of Arab Journalists, Egypt
Abdul Khaleq Lashin, writer,Egypt
Muhammad Abu Mazar (Abu Hatem), Jordan
Ahmad Shaker Doudeen, Legislative Council, Palestine
Mouawiah Al Masri, Legislative Council, Palestine
Dr. Yahya Shawar, Palestine
Fakhri Tourkman, Palestine
Ra'fat Annajar, Legislative Council, Palestine
Dr. Ali Abu Reesh, Palestine
Dr. Abdul Rahim Kitaneeh, Palestine
Waheed Al Hamdallah, elected Mayor, Palestine
Hafez Touqan, Palestine
Joudat al Barghouthi, Jordan
Khalil Sawahri, writer, Jordan
Nabila Saleh, writer, Jordan
Hamad Hajjawi, writer, Egypt
Hala Mansour, writer, Egypt
Bissan Edwan, writer, Egypt
The editors of the Free Arab Voice, as well as hundreds of signatures
This petition is currently being signed by thousands across the camps of
Jordan and elsewhere. Add yours too at the addresses above!
First point of entry:
When his boots
Smashed through my door...
(I REFUSE you,
You will not hear me scream,
You will gather
Neither information nor tears from me)
Bitch, he whispered,
And heated up the wires.
Here he asked the question--
Here and here--
And the skin swelled like ripe fruit.
Jealously, he demanded names,
Who? Who? And who?
Who left the bombs for us
On the road to Damascus?
So I spit out names:
A name for every prick
Searing stars into my flesh.
Here, I said, is Akka,
And here is Haifa.
Put it to me again...
I have hundreds
To give you.
I will not repress
So come closer with that wire:
See if YOU can draw on me
The map of MY homeland.
'So much for your land.'
(These were his last words.)
Ribs mend, bones knit,
When I wake screaming
The night blankets me again,
And I have learned
How to ride the night mare
From dark to dawn.
But now, Israeli,
You will hear my knock at the door.
Still, I refuse both you and yours:
I do not flirt with suffering,
My delivery will be express.
So you see, Commander,
Israeli romance is not for me,
Your ways will never be my way,
Even as MY land can never be yours.
If I wed death now,
Will be my witness
At the crossroads
between heaven and hell.
Before you and I part ways,
I will henna my hands with your blood.
What has been the effect of removing the Palestine issue from its Arab
When Arafat, aided by most Palestinian factions, succeeded in severing
the Palestinian question from its natural Arab context in the name of
"independent Palestinian decision-making", the roller coaster ride
towards capitulation and defeat was set in motion.
Arafat was able to monopolize the PLO's structure, eventually destroying
the organization to establish his personal predominance as the sole
legitimate voice of the Palestinian people. In this diabolical process,
the PLO, originally built by Jamal Abdul Nasser as a collective Arab
effort to liberate Palestine, was to become the backdrop for alienating
the Arab populace and their cadre from the movement to liberate Palestine.
It became the curtain behind which accepting the recognition of the Zionist
entity came to be passed in the name of 'international legitimacy'.
Alienating the Arab masses and casting the Palestine question in the
dimensions of Oslo (returning refugees as individuals, a two-state
solution, an Azmi Bshara/Edward Said multicultural "Israel") keeps
on pulling the rug from underneath the Arab effort to confront Zionism.
The effect of this has been to remove the liberation effort from focusing
on the restoration of the Arab identity of Palestine, which consequently
led to ignoring the dangers and ramifications of allowing coexistence
with this entity for the Arab nation at large.
Another effect of this has been that the line of military struggle
would now be deemed "unrealistic", given the overwhelming odds that
Palestinian organizations alone would eventually succumb to as they
face Zionism aided by the largest power in the world, a neocolonial
USA. When you withdraw active Arab participation and involvement in
Palestine, you lose your backbone of resources, base, and political
power (and claim), and you become a server of imposed neocolonial and
Zionist-dictated wishes as what happened in Oslo. This allows
neocolonial powers to dictate upon you solutions which in the long
run clash with the realities and history of the conflict, and which
therefore, will eventually fail.
Starting out as an outpost by colonialism to sever the unity of the
Arab nation, thus keeping it fragmented and weak, this fascist cancer
of "Israel" has outgrown its role to become a colonial power on its own.
Whereas in the past it sought to build the great "Eretz Yisrael" from
the Euphrates to the Nile through territorial conquest, today it seeks
to do so through a sinister economic plan to steal the natural resources
of the Arab people.
It strives to achieve this by destroying Arab markets with "Israeli"
consumer products, while gaining in the process security and legitimacy
for its illegal existence through normalization with the Arab regimes.
In this chronology of events in the "Palestinian" sectarian liberation
effort, the option of "Kifa7 Mussalah" (military struggle) was withdrawn,
and the surrender treaties which were to follow in Camp David footsteps
became the mode.
However, this did not happen in an Arab vacuum. Indeed the enemy
succeeded in eliminating Egypt from the Arab struggle through the
Camp David accords, and conspired with the monarch rule in the Arab
world, particularly the regime in Jordan. This enabled it to impose
"a divide and conquer" method in dealing with the Arabs much to the
alienation of the Arab masses. A general economic and social decline
in the Arab countries, due to political oppression, the proliferation
of corruption, the increased riches of the Arab bourgeoisie, human
rights abuses, and the oppressive "Mukhabrat" rule, helped to impose
a humiliating settlement that runs contrary to the interests of the
Arab people. The failures and oppression at home caused many to
immigrate to the West leaving behind countries sinking deeper in
regression and sectarianism.
Under these conditions, no one Arab state could effectively face
the odds and dangers that it must fight in the absence of unity.
Not only would Zionism not be confronted. Arab countries would fall
easy prey to neocolonialism as well.
Arafat capitalized on Arab regime failures to garner hostility towards
the Arab nation and to convince the Palestinian people of opposing a
unified Arab stance. He used the aftermath of Black September in Jordan,
the confrontation with the Lebanese in the civil war of Lebanon, the open
war against Syria in Lebanon, the decision to withdraw in the aftermath
of the 1982 "Israeli" invasion, and the ensuing massacre of more than
3000 civilians in Sabra and Shateila, to garner PLO acceptance of UN
resolution 242 in the late 80's, and then to re-direct the Arab people
of Palestine towards Palestinian sectarianism and into the trap of the
This is why he succeeded in Madrid's peace process to sabotage a unified
Arab position in negotiating with the Zionist entity. He even went as
far as sabotaging the Palestinian voice being represented outside of his
own through the occupied territory delegates he bypassed and side-showed at
It then becomes easy to see how something like Oslo was allowed to pass
right under the nose of the Arab nation at large, to give legitimacy to
the Zionist state on the Arab land of Palestine. This was a natural
consequence of de-linking the struggle in Palestine from the struggle to
unify the Arab nation and confront colonial interests, on to a
neocolonial/ Arafat-imposed solution. In return, Arafat got what he
bargained for: a fiefdom in Gaza and the West Bank, a gambling casino in
Arie7, and a fašade of an airport in Gaza. But Oslo will offer nothing
to solve the conflict in Palestine and will offer nothing to give
stability to the region at large. Why?
Because it is built on overlooking the inherent settler-invader nature
of the Zionist entity, it does not enjoy the support of the Arab
populace, and it ignores the Arab identity of Palestine and the Arab
ramifications resulting from such a settlement imposed onto the region.
In countries like Egypt and Jordan, this is evident in the failure of
the Zionist entity to garner security for its occupation through
normalization with the Arab people.
The Palestinian popular Intifadah of the late 80's proved once and for
all that struggle in the form of civil disobedience and mass popular
mobilization is capable of confronting and forcing the enemy to withdraw
in surrender. The experience of Hizbullah in guerrilla warfare in
southern Lebanon/northern Palestine has rendered the Zionist military
superiority useless. Arab solidarity in the face of normalization,
especially in the economic/cultural sense is felt throughout the Arab
world is of utmost importance, especially at the popular level at
present, as a base from which Arab solidarity and unity will be
The Oslo accords will fail miserably, and the spot-light being shined by
neocolonialism and the Zionist entity on individuals calling for
recognizing the existence of the Zionist entity will dim quickly as long
as popular resistance of the Arab people is sustained. The work for Arab
unity is apparent in the solidarity of the Arab masses in support of Iraq,
foremost inside occupied Palestine, to defeat the sanctions. It is also
apparent in the mass popular protests and grassroots work from Morocco
to Lebanon to the Arabian Gulf in opposition to continued neocolonial
aggression on Iraq.
We must return the Palestinian liberation effort to its Arab context and
away from Oslo rhetoric, which belittles it and diverts it into an issue
of "returning refugees" and compensation. The struggle for Palestine is
for its Arab identity and the role it will play. It is to be carried out
by the Arab nation and their allies to safeguard the Arab future and the
unity of the region.
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