By Franklin Lamb – Embassy of Palestine, Tripoli, Libya
Every year on November 29, approximately a quarter million Palestinian refugees who were forced into Lebanon, along with those in more than 130 countries where they have sought refuge following their ethnic cleansing from their land, commemorate the infamous United Nations Resolution 181.
Between Nov. 29, 1947, and Jan. 1, 1949, Zionist terrorists depopulated and destroyed more than 530 Palestinian villages and towns, killing more than 13,000 Palestinians and expelling 750,000, approximately half the population.
UN General Assembly resolution 181, adopted on November 29, 1947, purported to divide Palestine between the indigenous inhabitants and European colonists who arrived seeking to occupy and exploit Palestine and create an exclusive Jewish homeland.
Under the UN plan, European Jews were granted more than fifty six per cent of historical Palestine while the native Palestinians, who owned ninety three per cent of the territory, were offered less than forty four percent of their own land.
The partition vote was based on a UN Special Committee (UNSCOP) recommendation to divide the country into three parts: a Palestinian state with a population of 735,000, of which 725,000 were Palestinians and 10,000 Jews; a new Jewish state comprised of 499,000 Jews and 407,000 Palestinians, creating a new state with roughly less than sixty per cent Jewish majority.
Zionist leaders have never concealed their intentions especially when holding political gatherings. In addressing the Central Committee of the Histadrut (the Eretz Israel Workers Party) days after the UN vote to partition Palestine, David Ben-Gurion expressed apprehension and told the party leadership:
“…the total population of the Jewish State at the time of its establishment will be about one million, including almost 40 per cent non-Jews. Such a [population] composition does not provide a stable basis for a Jewish State. This [demographic] fact must be viewed in all its clarity and acuteness. With such a [population] composition, there cannot even be absolute certainty that control will remain in the hands of the Jewish majority… There can be no stable and strong Jewish state so long as it has a Jewish majority of only 60 per cent.”
Ben Gurion, told Zionist leaders in December of 1947, “I don’t care if half the Jews in Europe have to die so the other half come to Palestine,” and ” Chaim Weizmann would later say: ‘With regard to the Arab question – the British told us that there are several hundred thousand Negroes there but this is a matter of no consequence.’”
To ensure an absolute Jewish majority, the Zionists’ “Transfer [Expulsion] Committee” waged a terror campaign to cleanse their part of the non-Jewish population. The “War [Expulsion] Committee” under the leadership of Ben Gurion, assigned ethnic cleansing language to its military operations, from Hebrew names such as Matateh (broom), Tihur (cleansing), Biur (a Passover quasi-religious expression meaning “to cleanse the leaven”) and Niku (cleaning up).
Following Israel’s unilateral declaration of independence in 1948, it accelerated the land grab strategy to secure an absolute Jewish majority. The Zionists assailed, depopulated, and occupied an additional thirty per cent of the land which had been designated for the future Palestinian state under the UN plan.
Since 1967, Israeli Occupation Forces have demolished more than 24,000 Palestinian homes, while more than 600,000 Jews currently are colonizing the West Bank and Jerusalem. Also since 1967, the Israeli military has detained more than 700,000 Palestinians – 20 per cent of the population – according to statistics released at the First International Conference on the Rights of Palestinian Prisoners and Detainees held in Geneva in March 2011. Approximately 5,700 Palestinians are currently being detained in prisons within Israel, a direct violation of international law. In addition, the siege on Gaza and the Apartheid Wall in the West Bank and Jerusalem have severely restricted or denied Palestinians’ freedom of movement.
Sixty four years since the November 29, 1947 UN Resolution 181, and after twenty years of negotiating with Israel, the international community allows the status quo while Israel encroaches on the remaining twenty two per cent with ever more illegal Jewish only settlements.
Sixty four years later in Lebanon, where 129,000 Palestinian refugees fled during the 1947-48 Nakba, approximately 250,000 remain in Lebanon with approximately 130,000 squeezed into twelve fetid refugee camps. Each new study of Palestine refugees in Lebanon documents a steepening, descending economic, social, and humanitarian slope as this largest and oldest refugee population skids and descends into more degradation. Today in Lebanon, Palestinian refugees continue to live in conditions more inhumane than anywhere on earth including, the six decades of suffering endured by their sisters and brothers, under the Zionist occupation of their own country, Palestine.
Six decades since UN GA Resolution 181, Lebanon continues to forbid, impliedly on penalty of arrest and imprisonment, Palestinian refugees from working in more than 50 jobs and professions. This prohibition is in direct contravention of a large and condemnatory body of international law, specifically, numerous UN Resolutions, multilateral agreements, international customary law and even the Lebanese Constitution, as well as the UN Declaration of Universal Rights, which some of Lebanon’s leaders helped draft in 1949,
Since 2001, the government of Lebanon has also outlawed Palestinian refugees who lost their homes to Zionist colonialists, from purchasing even a sliver of property for a one room shack or tent home, even though most Palestinians might be willing to agree that their ownership of Lebanese real estate would vest only until such time as they are able to return to Palestine.
For this failure to uphold the law, Lebanon increasingly faces the prospects of international sanctions as well as civil unrest. What Palestinian refugees in Lebanon seek and have the right to enjoy, just as every refugee in any country, is to live in dignity, to be able to apply for a job and to care of their families. Living in dignity includes the right to live outside the teeming, squalid camps and to purchase better housing if they are able.
An additional troubling violation of the rights of Palestinians in Lebanon is the fact that increasingly, the Lebanese Armed Forces are sealing off the Palestinian refugee camps which increase the perception and reality of illegal governmental harassment and yet more pressure on the everyday lives of these unwanted guests.
Today, 64 years after UNGA Resolution 181, virtually every political party and every religious authority in Lebanon boldly and regularly pays insincere lip service to the “sacred cause of Palestine”, as “the bloodstream issue for every Arab and every Muslim.” Each avers that in Lebanon “our brothers must live in dignity until they are able to return to Palestine” and that “for us Lebanese, as their hosts, to refuse them fewer human rights than even their Zionist oppressors allow them violates our religious duty for which certainly Allah (Christians typically insert “Jesus” or “God Almighty”) will justly condemn us to Hell on judgment day”.
Lebanese political parties and movements that have truly sacrificed for Palestine and seek to liberate it and Lebanese political parties whose militias have massacred Palestinian civilians, women, children and the elderly in refugee camps, have a special obligation to act now and give meaning to their words.
And most certainly those Lebanese politicians whose words and ubiquitous photo-shopped posters identifying with the cause of Palestine but who, in the service of foreign governments, have conducted massacres in Palestinian camps mislabeling them “camp wars” should do immediate penitence and use their political power and politically acquired financial wealth to do justice.
Neither Lebanese politicians, political parties, nor religious enterprises have a legitimate excuse not to devote an afternoon in Parliament, currently in session, and rid the country of its self-imposed debasement by repealing the racist 2001 law forbidding home ownership for Palestinian refugees. As part of the same Parliamentary action Palestinians must be granted the same right to work that every other refugees enjoys in Lebanon and which is mandated by international law, religious doctrine and belief, and common morality to which all people of good will are committed.
To do less, condemns all of us and makes a mockery of Lebanon as a supposedly civilized society.
– Franklin Lamb is doing research in Libya and Lebanon. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.