Palestinian Scholars Discuss Ethnic Cleansing in London

Palestine Chronicle Staff
LONDON – In a notable event that brought together a number of well known Palestinian scholars, the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) launched its latest publication, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, by British author Geoff Simons.

Mr. Simons is an accomplished author of many books about Palestine and the Middle East. In this latest volume, published by PRC, Simons discusses at length a legacy of ethnic cleansing applied by Israel against the Palestinian people in the last six decades. The book is considered a rare addition to a historically tabooed subject, as suggested by the event’s distinguished speakers.

The event, chaired by Dr. Nour Masalha, himself a Palestinian author who was first to bring the issue of ethnic cleansing to public consciousness in the UK, also hosted Dr. Ghada Karmi, a well known Palestinian academician, Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, a respected Palestinian historian and Palestinian journalist and author Ramzy Baroud.

Dr. Masalha contended that a term such as ethnic cleansing was never infused with such ferocity and confidence as it is today, an indication of a shifting public opinion in Britain, as well as elsewhere in Europe. He cited a recent book by an Israeli Historian Ilan Pappe carrying the same title to demonstrate a changing narrative and a more tolerant public perception of such a narrative.

Dr. Karmi on the other hand, while insisting on the need to raise awareness of the atrocities committed by Israel, argued that a mere recognition of these violations is not enough. “What are we going to do about it?” is what really matters, she said. Karmi, an advocate of a one state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict – a topic about which she is currently writing a book – said that a two state solution is neither possible, nor plausible. A one state is the only way to reverse the cycle of violence and ethnic cleansing that was adopted by Israel decades ago, she said. 

Dr. Abu Sitta, spoke from a historical viewpoint. He argued that there were three dimensions to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine that are hardly addressed: the actual uprooting of Palestinians, the massacres committed to ensure the success of such a practice and finally the erasing of the historical evidence that connected Palestinians to their land. Abu Sitta is well known for his work on Palestinian refugees and their right of return. He has documented all destroyed villages and localities in the Nakba (Palestinian Catastrophe) of 1947-48. One of his most notable achievements was the composition of the most comprehensive Atlas of Palestine as of yet.

Ramzy Baroud, a Palestinian journalist, editor of the Palestinian Chronicle and the author of several books, provided a detailed account of Israel’s policy of ethnic cleansing, but most importantly highlighted the racist discourse that adjoined such a policy. “Without such a discourse it would have not been possible to kill with impunity, to collectively punish an entire nation, to destroy its homes, its lives and its prospects for the future.” He argued that Palestinian infighting is providing needed support for the Israeli logic that tries to dehumanize Palestinians as incapable to achieve self-determination.

The event was held under the title: On the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine: Methods and Consequences and was held at the Friends House in London.

The organizer, the Palestinian Return Centre is an independent academic/media consultancy founded and registered in the United Kingdom in 1996. It specializes in the research, analysis, and monitor of issues pertaining to the dispersed Palestinians and their right to return. It also serves as an information repository on other related aspects of the Palestine Question and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

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