“. . . the stars Like refugees scattered . . .” (Rashid Hussein)

(NOTE: A group of articles about the Partitioning of Palestine prompted by yesterday’s UNGA votes.)

Palestinian Refugee Camp, c. 1948. (Photo: Institute for Palestine Studies, Journal of Palestine Studies)

The United Nations General Assembly failed to pass an anti-Hamas resolution, on Thursday, serving a crushing defeat to both the United States and Israel after weeks of diplomacy.     ___While the draft resolution, which was proposed by outgoing UN envoy, Nikki Haley, received 87 votes in favor, it fell short of the two-thirds super-majority needed to pass.     ___Additionally, 57 opposed it and 33 countries abstained and another 23 were not present.    ___Israeli leaders still praised the outcome as a “show of wide support” for their position against the Hamas movement.     More . . .
The UN General Assembly voted in favor of a resolution calling to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, current President of the UN General Assembly Maria Espinosa said in a statement.    ___The Comprehensive, Just and Lasting Peace in the Middle East resolution sponsored by Ireland urges to end the occupation of Palestinian territories by the state of Israel and reaffirms its support for the two-state solution.    More . . .   UN Press Release

By Jeremy R. Hammond
There is a widely accepted belief that United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 “created” Israel, based upon an understanding that this resolution partitioned Palestine or otherwise conferred legal authority or legitimacy to the declaration of the existence of the state of Israel. However, despite its popularity, this belief has no basis in fact, as a review of the resolution’s history and examination of legal principles demonstrates incontrovertibly.   More . . .
By Ian Williams
IT IS NOW 70 years since the U.N. General Assembly voted for Resolution 181 to partition Palestine between an Arab and a Jewish state. . .    The partition of Mandatory Palestine and dispossession of its people are the original sins of the world organization when it collectively overrode the very principles it had just written into its charter.    ___The Arab side understandably boycotted the U.N.’s Special Committee on Palestine. After all, they were being invited to help map out the cuts for their own vivisection and did not agree with the process. . .   and the Palestinian absence allowed the Zionist side to shape the agenda and the details for the committee members—who, minutes show, were already predisposed to see the Jewish refugees and settlers in a very sympathetic light.    More . . .
by Hillel Schenker
The fact that after over 20 years of fruitless negotiations the Palestinians have chosen an internationalization strategy to try to achieve national independence is considered by the current Israeli government and its supporters to be illegitimate “unilateral action” that bypasses the need for bilateral negotiations with Israel to resolve the conflict. What those opponents of internationalization are conveniently forgetting is the major role that internationalization has played in Israeli history.     More . . .
By Phyllis Bennis  
[. . . .] The bi-polar U.S.-Soviet agreement on the partition of Palestine, and parallel efforts by Washington and Moscow to establish and maintain close ties with the nascent Israeli state, insured that neither the UN nor any other international institution was likely to respond to the Israeli capture of far more of 1947 Palestine than it was granted in Resolution 181. The partition agreement was ostensibly to include the creation of a Palestinian Arab state as well as a special international regime for Jerusalem under the UN Trusteeship Council. But those conditions were never met. Establishing UNRWA to alleviate some of the humanitarian crisis facing the Palestinians expelled from their homes was the primary response.    More . . .
|  THE  ORIGINS  AND  EVOLUTION  OF  THE  PALESTINE  PROBLEM  1917-1988 – Prepared for, and under the guidance of, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People – UNITED NATIONS, New York, 1990

POEM  FOR  THE  DAY. . . . 

Tent #50, on the left, is my new world,
Shared with me by my memories:
Memories as verdant as the eyes of spring.
Memories like the eyes of a woman weeping,
And memories the color of milk and love!

Two doors has my tent, two doors like two wounds
One leads to the other tents, wrinkle-browed
Like clouds no longer able to weep;
And the second ― a rent in the ceiling, leading
To the skies,
Revealing the stars
Like refugees scattered,
And like them, naked.

Also the moon is trudging there
Downcast and weary as the UNRWA,
Yellow as if it were the UNRWA
Under a load of yellow cheese for the refugees.

Tent #50, on the left, that is my present.
But it is too cramped to contain a future!
And ― “Forget!” they say, but how can I?

Teach the night to forget to bring
Dreams showing me my village
And teach the wind to forget to carry to me
The aroma of apricots in my fields!
And teach the sky, too, to forget to rain.

Only then, I may forget my country.

From: Aruri, Naseer and Edmund Ghareeb, eds. ENEMY  OF  THE  SUN:  POETRY  OF  THE  PALESTINIAN RESISTANCE. Washington, DC: Drum and Spear Press, 1970.  Available from abebooks.com


“. . . the chains of an arrogant fate . . .” (Fadwa Tuqan)

❶ 100 years on Balfour Declaration
❷ Saeb Erekat: Nothing is more shameful than [the British] celebrating colonialism

  • “The Palestinian Nakba and Its Continuous Repercussions.” Israel Studies.
  • “Britain’s Secret Re-Assessment of the Balfour Declaration. The Perfidy of Albion.” Journal of the History of International Law.
  • “Political Engagement: The Palestinian Confessional Genre.” Arab Studies Quarterly.

❸ POETRY by Fadwa Tuqan
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
Alray-Palestinian Media Agency
Nov. 2, 2017 ― Palestinians around the world are marking 100 years since the Balfour Declaration was issued on November 2, 1917.
___The Balfour Declaration (“Balfour’s promise” in Arabic) was a public pledge by Britain in 1917 declaring its aim to establish “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine.
___The statement came in the form of a letter from Britain’s then-foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, addressed to Lionel Walter Rothschild, a figurehead of the British Jewish community.
___It was made during World War I (1914-1918) and was included in the terms of the British Mandate for Palestine after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.
[. . . .] Unlike the rest of the post-war mandates, the main goal of the British Mandate there was to create the conditions for the establishment of a Jewish “national home” – where Jews constituted less than 10 percent of the population at the time.    MORE . . .
Palestine News and Information Agency – WAFA         
Nov. 2, 2017 ― Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat said on Thursday that by celebrating the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, the British government has chosen to celebrate 100 years of injustice, racism, and violence.
___“Today we mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, when the British colonial power promised Palestine, a land that wasn’t theirs, to the Zionist movement, thus ignoring the political and national rights of the indigenous Palestinian people. To implement the Balfour Declaration, the United Kingdom made use of the British Mandate of Palestine by oppressing the Palestinian national liberation movement and changing the identity of Palestine,” said Erekat in a statement marking this occasion. MORE . . .    …

Manna, Adel.
ISRAEL STUDIES, vol. 18, no. 2, Summer2013, pp. 86-99.
[. . . .] During the late 19th Century . . . Jews in Europe established an organized Zionist movement aiming to transform Palestine into a Jewish homeland. Furthermore, thousands of Zionist Jews started to immigrate into Palestine and settle it, beginning in the 1880’s.
___However, only at the end of World War I did the Palestinians start to fully grasp the serious challenge of the Zionist project, which by then had earned the official support of Great Britain with THE BALFOUR DECLARATION, ISSUED IN NOVEMBER 1917. The British, who succeeded the Ottomans in controlling Palestine and other neighboring Arab countries, posed a special threat to the national aspirations of the Palestinians. In the next two decades, the Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular did their best to persuade the British to end their support for the Zionist project, but failed to achieve this aim by peaceful means in the 1920’s (See: Muhammad Muslih, The Origins of Palestinian Nationalism. New York, 1988: 191-210.)
___Palestinians who watched the construction of the infrastructure for a Jewish state turned to violence as a last resort to defend their country against British rule and the Zionist newcomers. However, the Jewish state-in-the-making gathered more and more strength and support, particularly after World War II and the disclosure of the horrors of the Holocaust. The climax of international support for establishing a Jewish state in Palestine materialized fully in the UN partition plan, approved on 29 November 1947. Notwithstanding these new realities, the Palestinians were absolutely confident in their cause and believed that justice would prevail.
___At the end of 1947 the Arabs of Palestine were more than two thirds (about 1,350,000) of the country’s two million people. Furthermore, they possessed about 90% of Palestine’s privately-owned land. Hence, as an indigenous stable majority, they believed in their right to take control of a free and complete Palestine.   SOURCE . . .

Quiley, John.
, vol. 13, no. 2, Oct. 2011, pp. 249-283.
[. . . .] In the British Cabinet’s internal discussion of Palestine, however, the prospects of success in meeting these two goals were rated as low. The Arab and Jewish sectors of Palestine’s population were immediately at odds with each other. In 1923 the Cabinet undertook a comprehensive re-assessment of the Jewish national home project. The Cabinet concluded that it could not promote a Jewish national home, yet ensure a peaceful outcome that would protect the Arab population and move Palestine towards independence. For reasons relating to its own interests, however, the Cabinet decided to persist in promoting a Jewish national home. The unfortunate consequence was an Arab-Jewish confrontation that ultimately saw Britain depart unceremoniously from Palestine in 1948, setting the stage for conflict that continues to the present day.
[. . . .] In Palestine, Britain as the administering power committed itself to bringing in an outside population that entertained the goal of establishing itself in a way that seemed to threaten the status of the local population.
___This commitment was contained in the Balfour Declaration, a 1917 document of the British Government. The Balfour Declaration committed Britain to promoting a Jewish “national home” in Palestine, a project being urged by the World Zionist Organization, a Jewish group based in Europe. At the time, Jews constituted 10% of Palestine’s population. The other 90% of the population was Arab. The declaration, issued in the form of a letter signed by A.J. Balfour, the foreign secretary, read:
___His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.    COMPLETE ARTICLE . . .

Mir, Salam.
, vol. 35, no. 4, Fall2013, pp. 360-377.
[. . . .] Fadwa Tuqan’s personal history strikes an unusual inverse parallel with that of Palestinian people. Nineteen seventeen, the year of Tuqan’s birth, coincided with the Balfour Declaration in which the British government promised to establish a Jewish National Home (JNH) in Palestine. Nineteen forty-eight, the year of Tuqan’s father’s death, was the year the poet began to participate in politics and the world outside. Forty-eight was also the time of Nakba, the “Catastrophe,” when Palestine was divided and Israel established. By 1948, Tuqan was the up-and-coming poet who focused mainly on personal concerns and love poetry.
___When her father died and Palestine was lost in 1948, a slight shift in Tuqan’s journey for self-fulfillment takes place. The familial and sociopolitical changes signaled a turbulent period for country and poet.
[. . . .] A Mountainous Journey, An Autobiography by Palestinian poet Fadwa Tuqan (1917-2003) was first published serially in 1978-79, in the Arab Israeli magazine al Jadid. Autobiography is a personal account of the coming of age of this accomplished Palestinian poet, who is among the most celebrated contemporary women poets in the Arab world.   SOURCE . . .

Look how this black
rock has been fastened over my chest
with the chains of an arrogant fate, with the chains of senseless time.
Look, how it grinds beneath it
my fruit and my flower,
carves me with time
and crushes my breath.
Let be! We can’t overpower it.
The chains of my prison will hold.
I shall remain
in isolation
while fate is my jailor.
Leave me
so: no light,
no tomorrow,
no hope.
There is no escaping this black rock,
no refuge.
In vain I try to budge its weight from my chest
by forgetting myself―
how I roamed in
the heart of life
and travelled in
every direction.

I played,
I sang
in the streams of youth,
held up my cup
and greedily drank
until absent to the world.
How the world of pleasure deceived me,
my pain and my misery in its lap!
I have escaped from
the world of my feelings
and dance, swift as birds
laughing in madness. Then from
the depths of my pessimism
a call shook my spirit
and in secret thundered on:

“You will not escape,
here I stay!
There is no running from me, no refuge!”

The shadow of the black rock casts
deformed pictures.
In vain I try to budge it,
in vain seek to escape.
There is no refuge.

How I have probed the land of misery!
I smell the elixir of consolation
in the misery of prisoners like me,
prisoners of fate.
I came among the people
where tragedies are,
and tears,
where whips sizzle and fall
over the hordes,
over the naked backs
and the crushed necks,
where the slaves
are tamed
and rush in groups, each one
foundering in his own
blood and sweat.

I keep on: I seek comfort
but there is no refuge.
The curse of this black rock
was born with me,
a constant trial.
it follows me,
its shadow dogs my steps.
Look how it has settled
in its arrogance
over my chest!
Let be; we can’t overpower it.
The chains of my prison will hold.
My spirit is locked; I am
alone in my struggle
with pain
with time
with fate
and this black rock grinding.

There is no refuge.

From WHEN THE WORDS BURN: AN ANTHOLOGY OF MODERN ARABIC POETRY: 1945-1987. Translated and edited by John Mikhail Asfour. Dunvegan, Ontario, Canada. Cormorant Books, 1988.  Available from Barnes & Noble.

“. . . I am all that remains of our earth . . .” (Rashid Hussein)

❶ Israeli forces suppress protests marking Balfour Declaration centenary

  • Background: “The Framing of the Question of Palestine by the Early Palestinian Press: Zionist Settler-Colonialism and the Newspaper Filastin, 1912-1922.” Journal of Holy Land & Palestine Studies.

❷ Ashrawi condemns Israeli plan to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from Jerusalem
❸ More Illegal Israeli Settlements
❹ POETRY by Rashid Hussein
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Ma’an News Agency
Nov. 1, 2017 ― Clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli forces in Bethlehem city on Wednesday following a march commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, the 1917 document which supported establishing a Jewish state on what would become British Mandate Palestine, and paved the what for the to the establishment of Israel.
___Palestinian protesters marched from the southern to northern ends of the city, until they reached Israel’s separation wall. Protesters set up an effigy of Arthur Balfour, the author of the declaration, beating and throwing shoes at the figure while burning a copy of the declaration.
___Members of various Palestinian political factions had called for the march in protest of the 100 year anniversary of the declaration, and of recent comments by British Prime Minister Theresa May celebrating the centenary of the declaration.
___Israeli forces quickly suppressed the protest, using live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas, injuring one with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the foot, while several others suffered from severe tear gas inhalation.  MORE . . .

Pappe, Ilan.
Journal of Holy Land & Palestine Studies
, vol. 14, no. 1, May 2015, pp. 59-81.
[. . . .]  Settler colonialism depicts the Zionist movement as a project that had all the characteristics of a colonialist enterprise, initiated by people coming from Europe and settling in the rest of the world, but who developed their own, and new, national identity within the colony or the colonised area (as happened in Australia, the USA and elsewhere).
[. . . .] The settler-colonialism paradigm focuses on those who colonised, invaded and settled. The victims are the same whether they are the genocided indigenous population of the Americas or the colonised natives of South Africa and Palestine. As their fate proves they were not fighting only against classical colonial exploitation but against their physical or conceptual elimination as a nation in their own right. . . .  Palestine, if indeed one accepts even in part the applicability of the paradigm to this case study, offered a very articulate, documented and written response to ‘their’ settler colonialism. This local view is described in this article not as regular feature of national discourse or even liberation . . .   but as an existential angst, warranted by the very nature of settler colonialism. It was angst voiced in a very definitive period, just before and during the First World War and has impacted on the Palestinian very existence ever since, and in particular when the angst proved to be validated by the events of the 1948 war in Palestine.
[. . . .] In similar vein, Yusuf Diya Pasha al-Khalidi wrote [in 1891] to the Chief Rabbi of France appealing to him to halt Jewish colonisation, predicting it would lead to a violent conflict: ‘There were still uninhabited countries where one could settle millions of poor Jews. . . But in the name of God let Palestine be left in peace.’
[. . . .] Zionism became a central issue when Britain occupied Palestine and established a League of Nations’ Mandate there. Early suspicions of the pro-Zionist bias of the new rulers arose when the Zionist committee of delegates (Va’ad Hazirim) was invited by Britain in April 1918 to survey the country and examine the, still secret then, pledge by the British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, to create a homeland for the Jews in Palestine. The committee transformed the Jews in Palestine from religious millet into a political movement with a representative body, claiming the right to own Palestine.   SOURCE.

Palestine News and Information Agency – WAFA
Oct. 31, 2017 ― PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi Tuesday condemned what she described as “the dangerous plan” proposed by Israel’s Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin aimed at ethnic cleansing Palestinians from Jerusalem by splitting off the Palestinian neighborhoods situated next to the Apartheid Wall from the so-called Jerusalem Municipality, placing them under a new Israeli jurisdiction.
___Elkin’s plan specifically targets Shufat refugee camp, Kufr Aqab, al-Walaja, and a small part of al-Sawahreh. The measure is expected to affect between 100,000 to 150,000 Palestinians living in these neighborhoods.
___“Should this be adopted, such a deplorable plan would forcibly displace thousands of indigenous Palestinian Jerusalemites and transform their status to ‘non-existence,’ depriving them of the most basic rights and services, including shelter, healthcare and education. It is beyond a doubt that Israel is deliberately working to erase the Palestinian presence from our occupied capital and to distort the demographic, cultural, religious, and political character of the city,” said Ashrawi.   MORE . . .
Palestine at the UN    
Oct. 18, 2017 ― Israel’s constant provocative declarations and advancement of plans to construct and expand Israeli settlements throughout the Occupied State of Palestine, including East Jerusalem, in direct and grave contravention of international law and United Nations Security Council resolutions, including resolution 2334 (2016), and in blatant defiance of the international community, continue to heighten tensions and to undermine any efforts to salvage the two-State solution on the 1967 lines and the prospects for peace.
___In this connection, yesterday, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office issued a press release announcing its plans to construct 3,736 more settlement units throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
[. . . .] It is clear that with each announcement of further Israeli settlement construction the Government of Israel reveals its true and unlawful intentions, which is to annex and colonize more and more Palestinian land and to persist with its half-century foreign occupation. The global consensus continues to be in support of the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines as the only viable solution and foundation for a just and comprehensive peace. . . .  Israel’s provocative and inciteful rhetoric, decisions and actions are totally to the contrary of this global consensus and constitute grave breaches of international law . . .    MORE . . .


I am the land,
I am the land . . . do not deny me rain,
I am all that remains of it,
If you plant my brow with trees
And turn my poetry into vineyards
And wheat
And roses
That you may know me.
So let the rain pour down.

I, cloud of my life, am the hills of Galilee,
I am the bosom of Haifa
And the forehead of Jaffa.
So do not whisper: it is impossible.
Can you not hear my child’s approaching footsteps
At the threshold of your soul?
Can you not see the veins of my brow
Striving to kiss your lips?

Waiting for you, my poetry turned to earth,
Has become fields,
Has turned into wheat
And trees.
I am all that remains of our earth,
I am all that remains of what you love,
So pour . . . pour with bounty.
Pour down the rain.

From THE  PALESTINIAN  WEDDING:  A  BILINGUAL  ANTHOLOGY  OF  CONTEMPORARY  PALESTINIAN  RESISTANCE  POETRY. Ed. and Trans. A. M. Elmessiri. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2011. Reprint from Three Continents Press, Inc., 1982. Available from Palestine Online Store.  
About Rashid Hussein