A nation of memory

I Just attended a lecture at school about Palestinian refugees and I am amazed, (depressed) by how Arab intellectuals are still holding the same old romantic futile idea about Palestine and Nakba and how this discourse is completely separate from the reality of Palestinian refugees everywhere.

So I was at an event introducing a book about Palestinian refugees and the notion of return and homeland for the third generation Palestinians.

The speaker who did a good job talking with Palestinian refugees in Syria before and after the war concluded that Palestinians are still determining on returning to Palestine and that the Nakba memory in their head is still alive.

I agree with some of what she said that the Nakba is still a vivid memory in our mind as third generation Palestinians and returning to Palestine is something we hope to get one day. But this is not really what’s happening on the ground. The right to return has become a rosy dream for young Palestinian refugees. Many are so afraid to acknowledge the fact that meaning of this right has been emptied with the various peace deal with Israel which Jordan and Egypt signed on decades ago. There is no serious political movement working to address this right. The Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, which hasn’t led to anything since Oslo, are not addressing the rights of those who are stranded in neighboring Arab countries without any protection, a citizenship or passports.

The Syrian government along with Lebanese one have been depriving Palestinian refugees of many civil rights on the premise that if the Palestinian refugees are granted those basic rights, they are withdrawing the right of return.

But what right of return when no real military confrontation to has happened with Israel in decades and no serious talks for fair peace have happened either.

The wars on Gaza are not struggles to free Palestine as they were promoted in the media. In most cases, they were fighting for the rights of the people in the stripe. Everyone is talking about one or two states solutions while the issue of refugees has been frozen and been paralyzed by using the “right to return” discourse over and over again.

The Palestinian cause should be always alive because it’s a fair one and because Palestinians have been discriminated, killed and displaced by Israeli, but for a third generation refugee, I see that this discourse of fighting Israel for the rights of Palestinians while doing nothing about in reality is futile and could go on for years.

We have no strong political leadership to aspire for, yet, we are not building a new one. We’re agreeing that President Abbas doesn’t represent the Palestinian cause for liberation, yet, we’re not doing anything to take this official representation from him, to give it to a young, enthusiastic Palestinian leaders who could achieve something, real gains for Palestinians.