Tomorrow is Nakba Day, marking 69 years since Israeli terror gangs ethnically cleansed 78% of Palestine in 1948, creating, in the process, the Palestinian refugee problem.
Uri Avnery, is a leader of Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc), a former member of the Knesset, a journalist, and, as a member of Menachem Begin's terrorist Irgun in 1948, a creator of the Palestinian refugee problem.
Salman Abu Sitta is a founder of the Palestine Land Society (an organisation concerned with the implementation of the Palestinian Right of Return), and the seminal website palestineremembered.com. He is a Palestinian refugee.
What follows is a 2014-17 correspondence between the two. It was given by Abu Sitta to the Mondoweiss website and posted there on 22/4/17 under the heading 'Why do I not cry out for the right of return?' - an exchange between Uri Avnery and Salman Abu Sitta.
ESSENTIAL READING, I re-post it here in four parts over the next four days:
Salman to Uri 7/5/14:
I read with great interest your interview in Haaretz about your rich and eventful life. You have stuck to your principles since the early 50s when you found that the old doctrine was neither workable nor moral.
I remember vividly our chat over dinner in Paris with your kind wife Rachel, bless her soul [at a UN conference on the Palestinian refugees]. You described your early days as a young German by the name of Helmut, when you joined the terrorist organization, the Irgun, and when you, carrying a machine gun on a hilltop at Huleigat (where there is now a war memorial to 'honour' those soldiers) watched the sea of humanity of expelled refugees march towards Gaza by the seashore.
I also told you my story; how I became a refugee without ever seeing a Jew in my life and how I spent years trying to find out who was responsible for my becoming a refugee, by name, face and battalion.
I remember asking you, 'Would you agree to my return to my house if it were up to you?'
You said, emphatically, NO.
I wrote all about this in my memoirs to be published this year in Europe and USA.
I am reminded of a similar story but with a different ending. I refer to Reflections of a Daughter of the '48 Generation' by Dr Tikva Honig-Parnass. It is a moving account of how truth and reality faced her, as a Palmach soldier, with the grave injustice done to Palestinians. Since then she has spent her energy defending their rights, including the Right of Return.
I saw no trace or hint of retraction in your interview of the kind I had hoped for, namely your recognition of the Right of Return, or any atonement for the great sin: the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Would it not be a fitting last station of a long life (and I wish you more of it) for you to stand on hilltops (again) and shout for all to hear, summing up all your life experiences: the refugees must return, we must repent the sin of ethnic cleansing?
Is this too much to ask of a principled man like you to do this? I am not asking on behalf of the Palestinians, because no doubt they WILL return. I am hoping that it will be a crown to your life's achievements in the Israeli milieu.
As I have written repeatedly: The history of the Jews will not be marked any more by the killing of Christ or the Nazi atrocities of WWII, but indelibly by what they have done to the Palestinians, deliberately and constantly, without remorse, regret or remedy, thus reflecting that side of the human spirit which does not learn from history and voids itself of any moral posture.
Salman Abu Sitta