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West Bank - Thousands Of Israeli Arabs Call On Independence Day For Return To Homes

Published on: May 12, 2016 02:52 PM
By: Jerusalem Post
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Israeli Arabs and other supporters wave Palestinian flags as they march during a protest to mark the right of return for refugees who fled their homes during the 1948 ArabÐIsraeli War, at a village near Rahat in southern Israel, May 12, 2016. The 1948 war followed the creation of Israel, which marks its 68th Independence Day this year. REUTERS/Ammar AwadIsraeli Arabs and other supporters wave Palestinian flags as they march during a protest to mark the right of return for refugees who fled their homes during the 1948 ArabÐIsraeli War, at a village near Rahat in southern Israel, May 12, 2016. The 1948 war followed the creation of Israel, which marks its 68th Independence Day this year. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

West Bank - Thousands of Arab Israelis from across the country attended a demonstration in the Negev on Independence Day – the 19th annual event – calling for a return to their villages lost during the War of Independence.

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As Palestinian flags waved in the crowd and the national anthem Biladi (My Country) blared, thousands stood with hand over heart – with a strong nationalist feeling in the air.

Speakers made calls to unity and used phrases such as “our land.” There were tents with pictures of Arab villages lost during the 1948 war.

Numerous Israeli Arab media outlets were present and some 30 buses and hundreds of cars were parked in a field at the event site near Rahat. The atmosphere had the feeling of a cultural event, with families and children in strollers.

Joint List head Ayman Odeh said, “The question of the Nakba [the “disaster” that Arabs consider the establishment of Israel] is not a question of the past, but a question of the future.

Acknowledging the Nakba, and acting for correcting the injustice is the only way to true reconciliation between the two peoples.”

Joint List MK and Balad head Jamal Zahalka told The Jerusalem Post the event “emphasized that we need to defend our villages, houses, and land.”

Israeli Arabs and other supporters wave Palestinian flags as they march during a protest to mark the right of return for refugees who fled their homes during the 1948 ArabÐIsraeli War, at a village near Rahat in southern Israel, May 12, 2016. The 1948 war followed the creation of Israel, which marks its 68th Independence Day this year. REUTERS/Ammar AwadIsraeli Arabs and other supporters wave Palestinian flags as they march during a protest to mark the right of return for refugees who fled their homes during the 1948 ArabÐIsraeli War, at a village near Rahat in southern Israel, May 12, 2016. The 1948 war followed the creation of Israel, which marks its 68th Independence Day this year. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

The message is that, “We will return to our villages and homes,” he added.

Asked if this goal is realistic, especially with a right-wing government in power, Zahalka responded, “We want justice. The Palestinian people has suffered.”

He described the event as having “a feeling of struggle.” Pressed if the goal of return would ever be achieved, he replied, “Time will tell.”

Muhammad Barakei, the leader of the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee and former Hadash chairman, told the Post, “The message to the government is that the flag of justice will not fall, even if we are passing difficult days.”

He noted the strong youth presence and said they “will not lose the narrative.”

Joint List MK Yousef Jabareen told the Post that the event was held in the Negev to bring attention to the plight of the unrecognized Beduin villages and home demolitions on what the government SAYS are illegal settlements.

“The Arab-Beduin community has historical rights to these lands.”

“We are sending a message that this is an integral struggle of the entire community against the government destruction of villages,” said Jabareen.

“The idea is also on the return to destroyed villages, which is getting more awareness,” he said.

“About one-quarter of our community is internally displaced persons, and are denied the right to return to these lands and villages,” said Jabareen.

The Hadash MK noted that the protest “to defend our rights was peaceful.”

A handful of what appeared to be Israeli Jews, some journalists and others involved with left-wing organizations, also were present and could easily be picked out of the crowd.

An Arab woman who works at an Israeli university and did not want to be identified by name, said that while many countries in the world have acknowledged displaced peoples, Israel “is in denial of the Nakba.”

Amichai Yogev, southern director of the NGO Regavim – describing itself as seeking to ensure a responsible, legal and accountable use of the country’s land – told the Post, “This was a badge of shame to the police that enabled a protest against the state on Independence Day.

“The fact that many buses brought Arabs from the North indicates there is not enough Beduin who are willing to go against the state and thus they had to bring reinforcements from the North,” he added.

An Arab-Israeli man holds a Palestinian flag during a protest to mark the right of return for refugees who fled their homes during the 1948 ArabÐIsraeli War, at a village near Rahat in southern Israel, May 12, 2016. The 1948 war followed the creation of Israel, which marks its 68th Independence Day this year. REUTERS/Ammar AwadAn Arab-Israeli man holds a Palestinian flag during a protest to mark the right of return for refugees who fled their homes during the 1948 ArabÐIsraeli War, at a village near Rahat in southern Israel, May 12, 2016. The 1948 war followed the creation of Israel, which marks its 68th Independence Day this year. REUTERS/Ammar Awad


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Read Comments (7)  —  Post Yours »

1

 May 12, 2016 at 03:01 PM Boochie Says:

They should be able to move into the homes the Jews were thrown out of from their Arab hosts (

2

 May 12, 2016 at 03:06 PM Benny Says:

Go back to your land, Jordan and Syria!

3

 May 12, 2016 at 03:09 PM kenyaninwhitehouse Says:

so thousands of Jewish boys died fighting the enemy when in fact the enemy is within, even sits as head of the 3rd largest party in the Knesset and now the Zionists want to take yeshiva boys from the beis medrash in order to defend the Arabs rights to democracy, in 20 years Arabs and chareidim (anti and non-Zionists in other words) will make up 50% of the population what will the Zionist enterprise do then.

4

 May 12, 2016 at 03:25 PM bennyt Says:

The Arabs keep living in the past. That's why they have no future. European Jews could also have lived in the past after the Holocaust but instead chose to rebuild their lives and look to the future. The establishment of the State of Israel and flourishing of worldwide Yiddishkeit and Torah is the best revenge against those who tried to destroy us in the past and to those who want destroy us today.

5

 May 12, 2016 at 04:52 PM Schmuel Says:

Those momzarim forced nearly 800,000 Jews to flee Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and Libya. Property (land, homes, money, etc.) was stolen, and the Jews were only allowed to leave with the clothes on their backs. To this day, not one penny in compensation was ever paid; nor, does the news media EVER report about the persecution, displacement, and expulsion of Jews from North Africa, as well as from other Arab countries. Therefore, EY should not give any of those miscreants a penny in compensation, nor should the so-called refugees be ever allowed to live in EY.

6

 May 13, 2016 at 12:49 AM blank space Says:

How about us agreeing to your demands if you give us back our fallen boys who gave their lives to defend us against your support of the Arab armies.

7

 May 13, 2016 at 10:20 AM Tsfat-Breslover-Kotzker Says:

By making unrealistic claims the Arab politicians guarantee themselves long-term employment by creating a situation that cannot be resolved.
They can march in the negev every day for the next ten years and all they will get is sunburned.
Or they could sit down and make an agreement based on reality. Which is not their minhag.

8

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