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Editorial: our name change

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al-majdal replaces our old quarterly ARTICLE 74 which updated our international constituency about our efforts for the promotion of Palestinian residency and refugee rights between 1991 and 1998*. Over a period of several years, ARTICLE 74 had gradually developed from a small newsletter focused on the hardships - caused by the 1967 Israeli occupation - of Palestinian families who wish to live united in their homeland, into a modest magazine covering a much larger variety of issues, related to the ongoing struggle of the exiled Palestinian people for the restitution of their rights in Palestine (right of return to their homes, recovery of lost property, compensation for physical and psychological damage caused by their forceful eviction since 1948). The critical re-examination of Palestinian history, and the search for new ways and means to raise Palestinian refugee rights in the post-Oslo era became the pressing agenda of the Palestinian people which began to express itself in our small, English language magazine. By 1999, the frame of reference suggested by its old name (ARTICLE 74/Protocol of 1977 Additional to the Geneva Convention, concerning facilitation of family reunification) is no longer up-to-date.

al-majdal is named after one of Palestinian cities in the south of Palestine, home to some 11,000 Palestinian women, men, youth, children, brought to a sudden end by the forceful superimposure of the Israeli city of Ashkelon. Unlike many others towns and villages in Palestine, not all of the people of al-Majdal Jad, as it was known, had vacated their town during the war of 1948. More than a 1,500 residents remained steadfast until 1950, when they were finally evicted by a combination of Israeli military force and bureaucratic measures reminicent of the current Israeli policy of ethnic cleansing applied against the Palestinian inhabitants in the eastern areas of occupied Jerusalem. Thus, Palestinians of al-Majdal Jad were turned into refugees, most of them finding shelter in the nearby Gaza Strip. Like other Palestinian refugees, they have not disappeared. They have remained close to their homes and lands. Of old age now, they, their children and grandchildren have built a new, temporary existence and identity as refugees. For the past 50 years, they have built new hopes and dreams based on the international recognition of their right of return, and struggled for the day when they would live as free citizens in al-Majdal/Ashkelon.

al-majdal will serve as a platform of communication between Palestinian refugees and all those - internationals and Israelis - who, based on the painful lesson of the Oslo process, have taken up the challenge of working for Palestinian refugee rights and a just peace in the Middle East. al majdal will report about and promote initiatives aimed at achieving the Palestinian right of return and restitution of lost property, as well as Palestinian national rights in Jerusalem, based on the principle of broad involvement of the Palestinian community and cooperation between those in Palestine and the diaspora.

BADIL Resource Center
Bethlehem, March 1999


Al-Majdal Authors