In this explanatory diagram, attorney Usama Halabi attempts to chart Israel's regime over land by situating the key institutions (Israel Lands Authority, Jewish National Fund, Israeli Development Authority) as well as the most important of Israel's laws over land in relation to one another.
One of the most prominent results of the Nakba, which befell the Palestinian people in 1948, is the drastic change that occurred in respect to the control of land in Palestine. The military occupation of territory on one hand, and the expulsion and forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their land on the other, led to effective Israeli control over the majority of the land in the newly established state.
Much has been written, forgotten and written again over the past century on the subject of Zionism and Israel’s unique civil status categories and corresponding practices. For a person with a long life and memory, it may be surprising to find that the crucial distinction between nationality and citizenship in Israel is news to so many people concerned with the conflict and problem of Zionism. Understandably for observers not regularly engaged in the conflict, such as human rights treaty body members, the concept has been a revelation.1
For anyone taking a road trip along the highways of the part of Palestine that became Israel in 1948, one is bound to spot a blue and green structure in the shape of a bird marked with the Hebrew letters KKL, which stands for Keren Kayemeth L’Yisrael, the Hebrew name of the Israeli branch of the Jewish National Fund (JNF). All around the bird one will see expanses of forests planted sometime in the past few decades. A walk through one of these forests will take the visitor past fruit trees, cactus plants, terraced hillsides, and the ruins of buildings. In some cases, these ruins are explained in a JNF brochure pointing to their ancient history, in other cases, one is left to the devices of one's imagination. In all cases, these sites are what remains of some of the more than five hundred villages depopulated and destroyed through the course of Israel’s establishment, the homes of millions of Palestinian refugees struggling to return to them for over sixty years. By walking through a JNF park or forest, one inhales the fresh smell of the green-washing of Palestine’s Nakba.
This article is based on my personal experience as a teacher of Palestinian students in Israeli public schools and through my work as school inspector and history curriculum team coordinator for Arab schools from 1975 until 2004. During this period I was engaged in efforts at textbook reform, and on research about Israel's education system which I undertook for my doctoral dissertation.1
Al-Lajjun villagers continue their struggle
Lying at the foot of the plain of Marj ibn Amr, an ancient crossroads where the road from Haifa and Lebanon crosses the Damascus to Cairo thoroughfare, the village of al-Lajjun has a long history of political significance. In 1516 when the Ottomans took the area from Mamluk control, Lajjun was one of five district (liwa) towns in Palestine. During the British Mandate villagers played a significant role in the Arab Revolt–the anti-colonial struggle of 1936-1939. This legacy of resistance is proudly remembered by today’s villagers fighting a legal battle from their position as internally displaced only 6 kilometers down the road.
How the unresolved Palestinian refugee question stands for the failure of the international human rights and humanitarian regime
At the beginning of the 20th century, most Palestinians lived inside the borders of Palestine, which is now divided into Israel and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Today, almost 75% of the Palestinian people are displaced, and Palestinian refugees present the world’s largest and longest-standing unresolved refugee case. Approximately half of the Palestinian people live in forced exile outside their homeland, while another 23% are displaced within the borders of former Palestine.1 Six decades after the first and most massive wave of forced displacement in 1948, Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons (IDP) still lack access to durable solutions and reparations, including return, restitution and compensation, in accordance with international law and UN resolutions. While more Palestinians are being displaced today, effective protection is still not available for them.
Apartheid is an Afrikaans term for "apartness," which means to "separate," to "put apart," to "segregate." It can be summed up as the institutionalization of a regime of systematic racial discrimination or more precisely, "a political system where racism is regulated in law through acts of parliament."1
Discussions on whether Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid are not new; numerous articles were published in the 1980s and 1990s concluding that the situation in Israel and to some extent the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) is one of apartheid.2 These discussions were, however, sidelined by the Madrid-Oslo process in the mid-1990s, which was widely expected to bring about at least partial self-determination of the Palestinian people in the OPT. Discussions on the applicability of the apartheid label to Israel have recently re-emerged, mainly as a result of the entrenchment of Israel's regime of occupation and colonization in the OPT and its continued discriminatory policies towards Palestinian refugees and citizens of Israel.3
This is the transcript of an interview conducted by al-Majdal with Mr. Khalil Tafakji of the Mapping and Geographic Information Systems Department of the Arab Studies Society in Jerusalem. The interview was conducted on 30 December 2008.
al-Majdal: You work at the Mapping and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Department, what is this organization?
KT: We were founded in 1983 as part of the Arab Studies Society by the late Faisal Husseini.