Photo for al-Qabu village, April 2010 by Hazem Jamjoum ( © BADIL) Photo for al-Qabu village, April 2010 by Hazem Jamjoum ( © BADIL)

we are happy to present to you this Special 50th Issue of Al-Majdal.

This is an opportunity for us to stop, look back and assess our progress since the launch of this magazine in 1999. It’s amazing how time passes. It’s even more amazing how things have not changed. The first editorial of Al-Majdal set the course for BADIL’s rights-based approach, in light of the ‘peace process’ at the time. BADIL Staff, the authors of most of our editorials, felt it was important to clarify that:

“...Political negotiations and agreements between Israel, the PLO/PA (and the USA), do not invalidate international law and UN resolutions. The Oslo negotiations represent an effort to obtain – based on the unfavorable balance of power – a de facto solution of the refugee question outside the framework of international law and UN resolutions. An explicit renunciation of the right of return by the PLO/PA in a future political agreement with Israel cannot delegitimize the refugee claim, because – according to standards of international law - existing international law and UN Resolutions can be replaced only by a political agreement whose provisions grant rights equal to or beyond those defined by international law. Furthermore, given the strong Palestinian public demand for the right of return, its explicit renouncement by the PLO/PA would delegitimize the Palestinian leadership.”

 

excerpt, almost 14 years after it was written, an eye opening experience. The ‘political negotiations and agreements’ have not fulfilled what they promised to achieve – a resolution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians (limited to the mandate of Palestinian National Authority, PNA). The Oslo process intentionally did not seek to provide a solution to the refugee problem, something that BADIL sought to highlight in its publications. BADIL was, and still is, a leading organization with its rights-based approach to solutions for the Palestinian question, regardless of the political orientations prevalent among many, both locally and internationally. Moreover, in that original editorial, BADIL Staff go on to stress that “Return is a necessity for social justice and political stability in the Middle East” and that “Returnis practically possible”, two principles that we still firmly hold, 49 issues later. For 50 issues, Al-Majdal has been consistent with the motto coined in its first issue (March 1999), aiming “to raise public awareness and support for a just solution to Palestinian residency and refugee issues”.

 

This Special 50th Issue consists of a hand-picked selection of articles, some from earlier issues, while some are more recent. We thought to present our readers with a ‘guidebook’ on the ongoing Palestinian displacement, its historical, ideological, and political causes since the Nakba, as well as the rights-based approach to the right to return as supported by international law. We also include a brief insight into BADIL’s involvement in the current political-activist landscape, through its partnership in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Every article in this selection is followed by recommendations for further reading from previous Al-Majdal publications. The articles recommended as part of this further reading offer in-depth analysis of study cases which elaborate upon the general topics presented in the Special 50th Issue.

 

We chose to do it this way for a number of reasons: firstly, our aim is to offer a small selection of articles that represent our analysis to the Palestinian refugee problem. The second reason for keeping the selection small relates to the fact that we want Al-Majdal to maintain its form as a magazine that is accessible to all, rather than becoming a bulky anthology. A third, more practical reason relates to the fact that all Al-Majdal issues are freely available online via our website. Our readers are warmly encouraged to visit and download the issues according to their area of interest. Finally, we hope you find this Special 50th Issue of Al-Majdal insightful, and look forward to continue to provide pioneering, up-to-date analysis of the Palestinian refugee problem. Above all, we look forward to the day when we do not need to publish Al-Majdal magazine in its current format and theme, i.e. when the right to return is secured for the inhabitants of the town of Al-Majdal, along with the rest of the Palestinian refugees worldwide.