PALESTINIANS in ISRAEL by Khansaa Diab
Palestinians Arabs in Israel are a unique national minority. They are residents of the State of Israel, an integral part of the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim people, and a nation.
This is a former majority that overnight became a minority in its own land. In contrast to many minorities around the world, this is not a minority of immigrants but an indigenous minority, a minority of natives. Furthermore, the Palestinians in Israel are citizens of a country that is at conflict with their own people, the Palestinian people, and with their own nation, the Arab nation. The government and the Jewish majority in Israel refer to the Palestinian minority as if it was a hostile minority or a ‘fifth column’. A third attribute is that the Palestinians in Israel are citizens of a state that defines itself as the state of the Jews and not as the state of all its citizens.
A discriminatory policy of deprivation in almost all domains is thus enforced against them.
Nevertheless, since the Palestinian Al-Nakba (tragedy of 1948), they maintained their identity, culture, and national affiliation; they struggled and are still struggling to obtain a just, comprehensive and permanent peace in the Middle East through a fair and lasting resolution to the Palestinian refugee status according to UN resolutions, and for reaching peace through the declaration of an independent Palestinian state.
Palestinian Arabs recently initiated steps and drew up documents termed “visionary documents” in which they demand
The State should acknowledge responsibility for Al-Nakba and its generally disastrous consequences, particularly for the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel.
The State should recognize the Palestinian Arabs in Israel as an indigenous national minority group with the right to choose its representatives directly and be responsible for their religious, educational and cultural affairs.
The State has to acknowledge that Israel is the homeland for both Palestinians and Jews, the relationship between whom should be based international conventions.
Israel should admit that the Palestinian Arabs in Israel have a special status as an indigenous, cultural, national group enjoying full citizenship.
Israel should refrain from adopting policies and schemes in favor of the majority and espouse policies of corrective justice to compensate for the damage inflicted on the Palestinian Arabs due to the ethnic favoritism policies of the Jews.
Khansaa Diab is a lecturer and pedagogic instructor at Department of Special Education in Arab society at the David Yellin College of Education.
Posted on January 15, 2009 4:59 AM
Conflict resonates for prof.
By Phenola Lawrence Collegian Staff Writer
For some, the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians may seem far from home. But Penn State professor Khansaa Diab, a Palestinian living in the midst of violence in Israel, has seen both sides of the hostilities firsthand.
Diab, who is teaching at Penn State under a yearlong fellowship, said she has followed the conflict closely for some time. Because of the current violence surrounding her ancestral lands in the Gaza Strip -- a western region on the border of Israel and Egypt -- Diab has lived in northern Israel all her life. She said she finds it difficult to understand Israel's justifications for continuing battles.
"It's a very muddled perspective," the education professor said. "We are talking about an occupation here. I cannot agree with the Israelis that they have no options left."
The deadly violence along the Gaza Strip began anew recently with the expiration of an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire on Dec. 19. Both Israelis and Palestinians have laid claim to the land -- and both sides argue they are acting in self-defense.
For Diab, who argues "Palestine is fighting an Israeli occupation around its borders," the violence is a modern form of terrorism from Israel, she said. Israeli soldiers do not care about the life of the Palestinians of Gaza, she added.
"I don't agree with violence," Diab said, "but I don't know how else Palestine can make it clear to Israel to end their occupation."
However, not everyone shares the same opinion. Daniel Kutner, general counsel of Israel to the mid-Atlantic region, believes Israel is the injured party.
"Israel withdrew completely from the Gaza Strip in 2005," Kutner said. "We hoped that the violence would cease. Instead, the Hamas grew stronger and the missile fire increased."
Kutner said Israel has tried all types of remedies -- international persuasion, cease-fire agreements, military response -- but nothing has seemed to work. Israel now faces no alternative, he said.
"Israel had to put an end to the misery of its people," Kutner said. "Israel has to bring down the Hamas who attack Israel and bring peace and tranquility to the area. We want to destroy the Hamas' capabilities."
But reality isn't so simple, Diab said. For her, Israel will have to make concessions in good faith to establish true peace in the area.
"This conflict can be dissolved," Diab said. "Israel needs to give back the land they occupy -- leave the borders, leave the supplies, leave the people alone. Stop the violence with a real intent and have a real justice contract."
Kutner agrees the violence needs to stop, but he places full responsibility on Hamas, arguing the Palestinian faction is refusing to abide by the laws the international community has set.
"In order to achieve Palestinian goals, we should achieve a two-state goal," Kutner said. "Unfortunately, the Hamas doesn't believe in that. They don't recognize Israel at all. As soon as Hamas stops attacking Israel, we can try to have a sustainable and durable peace -- that's all Israel wants."
Diab, who teaches a class on conflict resolution, said she'd like more people -- especially students -- to learn as much about the violence as they can.
"I refuse to hear that it is too complex to resolve," Diab said. "That is just another way to maintain the status quo. But the Palestinians cannot continue another day under this position."