Nohad (Nihad) Ali Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Haifa.
An-Najah National University
June 6th. The National Campaign for the Return of Deportees to Revive the Church of Nativity in cooperation with the Department of Political Sciences at An-Najah University organized a workshop titled “Deportation: Rights and Duties”. Attendees included: Bishop Atallah, the Arab Member in the Knesset Ibrahim Sarsour, in addition to a number of representatives of institutions, national figures, professors and former deportees.
At the beginning of the meeting, Dr. Sam Alfoqahaa, Director of the Public Relations Department at An-Najah, welcomed the participants and stressed the University’s commitment to the National Campaign that is dedicated to the Palestinian deportees.
Mrs. Kifah Harb, Leader of the National Campaign, pointed out the importance of the workshop which would set out strategies for future work that will place the deportation issue on top of the national priorities and open new possibilities for cooperation on multiple levels so that the deportees would come back to their families alive.
Bishop Atallah said that all the bishops and heads of churches are strongly supporting the deportation issue and emphasized the need to intensify activities and actions through institutionalizing the efforts of the different concerned bodies and forming a board of trustees.
The workshop included three papers. The first one was presented by Dr. Nayef Abu Khalaf, Head of the Political Sciences Department at An-Najah, and was titled “Deportation from a Political Perspective”. Dr. Abu Khalaf discussed in his paper the political nature of the deportation issue and said the Israeli occupation has violated all the treaties and conventions especially the Fourth Geneva Convention by deporting these Palestinians; it also used emergency regulations since deportation of individuals is a war crime and a crime against humanity. Moreover, Dr. Abu Khalaf discussed the available options to deal with this issue which include not abandoning the rights, the collective effort to make this issue a priority, as well as calling upon the international community to assume its responsibilities toward it as it is considered one of the human rights issues.
The second paper was presented by Mrs. Harb in which she discussed the deportation issue from a human perspective. In the paper, Mrs. Harb explained the impact of the deportation policy on the psychological and social aspect of the Palestinians, as well as the deportees’ will to seek freedom and their suffering and their families because of such policy.
Moreover, she said that the suffering that results from the involuntary deportation and transportation of the Palestinians starts way before the speaking about the arrangement of the human needs; involuntary transportation or deportation is considered a crime against humanity since the human suffering that results from such policy exceeds the human capacity for endurance.
Deportation, Mrs. Harb explained, creates an internal dilemma inside the deportee’s self which lead him / her to believe that he / she is no longer within the concern or interest of the people or the world.
Deportees always feel detached from their world as they lack that sense of family gathering and the feeling of peace and safety that the family often provides to its individuals.
Dr. Nihad Ali, instructor at the University of Haifa, presented the third paper titled “Deportation from the Point of View of Solidarity”. Dr. Ali discussed the importance of exposing the deportation policy that Israel uses and telling the world about this serious issue; this can be achieved through an act of solidarity with the deportees so as to confront the occupation’s insistence to continue use this policy against the Palestinians. Speakers must spread the world and educate the local, regional and international communities about this issue and its repercussions on the Palestinians’ rights and freedom.
Finally, the participants came up with a number of recommendations whereby the participating institutions and individuals considered themselves part of the National Campaign. They also called for the formation of a board of trustees which would support the Campaign and called upon the Palestinian National Authority and the civil society institutions to support the Campaign. Moreover, they stressed the importance of presenting the deportation issue in front of the different local, regional and international institutions such as the Arab League, the Knesset and the European Union.