Remembering the Stateless Palestinian Refugees on World Refugee Day

20 Jun

The United Nations’ World Refugee Day is an annual reminder that the 4.5 million Palestinian refugees are one of the most vulnerable people in the world. The COVID-19 pandemic and the anti-racism protests that have transfixed the nation’s attention have demonstrated how urgently we need to fight against privileged status, and how firm we must be in demanding equal rights for all people. The pursuit of equal justice demands building a world where no human being is made a stateless refugee to privilege another.

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mai abdul rahman            June 2020

The United Nations’ World Refugee Day is observed on June 20th.  It is an annual reminder of the  Palestinian refugees whose families were forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution and violence. They were coerced into leaving their homes, lands, and orchards to house European Jews, who moved into the homes Palestinians built and owned, and have since enjoyed the fruit of the lands their ancestors tilled since the birth of Jesus Christ.

Today, the Jews who forced the Palestinians off their land and displaced them are privileged citizens of the Israeli State, but the million Palestinians whose homes and ancestral lands Israelis claim are stateless people without legal protection, country or nationality. Stateless Palestinians do not belong to any country, and their stateless situation opens them to grave injustices. They are discriminated against, and are excluded from access to essential services, health care, education, employment, and the right to own property.

No woman, man, or child should ever again be forced to endure such a cruel and humiliating experience, unable to reclaim what is rightfully theirs, blocked from returning to their beloved homeland, and unable to seek a life free of discrimination and injustice. Committing generations of Palestinians to live in refugees camps is cruel and heartless.

It has never been clearer of the importance of actively working towards finding a sustainable solution where the rights of every human being is honored. Creating a just and inclusive world demands Israelis to recognize the pain they inflicted on the Palestinian refugees and the role they played in forcing them to flee their homeland.

The pursuit of equal justice demands building a world where no human being is made a stateless refugee to privilege another. Israelis need to begin building a world where equal justice is a right fulfilled and empathy is its common currency, and Palestinians need to be able to envision a just world where forgiveness and compassion are attainable.

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