The comment comes as Palestinians commemorated the 64th anniversary of Nakba Day on May 15; when over 750,000 Palestinians were killed and 400 Palestinian villages destroyed to form the Zionist entity.
Palestinian refugees are still barred from their homeland and many are forced from their land to make way for Israeli settlements, and the Israeli administration have even stated that they do not want Palestinians to exceed 30% of the population of Jerusalem.
Press TV has conducted an interview with convener of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey German, to further discuss the issue. What follows is a rough transcript of the interview.
Press TV: Do you think these Nakba demonstrations have an impact and if so what impact do they have?
German: Well, I think what’s important is that we have to assert the primacy of memory over forgetting and this is one of the important things about the Nakba. I was thinking about it the other day, my parents got married in 1948 so this is a whole life time for people, it’s a very, very long time. You think of all the things that have happened and this has remained constant for the Palestinians.
It’s now a much bigger issue on the world stage than it was for many many years and that’s thanks to the Palestinians themselves, the fact that they have never given up with the resistance against what the Israelis have been doing to them but it’s also thanks to the movement around the world which has grown much much bigger over the last 10 or 15 years and I think these demonstrations are very much part of asserting that we support the Palestinians.
Press TV: What about the sort of people who are coming on these demonstrations now. You’ve been the convener for Stop the War from the beginning I think. It is growing as you say. Is it a youth movement? What sort of movement is it?
German: Well, I think it’s very interesting because if you look at who is on the demonstrations, it’s a very real mixture of people. I mean I met some people there last week that I hadn’t seen for many many years who were active socialists back in the 60s and 70s but who regard Palestine as an issue that you still campaign around.
I also met people who were 16, 17, 18, new generations, lots of people from Arab background, Palestinians themselves, from other parts of the Middle East but also lots of people from Britain who were saying this shouldn’t be done in our name, our government is complicit not in directly oppressing the Palestinians now but the EU is complicit in supporting Israel and its policies.
The British governor of course was involved with the mandate that they had after the First World War in directly occupying the region so Britain has a very big role in it and a very bad role that it’s played over the last few decades.
Press TV: The Zionists argument about silence that is preferable for them around the subject of the Nakba, the refugees, the people still living in limbo with no status after 64 years is: there are other places what about Kashmir in 1948? What about other occupations? What’s the difference with Palestine?
German: Well, I think the important thing to say here is it’s true there are other places where national groups find themselves displaced where they don’t have the right to a nation; it’s true that there are all sorts of repressions in other parts of the world.
I think what makes Palestine absolutely distinctive is the role that Israel has played and also this is …[an entity] which is established supposedly on a land without a people, a people without a country. So they said we are the people without a country who are going to a country without a people.
Now this was just a lie, there were people in that country, they were the Palestinians. I think that’s what makes it particularly remarkable. You have a kind of settler state right in the middle of the Middle East of course this which is called great antagonism.
Press TV: Lindsey, we’re hearing there the importance of education, the education in relation to the Nakba- when you get into a debate with someone British about 1948, about the Palestinian land what sort of reception can you generalize that you get?
German: Well, the problem is the way which the whole story has been told for the last more than 60 years is very much about Israel being a state which will enable the desert to bloom as though there was no agriculture before, as if there was no society before. So you have to go through the whole argument about what happened.
I always use the example about the right of return because every Jew anywhere in the world has the right to immigrate to… Israel whereas the Palestinians who were born there or the descendants of Palestinians who were born there have no such right and it seems to me that is a fundamental discrimination which we cannot allow to continue.
And I think if it’s put like that it does begin to win people over but when it’s simply put that there are these violent group of people who are fighting foreign rockets, all the other things without looking at the overall context, then of course it’s incredibly misleading.
Press TV: That word discrimination is really important, isn’t it? It’s what finally tipped people’s minds against Apartheid in South Africa for example.
German: That’s right. It has some of the same elements. In fact I remember when the whole process to end Apartheid in South Africa began people thought the same thing would happen with Israel and Palestine and it hasn’t happened, the situation has got worse for the Palestinian people.
Press TV: Do you think that that’s because there is a kind of racism against Arabs that stopped against black Africans?
German: I don’t think it’s that so much. I think it is the so called international community, the Western powers, the United States, Britain, the EU all of these people are very very weary about confronting successive Israeli governments and you know there is a huge problem here when you have this two tier kind of society which you do have.
You have it of course not just in the occupied territories but for the Palestinians living within …Israel itself. There is this massive discrepancy between the lives of the Israelis and the lives of the Palestinians and I think it’s that that people don’t want to confront and it’s that that we have to make them confront.
Press TV: And then of course there is this problem of the Arab governments which have large Palestinian refugee populations within them, the Lebanese government. This confusion about not allowing the refugees who live in Lebanon in terrible conditions to become a full part of Lebanese society in order that they go home, is it naivety or realism?
German: Oh, no. It’s quite calculated by the governments around the Middle East but they have to accept the Palestinians as part of the various deals after the wars that took place but they actually do treat them like second class citizens and one of the justifications I use for that is well of course they will go home even though they’ll be more than 60 years in some cases in other countries.
I think what your correspondent from Gaza said was very important about the Arab Spring that this has actually weakened Israel. It has made people around the world realize there are all sort of questions of democracy and freedom and justice and Palestine is an absolutely essential part of that.