Refugees and Dual Narratives

             One of the things that encouraged us to use MEJDI tours is their concept of a dual narrative, that we would have an Israeli and a Palestinian guide, representing their unique backgrounds and perspectives.  Two books that were highly recommended for understanding Palestinian and Israeli histories were A Tale of Love and Darkness by Israeli author and activist Amos Oz and Once Upon a Country by Palestinian activist, philosopher, and President of Al-Quds University, Sari Nusseibeh.  These two excerpts from their books help underscore the different views about refugees:

Amos Oz (after 1948):  “Nearly everything in the young state in those days was named for those who had died in battle, or for heroism, or for the struggle, the illegal immigration and the realization of the Zionist dream.  The Israelis were very proud of their victory and entrenched in the justice of their cause and their feelings of moral superiority.  People did not think much about the fate of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees and displaced persons, many of whom had fled and many others of whom had been driven out of the towns and villages conquered by the Israeli army.

Sari Nusseibeh:  “…addressing an Israeli audience….It doesn’t matter whether you set out premeditatively to cause the Palestinian refugee tragedy, I told them, the tragedy did occur, even as an indirect consequence of your actions.  In our tradition, you have to own up to this.  You have to come and offer an apology.  Only this way will Palestinians feel that their dignity has been recognized, and be able to forgive.  But by denying all responsibility, besides being historically absurd to the point of craziness, you will guarantee eternal antagonism – a never-ending search for revenge.”

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