Palestinian Refugees: Mythology, Identity, and the Search for Peace

By Robert Bowker | Go to book overview

4
Refugee Memories and Mythologies

[What can be said to someone who still holds the keys to his home in
Safed, Acre, Jaffa and Haifa?] the interviewer asks Abdallah al-Hourani,
Palestinian Authority Minister for Refugee Affairs
(Al-Hayat al-Jadida,
15 July, 1998). [Tell him,] replied the minister, [to bequeath them to his
sons or grandsons, since the day will come when we, or our sons, or our
grandsons, will return. The Crusaders lived in our land for 242 years,
until the liberation of their last outpost, and Israel is like a tree that has
flowered on land not belonging to it. No matter how much it is fertilized,
it cannot put down roots, and when the fertilizer stops, it will die.]

—Quoted in Ha'aretz.

The siren-call of [Gallipoli] has little to do with facts or common
sense or the desiccated footnotes of academics. It is rooted in myth
and nostalgia—and imagining
.

—Les Carlyon, Gallipoli

This chapter examines the core elements of Palestinian refugee collective memories and mythologies, which include the direct experience and retelling of memories of Palestine before the war, of flight, and of dispossession. They also include perceived rights as refugees to redress vis-à-vis Israel, including, most importantly, the right of return, as well as compensation. Among many Palestinian refugees there is also a perception that the international community is morally and legally obliged to support and assist them, by virtue of their historical status, until such time as their rights as Palestinian refugees have been recognized and restored in the context of a peace settlement with Israel.1 That perception applies especially to the Western powers who accepted and legitimized the entry of Israel into the international community.


Dispossession

A basic starting point for Palestinian national mythology, which is shared between both refugee and nonrefugee Palestinians, is the fact of dispossession

-87-

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Palestinian Refugees: Mythology, Identity, and the Search for Peace
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • I Am from There xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: Political Mythologies in the Palestinian Context 11
  • 2: Political Culture 35
  • 3: Refugees 61
  • 4: Refugee Memories and Mythologies 87
  • 5: Unrwa's Place in Refugee Mythologies 123
  • 6: Mythologies and the Palestinian Leadership in the Oslo Period 155
  • 7: Political Mythologies in Action 181
  • 8: Mythology, Identity,And the Future 215
  • Acronyms 237
  • Selected Bibliography 239
  • Index 255
  • About the Book 267
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