Last week, the Lebanese parliament debated whether to give Palestinian Arabs in Lebanon a smattering of rights. Of course, no citizenship or anything crazy like that, just whether they should be able to buy property. Christians were against it, Sunni Muslims were for it, and the idea was tabled for now.
The incentive for the sudden interest in improving the lives of Arabs with Palestinian ancestry in Lebanon? It was the realization that if the world cared about PalArab rights in Gaza because of the flotilla, they might wake up to sixty years of abuse by the Lebanese.
(For example, Lebanon forbade Palestinian Arabs in the Lebanese camps to do any construction altogether - even nails were banned - from the mid-90s to a few years ago.)
Even though some have known about how Lebanon mistreats its Palestinian Arab population for years, this realization never quite reached the mainstream Western world, as any complaints were always drowned out by the much louder war chants against Israel coming from that same vicinity of the planet.
But now that the Lebanese parliament has broached the subject, Comment is Free teaches its readers that Israel is not the only evil nation in the area:
The Arab world is rife with hypocrisy when it comes to the Palestinian issue. Arab leaders frequently and rightly cite the chronic human rights violations in which Israel engages, but fail to address the marginalisation of Palestinians within their own societies. Historically, Lebanese citizens have declared that naturalising Palestinians will act as a disincentive to their eventual repatriation and the exercise of their inviolable right of return. But this is a specious and cynical misrepresentation of the issue.Sounds like stuff I've been saying for years! Arab leaders, in the name of "unity," take away the free will of every Palestinian Arab to choose to become a citizen of other countries. As I mentioned earlier this year,
First, many diaspora Palestinians who have been naturalised in foreign countries, including myself, still seek to return to Palestine. Second, an individual ought to have the right to lead a complete and fulfilling life in his/her country of birth, irrespective of national or racial identity; it is not up to the Arab leaders to safeguard the Palestinian right of return against the prospect of a meaningful life lived outside Palestine.
In the 1950s, Lebanon offered citizenship to many Christian Palestinians as well as Muslims who could prove Lebanese ancestry, and some 50,000 people jumped at the offer. A loophole that opened up in 1994 that offered citizenship was equally pounced upon and tens of thousands more became Lebanese citizens - many even falsifying papers - before that loophole was closed.This is proof that the leaders are not conforming to the wishes of the people whose rights they are pretending to protect.
If you want to make a "pro-Palestinian activist" nervous, ask her one simple question: "Do you publicly support the right of Palestinians to become citizens of Arab countries if they choose to?" If you hear a sputtering response about "unity" and "compromising the right of return," you know that you are dealing with someone who doesn't give a damn about Palestinian Arabs.
The hypocrisy of those who pretend to love Palestinian Arabs is stark. It is sad that it takes a Palestinian Arab from America to notice exactly how much the Arab world discriminates against their Palestinian brethren - and how no one says a word.