Sunday, February 14, 2010

Out of Zion Shall Come...Claptrap

Another Israeli academic:

The Right to Refuse: Abject Theory and the Return of Palestinian Refugees
Dan Rabinowitz
Dept. Of Sociology and Anthropology
Tel-Aviv University and CEU


The Palestinian claim for the right of refugees to return to places from which they were displaced in 1948, and the notion that return, if implemented, might bring them back to areas now part of Israel within the Green Line, touches raw nerves for Palestinians and Israelis alike. Measures to redress the tragedy of Palestinian refugees, once implemented, could have far reaching practical consequences for many. Not least, they could redefine people’s sense of historic justice, individual and collective choice, identity, morality and destiny.

This essay follows two trajectories. One explores the cultural, historical and political origins of the meta-narratives that inform Palestinian and Israeli mainstream views of return. The other is a thought experiment that seeks to bridge theory and practice. Cognizant of the merits of transitional justice and sceptical about the feasibility and efficacy of closure, it presents a formula for settlement which could transform the lives of a substantial proportion of the 1.36 million refugees most urgently in need of such a change. Working from Julia Kristeva’s abjection theory, I propose the right to refuse as a viable alterative to the elusive and impractical quest for universal return. This attempt to fuse theory and practice invites some humbling thoughts on the role of intellectuals in political negotiations.

...The Palestinian view of the historic injustice that befell them is exacerbated by the recognition that most ordinary Palestinians, including those who eventually became refugees, had no control over events that led to their demise in 1948 and over circumstances that determined their fate in exile. This informs an intuitive, self evident moral position featuring four main sensibilities.

One - universal return and restitution is the only true rectification of the injustices incurred in 1948 and in exile since. Second - those originally displaced and their descendants make one inseparable and indivisible community. Third – refugees are entitled to a spectrum of remedial options that should include return, indemnities and settlement elsewhere. Finally, the Palestinian themselves, as individuals and as a collective, should have the sole discretion to choose between these options.

Thanks to IAM.

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