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The Right of Return

On 11 March 1995, a rally of Palestinians who have been internally displaced since 1948 was convened in response to an invitation from the Preparatory Committee for the Rights of the Internally Displaced Arab Palestinians in Israel. They elected a Continuation Committee to take care of and fight for their cause, and to struggle for their right to return to their villages and lands.

In fact, during this long period the cause of these displaced Palestinians has lived in their consciousness and in the core of their feelings. What happened to them is still alive and strong in their memories. A lapse of time could not erase a single line for those who go back to remember their childhood and youth, to the land of their fathers and grandfathers. This love and these feelings move from father to son, and from son to son. This period was not vacant from our efforts and struggles, by individuals or by local committees who knocked on the door of return. All of this indicates a demand for justice, and a great hope of returning to our homeland. But the door remains closed.

Injustice and tyranny, evacuating us from our villages by force, destroying our homes, confiscating our lands, trespassing on our holy sites, and scattering us everywhere, sometimes in a pretext from Earth and other times from Heaven. Law is here and a fable is there. Our estates are considered property of the state and aliens enjoy them. The door is wide open for others, but for us it narrows beyond the eye of a needle. And United Nations resolutions which belong to the right of Palestinian refugees to return are still hanging on a peg. Justice does not accept this, nor does logic. We are sticking to our rights, and our homeland will remain hanging in our hearts until the end of time.

Who among us, the displaced, does not mention his village one hundred times per day, who has not dreamt of it one thousand times? Who among us does not choke back tears every time he passes near his village but cannot reach it? Who among us does not long for a handful of their soil or water from its springlet? Or just one of their olives? Who among us does not wish to touch a stone here and a rock there? Who among us does not envy a bird able to sit in the shade of the branches? Who among us does not wish to have at least the same right as a goat to have its own small space to lie in. Who does not wish to make a round on the threshing floor? Who among us does not agonize over the singing of the pipe or the ringing of the mattock? And what about folk singing moving out from the bottom of our chests and passing away through ether to embrace everything there? Every one of us likes to feast his eyes on the soil of his homeland.

We, the natives, have the right to return to our homes and villages, to rebuild them anew, and the embers in our hearts push us towards this just and noble aim. There is nothing more valuable and more noble than sticking to our homeland and defending the inheritance of our fathers and grandfathers as a deposit around our necks; we will never forget where many of our mothers and fathers locked their eyelids. The longing for return lies in their hearts.

In our unity, we have strength and a torch leading us en route. Alongside the committee, and with backing our
natives and all progressive forces give our hearts motivation to march towards our noble aim.

And our cause will remain in the core of our hearts, and in the hold of our eyelids, until at last every goldfinch return to his homeland.

- Wageeh Semam, 29/3/1995

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