Fifty years of Israeli occupation of Palestine
The statement of the Arab American Institute
This month marks 50 years of military occupation, the longest in modern history, for the people of Palestine. Although there are more than 12 million Palestinians around the world today, 66% of them are considered forcibly displaced persons and only about half live in what was historical Palestine. It’s a reminder that even during the refugee crisis we are witnessing today, Palestinians continue to be the largest displaced population in the world.
Despite being forced out of their homeland by war, occupation, expulsion, humanitarian and economic hardship, the vast majority of Palestinians have stayed as close as possible to their original villages. Although they may live in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan or Syria, for the most part, they are a mere 62 miles from their familial homes. Their proximity is proof of their longing to return, yet the international community has failed them in their quest for justice at nearly every turn. A peace process that took too long to start was snuffed out by the world's indifference to continued occupation. It's not that we don't know what Israel is doing or what Palestinians are forced to endure. Rather, it's a mix of bias, blindness, or just plain bullying, that stops political leaders from dealing with the situation.
Those that reside in the Palestinian territories pay a high price for their determination to stay on their lands, enduring forced isolation from the world, the restriction of movement in their own territory, hunger, demolitions, loss of their lands, extrajudicial punishment, lack of clean water, lack of housing, the imprisonment of their children, the uprooting of their olive orchards and a lack of opportunity.
Yet they continue to thrive through their culture, creativity and just by living each day ‘til the next. They, as a people, have given much to the world with their example of resilience and their quest for justice. We have not returned the favor.
June 5, 2017