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Palestinians of Lebanon and the Lebanese Palestinians

Palestinians of Lebanon and the Lebanese Palestinians

Sunday, 21 July, 2019 - 08:15

Even before the new Labor Ministry regulations, Palestinians in Lebanon posed a problem to the country. Despite their connection to the not-too-distant civil war, the current proposals are driven by the desire to stoke tensions.

The regulations may target recently-arrived Syrian refugees, but the Palestinians have been in Lebanon since Israel’s formation in 1948. If the Syrians number “several”, the Palestinians are “few” in comparison. Figures released in 2017 revealed that they total 174,422 residing in 12 refugee camps and 156 encampments. UNRWA puts the figure at 470,000, but it remarked that it does not have an exact figure of Palestinians currently living Lebanon. It acknowledged that it does not have a record of Palestinians who choose to leave the country.

As it stands, Palestinians, driven by despair, are indeed leaving the country and have been doing so for the past three and a half decades. The few that remain are desperately searching for the opportunity to leave.

The small figures should shock those who use numbers to stoke fear.

It is useless to delve too deep into conspiracies that threaten Lebanon and into the issue of naturalization that no one is asking for. Theodor Hertzl had previously described his negotiations with Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid as arduous. “You know what Turkish negotiation are. If you want to buy a carpet, first you must drink half a dozen cups of coffee and smoke a hundred cigarettes. Then you discuss family stories, and from time to time you speak a few words again about the carpet.”

The first lines of the carpet are the Lebanese, who are famous for their immigration. Their ultimate goal in countries they immigrate to, is as we all know, citizenship. It is therefore, unacceptable to demand the most for ourselves in countries we willingly go to and deny the most basic of rights to others who are forced to come to ours.

Palestinians in Lebanon are approached on two levels:

On the first, the security level, the authorities are repeating the same mistake and they have been doing so since 1948. When hunger and oppression prevail, the answer is sought by taking up arms and forming armed groups. Just a reminder, the “Palestinian brothers” are barred from occupying 72 jobs, traveling abroad, owning houses, joining unions…

On the second level, the fate of Lebanon is on the line. Do the Lebanese want it to transform into a hateful racist country or do they want it to be a country of openness, rights and diversity? Yes, some sides resort to stoking sectarian sentiments. This issue will plague us to the end of time. However, approaching these sensitive issues with discrimination is like treating a patient with another disease. This does not treat the patient, but rather changes the name of the problem.

However, the issue that harms the Palestinians in Lebanon are the so-called Lebanese Palestinians. These figures emerge from the margins of political or cultural life and seek to seek to gain meaning through investing in the Palestinian issue. They are the “lovers of Palestine”, who strive in “loving” it, imagining epic scenarios that are reminiscent of Bollywood romances from a quarter of a century ago.

The differences between the Palestinians in Lebanon and the Lebanese Palestinians are vast. The former seek basic civil rights, while the latter pursue a war mentality. This mentality harms the civilian call. Moreover, the Palestinians in Lebanon are seeking rights in a society that cannot meet their demands until this society regains its health and sets itself on the right path.

The Lebanese Palestinians have no problem in breaking up this society, especially when it comes to its internal relations and the borders and sovereignty of its state over the decision of war and peace. Ultimately, the Lebanese Palestinians and their allies are seeking their own interests when claiming solidarity with Palestinians in Lebanon.

The Lebanese Palestinians always win and the Palestinians in Lebanon always lose. The former boast a few competencies and talents, most significant of which is a way with words. From this background, emerge politicians and intellectuals who grab headlines with their “love” for Palestine. The unfortunate latter, are burdened by both Lebanon and Palestine.

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