‘We were used as human shields’
Sixty years after the Nakba, Palestinians are still suffering. Millions of us are still refugees – living in camps and facing malnutrition and persecution by Israelis and by the Arab regimes.
Israel invites any Jewish person to move there and become an Israeli citizen – even if they have no link to that part of the world, but Palestinians are still denied the right to return home.
My own family was forced out of Haifa in 1948 when Israel was created. They fled on foot, wandering for six months before they reached the refugee camps in Lebanon.
I was born in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps near Beirut. As a child I witnessed the massacre at the camps in 1982 – overseen by Ariel Sharon who went on to become prime minister of Israel. We were used as human shields and marched over dead bodies into other parts of the camps.
Now I am a refugee in Britain. I receive no help from the state and no support. I cannot get employment. For seven years I have been waiting to find out if I can stay here.
Our generation was supposed to have forgotten about Palestine – but we cannot forget.
We are still fighting to be free.
Fatima, Palestinian living in Britain
‘Settlers forced peasants to flee’
I am a staunch opponent of Israel now, but in the 1930s I joined Hashomer Hatzair, a left wing Zionist organisation. I went to Palestine to go into a kibbutz – which at the time I considered to be a cell of socialism.
After visiting one kibbutz which kept a stock of guns, I realised that the Zionists who were buying or stealing the Palestinians’ land were supported by the kibbutzim.
I heard a story from my own kibbutz about four Palestinian villages and four kibbutzim either side of a hill in Galilee.
The kibbutzim wanted to buy the Palestinians’ land and paid for it.
When the time for takeover arrived the Palestinian peasants said that they had received no money – the village head had pocketed it – so they wouldn’t leave. The kibbutz members went up the hill throwing stones at the peasants, who fled in terror.
I left the kibbutz and got a job as a governess. By this time I had met Tony Cliff – who went on to found the Socialist Workers Party.
A strike broke out at a British oil refinery employing both Arabs and Jews. We published a two-sided leaflet in Arabic and Hebrew supporting the strikers.
My employer found the leaflets and I got the sack. I then left the country.
Chanie Rosenberg, Jewish socialist