by Ehab Lotayef
05/07/08 “The Gazette”
Palestinian refugee problem cannot be ignored
Abou-Yasser was still hoping to return to his house in Tel-es-Safi when I met him in the Dehaishah refugee camp in the occupied West Bank in 2005. He still had the keys to a door that might not exist any more. He left that house fleeing Israeli occupation in 1948, and now lives under that same occupation but as a refugee. When Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, Abou-Yasser refused to flee again and become a double refugee. As he was telling me his story I was wondering, what kind of refugee is he now?
In May of 1948, Abou-Yasser was in his late teens training in a British “police academy” in Bethlehem. The “cadets” were a mix of Jews and Arabs, Abou-Yasser told me. They studied together to become colleagues in the police force under the British mandate government of Palestine or in the new country that would be founded when the mandate ended.
One morning, the Arab cadets arrived for class to find none of the Jews there. On the blackboard there was writing in Hebrew, which most of the Arab cadets couldn’t read, addressing the Jewish cadets. But Abou-Yasser had enough knowledge of Hebrew to translate what was written. “Rise up! The Jewish state is born,” it read.
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