Saturday, May 17, 2008

"In exile, Palestinians have been harassed, attacked or chased away. PLO fighters were forced to flee Jordan after an uprising in 1970. Lebanese Christians destroyed the camps of Tel Zaatar and Qarantina in the 1970s, and massacred Palestinians at Sabra and Chatila in 1982. Israelis besieged the PLO in Beirut the same year, sending PLO leaders to secondary exile in Tunis, and the Syrians did the same in Tripoli in 1984. In 1991 300,000 Palestinians, many of them wealthy and long-settled, were hounded from Kuwait after their leaders foolishly praised Saddam Hussein's invasion of the Gulf emirate. Libya's erratic ruler, Muammar Qaddafi, deported thousands more in the 1990s, saying that since they had signed the Oslo peace accords with Israel, Palestinians should “go home”. Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, nearly all its 20,000 Palestinians have been forced to the borders, where some still languish in dusty desert camps....But Egyptian authorities are notoriously pernickety. Lana Baydas, a British-educated professor at the American University in Cairo, has waited 18 months for residency papers, during which time she has had to fly 18 times to Syria, the only country she can travel freely to on her Syrian-Palestinian laissez-passer, so as not to outstay her month-long Egyptian “tourist” visas. When she tried to explain the bother to a friend, she says ruefully, the reply was, “Can't you just stop being Palestinian?”...Similarly, Nahr al-Bared's homeless residents are lobbying to ensure that when their camp is rebuilt, it will still be sectioned into districts named for the Galilee villages the original refugees came from."