FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Tawtin or Return

Beirut.

Lebanese opponents of civil rights for Palestinian Refugees often use?less objective and more crude wording to define “tawtin”?(“settlement”) than is normally employed in civil society discussions.?During last summer’s debate in parliament, which failed to enact laws?that would allow the world’s oldest and largest refugee community the?basic civil right to work and to own a home, the “tawtin or return”?discussion took on strident and dark meanings, which were largely?effective in frightening much of the Lebanese public from supporting?even these modest humanitarian measures.

Right-wing opponents of?Palestinian refugees in Lebanon often define tawtin during public?discussions as “implantation” (as in inserting a foreign malignant?object or virus into Lebanon’s body politic), or “grafting,”?”insertion,” “impalement,” “forced integration,” “embedding”?”impregnation”, or “patriation”.??The concept’s varied meanings among a largely uninformed Lebanese?public have by and large prevented a balanced consideration of the?provision in the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative that includes “a just?solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in?accordance with UNGAR 194.”??The discussion in Lebanon has centered on presumed Palestinian desires?to stay in Lebanon at all costs, as opposed to returning to their?country Palestine.

The large anti-Palestinian political community has?kept the discussion focused on the API’s language: “the rejection of?all forms of Palestinian patriation [tawtin] which conflict with the?special circumstances of the Arab host countries.”??The concept, indeed the very word ” tawtin” , was used in the summer of 2010 as?an emotional bludgeon or cudgel embodying all manner of dire social predictions?from the political parties representing the Phalange, Liberal Party,?Lebanese Forces, and Free Patriotic Movement’s leader General Michel?Aoun.

Virtually all opponents of Palestinian civil rights frequently claimed that tawtin would ruin Lebanon. This was arguably the main reason that there was a broad-based consensus in support of the parliamentary decision of August 17, 2011 to do essentially nothing to enact relief for Lebanon’s quarter million Palestinian refugees. It was a spurious argument because very few in Lebanon, and even fewer in the Palestinian community, have any desire to see tawtin actually implemented. One remarkable aspect of last year’s tawtin “debate” was that, in private discussions, few politicians publicly decrying its dangers really thought tawtin was a realistic threat to Lebanon. Nonetheless, the chimera was used to maintain a power base in their own sect or community. These political leaders assumed that their supporters wanted no rights for Palestinians in Lebanon; tawtin was a useful political bogy. This view was not only common in various Christian sects but also among many Druze and Muslims. Numerous politicians have explained in private that their supporters by and large still believed that the Palestinian refugees were the cause of Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war and many of Lebanon’s current woes and wanted them out of Lebanon as soon as possible.

Another political factor contributing to the false depiction of tawtin were widely-rumored American and Israeli plans to use tawtin to permanently settle thousands of Lebanon’s Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and thus take pressure off of Israel to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 194’s right of return mandate. These suggestions by visiting US officials during last summer’s parliamentary examination of tawtin and return riled segments of the Lebanese public and provided grist for right-wing elements to politically, squeeze Palestinian refugees socially and economically yet again.

Palestinian refugees’ views regarding tawtin were unfortunately rather muted or not credited during 2010 discussions in Lebanon and parliament. Occasional statements by Palestine Liberation Organization leaders that Palestinian refugees were grateful for Lebanon’s hospitality and realized that they had overstayed their welcome, but that they had every desire and determination to return to Palestine, were largely ignored.

The fears of certain elements of Lebanese society about tawtin are unwarranted. The oft-expressed view that Palestinians secretly want to stay in Lebanon and abandon their right to return has been consistently refuted by Palestinian public opinion surveys, academic studies, and most compellingly by the statements of Lebanon’s camp residents themselves. According to a recent survey, fully 96 per cent of Lebanon’s Palestinian refugees living in 12 camps and more than 24 communities, insist on their full right of return to Palestine, eschew tawtin, and agree with the language of the API regarding 194.

Over the past few years, and one imagines even more since the events in Tunisia and Egypt, the demand for the full right of return has increased. The events at Tahrir Square raise hopes among Palestinians in Lebanon that return to Palestine may come sooner rather than later. Tahrir Square reinforces the view that Palestine’s occupation could crumble faster than many have believed possible given the military and political power granted by the American and European governments. Meanwhile, there exists in Lebanon near unanimity among the 18 sects and various Palestinian factions. Tawtin is not a desirable option. Only justice for Palestine, including the right of return as restated in the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative will resolve the dilemma of tawtin or return for Lebanon and her Palestinian refugees.

FRANKLIN LAMB is doing research in Lebanon and can be reached at fplamb@gmail.com

More articles by:

Franklin Lamb volunteers with the Lebanon, France, and USA based Meals for Syrian Refugee Children Lebanon (MSRCL) which seeks to provide hot nutritional meals to Syrian and other refugee children in Lebanon. http://mealsforsyrianrefugeechildrenlebanon.com. He is reachable c/o fplamb@gmail.com.

June 18, 2018
Paul Street
Denuclearize the United States? An Unthinkable Thought
John Pilger
Bring Julian Assange Home
Conn Hallinan
The Spanish Labyrinth
Patrick Cockburn
Attacking Hodeidah is a Deliberate Act of Cruelty by the Trump Administration
Gary Leupp
Trump Gives Bibi Whatever He Wants
Thomas Knapp
Child Abductions: A Conversation It’s Hard to Believe We’re Even Having
Robert Fisk
I Spoke to Palestinians Who Still Hold the Keys to Homes They Fled Decades Ago – Many are Still Determined to Return
Steve Early
Requiem for a Steelworker: Mon Valley Memories of Oil Can Eddie
Jim Scheff
Protect Our National Forests From an Increase in Logging
Adam Parsons
Reclaiming the UN’s Radical Vision of Global Economic Justice
Dean Baker
Manufacturing Production Falls in May and No One Notices
Laura Flanders
Bottom-Up Wins in Virginia’s Primaries
Binoy Kampmark
The Anguish for Lost Buildings: Embers and Death at the Victoria Park Hotel
Weekend Edition
June 15, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Dan Kovalik
The US & Nicaragua: a Case Study in Historical Amnesia & Blindness
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Yellow Journalism and the New Cold War
Charles Pierson
The Day the US Became an Empire
Jonathan Cook
How the Corporate Media Enslave Us to a World of Illusions
Ajamu Baraka
North Korea Issue is Not De-nuclearization But De-Colonization
Andrew Levine
Midterms Coming: Antinomy Ahead
Louisa Willcox
New Information on 2017 Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Deaths Should Nix Trophy Hunting in Core Habitat
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Singapore Fling
Ron Jacobs
What’s So Bad About Peace, Man?
Robert Hunziker
State of the Climate – It’s Alarming!
L. Michael Hager
Acts and Omissions: The NYT’s Flawed Coverage of the Gaza Protest
Dave Lindorff
However Tenuous and Whatever His Motives, Trump’s Summit Agreement with Kim is Praiseworthy
Robert Fantina
Palestine, the United Nations and the Right of Return
Brian Cloughley
Sabre-Rattling With Russia
Chris Wright
To Be or Not to Be? That’s the Question
David Rosen
Why Do Establishment Feminists Hate Sex Workers?
Victor Grossman
A Key Congress in Leipzig
John Eskow
“It’s All Kinderspiel!” Trump, MSNBC, and the 24/7 Horseshit Roundelay
Paul Buhle
The Russians are Coming!
Joyce Nelson
The NED’s Useful Idiots
Lindsay Koshgarian
Trump’s Giving Diplomacy a Chance. His Critics Should, Too
Louis Proyect
American Nativism: From the Chinese Exclusion Act to Trump
Stan Malinowitz
On the Elections in Colombia
Camilo Mejia
Open Letter to Amnesty International on Nicaragua From a Former Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience
David Krieger
An Assessment of the Trump-Kim Singapore Summit
Jonah Raskin
Cannabis in California: a Report From Sacramento
Josh Hoxie
Just How Rich Are the Ultra Rich?
CJ Hopkins
Awaiting the Putin-Nazi Apocalypse
Mona Younis
We’re the Wealthiest Country on Earth, But Over 40 Percent of Us Live in or Near Poverty
Dean Baker
Not Everything Trump Says on Trade is Wrong
James Munson
Trading Places: the Other 1% and the .001% Who Won’t Save Them
Rivera Sun
Stop Crony Capitalism: Protect the Net!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail