An ‘Invented People’: Palestinian Refugee Women and Meanings of Home
In December 2011, US Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich declared that the Palestinians are an ‘invented people’. The head of editorial standards at the BBC appears to be of the same opinion, suggesting in early 2012, that ‘Palestine does not exist’ (Saleem 2012). The persistent negation of Palestinian identity has deep roots. In a speech in Haifa in 1969, Moshe Dayan remarked: ‘Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist; not only do the books not exist, the villages are not there either’ (Ha’aretz 1969; see also Benvenisti 2000, Pappe 2006). His words highlight the centrality of ‘home’ in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and its relationship to identity formation. They help to ‘destabilize a sense of home as a stable origin and unsettle the fixity and singularity of a place called home’ (Blunt and Dowling 2006:198). In order to erase the Palestinian landscape, the early Zionist movement and, later, the Israelis went to great lengths to construct a ‘mythic narrative of entitlement’ (Aouragh 2011:376) which, to succeed, has to incorporate a denial of Palestinian identity. In the 64 years since the uprooting from their homeland, Palestinians have struggled to keep alive their integrity as a nation.
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