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memri
June 2, 2003 No.
515

Arafat's Nakba Day Speech

The following is the full text of a speech marking Nakba Day delivered by Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. [1]

'To Those Who Believe in Returning'

"'We desired to show favor to those considered weak in the land, and to make them leaders and make them inheritors of our bounties, and to establish them on the earth…'" [2]

"Our heroic Palestinian people, in the homeland and in the diaspora, our beloved brothers in the noble Arab homeland, our friends, the free and honorable men in the world, our residents standing fast in the refugee camps [who believe in] steadfastness and return, our sons and the fruit of our loins in the prisons and houses of detention, our generations that increase in courage and honor."

'The Accursed Day of May 15, 1948, On Which the State of Israel Was Established'

"The great imperialistic Zionist conspiracy against our Arab nation and our homeland Palestine, which began with the Zionist Congress in 1897 in Basel, Switzerland, reached its accursed peak on May 15, 1948. On this accursed day, the state of Israel was established by force of arms, as [the result of] imperialistic conspiracy, on the ruins of our homeland Palestine. Our people [were] strewn from our homeland, in exile, in the diaspora, and in the refugee camps by massacres. Has the world forgotten, and [have] our people forgotten, the massacre of Deir Yassin and Qibiya and Nahalin and the other massacres in 1947, 1948, and since?"

"In 1947, the imperialistic forces that controlled the U.N. at that time forced the partition of our homeland, Palestine, into two states: one Palestinian Arab and one Israeli Jewish. But the State of Palestine did not arise, and never saw the light [of day], and [none gave even] minimal consideration to the decision of international legitimacy [i.e. the U.N.] regarding our people [and its right to] an independent state on the historic land of Palestine."

"Our Palestinian people had to choose between two paths: between disappearing and being eradicated, and steadfastness, conflict, and adherence to our right over our eternal homeland Palestine. Our Palestinian people, a people of bravery, did not hesitate to choose the path of standing at the front of the battle for the land, at the front of the battle blessed by Allah, the first direction of prayer and the third most holy place, the place Muhammad reached during his night journey, and the place of Jesus' birth."

"Our people [do] not accept humiliation, contempt, submission, obedience, enslavement, and imperialism in the places holy to Christianity and Islam… because it is a believing and noble people and in its blood flows the blood of faith and honor, love of the homeland and love of the nation [that increase] as the conspiracy expands."

'Palestine is the Land of the Battlefront'

"Palestine is our homeland, the land of the battlefront and the holy land, our homeland and the homeland of our fathers and grandfathers, the homeland of our grandchildren and of the generations to come. Palestine is our homeland. It has no substitute, and we have no other homeland. Every Palestinian refugee looks forward to the day when he will embrace the homeland and restore its identity and the honor of the citizen in his homeland Palestine."

"'They are those who have been driven out of their homes unjustly only because they affirmed: Our Lord is Allah.'" [3]

"Our Palestinian people which stands fast on the land of the battlefront, our meritorious Arab nation, we are the nation of the brave, a nation [like] the phoenix. [The Palestinian people are] the strongest number in the equation of war and peace in the Middle East today. This is our situation and our truth in this continuing struggle that we wage for the sake of our right to our homeland Palestine."

"In the beginning, some wondered where the Palestinian people [were]. Do they dare ask today where [they are]? Is there anyone who will say today about our people that the older ones are dead and the young ones have forgotten? And what have they to say about the Palestinian knight [4] Fares, Fares 'Ouda, the boy who challenged a tank with a stone and fell as a martyr for the sake of the holy places, the homeland, and freedom?"

"The Palestinian truth cries out today. It is clear as the sun throughout the world, and no one will continue to be estranged from it and ignore it – because Fares 'Ouda said the words that every Palestinian [should be say], before falling as a martyr in the Israeli tank fire: 'Either [we obtain] a homeland, freedom, and independence, or [we go in the path] of martyrdom for the sake of Allah, the homeland, and honor!"

"For the past 55 years, martyrs and wounded have fallen for the sake of the freedom of the homeland and the return of its sons. Today, thousands of Palestinian men and women are locked away in the occupation's prisons and houses of detention, because they do not accept the occupation and persecution and are determined [to attain] freedom and independence. They have the blessing, and they have the promise and the vow that their freedom and their rescue are our greatest concern and our supreme goal. Their freedom is the freedom of the homeland."

'The Martyrs Improve the Land with Their Blood'

"In the cities of Palestine, in its refugee camps, in its settlements and villages, its plains, its mountains, its groves of trees, and its coasts, over 70,000 martyrs and wounded have fallen defending the homeland's freedom and independence and the places holy to Islam and Christianity. They have blessing and glory. They are among the martyrs and the saints, who are the best friends [of the martyrs] who improve [the land] with their blood for the sake of independence and freedom and the establishment of the independent State of Palestine whose capital is Jerusalem, if Allah wills it, they will 'enter the mosque as they had entered it the first time;' [5] Allah never fails in His promise.'" [6]

"By means of our battles, our sacrifices, our national unity, and our determination, our nation has imposed itself and its cause on the equation in the Middle East and on all attempts to eradicate it, to make it disappear, or to turn it into a people scattered in diaspora, in exile, and in the refugee camps. The political truth with which none disagree today is that war will break out in Palestine and peace will begin from Palestine, the independent Palestinian state whose capital is Jerusalem."

'Whoever Thinks a False Peace Can Deceive our People is Hallucinating'

"We have declared in the past that the option of peace, the peace of the brave, which we signed with our partner Yitzhak Rabin of blessed memory, is our strategic option. But despotic power and enormous conspiracy rejected and are still rejecting our option for the sake of a just, eternal, and comprehensive peace in Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon and in the entire region in accordance with international legitimacy and its resolutions: 242, 338, 425, 194, 1397, and other resolutions and agreements, the most recent of which is the road map."

"Whoever thinks that a false peace can deceive our people is hallucinating. There will be no peace without a full Israeli withdrawal from all the Palestinian and Arab territories, to the June 4 [1967] line. Likewise, the illegal settlements, which plunder our land, our nation, and our freedom, must cease to exist. The settlers must leave our Palestinian land. Peace cannot come about and security cannot be maintained in the shadow of the occupation and the settlements."

"We support a just, eternal, and comprehensive peace, a peace of the brave in exchange for a full withdrawal from our Palestinian and Arab land. This is the principle approved by the Arabs according to the initiative of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. This is the basis for the principle of the Madrid peace conference, the Washington [conference], and the Cairo [conference], and the Sharm Al-Sheikh, Taba, Wye River and Paris [conferences], and other [conferences]. [This principle is] land for peace."

'I Call on Our People and Our Noble Arab Nation to Close Ranks'

"At a time when the conspiracy is expanding and the conspirators against us and against the entire region proliferate, I call on our people and our noble Arab nation to close ranks for the return of our occupied territories, for the sake of our freedom and our defense of the places sacred to Christianity and Islam in the blessed land. [I call on our people and on our nation] to stand against this storm that is passing over all of us in the region. We will triumph, with Allah's help."

"My heroic sisters and brothers, I call on you, everyone, to [be subject] to national discipline, to respect the general regime and social solidarity [according to which] those with means will offer help to the needy. We are [aboard] the ship of freedom, clinging to solidarity, and united. This is the source of strength and loftiness for our people, in the face of the most arrogant conspirator and the machine of war and destruction in its possession. "

"I bless you all, and shake the hand of each one of you, every woman, elderly person, boy, or girl, and tell them: This homeland, the places holy to Christianity and Islam, Jerusalem and the other holy cities, our villages and refugee camps, are all our [responsibility]. I instruct you to protect this [responsibility] and defend it with your soul and your blood."

"'Do thou endure with fortitude, and thou canst do so only with the help of Allah; and grieve not for them, nor feel distressed because of their plottings.'" [7]


[1] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), May 16, 2003. All subheadings added by MEMRI

[2] Koran 28:5

[3] Koran 22:40

[4] A play on words – "knight" is fares in Arabic.

[5] Koran 17:7

[6] Koran 22:47

[7] Koran 16:127