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Civil Rights of Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon

 

The main points of the presentation, in reaction to the article in Majallat Al-Derasat Al-Falasteenya (2010, pp. 30-43) on Civil Rights of Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon, for Sari Hanafi. Here are some of the points that were raised: 

-  As can be expected, there are significant differences of discourse and ethos in the Palestinian community in Lebanon and the West Bank, notably the hegemony of the PA and Fatah on the one hand, which actively marginalizes all other voices (especially of course those of Hamas) and the continuation of a certain if very abstract pluralism in Lebanon, with all of the various groups expressing themselves freely, and engaging in a freewheeling type of alliance politics.

-  The case at hand, the promulgation of amendments to labor laws regarding Palestinian in Lebanon, illustrates the extent to which advocacy does or does not contribute (based on this particular case) to the legislative process.

- The attempt by UNRWA in this instance to put into practice their rather new policy of reaching out to the Palestinian 'grassroots’.

-  The significance of the long, complicated and differentiated history of relations between Palestinians and (different categories of) Lebanese.

-  The issue of funding (particularly foreign funding) of advocacy and of those who participate in it.

- The undeniable fact that the entire issue and process finally improved the ways in which data were gathered and presented.

- The need to recognize differences between types of differing advocacy groups and how, as this process moved along, they may have contradictory rather than complementary effects.

- The 17 June march itself, and how it was poorly attended despite all of the hype (3000 people actually stayed to listen to the speeches, although perhaps three times as many people participated in the march, according to S. Hanafi).

- The contradictions between the PLO-aligned group and that of the opposition (the tahaluf).

- The fact that the final breakdown, when the vote actually occurred, was a purely sectarian one (Muslims vs. Christians, regardless of party affiliations).

- The question as to whether advocacy contributed to the amended law, as S. Hanafi suggests (based on the above, probably not).

- The conclusion that the attempt to put experts (“technocrats”) to the fore in order to avoid splits led here to political disengagement by the parties, who couldn’t see what was in it for them.

- More broadly, the hypothesis that it is a mistake ever to separate human rights (their objectives, their law, their practices) from politics.

These must be wedded or the human rights agenda will be unworkable.

-The conclusion that either a mass movement gets rid of intermediaries entirely (as in the first and second intifadas and voter decision in the 2005 and 2006 elections, or one should never fuse advocacy and participation of the whole through intermediary bodies: they compete or collapse.

The conclusion that the example at hand probably didn’t advance the cause of labor regime change (it was a legislative process which resulted in the law, whatever one may think of it).

Date: 
Thursday, October 14, 2010 - 10
Speakers: