George Bisharat

Beauty and Destruction in Beirut

It had always taken my breath away, cresting the ridge from the Beka’a Valley, and descending toward the sea, when I caught the first glimpse of the city of Beirut, framed like a cluster of lustrous pearls against the stunning blue of the Mediterranean. I had traveled that route many times, while studying at the American University of Beirut (AUB) in the early seventies, before the madness of the Lebanese civil war made travel there imprudent. Anything seemed possible in the Beirut of the seventies - one could meet people from all over the world, buy books in any language, swim in the sea in the morning, escape to the mountains and ski in the afternoon. 

And after the attacks in Lebanon and Israel?

Little did we realize, as we departed for home through the gleaming halls of Beirut’s new airport and boarded what turned out to be one of the last flights out, that within days, as Israeli Chief of Staff Dan Halutz put it, the Israeli military would “turn back the clock in Lebanon by 20 years.” Hundreds of millions of dollars of investment, and untold ingenuity and effort, have been blown to rubble in Israel’s outburst of violence. The airport, highways, bridges, gas stations, power stations, the port, even the modern lighthouse on Beirut’s coastal promenade — all have been devastated in Israel’s lethal tantrum. 

In the wake of the Gaza disengagement, enforce a ban on settlements

“Palestinians observed Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip with a mix of contradictory emotions. Paramount, perhaps, was relief. Nearly 9,000 Israeli settlers, who had occupied a third of the land there while confining 1. 3 million Palestinians to the rest, were finally gone.” However, argues George E. Bisharat, “the Israeli design for permanent colonization of lands reserved by the international community for a Palestinian state is a formula for decades of conflict and violence.” 

Look for a future Palestine in the past

Six decades ago, my family celebrated Christmas in its Jerusalem home, as did the families of other Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem, Nazareth and throughout the Holy Land. Then, in 1948, Palestinian society was destroyed. More than 700,000 Palestinians — many, like us, Christians, but even more Muslims — fled or were forced into exile by Israeli troops. That is the history of the establishment of Israel that is often forgotten in the United States — but is stubbornly remembered by Palestinians. Why do Palestinians who lost their homes, and who have been barred by Israel from returning ever since, remember their pre-exile lives with such enduring intensity? George Bisharat offers an answer. 

Advance U.S. -- not Israel's -- interests

Democrats, searching for ways to regain ground lost to Republicans in November, should take guidance from an unusual source: a just-reported Defense Department study of attitudes toward the United States in the Arab and Muslim worlds. That study confirms that we are resented worldwide not for our freedoms but for our policies. In particular, it is our support for Israel, and more recently our occupation of Iraq, that most offend 1.2 billion Arabs and Muslims. Friendly relations with this big slice of humanity are key to our economic and strategic well-being. 

Right of Return: Two-State solution again sells Palestinians short

SAN FRANCISCO - It is a tragic irony that, more than 55 years ago, one desperate people seeking sanctuary from murderous racism decimated another - and continue to oppress its scattered survivors to this day. In 1948, about 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homeland, their land and possessions taken by the new Jewish state of Israel. This included the Jerusalem home of my grandparents, Hanna and Mathilde Bisharat, which was expropriated through a process tantamount to state-sanctioned theft. George Bisharat comments. 

Origins of the Middle East crisis: Who caused the Palestinian Diaspora?

In 1948, three quarters of a million Palestinians were driven from what became Israel, their homes, land and possessions taken over by the new Jewish state. The pointed silence regarding the Palestinian right of return means that an important opportunity has been missed to apprise Israelis, and the world, of a critical reality. No real or lasting peace will be achieved in the area until Israel finally admits the long-denied truth, accepts moral responsibility and apologizes for its forcible exile of Palestinian refugees 55 years ago. Law professor George Bisharat looks at the issue.