Isn’t the right of return a code name for the elimination of the State of Israel? Isn’t the return of refugees, in practice, the end of Jewish existence in the Land of Israel?

The right of return is a basic human right, the implementation of which should not be conditioned on one political solution or another. Undoubtedly, with the implementation of the return, in any agreed upon arrangement, Israel will change its colonial character. The nature and extent of the change depend, among other things, on the agreements between the residents of the country and Palestinian refugees.

At Zochrot, we believe that such a change is a necessary condition for the establishment of a joint egalitarian society in the country. This would offer a real chance for healing the deep wound between Israeli Jews and Palestinians and for the sustainable integration of Israeli Jews in the Middle East as equals rather than occupiers. Moreover, we believe that a gradual and ongoing process of relinquishing privileges and decolonizing both the land and the Israeli political culture will benefit the Jewish public: under an occupying, militaristic, chauvinistic, and racist Jewish state, the budget is not directed to welfare and education, but rather to funding combat forces, weapons, intelligence systems, and propaganda efforts.

We do not believe in resolving injustice by creating a new injustice. There are countless possibilities for realizing the return of refugees without harming more people. In any case, practical solutions should be discussed in negotiations in which Israelis and Palestinians will participate.

Various surveys from 1949 to the present show that between one-fifth and one-quarter of Jewish citizens will support the return of refugees if it does not involve the displacement of Jewish Israelis from their homes. This is a fairly broad consensus in relation to other issues under discussion among Israeli society. Palestinian civil organizations oppose harming Jews as part of the exercise of the right of return. They only seek justice and equal rights and mention that Jews have lived alongside Arabs and Palestinians for centuries, clarifying that their struggle is against Zionist colonialism and not the Jewish people.

Even today, it is estimated that about 80% of the Palestinian refugee lands are uninhabited and have been converted into national parks and fire areas, among other uses. In any case, the return is not a return to the past, but rather a precondition for establishing a future Palestinian-Jewish relationship based on justice and equality.