With thanks: Janet, Michelle
It's been billed "The best speech an Israeli diplomat ever gave."
Whatever its merits, what makes this 30-minute speech unusual is the giver: A Christian Arab-Israeli from Jaffa. George Deek is an Israeli diplomat posted in the prickly, if not downright hostile environment of Norway. Thankfully, the country still retains pockets of sympathy for Israel, such as the organisation MIFF, which hosted Deek's talk.
Deek's father was a Palestinian refugee in 1948 and his family are scattered all over the Arab world and the West. They responded to calls to flee Israel because of Arab warnings that the Jews would perpetrate a new Deir Yassin massacre. Deek sets his personal story in its context - the creation of millions of refugees as a result of 20th century conflicts. He is careful to mention the 850, 000 Jews forced out of Arab lands, most of whom were resettled in Israel.
Deek's speech is a call for Palestinian refugees to stop harping on about past grievances and rebuild their lives. He asks for a humanitarian solution to their plight rather than the solution favoured by Arab states who have forged out of the misery of Palestinian refugees a political weapon against Israel.
Deek's father was one of very few Arab-Israelis allowed to return from exile in Lebanon to his home town of Jaffa. He was even allowed his old job back at the Rutenberg Electric Company, the precursor to the Israel Electric Corporation. Let's hope that Israel's enemies do not misinterpret Deek's story as the vindication of every Palestinian refugee's 'right of return' to Israel proper.