07 September '14..
The New York Times has a decent story of how Palestinians in West Bank "refugee camps" are ambivalent bout something as simple as building a small town square or a soccer field. But it doesn't bother to ask some basic questions.
Public space like the plaza in Al Fawwar is mostly unheard-of in Palestinian camps across the West Bank. Architectural upgrades raise fundamental questions about the Palestinian identity, implying permanence, which refugees here have opposed for generations. The lack of normal amenities, like squares and parks in the camps, commonplace in Palestinian towns and cities in the West Bank, was originally by design: Camps were conceived as temporary quarters. The absence of public space was then preserved over the years to fortify residents’ self-identification as refugees, displaced and stateless.
So construction of even a small public square is something unusual — a sign of change in a region of fierce, escalating tension, lately exacerbated by the war in Gaza and Israel’s newest claim to another nearly 1,000 acres of West Bank land near Bethlehem, a move swiftly denounced by United Nations officials and others in the international community as undermining prospects for peace.
...The square has altered the sense of being vested in the camp — a change, partly generational, that challenges core ideas among refugees about keeping Al Fawwar a way station and temporary shelter.
...That is a provocative concept in the camps — questioning an age-old strategy of dignified self-deprivation, reframing the right of return for Palestinians as something other than simply waiting to reclaim ancestral land. Mohammad Abo Sroor, a young man who grew up in Dheisheh, a camp near Bethlehem, participates in Campus in Camps, a new university devoted to investigating the life of refugees and the design of camps. He told me he had the key to the farm near Jaffa that his grandfather lost in 1948. But for him, as well, the right of return does not necessarily mean moving into that farm. It means “the right to live where I wish,” he said, which could include Dheisheh.
The NYT doesn't ask why these people, living in their own homeland under their own leaders, are considered "refugees."