Saturday, May 22, 2010

The rehabilitation of the Palestinian refugees first


by Shulamit Kogan



When the Arabs invaded the new state of Israel in 1948, and Israel drove them back, many of the local Arabs fled, either urged by their leaders or expecting that the Jews would do unto them as they would have done to defeated Jews. In August, 1940, this core of refugees was numbered at 472,000 of which some 360,000 needed help, according to Count Folke Bernadotte, the United Nations mediator in Palestine. Curiously, instead of the numbers falling, they continued to be adjusted upwards and by October, 1950, it was set at 711,000. In 60 years, it has grown amazingly to over 4.6 million. Of course, births are registered; registering deaths is less certain. Other frauds include selling and renting ration cards; and hiring children at census time.


These have been unusual refugees. All other refugees in the world are mostly resettled within a few years, either to their old homes or in other countries. There is no such thing as a "right of return." All other refugees are on their own after the initial crisis; the Arab refugees have continued to be wards of the U.N., which feeds them, clothes them, houses them, educates them and gives them medical treatment. In fact, in many areas, they live better than the locals, who often sign up as "refugees" for the perks. All other refugees can not pass on their refugee status as a legacy to their descendents. The Arab refugees have continued their protected status for some 4-5 generations. As another mark of distinction, all refugees world-wide except the Arabs are cared for by a single agency, UNHCR. Only the Arabs have an entire agency -- UNRWA -- dedicated just to them. UNRWA now handles some 4.6 million "refugees" with a budget (in 2007) of $500 million. UNHCR with a budget a little over double that of UNRWA ($1.1 Billion) takes care of 4 times as many refugees, some 20 million world-wide. UNRWA employs many of their refugees and has been implicated in training terrorists, delivering terrorists in UNRWA ambulances and other official vehicles to their target areas, and teaching the young to hate Israel.


Martin Sherman has noted, "Unlike the UNHCR, UNRWA's definition of refugees includes migrant and temporary workers who were resident in Mandatory Palestine for less than two years and their multigenerational descendants. The far-reaching significance of this can be condensed into the remarkable fact that if the universally accepted UNHCR criteria for refugees were applied to the Palestinian case, the number of "refugees" would shrink from close to 5 million to around 200,000. These figures starkly illustrate that both the scale and the durability of the Palestinian refugee problem is fueled by the distorted parameters of its definition. There is growing consensus that without abolishing UNRWA and folding its operations into UNHCR, no way out of the Palestinian-Israeli impasse is possible." (Martin Sherman, April 21, 2010.)

To Binyamin Netanyahu's outright demand that the Arabs recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Mubarack was the first to publicly announce his disagreement to such a definition and was followed by all other Arab leaders. Yet Obama pressed on to have Netanyahu stop buildings in Judah and Samaria. But even if the Arabs had agreed there would be no factual meaning to it, for with the moral problem of the refugees, even after they will receive more and more land concessions, they will be able to press even more than with their territorial demands.

Is it not wise to suggest to Obama to start with the rehabilitation of the Palestinian refugees before any land concessions, now that Obama and the Western World are so anxious to help the refugees, and they demand of us a plan of action?


This indeed should be the first important plan of action

After having seen how the Palestinians reacted to Israel's generous offers — such as Arafat's reaction to Ehud Barak's offer to receive all of Oslo's concessions at once rather than in stages — Clearly the refugee problem needs to be resolved first of all, and not after we will give them more and more land.

There are two dangerous risks:

Either the Israeli concensus against acceptance of Palestinian refugees will slowly dissipate, as did concensi of the past such as "not to talk with Arafat" or "No to a Palestinian State" (who even remembers them as such?)

Or, if the concensus will persist, and we will not agree to accept Palestinian refugees, the Palestinians, after they will have a state (which will obviously not long remain demilitarized) will attack us in an all out war with the help of other Arab countries, a war that will be very hard to win in the narrow borders, and in any case they will have nothing to lose, for they learn to know that even if they attack and lose they will be able to again demand everything back.

As a counter attack to the Arab public relations, our public relations must emphasize that the peace process is an historical one, not between the Israelis and the Palestinians, but between two nations — the Jewish and the Arab, two nations each of which has its own religion, its own language and culture, and its right to exist.

Therefore, one needs to emphasize the terrible injustice (but because it is known to all, it is not being reminded in our public relations) that while the Arab nation has more than twenty national states, they demand of the only Jewish state (which received all its refugees — also from Arab countries) that it give them another state out of its small area, and in addition that what will remain of the Jewish state should turn to a state of all its citizens. This they demand already now, but if we will allow their refugees, even if only a few, to return, this is what will actually happen, at best, at worst it will quickly have an Arab majority and will "democratically" become another Arab state.

Therefore it is imperative to delay the process of surrendering land until after the enlightened world (the US, the UN etc.) will give each refugee a sum of money for his rehabilitation — in Arab countries or in other country that will be willing to accept them, except Israel.

If such offers will be directed to individuals and not through Arab politicians (who are interested to keep them as refugees, as they have been doing now for over sixty years) the large majority of the refugees will be happy to accept it; and only after all of them will officially start to be rehabilitated, we will be able to sit down to peace negotiations.

Will Obama refuse to help in such a humanitarian endeavour?

Shulamit Kogan is an Israeli.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


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