Two boys running in a ma'abara transit camp for Jewish refugees from Arab lands (photo: JDC)
We Need Our Friends in Washington to Initiate Congressional Hearings on Reparations for Jewish Refugees from Arab Lands. On the “refugee question,” similarly, we have to go beyond playing defense. If there are refugees, then there were 800,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands who lost everything when the Arab world uprooted them in the 1940s and drove them out from lands where they had lived half a millennium, even as those Arab countries confiscated their landed property.
Today they and their descendants number in the many millions. So, if the 400,000 or 500,000 Arabs who departed from Israel during that parallel period, mostly voluntarily, now number in the millions of UNRWA “refugees,” it is time to demand justice for the even-more-millions of Jewish refugees who truly were forced into diaspora on pain of death. Demand legislative hearings in Washington, lots of hearings by lots of different pertinent Senate and House committees, in America’s capital on restoration of property and reparations for Jewish refugees.
That is how issues become issues in America. One law student, Sandra Fluke, testified before a “mock legislative committee,” and the entire nation began debating whether the government should be required to pay for every American woman’s contraceptives. So we need hearings on the restoration of losses sustained by the Jewish Refugees from Arab Lands. Then, with the issue explained and the American public educated, we need to demand freezes on Arab governmental assets in America for court-ordered seizures and for transfer to American families among the Edot HaMizrach (North African Jewish) victims to compensate and restore refugee property – just as we have been doing for Holocaust victims who today are recovering damages for stolen Nazi-era property, for unpaid wages during their enslavement, and for insurance benefits they were owed but never paid after having paid their life-insurance and commercial-property premiums in Europe during the years of the Holocaust.
Now for the second period or the fourth inning, or for the next set of downs — pick your metaphor — because the game is just getting started:
5. We Americans Must Stop Funding UNRWA. Demand a complete end to all American funding for the UNRWA, the United Nations agency that promotes anti-Jewish hatred throughout Gaza and in Judea and Samaria, as they accede to the myth of “Palestinian refugees in Palestine.” We are so accustomed to playing defense that we never even ask: “How in the world can people who were not even alive in the 1940s be called ‘refugees’ from somewhere they never fled? And even if they were ‘refugees,’ how can they still be deemed as ‘refugees’ now that they are living in their supposed homeland?” When people “return home,” they no longer are “refugees.” Period. End of story. Under any conceivable definition or scenario, how can there be “Palestinian refugee camps” in Jenin or Gaza? Are there “Katrina refugee camps” in Baton Rouge? “Hurricane Sandy refugee camps” in the Bronx?
The UNRWA needs to close down in Gaza, in Jenin, and elsewhere – and America needs to stop funding it. Most American citizens have no idea that the United States funds more than one-fourth of the UNRWA’s annual $550 million core budget, while most Arab countries contribute a pittance. Last year, the United States gave $130 million to the UNRWA core program, and the European Union gave $120 million, while Saudi Arabia gave $2 million, Kuwait gave $2 million, Qatar gave only one million, and Egypt gave fifteen thousand dollars, while Iraq and Libya gave nothing. In today’s economic environment, there will be many in Washington who will be delighted to see this aspect of an offensive approach to Zionism once they are educated to this incredible anomaly. The money saved might even be redirected to bolster the economy of Ukrainian freedom advocates. The European Union can redirect the money to its financially tottering constituents know as PIGS: Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain.
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Let's reframe the Israel debate