Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Must-read on the world's 38 million refugees

Masterful piece by Ben Dror Yemini in Maariv ( the second in a series) setting the Palestinian refugees in context. Yemini ranges far and wide to prove his point: Bulgarian and Turkish Muslims, Greeks, Hindus from Pakistan and Muslims from India, ethnic Germans, Serbs and Croats - 38 million people - were displaced in the conflicts of the 20th century but only the Palestinians (and Muslims fleeing Armenia for Azerbaijan) still live in refugee camps. (Via Solomonia)

"The number of refugees in the above survey (which is only partial) totals approximately 38 million people. Of all the tens of millions of refugees generated by religious and ethnic strife, however, only the 700,000 Palestinians who fled their homes in Israel in 1948 - most of them at the urging of their leaders - remain a "problem" for the international community nearly sixty years later.

"All over the world, the same pattern pertains. Those who have been expelled or forced to flee from areas in which they were part of a religious or ethnic minority to areas or countries in which their religious or ethnic group is the majority have been absorbed by their co-religionists or those of the same ethnicity. That is what happened when Israel absorbed 600,000-800,000 Jews from Arab lands after the creation of the state. And it is what has happened everywhere else in the world. The two Germanys absorbed ethnic Germans after World War II; India took in Hindus fleeing Pakistan, and Pakistan received Moslems fleeing India.

"That too should be the fate of the Palestinians. They should be absorbed in an independent Arab state of Palestine to be established one day alongside Israel, not in place of Israel.

"Only the Palestinians (and Moslem refugees to Azerbaijan) depart from the general pattern of absorption by those who share their religion and ethnic identity. The Palestinians were never absorbed by their Arab co-religionists in the countries bordering Israel. They faced both de facto and de jure discrimination in many of those countries. Today hundreds of thousands of those who left Israel in 1948 and their descendants still languish in refugee camps nursing their bitter historical grievances and constituting a permanent attack force to be unleashed against Israel.

"The Arab states deliberately maintain the Palestinians in their pitiable state. The international community was also complicit in the process. Rather than helping the Palestinians out of their refugee status, UNRWA and international donors have frozen the Palestinians in that state. That is true not only those who fled Israel in 1948, but all their descendants in perpetuity.

"In place of medicine, the Palestinians' "benefactors" have only rubbed salt in their wounds - sometimes for their own purposes and sometimes from the best of motives. The day that the international community ceases applying a double standard to the Palestinians will be a day of rejoicing for them. On that day, they will stop being political pawns and be on the way to gaining their independence.

"Of the tens of millions of refugees created by World War II and the grant of independence to India and Pakistan in 1947, all lost their refugee status, as far as the international community is concerned, decades ago. And the possibility of those former refugees returning to the lands of their birth would strike the international community with horror, for an attempt to do so would only unleash old ethnic and religious conflicts. We might as well discuss the return of North America to its original native inhabitants.

"Only with respect to the Palestinians does the "right of return" continued to be discussed. Not just discussed, but to be the subject of thousands of books, articles, and documentaries. That "right" is never placed in the context of comparable cases of other refugees around the world.

"Sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians dwarfs that for other peoples who have suffered far worse fates, and who are far less complicit in their fate. The exodus of Palestinians from what is today Israel took place only because five Arab armies invaded Israel immediately after its declaration of statehood. And the Palestinians could long ago have had their own independent state. They have preferred instead to focus their energies on the destruction of Israel.

"The black farmers of the Darfur province of Sudan constitute just the most blatant current example of the disproportionate sympathy for the Palestinians. The U.N. places the number of those killed by Arab Moslem militias at 400,000, while another two to three million people have fled their homes, as a consequence of a concerted effort at ethnic cleansing.

"And yet it is the plight of the Palestinians that continues to be portrayed as the greatest injustice perpetrated by man against his fellow in the world today. International humanitarian aid to the Palestinians is an order of magnitude greater than that directed towards any other people. (That will be the subject of our third investigation.) Meanwhile the black farmers of Darfur are left to their fate.

"The international community has long acknowledged the rule that religious and ethnic homogeneity serves as a preventative to the most vicious of conflicts. For that reason, Turkish Moslems will not return to Greece nor Greeks to their former homes in Turkey. Sometimes history must be forgotten if peace is to be maintained. Judea and Samaria is the historical homeland of the Jewish people. Yet we do not advocate Jewish rule of that area today, for it is home to another people."

Read article in full


Anonymous said...

This is an Arab problem not necessary an exclusively Muslim problem.

Different Arab nationalistic ideologies are opposed to Zionism: it includes Christian, Muslim, Marxist, Atheist, Capitalist, propgressive, you name it. There is practically no Arab, whatever their faith or ideology is, who will accept Zionism as a legitimate ideology.

The Israeli conflict is not about exchanging "populations", the main issue that Arabs will not accept is that Israel was actually created by European-Zionists: a foreign people to the lands.

This is not about an existing country like Greece vs Turkey etc.

If one were to accept Zionist colonialism, then the Indians should've accepted British colonialism. The Arabs would've accepted French or British colonialism. Even the Zionists (most of whom were born in Europe in Russia) claimed they were fighting British colonists on lands they themselves colonized. The hypocrisy of Zionism knows no limits.

While many injustices occurred everywhere else in this world, the Zionist injustice is one of a kind. It is only the Zionists who will tell you that they had every right in lands they never set foot in for thousands of years.

The British did admit to their greed and to their colonial past and misguided policies, the Zionists would not.

They say God gave them those lands. Can anyone believe this BS?

This fanatical fundamentalist LIE must be proven false even if it takes centuries otherwise fantasy and religious fanaticism would win over reason and common sense.

Arabs do not want the moon and do not claim God gave them anything in those lands. They simply want their lands back where many lived for centuries.

If God gave the Zionists whatever lies they claim, let God himself SHOW UP and hand it to them.

bataween said...

For an intelligent fellow you certainly have swallowed a lot of lies and propaganda.
The first is that Israel is a coloniser and the Arabs the colonised. The truth is the exact opposite. The Jews (the name comes from Judea!) were the original inhabitants of Palestine, and indeed much of the Middle East. It is the Arabs who arrived 1,000 years later and forcibly conquered and occupied these regions.
If you think that European Jews are no different from Europeans, you know nothing about the history and identity of the Jews. The story of the Jews, their exile and return to Israel and the resurrection of Hebrew as their living language simply has no parallel in human history, and to make facile comparisons with European colonisation shows a complete failure of the imagination.
As for the Palestinians, there would not have been a single refugee had five Arab armies not decided to start a war of extermination which they were foolish enough to lose.