Friday, July 04, 2008

Middle East refugees: there is another way

Writing in the Huffington Post blog Richard Z Chesnoff highlights the differences between Jewish and Arab refugees - the former, an inspiring success story, the latter a dismal failure:

"By 1947, close to a million Jews lived in the Arab world. Many played primary roles in local economies, global trade, and medicine. Some became senior advisors to Emirs and Sultans and helped enrich the cities of the Arab world ((e.g. Baghdad's pre 1948 Chamber of Commerce was 50% Jewish).

"The historic decision to establish the State of Israel changed all that. Outraged by the idea of a Jewish state in their midst, the Arab world turned against its Jews, targeting them with legislated discrimination, government sponsored anti-Semitic riots and murderous pogroms. Faced with growing threats, outright violence and government moves to completely disenfranchise them, close to 900,000 Jews were forced to abandon their ancient homes .

"Almost all were allowed to leave only on condition they signed agreements never to return and - most important - to leave their property and belongings behind. Recently uncovered documents indicate that much of this massive theft was a coordinated scheme by several Arab governments to grab Jewish property worth as much as $100 billion.

"Today, with the exception of small communal pockets in Morocco, the Arab world is effectively Judenrein. Egypt which once had 180,000 (sic - 80,000 is the correct figure - ed) Jews now has only a handful of mostly aged Jews living in Cairo and Alexandria; Iraq which had 160,000 Jews now has 20, Libya and most other Arab states have none.

"But here comes the difference between the fates of Arab and Jewish refugees. While the corrupt Arab world condemned Palestinian Arabs to statelessness, squandered chance after chance to make peace with Israel and stole mega-millions in welfare funds, the Jewish state and the world Jewish community worked tirelessly to resettle its fellow Jews from Arab lands. More than half a million have settled in Israel where, after early years of economic and sometimes social hardship, they and their descendants have been successfully integrated and now form more than 50% of the Jewish population. Others found new homes in South America, Western Europe, the United Kingdom, United States, Canada - rebuilding lives while trying to retain their own unique cultural ties and communal institutions.

"Most important, not a single Jew from the Arab world remains a "refugee", not one lives in a squalid camp or demands a "Right of Return" to the Arab world. Above all, not one angry Arab Jewish terrorist has ever strapped a suicide bomb to his or her waist and climbed aboard an Arab bus to murder dozens of innocents.

"Next time someone moans to you about the plight of Arab refugees, remind them that there still is another way. And that compensation works in two directions.

Read article in full

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