Friday, May 15, 2009

Defining the 'right of return'

This thoughtful piece by Barbara Kay in The American Thinker was obviously timed to coincide with the Palestinian 'Nakba' anniversary on May 14th. I have set out my thoughts on their so-called 'right of return' here; I should add that Jews have been offered a 'right of return' to some Arab countries, but have spurned it. Who in their right mind would return to a country where their security is not assured and the population is basically hostile?

"The word "Zionist" is now a heavily freighted word, but what does it actually mean? Eminent sixth-generation Israeli writer A.B. Yehoshua says that in its essence it means nothing more than the law of return. It's not about love of Israel or a belief that Jews are in some way "better" than others. He pointed out that it would surprise many people to know that Israel is not the only country in the world with a right of return, although Israel's enemies like to give that impression. Hungary and Germany also have laws of return, and so do many others. Google "right of return" and check out the long, long list. Ethnicity lies at the heart of all of them, so in that sense Israel is a country like most others.

"Palestinians argue that since they were living on the land at the time of its elevation to statehood, they too have the right of return. Return to what? To a homeland or to lost property? For lost property does not constitute a homeland. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Jews lived in Baghdad for centuries, but when they were summarily ethnically cleansed in 1948 (those who were not murdered) without compensation for their homes, businesses or bank deposits, they didn't kid themselves that they'd lost a homeland. They were absorbed in their homeland, Israel, and are indistinguishable from other Israelis. The same would have been true of Palestinians if they had been absorbed into their ethnically appropriate enclaves — West Bankers to Jordan and Gazans to Egypt.(...)

"Palestinians who fled or were pushed from their homes in war must obviously be materially compensated, just as the descendants of the 900,000 ethnically cleansed Jews from Arab lands, absorbed by Israel, should be compensated (and never will be). If and when the Palestinians gain statehood for the West Bank and Gaza — and they'd have an excellent chance if they recognized Israel's right to exist and gave up plans for its extermination — they should by all means establish a law of return in their first and only politically sovereign domain.

"Just like most countries, including Israel."

Read article in full


Anonymous said...

there is a video about it

Philo-Semite said...

Concerning the Israeli law of return: Besides Israel, dozens of countries also use ethnicity to determine both citizenship and right of return. Countries with similar laws are given in all 3 of these articles:

In fact, the Treaty of Lausanne required a population exchange on the basis of ethnicity, ending inter-ethnic strife. A similar population exchange occurred at the time of the Partition of India.

The population exchange between the Jewish state and the Arab world should be no different. In the interests of peace, the Palestinian refugees should be re-settled in place, and the major powers (including the oil-rich Arab countries) should compensate both groups of refugees, Palestinian and Jewish.

bataween said...

Thanks for all these useful references, Philo.