Tuesday, December 09, 2014

More coverage following Jewish Refugee Day

Libyan-born Gina Waldman at the Knesset pleads for the history of Jews from 
Arab countries to be taught in schools.

All the refugees (Jerusalem Post)

The conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state, but rather the existence of the Jewish state.

Neither has it been about refugees, although the Palestinians have managed to invent history’s first instance of fourth-generation refugees. The Arab nations have deliberately maintained this refugee status as another political weapon in their ongoing war against the Jewish state, while Israel did its utmost to integrate Jewish refugees from Muslim countries as productive citizens.

The world ignores the double aggression that created two groups of refugees: Palestinian refugees from the Arab war against the Jewish state and Jewish refugees from the Arab war against their own Jewish citizens. While no one expects the Arab League to take responsibility for its role in perpetuating the suffering of Palestinian refugees, not to mention of the Jewish refugees, the world community could do better.

Since 1948, for example, more than 180 General Assembly resolutions have dealt with the plight of Palestinian refugees – and not one mentions Jewish refugees.

What should be done to help displaced Palestinians unwanted by their fellow Arabs? A first step should be dissolving UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and transferring its jurisdiction over Palestinian refugees to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which actually rehabilitates refugees.

Aside from its domination by Hamas, UNRWA exists to perpetuate the Palestinians’ refugee situation rather than help them to a better future. Despite Mahmoud Abbas’s rhetoric, there are few Palestinians who really believe their “temporary” refugee status of nearly 70 years will be remedied by a nonexistent “right of return” to Israel.

UNRWA’s clientele has grown from fewer than half a million to a claimed 5 million (UNRWA has not taken a census).

Its schools, when not being used as Hamas launching-pads, teach hatred of Jews as part of an ongoing program of incitement. Surely the United Nations can do better.

And by the way, the United States will not. The State Department opposes any reform of UNRWA, or transferring its responsibilities to other UN agencies.

If peace negotiations are ever to resume, Israel would be wise to condition them in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 242 of November 22, 1967: All negotiations for “a just and lasting peace” must include all refugees, Jewish and Palestinian. This principle has since been reinforced by the US Congress, which passed a resolution in 2008 requiring that the Jewish refugee issue be raised in any talks on a Middle East peace settlement.

The Knesset finally passed similar legislation this year, after much lobbying by former Jewish refugees from Muslim countries and particularly their organizations in the US, such as Justice for Jews from Arab Countries and Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa. These former refugees today make up about half of Israel’s population.

 Remembering forced expulsions of the Arab world (Commentary - with thanks: Eliyahu)

Attending the concurrent NGO fair, I spent some time at the booth of the Association des Marocains Victimes d’Expulsion Arbitraire d’Algérie (AMVEAA). Basically, there story is this: On December 18, 1975, the Algerian government expelled 45,000 families—about 500,000 people—who were legally resident in Algeria, and many of whom had lived in Algeria for decades. Houari Boumediene, the chairman of Algeria’s Revolutionary Council, ordered the Moroccans detained and expelled in response to the Moroccan “Green March” into the Western Sahara.

The condition of the Moroccans’ expulsion was appalling, and it was done without prior notice. Algerian police hunted down Moroccans wherever they could be found and dumped them across the border. Many Moroccans died, and the humanitarian crisis caused by hundreds of thousands of individuals strained the Moroccan government. Meanwhile, the deportation split mixed families, and the expelled Moroccans lost pensions, and left behind bank accounts and personal property.

AMVEAA wants restitution for lost property and cites language from the UN’s Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families to support their claim. Realistically, the chance they will collect is between zero and null. But, their case does illustrate just one more case—the mass expulsion of Jews from Arab lands following Israel’s independence being the other—of the hypocrisy of the refugee issue. The 500,000 persons expelled from Algeria are greater than the 472,000 Palestinians which the United Nations Mediator on Palestine concluded had left Israel in 1948.

Israel, however, settled the refugees as did Morocco. They are cases to be celebrated, and examples of responsible governance. Why the world continues to subsidize Palestinian refugees rather than disbanding the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and handling management of any remaining issue to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is beyond any logic and, indeed, UNRWA’s founding purpose.

Edwin Shuker interviewed on i24 News

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