Beryl Ratzer is the author of "A Historical Tour of the Holy Land." Information about that book and lots of other interesting stuff may be found at www.ratzer.com.
19th May 2011
To my Family, friends and readers Shalom
The Arab and Moslem world is in a turmoil as citizens revolt against their tyrannical leaders who in turn attempt to deflect the demonstrations with accusations against Israel / Zionists / Jews. It is too soon to know whether there is one guiding hand behind all the uprisings and we can only hope those who predict rigorous Sharia (Moslem law) regimes will be proven wrong.
The recent Naqba protests by "Palestinian refugees" and their supporters have once again thrown the spotlight on Israel. Abraham Lincoln said "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." I think he is about to be proven wrong. To me it seems that as far as the "Palestinian refugee problem" is concerned, all of the people are being fooled all of the time.
So that you won't be counted among the fooled, allow me to bring to your attention some less known facts about the "Palestinian people" and their refugee problem that can easily be verified. And I ask you to do so. Don't take my word for it.
Prior to 1967 there was no such a thing as a Palestinian people / nation. "There is no such a thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not." (Prof Philip Hitti, Arab historian to the Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry, 1946)
"There is no such a country as Palestine. 'Palestine is a term the Zionists invented … Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it." (Evidence before the Peel Commission 1937).
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria." Ahmed Shukeiri, (Founder of PLO in 1964) UN Security Council, 1956.
The 1954 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica makes no mention of the 'West Bank' and later editions which do, refer to the historical names Judea and Samaria.
Actually the term wasn't invented by the Zionists. It was invented by the Romans who, after two revolts by the Jews against Roman rule wanted to erase the names Israel and Judah from history. Sound familiar? That's what the modern delegitimisation of Israel is all about.
For almost two thousand years, first under Roman and Byzantine rule, when this area was called the province of Palaestina and then under the Arab Caliphs, Mamelukes and Ottoman Empire when it was called Jund Falastin, there was always a Jewish presence.
As agreed by the League of Nations, Palestine, the English form of Palaestina and Falastin, was to be the National Home Land of the Jewish people and was to include the entire area on both sides of the Jordan river. In 1923 Britain unilaterally created the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan on the eastern side of the river.
From then and until 1948 Palestine shrunk to the western side of the Jordan river. All who lived in it were known as Palestinians, Jew and Arab alike. Palestinian Jews served in the British army during WWII. Arab Palestinians, led by the Mufti Haj al Husseini, supported the German Reich.
In a survey of Palestine, prepared by the Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry, the authors use the titles Judea and Samaria when referring to areas now called 'the West Bank'. Resolution 181 of the UN General Assembly passed on 27th November, 1947 refers to Judea and Samaria by their historical names.
That UN resolution called for Palestine to be divided between the Arab and Jewish population, based mainly on demography. Arabs in Palestine and throughout the Arab world rejected the Partition Plan. Jews accepted it with trepidation, desirous of a place to which the survivors of the Holocaust could freely come. (Britain imprisoned survivors trying to reach to shores of Palestine or exiled them to camps in Cyprus or returned them to Europe).
With the establishment of Israel in May 1948 all who lived within its borders would be known as Israeli, Jew and Arab alike. All Jews living in the areas of Palestine which did not come under Israeli rule, including the Old City and many parts of Jerusalem, were expelled. These are part of the forgotten Jewish refugees which include almost a million Jews expelled from Arab countries stretching from Iraq to North Africa.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan annexed Judea and Samaria which would henceforth be known as the West Bank. Egypt imposed military rule on the Gaza Strip. At no time between 1948 and 1967 did the population of those two areas demand the creation of an independent state. At no time during those nineteen years did we hear of a Palestinian people seeking to fill their national aspirations. They had none.
It is therefore clear that the history of the "Palestinian people" goes back no further than 1967. In fact, UN Resolution 242, in the aftermath of the Six Day War, makes no mention of Palestine or Palestinian refuges.
I would venture to say that virtually "all of the people" have been fooled into thinking otherwise.
Which brings us to the "Palestinian refugees".
"The Arab civilians panicked and fled ignominiously. Villages were frequently abandoned before they were threatened by the progress of the war". Glubb Pasha (John Baggot Glubb, founder of the Arab Legion and its commander between 1939 and 1956 BR), London Daily Mail 12th August, 1948.
"The Arab states encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies". Jordanian Falastin, 19th February, 1949
"The fact that there are these refugees is the direct consequence of the action of the Arab states in opposing the partition and the Jewish State. The Arab states agreed on this policy unanimously and they must share in the solution of the problem." Emil Ghoury, Secretary of the Arab Higher Committee, Beirut Daily Telegraph, 6th September, 1948.
"The Secretary General of he Arab League, Azzam Pasha, assured the Arab peoples that the occupation of Palestine would be as simple as a military parade … he pointed out that …all the millions the Jews had spent on land and economic development would be easy booty, for it would be a simple matter to throw the Jews into the Mediterranean … Brotherly advice was given to the Arabs of Palestine (note: not the Palestinians BR) to leave their land, homes and property to stay temporarily in neighbouring fraternal states, lest the guns of the invading Arab armies mow them down". Habib Issa, The New York Lebanese daily, Al Hoda, 8th June 1951.
That's a rather different picture from the one of cruel, vicious, post-Holocaust Israelis forcibly expelling the Arab population from the newly created Jewish State. I would be remiss if I did not mention that there were Arabs who were expelled from their villages, from which they were launching attacks.
The Arab villages throughout Israel are testimony to the fact that not all Arabs took part in the aggression. Many Arabs did not believe they would be harmed by the Israelis and they did not hearken to the words of their leaders and so they chose not to flee. Today, they and their descendants make up 18% of the Israeli population.
Contrary to accusations that they are the victims of an Israeli apartheid regime, Israeli Arabs vote in elections and have their own representatives in Knesset, the Israeli parliament.
It would appear then that the Naqba, the catastrophe, was of their own making. In 1948 the Arabs of Palestine, having no national identity or aspirations, did not create their own state alongside the State of Israel. The Arabs of Palestine fled at the behest of their leaders and not as the result of Israeli expulsion.
Here too I would venture to say that virtually "all of the people" have been fooled into thinking otherwise.
What exactly is a refugee?
In the aftermath of WWII there were millions of refugees - " persons who owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted … are outside the country of their nationality". Clearly the refugee's descendants are not refugees. The creation of India and Pakistan in 1947 and other world conflicts, including the expulsion of almost one million Jews from the Arab countries, added millions more.
The UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, founded in 1944, was replaced in 1947 by the International Refugee Organisation which was in turn replaced by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in 1949.
Its "mandate is to provide, on a non-political and humanitarian basis, international protection to refugees and to seek permanent solutions for them by assisting governments. …. As of 1 January 2007, UNHCR reported a total of 21,018,589 individuals falling under its mandate. As of April 2008[update], the UNHCR employed a staff of 6,351 people in 117 countries". (1 staff member per 3,309 refugees BR) In other words, the aim of UNHCR is to resettle refugees.
In 1949 the UN established a separate agency for Palestinian (Arabs,not Jews BR) refugees, UNRWA, UN Relief and Works for Palestinian Refugees, with a very different definition of refugee and a very different definition of its mandate.
Palestinian refugees are "any Arabs, native or not, who sojourned in Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948 and who lost their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict … and that right extends to descendants of persons who became refugees in 1948".
In plain English, any Arab who lived in Palestine for a minimum of two years and his descendants for ever onwards can define themselves as Palestinian refugees. No matter if they are happily settled anywhere in the world and have American, Canadian, British etc etc citizenship, they are still Palestinian refugees and brandish large keys to their former homes.
UNRWA's sole mandate is to "provide the Palestinian refugees with humanitarian assistance". In plain English, to perpetuate the problem, not to solve it.
According to World Bank statistics Palestinians receive between ten and thirty times more than starving refugees in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Pakistan whereas their earning capacity is greater in the same ratio.
Who provides this 'humanitarian assistance'? A staff of over 28,000 provide aid to about 4.4 million refugees, a number which has never been verified. (a ratio of 1:157 compared to 1:3,309 for all other refugees BR).
And the budget? Well over 80% from US, Canadian, Japanese, European and 'western' donors. Less than 8% from their oil rich Arab brethren.
Did you know this? Once again, I would venture to say that virtually "all of the people" have been fooled into thinking otherwise.
"The Arab armies entered Palestine to protect the Palestinians from the Zionist tyranny, but instead they abandoned them, forced them to emigrate and to leave their homeland, imposed upon them a political and ideological blockade and threw them into prisons similar to the ghettos in which the Jews used to live in Eastern Europe." Falastin al-Thawra, the official journal of the PLO in Beirut, 1976.
Whose words are those?
The same person who said in am interview on Al-Palestina TV in September 2009:
"I am among those who were born in Safed. We were a family of means". Fearing Zionist revenge for the Arab massacre of Jews in Safed in 1929 "we decided to leave. The entire city was abandoned based on this thought. …At night we left by foot from Safed, to the Jordan river and then to Damascus…"
The same person who wrote a PhD thesis denying the Holocaust.
The same person who, together with many other senior PA officials, participated in a recent Fatah event, clapping enthusiastically when a Palestinian singer defined all of Israel as being Palestinian, singing:
"my land, … our coast … spans from Rosh Hanikra in Israel's north to Rafah in the Gaza Strip in the South, and from Haifa on Israel's Western coast to Beit Shean on Israel's Eastern border". The event was re-broadcast on PA TV on 12th May, 2011.
You guessed it!! Mahmoud Abbas, a.k.a. Abu Mazen, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority.
This is the man who is proving Abraham Lincoln was mistaken. Mahmoud Abbas is proving that you can fool all of he people all of the time.