Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Plight of refugees now spans 5 generations

The following is a response to the Associated Press article by Karin Laub which completely misses the point regarding the generations of descendants of Arab refugees.

One cannot help but empathize with the plight of the Arabs still living like refugees nearly seven decades after their families left their homes during the war six Arab armies initiated the day after Israel was re-established in 1948. Unfortunately, the long article "Plight of refugees now spans 5 generations" fails to deal with the question of why these people, who have since started calling themselves "Palestinians," are still living as if they are refugees and the solution given is best described by the Hebrew word "hifuch." The closest English translation is "upside down."

All other groups who became refugees in the aftermath of World War II, tens of millions of people, including 800,000 Jews forced out of their homes in Arab countries, integrated into their new countries. Uniquely, the Arab refugees were not permitted to integrate, even though almost all went to Arab countries sharing their culture and language.

The primary reason: the Arab countries wanted to use them as pawns in their continuing war of extermination against the world's only Jewish state. Shamefully, the United Nations has been complicit in this. It created a separate agency for the Palestinian Arab refugees, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which even created a unique definition of refugees applying only to Palestinian Arabs. In its definition, a descendant of a refugee is still called a refugee. Whereas the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) successfully resettled all other refugees, the UNRWA deliberately didn't resettle the Palestinian Arab refugees.

The United Nations even censured Israel when it tried to provide modern homes for people in areas it recaptured in 1967, forcing Israel to move those people back into refugee camps! And after governing 95 percent of the Arabs in the disputed territories for nearly a quarter century, the Palestinian Authority itself hasn't closed a single refugee camp.

It is thus obvious why the statement in the article that "a solution would likely require setting up a state of Palestine" is hifuch, upside down.

The solution is to start treating the Palestinian Arabs the way other displaced people have been treated and integrating them into the countries in which they have been residing for generations, in many cases far longer than their families lived in Palestine.

Stop oppressing them. Stop using them as pawns in the war against Israel. Treat them with dignity rather than as children. Let them start to live normal lives.

A side benefit: this might also pave the way for peace.

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