KOSHER DELIGHT - YOUR JEWISH ONLINE MAGAZINE!
Posted: Sunday, May
20, 2007 - ב"ה
Bias and Misinformation mainly about the Arab Israel conflict
AND THE PALESTINIAN RIGHT OF RETURN
In his 1973 biography of Marilyn Monroe, Norman Mailer
coined the word "factoid" by adding the suffix "oid"
to the word "fact". Tagged on to the end of a word, "oid"
conveys the idea of resemblance to that word, for example asteroid
means like a star. Mailer described factoids as "facts which
have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper,
creations which are not so much lies as a product to manipulate
emotion in the Silent Majority."
The Encarta encyclopedia describes factoid as something that may not
be true but is widely accepted as true because it is repeatedly
quoted, especially in the media.
In terms of this definition factoid is probably the most
appropriate word to describe the Palestinian Right of return, a
concept borrowed from the Israel Law of return, which was inspired by
the need to provide a homeland for millions of homeless Jews after
WWII. Many countries including China, Armenia, Bulgaria, Hungary,
Ireland Italy, Japan and Greece have similar laws facilitating
immigration by individuals with ethnic ties.
The Palestinians claim their demand is based on a legal right in terms
of UN General Assembly Resolution 194, but many legal authorities
contend that this resolution does not support the claims. In fact it
does not specifically refer to a right of return though Article 11
"... that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and
live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the
earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for
the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage
to property which, under principles of international law or in equity,
should be made good by the Governments or authorities
It is relevant to note that unlike UN Security Council Resolutions,
which are binding on member states, General Assembly resolutions are
considered to be merely non-binding recommendations. Nevertheless it
is ironic that those Arab states that now rely on 194 to claim a right
of return, voted against it because they said it does not contain such
right and because it implicitly recognized Israel.
Notably, the resolution does not refer to descendants of refugees,
but it does refer to all refugees, not only Arabs. It therefore
includes the Jews who were forced to flee from Arab countries and
abandon property estimated at over $30 billion.
Most significantly, since
resolution 194 specifically applies only to refugees who wish "to
live at peace with their neighbors", it does
not apply to the Palestinians since both Hamas and PLO charters
emphatically reject peace with Israel. Article 13 of the Hamas
charter specifically states that peaceful solutions and international
conferences contradict the principles of the Islamic Resistance
Movement and that Jihad is the only solution.
The official Palestinian Media Center web site confirms that promised
changes to the PLO Charter have not been made. Article 9 of the PLO
covenant still plainly declares that armed struggle is not merely
tactical, it is the overall strategy. Article 19 rejects the 1947 UN
partition, implicitly rejecting the Quartet�s proposed
two-state solution. Moreover it advocates destruction of the entire
Jewish state. Article 20 deems the Balfour Declaration and the British
Mandate null and void.
The following opinion is not from an Israeli spokesperson. It is
the considered analysis of Saudi columnist Yousef Nasser Al-Sweidan as
published in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, March 5, 2007 under the
title "On the Impossible [Idea] of the Right of Return,"
(With acknowledgement to MEMRI - Special Dispatch April 12, 2007.)
"The refugee problem is the result of mistakes by the host
countries. Clearly, the refugee problem is mainly the result of
cumulative mistakes made by the countries where [the refugees] live...
such as Syria and Lebanon, which have isolated the refugees in poor
and shabby camps lacking the most basic conditions for a dignified
human existence. Instead of helping them to become fully integrated in
their new society, they let them become victims of isolation and
suffering... Later, the worst of all happened when Arab intelligence
agencies used the Palestinian organizations as a tool for settling
scores in internal Arab conflicts that probably have nothing to do
with the Palestinians..."
"The Israelis, on the other hand, were civilized and humane in
their treatment of the thousands of Jewish refugees who had lost their
property, homes and businesses in the Arab countries, and who were
forced to emigrate to Israel after the 1948 war. The Israeli
government received them, helped them, and provided them with all the
conditions] to become integrated in their new society...
The lies of the Syrian Ba'th regime, and its trading in slogans like
'right of return,' 'steadfastness,' 'resistance,' 'national struggle,'
and all the other ridiculous [slogans], are evident from the fact
that, to this day, dozens of Palestinian families [remain] stranded in
the desert on the Syrian-Iraqi border".
Al-Sweidan's views are echoed by award-winning human rights
activist Bassem Eid who was born and continues to live in a refugee
camp. He is the Founder and Director of the Palestinian Human Rights
Monitoring Group which exposes human rights violations by both
Israelis and Palestinians.
During a BBC Doha Debate on April 14 2007 Eid said that demanding the
right of return was a futile exercise, which served no purpose other
than to keep the Palestinian refugees imprisoned in degrading refugee
camps. The time had come, he said, to give up this right and to exert
pressure on Arab governments to recognize Palestinian refugees as
citizens, allow them to work and grant them freedom of movement.
The above Arab views expose a very tragic truth to which the media and
politicians have closed their eyes for 59 years. Apart from Jordan,
Israel's Arab neighbors practice a cruel form of apartheid. They deny
citizenship to Palestinian refugees. They deny them freedom of
movement and severely restrict the fields in which they may work.
Ralph Galloway, former director of UN aid to the Palestinians in
Jordan summarized this situation succinctly. He wrote:
"The Arab states do not want to solve the refugee problem.
They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United
Nations and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don�t give
a damn whether the refugees live or die". ("The
Palestinians: People History, Politics" -Terence Prittie, p 71)
How have other refugee problems have been resolved?
Another factoid is the frequently repeated claim that Palestinians are
the only refugees who have been unable to return to their homes,
deliberately ignoring the fact that millions of refugees have indeed
been resettled in host countries.
In a November 1957 paper, "Century of the Homeless Man"
published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Dr.
Elfan Rees, Advisor on Refugees to the World Council of Churches,
"No large-scale refugee problem has ever been solved by
repatriation, and there are certainly no grounds for believing that
this particular problem (the Palestine refugees) can be so
solved�The facts we must face force us to the conclusion that
for most of the world refugees the only solution is integration where
they are. "
In terms of Article XIII of the 1945 Potsdam declaration signed by
Stalin, Truman and Atlee, approximately 15 million Germans in Poland,
Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Austria were forcibly relocated to
Germany. They lost title to the property they left behind, and no
arrangements were made to compensate them for their losses.
The creation of Pakistan similarly resulted in relocation of millions
of people. Immoveable property left behind by these refugees was
seized by the respective governments to help settle the incoming
All were successfully resettled in host countries and none of
those many millions were entitled to claim a right to return to their
ancestral homelands. One must ask why only the Palestinian refugees
have been deliberately left to rot as political pawns, pacified by the
false hope of return, rather than be absorbed by their brethren in
It is cruelty in the extreme to tantalize these refugees with hopes
they might gain something by giving up a right they in fact do not
have - to make a concession that is not theirs to make.
Hopefully there is some light at the end of the tunnel in the
courageous statements of Mr. Al-Sweidan and Mr. Eid, quoted above.
They reinforce the prescient views expressed much earlier by Dr.
Marguerite E. Ritchie in a paper "Revolutionary Violence and
Canadian Policy" presented to the Human Rights Institute of
Canada. She wrote:
"Perhaps Canada is in the best possible position to urge that
the Arab states, whose invasion of the territory assigned to Jewish
Palestinians created the refugee problem in 1948, accept and integrate
into their territory those Arab refugees who live on
international dole in these UN camps.
all, Canada includes among its most honored citizens the descendants
of the United Empire Loyalists who lost their homes as a result of the
American Revolution. Canada did not keep those loyalists in camps, but
rewarded them for their loyalty by the gift of new land and new lives.
Are the Arab states less generous towards their own brethren?"
more articles by Maurice Ostroff
Mr. Ostroff's website: http://maurice-ostroff.tripod.com
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