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December 17, 2014 / 25 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Palestinian refugees’

Palestinians Rebuff Jewish Refugees’ Outreach

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

An offer to advocate for Palestinian refugee rights to cooperate with advocates for the rights of Jewish refugees was rejected at the Zochrot conference. 

The conference went ahead on the supposed site of an Arab village on the Tel Aviv university campus on 29 and 30 September, despite attempts to have it cancelled.  Levana Zamir, the president of the Association of Jews from Egypt in Israel, who made the offer to cooperate,  watched the conference develop into a nightmare – a sick and calculated blueprint for the annihilation of Israel. (One can only marvel at the irony that the bastion of anti-Zionism that is Tel Aviv university, whose staff and students so enthusiastically participated in the conference, should cooperate in their own destruction. )

The Zochrot conference website banner.

The Zochrot conference website banner.

Here is Levana’s report:

Levana Zamir

Levana Zamir

This international conference initiated by the Israeli NGO Zokhrot (meaning ‘we remember’),  titled “Realizing the Return of Palestinian Refugees” took place over two days in the Eretz Israel Museum in Ramat Aviv – located on the site of the former Arab village of  Sheikh Mouniss.

It was  a nightmare to me.  Janet Dallal, an Israeli friend from Iraq, was there with me. The other heads of organisations of Jews from Arab countries decided not to come and speak out – saying it would give the conference too much  publicity. Now I can say they were wrong.

The aim of this conference was not to argue whether the Palestinian refugees have a right of return, but the realization of it,  termed ‘decolonization’ by the conference including in parts of north Tel Aviv where small Arab villages were located before 1948.

The conference got off to a slow start, talking about doing justice to the dispossessed and stateless Palestinian refugees, and with a few good words from Leila Hilal, Director of the Middle East Task force of the New America Foundation – the main organisation financing this conference, beside other European organisations.

Leila Hilal said she was embarrassed to open the conference knowing that ‘the right of return’ issue was very delicate for most of Israelis: I liked her opening very much. But she continued saying it was about time to do justice to those politically-displaced refugees and put an end to their suffering. From time to time she talked of “compensation”.

Professor  Dan Rabinovitz of Tel Aviv University (where else?) gave his presentation, saying that the ‘right of return’ would be granted to refugees born in Palestine and are still alive – not to their descendants – i.e. 200, 000 refugees.  A  ‘right of return’ given by Israel to Jews only is discrimination, he said. He asked for recognition and for an apology. The Return would not always be to the original locations, but to alternatives.

After three more presentations about “reconciliation”, the Serbian refugee model, and the research findings of an Arab doctoral student from the UK on displaced Palestinians, it was easy for me at the Q&A to say my few words over the microphone and to ask my question.  I said:
“I came here to give you a hand, to ask you to continue your fight to get back your properties and compensation because I am myself a refugee, a Jewish refugee from Egypt. We were dispossessed of all our family properties, of our identity, then expelled. There are a million Jewish refugees like me from Arab lands – Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, etc.  So I propose to pool our efforts – Palestinian and Jewish refugees – to recover our properties, secure compensation, and not to accept the kizuz (cancelling out) proposed by Israel.

“My question to Leila Hilal was this: “as you represent the New America Foundation, dealing with refugees in the Middle East, would you agree to give us a hand, and deal with Jewish refugees too. Let’s do it together, hand in hand.”

Leila did not answer my question but asked the others to do so.  Prof. Dan Rabinovitz said that my request was absolutely right, but he was an expert on Palestinian refugees and dealt only with them. The doctoral student from the UK, Munir Nuseibah, said he would be ready to develop his research for both sides. But during the coffee break, when I asked him how he would like us to cooperate on his research, he said he could not cooperate. People around us heard his answer very clearly.

When Leila asked the Serbian expert to answer to another question about the success of the ‘right of return’ imposed on Serbia, she said that it was a very bad experience involving killing people, and it had to be stopped.

During the coffe break, the president and founder of Zokhrot, Eitan Bronstein (an Israeli), came to me and said he was ready to see how Zokhrot could cooperate with us to include the Jewish refugees in their themes and activities. At that moment I was really glad to be there, but Leila avoided me and disappeared. I will send her a short message.

Janet Dallal intervened during the afternoon sessions, reminding the audience (all of them leftists) of the existence of the second group of refugees, the Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries, and the role of the Arab League in all this.

The second and last part of the conference became a nightmare.

During the whole next day, the lecturers demonstrated what the Return would be like, geographically – through animated short clips – and practically.

For example, in North Tel Aviv, on Ibn-Gvirol Street and the corner of Arlozorof – a sophisticated Tel-Avivian neighbourhood where an Arab village called Soumayel was located – the ‘Israeli occupiers’ would have the right to decide to leave their homes or stay and pay the ‘Palestinian refugee owner’ the ‘market value’ of their house. Then the ‘Palestinian Refugee owner’ would decide between recovering ‘his’ house or taking the money, with all that entailed. The Israeli ‘occupiers’ could not pass their homes on as inheritance to their descendants, etc. etc.

The Palestinian refugee who did not wish to Return, would get all their rights as Israeli citizens (Bituah Leumi national insurance rights, etc). in the paradise of One state for Two Peoples.  There was never any talk of “two separate nation-states”.

Everything is already settled for the Return to Arab villages too. The speakers planned, for example, how the ‘new’ Arab village of Ladjoun, on the edge of the flourishing kibbutz Meggido in the North,  will look, and under which conditions two Arab buildings still located inside the kibbutz would be incorporated into the village.

All this seemed to me sick and destructive, so the second day I did  not attend the conference but watched via the On-line conference link on the Zokhrot Facebook page.

The conference continued in this vein. Some lecturers even said, “Zionism is a crime” and nobody objected, except one lady who said: ” please respect others’ beliefs”. That was the only moment when I wished I had been there to say that today the word “Zionism” has no meaning any more – because the State of Israel belongs to the people of Israel. We are Am Israel, living in Medinat Israel.

To sum up, I cannot believe this is happening to us, that Israelis could side with our enemies so as to annihilate the State of Israel. This conference came one step closer towards this annihilation. I would like to say to all those who were there, that the creation of the State of Israel after 2,000 years was a miracle, and that the people of Israel on its own land is neither invincible, nor should it be taken for granted.

Visit Point of No Return.

Why the World Loves Palestinians

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, described the special situation of Palestinian refugees on the recent World Refugee Day:

Unlike other refugees, the Palestinians have their own set of rules, their own funding and even their own international agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency or UNRWA. To paraphrase George Orwell, all refugees are equal, but some refugees are more equal than others.

In 2012, the United Nations spent six times more on every Palestinian refugee as compared to all other refugees. Like a favored child, the Palestinians have been on the UN’s permanent payroll for over 60 years and are entitled to every service from healthcare to housing and from food rations to education. When it comes to refugees from Syria or Somalia, responsibility falls to the host country to provide basic assistance.

While UNHCR’s approach teaches independence, UNRWA’s approach prepares the Palestinians to be lifelong dependents. Under UNRWA’s framework, Palestinians can continue to be called refugees long after they acquire citizenship and find permanent housing.

UNRWA’s humanitarian mission is undoubtedly important. However, it is being marred by its unspoken political motto of “once a refugee, always a refugee.” By allowing refugee status to pass to Palestinian children and grandchildren, the number of Palestinian refugees has ballooned from a few hundred thousand in 1948 to over five million today. Left unchecked, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians will continue to be added to the UN’s permanent payroll every year.

Let’s apply some simple arithmetic. If about 650,000 Arabs fled Palestine in 1948 (I’m ignoring the smaller number of 1967 refugees in the interest of simplicity) and there are 5 million today, that represents a truly remarkable growth rate of 3.2% per year (the population of India, by contrast, is growing at about 1.7% per year, and that of the US, including immigration, at about 1.1%). If the current trend continues, then, in ten years there will be 6.8 million. The 10 million mark will be reached in 2035, when a Palestinian child born today will be 22 years old. And in 100 years, there will be 116 million Palestinian refugees!

This is clearly unsustainable, but the only ‘solution’ acceptable to the Arabs, to supporters of BDS, to a majority of UN members, and even to our local “Peace Fresno” organization is that all of these Arabs will ‘return to their homes’ in what is today Israel. In the meantime, their ‘oppression’ qualifies them to engage in violent actions.

Prosor continued,

Instead of extending their hand in friendship, the Arab states employed the NIMBY strategy – Not In My Back Yard. Believing that the creation of UNRWA absolved them of any responsibility to their Palestinian brothers, the Arab states passed discriminatory laws. In Lebanon for example, Palestinian refugees are barred from working as doctors, dentists, lawyers, engineers or accountants.

By making the Palestinians the poster children for international victimhood, the Arab states believe they hold a permanent trump card to defame and pressure Israel. While the Arab states are saturated in petrol dollars, the funds mysteriously dry up when it comes to assisting Palestinians and subsidizing UNRWA.

Scan the list of UNRWA’s top contributors and you’ll find it’s exclusively North American and West European countries.

To put it more bluntly: the US and the Europeans are contributing more than $650 million a year (2011 figure) to help the Arab nations build a weapon to use against the Jewish state. And the Arabs pay almost nothing! What a deal.

And it is more than simply a demographic weapon. UNRWA in Gaza supports Hamas in several important ways, particularly by way of its educational system. Teachers — who are all Gaza Palestinians — use books and materials supplied by the Hamas regime. Many Hamas leaders, including Ismail Haniyeh, are graduates of UNRWA schools, and teachers sometimes moonlight as terrorists.

The question of refugees is just one area in which the UN (and its budget) is grotesquely deformed in the direction of the Palestinians. Everyone knows about the imbalance in General Assembly resolutions, and the biased Human Rights Commission. But don’t forget the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), and the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People (SCIIHRP), not to mention the Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR), which is responsible for the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, held every year on November 29, the anniversary of the Partition Resolution of 1947.

Syria ‘Solving’ its Palestinian Problem and No One Seems to Mind

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

If you ask me, the IDF leadership as well as the entire Netanyahu cabinet should adopt the Syrian army’s play book, or at least large chunks of it. Not because I wish to see increased Palestinian casualties, I really don’t, but rather because President Assad and his crew appear to be speaking fluent Palestinian.

More than 95 percent of the Palestinians who used to reside in the Yarmouk camp outside Damascus have fled under heavy shelling, the Palestinian ambassador to Syria said Tuesday, according to Ma’an.

Syria hosts half a million Palestinian refugees, most living in Yarmouk, descendants of those admitted after the creation of Israel in 1948, and has always cast itself as a champion of the Palestinian struggle, sponsoring several guerrilla factions. In the current conflict, some fight against Assad, some against him. So government forces have used jets and artillery to soften the resistance. Some of the pro-Assad Palestinians appear to have been killed along with the rest.

Mahmud al-Khalidi told Ma’an that the refugees fled to UNRWA schools amid violent clashes between rebels and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

On the border with Lebanon, hundreds of Palestinian families fled across the frontier following the weekend violence in Yarmouk, a Reuters witness said.

Rebel and Palestinian sources said Syrian rebels took full control of Yarmouk camp on Monday after fighting raged for days in the district on the southern edge of Damascus.

Now, here’s the zinger: no one minded. There have been no rallies in Europe or Berkley, not even in Ramallah. Instead, Ambassador Al-Khalidi said he had contacted the Syrian Foreign Ministry to request an end to air strikes on Yarmouk, but Syrian officials insisted rebels must leave the camp first.

Quietly, discreetly, behind the scene, could you please reduce somewhat the killing of our people at your earliest convenience?

Oh, man, I’m shepping nachas, again, not because Palestinians are getting killed, but because, for once, they’ve met a government who knows how to communicate with them successfully – and everyone appears satisfied. Even those folks getting butchered in the streets of Yarmouk appear to be totally cooperative.

Also, in all those encounters between the Syrian Army and the Palestinians I didn’t notice even one incident in which Palestinian teenagers pelted the Syrian soldiers with rocks. Amazing, how those Syrian soldiers elicit respect from those teenagers. It’s a gift, I’m telling you, a gift.

Here’s another nice point: President Mahmoud Abbas is monitoring the distribution of funds to refugees and has instructed al-Khalidi to provide housing for the displaced Palestinians, the ambassador said.

It’s so important that the president himself is taking an interest in the flow of Palestinian funds. They seem to appreciate it. I’ll bet you they’re utterly grateful for being allowed to keep some of those funds. I’ll bet you that none of them, say, Khalid Mashaal, would even dream of saying he’d like to see Assad removed from power – even if he is in favor of it. Because both Mashaal and Assad speak fluent Palestinian.

The battle in Yarmouk is one of a series of conflicts on the southern fringes of Assad’s capital, as rebels try to choke the power of the 47-year-old leader after a 21-month-old uprising in which 40,000 people have been killed.

Victimhood as Foreign Policy

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Would Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. have called on the world body “to tell the 850,000 untold stories of Jewish refugees from Arab countries…” had the Palestinians not made the return of their “refugees” to Israel a foundational point for the securing of a comprehensive peace agreement with the Jewish state?

“We are 64 years late, but we are not too late,” said Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon last Friday.

So why now?

Sadly, it appears that the Israeli foreign policy establishment has given up on convincing the international community as to the essential rightness of the Zionist enterprise. Rather, by attempting to push the issue of Jewish “refugees” from Arab lands to the top of the U.N.’s agenda, Israelis abdicating the moral high ground in favor of sinking into a battle of victimhood narratives with the Palestinians.

Such a lack of conviction bespeaks a general sense of malaise emanating from Jerusalem, where Israel’s leaders have evidently thrown up their hands and embraced the belief that the best defense against anti-Israel bias is a compelling story of mass expulsion.

Now, Minister Ayalon is absolutely correct in asserting that “this issue was never emphasized enough…We have decided to bring it up, to flush out the truth.” It’s a crying shame, not to mention a blight on the records of successive Israeli administrations, that the greatest single demographic upheaval in the modern history of the Middle East was a story largely left untold inside of Israel.

As such, it is altogether appropriate that the Israeli national zeitgeist make room for the largely-forgotten history of Jewish refugees who were summarily expelled from Arab lands.

For while much thought, research, ink and media coverage has been dedicated in recent years to the European Holocaust, the wave of anti-Semitism and violence that swept Arab states in the wake of Israel’s establishment has long been given short shrift.

However, the politicizing of this dark chapter in Jewish history is but a rather lame attempt to stem the growing tide of pro-Palestinian sentiment that has seemingly swept across our world.

For Israel to make any kind of headway by way of ‘hasbara’ (public relations efforts for Israel) it need only remember and repeat these immutable facts regarding the genesis of the Palestinian “refugee” issue:

Settling for approximately one-quarter of the land mass that had been promised by the original partition plan, Jewish leaders made strenuous efforts to encourage their Arab neighbors to stay on and help build up the new state of Israel.

A large majority of local Arabs responded to the call for coexistence by violently rejecting it.  Egged on by a bellicose leadership that darkly warned that its bullets wouldn’t distinguish between Arabs and Jews, hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs summarily packed up and took off, having been reassured that they would be able to return once the foreign Zionist entity had been snuffed out.

What followed was an invasion by seven Arab countries. Had the Arabs accepted the two-state solution, as formulated by the UN in 1947, it is quite likely that war would have been avoided and a separate Palestinian country would have come into existence.

That a refugee problem arose as a result of the invasion is an irrefutable fact. Yet, the births of many sovereign nation have resulted in mass displacement and other social upheavals. Unique to the saga of the Palestinian refugee, however, is the phenomenon of the magically multiplying refugees. From close to 750,000 in 1948, today Palestinian refugees number over 5 million.  Is there any other displaced group on earth that passes their refugee status on genetically?

And while Palestinians around the Middle East have subsequently been used as pawns in a decades-long attempt to destabilize and delegitimize the sovereign state of Israel, Jewish immigrants – that’s right, “immigrants” – from Arab lands were absorbed into Israeli society, where many of their progeny would go on to assume prominent roles within Israeli society.

By referring to Jewish immigrants from Arab lands as refugees, Israeli Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon is inadvertently providing fodder for extremists across the Arab world who argue that all Jewish immigrants should return to their “home” countries since Israel is neither their country nor their ancestral homeland.

Democratic Platform Tilts Against Israel: Side by Side Comparison to 2008, 2004

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

I’ve been beating on President Obama so much lately that I’ve been accused of being, God forbid, a Republican.

My pro-Obama friends have told me over and over that the president is pro-Israel, and they quote administration spokespersons about the relationship being closer than ever, and they quote the president’s comments about the “unbreakable bond” and about “having Israel’s back.”

They tell me that nothing’s changed, that this administration is as pro-Israel as any previous one, Democratic or Republican, and I needn’t fear that a reelected President Obama will punish Israel.

With all due respect, they are full of it.

The Washington Free Beacon compared the 2012 Democratic platform— the Obama platform — with the 2008 and 2004 models. What they found is shocking:

Several pro-Israel sections of the 2008 Democratic Party platform have been removed from the 2012 platform—on Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, and Hamas. The new platform represents another shift by the Obama Democrats toward the Palestinian position on key issues in the peace process.

For Jerusalem, the new platform has been brought into line with the Obama administration’s policy of not recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and supporting its division. Jerusalem is unmentioned in the 2012 document, whereas the 2008 and 2004 Democratic Party platforms declared “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel…It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.” The Obama administration’s refusal to recognize Jerusalem has been a point of significant controversy in recent months.

On the issue of Palestinian refugees, the new document has removed language from the 2004 and 2008 platforms specifying that Palestinian “refugees” should be settled in a future Palestinian state, not in Israel.

The 2004 platform: “The creation of a Palestinian state should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel.”

The 2008 platform: The peace process “should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel.”

The 2012 platform contains no language on the matter.

Previously, Obama has incorporated the Palestinian positions on Jerusalem and borders into his administration’s policies. It appears that with his party’s new platform, he is also doing so with refugees.

Gone as well is the language from 2008 on the terrorist group Hamas, which currently controls the Gaza Strip. That platform declared, “The United States and its Quartet partners should continue to isolate Hamas until it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel’s right to exist, and abides by past agreements.”

The 2012 platform contains no mention of Hamas.

Previous platforms also contained promises to maintain Israel’s “qualitative military edge” in the region. The 2008 platform, for example, spoke of a “commitment which requires us to ensure that Israel retains a qualitative edge for its national security and its right to self-defense.” The 2012 platform mentions only that “[t]he administration has also worked to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region,” with no commitment to doing so in the future.

There is no question of pro-GOP journalistic spin here. These are entirely objective comparisons that anyone can verify.

If you are a Democrat who cares about Israel’s survival — yes, it is that critical — while opposing Romney-Ryan for other reasons, you have a very difficult choice to make in November.

Just don’t make it on the basis of the reassuring lies the Obama campaign is telling about his commitment to Israel.

Visit the Fresno Zionism blog.

The BDS State of Mind

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Visit http://israelcampusbeat.org for the latest Israel trends and events on campus.

Pronouncements attempting to appeal to the conscience of academics supportive of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement often depict Israel as a Nazi-like state. These views — once labeled extreme — have become increasingly mainstream as academics call for Israel’s destruction, not by might or power but by bad analogies and misguided ideas.

A careful look at the BDS movement and its methodology shows not legitimate criticism but a movement that is racist and anti-Semitic. Why? BDS clearly targets Israel. Its stated goals vary but all include the “right of return” for Palestinian “refugees.” The effort is cloaked to give the impression that ending specific Israeli policies, such as the “occupation” or “apartheid,” would also end efforts to ostracize Israel. Yet their maximalist demand — the flood of Palestinian refugees, which would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state — is carefully hidden.

In February 2012, the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) student government defeated, for the third year running, a resolution calling on the University system to divest from US companies that supply Israel’s defense forces. The Associated Students of UCSD heard public debate on a resolution brought forth by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) calling for the school to divest from General Electric and Northrop Grumman because they supply components of Apache helicopters sold to Israel, which then uses them to “violate” Palestinian human rights and expand the “occupation.”

UCSD Professor Shlomo Dubnov, who heads the campus chapter of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, spoke out against the divestment. Consequently, on March 2, SJP leaders sent a letter of complaint to faculty, administration and members of the UCSD Campus Climate Council “to address the hostile campus climate being created for students of color and students from underserved and underrepresented communities.” Five student organizations also made claims against UCSD professors and staff who spoke against the resolution, stating that “while we understand that it is a public meeting, for them to refer to themselves in their position as ‘UCSD staff’ or ‘UCSD professor’ is uncalled for. They used their positions as University employees to verbally attack students and to even erase the existence of many individuals in the room.”

This tactic to silence pro-Israel professors through claims of intimidation and legal threats is of great concern, not only to the individuals who might be forced to think twice before speaking out but to the universities themselves.

All of this makes combating BDS complicated and confusing, especially for those who want to believe that there is room for debating the “facts” presented by BDS supporters. What makes this battle so arduous for the pro-Israel community — and so attractive for Israel detractors — is the umbrella of academic freedom, which makes it “legitimate” to debate all aspects of Israel, from specific policies to its elimination altogether.

Institutions of higher education should be bastions of critical thinking, and academic freedom should not be selectively used as a bludgeon against pro-Israel speech and a “get-out-of-jail-free card” for anti-Israel speech. Academic freedom has already been manipulated to mean that anti-Israel ideologues have nearly complete license to propagandize in the classroom. Now efforts to exercise free speech and push back are being criminalized as “intimidation.”

If there is an upside, it is that the pro-Israel community has redrawn the lines of acceptable discourse. While not everyone agrees with the policies of the Israeli government, a consensus has emerged over the basic belief of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Ultimately, BDS does not employ legitimate criticism but, in essence, questions Israel’s very existence.

Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Former ‘Spiritual Advisor’ to President Obama, Now Advisor to Global March to Jerusalem

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

The upcoming ‘Global March to Jerusalem’ (March 30), which aims to mobilize millions of demonstrators from across the globe to converge on and breach Israel’s borders, has a veritable who’s-who of anti-Israel apostles serving on its ‘advisory board’.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, George Galloway, Sheikh Raed Salah, and former ‘spiritual advisor’ to President Obama Reverend Jeremiah Wright have all volunteered their moral (and no doubt other forms) of support to ensure the success of the ‘march’. Success, according to GMJ organizers, means “mov[ing] the right of return possessed by Palestinian refugees from theory to practice” – unsubtle code for flooding the Jewish state with descendants of Palestinian refugees so that the Jewish nation-state ceases to exist.

Of course, the advisory board merely reflects the fanatical and rabid anti-Israel positions of its organizers: genocidal Hamas lawmakers, radical Leftists, Muslim Brotherhood members, and Mavi Marmara flotilla veterans; or as CiF Watch, an organization that monitors anti-Semitism and attacks on Israel’s legitimacy, describes them, “a conglomerate of people representing the ‘red-green alliance’ the world over.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/global/rev-jeremiah-wright-former-spiritual-advisor-to-president-obama-now-advisor-to-global-march-to-jerusalem/2012/03/28/

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