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September 30, 2016 / 27 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Palestinian refugees’

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.

Gidon Ben-Zvi

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.

Vic Rosenthal

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.

Asaf Romirowsky

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.”

Solomon Burke

The Conversion Of Benny Morris

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Benny Morris was one of the original, and in some ways the most destructive,
of Israel’s “ New Historians” – Jewish academics who seek to revise history to make it jibe with Arab propaganda. 
 
Born on an Israeli socialist kibbutz and the son of a diplomat, Morris earned his Ph.D. from Cambridge on Anglo-German relations. He seemed to think this qualified him to be a Middle East historian and Orientalist. 
 
Morris’s main venture into revisionism came with the publication of his book The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, published by Cambridge University Press in 1988. It was by and large a retelling of the “Arab narrative” concerning the creation of Palestinian refugees.
 
The alternative narrative, also known as the truth, is that any Palestinians who became refugees resembled the ethnic German refugees at the end of World War II – people who had supported the losing side in a genocidal war of aggression or who had fled the battle zones of the victorious armies in a war they themselves started.
 
That book, and a slew of articles expressing a similar theme, made Morris the darling of the campus left in Europe and the U.S.
 
Leftists loved citing Morris to prove how evil Israel is and was. After all, a tenured Israeli academic was saying so. 
 
But then something happened. 
 
Morris suddenly appeared to have second thoughts. He repented, sort of. He repudiated much (but not all) of his earlier anti-Israel radicalism and started espousing pro-Israel views, especially regarding the 1948-9 Israeli war of independence. 
 
Not everyone is convinced Morris has really wised up. (The scholar Efraim Karsh believes Morris is engaging in pragmatic and cynical posturing; Karsh is particularly critical of Morris’s not having renounced outright his earlier histories of the Palestinian refugee issue).
 
I too was initially skeptical of Morris’s “conversion,” but I now feel it to be more or less genuine. I think his first public break with the Israel-bashing left took place in Berkeley in the late 1990s, when I happened to be in town. He was invited to speak in a church, and the place was packed with the usual Berkeley jihadists and anti-Zionists, who expected from Morris a characteristic demonization of Israel. Instead, he spent the entire talk explaining that the Middle East conflict – including any “refugee” problem – was the fault of the Arabs.
 
You can imagine the hysterical reactions in the local Berkeley media. These days the Bay Area has its own specialized anti-Morris hate organizations. 
 
This is all so amusing. The jihadists love citing Morris’s old writings on how Israel is to blame for “Palestinian suffering” – but refuse to listen when Morris himself repudiates those earlier claims.
 
Later, Morris would go on to make statements that were unabashedly Zionist. He went so far as to argue that any expulsions by Israel of any Arabs that took place in 1948 were entirely justified. He partly apologized for his early claims about Palestinian refugees, pleading that he had not had access to the right documents when he wrote his early book. Today he is opposed to the so-called two-state solution, arguing that it is not viable. 
 
As a result of this, Morris has become the Israeli historian leftists and anti-Zionists most love to hate. They have special contempt for him because, after all, he used to be one of them.
 
When Morris was invited a few months back to speak at Cambridge University, the local Israel haters made a fuss, insisting he be disinvited because he is a “racist.” (Anyone who believes Israel has the right to defend itself is considered a “racist” in such circles.) His talk was cancelled. This is academic freedom in Britain.
 
More recently, Morris was invited to speak at the London School of Economics, which, despite its name, is an institution chock full of leftists. On his way to the talk Morris was accosted by a mob of local anti-Israel “activists” and radical Islamists. They pushed and cursed him. They had gathered in the area earlier to hand out fliers accusing him of being an “old racist.” 
 
Morris said he “had the feeling that I was surrounded by Nazis, except that instead of black shirts these were wearing Arab scarves on their heads. They were unambiguously Islamofascists. Some of them screamed in their broken foreign English that the UK should never have allowed me into the country. I am no racist, but that term could be correctly applied to the inciters and critics I ran across at LSE.”
 
Once he reached the hall the lecture proceeded, under heavy security and with police guards, with 300-400 students present.
 
The Jewish Chronicle, the main Jewish weekly in the UK, described how the LSE mob kept attacking Morris as a “racist” and a “social darwinist” and how Morris held his own and made monkeys of those attempting to discredit him during the lecture. In particular, he silenced the trolls by documenting the fact that there was no Israeli policy in 1948-9 to expel Palestinian Arabs.
 
What does the one-time Post-Zionist “New Historian” Morris make of nearly being lynched for his pro-Israel views?
 
I would like to think he is rededicating himself to expunging every last vestige of his old mindset and doing further research to promote the truth – or what some pseudo-academics prefer to call the “Zionist narrative.”
 
 

Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa.His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com.He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.

Steven Plaut

The Truth About ‘Palestinian Refugees’

Wednesday, August 4th, 2004

Try to imagine what the world would be like if Israel had granted the “Palestinian refugees” who fled from Israel in 1948-49 the right to return to Israel. Not to the West Bank. Not to the Gaza Strip. But to Israel within its pre-1967 borders.

What, then, would the world have left to bash Israel about? What would the anti-Semites have left to scream about, or the crowd claiming to be “anti-Zionist but not anti-Semitic,” or the self-hating leftist Jews?

Well, hold on to your shtreimel, your shaitel (non-Indian hair, of course) or your beanie. Because I’ve got something shocking to tell you: Israel did grant “Palestinian refugees” the right to return.

In 1947-48, the UN proposed partitioning Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state of approximately equal sizes. The Jews accepted the plan and the Arabs rejected it. When the British Mandate over Palestine was ended under the UN decision, the Arab states attacked the newborn state of Israel, tried to annihilate it and its population, and at the same time gobbled up most of the territory the UN had allotted for the proposed Palestinian Arab state.

The territory that became Israel had never been a Palestinian Arab state. In fact, most of the Arabs in Palestine had migrated there from neighboring Arab countries during the last decades of the 19th century, seeking to benefit from the first stages of the great Zionist awakening – namely, the influx of capital and the availability of jobs and services

In other words, the Arabs of Palestine in 1948, exactly like the Jews, were by and large people from families who had been in the country for three generations or less.

During the fighting in the 1948-49 war, thousands of Arabs living in the territory that became Israel fled. The main reason they fled was that they understandably wanted to put some distance between their families and the battle zones. At the same time, they were ordered by the Arab political leadership to leave the territory of Israel. Why take my word on this? Listen to Arab sources:

“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.” – Falastin (Jordanian newspaper), February 19, 1949.

“The Arab governments told us: Get out so that we can get in. So we got out, but they did not get in.” Ad Difaa (Jordanian daily), September 6, 1954.

“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.” – Abu Mazen, erstwhile prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, in “What We Have Learned and What We Should Do,” published in Falastin el Thawra, the official journal of the PLO, March 1976.

So how many Arabs fled? The number has become enormously distorted over time by the bash-Israel lobby and Arab propagandists and their apologists, who usually claim between
500,000 and a million. A more realistic estimate is between 300,000 and 450,000, based in part on Arab and UNRWA sources.

Most of these refugees ended up in some of the twenty-two sovereign Arab states, including those from which they had migrated into Palestine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the first place. In other words, the “refugees” went back to their earlier homelands in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. It was a sort of “right of return.” At the same time, the Arab states carried out a near-total ethnic cleansing of nearly a million Jews, who had been living there since biblical days and in many cases before those states had Arab populations.

In the years immediately following World War II, there were more than 50 million refugees: Poles, Germans, Indians, Pakistanis, Hungarians, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and others. They were all long ago resettled and forgotten. But not the “Palestinian refugees.”

For decades, the Arab states found it convenient to utilize the “refugees” as a political and military weapon against Israel. Palestinians inside Arab states were trained as terrorists and sent out to murder. At the same time, there was enormous incentive for the Arab locals in the countries into which the refugees had entered to pretend also to be “Palestinian refugees.” After all, the UN and other agencies were handing out free food and other perks to anyone
claiming to be a refugee from Palestine.

Unlike all those many millions of other people considered refugees in the late 1940’s, the Palestinian Arabs were the only ones for whom the “right of return” to their previous homes was considered an entitlement. The reason was not a selective affection for Palestinians, but a selective hostility toward Israel and Jews.

Israel would have been insane had it allowed itself to be inundated with real and make-pretend Palestinian “refugees” in a tiny sliver of land the size of Maryland. Just like the infant United States, which refused to allow any of the tens of thousands of Tory Loyalists expelled by the patriots to return after the War of Independence, Israel was entirely in its rights to refuse to
allow the return of masses of Palestinian Arabs whose migration was being demanded by those seeking to liquidate Israel via a demographic flooding.

Even so, Israel did let Palestinian refugees return – tens of thousands, in fact, were quietly allowed back, in many cases to their original homes, once the fighting in 1949 subsided. Many continue to be admitted today within the framework of “family reunification” agreements.

Between 1948 and 2001, Israel allowed about 184,000 “Palestinian refugees” or their families to return to Israel proper (Jerusalem Post, January 2, 2001; see also Haaretz 28 December 28, 2000). These are in addition to about 57,000 Palestinians from Jordan illegally in Israel, toward whom the authorities are turning a blind eye (Haaretz, April 4, 2001). Not the West Bank, not Gaza, but Israel inside its pre-1967 “Green Line” borders.

The call for a “right of return” by Palestinians to Israel is no doubt the most absurd political demand floating anywhere around the planet. There is already an Arab state in two thirds of Mandatory Palestine. It’s called Jordan, and most of its population is Palestinian Arab. The Oslo Accords and Israel’s Camp David II offer would have created a second Arab state in Palestine, the West Bank and Gaza as part of a comprehensive peace settlement. Any “Palestinian” from anywhere could have moved to “Palestine” or to Jordan within the
framework of such a peace, the same way any Jew who wishes to may immigrate to Israel, or any Armenian may immigrate to Armenia, and Greeks from the Greek diaspora are automatically welcomed in Greece.

The PLO and the Islamofascist states backing it demand that in addition to establishing a second Arab state in Palestine within the framework of any peace settlement, Israel itself must also be converted into a third Arab Palestinian state, via unlimited massive immigration of people claiming to be Palestinians. Benjamin Franklin, who opposed granting even a dime in compensation to the Tory refugees expelled from the United States during the War of
Independence, would be splitting his sides laughing.

But the most Orwellian absurdity of all is that Israel, as we have seen, long ago did grant the right to “return” to Israel itself to tens of thousands of “Palestinian refugees.” Did this earn Israel the world’s gratitude for its uniquely generous gesture? Did the world denounce the Arab fascist states who ignored this generosity and continued to seek Israel’s destruction? Do today’s bleeding hearts and recreational compassion posturers, always pretending to feel such
exquisite pain for Palestinians, even know about the limited “right of return” granted by Israel over the past decades?

Hindus have never been returned to Pakistan. Muslims from Pakistan have not been returned to India. Ethnic Germans were not returned to their pre-war homes in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Russia or Romania. Japanese have not been returned to Manchuria. Greeks have not been returned to Anatolia. Jews have not been compensated for the billions they left behind when ethnic cleansing of Jews in Muslim countries took place, and Tory Loyalists were never returned to New England.

But tens of thousands of “Palestinian refugees” were granted by Israel what none of these others received.

Steven Plaut is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at steven_plaut@yahoo.com.

Steven Plaut

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