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Monday, May 02, 2011

What the Libyan civil war can teach us about the 'Palestinians'

Moshe Dann uses the current Libyan crisis to show how we ended up with millions of 'Palestinian refugees.'
The Libyan civil war offers an example of what likely happened during the 1930s and 1940s, especially in 1948 in Palestine during the British Mandate when jobs and war attracted Arabs from the region.

Hundreds of thousands of non-Libyans working in Libya, many settled with families, are caught up in the current war. Many thousands were recruited into the armies of both sides from neighboring Arab countries, including mercenaries looking for high-paying jobs (according to reports, $1,000 a day). This is similar to what happened in Palestine before 1948 when large numbers of Arabs moved to Palestine, facilitated by the British. At the same time, Britain actively opposed Jewish immigration and acquisition of land.

Arab attacks increased against Jews in 1947 and especially in early 1948, when Arab gangs and militias drew many outsiders into their forces. In 1948, when Israel was established, they joined the armies of five Arab countries in a war of extermination.

Arabs who were in Palestine in 1949, both native and foreign, either stayed in Israel or became “Palestinian refugees.” Since UNRWA accepted anyone who said they had lived in Palestine for at least two years, there is no way of knowing who was genuinely Palestinian and who was not.

Applying this example to the current Libyan civil war: if there is a stalemate and the country is divided between supporters and opponents of Gaddafi — including those who came to work or fight — who would be considered Libyan?

If the UN established towns for those who claimed to be “dispossessed Libyan refugees,” would they be entitled to compensation? And after sixty years, would they and their children and grandchildren still be entitled to assistance?

And if a group of people who claimed to be Libyan refugees were to demand self-determination, including a country of their own, would they be entitled to that as well?

Should every Libyan tribe that claims territorial integrity and national self-determination be given statehood?

What makes someone Libyan, or Palestinian, or even Israeli or American, for that matter?
Read the whole thing.

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