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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Who are the 'Palestinian refugees'?

Lenny Ben David explains who the 'Palestinian refugees' are and how they are used as pawns in a battle to undermine Israel's existence.
With the help of Gulf countries, led by Qatar and Bahrain, any number of affordable and suitable communities and productive industrial zones could be built on land controlled by the PA and Hamas. Ten Rawabis should be built, including some on the scorched earth in Gaza where Jewish communities once existed. These towns could provide construction jobs and low-cost housing for both local Palestinians and refugee families, many of whom have been on the UNRWA dole for 60 years. In many cases their new homes would be just a few miles from homesteads where their grandparents claimed to have lived.

There are two problems with this plan. First, has any part of Rawabi been set aside for refugees? It’s unlikely; reading between the lines of the marketing spiel, it is apparent that Rawabi was built to serve the housing and employment needs of the grown children of the Palestinian bourgeois and the yuppie offspring of Palestinian Authority officials on the West Bank.

Why is there so little concern among the elite of Palestine for the poorest of their fellow citizens? Because “Palestinian” is an artificial category, and a very weakly felt one. The track record dating back to 1947 provides little evidence that the Palestinians’ new-found national identity trumps their clan, religious, political, or class differences. In Israel, we shuddered at the barbarism of the Fatah-Hamas fratricide in Gaza in 2006 — the Palestinian “wakseh” or humiliation — when Palestinian families were gunned down by other Palestinians and political opponents were thrown from tall buildings.

During the waves of immigration to Israel of Soviet and Ethiopian Jewry in the 1980s and 1990s, I recall dozens of my neighbors donating furniture to the new immigrants and assigning companions to help settle them in the neighborhood and maneuver through the absorption bureaucracy. Children were happy to tithe from their toys for the new kids on the block who arrived with nothing. If only such a spirit were evident among the Palestinians.

Beyond the Palestinians’ lack of community feeling lies the so-called “right of return.” Palestinian leaders claim that each family has a right to reoccupy the land it held before Israel’s war for independence. Settling refugees comfortably in other areas would weaken their claim to this “right,” while keeping them in camps is a harsh but effective way to maintain pressure against Israel from the international community. What stands in the way of prosperity for Palestinian-controlled areas is the deep brainwashing of Palestinian children that there must be an actual physical return to their ancestral homes, along with an international and Israeli recognition of the “injustice” done to them.

The “right of return” frightens almost every Israeli. Not only would Jewish towns and communities in the West Bank’s “settlement blocs” become targets for a flood of four generations’ worth of refugees, but so would major Israeli cities and towns inside the 1949 armistice line (the “Green Line”). The city of Ashkelon (Majdal, to the Arabs) and the tony neighborhoods of north Tel Aviv (Sheikh Munis), for example, are built on the sites of Palestinian villages, according to both Palestinian and Israeli historians. Neighborhoods in Haifa and Ramla, to name but two, are coveted and claimed by the descendents of Palestinians who left in 1947 and 1948.
Rawabi is a new 'Palestinian' city that is being built six miles from Ramallah. But only the 'Palestinian' elites are being allowed to move there. The 'refugee camps' include luxurious homes for the elites while the ordinary people live in squalor. The picture at the top of this post is Mohamed Dahlan at his home in Gaza where he was commander of Fatah's 'security forces' until the Hamas coup two years ago.

Every attempt to improve the living conditions of ordinary 'Palestinians' has collapsed under the 'need' to 'preserve' the 'right of return.' That's what happened in Gaza City's Sheikh Redjwan neighborhood after the Six Day War when Israel attempted to provide normal housing for the shanty-dwelling refugees. The leadership would not allow it.

And you - American, Israeli and European taxpayer - are footing the bill for perpetuating this cycle of poverty - through your government's support of UNRWA.

Read the whole thing.


At 8:36 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Would you then say it is bad for Palestinian children to be brought up with a desire for an "actual physical return to their ancestral homes"? Because it sounds so similar to the Zionist idealogy that once created the now nation-state of Israel.

At 9:57 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israel could get rid of UNRWA simply by leaving the UN. The Palestinians would then becoming Egypt and the Arab World's responsibility to support. Israel owes them nothing.

At 10:34 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

You might be referring to GA Resolution 32/90 which stated:

1. Calls once more upon Israel:

(a) To take effective steps immediately for the return of the refugees concerned to the camps from which they were removed in the Gaza Strip and to provide adequate shelters for their accommodation;

(b) To desist from further removal of refugees and destruction of their shelters;

Israel had built regular housing for some Gazans and moved them out of the refugee camps into the modern housing. The UN insisted that the Gazans be returned to the refugee camps.


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