The Palestinians’ great misfortune is having been relocated some 30 miles within one vast Arab nation to reside with their co-religionists, speaking the same language, and practising the same customs, having been pressured to do so by their own leadership, of Arab National Committees, Arab Higher Committee, The Arab League and of course the Mufti.
This is the unspoken and unpalatable truth of the current “refugee problem”, verifiable from any serious study of the history of the recently opened archives of the period of 1947-1949 (see Efraim Karsh: “Palestine Betrayed”), notwithstanding claims made by Tom Segev and other so-called revisionist historians, the left and far too many others.
Also unspoken is the fact that some 650,000+ Jews were expropriated, often murdered, and ultimately forcibly expelled – many hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles – from all North African and Middle Eastern Arab and/or Muslim States after 1948, after centuries of habitation in those regions, from times preceding both Islam and even Christianity. They were all successfully absorbed by the newly established rag-tag, post Holocaust nation-state of Israel, after the Civil War and subsequent War of Independence, while simultaneously fighting numerous invading Arab armies (one even supported by the British).
How is it that these “forgotten refugees” are so infrequently the subject of discussion, and, God forbid, their “Right of Return” back to those nations? Some things are perhaps conveniently better left unspoken.
What is so interesting is that after the many enormous cataclysms of the 20thC, with all its significant population transfers: the Greek and Turkish population transfer after WW1, the millions of Germans fleeing Poland, Czechoslovakia, USSR etc. after WW2 (the greatest forced population transfer in history – what today would be called “ethnic cleansing”), Muslims and Hindus fleeing to Pakistan and India respectively (at exactly the same time, 1948) these refugees were all successfully absorbed by the surrounding nations within a few years.
The Palestinians remain the only group that, after 65 years, for inexplicable reasons, have still not been absorbed by the surrounding (host) nations, many of them possessed of enormous oil wealth. The entire process has been enabled by the specially established UNWRA, along with its own uniquely customized definition of refugee, to one “whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948” (i.e. only 2 years) and, even more extraordinarily, also to their descendants having this status in perpetuity, thus swelling the ranks of these refugees perhaps tenfold today.
Surely this a question that should be taken seriously by those obsessed with the Palestinian cause? Perhaps there is an untold story here? No, it is not untold. It’s been told many times, for those who have ears to listen, who are prepared to remove the ideological blinkers. It’s simple. As some have correctly noted, there is not, and never was any “Palestinian people”, since there was never any unique Palestinian ethnicity (as there are, say, Arabs, Persians, Kurds, Armenians, Turks, etc in the region) let alone a nation, let alone a nation-state. At most , one can say there were Arabs living in British Mandatory Palestine – and not all that many either, a very different concept.
The creation of this concept was Arafat’s primary achievement, along with airplane hijacking often with destruction of same planes, fomenting enormous unrest in all places he lived (Jordan, Lebanon), and finally, homicidal suicide bombing. And for those who now bear this appellation of Palestinians, it’s quite clear that none of the then occupying nations want, or ever wanted to absorb them. Neither Jordan (illegal occupier of the “West Bank” from 1948-1967) nor Egypt (illegal occupier of Gaza from 1948-1967), ever wanted these people, nor did these people (“refugees”) ever seriously contemplate the notion of a unique Palestinian national identity, or homeland, let alone nation-state during that time, or before, rejecting the UN resolution recommending another Arab nation-state (the second such partition offer since the Peel Commission proposal of 1937, repeated and rejected time after time until 2008, a total of 6 such offers in all). Surely the maxim that we must judge people by their deeds, and not their words still stands.
No, the bitter truth is that none of their co-religionists or pan-Arab “supporters” care, or ever cared for them, except as a perennial club with which to beat Israel over the head, a perpetual open wound, and to provide a unifying force within and across Araby and the Islamic world, the only “legitimate grievance” in a region where expression of grievances is generally not permitted. Why might this be?
Well, that’s another conversation; let it simply be said that Muslim nations will simply not countenance the notion – let alone the reality- of a nation-state of former subjects (“dhimmis”) within what they see as the House of Islam, and after the long political and military decline of Islam, especially since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, not to mention the subsequent humiliation of numerous military defeats at the hands of these very same former second-rate citizens of Muslim lands (these descendants of “apes and swine” as the Koran would have it), the concept becomes ever more odious. The only good Jew, openly and publicly stated by its religious and political leadership, for a Muslim, and even more extraordinarily, its latter day supporters on the left, is one in a state of enduring humiliation and degradation (aka “dhimmitude”), if not a dead Jew.
Yes they have a solution, a one-state. “binational” solution, one that precludes the despised “Zionist entity” from continued existence, yet another Arab state without the presence of this Zionist entity. That the Jews should have their own nation-state, or Jewish Homeland, despite the League of Nations being entrusted with reconstitution of this Homeland at the post WW1 San Remo Conference of the Principal Allied Powers and its endorsement of the Balfour Declaration, the Treaty of Sevres with Turkey, and the later Anglo-American Treaty of 1924 (and so becoming the supreme law of that nation, ad infinitum), implemented via the League Mandate of Palestine as a Jewish Homeland (all of Palestine – yes, read that again, all of Mandatory Palestine), all carrying the full weight of International Law, and still binding today, is an abomination to them, something they really need to get over. It’s a bit like getting over the loss of Al Andalus (Spain) in 1492…which the Muslim Salafists and others still haven’t.
The Ottoman Turks chose the losing side in WW1, and so be it. The victors divide up the spoils, it was never different. Indeed, the Arabs did surprisingly well out of this, with the establishment of the several new Arab nation-states of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Transjordan (the last one a flagrant contravention of the Mandate). Sadly they have very long memories, and probably won’t get over it. So, I remain a pessimist, and see no near-term solution within the current default position of the prevailing two-state paradigm, especially when the PNA’s own Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat said recently, “Netanyahu will have to wait 1,000 years for someone to agree to talk to him.” And I believe him. Remember, they did win the Crusades after almost 200 years. They do believe that they have time on their side.
Not so many decades ago, the Jew-Haters in Europe used to tell people “Jew, go to Palestine”. Today, it is “Jew, get out of Palestine”.
So, which is it? There’s an old, archaic, if not archetypical psychosis of persistent Jew-Hatred at play here. Or perhaps is it just simple political opportunism? Whatever it is, they can’t have it both ways.