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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 18, 2003

Why one should oppose a second Palestinian-Arab state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza - Part 21 of 23

This piece continues a series of which the first 20 parts were posted on September 8, 9, 11, 17, 20, 22, 23; October 7, 24, 28, 29; November 6, 26; December 5, 13, 2002; January 7, 10, 21, 27; February 6, 2003. (Alternatively, the previous articles may be found in the IsraPundit archives as follows: September 8, 9, 11, 17, 20, 22, 23; October 7, 24, 28, 29; November 6, 26; December 5, 13, 2002; January 7, 10, 21, 27; February 6, 2003). The object of the series is to provide a resource that is not only reliable and well-documented but also one for which documents are easily accessible, preferably from the web. The term "second Palestinian-Arab state" is used in order to underscore that one Palestinian-Arab state already exists: Jordan, which is located in the part of eastern Palestine that was originally to have been part of the Jewish National Home.

Recapitulation: The first nine parts of this series dealt with arguments based on fundamentals and principles: the historical right of the Jewish people to a home in their ancestral land, a land that has had a Jewish population continuously for millennia; the international acceptance of the Balfour declaration and the British Mandate designed to ensure the creation of a Jewish national home in Palestine; the fact that Israel is in possession of Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza) as a consequence of a defensive war; the argument that the current Arab population of Palestine consists largely of non-Jewish immigrants who came to Palestine as a consequence of the development brought about by the Jewish pioneers since the 1880's; and the fact that the Arabs of Palestine have rejected numerous opportunities to establish a state by peaceful means, indicating that their real objective is to destroy Israel.

The second group of nine parts dealt with arguments based on Middle East realities. The points made include the assessment: that a sovereign Palestinian State would obviate Israel’s ability to defend herself; that such a state, by the admission of the Palestinian Arabs themselves, would not solve their grievances; that violence within and among Arab states has a long history, and adding another Arab state will not pacify the region; and that the economic base of Yesha, as well as the water resources in the area, do not permit the creation of an additional, viable state.

The present Part 21 continues the third group of five articles, which deal with such issues as the disputed territories, Jerusalem, the Palestinian-Arab refugees, appeasing terrorism, and an alternative to Palestinian-Arab sovereignty. These issues are intrinsically linked with the arguments against the creation of a sovereign “Palestine”.


21. The problem of the Palestinian-Arab refugees was created by the Arabs themselves. The Arabs have also prevented the refugee problem from being solved, and a second Palestinian-Arab state will not alter the situation. A solution based on the right of return is patently impossible.

Table of contents
21.1 Introduction
21.2 Who is a refugee?
21.3 Refugees in the historical, global context
21.4 Origins of the Palestinian-Arab refugee problem
21.5 How many Palestinian-Arab refugees, really?
21.6 UNRWA: Why haven’t the Palestinian-Arab refugees been settled?
21.7 Additional legal and related aspects
21.8 References


21.1 - Introduction

The problem of the Palestinian-Arab refugees is associated with the issue of a second Palestinian Arab state in two ways. First, according to the Oslo Accords, it is among the topics to be settled in the final peace agreement with the Palestinian Arabs (“final status”). Second, Arafat has hitherto underscored his position that Israel, and not the impending Palestinian Arab state, will have to absorb the refugees. Thus, according to Arafat himself, creation of a second Palestinian-Arab state will not solve the refugee problem - another reason to object to the creation of such a state. (To corroborate this statement, the reader is referred to an IMRA article, which quotes Arafat. In the same vein, when Sari Nusseibeh, the Palestinian “Minister” in charge of Jerusalem, suggested that the “right of return” was unsustainable, he met with violent opposition, as reported by Reuters on November 15, 2002, under the heading, Palestinians Slam Official for Refugee Compromise . The relevant news story is available at the website of ACJ).

The material covered in the present article is culled from a large number of sources. Paramount among them are (i) the comprehensive work by Joan Peters’ From Time Immemorial (see complete reference in Section 21.8); (ii) the ten-part essay (plus introduction) posted recently at the website of the Jerusalem Post. In the course of this piece, citations from these sources will be referred to, respectively, as “Peters, p. x” and “JPost, Pt. y”.


21.2 - Who is a refugee?

According to the US Committee for Refugees,
Refugee, narrowly defined in international law, is a person with a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, who is outside the country of his or her nationality and is unable or unwilling to return. The term is often popularly understood in far broader terms, however, encompassing persons fleeing war, civil strife, famine, and environmental disasters.
From the very definition, one may well doubt that the Palestinian Arabs qualify as refugees at all. They definitely do not fit the “narrowly defined in international law” part - had the Palestinian Arabs indeed feared persecution, why insist on returning “home” to more persecution? And the Palestinian Arabs don’t fit the “popularly understood” interpretation either: as underscored subsequently (Section 21.4), they didn’t so much “flee” as follow their leaders example and advice. And finally, as Section 21.5 shows, most refugees did not flee their homes “from time immemorial”, but rather left areas into which they migrated after the Jews began to inhabit and develop the land, i.e., a short time before the Palestinian-Arab “refugees” left.


21.3 - Refugees in the historical, global context

In the course of discussing the issues of the disputed territories and Jerusalem, (Parts 19 and 20 of this series, respectively), I noted that analogous problems exist in many parts of the world; territorial disputes and competing claims over certain cities are not unique to the Israel-Arab conflict, except in that the Arabs have convinced the world that the Palestinian-Arabs deserve preferential treatment. The same statement applies to the refugee problem.

According to UNHCR, there were 19,783,100 “persons of concern who fell under the mandate of UNHCR” as of January 1, 2002. This number excludes

“an estimated 3.9 million Palestinians who are covered by a separate mandate of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)... However, Palestinians outside the UNWRA area of operations such as those in Iraq or Libya, are considered to be of concern to UNHCR. At year-end their number was 349,100.”

Thus, as of January 1, 2002, if all the Palestinian-Arab refugees are included in the calculation, there were 24 million “persons of concern” to UNHCR and UNRWA combined, of which 4.2 million (17.5%) were Palestinian Arabs. Keep this percentage in mind: 17.5%, or a little over one in six. Has anyone heard about the other five out of six? It seems that all but the Palestinian-Arabs are invisible, especially to the “humanitarians” who keep bashing Israel with every breath they take.

Lest one think that the millions of Palestinian-Arab refugees are confined to camps and squalor, let us underscore from the outset that UNRWA figures for June 2000 indicated that only 1.2 million out of 3.7 million (about 32%) lived in camps. In Jordan, the proportion in camps is only 18%. Even the camps are not what the term might connote, many camps having permanent dwellings rather temporary forms of shelter as term “camp” might evoke.

Let us now look at the refugees who are not Palestinian Arabs. About one group of the “five out of six” world refugees, the non-Moslems of Sudan, we learn from the site of the US Committee for Refugees as follows:
Sudan is producing more uprooted people than any other country in the world. An estimate 4 million Sudanese are internally displaced within their country. An additional 400,000 Sudanese have fled as refugees to neighboring countries.

Famine killed tens of thousands of Sudanese during 1998. Violence and a government blockage of international aid programs triggered a famine two years ago. Pockets of serious malnutrition persist and could worsen.

The Sudanese government regularly blocks humanitarian relief and bombs civilian and humanitarian centers. Sudanese officials continue to bar international aid programs from large areas of southern Sudan. Sudanese military planes bombed humanitarian relief and civilian centers three times in September, 20 times in August, 33 times in July, 63 times so far this year, at least 65 times in 1990, 40 times in 1998, and at least 22 times in 1997. Many additional bombings have gone unreported.

Most of southern Sudan's 5 million people have absolutely no access to schools or reliable health care. Years of warfare, massive population displacement, and government neglect have devastated southern Sudan. It is one of the most impoverished places on earth.
But unlike the Palestinian Arabs, hardly anyone has heard of the plight of the non-Moslems in Sudan, nor has Sudan ever been condemned by “the international community” the way Israel is constantly condemned.

In historical perspective, however, even southern Sudan is not exceptional.

An article posted at the Eretz Yisroel site gives the global view:
[F]rom 1933 to 1945, a total of 79,200,000 souls were displaced; since the Second World War at least 100,000,000 additional persons have become refugees.
And according to Jpost, Pt. 1, “approximately 135 million refugees [were] created over the last century”.

Consider specific examples, such as the Germans of the Sudetenland. As reported in Jpost, Pt. 2:
Liberated by the Allies in 1945, the Czechs regained the Sudetenland, expelling 2.5 million of its ethnic Germans to Germany as authorized at the Potsdam Conference...

A final agreement between the Germans and the Czechs was signed in December 1946, recognizing that the German Sudets were expelled on the understanding that they were pro-Nazi and, as such, enemies of the Czechs. Both sides agreed that the German Sudets would receive neither compensation nor apology. During the ensuing Cold War, the descendants of these Germans demanded to return to their "ancestral homeland" - but in vain.
...
A "cooperation and good neighborhood" agreement was signed by the Republic of Poland and the Federal Government of Germany, denying the right of return to the millions of German refugees who had fled with the retreating Nazi army. It was also agreed that no restitution would be paid for abandoned properties.
The latter paragraph refers to the German population that was driven out of the former East Prussia, a territory that few people today know existed. Indeed, after World War II, Germany had to cope with 12 million German refugees, as the following citation from the web-based Migration News documents:
The three million Sudeten Germans, who wield considerable influence within the Christian Social Union... are the most powerful group of expellees (Vertriebene), the 12 million Germans expelled from the eastern lands at the end of the war who became strong supporters of the ruling Christian Democratic/Christian Socialist coalition.
And then there is that Scandinavian country, Hitler’s ally, Finland, which is trying desperately to have us forget her World War II history, even as she joins in a systematic condemnation of Israel. The
foregoing Jerusalem Post article reminds us:
[A]t the Paris Conference in 1947, Finland was forced to relinquish Karelia (which comprised one-eighth of its total area) and to pay the Russians a considerable war indemnity.

Moreover, 400,000 refugees were reabsorbed into Finland, without any international financial aid.
The Germans, Fins and others had to deal with their refugee problem as a consequence of backing a war of aggression. The problem of the Palestinian-Arab refugees is a result of the Arabs engaging in wars of aggression against Israel in 1948 and 1967 - why do their refugees merit preferential treatment?

Note: The international context of the Palestinian-Arab refugees is covered in many articles and books. One recent example is an article posted in the National Post, January 20, 2003, which may be found on the
website of Likud-Holland. The article states, inter alia:
Sadly, the 20th century was an era of involuntary migration. Ottoman Turkey ejected two million Armenians during the First World War. Czech authorities expelled three million ethnic Germans from the Sudetenland after the Second World War. When the British partitioned India and Pakistan in 1948, a total of 10 million moved between the two countries, with fearful Hindus fleeing for their lives one way, Muslims the other.

And yet none of these refugee movements gave rise to the festering conflict caused by a smaller refugee migration -- the flight of about 800,000 Palestinian Arabs from Israel. Why?
Indeed, why?


21.4 - Origins of the Palestinian-Arab refugee problem

Subsequent to the 1948 War, some 160,000 non-Jews remained in Israel, including Druses, Circassians and, of course, Moslem and Christian Arabs. For example, the inhabitants of the Moslem-Arab village, Abu Gosh (on the outskirts of Jerusalem) remained in their homes and were unharmed during the war in any way. The same can be said about those Arabs who lived in Haifa, Jaffa and Acre, and who chose to remain - they (or their descendants) still live in these cities. All of which stands as a stark rebuttal to the Arab accusations that Israel engaged in ethnic cleansing and was instrumental in driving out the Palestinian Arabs.

There also exists, in fact, direct evidence to rebut the ethnic-cleansing accusation. This evidence comes under two headings:

(i) evidence showing that Israel indeed urged the Palestinian Arabs to remain in their homes. For example, an official British document, written by a British Police Superintendent and dated 26 April 1948, states:

An appeal has been made to the Arabs by the Jews to reopen their shops and businesses in order to relieve the difficulties of feeding the Arab population. Evacuation was still going on yesterday and several trips were made by 'Z' craft to Acre. Roads too, were crowded with people leaving Haifa with all their belongings. At a meeting yesterday afternoon Arab leaders reiterated their determination to evacuate the entire Arab population and they have been given the loan of ten 3-ton military trucks as from this morning to assist the evacuation.
A photograph of the original document is available at the site Eretz Yisroel. It is also reproduced in Peters, Appendix II.

This particular evidence is also corroborated by the following citation from Jpost, Pt. 5:

"[The Arabs of Haifa] fled in spite of the fact that the Jewish authorities guaranteed their safety and rights as citizens of Israel."
- Monsignor George Hakim, Greek Catholic Bishop of Galilee, New York Herald Tribune, June 30, 1949
(ii) evidence indicating that Arab leaders urged the Palestinian Arabs to leave so as to clear the field for the invading Arab armies, who would promptly subdue the Jewish population. For example, Jpost, Pt. 5, quotes the following:

"The mass evacuation, prompted partly by fear, partly by order of Arab leaders, left the Arab quarter of Haifa a ghost city.... By withdrawing Arab workers, their leaders hoped to paralyze Haifa."
- Time Magazine, May 3, 1948, page 25


"Israelis argue that the Arab states encouraged the Palestinians to flee. And, in fact, Arabs still living in Israel recall being urged to evacuate Haifa by Arab military commanders who wanted to bomb the city."
- Newsweek, January 20, 1963

"As early as the first months of 1948, the Arab League issued orders exhorting the people to seek a temporary refuge in neighboring countries, later to return to their abodes ... and obtain their share of abandoned Jewish property."
- Bulletin of The Research Group for European Migration Problems, 1957

"The Arab states succeeded in scattering the Palestinian people and in destroying their unity. They did not recognize them as a unified people until the states of the world did so, and this is regrettable."
- Abu Mazen from the official journal of the PLO, Falastin el-Thawra (What We Have Learned and What We Should Do), Beirut, March 1976

A long series of similar, relevant quotation is included in an article on refugees at the Eretz Yisroel site; some examples:
ON APRIL 23, 1948 Jamal Husseini, acting chairman of the Palestine Arab Higher Committee (AHC), told the UN Security Council: "The Arabs did not want to submit to a truce ... They preferred to abandon their homes, belongings and everything they possessed."

ON SEPTEMBER 6, 1948, the Beirut Daily Telegraph quoted Emil Ghory, secretary of the AHC, as saying: "The fact that there are those refugees is the direct consequence of the action of the Arab states in opposing partition and the Jewish state. The Arab states agreed upon this policy unanimously..."

ON APRIL 9, 1953, the Jordanian daily al-Urdun quoted a refugee, Yunes Ahmed Assad, formerly of Deir Yassin, as saying: "For the flight and fall of the other villages, it is our leaders who are responsible, because of the dissemination of rumours exaggerating Jewish crimes and describing them as atrocities in order to inflame the Arabs ... they instilled fear and terror into the hearts of the Arabs of Palestine until they fled, leaving their homes and property to the enemy."

ANOTHER refugee told the Jordanian daily a-Difaa on September 6, 1954: "The Arab governments told us, 'Get out so that we can get in.' So we got out, but they did not get in."
...
ON OCTOBER 2, 1948, the London Economist reported, in an eyewitness account of the flight of Haifa's Arabs: "There is little doubt that the most potent of the factors [in the flight] were the announcements made over the air by the Arab Higher Executive urging all Arabs in Haifa to quit ... And it was clearly intimated that those Arabs who remained in Haifa and accepted Jewish protection would be regarded as renegades."
Arab propaganda about forced eviction and atrocities is thus rebutted. But the evidence does not silence these arguments. To support their position, the Arabs point specifically to two pieces of evidence: the Ramleh-Lod region and Deir Yassin. With regard to the first of these, there is indeed evidence that in the Ramlah-Lod region, the Arab population was “actively encouraged” to leave; this is a consequence of the fact that the area including Israel’s only international airport and the connecting roads between the coastal plain and Jerusalem, which the Arabs put under siege. The Arabs in this area, as well as Arab supporters from outside of the area, engaged in ferocious attacks on convoys travelling to Jerusalem. Removing the Arab population was a military necessaty.

As to Deir Yassin, this village too was located on the route to Jerusalem and served the Arabs in their siege of Jerusalem. Because “the devil is in the details”, the Deir Yassin topic warrants a separate article. Suffice it to note here that the number of Arab casualties in Deir Yassin, April 6, 1948, was 107; four days after the Deir Yassin battle, the Arabs ambushed a convoy of medical staff and patients en route to the Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus and (in plain view of the British army) murdered 77 of the persons travelling in the convoy, wounding 23 others (Jpost, Pt. 5). A detailed rebuttal of the Arab version of the Deir Yassin battle is given at the ETZEL website and need not be repeated here. In any case, Deir Yassin too is an isolated case; the Arabs themselves do not keep alluding to other “Deir Yassin massacres”.

In the end, the reasons why the Arabs fled the areas of Palestine which fall withing Israel’s pre-1967 boundaries boil down to these simple essentials:

(i) given an opportunity, civilian populations tend to escape war zones;

(ii) in many cases, the local Arab elites were first to leave, setting an example for the rest of the population;

(iii) the Arab leadership inside and outside of Palestine encouraged the Arabs to leave, citing military considerations and the impending victory over the Jews;

(iv) for propaganda reasons, the Arab leadership spread rumours about Jews committing atrocities - this backfired and caused the Arab population to leave in panic, especially in those areas where the Arab population engaged in hostilities against the Jews.

The Palestinian Arabs seem to believe that one is fully entitled to murder his parents and then ask for mercy because one is now an orphan.


21.5 - How many Palestinian-Arab refugees, really?

It is customary to talk in terms of “the 650,000 Palestinian Arabs who left Israel before and during the War of Independence in 1948", as does the Jpost, Introduction. From this kernel, we now have the figure of 4.2 million Palestinian-Arab refugees. Do these numbers bear any relationship to reality?

In the first place, the estimates of the initial core of Palestinian-Arab refugees vary between 430,000 and 650,000, with one particularly reliable study showing 539,000 (Peters, p. 16). The fact that the higher figure, generated by the Arab League, is quoted as gospel (even by the Jerusalem Post), serves as another indication of the phenomenal success of the Arab propaganda machine.

Second, Peters, Chapter 8, reports on a detailed study which indicated quite conclusively that among the Palestinian-Arab refugees there were at the very least 173,000 who either migrated to the areas of Palestine which became Israel, or were descendants of such people. Leaving these areas for other places in western Palestine or in the Arab world hardly qualifies these people to become refugees - rather, they are in-migrants who returned to the region of origin or continued to migrate elsewhere.

If this analysis is correct, then the number of genuine Palestinian-Arab refugees in 1948 was at the very most 350,000. Peters’ calculations have come under attack by many, but in fact, the calculation is backed by the imprimatur of the world-renowned demographer, Philip M Hauser (Peters, Appenxix V). Prof. Hauser’s credentials may be found at the site of the Population Association of America, PAA.

In addition to the 1948 refugees, another 250,000 Palestinian-Arab refugees are said to have joined their brethren after the 1967 War; in 1996, this group and its descendants was estimated by UNRWA as numbering 350,000. But as pointed out by ADL,

Israeli officials have long questioned these UNRWA figures. They claim that a number of the 350,000 UNRWA-registered Palestinian refugees presently living in Jordan actually became displaced as a result of the 1967 Six Day War or after their expulsion from the Persian Gulf following Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. There are also concerns that the UNRWA estimates are inflated due to the inclusion of Arab residents of Jerusalem. Moreover, some Israeli scholars have questioned the extent to which Palestinians living outside of refugee camps should be included in UNWRA's refugee category, because such persons may no longer pose an immediate problem or need for rehabilitation.
Another element complicating the estimate of the number of refugees has to do with definitions and legal status. Section 21.2 raised the question as to whether any of Palestinian-Arabs who fled in 1948 really qualifies as a “refugee”. But even if the first generation does qualify, the question of descendants is still open. Jpost, Pt. 6 quotes Ruth Lapidoth (a Professor of International Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague and a former fellow at the US Institute of Peace in 1990-1991):

The 1951-1967 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees makes no mention of descendants - so the status is not inherited. Moreover, the convention ceases to apply to a person who, inter alia, has acquired a new nationality, and enjoys the protection of the country of his new nationality.
In sum, estimating the magnitude of the problem is a complex issue, but there is little doubt that the Arab estimates are inflated. We will discuss this point further in the next Section 21.6.


21.6 UNRWA: Why haven’t the Palestinian-Arab refugees been settled?

As seen above, estimating the number of the initial refugees is problematic in and of itself, but determining the current number is even more complicated. A host of reasons stems from one source: UNRWA. UNRWA’s generosity makes it so unprofitable to record deaths, that the statistical data are completely unreliable and flawed. The flip side is that registering as a refugee is so profitable that the incentive to do so is irresistible, whether one is a refugee or not; also profitable is acquiring false papers of refugee status. Similarly, there is a strong incentive to remain on the list, regardless of how wealthy and established one becomes. In a word, UNRWA encourages fraud, sloth and exploitation. Jpost, Pt. 4, comments in this context that
In 1961, UNRWA director, Dr. John H. Davis, admitted that his statisticial report of the number of refugees was inaccurate, due to the many unreported deaths and the growing number of forged cards granting access to UNRWA benefits and services. UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen has recently acknowledged that deaths in the camps may not be reported as assiduously as births. In 1960, US Congressmen visiting Jordan cited official estimates of forged UNRWA cards at over 150,000. Furthermore, the more refugees, the more justification there is for the work of the 22,000 Palestinian UNRWA employees.
The significance of this point stems from the fact that when an organization deals with an undefined population of undetermined magnitude, it spawns an industry of vested interests that will not allow it to be evaluated or become accountable. This is particularly so when vested interests mingle with political considerations and anti-Israel hostility.

Most instructive in the context of the refugee problem is a comment made by Col. Richard Meinertzhagen on p. 247 of his book,

Meinertzhagen, Col. Richard. Middle East Diary, 1917-1956. London: Crescent Press, 1959.

(Col. Meinertzhagen was a British intelligence officer of Danish origin who turned into a lifetime friend of Zionism and the Jewish people after meeting such Jewish leaders as Aaron Aaronsohn and Chaim Weizmann. For more on this remarkable person, see CitCun article dated 17 June 2002). In 1951, Meinertzhagen was travelling in Kuwait and dined with Arab acquaintances, including a Lebanese contractor with whom he conversed. Meinertzhagen writes:
I remarked 'Why do not you Arabs, with all your resources from oil do something for those wretched refugees from Palestine.' 'Good God' he said 'do you really think we are going to destroy the finest propaganda we possess; it's a gold mine .' I suggested that such a view is both unkind and immoral. 'Bah!' he said. 'They are just human rubbish but a political gold mine.' In slightly different language I received identical views from other Arabs.
This short interchange explains the following summary given by Jpost, Introduction: “For the past half-century, there has been a deliberate refusal to resettle Palestinian refugees within the Arab world.”
Unfortunately, settling the Palestinian-Arab refugees in Arab countries is the only solution to this 55-year old problem. One need not expend too much energy to make the point that the return of the refugees to Israel would destroy the country as the sole haven for the Jewish people. Anyone who believes that the Jewish people are entitled to a country of their own in their ancestral land has to reject “the right of return” out of hand. The discussion with those who do not accept the basic premise upon which Israel is founded has to start on an entirely different plain.

Many aspects of UNRWA warrant a separate article. In particular, these aspects include UNRWA’s mismanagement of funds and supplies; UNRWA’s relentless political war against Israel; and UNRWA’s consistent support of and/or complicity in the war of terror waged by the Palestinian-Arabs against Israel. For an example of such articles, see Camps of terror posted by AIPAC. An article posted in CitCUN on July 10, 2002, may also be of interest.


21.7 - Additional legal and related aspects

Arab propaganda uses UN Resolutions 194 (General Assembly, 1948), 242 and 338 (Security Council, 1967 and 1973) as a hook on which to hang the fictional “right of return”. Considering that the Arab-Israel conflict has its origin in the refusal of the Arab states and the Palestinian Arabs to accept the partition resolution of 29 November 1949, discussing the subsequent UN resolutions on the Middle East is a waste of time. In addition, the recent, ongoing UN debate on Iraq has exposed this organization for the n-th time as an irrelevant cesspool, casting doubt on the utility of discussing any of its resolutions. With this in mind, I will nonetheless note the following:

1. The aforementioned UN resolution, which may be found at General Assembly 194, Security Council 242 and Security Council 338 do not assert any “right of return”; the "right of return" is a fiction and myth produced by the Arab propaganda.

2. The extent to which UN resolutions are binding is another point to consider. Apart from the fact that the Arab countries have ignored resolutions they don’t approve of (such as the UN resolution concerning Syria’s occupation of Lebanon and the current Iraq conundrum), only Security Council resolutions under Chapter VII are binding, under penalty of sanctions and the use of military force. Security Council resolutions under Chapter VI (such as 242 and 338) as well as resolutions of the UN General Assembly (such as 194) have none of these attributes. For an elaboration on these points, see articles posted by JCRC, Israel’s embassy in the UK, and Canada-Israel Committee.

3. International law recognizes certain “rights” for individual refugees, not for groups, and especially there is no recognition of group rights that are associated with “self-definition”. A refugee who acquires a new nationality, as is the case for many Palestinian-Arab refugees in Jordan, are no longer covered by certain conventions anyway.

4. The nebulous “right of return” has never been fully explained by its proponents. Surely, nobody can expect refugees to return to villages and neighbourhoods that are occupied by others or no longer exist. If the idea is to return to a place “close by”, then how close is close? Jordan, which is a de facto Palestinian state and located in eastern Palestine, is surely “close” enough!

5. All these considerations are compounded by the legal issues of definition, with which we have dealt in Section 21.2, 21.5 and 21.6.

6. Above all else, international law cannot be regarded as a suicide pact; therefore, the “right of return”, which will most assuredly destroy Israel, can never be implemented even had it had any legal basis, which it doesn’t anyway.

7. When the Arabs are not busy with the “right of return”, they wave the compensation issue. Suffice it to note (as we have in Section 21.3) that the Germans who were ejected from East Prussia and the Sudetenland received zero compensation, setting an appropriate and just precedent. In the case of Israel, this is all the more appropriate and just, since Israel had to cope with approximately 600,000 out of the 820,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands (some sources cite 650,000 out of 900,000). In many cases (as in Iraq), the Jews escaped with little more than their skin, their property having been confiscated by the state. For more on the legal issues, see ADL site.

8. Proposing a solution to the refugee problem is beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to quote a short passage from an article printed in the National Post, January 20, 2003, and available from the site of Likud-Holland:
Throughout history, refugees have been settled by their allies and kinfolk in neighbouring lands. This was true for the Germans who fled what was then Czechoslovakia, the Hindus who fled to India and the Muslims who fled to Pakistan. Others driven from their places of birth during the 20th century -- the Vietnamese boat people, the Russian czarists, the Armenians -- relocated to strange lands that encouraged them to build new lives and assimilate...

At this point, it is worth talking about another refugee population that emerged around the same time as the Palestinians: the Jews who were forced out of Arab nations around the time of Israel's birth.

In 1948, the year Israel declared its independence, about 900,000 of these Mizrahim lived throughout the Arab world. Today, fewer than 20,000 remain. Of those who left, two-thirds made their way to Israel, the rest to North America.

21.8 - References

1. A principal book on the refugee problem, one that also includes original research, is the following work by Joan Peters:

Peters, Joan. From Time Immemorial. New York: Harpers and Row, 1984.

2. A master web source which includes many articles on the refugee problem is:

History of Israel. The page cited includes a list of relevant articles as well as a search button.

3. The recent mega opus posted by the Jerusalem Post in ten parts plus an introduction may be found at Jpost.

4. Another useful source is the 6-part series of articles posted by ADL as part of the overall essay, “Towards Final Status”.

5. The Jewish Virtual Library has an entire section of the refugee problem, plus an additional section about the treatment of Jews in Arab lands.

6. The site of the Christian Action for Israel contains some 400 articles related to the refugee issue; the articles may be located by entering “refugee” in the site’s search engine. In particlar, the page, “Backgrounder” is chocked full of useful data on the topic.

7. The CJC site includes a recommended collection of articles under the heading, Jews from Arab Lands.

8. Finally, this list of references, regardless of how brief, cannot ignore the pithy, straightforward articles written by Joseph Frarah. See, in particular, articles posted on WorldNetDaily on January 13, 2003, April 23, 2002, August 23, 2001, and January 10 ,2001.

Contributed by Joseph Alexander Norland. This piece is cross-posted on IsraPundit and Dawson Speaks.