By Ami Isseroff
There is an obvious mystery about the Palestine Nakba - the situation of the Arab refugees of the 1948 Israel War of Independence. It is one of those things that is so obvious that nobody mentions it, like an elephant in the room, but why it is not mentioned by anyone at all is not obvious.
Since 1948, many of the refugees have been living in a sort of legal noman's land. As distinguished from all other refugees in the world, their needs are handled by a special United Nations Agency. The rights of Palestinian refugees are also defined differently from those of all other refugees. Their situation varies from country to country. Contrary to the stereotyped picture, most of the refugees do not live in camps.
Numerous organizations with the words "Justice" and "Humanitarian" in their titles bewail the plight of the Arab Palestinian refugees and the injustice that was supposedly done to them by Israel in 1948. They all demand "right of return." Nobody demands "right of eating" "right of education" or "right of decent housing" for the refugees. Only the dubious "right of return" is important to these "humanitarians.
Everyone, regardless of their stand regarding the Israel-Arab conflict is agreed that there can be no solution to the conflict without a solution of the refugee problem, and that the camps, poverty and hopelessness are breeding grounds for violence born of despair. All of the leaders of the great powers, East and West, and all of the leaders of the Arab states agree that it is urgent to find a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as do all the United States Presidential candidates. And everyone agrees that the refugee problem is at the heart of that solution.
So what is the mystery? The mystery is that nobody wants to actually do anything, or tries to do anything, to solve the refugee problem. Even more mysterious is the fact that nobody even talks about this amazing and cruel policy quirk. It is not just a matter of legal definitions and speechifying. It should be possible to quietly improve the appalling conditions in the worst camps in
Even Israeli representatives are more or less silent about the misery of the Arab Palestinian refugees in the camps, and the aberrant perpetuation of the refugee "problem." Moreover, we did not hear any
Along with about 700,000 Arab Palestinian refugees, the war instigated by the Arab states in 1948 eventually created about a million Jewish refugees. A few were Palestinian refugees thrown out of
Likewise, there is no problem of Indian or Pakistani refugees any more, though the creation of
The practical solution to the Palestinian refugee problem must proceed in several stages, addressing the most urgent problems first. There is no way that any Palestinian Arab politico who lives in luxury in Ramallah or Beirut or New Haven Connecticut can justify forcing other Palestinians to live in the miserable refugee camps of Lebanon or Gaza. The first step must therefore be to eliminate all the camps, and to integrate the refugees into the economic and political life of different host countries. The UNRWA must be dismantled and the refugee problem must be given to other agencies that deal with all the rest of the refugees in the world, with precisely the same rights as any other refugees.
Anyone who wants "justice" or "rights" or "welfare" or peace for the Arabs of Palestine must recognize that eliminating the refugee camps is priority number one for improving the lot of the Arabs and for bringing the hope of peace and a normal life to the peoples of the
Original content is Copyright by the author 2008.