Monday, March 12, 2018

Dershowitz calls for end to Arab 'refugee' charade

It's long overdue. Alan Dershowitz is the most high-profile figure since Irwin Cotler to take up the question of refugees in the Israeli-Arab conflict. A visit to Morocco has prompted his Gatestone Institute call for Palestinians to end the deadly charade of being called 'refugees'. Strikingly, he calls for Arab governments, not Israel, to compensate them for their losses. (With thanks: Simone, Eliyahu)

The Arab exodus from Israel in 1948 was the direct result of a genocidal war declared against the newly established Jewish state by all of its Arab neighbors, including the Arabs of Israel. If they had accepted the UN peace plan — two states for two people — there would be no Palestinian refugees. In the course of Israel's fierce battle for its survival — a battle in which it lost one percent of its population, including many Holocaust survivors and civilians — approximately 700,000 local Arabs were displaced. Many left voluntarily, having been promised a glorious return after the inevitable Arab victory. Others were forced out. Some of these Arabs could trace their homes in what became Israel hundreds of years back. Others were relatively recent arrivals from Arab countries such as Syria, Egypt, and Jordan.

 Moroccan Jews arriving in Israel

Approximately the same number of Jews were displaced from their Arab homelands during this period. Nearly all of them could trace their heritage back thousands of years, well before the Muslims and Arabs became the dominant population. Like the Palestinian Arabs, some left voluntarily, but many had no realistic choice. The similarities are striking, but so are the differences.
The most significant difference is between how Israel dealt with the Jews who were displaced and how the Arab and Muslim word dealt with the Palestinians who had been displaced by a war they started.

Israel integrated its brothers and sisters from the Arab and Muslim world. The Arab world put its Palestinian brothers and sisters in refugee camps, treating them as political pawns — and festering sores — in its persistent war against the Jewish state.

It has now been 70 years since this exchange of populations occurred. It is time to end the deadly charade of calling the displaced Palestinians "refugees." Almost none of the neatly five million Arabs who now seek to claim the mantle of "Palestinian refugee" was ever actually in Israel. They are the descendants — some quite distant — of those who were actually displaced in 1948. The number of surviving Arabs who were personally forced out of Israel by the war started by their brethren is probably no more a few thousand, probably less. Perhaps they should be compensated, but not by Israel. The compensation should come from Arab countries that illegally seized the assets of their erstwhile Jewish residents whom they forced to leave. These few thousand Palestinians have no greater moral, historic or legal claim than the surviving Jewish individuals who were displaced during the same time period seven decades ago.

In life as in law there are statutes of limitations that recognize that history changes the status quo. The time has come – indeed it is long overdue – for the world to stop treating these Palestinians as refugees. That status ended decades ago. The Jews who came to Israel from Morocco many years ago are no longer refugees. Neither are the relatives of the Palestinians who have lived outside of Israel for nearly three quarters of a century.

Read article in full 

Jerusalem Post

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