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UNRWA and Palestinian Suffering

November 29 is the United Nations' "International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People." It occurs on the anniversary of the 1947 date that the United Nations voted to partition the British Mandate of Palestine between Jews and Arabs. Many Palestinians and other Arabs rejected the UN partition, and started a war to exterminate the infant state of Israel a few months later. So by choosing November 29 as Palestinian day, the United Nations is in effect rewarding the aggressors who refused to comply with the UN plan. A much better date for the United Nations to acknowledge the suffering of the Palestinian people would be December 8, the anniversary of the 1949 creation of the organization that, for over half a century, has done more than anyone to immiserate the Palestinian people. That organization is UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

That there is 21st-century refugee problem from a war that ended in 1949 is primarily because of UNRWA's decision to maximize Palestinian suffering for political advantage.

rlb:
"might diminish the desire of 'refugees' desire to 'return.'"

Just a heads up.
11.29.2007 1:57am
John McCall (mail):
Also, you need to do a search-and-replace on "UNCHR".


[DK: Thanks to you, and to rlb. Typos fixed. I appreciate your help.]
11.29.2007 2:46am
martinned (mail) (www):
L.S.,

The world of the UN if full of such stupidities. That is because they are decided by the General Assembly, where countries from around the world can vote to "stick it to the man"(i.e. to the US) without any real consequence. The only time anyone cares what the General Assembly does, is when they decide on the new non-permanent members of the Security Council. That should not take away from the respect that the UN as an institution deserves, it just means that one should give such GA pronouncements exactly as much attention as they deserve: zero.
11.29.2007 5:19am
Public_Defender (mail):
One key problem is that very few people anywhere are truly pro-Palestinian. Most people who claim to support the Palestinians, including Arab governments, are just anti-Israeli. Heck, many (if not most) Palestinians seem to be more anti-Israeli than pro-Palestinian. Ironically, when I hear someone speak about actually making the lives of Palestinians better, that person is almost always Jewish.

Shipping the Palestinians to other Arab countries is not a solution because those countries are more anti-Palestinian than Isreal. And that's to Israel's credit.

The only viable solution is two states (Israel and Palestine), but that can't happen until the Palestinians give up the armed struggle, and that could take decades.

I don't see a better short term solution than the status quo--Israel withdrawing to defensible lines and defending itself until the Palestinians decide that they are more pro-Palestinian than anti-Israeli. The refugees and their decendents will be stuck for a long time. Shame.
11.29.2007 5:32am
Rich Rostrom (mail):
Mr. Kopel makes an excellent case against UNRWA; though really, UNRWA is nothing more than the vehicle for the Arab states' policy, which has been abusive, destructive, and neglectful from beginning to end. And he's right about the comparative rights of Arabs in Israel and Arabs in Arab countries.

The Arabs created the refugee problem by their violence in 1948, and maintained it, both by rejecting any peace with Israel and by denying the refugees absorption. The expulsion of Jews from the Arab countries after 1948, and Israel's absorption of them, more than offsets any Israeli obligation to accomodate Arabs displaced in 1948. This is not perfect justice, but it is practical reality.

But he does his cause no favors when he repeats irrelevant ultra-Zionist canards. British mapmakers added a large area of totally barren north Arabian desert to Trans-Jordan in 1920; that does not make that area part of historic "Palestine", nor increase. The League of Nations mandate was issued to Britain at Britain's urging on Britain's terms; the only promise Britain made was to carry out a policy she had already decided on for her own reasons.

That policy was illegitimate: Britain had no right to repopulate Palestine without the consent of its existing people, nor could the League grant such a right. (Any more than the U.N. today has the right to award Israel's territory to the Armenians or the Roma or the Jehovah's Witnesses.)

It is embarrassing for Zionists to insist that Jews had an absolute right to live in Palestine because of supposed descent from ancient Israelites, but Arab refugees of unquestionable Palestinian origin have no right of return.

Israel is a fact on the ground, retroactively justified by the post-1948 refugees. That's all that needs to be said today. As for the Palestinians - facts on the ground again - their behavior and attitudes have forfeited their claims.
11.29.2007 5:54am
Hoosier:
The full name of the agency is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency
for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

Note: "Refugees."

So I guess the Palestinians who remained in Israel have *not* been "suffering." Unlike, say, those who from 1949 to 1967 were under the TLC of the Jordanians and Egyptians.

Huh. That's odd. I wonder why . . .
11.29.2007 6:01am
Bottomfish (mail):
Even if a Palestinian state emerges, it will still be economically dependent on Israel (where the jobs are) and huge amounts of international assistance. Such a state, I think, would be like a US Indian reservation, with sovereignty but no real independence. For this reason I'm inclined to think, however absurd it sounds, the Palestinians would be better off under Israeli control. A growing minority of Palestinians appear to think this way. See the following excerpt from a news story from YNET dated 11/7/2007, on Palestinians living in in Jerusalem:

--------------

But over the past four months the Interior Ministry has registered an unprecedented 3,000 applications, primarily residents of the Arab neighborhoods unlikely to remain under Israeli sovereignty according to the political initiative currently on the agenda.

The 240,000 non-naturalized Palestinians in the city currently hold the status of permanent residents. As Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem they were also eligible to participate in the elections held by the
Palestinian Authority.

As accepting Israeli citizenship was viewed by many within the community as tantamount to treason, most Palestinians opted to remain permanent residents and enjoy the benefits of living under Israeli sovereignty - full welfare rights, municipal voting rights and unrestricted movement - without putting their loyalty to the Palestinian Authority into question. The average Palestinian family in East Jerusalem currently receives a $770 monthly stipend from Israel.

"They've weighed the pros and cons of life under the Palestinian Authority and those under Israel and they've chosen," said residents in East Jerusalem of their naturalization-seeking neighbors.
11.29.2007 6:09am
Sub Specie AEternitatis (mail):
Mr. Kopel, surely, you mean that the annual budget was more than half a billion, not trillion?


[DK: Thanks for spotting the typo.]
11.29.2007 7:48am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
"UNRWA's annual budget is nearly half a trillion dollars, including nearly $150 million from US taxpayers. "

"Among the features of the PA hate education [in UNRWA run schools] are: ... extolling jihad and terrorism."

Is there any way to have the UNRWA declared a terrorist supporting organization and thus deny it US funds?
11.29.2007 7:53am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
"That should not take away from the respect that the UN as an institution deserves,"

Which is what, and why?
11.29.2007 7:54am
AntonK (mail):
Bernard Lewis nails it here:

During the fighting in 1947-1948, about three-fourths of a million Arabs fled or were driven (both are true in different places) from Israel and found refuge in the neighboring Arab countries. In the same period and after, a slightly greater number of Jews fled or were driven from Arab countries, first from the Arab-controlled part of mandatory Palestine (where not a single Jew was permitted to remain), then from the Arab countries where they and their ancestors had lived for centuries, or in some places for millennia. Most Jewish refugees found their way to Israel.

What happened was thus, in effect, an exchange of populations not unlike that which took place in the Indian subcontinent in the previous year, when British India was split into India and Pakistan. Millions of refugees fled or were driven both ways -- Hindus and others from Pakistan to India, Muslims from India to Pakistan. Another example was Eastern Europe at the end of World War II, when the Soviets annexed a large piece of eastern Poland and compensated the Poles with a slice of eastern Germany. This too led to a massive refugee movement -- Poles fled or were driven from the Soviet Union into Poland, Germans fled or were driven from Poland into Germany.

The Poles and the Germans, the Hindus and the Muslims, the Jewish refugees from Arab lands, all were resettled in their new homes and accorded the normal rights of citizenship. More remarkably, this was done without international aid. The one exception was the Palestinian Arabs in neighboring Arab countries.

The government of Jordan granted Palestinian Arabs a form of citizenship, but kept them in refugee camps. In the other Arab countries, they were and remained stateless aliens without rights or opportunities, maintained by U.N. funding. Paradoxically, if a Palestinian fled to Britain or America, he was eligible for naturalization after five years, and his locally-born children were citizens by birth. If he went to Syria, Lebanon or Iraq, he and his descendants remained stateless, now entering the fourth or fifth generation.

The reason for this has been stated by various Arab spokesmen. It is the need to preserve the Palestinians as a separate entity until the time when they will return and reclaim the whole of Palestine; that is to say, all of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Israel. The demand for the "return" of the refugees, in other words, means the destruction of Israel. This is highly unlikely to be approved by any Israeli government.

An Arab who remained in Israel has more civil and political rights than one who fled Israel to an Arab country.
11.29.2007 8:24am
neurodoc:
"But he does his cause no favors when he repeats irrelevant ultra-Zionist canards. British mapmakers added a large area of totally barren north Arabian desert to Trans-Jordan in 1920; that does not make that area part of historic 'Palestine', nor increase. The League of Nations mandate was issued to Britain at Britain's urging on Britain's terms; the only promise Britain made was to carry out a policy she had already decided on for her own reasons."
Rich Rostrom accuses David Kopel not of repeating mere "Zionist" canards, but of repeating "ultra-Zionist" canards(?!) of no relevance. (Why should anyone care about that which is irrelevant?) It is Rostrom, however, who is repeating canards, ones both relevant and decidedly anti-Zionist. (A great many people on both sides care a great deal about what went on before and after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, that is pre-1948, making that history anything but irrelevant.) That essence of his canard is that the Jews had no connection to the land when the region was being carved up by British and French diplomates (Sykes-Picot?) in furtherance of their own national interests.

Rostrom's view closely comports with the anti-Zionist claim that the Jewish state was from its very beginning illegitimate, unjust, or both. As he would have it, the "Palestinian" people, a grouping which for him takes in diverse ethnicities but not Jews (though it was the Jews living there who styled themselves "Palestinians," not the Arabs), were robbed by the British, who were granted license to do so by the League of Nations. He asserts, "Britain had no right to repopulate Palestine without the consent of its existing people..." (italics added) And to make unequivocally clear how utterly baseless he considers any Jewish claim to a state in those parts, he adds, "Any more than the U.N. today has the right to award Israel's territory to the Armenians or the Roma or the Jehovah's Witnesses."

Rostrom, in whose eyes Israel is only "retroactively justified by the post-1948 refugees," would ignore or deny the continuous Jewish presence there for thousands of years, the Jewish attachment to what was the only Holy Land for them before it had any religious significance to others and has always remained such, and the "repopulation" (if previously unpopulated or underpopulated, then even less of an injustice, if any, I would think) of the land by Jews which started at the end of the 18th century and continued into the 19th century while the Ottoman Turks, not the British, were the reigning power, as they had been for hundreds of years. Rostrom's ahistorical account would support the otherwise unsupportable claim that the Jews had no more right in 1948 to a state in what had been part of the Ottoman Empire, and for a relatively brief while part of the British Mandate territory, then those Armenians, Roma, and Jehovah's Witness he imagines as potential rival claimants to the state that is today Israel, rightfully so.

As for, "British map makers added a large area of totally barren north Arabian desert to Trans-Jordan in 1920; that does not make that area part of historic 'Palestine,'" I don't know what we are supposed to make of it. Wasn't it British map makers, along with French ones, who in the first place created the artificial construct of Trans-Jordan, which would have a dynastic ruler brought in by the British, and incorporated that "totally barren north Arabian desert" as part of the never meant to be permanent entity. (Where exactly did that piece of "totally barren north Arabian desert" begin and end? Does Rostrom have in mind the part of Trans-Jordan that the Jews got in 1948 to "repopulate," which they have done over time, and turn from "totally barren north Arabian desert" into a productive country, which they have done over time?)

Israel is far, far more than "a fact on the ground," and no less a legitimate state than all the Arab states created out of what was the non-Arab Ottoman Empire.
11.29.2007 8:25am
neurodoc:
And kudos to Kopel for the relevant, timely, and informative post calling a spade a spade.
11.29.2007 8:28am
Justin (mail):
$500 billion a year could be given to the roughly 5 million refugees a year would provide each with a "salary" of $100,000 a year. I'm guessing that's a typo.
11.29.2007 9:24am
davod (mail):
"That policy was illegitimate: Britain had no right to repopulate Palestine without the consent of its existing people, nor could the League grant such a right. (Any more than the U.N. today has the right to award Israel's territory to the Armenians or the Roma or the Jehovah's Witnesses.)"

As I recall, the British government went to great pains to stop more Jews from entering Palestine.
11.29.2007 9:32am
Dude Cool:
I didn't know half that stuff, and I read about Israel frequently. Thank you for the most educational blog post I've ever read!
11.29.2007 9:40am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Britain had no right to repopulate Palestine ...

As I recall, the British government went to great pains to stop more Jews from entering Palestine.

And the above discussion is irrelevant to the questions of whether UNRWA:

Unjustifiably counts migrant workers who happened to be in Palestine in 1948 as "refugees".

Is unique and unjustified in granting inheritable refugee status in perpetuity.

Discourages those under its care from attempting to find a new life either in their current country of residence or elsewhere.

Intentionally maintains substandard living conditions in the camps it runs and discourages residents of its substandard housing from moving out when better housing opportunities are made available.

Allows the miseducation of children under its "care" by political radicals.

As constituted has an institutional incentive to prevent mideast peace and to prevent any resolution of the situation of the Palestinians currently under its "care".

Should be disbanded by the UN.

Should be declared a "terror sponsoring organization" by the US State Department and deprived of all US funding, support and cooperation.


A godawful mess was made 59 years ago. Cleaning it up is proving to be difficult. Todays question is: is the UNRWA helping or hurting?
11.29.2007 10:04am
Yankev (mail):

That should not take away from the respect that the UN as an institution deserves,


For some reason I cannot properly post links:

https://www.protestwarrior.com/store/product.php?productid=
11.29.2007 10:15am
Tony Tutins (mail):
Because no one else wants to assimilate them, sounds like it would be cheaper to the US to offer legal residency to the Palestinian refugees and their numerous descendants. We can do whatever it takes: The US has absorbed ten million illegal immigrants in the last twenty years; the US has spent eight hundred billion dollars to bring peace to one country in the Middle East. I predict falafel stands sprouting up next to taquerias all over America.
11.29.2007 10:29am
PLR:
So by choosing November 29 as Palestinian day, the United Nations is in effect rewarding the aggressors who refused to comply with the UN plan.

That's one way to put it.
11.29.2007 10:54am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Many libertarians (and others who object to foreign aid) resent U.S. aid to Israel, primarily military aid to an ally that serves (or at least is meant to serve) U.S. interests. They tend to be silent on smaller-scale, but still substantial, U.S. aid to Palestinians, primarily economic aid that largely goes to people and institutions hostile to the U.S. and the West, and in many cases serves to perpetuate the "refugee" "crisis" that forms the heart of the Israeli-Pal dispute.
11.29.2007 11:03am
martinned (mail) (www):
L.S.,

@Yankev: The url you posted doesn't work. Wanna try again?

@davod: Actually, it is difficult to say what the Security Council can or cannot do, under the UN Charter. This matter was discussed in the first case decided by the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the Tadic case. In this case, the court, and the appelate chamber, addressed arguments by Tadic saying that the decision by the Security Council to create the Tribunal was ultra vires, and therefore unlawful. The prosecution, on the other hand, argued, amongst others, that the court did not have the jurisdiction to second-guess the Security Council. Ultimately, of course, the Tribunal ruled that it did have jurisdiction to rule on Tadic's case, but the arguments why were quite interesting.
11.29.2007 11:22am
Elmer:
Thanks for the info and all that, but I fail to see its relevance. The West considers Arabs, including princes, to be as children: simple minded, unable to distinguish fiction from reality, and ruled more by passion than reason. Children are to be indulged and cared for; if they act out, say by launching rockets at the neighbors, it means they have unmet needs which only the grownups can fill.

Mr. Kopel's post can be summarized as: The Palestinians should be treated like any other displaced persons, and as adults. Clearly, Mr. Kopel must be a nutcase to hold views so far from the mainstream.
11.29.2007 11:22am
ronnie dobbs (mail):

Because no one else wants to assimilate them, sounds like it would be cheaper to the US to offer legal residency to the Palestinian refugees and their numerous descendants. We can do whatever it takes: The US has absorbed ten million illegal immigrants in the last twenty years; the US has spent eight hundred billion dollars to bring peace to one country in the Middle East. I predict falafel stands sprouting up next to taquerias all over America.


I suggest Germany. I hate to sound like Mahmoud Ahmadinnerjacket, but it really was the Germans' penchant for genocide that ultimately made the case for the necessity of a Jewish homeland. And yet, what sacrifices have the Germans made to atone for the Holocaust? Perhaps ceding a chunk of Bavaria to the Palestinians would be in order. I can see it now...in a pristine alpine meadow, young frauleins are ululating to the sounds of "the hills are alive with the sound of jihad!!!" while their brothers, now members of Das Hamas, throw rocks at the Polizei with Teutonic precision.
11.29.2007 11:27am
PLR:
Many libertarians (and others who object to foreign aid) resent U.S. aid to Israel, primarily military aid to an ally that serves (or at least is meant to serve) U.S. interests. They tend to be silent on smaller-scale, but still substantial, U.S. aid to Palestinians, primarily economic aid that largely goes to people and institutions hostile to the U.S. and the West, and in many cases serves to perpetuate the "refugee" "crisis" that forms the heart of the Israeli-Pal dispute.

Maybe they're silent because it's less than the aid we give to Sudan, Peru, Kenya, Bolivia, Uganda, Indonesia and many other garden spots. I guess some think the only legitimate number is zero.

The cynic would point out that U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority comes with strings attached that limit the use of the funds, and that those funds arguably work to reduce the financial burden on Israel as the occupying power.

It's noteworthy that aid to Israel has a string also, in that much of the military aid must be spent in the U.S., thereby making both AIPAC and the defense lobby happy. Nishkosheh.
11.29.2007 11:52am
Harry Eagar (mail):
Just for the sake of consistency, I'd like to see anyone who argues against the historic rights of Jews to be in Israel also make the same argument against the Muslim occupation of Temple Mount.
11.29.2007 11:58am
r78:

the organization that, for over half a century, has done more than anyone to immiserate the Palestinian people.

I suspect that quite a few Palestinians could, from their own personal experience, name another entity more deserving of that charge.
11.29.2007 12:20pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

Just for the sake of consistency, I'd like to see anyone who argues against the historic rights of Jews to be in Israel also make the same argument against the Muslim occupation of Temple Mount.

When I read stuff like this my initial reaction is "A plague on both their houses." The current peace talks have made me wonder once again: Why can't the Israelis and Arabs work this out on their own? Why is resolving this issue -- truly a Sisyphean task -- the responsibility of the American President? Who will enforce whatever agreements come out of these meetings, and what are the penalties for non-compliance?
11.29.2007 12:30pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Perhaps ceding a chunk of Bavaria to the Palestinians would be in order.

For everyone's peace of mind, the Palestinians need to be assimilated. It's hard to blow up the nice family next door; it's easy to demonize people who live outside your compound.

For this reason, Singapore enforces racial harmony by mixing up ethnic Chinese, Indians, and Malays in their public housing.
11.29.2007 12:42pm
PLR:
Why can't the Israelis and Arabs work this out on their own?

Many reasons. Israelis and Arabs don't even agree among themselves. To the extent you can put them on one side or the other, the two sides do not trust anything the other one says, and the two sides cannot even mutually agree on a neutral mediating force. They have no incentive for peace after they have greatly discounted the real cost associated with human death and suffering. There is a great disparity of bargaining power. When unique parcels of earth are the contentious matter, the negotiations become a zero sum game.
Why is resolving this issue -- truly a Sisyphean task -- the responsibility of the American President?

Presidents fancy themselves in the role of that neutral mediator, and giving the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. Fat chance.
Who will enforce whatever agreements come out of these meetings, and what are the penalties for non-compliance?

That reminds me, along with disparity of bargaining power there is disparity of enforcement power. Yeah, I ducked the question.
11.29.2007 12:54pm
guy in the veal calf office (mail) (www):
Well, the early Zionist (and by that term I mean the self-named early zionists clubs and organizers) believed in a right of return 2,000 years after their people left, and that turned out well for them. That's an example that encourages Palestinian's hope, right?

[This is mirthful]
11.29.2007 1:06pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Why can't the Israelis and Arabs work this out on their own?
Well, one factor is that everyone who works for UNRWA is actively trying to prevent them from doing so, because then they'd have to find real jobs (see origin of thread).
11.29.2007 1:14pm
luagha:
Why can't the Israelis and Arabs work this out on their own?

Because the obvious thing to do would be for Israel to declare war on the Palestinian state and they are too nice to do so. The refugees thus created would have no place to go and the whole thing would just make them look bad and get them accused of 'ethnic cleansing.'
11.29.2007 1:47pm
abu hamza:
why is W insisting on these annapolis talks? I believe Israel/Palestian issue is one that would benefit from less, not more US and world involvement and attention.

I am basically totally pro-Israel, as I feel their people have been victimized by two intifadas and countless punk jihadi bastards and bastardinas strapping bombs to themselves and entering daycares and discos. But. There are a lot of Arabs that the Jewish state cannot simply wish away, and there has to be a political solution eventually.

The other arab nations have a shameful past vis a vis the displaced arabs by the creation of Israel.

It would suck to have to go through checkpoints all the time, and an indignity, and all that, but come on, it doesn't happen in a vaccuum. There has been treachery, perfidy and evil perpetrated thousands of times by arab terrorists against Israelis.

I love the idea about das Hamas in Germany that's a funny post.
11.29.2007 5:31pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Part of the problem here is that however insufferable the Palestinians have often been in supporting terrorism, denying Jewish connections to Jerusalem, demanding unrealistic solutions to the refugee problem, electing Hamas, etc., the issue of how Israel was founded really was unfair to the Palestinians.

Essentially, a bunch of people with a cohesive religion plopped down in a place where other people with a different religion were already living, and then were able to get the international community, for various reasons, to sanction the creation of a religious/ethnically identified state there. Of course, there were good justifications for doing this-- if the Holocaust taught us anything, it taught us that Jews needed a homeland and refuge from virulent anti-semitism. But that doesn't mean it was fair to the people who were already living there. Think about how you would feel if whatever city or town you live in was declared a "homeland" to a group of foreigners, who plopped down there and declared their own government which would specifically identify with their culture and interests, not yours. And, of course, the Israelis drove out many Palestinians to obtain an ethnic majority-- some Palestinians fled as well, but is that a surprise given how Israel was plopped down on the land they were living on without their consent?

Essentially, the international community made a people who had nothing to do with the crimes against Jews pay the cost to form a Jewish homeland. No, it wasn't fair.

Now you will note something here. I don't really give a crap that Jews had a historical connection to Jerusalem and some parts of mandate Palestine. That is completely true, but it is also irrelevant. The biblical "God" who "gave" the land to Israelites is a made up superstition. The fact that someone once lived on a piece of land does not give his or her descendants the right, generations later, to reclaim it.

BUT-- having said all that, the UN should still not commemorate the anniversary, because while Israel was founded in a state of original sin, there is nothing that can or should be done about it now. The fact remains, we need a Jewish homeland, there is still virulent anti-semitism, and Israelis, just like the Arabs before them, have set down roots there. Reopening the wound of Israel's founding every year is counterproductive to peace.
11.29.2007 5:57pm
Rich Rostrom (mail):
"As I recall, the British government went to great pains to stop more Jews from entering Palestine."

Britain took the Palestine mandate in 1920 with the express intent of enabling the Zionist project. Britain opened Palestine to large-scale Jewish immigration. Later, after various violent Arab reactions, Britain restricted Jewish immigration and even stopped it; but Britain's original intent and policy was to bring Jews into Palestine. Of the 600,000 or so Jews in Palestine circa 1940, well over half were from legal immigration under British rule (The Third, Fourth, and Fifth Aliyahs). About 100,000 were from the pre-Zionist "Yishuv" and the two pre-1914 Aliyahs.
11.29.2007 7:32pm
Yankev (mail):

Yankev: The url you posted doesn't work. Wanna try again?

Yeah, I can't get it to wrok either. Sorry. It's the link to a t-shirt at the protestwarrior.org store, with the scene from the first (best/only one worth watching) Star Wars movie, where Obi wan Kenobe tells his friends "You will never see a more wrteched hive of scum and villainy", with the words quoted below the picture. But instead of pointing at the space port, he's pointing at the UN Building.
11.29.2007 7:45pm
Rich Rostrom (mail):
The presence of a few thousand Yishuv in 19th century Palestine did not establish a right for millions of Ashkenazim to move there. Britain arbitrarily defined the borders of Mandatory Palestine; that the area Britain carved out was not previously a recognized country did not deprive its inhabitants of the right of government by their consent. All those inhabitants, BTW, were defined as "Palestinian" in the 1924 Treaty of Lausanne.
11.29.2007 8:01pm
Public_Defender (mail):

Essentially, a bunch of people with a cohesive religion plopped down in a place where other people with a different religion were already living. . . . Think about how you would feel if whatever city or town you live in was declared a "homeland" to a group of foreigners


So, Israel was created when one group of people who believed they had a valid claim to a piece of land took it from another group who thought they had a valid claim to it. That's pretty much the way every country on the planet was formed.

What year of history do you propose we go back to in order to fairly redistribute the world's land?

The Palestinians had a right to resist the creation of Israel by force, but they lost. And they will not win control of the whole territory. The current Palestinian attacks on Israel hurt the Palestinians far more than the Israelis. That makes no sense.

As I said in my first post, the status quo is the only teneble solution to the refugee situation until the Palestinians start caring more about promoting their own interests than attacking Israel.


Think about how you would feel if whatever city or town you live in was declared a "homeland" to a group of foreigners


I'll ask the Native Americans who used to live where I do. And do the Moors get Spain back?
11.29.2007 8:19pm
Michael B (mail):
The only inter-generational "refugees" cum political proxies and pawns on the face of the planet. Likely, no greater cossetted mendaciousness, together with malevolent effect, exists on the face of the planet than is found among the UNRWA's pharisaical bullshitters and their "refugees." Much evil is done via that wastrel class, much and great.
11.29.2007 8:43pm
Prof. Ethan (mail):
The Palestinian refugee situation is hardly unique, neither in suffering nor in scale.

There was a lot of these events at the end of WWII and during decolonization:

About ten million Germans had to flee their centuries-old homes in eastern Europe in 1945. A million died; another million were raped. They were not welcomed in western Germany, and there was much suffering. None of these people or their descendants is blowing up discos in Danzig.

About seven million Hindus had to flee from what became Pakistan (and an equal number of Muslims fled from India). No Hindus are blowing up schoolyards filled with students in Islamabad.

The number of Palestinian refugees resulting from the Nakbah of 1948 is about 750,000. Bernard Lewis is right: the number of Jewish refugees expelled from Muslim states between 1948 and 1960 was larger: about 850,000. These Jews were forced to leave everything behind (uncompensated). Some Muslim is enjoying their property even as we speak (perhaps this illegally-seized property could be a source of compensation for the Palestinians!). None of these people is blowing up supermarkets in Marakesh or Aden.

About 300,000 Greeks were intentionally forced from Egypt by the Nasser government policies 1953 and 1960--in order to Egyptianize and Muslimize Egypt; ethnic and religious cleansing to the max. Most of these Greeks had come to Egypt in the early 19th century; but some had been in Egypt for 2,300 years. The refugees weren't happy, nor was it easy for them to assimilate where they ended up. They had to leave everything behind (uncompensated); some Muslim is enjoying their property as we speak. No Greeks are blowing up buses in Cairo.

Millions of Greeks were forced from western Turkey in 1922; the ethnic cleansing of Greeks by the Turkish government went on as late as 1955 in the area called "Pontus" on the south coast of the Black Sea; the refugees remain bitter and when a Greek "Pontic" refugee girl won a gold medal in the Olympics in 1992 the bitterness in Greece was very public. None of these Greeks or their descendants is blowing up restaurants in Ankara.

About 50,000 Hindu Indians were driven from Uganda in 1972 by Idi Amin in a program of ethnic and religious cleansing. Their property was confiscated (uncompensated). None of these people or their descendants are intentionally shooting rockets at civilians in Uganda.

When I pointed out these parallel tragedies to a Palestinian, his response is revealing: "None of these people is as honorable as the Palestinians are."

I wish I was making up this psychologically revealing story. I assure you that, unfortunately, I am not.
11.29.2007 8:44pm
Hoosier:
" And do the Moors get Spain back?"

NO WAY!!!!!

Most of it goes to my people--the Celts--according to the "go back where you came from and give us back our land" prototype/rule that is now being tested in Occupied Palestine (Clearly with the intention of applying it worldwide when the grant money comes through).

So you stinkin' Teutons will have to LEAVE WESTERN EUROPE! Including the BRITISH ISLES: The whole "bloody place"!!!

And you Franks: Don't think you can play that "But vee are not, oww you say, zee Jair-mons" stuff with us. We are SERIOUS this time. Got it?

Get ready, Krauts of various stripes: You're going back to Scandanavia. From now on, Western Europe is gonna be filled with US! Painting ourselves blue, placing large rocks in odd places, and speaking languages that sound EVEN UGLIER THAN YOURS! Ha-HA!

Thank you, Palestinians and allies. Thank you for making our dream a reality! When do we get to move in? (By the way: The UN offices in Switzerland and Vienna are gonna hafta go. We never said that the Weiner-eaters could give away our real estate. You'll have to deal with the Algonqians about the New York location. Perhaps you might move your offices to Ramallah?)
11.29.2007 9:39pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Prof. Ethan, to your list of population exchanges and expulsions, add 6.5 million Japanese who were forced to return to Japan from Manchuria etc. after September 1945.

Except for many it wasn't a 'return' as they had never been near Japan.
11.29.2007 9:57pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

ten million Germans had to flee their centuries-old homes in eastern Europe in 1945.

Yep. A bunch of, for example, the Donauschwaben ended up in the Midwest. One of them married my great-uncle. They live in Florida now.

Like I said, we could take in all the so-called Palestinian refugees.
11.29.2007 10:11pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Hoosier: as I recall reading, when the Celts' existence was first recorded by history, they were living in what is now Munich. If you ever want your ancestral home, it would help if you liked beer, busty women, and wearing leather shorts.
11.29.2007 10:19pm
Hoosier:
"it would help if you liked beer, busty women, and wearing leather shorts."

Two out of three ain't bad, right? And, really, give us women with full balconies, and you can keep the beer.
11.29.2007 10:35pm
Prof. Ethan (mail):
Harry Eagar--yes, and none of THOSE millions of refugees or their descendants are devoting their lives to trying to blow up supermarkets filled with civilians in Mukden.
11.30.2007 12:02am
David M. Nieporent (www):
That policy was illegitimate: Britain had no right to repopulate Palestine without the consent of its existing people, nor could the League grant such a right. (Any more than the U.N. today has the right to award Israel's territory to the Armenians or the Roma or the Jehovah's Witnesses.)
That's because Israel is a sovereign country, over which the UN has no authority. But "Palestine" was never such.

Set aside that the "existing people" included Jews -- and did not include the vast majority of people styling themselves as Palestinians today, or their ancestors. The "existing people" certainly had a right to the land they personally owned -- as do all people -- but why did they have veto rights over people moving to land they didn't own and had NEVER exercised political sovereignty over?
11.30.2007 1:54am
Thoughtful (mail):
David B. wonders why libertarians, who oppose US foreign aid on principle (though most of us are well aware, unlike the majority of the American public, that US foreign aid constitutes a very small percentage of the US federal budget), oppose US aid to Israel so strenuously and hardly ever mention US aid to Palestinians. Here's some info available online:

Benefits to Israel of U.S. Aid
Since 1949 (As of November 1, 1997)

Foreign Aid Grants and Loans
$74,157,600,000

Other U.S. Aid (12.2% of Foreign Aid)
$9,047,227,200

Interest to Israel from Advanced Payments (all other countries receive annual aid payments throughout the year; Israel receives aid payments in a lump sum at the beginning of the year, gaining interest on the aid):
$1,650,000,000

Grand Total
$84,854,827,200

Israel, with a population smaller than that of Hong Kong, receives about one-third of U.S. bilateral foreign aid worldwide. And this does not include the US aid to Egypt, which is in large part payment of a bribe to sign a peace treaty with Israel, and thus not unreasonably considered further aid to Israel. Including this brings US aid to Israel up to about 50% of all US aid given. To a country with about 0.1% of the world's population.

West Bank &Gaza Program Budget (1993-2004)

USAID funding for the West Bank and Gaza between 1993 and 2004 totaled approximately $1.5 billion.

Summary: Over the 49 year period listed above, Israel received in US grants over $1.7 BILLION/year.

Over the 12 year period listed above, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza received $125 MILLION/year.

This is an approximately 14 to 1 ratio. The population of Israel is approximately 7.2M, of which a percentage is Arab Palestinian. The Palestinian population in the occupied territory is approximately 5-5.5M.

Perhaps David now has a better understanding of why some libertarians might object to US aid to Israel but less frequently bring up US aid to Palestinians. It is objectively less important.
11.30.2007 2:01am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
I'm surprised that people suggest sending the Palestinians to the US or Germany when there is a much simpler solution, namely Jordan. Jordan already occupies most of Palestine. Give a chunk of Judea and Samaria to Jordan and allow Palestinians to settle in other parts of Jordan as well. The Palestinians will then be citizens of an Arab country, as they wish to be, and will not pose a demographic threat to Israel. They will cease to be "refugees" and will live like normal people, not in refugee camps. Although the Jordanian government is far from perfect, it is far better than rule by terrorist gangs. By Arab standards, it is comparatively democratic and moderate and shows signs of gradual improvement.
11.30.2007 4:01am
Public_Defender (mail):

I'm surprised that people suggest sending the Palestinians to the US or Germany when there is a much simpler solution, namely Jordan. . . .


Sorry, but Jordan treats Palestinians worse than Israel does. That "solution" would just make the Palestinians lives worse. One pipe dream of the Religious Right in Israel is that Jordan will happily abosrb Israel's Palestinian problem.

The solution is to give the West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinans once they get tired of banging their heads against the wall. In the mean time, Israel has to defend itself withing defensible borders.

One of my biggest criticisms of Israel is that their settlement "policy" allows religious nutcases to occupy just enough of the West Bank to make a viable Palestinian state difficult (and increase Palestinian suffering) without occupying enough to truly take control.
11.30.2007 4:27am
martinned (mail) (www):
L.S.,

@Bill Poser: I'm sure the king of Jordan would love that. His late father was only just able to stop the PLO/Arafat from taking over the country in the 1980s (I think). Even though the present king is himself married to a palestinian, there is no reason to believe sending a million more palestinians that way would go off without a hitch.

Which reminds me: there is a limit to which we can "send" anyone anywhere they do not want to go. Or are you proposing an ethnic cleansing campaign?
11.30.2007 5:03am
Soccer Dad (mail) (www):
Mr. Kopel,

One item that you left out was that when Israel tried building permanent houses for the Palestinians in the 1970's they were stopped by a General Assembly resolution. (I know that you wrote that GA resolutions have no force of law, but they can still have political effects.)

In "Lots of Advice for Israel" (Washington Post, Jan 8, 1988) Charles Krauthammer wrote:

How cynically? In the mid-1970s, Israel tried to give new housing to some of the Palestinian refugees living in the Gaza Strip. It moved them out of the camps into more livable houses nearby. Whereupon the U.N. General Assembly, urged on by the Arab states, passed Resolution 32/90 condemning Israel's relocation of these refugees and demanding their return "to the camps from which they were removed." The U.N., which offered that advice exactly 10 years before the current round of rioting in Gaza, has a large stake in Palestinian misery.


This isn't to say that your case isn't comprehensive. It's just that this is one of my pet peeves.
11.30.2007 10:07am
Yankev (mail):

One of my biggest criticisms of Israel is that their settlement "policy" allows religious nutcases to occupy just enough of the West Bank to make a viable Palestinian state difficult (and increase Palestinian suffering) without occupying enough to truly take control.

95% of the "settlements" (some of them look a lot like those things in the US that we call "suburbs" or "bedroom communities") are located within 5 miles or less of the Green Line. They were build on undeveloped land purchased from the legal owners. They tend to overlook highways, and were built so that the locals could no longer direct rifle fire or rocks at the hih speed traffic on the highways below. The checkpoints and the security wall are indeed an inconvenience for the Arabs, but they were build in response to the nasty habit of shooting and bombing attacks against both the "settlements" and pre-1967 Israel. Those attacks often kill Arab and Jew indiscriminately. The security measures are there to save lives, and not for the purpose of making people miserable.
11.30.2007 10:07am
ronnie dobbs (mail):

Israel, with a population smaller than that of Hong Kong, receives about one-third of U.S. bilateral foreign aid worldwide. And this does not include the US aid to Egypt, which is in large part payment of a bribe to sign a peace treaty with Israel, and thus not unreasonably considered further aid to Israel. Including this brings US aid to Israel up to about 50% of all US aid given. To a country with about 0.1% of the world's population.


And given how many leftists, anti-semites, Islamofascists and other assorted weenies it pisses off, I'd say it's a bargain at twice the price.
11.30.2007 10:14am
Hoosier:
Jordan is no good for the reasons that VCers have already suggested. In addition, it is worth remembering the twenty years prior to 1967 in this context; so much of the 'pro-Palestinian' rhetoric conveninetly leaves out the fact that the West Bank was *occupied* by Jordan for two decades.

What did the Jordanians do for their wards? Nothing, really, except to keep the pot simmering against Israel by making conditions practically unlivable. And prevented any developments that might lead to better lives and hopes for the Palestinians.

There are now Arabic-language universities in the West Bank. Anyone want to guess what percentage of them were built *after* 1967? So Jordan won't be a good "fit," as they say in faculty hiring committees when they want to reject a candidate for reasons that cannot be said aloud.
11.30.2007 11:50am
Public_Defender (mail):
95% of the "settlements" (some of them look a lot like those things in the US that we call "suburbs" or "bedroom communities") are located within 5 miles or less of the Green Line. They were build on undeveloped land purchased from the legal owners. They tend to overlook highways, and were built so that the locals could no longer direct rifle fire or rocks at the hih speed traffic on the highways below. The checkpoints and the security wall are indeed an inconvenience for the Arabs, but they were build in response to the nasty habit of shooting and bombing attacks against both the "settlements" and pre-1967 Israel. Those attacks often kill Arab and Jew indiscriminately. The security measures are there to save lives, and not for the purpose of making people miserable.

I wasn't criticizing the settlements around the edge of the West Bank, I was criticizing the ones in the middle, which serve no purpose other than to keep Palestinians miserable.

The Israelis wouldn't have to worry about the high ground in the middle of the West Bank if they didn't put settlers there. Plus, many of the settlements in the middle were done against the wishes of the Israeli military specificially because they are so difficult to defend.

That's why Israel was smart to remove settlements from inside Gaza. That got Israeli soldiers off of Paletinian streets and at the border, which is a lot safer for the soldiers and a lot more secure for the State of Israel.

Israel really has two choices. It can ethnically cleanse the West Bank and Gaza by mass deportation, or it can fight from defensible borders until the Palestinians stop the terrorism.
11.30.2007 7:33pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Jordan would of course have to agree to accept the Palestinians, and arrangements would have to be made to see that they were treated decently and that they were disarmed. I do not propose to dump them forcibly on Jordan. King Abdullah is not his father; he seems to be less authoritarian and more reasonable. In addition to the inducement of peace and the added territory of part of Judea and Samaria, Jordan could be offered development aid contingent on entering into the proposed arrangement and adhering to it, meaning both keeping the Palestinians from engaging in terrorism and treating them decently.

Whether this such a deal could be made is unclear, but what are the alternatives? Settlement of the Palestinians in the US or Germany or really anywhere else is not feasible. A Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza is not feasible either. All the evidence is that as things stand the Palestinians are incapable of governing themselves. Given a state, they will continue to attack Israel as well as each other. Giving them a reasonable life in an Arab state while disarming them and diluting the anger, factionalism, and spurious sense of nationhood and entitlement is the only viable option.
11.30.2007 9:10pm
cubanbob (mail):
I wonder if thoughtful can tally up the aid money spent on defending Europe for 50 years. And lets not forget the money spent defending Korea, Japan and the Persian Gulf countries. Perhaps Dilan Esper can explain why is it alright for Arabs to conquer and posses land belonging to others but it is wrong for Jews to take back what was theirs. I find it ironic that Israeli's are expected to and by in large do treat Palestinians better than Arabs do. Israel is damned if they do and damned if they don't so they might as well learn from the Saudis and Kuwaiti's and simply expel the Palestinians and let the Arabs deal with their own. Cut off all power, water and food from Gaza and let Egypt deal with their former citizens. Decide it's final borders on the west bank and expel the Palestinians inside the border and let Jordan deal with it's former and future citizens. In the end there is no other way for Israel if she wishes to survive.
12.1.2007 3:31am
Rich Rostrom (mail):
David Nieporent:

The mandate was to Britain issued under Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, which says


Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognised subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone.


(emphasis added)

The political community of Palestine encompassed the whole territory not just the bits explicitly owned by Arabs. Besides which, the British policy did not admit Jews to some distinct area, separate from all Arab population, but to Palestine in general, and the immigrants were generally scattered through the country.


"the "existing people" included Jews...



Yes - a small number of recent immigrants and a very small number of Old Yishuv.


-- and did not include the vast majority of people styling themselves as Palestinians today, or their ancestors.


That's an assertion some Zionists really like, but the evidence for it is very dubious. Pre-1948 Palestine was overwhelmingly Arab. Also remember Arab fertility. The 150,000 or so Arabs left in Israel after 1948 now number 1.2M. The other 750,000 (400,000 refugees, 350,000 already in the West Bank and Gaza) should now number about 6M. There are probably more nominal Palestinians, due to availability of UNRWA milk and goodies.
12.1.2007 7:15am
Prof. Ethan (mail):
To add to the list of population expulsions and transfers:

400,000 Palestinians were expelled from Kuwait at the end of 1991 because they had been primary indigenous supporters of Saddam Hussein's invasion of the country, though many had lived in Kuwait since 1948. The decision of the restored Kuwait govt was pure ethnic cleansing, yet this was never a big issue internationally (not much agonizing at the UN)--nor do we see these people or their descendants blowing up universities in Kuwait.

Once more, as in my post above, we see that it is only the Israeli case that is kept unique, viewed as unique as if such things as the Nakbah (and much larger things and worse things than the Nakhbah) had never happened internationally and as if the Israeli "original sin" was somehow beyond parallel. Beyond parallel to the point that the left now looks the other way when faced with the current Palestinian genocidal program for Jews.
12.1.2007 11:55am
Tony Tutins (mail):

Giving them a reasonable life in an Arab state while disarming them and diluting the anger, factionalism, and spurious sense of nationhood and entitlement is the only viable option.

I'm curious how you see this complete reversal of opinion as viable. Based on the past forty years of history, even giving the 'refugees' a slice of Bavaria sounds more viable. The 'refugees' will say that if the Jews have a right of return to Israel, so do they -- and theirs is 1800 years fresher. Comparing themselves to Israeli Jews, they have plenty of reason -- in their minds -- to justify anger, factionalism, a spurious sense of nationhood, and entitlement. Americans are too busy to nourish a sense of historic grievance -- let them come here.
12.1.2007 12:04pm
Michael B (mail):
"Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognised subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone." as quoted above, Article 22 of the League's Covenant

Which is why Jordan was comprised of 80% of that Mandate, Israel 10% and the remaining 10% would have gone to yet another Arab state, likely "Palestine" or otherwise named. (And Jews of that era comprised well over 10% of the population.) Yet at no time - from the 1920 riots and the emergence of the Mufti, Amin al-Husseini - have surrounding Arab states and interests evidenced themselves as being amenable to reason; not one isolated time of note. Not pre-holocaust nor post-holocaust; not taking the 900,000 Jewish refugees from surrounding Arab states into account, who often were living under some form of dhimmi status or more severe persecution; not taking the manifest and manifold enculturated hatreds of Jews and some others, from pre-school and forward into account; etc.; etc.
12.1.2007 12:49pm
Rich Rostrom (mail):
Michael B: If one looks at a map, one can see that nearly all of (Trans)-Jordan is barren, completely vacant desert, except for a narrow semi-barren strip in the west. In 1920, this empty area was terra nullius: uninhabited, unclaimed, unruled. But in 1920, the blank spots on the map had to be filled in. The area was added to Trans-Jordan by British mapmakers. That was not an allocation of any part of historic Palestine. To say that it represents a share of "Palestine" is like putting a big plate of bones next to a pizza, and then dividing up the combined "dinner".

BTW, Trans-Jordan was established by Britain from territory previously governed from Damascus; the area west of the Jordan was a different district. Furthermore, Trans-Jordan was established by Britain in 1920, well before the League mandate was issued, and the Mandate accepted Britain's separation of Trans-Jordan from Palestine.
12.1.2007 11:51pm
Michael B (mail):
Rich, yes, I don't deny your point concerning Trans-Jordan as such, I simply view it as one factor within a surpassing multitude of factors.
12.2.2007 10:28am
Batya (mail) (www):
Excellent, comprehensive post.
It's all part of the hatetred. When I stand at the T Junction to Beit El and Ramallah and see all the UN and diplomatic cars go by. They've made this terror terrible mess.
Those refugees produce massive millions, while Israel has absorbed so many more Jews without being funded.
12.2.2007 11:18pm
Michael B (mail):
Btw, much of present-day Israel was arid, was desert and semi-desert land as well and most of that - typically via difficult and visionary work - has been turned into a fecund and productive resource resulting in material benefit for many.
12.3.2007 5:51am