Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Forgotten Refugees

One major sticking point in the negations between Israel and the Arab-Islamic Word is the issue of the 600,000 - 750,000 Arabs who fled Israel, beginning with the War of Independence. Most proponents of the Palestinians have declared that there will never be peace until Israel recognizes the "right to return" of the several million descendants of these refugees. And on a broader level, anti-Israel pundits use the issue of refugees to present Israelis as brutal oppressors.

The problem with this narrative is that it is galling incomplete. Either through ignorance or through willful misrepresentation, its purveyors fail to note that nearly 1,000,000 Jews were driven out of the Arab-Islamic world in the last 60 years. Proceeding this exodus were bloody pogroms that resulted in the deaths of 1,000's of Jewish civilians, arbitrary arrests and the wholesale confiscation of property. In other words, a mutual population exchange occurred between Israel and the Arab-Islamic world, much those that occurred between Greece and Turkey, India and Pakistan and Poland and Russia in the last century. In fact, after the Second World War the allies sanctioned the expulsion of over 12,000,000 Germans from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Russia and Yugoslavia, that resulted in the death of at least 500,000 German civilians. Such is the wages of warfare.

What makes the Palestinians unique is that unlike every single example I presented, the majority of their refugees have not been settled. Whereas Israel quickly absorbed 680,000 refugees (with nearly a quarter of a million immigrating to Europe and the United States), Arab nations (with the exception of Jordan) have kept their "Palestinian Brothers" rotting in refugee camps. Why? Because the continued existence of refugees offered great propaganda value and a continued point of contention with Israel. Compassion is a noble trait, but without knowledge it leads to misguided positions and dangerous policies. To learn more about the Jewish Exodus from the Arab-Islamic World, I recommend that you watch the video "The Forgotten Refugees":

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