Thursday, November 29, 2007

Jews should claim right of return to Mecca, Medina

Applying UN and Palestinian logic to the refugee problem, Jews would be within their rights to demand to return to Mecca and Medina, argues Joseph Klein in Front Page magazine:

"Several key facts are left out of this fictional Palestinian narrative. First and foremost, the very essence of the Jewish state – based on reason, openness and a democratic system of government that believes in freedom of conscience – stands in sharp contrast to the absolutist, repressive strains that permeate the closed societies of its Islamic neighbors.

"Then there is the history of the conflict that the Palestinian narrative so conveniently ignores. The Palestinians could have had their own independent state sixty years ago if the neighboring Arab countries had not forcibly rejected the UN’s original plan for partition of the British Mandate territory of Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state and a small internationally administered zone including the religiously significant towns of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The Palestinians are still refusing any such solution today.

"In the days after the General Assembly vote approving the partition plan, various Arab attacks left Jews dead and wounded. There were shootings, stonings, bombings, arson and rioting, including attacks on the consulates of Poland and Sweden who had voted for partition. Little has changed. If the Palestinians do not get everything they ask for, they immediately resort to violence.

"The Palestinian narrative on the refugee situation is also misleading. As documented by eyewitnesses and by statements of Palestinian and other Arab leaders themselves at the time, most Palestinians who left their homes in 1948 did so voluntarily. They were following the advice of the Arab leaders who promised that they would only have to be away from their homes a few days until the Jews were driven into the sea. For example, the Jordanian newspaper Falastin wrote on February 19, 1949:

“The Arab States encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies.”

"As one refugee was quoted as saying, “The Arab governments told us: Get out so that we can get in. So we got out, but they did not get in.”

"The 156,000 Palestinians who did stay behind and their offspring became full Israeli citizens, with voting rights and representation in the government irrespective of their minority non-Jewish status. Arabs have been elected to the Knesset, served on the Israeli Supreme Court and held other high government positions. If their rights are violated, they have recourse to the Israeli courts to seek redress. Arab citizens living in Israel share nothing in common with the blacks who lived in apartheid South Africa, no matter how hard the Palestinian propagandists insist otherwise. The blacks living in apartheid South Africa were excluded altogether from any participation in governing the country in which they made up the majority of the population. They lived and worked under strictly segregated conditions with no legal recourse for the wrongs that were inflicted on them daily.

"As for the refugee situation, there were more Jewish refugees who were forcibly expelled from the Arab countries than there were Palestinian refugees who had left behind their homes in Israel. According to United Nations statistics, 856,000 Jewish residents fled their Arab homes in 1948 as compared to an estimated 711,000 Palestinian refugees who fled Israel in 1948. Many more Jews were forced out of Arab lands since. In Egypt, for example, there were around 75,000 Jews living there in 1948. Today, there are no more than 100. There were around 135,000 Jews living in Iraq in 1948. Today there are around 15. There were about 35,000 Jews living in Libya in 1948. Today there are none. The United Nations has not spent a dime on Jewish refugees from the Arab countries, while the annual budget for taking care of Palestinian refugees through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency is approaching a half billion dollars a year.

"Few of the estimated 711,000 Palestinian refugees who fled in 1948 are still alive. Yet, in an exception to the normal definition of who qualifies to be considered a refugee, the United Nations has characterized all of the descendants of these refugees as refugees themselves. This redefinition has swelled the total number of Palestinian refugees to more than 4 million. Rather than be accepted as full citizens by their Arab ‘brothers’ in the surrounding Arab states, they live on the UN dole as stage props for the Palestinians’ melodramatic narrative of suffering at the hands of the Israelis.

"All we hear about in the Palestinian narrative is the right of return for these descendants to move back to the homes of their parents, grandparents or great grandparents in Israel proper. We hear nothing about the right of Jewish refugees and their descendants to return to their centuries-old Jewish homes in Egypt, Iraq, Libya and other Arab countries. Indeed, if we were to apply the UN’s open-ended definition of a Palestinian refugee to the Jews forced out of Arab lands, the descendants of Jews whom Mohammed forcibly expelled from the Saudi peninsula should be allowed the right of return to their ancestral homelands in Mecca and Medina."

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