Thursday, January 27, 2005

Sloppy Solidarity

Raymond Deane from Ireland is at solidarity with Palestine. He argued this week (25 January), in a letter to the editor of the Irish Times, against a previous pro-Israel writer, Kevin Myers, who denied a right of return to be accorded Arabs who consider themselves refugees.

He impugns Israel by claiming these refugees are the result of 'ethnic cleansing'. He attempts, too, to justify their right of return by referring to the right Jews claim, to return "after almost 2,000 years, to a country that happens to be inhabited by another people".

Given the restraints of a letter, I was concise.

The foremost international body at the time, the League of Nations, recognized in 1922 the historic right of the Jews to reconstitute their homeland. It is not insignificant that the word "Arab" in reference to the non-Jewish communties to be protected therein is missing, for indeed, it was intended that the Arabs fulfill their nationalist aspirations outside the borders of the Palestine Mandate. And they did, in Jordan.

In 1949, the original United Nations resolution is couched in terms of "Palestine refugees", not "Palestinian". Deane, of course, should know that Jews also became refugees, expelled from their homes in Judea and Samaria, what he would call the West Bank, part of then Palestine. Should not the Jewish communities reestablished after 1967 be considered as conforming to this "right" that Deane demands must be applied solely to Arabs?

As for the 'ethnic cleanising' calumny he bandies about, as any historian can testify, it was the Arabs who initiated this horrific policy by destroying Jewish homes, neighborhoods and villages, such as, for example, Tel Hai in 1920, Hebron, Nablus and Gaza in 1929, Atarot, Neveh Yaakov and Bet Arava in 1948. Arab aggression in 1948 in the attempt to eradicate the nascent state, total ethnic cleansing, failed and this is the reason there are refugees today.

As they did not properly use the right of good neighborliness and the respect of international decisions at the time, why should anyone recognize a "right of return" today?

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