Friday, April 19, 2024

The 'Right" of Return

 “The United Nations is about as useful as the Eurovision Song Contest and about as corrupt.” Ho Ho. Surely the basis of some common ground there. 

Anyway, there is no cognitive dissonance in what was said by Lipman in that clip, but the retweeter would possibly like to sow some.

Indeed there’s a fallacy being proposed here and it’s such a crucial one that it is worth unpicking in detail, as. it exposes how the pro-pal mindset and related propaganda messaging works.

The right of so-called Palestinian refugees to ‘return’ is enshrined in international law via a UN Resolution which was then attached to the foundational charter of UNRWA. It is not dependent on the prior signing of a conclusive peace agreement.

This is utterly unique. No other discreet displaced refugee group has ever enjoyed this right. The Arabs fought hard and rather deviously for it, so they need to be called out when they appear to want to have it both ways.
Also, when they fail to mention the in-built caveat that comes with this right, an associated obligation to live in peace with Israelis if they do go back there. (Para 11, Resolution 194.)

600,000 Jews were simultaneously displaced from around the Middle East, expelled in effect, as the 1947-8 war ended. Unlike the Palestinians they had not turned on the communities they had inhabited for centuries with violent, genocidal intentions, yet nobody ever granted them a ‘right of return’.

At the end of the war they also started and lost, 10m ethnic Germans were sent packing from eastern Europe. These refugees spent more than a decade demanding what they saw as an inalienable right to return to the Heimkehr, in effect insisting that whole areas of Poland east of the Oder-Neisse line should again be part of a ‘Greater Germany’.

But nobody granted it to them. Germany, naturally enough, had a grown up debate on this thorny matter even as lip service was often paid to the refugees’ demands. By the end of the fifties it was understood that turning the clocks back would only compound the apparent injustices, especially for Poles, and would allow an unpleasant geopolitical threat to fester.

So they chose to assimilate and economically rehabilitate the easterners, just as UNKRA did for North Koreans in the south. There are many other notable examples from a comparable period: China, Vietnam, India and Pakistan. And the UN has an agency, UNHCR, explicitly tasked with assisting refugees, but the Arabs made sure that the Palestinians alone were excluded from this remit, and it is important to understand why.

The other Arab nations have always had only a nominal humanitarian interest in the wellbeing of the people forced to leave their homes in 1948. The refugee issue and the ‘right of return’ has always been a strategic one, with the so-called Palestinians used as political pawns in a game that the Arabs long hoped would lead to a terminal undermining of the Jewish state. For many this continues to be the sole objective.

For they have always known that having to re-assimilate hundreds of thousands (now millions) of potential enemies, even if they promised to be on their very best behaviour, would place an almost insurmountable political and economic burden on Israel, not to mention significantly augmenting the existential threat that it has always faced.

UNRWA was founded in 1949 at a moment that the US and the wider international community were aiming at the tried and tested rehabilitation and resettlement approach following a report made to the American government by a man called Chapp. But the Arabs started twisting and diverting the mandate in order to perpetuate their own special sense of injustice, directed very specifically at the UN for the attempt at partition, and to secure a source of funding that would also continue ad infinitum as the problem remain unsolved - unsolvable in fact, given all the restrictions applied.

The original name was to have been NERWA but the Arabs wanted the UN’s initials in there, to emphasise how they believe the whole situation was the UN’s fault and not say, the consequence of rejecting the partition plan and starting an unnecessary war, which they duly lost.

And so this singular and perverse situation has gone on and it is entirely legitimate for anyone to question whether it should be allowed to.

Even in 1948 it was known that of the half a million or so original refugees, a proportion of them were a) not refugees and b) not Palestinians (The latter mostly seasonal workers from other parts of the Middle East that the Arabs refused to take back, because it boosted UNRWA’s numbers and the implied threat posed to Israel of the ‘right to return’)

Now the numbers have swelled to 5m, reflecting both the desire to overwhelm Israel with returnees and the financial scam at the heart of the UNRWA mandate. Western governments really ought not to have awaited suggestions of UNRWA complicity with Islamism, indoctrination and terror before halting or adjusting the funding.

Jews emigrating to Israel are rather obviously a different case entirely, not so vastly different to Indians from the global diaspora heading back to India after independence. Or say, US-born Guatemalans, deciding to go back to the motherland in order to escape the coming Trump dictatorship up north.

Even if they’d never been before or can barely speak Spanish it would hardly be appropriate to refer to them as colonists. That would only make sense in the case of Jews if they had a native motherland somewhere outside of Israel, and if there were no Jews at all living in Israel before 1947, something the Arabs love to suggest to the gullible, but which if of course untrue.

(PS: As for ‘Zionism’, it really ought not to be used a blanket rude word to describe every single thing the pro-pals hate about Jewish self-determination and any affinities non-Israeli Jews might have with it. )

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