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the incendiary “right of return”: ZION rules spoken
User ID: 179188
01/16/2007 07:43 AM
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the incendiary “right of return”
WHY SO ?
What Right of Return, Mr. Baker?
By Richard L. Cravatts
Mr. Cravatts, PhD, director of Boston University’s Program in Book & Magazine Publishing at the Center for Professional Education, writes frequently on law, politics, religion, housing, and culture.
President Bush’s January 10th speech about a strategy for the Iraqi war going forward did ignore two key suggestions found last month in Jim Baker and company’s meretricious Iraqi Study Group report: that, first, the U.S. should initiate diplomatic conversations with Syria and Iran, and, second, that it should withdraw its troops in 2008. Thankfully, another specious suggestion from the report also went unmentioned in Bush’s speech, namely the notion of creating some linkage between Iraq and the need for “a renewed and sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace.”
The august body of ISG elder-statesmen proposed that this be effected through "a final peace settlement . . . which would address borders, settlements, Jerusalem, the right of return, and the end of the conflict," a diplomatically defective amendment to the report that is shocking because it appears in the report at all, but also because it includes the incendiary “right of return” fantasy that only diplomatic defectives could ever put on the bargaining table at all.
“How did that phrase,” asks the wry commentator Mark Steyn, ‘the right of return,’get so carelessly inserted into a document signed by two former secretaries of state, two former senators, a former attorney general, Supreme Court judge, defense secretary, congressman, etc. These are by far the most prominent Americans ever to legitimize a concept whose very purpose is to render any Zionist entity impossible.” All sentient observers of the Palestinian issue know that the “right of return” issue is a core tactic in rendering real peace, any viable Arab/Israeli solution, effectively impossible, that the prospect of some five million Palestinian refuges flooding into what is now Israel would, as University of Haifa professor Steven Plaut put it, “derail Israel demographically and turn it into the Rwanda of the Levant.”
The demand for a right of return, a notion referred to by Palestinians and their supporters as “sacred” and an “enshrined” universal human right granted by UN resolutions and international law, in fact has, as the Baker commission should well have known, no legal or diplomatic standing at all, and is part of the propaganda campaign that is based on the thinking that if Israel cannot be eradicated by the Arabs though war, it can effectively be destroyed by forcing it to commit demographic genocide.
In the first place, it uses the fraud as its core notion that the Palestinians were “victimized” by the creation of Israel, that they were expelled from a land of “Palestine” where they were the indigenous people “from time immemorial,” as historian Joan Peters put it in her book of the same name. The recounting of this wistful fable has enabled the Palestinian cause to become the obsession of the Leftist West, Middle East Study Centers on university campuses, the United Nations, much of Europe, and throughout the Arab world where Jew hatred helps fuel a central evolving myth of Zionist oppression on fellow Muslim brethren.
More importantly, far from being either a “sacred” or, for that matter, legal right, the right of return is a one-sided concoction that deliberately misreads United Nations resolutions for political advantage, and conveniently embraces only those portions that fit the intent of Arabs to make good on their intent to “drive Israel into the sea.” In continually repeating the lie that they are victims of the “Zionist regime” and that they were expelled from a country of their own and condemned to unending refugee status, the Palestinians—and their Arab enablers—have prolonged the myth of victimhood. But as Professor Efraim Karsh, head of Mediterranean Studies at King’s College, University of London, and the author of Fabricating Israeli History: The New Historians, points out,“this claim of premeditated dispossession is itself not only baseless, but the inverse of the truth. Far from being the hapless victims of a predatory Zionist assault, the Palestinians were themselves the aggressors in the 1948-49 war, and it was they who attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to ‘cleanse’ a neighbouring ethnic community. Had the Palestinians and the Arab world accepted the United Nations resolution of November 29, 1947, calling for the establishment of two states in Palestine, and not sought to subvert it by force of arms, there would have been no refugee problem in the first place.”
Thus, the accusations that the creation of the State of Israel led to the eradication and dispossession of a Palestinian ‘nation,’ and that Israel continues to obstruct and deny the Palestinian’s right of self-determination, are spurious at best, since, as Robert Spencer, scholar of Islamic history, notes, before the 1967 war when Israel took control of Gaza and the West Bank, no one—including the Palestinians themselves—thought of themselves as a nation, that this “supposed national identity was invented in the 1960s in what turned about to be an extraordinarily successful ploy to adjust the paradigm of the Arab-Israeli conflict with the newly-minted Palestinians as the underdogs.”
Nor was the land that the Palestinian Arabs fled from in what would become Israel ever land to which Palestinian refugees could ever make a legally sound claim. “None of the West Bank and Gaza Strip has ever been ‘Palestinian Land,’ ” said David Meir-Levi. “Before Israel’s, the last legal sovereignty over these territories was that of the Ottoman Empire. The British Mandate was a temporary care-taker control established by the League of Nations. And from 1948 to 1967, the West bank was illegally occupied and annexed by Jordan, and the Gaza Strip by Egypt—both in stark defiance of international law, Fourth Geneva Convention, and UN resolutions 181 and 194.”
There is some irony in the fact that the Palestinians have repeatedly violated both the spirit and intent of 194, that particular UN resolution containing a reference to concept of ‘return’ to one’s country, although two key points are characteristically ignored by those pointing to this source as justification for their legal claim. First, Resolution 194 was the product of the UN General Assembly and "is an expression of sentiment and carries no binding force whatsoever," meaning that it is meant to make recommendations but not law. What it did suggest, however, was that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which . . . should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”
According to the evaluation of law professor Ruth Lapidoth of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, this language precludes an interpretation of the UN resolution that supports a Palestinian claim for an unqualified right of return as opposed to a suggested one. “Though the Arab states originally rejected the resolution,” she wrote (specifically because it would mean giving implicit recognition of the existence of Israel), “they later relied on it heavily and have considered it as recognition of a wholesale right of repatriation.”
But according to Professor Lapidoth, “this interpretation . . . does not seem warranted: the paragraph does not recognize any ‘right,’ but recommends that the refugees ‘should’ be ‘permitted’ to return. Moreover, that permission is subject to two conditions —that the refugee wishes to return, and that he wishes to live at peace with his neighbors,” something the Arab world, even now, has clearly never seen fit to do. And there is another significant aspect of the “refugee” problem from the 1940s that everyone demanding rights of return and reparations for Palestinian refugees conveniently forgets: some 800,000-900,000 Jews, some of whom had lived in Arab lands for 1000 years, were expelled and all their wealth (estimated to be about ten times that of the Palestinians) was confiscated as the nascent Israel was being established. No one cries over their lost possessions, homes, property, and citizenships.
So for observers like professor Karsh, the recommendations of Resolution 194 "could as readily apply to the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were then being driven from Arab states in revenge for the situation in Palestine," and in fact were meant to, since the refugees mentioned in the resolution are purposely not defined as being either Arab or Jew. In fact, many diplomats and officials had anticipated an exchange of refugees, as has happened successfully in other similar social upheavals, where Palestinian refugees would have been absorbed in Arab states and Jewish refugees would have settled in Israel—exactly what happened to some 600,000 Jewish refugees.
Legal scholars also point out that international law grants the right to leave or return to one’s country only to individuals, not as a collective right as the Palestinians claim. More importantly, no population of refugees has ever presumed that the right of return—if such a right even exists—could be claimed, not only by the original refugees, but also by all of their descendants.
Also, the Arab world has never agreed to assimilate Palestinians into their respective countries and solve the refugee problem; instead, the blame for the plight of the dispossessed Palestinians has been assigned singularly to Israel. “Among the dozens of countries to which tens of millions of refugees have fled for asylum,” said Joseph E. Katz, a Middle Eastern political and religious history analyst, “the only instance in which the ‘host countries refused,’ as a bloc, to assist properly, or even to accept aid in the permanent rehabilitation of their refugees, occurred in the ‘Arab states,’” violating the thinking of the resolution itself which foresaw "reintegration of the refugees into the economic life of the Near East, either by repatriation or resettlement."
No one would have imagined that, of the roughly 100,000,000 refugees created by conflicts just since World War II, only the Palestinians would not have been resettled in the million and a half square miles of Arab land; instead, they have been made to tragically languish by their Arab brethren who still hypocritically demand their right to return only to the tiny 8000 square-mile piece of land that is Israel.
So it is significant that people who should know better, including Mr. Baker and his commission, carelessly inserted that bit of invidious language about rights of return into their report. But the motivation is clear: prolong the myth of Palestinian victimization and grant them, as part of that mythology, exclusive international recognition and supposed legal rights. Why? “Unlike all those many millions of other people considered refugees in the late 1940s,” answers Professor Plaut, “the ‘Palestinians’ were the only ones for whom the ‘right of return’ to their previous homes was considered an entitlement. The reason was not a selective affection for Palestinians, but a selective hostility towards Israel and Jews.”
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User ID: 52981
01/16/2007 08:13 AM
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