[Your rare pro-Israel article, not to mention a response to previous articles written on the Huffington Post. By Lyn Julius.]
From James Dorsey's post on The Huffington Post ("The Issue of Arab Jews: Manipulating a Justified Cause"),
you would infer that the 50 percent of Israel's Jews who descend from
refugees from Arab and Muslim lands have no right to public recognition.
As far as Mr. Dorsey is concerned, their issue represents political
machinations by the Israeli government to undermine Palestinian rights.
He questions the Israeli government's right to speak up for the
majority of Jewish refugees from Arab lands -- the 650,000 who resettled
in Israel. These are not "Arab Jews": In most cases, their ancient
communities dated back well before the Arab-Muslim conquest. If Mr.
Dorsey wants to speak of the "original owners" of the land, native Jews
have a better claim than Arabs.
The Israeli government has not just woken up to the existence of
Jewish refugees. UN SC Resolution 242 of 1967 was deliberately worded to
refer to "refugees," not just Arab refugees.
In 2010, the Israel Knesset passed a law demanding that Jewish refugees
be included on the peace agenda. If the Israeli government is not the
legitimate representative for these Jews, who is?
Jews in Arab countries hundreds of miles away from the battlefield were
scapegoated for persecution and mass ethnic cleansing, a process that
began even before the establishment of Israel. Only 4,000 Jews remain in
the Arab world out of a million. Palestinian refugees, on the other
hand, were caught up in a local war launched by their own leadership.
Yet a million Arabs are today citizens of Israel.
Jewish refugees were successfully resettled in Israel and the West.
The Palestinian refugee problem, perpetuated by UNWRA, the United
Nations Works and Relief Agency, could be resolved at a stroke if the
Jewish model of resettlement were followed and Palestinian refugees
absorbed in Arab host countries. The plight of the Arab refugees
languishing in camps and deprived of civil rights is not only
counter-intuitive, it is an abuse of their human rights.
What is disturbing, however, is that a senior Palestinian official has said
that Palestinian refugees will not be permitted to become citizens of a
Palestinian state. In other words, the creation of a Palestinian state
will not end the conflict with Israel.
Contrary to what Mr. Dorsey claims, the Palestinians are more wedded
than ever to their "right of return" to Israel. Last week, Palestinian
president Mahmoud Abbas tried to renounce his personal "right of return," but was forced by public outcry to backtrack. Indeed, 89.5 percent of Palestinians
approve a "right of return" for the Arab refugees of 1948. Their
numbers have ballooned to more than 4 million because they are the only
refugees in the world permitted to pass on their status to their
The Palestinian demand for a "right of return" amounts to the
destruction of Israel by demographic means and the "de facto" creation
of two Palestinian states, one in the West Bank, and one in place of
Israel. (That is why Israel is insisting on Arab recognition of Israel
"as a Jewish state.")
On the other hand, no Jew seeks a "right of return" to Arab states.
Apart from the upheaval generated by a further mass migration, a Jewish
"right of return" to Arab countries poisoned by anti-Jewish hatred is
unthinkable. Wild horses would not drag three generations of Jews,
permanently integrated in Israel and the West, back to lands that are
neither hospitable nor safe.
And if one set of refugees can't return, neither should the other.
What the two groups of refugees have in common is that roughly
equivalent numbers exchanged places in the Middle East. This
irreversible exchange, a not-unusual feature of 20th century conflicts,
opens a political window of opportunity for settling the Arab-Israeli
This does not mean that refugees on either side should be denied
compensation. The Israeli government has endorsed the idea of an
international fund, as proposed by President Clinton at Camp David in
Even if material claims are settled, nothing can heal the mental scars
of humiliation and dispossession, or replace loved ones abducted or
murdered in Arab lands, or those who did not survive for long the trauma
of their uprooting. But justice for refugees would certainly help build
a peace founded on truth.