Tag Archives: politics

Negotiations Must Include Jewish Refugees From Arab Lands



fhThe Israeli-Palestinian peace talks may resume soon after the Palestinians complete their hissy fit. This time it is over the death of three Palestinians who attacked an Israeli army vehicle searching for a wanted terrorist in Kalandia, a village located between Jerusalem and Ramallah. The three died in an exchange of fire with the IDF troops. Inevitably however, the Palestinians will bolt out of the negotiations because of their insistence upon the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees to Israel.

This is a condition that no Israeli government could possibly comply without committing national suicide. Frankly, the Palestinian Authority, whether under the deceased Arafat or the living Mahmoud Abbas, could not end the conflict with Israel. If they did, they would most likely have been assassinated. Arafat was persuaded by President Clinton to take the generous deal offered by Israel’s PM Ehud Barak in July, 2000 and rejected it. Abbas does not have the credibility to even contemplate it. The Palestinian diaspora is the “elephant in the room.” They are the Palestinian refugees maintained as such by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. UNRWA is responsible for making it impossible to resolve the Palestinian refugee problem by perpetuating and expanding the refugee infrastructure, and making it a hotbed for Palestinian-Arab radicalism and terrorism.

What has been conveniently ignored, if not forgotten by the international community which funds UNRWA, is the plight of the Jewish refugees from Muslim lands (mostly Arab states).  These Jewish refugees from Arab countries were absorbed by the Jewish State, albeit they were greater in number than the Palestinian refugees. The Jewish refugees were forced to flee their homes in the Arab world in which they have lived long before the arrival of Islam. Israel must insist that any discussion of refugees should include the Jewish refugees from Arab lands.

In his book In Ishmael’s House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands (2010: Yale University Press) Martin Gilbert pointed out that the earliest recognition of the plight of Jewish refugees from Arab lands came in 1957, when Auguste Lindt, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, cited the Jews, who were being expelled from Egypt.  He stated, “Another emergency problem is now arising, that of refugees from Egypt. There is no doubt in my mind that those refugees from Egypt who are not able, or not willing to avail themselves of the protection of the government of their nationality, fall under the mandate of my office (page 325).”

In the aftermath of the Six-Day War, when the UN Security Council on November 22, 1967, voted for the famous Resolution 242, it included a provision on the refugee issue. The Soviet Union sought to insert, as part of the Resolution 242, a reference to “Palestinian refugees,” which was rejected by Britain and the U.S. In fact, the U.S. and Britain demanded that both Palestinian refugees, as well as Jewish refugees from Muslim lands, be included in the reference to the refugees.  In the end, Arthur Goldberg (U.S. ambassador to the UN) and Lord Carrington (British ambassador to the UN) prevailed.

The resolution affirmed “the necessity…for a just settlement of the refugee problem.”

In his 2001 book, Locked Doors: The Seizure of Jewish Property in Arab Countries, the author Itamar Levin challenged the Israeli government to take on the claims of Jewish refugees from Arab lands at peace negotiations.  He wrote (page 235) “Taking this risk would mean some sort of justice for anyone forced to leave their home against their will, carrying only one suitcase in hand.”

Whereas the Palestinian Arab refugees have had a choice to stay in their homes in most cases, Jews in the Arab world did not, they were forced out.  The Economist, a frequent critic of the Zionists, reported on October 2, 1948: “Of the 62,000 Arabs who formerly lived in Haifa not more than 5,000 or 6,000 remained. Various factors influenced their decision to seek safety in flight. There is but little doubt that the most potent of the factors were the announcements made over the air by the Higher Arab Executive, urging the Arabs to quit… It was clearly intimated that those Arabs who remained in Haifa and accepted Jewish protection would be regarded as renegades.”

In December, 2007, 14 Jews who emigrated to the U.S. from Arab lands met with President George W. Bush in the White House. Their spokesperson, Maurice Shohet, urged the President to remember the rights of Jews from Arab countries whenever the rights of Palestinian Arab refugees were raised in the international arena.

The Jerusalem Post reported on January 27, 2009, “More than 850,000 Jews fled or were expelled from Arab lands and Iran, most after Israel’s founding in 1948. Estimates of the value of the property they were forced to leave behind are hard to come by, ranging from as low as $16 billion in known assets to as high as $300 billion. ‘Israel has talked about this on and off for 60 years. Now we’re going to deal with it as we should have all along,’ said Dr. Avi Bitzur, director-general of the Pensioners Affairs Ministry. The ministry established a department with an initial staff of five to begin to collect the claims of the Jewish refugees, about 80 percent of who settled in Israel. Bitzur hosted a panel on the issue at Herzliya Conference.”  Dr. Bitzur made the point that while the U.N has dealt with Palestinian Arab refugees and their property at least 700 times, it has totally ignored the issue of Jewish property in Arab lands.

UNRWA has inflated the current number of Palestinian-Arab refugees and their fourth generation descendants to around 5 million.  As per the UNRWA’s refugee definition, in 2012, the number of registered patrilineal descendants of the original Palestine refugees, based on the UNRWA registration requirements, is estimated to be 4,950,000. The number of original Palestine refugees has declined from 711,000 in 1950to approximately 30,000 to 50,000 in 2012.

In actuality, the numbers are far smaller and pale by comparison with the Jewish refugees from Arab lands. The Arabs claim that 800,000 to 1,000,000 Palestinians became refugees in 1947-49. The last census was taken in 1945. It found only 756,000 permanent Arab residents in Israel. On November 30, 1947, the date the UN voted for partition, the total was 809,100. A 1949 Government of Israel census counted 160,000 Arabs living in the country after the war. This meant that no more than 650,000 Palestinian Arabs could have become refugees. A report by the UN Mediator on Palestine arrived at an even lower figure – 472,000.

“The Right of Return” is merely a subterfuge for the Palestinians to continue their armed struggle against Israel. Just like Arafat perceived the Israeli society as weak and unwilling to suffer casualties, when he launched his September, 2000 Intifada, the Palestinian-Arabs believed that time is on their side, and that eventually, either militarily or demographically, along with diplomatic action, they will undermine the Jewish state, and destroy its foundation. This is why there is little hope for the success of the peace talks whenever they resume. American and (mostly leftist) Israeli leaders must understand that only when the Palestinians are made to recognize that time is not on their side, and that the Jewish state is a permanent fixture, will there be productive negotiations that would lead to an equitable solution.  That solution must reject the “right of return” for Palestinians to Israel, and take into consideration the Jewish refugees from Arab lands.

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UN Agencies Prevent Peace in Israel

Asaf Romirowsky

The John Kerry-Martin Indyk negotiating team needs to come to terms with the fact that the crux of the Middle East conflict is rooted in the Palestinian “Right of Return,” the collective demand claiming a legal and moral right for Palestinian refugees, and more importantly, for their descendants from around the world, to return to ancestral homes in Israel that were once part of Mandatory Palestine. The “right of return” is central to Palestinian national identity and is the barrier to any successful peace agreement.

Indyk is very aware from his past involvement in Camp David in 2000 that insisting on the Palestinian Right of Return is a clear non-starter for Israel as it is mostly used to deflect attention from the real hard honest talks. The real issues include mutual recognition then a discussion about land swaps.

While it maybe easier or convenient at times to believe that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is purely territorial, a closer look at the reality reveals that Palestinian rejectionism of a Jewish State at large is what prolongs the conflict rather than the question of Jerusalem or the borders of 1949 or 1967. To that end, the Palestinian identity as perpetual refugees has become UNRWA’s raison d’être.

Consequently, those hoping to see genuine progress in this next round of negotiations face two major obstacles: UNRWA’s anomalous treatment of the Palestinian refugees which prolongs the conflict; and, second, the lack of an independent Palestinian identity which is not anti-Zionist at its core. Both have enabled UNRWA to become an integral fixture in Palestinian society that fuels the conflict rather than defuses it.

Toxic Enablers

Recently, the Guardian exposed a perversion in a report about global refugee trends by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In the report, the agency omits the Palestinian refugees in counting up the numbers of refugees worldwide. Further, the Guardian correctly noted that, “perhaps mentioning the Palestinian refugees might raise in people’s minds the question as to how it was that almost 5 million people and their descendants … became refugees.”

Such inquiries clearly would question UNRWA’s role in perpetuating and expanding the number of Palestinian refugees worldwide rather than decreasing its clientele — something its sister agency UNHCR, which has a more pragmatic definition of refugees, actually does.

There is a clear political agenda in having generation upon generation of Palestinians repeating the fallacies of 1948. It is remarkable that even the UNHCR seems to recognize this absurdity.Yet the agency has managed to keep itself in business for the past 65 years convincing the world that the Palestinians are “special.” As such agency officials have continually promised a right of return as UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness pointed out in 2011, “established principles and practice—as well as realities on the ground—clearly refute the argument that the right of return of Palestine refugees would disappear or be abandoned if UNHCR were responsible for these refugees.”

As Palestinian “refugeeness” above all is synonymous with Palestinian national identity it has been worn as a “badge of honor” and an evergreen reminder of the Nakba – the supposed catastrophe of Israel’s birth. In this story the Arabs of Palestinian are blameless and have no responsibility whatsoever for their unfortunate destiny; their own decisions and those of their leaders, go unmentioned.

In fact historically, the Arab world has a significant amount of responsibility for the situation, having encouraged and facilitated the refugees’ flight – to a large degree. But in this narrative it is none other than the UN and UNRWA who are the toxic enablers who are now helping fuel this story for generations.Why UNRWA does this is evident: Its continued existence is at jeopardy. It has every reason to entangle itself into Palestinian society and to become more of an obstruction to a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.

It is exactly for this very reason that if these renewed talks are going to have any chance of success both Washington and Jerusalem need to learn from past mistakes and leverage the significant amount of dollars we have poured into UNRWA which only perpetuates the problem and look for real solutions starting with ending the right of return.

This article was originally published by Ynet News.

Egypt Preacher for Martyrdom in Niqab Disguise

Arrogance and empty slogans have masked the incapacity of MB leaders to run or rule a schoolyard, much less a country. Yet some world leaders still view them with respect.

by Ashraf Ramelah

Sacrifices have been great in Egypt’s unrest, but Egypt’s military has made certain it is not in vain. So far the military, guided by the pro-democracy coalition, has had significant successes in chalking up freedom efforts. In its aim to dismantle the Muslim Brotherhood, the army has arrested and jailed a number of individuals representing its core leadership.

With the recent and surprising arrest of Safwat Hegazy (renowned and dedicated Muslim Brotherhood preacher on Egypt’s “wanted” list) near the border of Libya, many key influential Brotherhood religious guides have now been taken into custody. This includes members of the Morshed office (MB spiritual guides) who are behind bars — the persons responsible for ousted President Morsi’s line – Khairat el Shater, Mohammed Badea, Hazem Salah Abu Ismail and others.

On August 21, at a military and police check point a few miles from Egypt’s border with Libya, border patrols searched a private car and the people in it. Their stop-and-frisk included the removal of a woman’s niqab – Islamic face veil, headdress and robe – which covered a suspicious form. Hiding beneath it was Bedouin-garbed Safwat Hegazy, wearing a dark brown goatee disguise in place of his traditional full-cheeked, grey beard. The high-ranking longtime preacher of the Muslim Brotherhood was captured trying to slink across Egypt’s border.

Hegazy was an active speaker and dedicated promoter of Morsi’s 2012 presidential campaign and advocated for the liberation of Palestine, sizing up Jerusalem to be the new capital of both Egypt and the future caliphate.

Known for jihad rhetoric repeatedly stressing his own martyrdom to defend Shariah law and Morsi’s constitution, Hegazy instigated many to their deaths through acts of jihad. Now the inspirational Hegazy was caught fleeing the country. He was aided by a recent and convenient fatwa issued by hardliner cleric, Dr. Mouahmmad Abdulmaksoud, legalizing Muslims attending pro-Morsi demonstrations to shave their beards or alter traditional norms to deceive and avoid arrest by Egypt’s police and military.

Once in captivity, Hegazy denied his association and role with the MB saying, “I don’t belong to the Muslim Brotherhood” — a direct contradiction to his machismo on August 8th from the Al Adawyia MB sit-in, “I will leave this place only as a dead body.” On the same date, during his interview on one of the Egyptian TV channels in a program called, Time of Ikwan, Hegazy boasted, “MB will lead the world and will be masters of the world.”

As the prospect of cohesive reorganization and renewed strength inside Egypt has dwindled for Egypt’s MB, forcing the issue of reenergizing itself outside the country, talent like the weak and cowardly Hegazy shows there is nothing to fear.

The Brotherhood’s deficit of character and skill for carrying out its themes is Egypt’s good fortune today. Arrogance and empty slogans have masked the incapacity of MB leaders to run or rule a schoolyard, much less a country.

The world needs to question the variables at play in Egypt making it possible two years ago for a religious-supremacist political party couched in pseudo-democracy and its banned organization to legalize and climb to the highest levels of power.

With the collapse of Morsi’s regime, the MB house of cards (its organization, ideology, massive network and influence) has begun to unravel with what looks like permanent and lasting damage under the efforts of Egyptians backed by a military loyal to the country.

A hurting Egypt will never again allow the MB a chance to prove its philosophy or politics. Furthermore, as the Egyptian MB organization crumbles, humiliated by the annihilation of its longtime dream, its operations around the world will suffer as Egypt’s MB represents the base of the core ideology in the international fight for political Islam.

World leaders viewed MB leadership (and still do) with respect, recognizing and indulging in its viability as a party with leadership potential – the psychological and political basis for the Brotherhood’s rise from the dank dungeons of Egypt and final surge to the top. This contradicts everything the world learned from previous dictators in Egypt who preserved their reigns by locking up MB members and banning their movement.

Having the West accept and approve its pinnacle of success in Egypt, the MB abused the power handed it and gave the impression it would outlast the dynasties of the Egyptian Pharaohs. But advancing an Islamist agenda offering zero to the Egyptian people who stood by watching the build-up of personal wealth and power within the MB organization and party in just a short time, the MB regime had to go before getting a foothold.

Manipulating a hungry and tired constituency, the truth of a depraved MB was soon identified by the Egyptian people and despised for its lack of authenticity and governance. Like a wavy image on the desert dunes, the mirage of MB governance disappeared once Egyptians came within proximity of its dissolute rule.

After 83 years of struggle to achieve its position, it took just one year of MB authority to foster against it a decisive freedom movement combining disparate elements from the Egyptian body marching toward a common goal.

The coziness of the West with MB terrorists is Egypt’s nightmare – much resignation, hopelessness and fear for Egypt now stems from it. Outsiders consider naïve the goal to obliterate the Egyptian MB terror organization in Egypt, not because it’s a losing battle for the military (the opposite appears to be true), but because foreign connections to the politically motivated MB run deep with relationships and investments in networks impossible to reverse, even if desired.

Yet inside Egypt now, the MB has even lost its “victimhood” card. And, more importantly, the Brotherhood’s ambitious goal to rule a nation and future caliphate by way of Egypt has vanished forever if the people of Egypt manage finally to have their way.

At this moment, the Egyptian MB and its ideology — the golden goose of world terrorism — is about to be fatally wounded. If so, this would assist the West in its battle against the MB planted on foreign soil, Al Qaeda, Hamas and other terror groups around the world.

There is only one thing now that could stop, alter or divert Egypt’s momentum — the will of foreign leaders overruling Egypt’s majority.