This is another installment in a series of articles that answer the question, “Who’s who in the Middle East?” The series actually began before a reader posed the question. Below are the links to related articles that are filed under “Foreign Policy Examiner”.
- An assignment from a reader: Who's who in the Middle East conflicts?
- Palestinian issues: Displaced persons and refugees
- Start your own ‘free world’ caliphate kit
It is important to emphasize that this column is aiming at objectivity and balance. In one article the Israeli history is explained chronologically and shows the factual presence of Jews living in the area for 3,000 years. What is the significance of that? Surely, having an ethnic locational presence has something to do with an area’s identity. However, in modern times, ethnicity and ideology give way to pluralism and respect for diversity. That doesn’t mean to erase history. What it means is to respect it as well as mutual respect and tolerance for all people. For that, in democratic and free world terms, that translates to equality and individual freedom.
There is a difference between customs and ideals, that is between what we see and how we behave. If women want to wear veils as a part of their cultural style, there is nothing wrong with that. However, if they are forced to wear veils or to mask their bodies in black, there might be something wrong with that because women have equal rights in the free world. The operative word is “forced”. Ancient religious forms of punishment may be prescribed as whipping, cutting off limbs, and beheading. However, by free world and modern standards these behaviors are defined as inhumane and unacceptable. Stoning women for being victims of rape and such is just absurd.
Now, how do the United States reconcile killing criminals by various “modern” techniques? It is a slippery slope to go there, isn’t it? It may lead to a contradiction.
In an effort to give balance to the story, consider this work by Ameer Makhoul.
Makhoul argues that Palestinians’ property was illegally seized to create Israel and that as refugees, they have a right to return. First, the process by which Israel was created was sanctioned by the United Nations and various governmental proceedings along the way under the rule of law. There are legitimate issues by individuals about the fairness of their loss of property and about compensation. Those matters have been addressed in courts.
To put it into perspective, it would be like my 88 year old father declaring today that a property that he owned in 1948 was improperly acquired, and now he and his entire family have a right to return to it. In my instance, 10 family members would return to that small property once occupied by my father and mother. The notion of 10 times the original number of people claiming the right of return at a time when most of the original parties have died is not credible.
What was the population size of the Palestinian Arabs in 1948?
“Whether there was significant Arab immigration into Palestine after the beginning of Jewish settlement there in the late 19th century has become a matter of some controversy. According to Martin Gilbert, 50,000 Arabs immigrated to Mandatory Palestine from the neighboring lands between 1919 and 1939 ‘attracted by the improving agricultural conditions and growing job opportunities, most of them created by the Jews’. The Arab population of Palestine doubled during the mandatory period from 670,000 in 1922 to over 1.2 million in 1948. The estimates on the scope of Arab immigration to Palestine during this period range from insignificant numbers to almost 300 000. According to Itzhak Galnoor, although most of Arab population increase came from natural increase, the Arab immigration to Palestine was not insignificant. Based on his estimates approximately 100,000 Arabs immigrated to Palestine between 1922 and 1948.”
At any rate, there is a burgeoning population of Arabs in the region today, far more than the environmental location can support. In the absence of effective governance, there is a large population that has grown in excessive proportion to their means to exist. (See the slideshow, Palestinian Demographics)
There is no question that the population size among Arabs in the subject territory exacerbates economic sustainability. There also is no question that there are dislocated and mis-located people living there who need a viable location for community development. These people are not alone in the Middle East, nor are they unique in the world.
To the extent that the subject people draw affinity to free world standards and ideals, they will increase the probability of obtaining assistance for possible relocation and economic development. That may not mean to create a new nations state. It could mean become integral citizens in an existing community, or it could mean creating a new community under an existing nation of governance.
The free world must assist those people who seek an affinity with the free world.
Ameer Makhoul’s view presents some valuable information, but his position is too retro to be relevant to the way ahead.
“Ameer Makhoul (Arabic: أمير مخول, Hebrew: אמיר מח'ול) is a Palestinian Christian citizen of Israel and the director of the Haifa-based Ittijah, the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations.
In 2010, Makhoul was arrested on charges of espionage. He admitted to the spying charge as part of a plea bargain, was convicted and sentenced to 9 years in prison.”
He was allegedly spying for Hezbollah, a Shi'a Islamist militant group and political party based in Lebanon.
“1948 Internally Displaced Persons Palestinians
Written by Ameer Makhoul
1948 Internally Displaced Persons Palestinians are an Integral Part of the Palestinian People and must be Included Equally in all Future Solutions
One cannot help notice that the Palestinian demand for the ‘Right of Return’, whether by individuals or communities, has not been silenced since 1948. The quest for return lives on, despite the fact that the majority of Palestinians have remained refugees, both inside and outside Palestine. Forced displacement which created the refugee issue, has been yet another dimension of the Zionist project to establish the state of Israel as a racist colonial entity.
This state could not have come into being without the taking of homes, land and personal possessions of those displaced or left behind. These individual acts are embodied in the act of the occupation of the entire Palestinian national home, the confiscation of its people’s properties and identity, and the destruction of over 531 communities and villages.
Since the beginning of the Nakba (Palestinian Catastrophe) in 1948, the notion of ‘Return’ has evolved from localized and community-based initiatives for raising awareness to a political force, represented and established worldwide. This evolution came as a response to the Oslo process; a process created to alienate the Palestinian people from their rights and their unified national liberation movement.
It is also the result of the natural evolution of the political consciousness of the Palestinian people, who have never ceased to develop creative strategies for claiming their rights and identity.
While the Oslo process addressed the two main groups of Palestinian refugees - the refugees, theirright of return, restitution and compensation as enshrined in UN Resolution 194, and Palestinians living as Israeli citizens in 1948 occupied Palestine – it was decided that the latter group would be treated as an internal Israeli issue, as if outside the mandate of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Displaced Palestinians in Israel were forced to assimilate and work within the Israeli system, as though their case was only a call for equal rights as citizens of Israel. This, although the original platform of the Palestinian national movement had considered Nazareth and Haifa as cities as Palestinian as Rafah, East Jerusalem and Jenin.
It also considered Palestinians displaced within Israel as an integral part of the Palestinian refugee question, i.e. one cause for one national home. The Oslo Accords were an inevitable manifestation of the disproportionate balance of power between the parties and the main factor that led to the loss of vision of the Palestinian national movement. In other terms, Oslo was a diversion forced on the Palestinian leadership, albeit “temporarily”, which destroyed the integrity of the Palestinian cause. Hence, the unbalanced nature of the Oslo Accords raised serious questions regarding the leadership’s desire for a just and peaceful solution.
Palestinian Israeli citizens were excluded from the negotiations, and therefore, marginalized from the national movement. Since then, however, a new consciousness has emerged which rejects this state of separation.
This consciousness also encourages people to be more independent from the Palestinian negotiators and work towards solutions for themselves. For Palestinians in Israel, this means that they have to defend their rights and prevent an agreement based on power relations rather than justice. In a deal based on power, Palestinian internally displaced and refugees could lose their inalienable right of return, and the ethnic Jewish character of Israel and its institutional racism would be reinforced. In fact, the negotiation process gave rise to new awareness among Palestinians in Israel of two parallel needs: the need to build new tools of struggle and the need to reinforce their own national institutions.
The establishment of the Association for the Defence of the Rights of the Internally Displaced Palestinians in Israel (ADRID) in 1995 represents an example from that period of time. Built by and for the displaced in Israel, its charter is very clear. Their approach does not address the status of Palestinian citizens of Israel, but rather the core demands of the Palestinian movement, such as the right of return as enshrined in UN Resolution 194 and Palestinian national rights, including the internally displaced as part of the overall Palestinian refugee question. In fact, the internally displaced in Palestine and the refugees in exile do not have separate identities.”