Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Now, It’s The World’s Problem



Thousands of people were fleeing late Tuesday during a lull in the fighting in the third straight day of clashes between Lebanese troops and Islamic militants holed up in a north Lebanon refugee camp, Associated Press reporters at the scene said." By News Agencies, May 22, 2007.

* * *

People flee wars. They flee in Lebanon. They flee in Iraq. And they fled Israel/British Mandate Palestine in 1948-1949 when Arab armies attacked Israel.

People flee because they fear for their safety.

They also flee because they fear their enemy or because they are asked to by their own invading armies.

The cause of the flight of the 1948 Palestinian Arab refugees has been subject to heated argument. But flee they did.

Less remembered are the 1948 Palestinian Jewish refugees who fled from the region then internationally known as Samaria and Judea—now generally called the West Bank. (Some of these people have moved back to the West Bank after Israel captured it from Jordan in 1967. To most of the world’s horror, they insist on calling it Samaria and Judea. But this story is for another day.)

Why were these fleeing Jews less remembered? Because Israel absorbed the fleeing Jews as full citizens of Israel.

In fact, Israel (and other countries) absorbed all the Jews who fled Arab countries after Israeli independence. And there were more Jews who fled Arab countries than there were Palestinian Arabs who fled in 1948.

Had the Arab countries that surround Israel—all of whom were created out of the embers of the Ottoman Empire—chosen to absorb Palestinian Arabs, there wouldn’t be any refugee camps to foment internal problems.

Instead the Arab countries cynically oppressed most of the fleeing Palestinian Arabs and kept them apart from their societies—purposely to be used as pawns against Israel in the future.

If the killing in Lebanon goes on for even a few more days, undoubtedly a portion of the media will trace back all the trouble to the usual suspect—Israel.

But today, Palestinian Arabs are not just Israel’s problem. They are Lebanon’s problem, they are the Arab States’ problem, and they are the world’s problem.

Palestinian Arabs need a better life and a real home where they can be first class citizens. Israel needs a State large enough to be viable in all respects.

How can this happen?

It’s time for the Arab countries to fully absorb Palestinian Arabs, or carve out a place in the vast Arab lands—about 500 times the size of Israel and the territories—for Palestinians to have their own viable State.

It’s time for the international community to pressure the Arab States to do so, and to also help fund this enterprise. Why? Because they didn’t do so nearly 60 years ago. Because they let the sick situation inside Arab borders fester. Because now, it’s the world’s problem.

--David Naggar

No comments: