I’ve been posting a lot on Gaza and the war, and in case it’s not clear why Refugee Resettlement Watch is devoting so much space to a foreign war, I’ll explain.
What is happening now in Gaza is wholly the result of a misbegotten refugee policy. After World War II, and with the founding of the United Nations, there was a big emphasis on ending colonialism. Europeans had been made to feel guilty for their countries’ colonializing much of the third world, and country after country was given its independence. The leaders of these countries know how to play on white guilt, and played their hands for all they were worth.
There was some guilt left over for the Jews, six million of whom had died in the holocaust, and many of whom had settled in Palestine, which is what Israel was called before its founding as a modern nation. So Europe and the U.S. allowed the Jews their own country, carved out of land that had belonged to Britain. (There’s a whole history there that I won’t go into.) (My friends, Ron and Allis Radosh, have a book coming out soon about Truman and the Founding of Israel; when I have a link I’ll put it in RRW.)
The Arab governments declared war on Israel. They told Arabs living inside Israel to leave, and when they had defeated Israel they could return. But of course Israel won. The people who left became refugees.
At the same time, the Arab countries forced the Jews living in them to leave. These Jews also became refugees. (Here are our posts on these Jewish refugees.) And here is the lesson. Almost all these Jews were absorbed by Israel, at great cost. The remainder went to other countries. Jews around the world helped financially. There are no Jewish refugees today.
The Arab refugees, on the other hand, were put in camps. No Arab country offered to resettle them. Further, I believe as a result of white guilt, the UN was convinced by the Arab governments to create a special agency just for them, the UNRWA. Its policy, as we’ve explained many times, was and is to keep the refugees in their homeless status, ostensibly because they were soon going to return to Israel (just as soon as the Arab states destroyed the new country).
After World War II there were massive population shifts. For just one example, Konigsberg, a German city on the Baltic Sea, became Russian and was renamed Kaliningrad. Its entire German population was kicked out and relocated to Germany. There were many, many other such population removals and exchanges, mostly based on the fact that Germany had lost the war. There had been such things after World War I also. So it was not a new idea for populations to move based on post-war facts. And as the Arabs had been allies of Germany, they could be said to have been on the losing side, though that was not the basis for Israel’s founding. If the Arab refugees had been treated like all other refugees, they would have been resettled in Arab countries, and that would have been the end of it.
But Israel did not kick out the Arabs. Those who remained have prospered. About 20 percent of Israel’s population is Arab Muslim. During peace talks they have been eager to remain a part of Israel and not forced to become part of a Palestinian state — even going so far as to present a petition to that effect.
The Arab refugees were a prime target to become radicalized, and the Soviet Union took advantage of the situation to create the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the PLO. It created the concept of “Palestinian,” which was something new under the sun as applied to an Arab people. It taught the Arabs its propaganda techniques. And lo and behold, the “Palestinians” became the world’s favorite oppressed people, so successful that today many otherwise civilized nations act as if Israel has no right to exist.
That’s a very abbreviated history, and here’s the point: By allowing the United Nations to create a mistaken policy on refugees, the western nations created a monster. There is no solution in sight. John Derbyshire at National Review explained why back in 2002, and recently revived the article because nothing has changed. The series of wars against Israel, the intifadas, the ongoing terrorism, the miserable conditions of the “Palestinians,” the excuses provided Islamic radicals to hate the west — all of these are a direct result of the UN’s foolish refugee policy.
We need to think of this when we look at our own country’s refugee policies. (The same thing applies to immigration policy, of course.) What looks like a small thing now can metastisize into a monstrous thing that can shatter communities, import people who wish to destroy us, create unassimilated enclaves of people, and change the very character of America. I have little hope that the Obama administration will care about such things, if it doesn’t positively want them to happen, but we will keep on here at RRW, exposing under-reported or unreported stories, commenting on refugee matters, and pushing for sanity in our refugee policies.