The Wall Street Journal today has followed up on the story first reported by the Christian Science Monitor, here, last week about the US resettlement plans for approximately 1350 Iraqi Palestinians. We first got a hint of this plan here.
A few pieces of clarification that have added to the previous CSM story follow.
The WSJ confirms the resettlement is controversial.
The U.S. agreed to resettle 1,350 Palestinians displaced by fighting in Iraq, marking the largest resettlement ever of Palestinian refugees in the nation.
The decision appears to signal a shift in Washington’s previous position against resettling Palestinians out of concern about the potential impact on U.S. relations with Israel and the Arab world. The resettlement, which is slated to begin this fall, is likely to illicit strong reactions from people on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Here is a section I found troubling. The reporter, Miriam Jordan, says that Arab countries see this initiative (resettling this group of Palestinians) as a sign of new openness toward the Muslim world in the wake of Obama’s Cairo speech, but she quotes no one actually saying that. In fact, we know that at least one spokesman for the so-called Muslim world, the American Al-Shabaab, is saying that they (Muslims) will not be suckered by Obama’s charismatic words, here.
Many Arab countries interpreted President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo last month as an attempt to put U.S. relations with Islamic nations on a new course and dissipate the strain that characterized ties during the Bush administration. They see the offer of accepting Palestinian refugees as an early sign of a new openness. [who is “they?”]
The following information confirms what I believe may well be the case, that Arab countries are not happy with this turn of events. As we have reported many times at RRW, the refugees are needed to keep the sword over Israel’s head, the more poor and angry Palestinians in the world the better.
However, Mr. Asali [American Task Force on Palestine] cautioned that it is bound to irk Palestinian and Arab leaders who interpret U.S. willingness to resettle Palestinians — which comes with full rights such as citizenship down the road — as “a conspiracy to liquidate the Palestinian refugee issue.” With the exception of Jordan, no country in the Middle East has granted citizenship to Palestinian refugees. Many Arab countries believe that fully integrating large numbers of Palestinian refugees would undercut their demand for an independent state.
One American Jewish organization doesn’t like this plan either, but for completely differant reasons.
At least one pro-Israel group in the U.S. deems it a mistake to absorb the Palestinian Iraqis, who were welcomed by Saddam Hussein and regarded as loyal supporters of his regime. “We don’t think that Washington should be bringing in a group of people who we know were publicly and consistently hostile to the United States and its closest ally, Israel,” said Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America.
The WSJ article then gives us more background then we ever knew previously about how these Palestinians came to be in Iraq and why they were so hated. And, once again confirms my contention that Muslim charity toward fellow Muslims is a myth. These Iraqi Palestinians knew it was a myth too, here.
Palestinians moved to Iraq after Arab-Israeli conflicts in 1948 and 1967, and following the Gulf War in 1991. The community grew to nearly 35,000. “Saddam Hussein made a point of using Palestinian refugees to show solidarity with the Palestinian cause,” said Bill Frelick, refugee-policy director at Human Rights Watch in Washington.
The preferential treatment bred resentment among many Iraqis. After Baghdad fell to U.S.-led forces in 2003, Palestinians became a target for harassment and violence, including bombings and murder. A particular point of contention had been the government’s provision of subsidized housing for Palestinians, often at the expense of mostly Shiite landlords who received little rent from the government in return.
After Mr. Hussein was deposed, many landlords evicted their Palestinian tenants, who are mainly Sunni Muslims. Driven out of Baghdad and other cities, the Palestinians tried to flee to neighboring Syria and Jordan, which already host hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees. When those countries blocked their entry, the displaced Palestinians sought refuge in camps that lack basic infrastructure and jeopardize their health and safety, said Mr. Frelick.
Read the whole article at the WSJ, and for more background use our search function for “Iraqi Palestinians.” We have written a whole slew of posts on the subject.
And, by the way, these Palestinians will come to the US as Iraqis, in the Iraqi refugee category.