PALESTINIANS CONTINUE TO THINK IT'S 1948
By Asaf Romirowsky
That is the recurring mantra found in Arab historiography -- a hypersensitive focus on discrimination and inequality. In general, Arab scholars tend to ignore the huge corpus of materials found in the archives on the war and zoom in on what are legitimate or illegitimate claims, using United Nations resolutions as the be all and end all.
Here we are, on the eve of Israel's 60th anniversary, and the Palestinians are still the only nationality that identifies and defines itself by its refugee status. Since the end of World War II, there have been approximately 140 million refugees worldwide. All have been assimilated with the exception of one -- the Palestinians. Ergo, as long the Palestinian refugee problem exists, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will continue.
And now, in order to illustrate how long the Palestinians have suffered, the Palestinian Authority has embarked on a new initiative to commemorate Israel's 60th anniversary by calling on all Palestinians living in the Diaspora to converge on Israel by land, sea, and air to forcefully implement the Palestinian "right of return."
The design -- drawn by Ziad Abu Ein, a senior Fatah operative and Deputy Minister for Prisoners' Affairs in the Palestinian Authority -- states that the Palestinians have decided to implement UN Resolution 194, calling for a right of return for all Palestinian refugees.
The proposal of this plan now -- notwithstanding if this ever came to fruition -- is clearly geared toward embarrassing and hurting Israel during the anniversary celebrations by highlighting the right of return and, in essence, motivating Palestinians to act out against Israel by any means possible.
Article 11 of Resolution 194, passed in December, 1948, states that "refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the governments or authorities responsible."
Overall, this discussion on the right of return is based on a highly specific reading of history -- one that assumes an Israeli responsibility for creating the refugee problem via what the Palestinians are calling "ethnic cleansing." Restitution from the allegedly guilty party involves the return of the refugees and their descendants.
Finally, the Palestinians -- 60 years after the modern State of Israel was established -- instead of searching for paths for peace, are searching for paths of destruction. Distorting empirical history to discover alleged rights manages to create an ongoing, unjustified animosity toward Israel, and continues to lead even well-meaning Palestinians down a path of false hopes built on false foundations.
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Asaf Romirowsky is an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum and the Manager of Israel & Middle East Affairs for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.
The foregoing article by Asaf Romirowsky was originally published in the Jewish Exponent, April 4, 2008, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a foreign policy think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat. (Article URL: http://www.meforum.org/article/1876)
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