Anti-Israëlblok in VN heeft Palestijnen vergund om vluchtelingenkwestie te monopoliseren

jewishrefugees11948. Joden worden verdreven door de Arabische bezetter nadat de Joden eerder de Slag om Jeruzalem hadden verloren. De etnische zuivering volgde spoedig en ca. 750.000 Joden in Oost-Jeruzalem, op de West Bank en in de landen van de Arabische wereld, werden manu militari verdreven uit hun heimat, een historisch feit dat door de hele wereldopinie straal werd genegeerd dan wel vergoelijkt. In 1950 annexeerde Jordanië illegaal het hele gebied. Pas tijdens de Zesdaagse Oorlog van juni 1967 zullen de Joden weer kunnen terugkeren naar hun huizen waar ze generatieslang hadden gewoond.

Enkele weken geleden heeft de Israëlische regering een wet aangenomen die “17 Februari” heeft aangeduid als de datum waarop de uitdrijving van de Joden uit de Arabische wereld voortaan jaarlijks zal herdacht worden. Die datum verwijst naar een besluit dat op 17 februari 1948 door de Arabische Liga werd genomen om de Joden te vervolgen in de Arabische landen en waarin de Liga zijn lidstaten opriep om beperkingen op te leggen op de levens, eigendommen en de legale status van de Joden.

Zal een gelijkaardige erkenning van de vervolging van de Joden in, en eventuele verdrijving uit, de moslimlanden gebeuren tijdens de op dit ogenblik aan de gang zijnde vredesonderhandelingen, waar ongetwijfeld ook de kwestie van de Palestijnse vluchtelingen van 1948 ter sprake zal worden gebracht?

Een zoekopdracht in Google naar “1948 refugees” levert zowat zes miljoen zoekresultaten op. Nagenoeg allen (behalve voorbij pagina zes) handelen over de Palestijnse Arabische vluchtelingen, alsof zij de enige vluchtelingen zijn geweest in 1948.

Maar geschat wordt dat aan het begin van de Arabisch-Israëlische oorlog van 1948 tot aan het begin van de jaren 1970 wellicht tegen het miljoen Joden gevlucht waren of uit de huizen van hun voorouders werden verdreven in de moslimlanden. Zowat 260.000 van deze vluchtelingen bereikten Israël tussen 1948 en 1951 en omvatte ca. 56 procent van al de immigranten uit de ontvluchte staat. Tegen 1972 was dat aantal toegenomen tot ca. 600.000.

In 1948 kende de landen van het Midden-Oosten en Noord-Afrika aanzienlijk grote Joodse populaties: Marokko (250.000), Algerije (140.000), Irak (140.000), Iran (120.000), Egypte (75.000), Tunesië (50.000), Jemen (50.000), Libië (35.000) en Syrië (20.000).

Vandaag is de inheemse Joodse bevolking in die landen nagenoeg helemaal verdwenen (hoewel in Marokko en Iran vandaag nog elk iets minder dan 10.000 Joden leven.) In de meeste gevallen hadden de Joden daar enkele eeuwen en sommigen zelfs duizenden jaren geleefd.

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Few know this history because the Jewish refugees of 1948 were granted citizenship by the countries to which they fled, including Israel. By contrast, many Muslim countries refused to integrate the Palestinian refugees, preferring to leave them as second-class citizens in order to maintain a domestic demographic balance and/or a political problem for Israel.

Media bias also explains why so few people know about the 1948 Jewish refugees from Muslim lands. A search for “1948 refugees” on the BBC news site generates 41 articles (going back to 1999); 40 discuss the Palestinian Arab refugees of 1948. Only three of those 40 (dated 9/22/11, 9/2/10, and 4/15/04) even mention the Jewish refugees from Muslim lands, and two do so only in a single, superficial sentence that presents the issue as a claim rather than a historical fact.

A search for “1948 refugees Jews from Arab lands” on the New York Times site produces 474 results, while “1948 Palestinian Arab refugees” yields 1,740 results. Consider a comparison using Sri Lanka, another war-torn, multi-ethnic country that gained its independence from Britain in 1948. The nearly 26-year ethnic conflict there began in 1983 and claimed 80,000-100,000 lives, many multiples of the total casualties from the nearly 100-year Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Sri Lanka’s conflict also produced hundreds of thousands of refugees, including at least 200,000 Tamil refugees in Western Europe alone. Yet a search for “Tamil refugees” generates only 483 articles – under 5% of the 10,700 results for “Palestinian Arab refugees.”

Institutionalized favoritism at the UN has also enabled the Palestinians to monopolize the refugee issue, which undoubtedly reinforces the media’s bias. All non-Palestinian refugees around the world (nearly 55 million) are cared for by the UN High Commission for Refugees, which works under the guidelines of the Convention on Refugees of 1951. But Palestinian refugees (whose original population was under one million) have a UN agency dedicated exclusively to them (UNRWA).

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UNRWA’s unique definition of “refugee” includes anyone “whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict.” So, in addition to families who lived in the area for generations, UNRWA’s definition includes any migrants who arrived as recently as 1946 but were then displaced. And because the definition includes “descendants of fathers fulfilling the definition,” UNRWA’s refugee population has grown from 750,000 in 1950 to 5,300,000 today (making resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue even harder). Despite these problems, the United States continues to support UNRWA (with over $4.1 billion since 1950).

The rest of the world’s refugees are assisted by the High Commission, which is mandated to help refugees rapidly rebuild their lives, usually outside the countries that they fled. Jewish refugees from Muslim lands did just that: They rebuilt their lives in Israel and elsewhere. But the fact that they quietly adapted and Israel granted them full citizenship doesn’t lessen the wrongs committed by their countries of origin. These Jewish refugees from Muslim lands suffered legal and often violent persecution that resulted in immeasurable emotional and physical loss. They lost billions in property and endured huge socioeconomic disadvantages when forced to rebuild their lives from scratch. Israel was unfairly burdened with the colossal social and economic cost of suddenly absorbing so many refugees. So any suggestion that Jewish refugees from Muslim lands don’t deserve compensation is resoundingly wrong.

On the World Refugee Day last June, Israeli Knesset member Shimon Ohayon, whose family fled Morocco in 1956, called on the Arab League to “accept their great responsibility for driving out almost a million Jews from lands (in) which they had lived for millennia.” He explained that “In 1947, the Political Committee of the Arab League drafted a law that…called for the freezing of bank accounts of Jews, their internment and (the confiscation of their assets). Various other discriminatory measures were taken by Arab nations and subsequent meetings reportedly called for the expulsion of Jews from member states of the Arab League.” Ohayon challenged the League to accept responsibility for “the ethnic cleansing of the Jewish population from most of the Middle East and North Africa…(and) to provide redress to the Jewish refugees.”

A just and comprehensive Mideast peace is possible only when Muslim states recognize their role in two historic wrongs: 1) displacing one million indigenous people only because they were Jews, and 2) perpetuating the plight of Palestinian refugees by denying them citizenship. The first wrong requires financial compensation to the families of Jewish refugees from Muslim lands. Reparation can be administered by the states that absorbed them and should be a formal part of any comprehensive peace plan. The second wrong should be remedied by granting full citizenship to Palestinian refugees (and their descendants) who have resettled in Muslim lands. Both wrongs have festered for too many decades.

door Noah Beck

Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis , an apocalyptic novel about Iranian nukes that also discusses the expulsion of Jews from Muslim lands.


Met dank aan Tiki S. voor de hint.

Bronnen:

  1. Ynet News: Peace and forgotten refugees – Institutionalized favoritism at UN has enabled Palestinians to monopolize refugee issue; door Noah Beck [lezen]
  2. Point of no Return: Refugee memorial day to be 17 February [lezen]