Op-Ed: Who Are Those Refugees?
Anyone who travels through Israel sees the many brand new SUV vehicles of UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. Its main activity in Israel is providing assistance to the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria, the so called "West Bank". These residents are commonly known as “the Palestinian refugees” along with millions of others living in camps in nearby Arab states.
In my book, “Peace For Peace”, we debunked the ridiculous notion that there ever was an indigenous sovereign Arab nation called Palestine, so the term Palestinian itself is problematic and historically inaccurate, but since that’s the term used by the world, we’ll use it here to identify the Arabs of Judea and Samaria and the "millions of refugees" that we are told were driven out of Israel during its 1948 War of Independence.
The United Nations, at its inception, was a beacon of light, a force for peace and hope in a world that had just experienced the horrors of Nazi aggression that left twelve million innocent civilians murdered in cold blood, including six million Jews. Since then, the UN has turned into a bastion of hatred, in which the goal of hurting Israel has become paramount.
In its efforts to harm Israel, the UN specifically declared that hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arab refugees were driven from Israel between 1946 and 1948. Whether they were driven out as the UN said or whether they left at the urging of the neighboring Arab armies is a matter of some dispute, but one thing is clear – there are only 30,000 of these refugees alive today, a fact that was reaffirmed in a report by the United States Senate Appropriations Committee in May of 2012.
Determined not to lose this issue as a weapon against Israel, the UN redefined its term ‘Palestinian refugee’ to mean not only any Arab who left Israel between the years 1946 and 1948, but all of their descendants as well, thus asserting that there are some five million Palestinian refugees, most of whom have never lived in Israel!
Aside from this gross distortion of history, the United Nations, led by repressive Arab regimes, has ignored the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees who were expelled from the Arab nations immediately after the reestablishment of the Jewish State. Unlike the Palestinian Arabs, who are treated as outcasts by their Arab brethren, the 260,000 the Jewish refugees out of 800,000, who made it to Israel, were welcomed in by the new Jewish state, which was not yet in a condition to easily absorb them.
None of the Jewish refugees has ever been recognized by the United Nations, nor has the Arab world’s responsibility for their displacement been acknowledged. Needless to say, the United Nations has never redefined nor even defined the descendants of the Jewish refugees as refugees deserving of repatriation or even compensation.
Any discussion of the refugee issue in serious peace negotiations must begin with the problem of the Jewish refugees. The Palestinian Authority and the Arab nations have hoodwinked the world into believing their myth of the “millions of Palestinian refugees”, giving it a place of honor alongside the myth of the “ancient State of Palestine” that never existed.
The next time they reiterate their lies, let’s call their bluff and respond with some truth.
David Rubin, former Mayor of Shiloh, Israel, is founder and president of the Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund, www.ShilohIsraelChildren.org, established after he and his three-year-old son were wounded in a terrorist shooting attack. He is the author of three books, including his new book, Peace for Peace: Israel in the New Middle East, available on Amazon.com or at www.DavidRubinIsrael.com.