Daily Israel Report

Saudi Journalist: Arab 'Return' to Israel is a 'Fairy Tale'

A Saudi columnist calls upon Arab nations to absorb the Arab refugees of the 1948 war against the Jewish State. His model for how to do it: Israel.
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
First Publish: 4/19/2007, 2:21 PM

A two-installment article by Saudi Arabian columnist Yousef Nasser Al-Sweidan calls upon the Arab states to give up the efforts to arrange the transfer of the families of refugees from the Israeli War of Independence into the Jewish State. Such a population transfer would violate Israeli sovereignty or lead to anarchy in the Palestinian Authority, according to the author. Rather, Al-Sweidan writes, the Arab states hosting the refugee families have the obligation to absorb them.
The "right of return" is "nonsense and deceit." - Al-Sweidan


Al-Sweidan's model for such immigrant absorption, he notes, is Israel.

The columns, recently made available in English by the Middle East Media Research Institute, were published in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa on March 5th and March 16th. The articles were titled "On the Impossible [Idea] of the Right of Return" and "Naturalization is the Solution" respectively.

Noting that "the slogan 'right of return'" - the flooding of Israel with millions of Arabs currently elsewhere throughout the Arab world - "is brandished by Palestinian organizations," the Saudi columnist writes:

"It is patently obvious that uprooting the descendants of the refugees from their current homes in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and other countries, and returning them to Israel, to the West Bank, and to Gaza is a utopian ideal and [a recipe for] anarchy. More than that - it is an idea that cannot be implemented, not only because it will upset the demographic [balance] in a dangerous and destructive manner, and will have [far-reaching] political, economic and social ramifications in such a small and constrained geographical area, but [mainly] because the return [of the refugees] stands in blatant contradiction to Israel's right as a sovereign [state], while the Palestinian Authority lacks the infrastructure to absorb such a large number of immigrants as long as the peace process... is not at its peak..."

Al-Sweidan goes on to blame "cumulative mistakes" made by countries such as Syria and Lebanon, "which have isolated the refugees in poor and shabby camps lacking the most
The Saudi writer savages Syria, in particular, for its "lies and trading in slogans."
basic conditions for a dignified human existence. Instead of helping them to become fully integrated in their new society, they let them become victims of isolation and suffering.... Later, the worst of all happened when Arab intelligence agencies used the Palestinian organizations as a tool for settling scores in internal Arab conflicts that probably have nothing to do with the Palestinians...."

The Saudi writer savages Syria, in particular, for its "lies... and its trading in slogans like 'right of return,' 'steadfastness,' 'resistance,' 'national struggle,' and all the other ridiculous [slogans]...." The Arab refugees in Syria, as well as in Lebanon, Al-Sweidan insists, "have for many long years been fed by their Arab hosts on impossible dreams and on shiny promises that were soon broken...." These refugee families "do not need another 60 years of misery, wretchedness and suffering... in order to figure out for the thousandth time that all the talk about the 'bridge of return' is [nothing but] nonsense and deceit - a fairytale that exists only in the old, worn-out demagogy of the Arab propaganda...."

In contrast, Al-Sweidan suggests looking to the model of absorption of refugees presented by Israel in the post-1948 upheavals in the Middle East. The Israelis, the columnist declares, "were civilized and humane in their treatment of the thousands of Jewish refugees who had lost their property, homes and businesses in the Arab
The two sides must "direct their joint energies... towards confronting the Iranian nuclear threat."
countries, and who were forced to emigrate to Israel after the 1948 war. The Israeli government received them, helped them, and provided them with all the conditions [they needed] to become integrated in their new society...."

The answer, Al-Sweidan writes, is "a realistic, unavoidable and bold decision... naturalizing [the refugee families] in the host countries, such as Syria, Lebanon and others." The author calls such a decision to integrate the refugee camp residents "a humanitarian [project]" no longer "leaving the responsibility [of caring for them] to others, while marketing the impossible illusion of return [to Palestine]...."

Rather than promoting the unrealistic flooding of Israel with destitute Arabs, Al-Sweidan uses his article in Al-Siyassa to encourage peace and normalization with Israel. Such a relationship, he warns, is imperative in light of the common threat faced by the Arabs and Israel from Persian Iran. The two sides, the Saudi columnist writes, must "direct their joint energies and efforts towards confronting the Iranian nuclear threat, which imperils us all."