Gazans burn tires
Gazans burn tiresFlash 90

The Gazan Palestinian Arabs’ situation was terrible to begin with. The number of poor had tripled since 2000 and half the work force was unemployed. From a 2018 UN report, 53% of their population lived in poverty, by 2022 that figure had skyrocketed to 80%. Palestinian Arabs were more dependent on food aid than ever before. Social welfare organizations have noted “pervasive and deepening poverty,” “worsening conditions and an economy in a state of ruin,” “conflict creating a major humanitarian crisis,” and “widespread psychological trauma.” (Of course, this did not include the upper echelons of Hamas leaders and their friends who lived in luxury, ed.)

Today, it’s a hundred times worse. With regard to the hundreds of thousands of now homeless Gazans, Sir John Sawers, former head of MI6 and UK ambassador to the UN, said with urgency, “The very grim conditions in which they’re living in Gaza must be addressed.”

Something beyond talk is needed to alleviate Gazans’ suffering. In regard to the talking-versus-doing syndrome, Herbert Hoover, president of the United States from 1928-32, had said in 1920: "Words without actions are the assassins of idealism."

Hoover could never be accused of assassinating idealism: He was responsible for the rescue, feeding, clothing and resettlement of more victims of natural disaster and war than anyone in history. During World War I, he headed the Commission for Relief in Belgium, which fed 10 million people and carried out Belgian postwar reconstruction. In 1917, Hoover served as U.S. food administrator.

After the war president Woodrow Wilson sent Hoover to Europe to direct the American Relief Administration. In 1927, as Secretary of Commerce, he successfully rescued and resettled 325,000 Americans rendered homeless by the Mississippi River's flooding. After World War II he brought relief to millions as Coordinator of the European Food Program.

A Quaker, Hoover passionately believed in peace, was appalled by the human costs of war, and devoted his life to public service. Even with his most grandiose projects, he kept the worth of the individual paramount. His title, "the Great Humanitarian,” was well deserved. When war again broke out in Europe Hoover, at the time in his 70s, established the Polish Relief Commission, which fed 300,000 children in occupied countries. He became chairman of the Famine Emergency Commission and in 1945 president Harry S. Truman asked him to organize food relief for war-torn countries.

Nor did the plight of the Palestinian Arabs escape the Great Humanitarian's attention: In December 1945, he submitted a plan to the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine. Hoover said it was "a process by which both Jews and Arabs would benefit materially, and could be instrumental in "settling the Palestine question and providing ample Jewish refuge." He insisted that it offered a "constructive humanitarian solution" and the committee agreed that the proposal merited careful study.

What Hoover proposed was "that Iraq... be made the scene of resettlement of the Arabs from Palestine and this for their immediate relief and long-term benefit.” There was an implicit assumption that this would be totally voluntary.

By 1949, with the creation of half a million Palestinian Arab refugees, Hoover's plan took on special urgency. He wrote the White House that "they are in a deplorable condition," and they can be absorbed in Iraq. "It would give permanent solution to the problem of these unfortunate people," Hoover said. He also said his plan "would strengthen the economy of Iraq."

Maybe 20 years ago when the population of Iraq had been decimated by the prolonged Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, the 1991 Gulf War, the subsequent U.N. sanctions, the U.S.-led invasion and occupation, and the internecine Isis fighting had taken a toll of millions of Iraqis, it was not only doable, but beneficial.

Resettling the downtrodden Palestinian Arabs in Iraq would have alleviated their suffering and would have been a concomitant blessing to Iraq.

But that was then. What about today?

One wonders about Arab brotherhood when there are now hundreds of thousands of homeless Gazans and we don’t hear of Arab nations offering to take in their homeless brethren. After all, they share the same language, religion and culture. Additionally, some of the Arab nations are the richest in the world, particularly the Persian Gulf states.

How remarkable if Qatar, a major supporter of Hamas and over 30 times the size of the Gaza Strip, were to open their country to Gazan resettlement. Consider: 85% of Qatar’s present population are non-Arab expat migrant workers. What could be a more appropriate and humanitarian solution for the homeless Gazans and be a concomitant blessing to Qatar.

What is Qatar and the world waiting for? Let's remember: "Words without actions are the assassins of idealism."

Bruce Brillis an independent journalist and former U.S. National Security Agency Middle East analyst. He’s been published in the Jerusalem Post, Washington Times, Christian Science Monitor, Midstream, Jewish Spectator, Jerusalem Report, others.