Palestinian refugees; Israeli war criminals; Asylum seekers

The Palestinian Refugees:

The Independent for some reason runs an article on Palestinian refugees by Judith Miller (I don’t know who David Samuels is). I think it’s basically Israeli propaganda, which is unusual for the Independent, though a lot of it is true. Certainly, Lebanon in particular treats Palestinian refugees appallingly. That said, the article blames the Arab governments solely for the plight of the refugees: not those who expelled them, and refuses to allow them to return to their homes. However, it does have a few useful insights. In particular, take this:

Sharing a panel with Dr Nabulsi, the doveish former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben Ami, who negotiated directly with Yasser Arafat at the failed Camp David meetings in 2000, asserted that Israel has suppressed narratives that would make clear its responsibility for the Palestinian refugee crisis of 1948. Indifference to the refugees’ plight, he added, was shared by Israel’s negotiating partner in the Oslo years – Yasser Arafat. “He was not a refugee man,” Ben Ami said flatly. “He was much more centred on the question of Jerusalem. I heard him say to [Mahmood Abbas] in my presence, ‘leave me alone with your refugees’.” [emphasis added]

It is no secret that certain Arab regimes saw the Palestinians under Arafat’s leadership as an unwelcome occupation that stripped Jordan bare and destroyed Lebanon. Similarly, Arafat often used the threat of destabilisation and assassination to get Arab regimes to fund the Palestinian cause. Still, the record of Arafat’s Palestinian Authority in its territories during the 1990s attests to the truth of Ben Ami’s observation, which applies both to Arafat’s Fatah and to Hamas. Despite $10bn in foreign aid, not one refugee camp in the West Bank or Gaza has been replaced by modern housing.

There are elements of propaganda. Take this: “One can only imagine the outrage that the world community would rightly visit upon Israel if Israeli Arabs were subject to the vile discriminatory laws applied to Palestinians living in Arab countries.” The authors like to pretend – though Judith Miller is genuinely ignorant, and may not know – that Israel does not discriminate against Palestinian Israelis – which is what the Goldstone report casually noted (in law and in practice was the wording I believe). They also write: “Lebanon, where Palestinians led by Yasser Arafat are widely blamed for having sparked the 1975 civil war, is the worst offender against international norms.” Widely blamed for sparking the civil war? By widely blamed, she presumably means the Zionist Phalangist axis. Note how selective the authors’ concern for Palestinian suffering in Lebanon is. They weep crocodile tears for Arab countries mistreatment of refugees, because if they were settled, refugees would not pose a threat to Israel. However, if Lebanon stops massacring Palestinians, Israel would not benefit, so they’re silent about all the atrocities committed against Palestinians during the Civil War (which continue today with the bombardment of Nahr el Barid).

Some of the article is frivolous. Take this: “While Palestinians are reasonably well integrated into the Syrian socio-economic structure, according to the scholar Laurie Brand they do not have the right to vote, nor can they stand for parliament or other political offices.” They apparently don’t realise that Syrian parliament is about as impressive as the Duma during Tsarist Russia. Oh, and they love the King of Jordan, for obvious Zionist reasons. They say things like “the luck of having had an enlightened monarch committed to the compassionate treatment of the estimated 100,000 refugees who crossed the Jordan River during the nakba in 1948.” An enlightened monarch? Compassionate treatment of Palestinians? In Jordan?

In fact, the whole paragraph shows how blinkered they are:

Jordan is the only Arab nation that has integrated large numbers of Palestinians as full-fledged citizens. This is due not only to the unification of the East Bank and West Bank of the Jordan River valley under Hashemite rule between the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 until Israel’s occupation of West Bank in 1967, but also to the luck of having had an enlightened monarch committed to the compassionate treatment of the estimated 100,000 refugees who crossed the Jordan River during the nakba in 1948.

The “unification” they refer to is when Jordan and Israel reached a covert agreement to divide Palestine among themselves. And their history doesn’t mention 1970. Presumably, nothing happened that year.

Israeli war criminals: Start at the top

Koutsoukis writes in the smh:

The chief of staff of the Israel Defence Forces, General Gabi Ashkenazi, told a meeting of the Israeli security cabinet that any independent Israeli investigation of the war, as recommended by the Goldstone report, would send a message to the senior command and the soldiers that the Government had no confidence in them.

“I commanded this war, and I can tell you: there has been no army more moral than us. I stand behind this war, and I take full responsibility for everything that happened.”

The responsibility belongs at the top.

Asylum Seekers

Greg Sheridan is the worst. He loves power and is a serial fabricator.

There are hard truths in this debate. Let me confess my own sins. When the Howard government introduced the Pacific solution, I was virulently opposed to it. I thought it was inhumane and wouldn’t work. In fact, it did work. It also became clear to me the vast majority of people intercepted were not refugees but illegal immigrants.

This is factually wrong, but that doesn’t matter to him. And Wilson Tuckey says the asylum seekers are terrorists. As if the debate couldn’t get uglier.

ebanon, where Palestinians led by Yasser Arafat are widely blamed for having sparked the 1975 civil war, is the worst offender against international norms.

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