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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Back in 2001, in a letter to the London Times (18 August), Baron Hylton, one of the representative British hereditary peers sitting in a House of Lords (which, by legislation enacted in 1998, consists mainly of life peers) proposed a confederation of Israel, Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon. In a spirited response published six days later, a British Sikh observed:
You cannot form a confederation between states with mutually exclusive values and a few common denominators witness how the “confederation” of Europe (the EU) is still reluctant to admit Turkey as a full partner.’
Nearly fifteen years on, and that observation is as valid as ever, a fact underlined by the insane immigration policies of Angela Merkel and others that will affect Europe’s demographic forever and may well see the unravelling of the great grotesque tyranny and gravy train for unaccountable unelected bureaucrats and venal superannuated politicians that the EU has become.
Only a policy of mutual co-existence and the realisation of the Muslim world that Israel, like Palestine, has the right to exist, could help to unknot the Middle East imbroglio,” Mr Randhir Singh Bains went on. Referring to Hylton’s assertion that Israel has been “a source of wars and friction ever since the Mandate” and his blaming Israel for, in Bains’s paraphrase, “forcing Palestinians to become refugees in their own country,” Mr Bains pointed out: “But the 20th century saw the creation of many states where original [sic] inhabitants were forced to become displaced persons. India and Pakistan were both created in areas where an indigenous population was forcefully uprooted to make way for the incoming immigrants. While India recognised Pakistan and made every effort to accommodate the Hindus and Sikhs displaced by the creation of a new Muslim state, Arab countries turned a blind eye to the plight of the displaced Palestinians with the expressed purpose of using them to threaten the existence of Israel.”
He was, of course, absolutely right.
In the words of a well-known British regional newspaper, the Western Morning News (7 October 1947):
‘One of the greatest mass migrations in history was yesterday nearing completion as a 75-mile convoy of uprooted non-Muslims continued to pour over the Pakistan border into India from the most fertile areas of the western Punjab. The whole convoy was expected to have crossed into the East Punjab within the next two or three days. The gigantic task of resettling them will begin. So vast is this moving mass of humanity – sustained by food dropped by air and by doctors flown to its aid – that it took eight days to pass a stationary point. The convoy included shopkeepers, artisans, doctors, lawyers, and once rich landlords. The old and sick died on the way, but the convoy moved on, blood from torn feet of the weary immigrants staining the dusty road.’
The Partition of British India in 1947 into a mainly Hindu state (India) and a Muslim state (Pakistan) demanded by the Muslims led by Muhammed Ali Jinnah was probably based on the Partition of Ireland in 1922 into a Protestant state (Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom) and a Catholic State (the Irish Free State, now the Republic of Ireland). The Peel Commission (1937) which first recommended the Partition of Palestine, probably has the Irish precedent in mind, as it appeared to work satisfactorily.
A guest post on my own blog by Professor William Rubinstein cross-posted to UK Media Watch ( ) noted inter alia:
‘It is worth remembering that while in Palestine the Arabs opposed the creation of a largely Muslim Palestinian state, in India it was the Muslims who demanded Partition. Pakistan has no historical foundation whatever, and the very name Pakistan was invented by Muslim students and activists in London in 1931. The Partition of British India in 1947-48 was accomplished by bloodshed on an unimaginable scale, with probably 500,000 deaths in communal violence. Literally millions of Hindus and Muslims living in the “wrong” part of British India left for the other state. Karachi became known as a city of refugees.Yet – in contrast to Palestine – no one demands the “Right of Return” for these “refugees”, and in any case neither India nor Pakistan would be likely to allow any of their former residents back.
At that very time, too, vast population transfers were taking place in early post-war Europe. An estimated ten million Poles, Balts, and Russians fled to the West, ahead of the advancing Red Army, or, in some instances, were deliberately moved on. In Czechoslovakia, Eduard Beneš, the “good” Czech head of state between the end of the Nazi occupation in 1945 and the imposition of Stalinist rule in 1948, expelled three million Sudeten Germans from the Sudetenland in 1945-46. The Sudetenland is the rim area of what is now the Czech Republic whose demands (sparked by Hitler) for incorporation into the German Reich led to the Munich Crisis of 1938. After the war, the democratic Czech government was taking no more chances with a potential Fifth Column in the reborn state, and expelled the Sudeten Germans en masse. If there were any demands for their “Right of Return” these were unacknowledged. Most fled to West Germany, where, frankly, they were a lot better off than they would have been in a wretched Stalinist satellite regime, which is what Czechoslovakia became in 1948.
Professor Suzanne Rutland, formerly of Sydney but now of Jerusalem, recently attended a large US Holocaust Memorial Museum-sponsored conference on the theme of “Mass Violence and Memory” at an academic venue near Delhi last month at which this issue was considered.
Remarked Professor Rutland afterwards (
The parallels between the end of British rule on the Indian sub-continent and Israel are clear, and some of these emerged during presentations. In both cases the British wanted out as quickly as possible; in both cases the decision was made only a few months before the British left – in India’s case, in March with the two new nations being formed in August 1947; with Palestine the UN Resolution was passed on 29 November 1947 and the British withdrew in May 1948. And in both cases there was religious violence – in India between Hindus and Muslims, and also involving Sikhs, and in Palestine between Muslims and Jews. The result for both was loss of life and displacement In addition close of a million Jews were displaced from the Arab world in the years following the 1948 war, so that today there are less than 4,000 Jews left in the Arab-Muslim world. With the millions of Hindu refugees the newly formed Indian government set to work to integrate them. In the period 1947-1951 camps were set up, loans for homes provided and the refugees assisted with finding employment. This was done with a minimum of drama – the government officials simply got to work. The same was true with the survivors of the Shoah and the refugees from the Arab world flooding into Israel. There was much hardship and suffering in both countries but eventually new lives were created. The integration of Muslims into Pakistan has been less successful but the world does not hear about this. There was further violence and dislocation leading to the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 whilst Kashmir has been a running sore with ongoing violence. Since 1995 there has been systematic ethnic cleansing there with 200,000 Hindu refugees fleeing the area. Yet the world is silent.”
There was, of course, a sharp reminder of Muslim violence towards Hindus and other minorities last week, with the butchery of an elderly Hindu priest and the news that 750 people from vulnerable minority communities are fleeing from Bangladesh into India every day. (
No outcry, of course, from the obsessed and oblivious Israel-haters.
There is, of course, singularly one set of persons displaced by the population transfers and partitions of the twentieth century who remain “refugees” today, and those are those Arabs, long since rebranded “Palestinians,” whom the surrounding Arabs nations, having failed to destroy Israel by arms from 1948 onwards, have deliberately let fester in refugee camps as a cudgel with which to beat Israel.
Not long after the Six Day War, Arthur Balfour’s nephew Robert Balfour, the 3rd Earl of Balfour (1902-68), justifiably observed:
“Most of the present Arab countries were given their freedom after the 1914-18 War, or after the 1939-45 War ... Yet to listen to Arab spokesmen one might think that they had been cheated ... because they have not also got Israel. Israel is only .2 per cent of the land where Arab States have been established. Surely no fair-minded man can begrudge the Jews their own promised land when it is remembered that for every two acres that went to make up Israel, 1,000 acres became Arab.... Why is there an Arab refugee problem? The oil-rich countries have the money. There is no shortage of land, and the Israelis have the technical knowledge to show how it could be developed and made fertile. Bring those things together and the problem could be solved.”
The unique status accorded by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA; established in 1949) to the displaced Palestinian Arabs of 1948, regarding their patrilineal descendants as refugees, feeds the Palestinian Arabs’ sense of grievance and fuels biased “analysis” such as this rather outrageous piece in 2010 ( by the BBC’s Martin Asser (who left the Corporation last year for pastures new). Moreover, having a vested interest in the continuation of the Arab-Israeli dispute, UNRWA is a massive and seemingly immovable impediment to peace. UNRWA’s original brief was to "carry out direct relief and works programmes in collaboration with local governments"; "consult with the Near Eastern governments concerning measures to be taken preparatory to the time when international assistance for relief and works projects is no longer available", and plan for the time when relief was no longer needed. It subsequently took it upon itself to extend its mandate to embrace the provision of relief, human development and protection services to Palestine refugees and persons displaced by the 1967 conflict, encompassing the Disputed Territories (no, it did not use that term!), Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Periodically renewed by the UN General Assembly, the current mandate expires in a year’s time.
David Singer recently reminded us, inter alia (
‘As of 14 September 2015, 136 of the 193 United Nations member states have been playing the PLO name-game change [from Palestinian Authority] and recognised the “State of Palestine”. These 136 States now need to answer two questions: 1. How can any person living in his own country still be classified as a refugee? 2. Shouldn’t the 760,000 registered Palestinian Arab refugees living in the West Bank have their refugee status revoked and be resettled and fully integrated among their fellow Palestinian Arabs? Claiming the trappings of Statehood – whilst segregating its citizens into two different classes – is a recipe for continuing tension and future conflict. Change the name – change the game – but be prepared to accept the consequences.’
“In effect, UNRWA has come to depend on the refugee problem itself. While the refugees benefit from its services, the organization benefits even more from the refugees. They are, of course, the organization’s raison d’être. UNRWA has no incentive whatsoever to resolve the Palestinian refugee problem, since doing so would render it obsolete. As a result, the agency not only perpetuates the refugee problem, but has, in many ways, exacerbated it. In doing so, it has made Israeli-Palestinian peace all but impossible, argued Asaf Romirowsky, executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, inter alia two years ago. ( )
UNRWA’s role in perpetuating and even expanding the refugee problem is a complex one; but, more than anything else, it is the result of the agency’s own definition of a Palestinian refugee—which is unique in world history. The standard definition of a refugee, which applies in every case except that of the Palestinians, includes only those actually displaced in any given conflict. UNRWA has defined a Palestinian refugee as anyone whose “normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948 and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” But it has also continually expanded this definition, now stating “the children or grandchildren of such refugees are eligible for agency assistance if they are (a) registered with UNRWA, (b) living in the area of UNRWA’s operations, and (c) in need.” As a result, the number of official Palestinian refugees—according to UNRWA— has expanded almost to the point of absurdity. In its relentless defense of its own unique definition of a Palestinian refugee and its complete refusal to reconsider its demand for the “right of return,” it buttresses and perpetuates the Palestinians’ eternal sense of victimhood and the refugees’ narrative. This narrative accepts no responsibility whatsoever for the refugee problem, blaming it entirely on Israel, regardless of the decisions and actions of Palestinians and their leaders. Due to its economic and institutional interests in doing so, UNRWA must continue to maintain and even expand the refugee problem until the refugees’ complete and total repatriation and compensation. This demand for the “right of return” is clear and absolute and has not changed to this day. Over and over again, it has torpedoed any possibility of an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians... It appears that peace cannot be achieved without compromise on the “right of return,” and there can be no such compromise until UNRWA is either substantially reformed or entirely dismantled. 
Amen to that.

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