Revisiting the Right of Return

Front Page Magazine
June 18 2004

Revisiting the Right of Return
By Steven Plaut | June 18, 2004

Try to imagine what the world would be like if Israel had granted the
“Palestinian refugees,” who fled from Israel in 1948-49, the right
to return to Israel. Not to the West Bank. Not to the Gaza Strip —
but to Israel within its pre-1967 borders.

Imagine a situation in which Israel agreed to allow tens of thousands
of Arabs who fled from the battle zones of the Israeli War of
Independence the possibility of returning to Israel, in many cases to
the very homes they had abandoned during the fighting. Imagine how the
same world, currently obsessed with achieving a “right of return” for
“Palestinian refugees,” would be forced to acknowledge that Israel had
already granted the possibility for tens of thousands of these refugees
to return to Israel, in many cases decades ago. How then could the
world continue to bash Israel? What ammunition would anti-Semites
have left? And what about the crowd claiming to be “anti-Zionists
but not anti-Semites” or the self-hating leftist Jewish anti-Semites?

Well, hold on to your hat, because I have a whopper of a revelation
to make to you. Israel DID grant the “Palestinian refugees” the
right to return to Israel!

Let us back up a bit. In 1947-48, the UN proposed partitioning
“Palestine” into a Jewish and an Arab state of approximately equal
sizes. The Jews accepted the plan, and the Arabs rejected it. When the
UN ended the British Mandate over “Palestine,” the Arab states attacked
the newborn state of Israel, tried to annihilate it and its population,
and at the same time gobbled up most of the territory that the UN
had allotted to become a Palestinian Arab state. The territory that
became Israel had NEVER been a Palestinian Arab state.
Most of the Arabs in “Palestine” had migrated there from neighboring
Arab countries after the 19th Century start of the Zionist Jewish
immigration, taking advantage of the influx of capital and the
availability of jobs and services, like hospitals. In other words,
the Arabs of “Palestine” in 1948, just like the Jews, were by and
large people from families who had been in the country for three
generations or less.

During the fighting in the 1948-49 war, thousands of Arabs living in
the territory that became Israel fled. The main reason they fled was
that they understandably wanted to put some distance between their
families and the battle zones. At the same time, they were ordered
by the Arab political leadership to leave the territory of Israel.
Why take my word on this? Listen to Arab sources:

“The Arab States encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes
temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies.”
– Falastin (Jordanian newspaper), February 19, 1949.

“The Arab governments told us: Get out so that we can get in. So we
got out, but they did not get in.” – from the Jordan daily Ad Difaa,
September 6, 1954.

“”The Arab armies entered Palestine to protect the Palestinians from
the Zionist tyranny but, instead, THEY ABANDONED THEM, FORCED THEM
erstwhile “Prime Minister” of the Palestinian Authority, in “What We
Have Learned and What We Should Do,” published in Falastin el Thawra,
the official journal of the PLO, of Beirut, in March 1976.

There are scores of other Arab sources confirming this.

So how many Arabs fled? The number has become enormously distorted
over time by the Bash-Israel lobby and by Arab propagandists and
their apologists, who usually claim between 500,000 and a million.
A more realistic estimate is between 300,000 and 450,000, based in
part on Arab and UNRWA sources themselves. Most of these refugees
ended up in some of the twenty-two sovereign Arab states, including
those Arab countries from which they had migrated in the late 19th
and early 20th Centuries in the first place. In other words, the
“refugees” went back to their earlier homelands in Lebanon, Syria,
and Jordan. It was a semi- “right of return.” At the same time,
the Arab states carried out a near-total ethnic cleansing of around
a million Jews, who had been living there since Biblical days and in
many cases before these states had Arab populations. The Jews from
Arab countries left behind far more property than did the Palestinian
Arab refugees. Most of these Jewish refugees were resettled in Israel

In the years immediately following World War II, there were more than
50 million refugees: Poles, Germans, Indians, Pakistanis, Hungarians,
Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, etc. etc. They were all long ago resettled
and forgotten, all except for the “Palestinian refugees”. How come?

Because for decades, the Arab aggressor states found it convenient
to utilize the “refugees” as a political and military weapon
against Israel, not only of propaganda and spin, but of terrorism.
“Palestinians” inside Arab states were trained as terrorists and
sent out to murder. At the same time, there was enormous incentive
for the Arab locals in the countries into which the refugees had
entered to pretend also to be “Palestinian refugees.” After all,
the UN and other agencies were handing out free food and perks to
anyone pretending to be a refugee from “Palestine”.

Unlike all those many millions of other people considered refugees
in the late 1940s, the “Palestinians” were the only ones for whom
the “right of return” to their previous homes was considered an
entitlement. The reason was not a selective affection for Palestinians,
but a selective hostility towards Israel and Jews. Those demanding the
wholesale “return” to Israel of Palestinian “refugees”, including the
countless thousands of non-Palestinians pretending to be Palestinian
refugees, had one goal in mind, the eradication of Israel.

Israel would have been insane to allow itself to be inundated with
real and make-pretend Palestinian “refugees”, this in a tiny sliver of
land the size of Maryland, at the same time that the 22 Arab states
have territory-galore stretching from the Atlantic Ocean all the way
to Central Asia! The Palestinian Arabs and their sponsors had tried
to annihilate Israel and failed. Just like the infant United States,
which refused to allow any of the tens of thousands of Tory Loyalists
expelled by the patriots to “return” to the United States after the
War of Independence, Israel was entirely in its rights to refuse to
allow the “return” of masses of “Palestinians”, whose migration was
being demanded by those seeking to liquidate Israel via a demographic

There is just one little caveat though.

Israel DID let the Palestinian refugees return! Tens of thousands of
them were quietly allowed to return to Israel, in many cases to their
original homes, once the fighting in 1949 subsided. Many continue
to be admitted today within the framework of “family reunification”

>>From 1948 until 2001, Israel allowed about 184,000 “Palestinian
refugees” or their families to “return” to Israel proper (Jerusalem
Post, January 2, 2001; see also Ha’aretz 28 December 2000). These are
in addition to about 57,000 Palestinians from Jordan illegally in
Israel, towards whom the authorities are turning a blind eye (Ha’aretz,
4 April 2001). Not the West Bank, not Gaza, but Israel inside its
pre-1967 “Green Line” borders! In the Camp David II meetings in 2000,
Israeli leftist Prime Minister Ehud Barak rather insanely offered to
allow another 150,000 “refugees” to enter Israel as part of a peace
accord. The PLO’s response was to launch pogroms and four years of
atrocities, because the number was finite.

The demand for a “right of return” by Palestinians to Israel is no
doubt the most absurd political demand floating anywhere around the
planet. There is already an Arab state in two thirds of Mandatory
Palestine, named Jordan, and most Palestinan Arabs make up most of its
population. The Oslo Accords and Israel’s Camp David II offer would
have created a second Arab state in Palestine, in the West Bank and
Gaza, as part of a comprehensive peace settlement. Any “Palestinian”
from anywhere could have moved to “Palestine” or to Jordan, within
the framework of such a peace, the same way any Jew who wishes to may
immigrate to Israel, or any Armenian may immigrate to Armenia, and
Greeks from the Greek Diaspora are automatically welcomed in Greece.

The PLO and the Islamo-Fascist states backing it demand that in
ADDITION to establishing a second Arab state in Palestine within
the framework of any peace settlement, Israel itself must ALSO be
converted into a third Arab Palestinian state, via unlimited massive
immigration of people claiming to be Palestinians. Benjamin Franklin,
who opposed granting even a dime in compensation to the Tory refugees
expelled from the United States during the War of Independence,
would be splitting his sides laughing.

But the most Orwellian absurdity of all is that Israel DID grant the
“right to return” to tens of thousands of “Palestinian refugees”
long ago. Did this earn Israel the world’s gratitude for its uniquely
generous gesture? Did the world denounce the Arab Fascist states that
ignored this generosity and continued to seek Israel’s destruction
and the genocide of its population? Do today’s bleeding hearts and
recreational compassion poseurs, pretending to feel uncontrollable
pain and caring for Palestinian refugees, even know about the limited
“right of return” granted by Israel over the past decades?

Hindus have never been returned to Pakistan, Muslems from Pakistan
have not been returned to India, ethnic Germans were not returned to
their pre-war homes in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Russia or Romania,
Japanese have not been returned to Manchuria, Greeks have not been
returned to Anatolia, Jews have not been compensated for the billions
they left behind when ethnic cleansing of Jews in Muslem countries
took place, and Tory Loyalists were never returned to New England.
But tens of thousands of “Palestinian refugees” had their chance.

It is time to say enough is enough. The only remaining reasonable
plan regarding those still claiming to be “Palestinian refugees”
is simply: Forget about it.