THE PALESTINIAN REFUGEES
This Pesach will be the saddest since the Six-Day War. Our nation is in strife with no end in sight. Hatred, built up over the years, has exploded in both Jewish and Arab hearts. The Jews are fighting for their lives and the Arabs are fighting for the "liberation of Palestine."
We continue in this third of a series of five newsletters to analyze the Israeli-Arab conflict. In 1974, Philip Goodhardt, member of the British parliament wrote the following:
"The plight of the Arab refugees is depressing; but it is by no means unique. The most reliable estimate of the number of Arab men, women and children who left their homes in Palestine during 1948 is between 550,000 and 600,000.
"Even if one excludes from one's calculations all refugees who left their homes temporarily to avoid local fighting, the Arab exodus from Palestine is only the twelfth largest movement of refugees to take place since the end of World War II…
FIRST PLACE IN THIS MELANCHOLY LIST
"(For example) by the second week in October 1947 it had been reported in the New York Times that 2,388,000 Moslems had moved from India into Pakistan and 2,644,000 Hindus had fled from Pakistan into India.
"Before this mass flight stopped in April 1950, the most conservative estimates suggest that at least four million Moslems and more than four million Hindus left their homes. The estimates of the number of permanent refugees driven from their homes by the first partition of India range between eight and eleven million.
“In Europe the post-war movements of population have been measured more precisely. Official West German statistics show that by September 1950 almost exactly three million Sudeten Germans had been expelled from Czechoslovakia. Of these three million 2,068,000 had settled in West Germany or Austria and 916,000 in East Germany.
"Between 1949 and the building of the Berlin Wall in August 1961 a further 2,739,000 refugees from East Germany registered at official reception centers in West Germany. The total number of refugees from East Germany is more than three and half million. Even this figure is dwarfed by the six and three quarter million Germans who left their homes in the Provinces annexed by Poland."
Goodhart continues that in Africa during the civil war in Nigeria, well over a million Ibos arrived in Eastern Nigeria as refugees. Another million Frenchmen and pro-French Arabs fled during the Algerian War. More than a million refugees from North Korea settled in South Korea after the North Korean attack in 1950, and another million Chinese have fled the Mainland for Hong Kong.
"When Vietnam was partitioned in 1956, 800,000 North Vietnamese, many of whom were Roman Catholic, moved to South Vietnam to escape from Ho Chi Minh's regime. During the major Communist offensives in the mid-1960's more than one million South Vietnamese also moved out of their homes into temporary refugee camps…
"In the Middle East itself the exodus of Jews from Arab lands has been even larger than the flight of Arabs from Israel. In 1948 there were almost 850,000 Jews in Arab lands ranging from Iraq to Morocco. By 1973 there were less than 50,000.
"There is, however, one factor which distinguishes the bulk of the Arab refugees from the millions of people who have left their homes and countries in the last 30 years because of political, ethnic, or religious pressures. Everyone of the non-Arab countries that received a flood of refugees did their best to resettle the new arrivals. India, Pakistan, Western Germany, Biafra, South Vietnam, Hong Kong and Israel all launched successful programs of absorption.
ARAB REFUGEES MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO SETTLE DOWN
"On the other hand, in most of the Arab countries that the Palestinians moved into, strenuous efforts were made to prevent or to limit the resettlement of the refugees. The reason for their unprecedented callousness to their own brethren on the part of many Arab leaders was avowedly political. If the Arab refugees were to find new jobs and new homes in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, they might easily settle down and lose their sense of Palestinian identity and their yearning for their old homes…
"While the Arab policy towards their own refugees may have been inhuman, it would be idle to deny that it has been a brilliant success politically. The whole world knows about the sufferings of the Palestinian Arabs. Meanwhile almost everyone has forgotten Israel's valiant and largely successful efforts to integrate the Jewish refugees from Arab lands. Once again too many people, and too many governments, have been prepared to adopt a double standard instead of studying the facts.
"A lasting solution to the whole sad problem can only be found when all concerned recognize that there has been a double exodus, involving a lasting exchange of people. The Arab departure from Israeli territory must be balanced against the flight of an even larger number of Jewish refugees from Arab lands." (Most of the facts in this letter are taken from The Double Exodus, by The Hon. Terence Prittie & Bernard Dineen, obtainable at Israel's Foreign Office).
Why is there an Arab refugee problem in Israel? Because the Islamic nations have kept the Arab refugees purposely in refugee camps. They were convinced that if they kept them in dire want, in miserable conditions, with no future possibility to build their lives in any Arab country, then one day these same refugees would explode in frenzied hatred and throw Israel into the sea. That is the plan.
The problem of Arab refugees began on November 29, 1947. The U.N. Partition Resolution provided for the setting up of a Jewish state and a second Arab state in what Britain called Palestine. (The first Arab State in the Holy land had already been established as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.)
Even though the proposed Jewish State was tiny, the Jews accepted the U.N. resolution. The Arabs of Palestine fiercely rejected it, and the next day new Arab riots and attacks on the Jewish population began. The attacks were stimulated by the infiltration of terrorists from neighboring Arab countries.
When David Ben Gurion, according to the U.N. resolution, declared Israel an independent Jewish State on May 14, 1948, six Arab nations invaded and attacked the next day. The local Arabs began fleeing to nearby countries when the Arab radio stations carried continuous messages urging Arabs within Israel to leave their homes, so that the invading armies could come in and mop up and drive the Jews into the sea. The Arab civilians could then come back and take the spoil.
THE WEALTHY AND THE POWERFUL LEFT FIRST
In addition, many Arabs left because, as the Commander of the British Troops at that time General Sir Hugh Stockwell, put it: "The Arab leaders left first, and no one did anything to stop the mass exodus, which became first a rush, and then a panic."
One hundred sixty thousand Arabs did stay, or were allowed to return to their families soon after the Independence War. The Israeli Government, which had many personal connections with the problem of exile and eviction, never sanctioned or tolerated a policy of driving out the Arabs. We must here interject that there were some isolated cases of evicting Arabs from their homes in the heat of the battle. But the main reason Arabs fled is because they were told to by the Arab nations who invaded Israel.
Indeed record after record shows that the government of Israel, the local Israeli municipalities, the unions, and the Israeli army, pleaded with the local Arabs not to flee.
But these Palestinians believed there would be a swift and sweeping Arab victory. Meanwhile they were anxious to spare themselves the temporary danger and discomfort that might have to be endured before the Jews were disposed of.
In contrast to the British and Israeli census of 550,000 to 600,000 refugees, the Arabs claim that some 900,000 Arabs had fled, and by 1950, had 1,019,000 on rations. Friends and relatives in the surrounding countries were registered as refugees, births were quickly recorded, and many times deaths were not reported, thus increasing the number of refugees on record.
Again during the Six-Day war 250,000 Arabs left, about half of them being "old refugees" who had fled in 1948. As the Arabs fled, a Custodian Council was appointed within Israel to register all abandoned property. It was valued at about 100,000,000 British pounds, about $185,000,000 in today's rate of exchange. The Israeli government offered to pay compensation, but the Arab governments refused to accept any lump sum as a basis for negotiations.
In 1964, the Palestinian National Covenant, approved by all the countries of the Arab League, stated that the whole of Palestine including the State of Israel is Palestinian territory and the property of the Palestinian people. The State of Israel should cease to exist and only those Jews whose families had been there in 1917, should be allowed to remain.
Mr. Ralph Galloway, a former head of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA) in Jordan in August 1958 said, "The Arab States do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United Nations and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don't care (he used stronger language Ed.) whether the refugees live or die."
PALESTINIAN REFUGEES "USED"
Arab governments regarded the destruction of the State of Israel as a more pressing matter than the welfare of the Palestinian refugees. Palestinian bitterness and hatred must be fanned. Therefore the Arab nations must insure that the Palestinian refugees continue to live in poverty and misery.
Many attempts have been made to resettle the refugees. For example, Egypt had closed off the Gaza Strip (26 miles long, four to five miles wide) and made it a ghetto. Even though Egypt claimed the Gaza strip as her own, she would not give the Gazians Egyptian citizenship. In 1950, UNWRA put forth a plan to move 100,000 Gazians to Libya. Egypt blocked the plan.
UNWRA tabled a plan to move 50,000 to 60,000 Palestinian refugee to Northern Sinai. Again Egypt vetoed the plan. Egypt had no desire to be seen cooperating in the resettlement of Arab refugees anywhere except in Israel.
In 1952-54 UNWRA sought to negotiate with Syria, for the resettlement of up to 85,000 refugees living in Syria and Lebanon. Syria said no.
It is fair to say that up to 4,000,000 Arab refugees could have been resettled by the late 50's if the Arab nations would have allowed it.
And who has paid for the refugees' upkeep which has cost the world well over a billion dollars? Certainly not the Arab nations. Well they have given 5% of the budget, while the U.S. has given 70%. The Soviet Union and the Soviet block countries, which have shed so many crocodile tears for the Palestinian refugees, have not given a penny. Israel gives about $3,000,000 a year to help the refugees -- more than all the Arab countries together.
The Western powers have never received a word of thanks from the Arab world. Instead they have been depicted as ruthless and extortionate "imperialists" and the enemies of the Arab people.
It has been pointed out that every refugee could be permanently resettled and housed with just 10 days of oil revenues from the Arab barrels, and the problem would be over. Obviously that is far from the Arab nations' plans. Rather their war plan is this:
1. The maximum number of Palestinian refugees should be encouraged to retain "refugee status". This would enable all concerned to assert an enduring and inalienable right to return to former homes in Israel.
2. Palestinian refugees should not be encouraged to integrate themselves into the life of the Arab countries in which they find themselves. Should they do so, they run the risk of losing any desire to return to their old homes -- thus improving the state of Israel's chance of survival.
3. The Arab nations should not be responsible to feed, clothe or educate the refugees, since their status is an affront to the Arab world. Rather the outside powers, who allow Israel to exist, should pay for their upkeep.
4. Any attempts to improve the refugees' lot, to re-house them or give them jobs, should be resisted with every possible means. A better life will cause them to forget that their mission is to make Israel an Islamic State.
It seems that the plan that the Arab nations have conceived is coming to fruition. Palestinian riots and Israel's desperate attempt to quell them have brought the problem to the attention of the world. U. S. Secretary of State, George Schultz, is considered a great friend to Israel. He only wants her best and he, like Israelis, wants peace. Ronald Reagan is considered the greatest American presidential friend Israel has ever had.
But what neither men realize, is that literally all public statements within the Arab nations declare that settling the Palestinian refugee problem is only a step to the real goal -- the refugees are the means -- and that is to replace Israel with another Palestinian state.
Alas, the 19 Arab countries possessing land twice the size of the U.S. cannot accept one tiny Jewish state in her historic home, now approximately 280 miles in length and 4 - 110 miles wide; a country smaller than the state of New Jersey.
However, what the Moslems do not know, and even the majority of Israelis who do not believe the Bible, is that in spite of it all, Israel will continue to exist, until the throne of David is reestablished, and the Messiah comes back to His own.
"HE WHO SCATTERED ISRAEL WILL GATHER HIM" (Jer. 31: 10)
What greater work could you be involved in than to be active in the salvation of the Jewish nation, the return of God's people to Himself.
No effort can be strategically more important in God's plan for the world, than to move Israel towards her ultimate mission, to be a light to the nations, and to greet the Messiah when He returns with "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord" (Matt 23: 39) .
We are going to need larger facilities for our growing congregation and Yeshiva (Bible School) which we are so desirous of having.
How can our congregation grow if our meeting room only seats 100? How can we quickly train Israeli leadership without a Bible Yeshivah? And where will the enormous amount of funds come from to buy property and build?
We cannot leave the work to go to North America and Europe for months on end to raise funds. The work here would greatly suffer.
We need a miracle. True every time the work of God goes forward anywhere it is a miracle. But obtaining the facilities that we need here in Israel in order to help harvest the vineyard is to us a miracle on the scale of the opening of the Red Sea.
But then every day that Israel exists is a miracle.
So the same God that opened the Red Sea and who keeps Israel alive is the same God who will provide us with the facilities we need to see God's work among Israelis accomplished.
Have you committed yourself to intercede and give to the lost people of Israel -- If not, will you?
We know the Scripture. We must believe it: "I will bless those who bless you" (Gen 12:3).
In our Messiah
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram