Wednesday, January 12, 2011

How 'Palestinian Refugees' Think

This is a well written first hand account from the German magazine Cicero that gives you an excellent look at the psychosis - I can hardly use a different term - under which 'Palestinian refugees' operate under and call reality. It explains a great deal:

Ingo Way visited the Palestinian refugee camp of Aida and met the people who live there. Startlingly, he reports on their grim hope to "return" one day to a country in which many have never set foot.

The Aida refugee camp has been in Bethlehem since 1950. Today just over 3,000 people live there - descendants of those Arabs who fled during the war of 1948 from Israel. ... Aida consists of massive houses and is thus more like a neighborhood than a camp - not even a slum. The entrance to the refugee camp is decorated with a gigantic key, written in English and Arabic, which reads: "Not for Sale". What is not for sale is not difficult to guess: the Arabian soil from the Jordan to the Mediterranean, which must not be abandoned for any peace treaty with Israel. Is this an uncharitable interpretation on my part? Let's see.

I enter the Laje Center, a kind of community center for residents of Aida, with lounges, a kitchen, a cafe and an exhibition space, in which they are showing a photo exhibition with pictures from several other refugee camps. Upstairs I meet Khouloud Al Ajarma, who according to her business card is the "Arts & Media Center Coordinator of Laje Center." Khouloud was born 23 years ago in Aida; her grandmother came from a village in Israel that does not exist anymore. She studied in England, so she speaks with marked British accent. And she talks a lot - eloquent, fluent, confident. Khouloud does not wear a headscarf; instead she wears a pink knitted cap that covered her entire head of hair. Also above the pink sweater she is wearing a black jacket, a checkered skirt that covers her knees, but that allows a look at her black tights and fashionable boots. To me, Khouloud is sympathetic - she is educated and pretty with her British accent.

After her graduation, Khouloud returned back to Aida. She is aiming to "return" to Israel, although she has not been there before. "To remain a refugee is a political decision," she admits. Hence it is for her and for the other inhabitants of Aida out of the question to start a new life elsewhere, or to even become ordinary citizens of Bethlehem - because then they lose their refugee status conferred on them by the UNRWA. "We want no normalization," says Khouloud. "We want to remain refugees to exercise our right of return one day."

At this point something must be said about the UNRWA. The United Nations has two refugee relief organizations: the UNRWA for Palestinian refugees, and another, the UNHCR, for all other refugees in the world. And for all these UNHCR refugees their status will end after the first generation. The status of refugee is not inherited. And accordingly it is the responsibility of UNHCR to ensure that refugees get full civil rights in the countries in which they have fled. Life in refugee camps is a status that UNHCR resolves to end.

UNRWA has a completely different mandate. They regard it as their task to attend to the refugee camps in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, in Jordan and Syria, and they extend the refugee status over generations. And there is no end in sight. Khouloud is also, according to UN definition, a refugee - she would be even if she had stayed in England - and her children will be too. Khouloud's sister lives in Jordan and is married to a Jordanian. Through this marriage she is able to choose whether they want to stay as Jordanian citizen or Palestinian refugees. She chose the latter. This inheritability of refugee status is an exception that has made the UNRWA [desirable] to the Palestinians.

Khouloud says, "Yes, it is a privilege. But this privilege is available to us. Why? It's about justice!" Tt is therefore not surprising that Khouloud that the negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel has come to nothing at all. "Our people do not want a two-state solution. Our leadership is not acting in our name. And the Israelis know it....It's about the right of our country," she says. "To renounce this right would not only be a betrayal of the refugees, it would be a betrayal of Palestine. But our martyrs are not dead. "

I get a little queasy. Before me is not a screaming fanatic, but a young woman with a Western education that speaks with a quiet and serene voice of blood and soil as if she were discussing an upcoming business meeting. She speaks very clearly of what they wish for: a single state from the Jordan to the Mediterranean, in which all Palestinians, the descendants of refugees from 1948 and are now scattered all over the world return to live, can. To make clear the dimensions: In the wake of Israel's independence war of 1948 left about 700,000 Arabs left the territory of present-day Israel. Some were forced, some went voluntarily, hoping to come back for a victory of Arab armies. But the Arab states lost the war they had begun. Today there are between four and five million people who hold the status of "Palestine refugees". Khouloud even speaks of eight million. If it were up to her, they would all settle in Israel.

For Khouloud it seems to matter little that this will never happen by peaceful means. For the Israeli side, it is unacceptable - it would be the end of Israel as a Jewish state. "Why do we need a Jewish state?" Khouloud asks rhetorically. "Surely we can all live together in a democratic state of Palestine." This would, she says, of course, have a "Palestinian majority. " And what would happen to the Jewish minority in such a state? "Such small things," says Khouloud, "are not important...."

What I find so frightening about Khouloud Al Ajarma is not so much her complete lack of self-criticism. It's not so much her radicalism -in comparison, the settlers from Hebron like spokesman David Wilder comes across as a conciliatory pacifist (and they represent only a tiny minority of Israeli society). What really frightened me is this: No representative of the UN, who built the schools and community centers in Aida, nor the EU, who gives the refugee camps such as this financial support, nor the employees of all the Western aid agencies and NGOs that are active here- none of them would tell Khouloud straight out that her demands are not only inhuman - because of course they count on the expulsion and disenfranchisement of Jews in Israel, and this is still the most favorable interpretation - but also unrealistic. Not one says, "You will not get your demands. Work instead towards a peaceful compromise with the Israelis, you shall set up a two-state solution and waive your right to return. Finally take over responsibility for yourself and your own people, build an infrastructure and tear down the refugee camps." No one tells them this because none of them would believe it. No one is bothered by the graffiti, which is found on every other row of houses, showing an undivided Palestine and reaffirm the Palestinian explicit claim itself over Greater Tel Aviv. And that's the most depressing experience I have had in the Aida refugee camp.

I go back to the checkpoint, countless Christian tourists are with me in the queue, others approach me, little boys trying to sell us wooden recorders. Once on the other side, I take a deep breath. I have the feeling to return to something that the writer Michael Klonovsky - also during a trip to Jerusalem and also reluctantly - called my "own value system." And I enjoy that feeling.

A couple of things the writer doesn't mention - by choosing refugee status, these Arabs are opting in to a well funded welfare system paid for by the West, so there's a real cash value in calling oneself a 'refugee'.

Also, the 'Palestinian Authority' has a vested interest in keeping these people living in fantasyland, because it also gets aid based on a per capita amount of 'refugees' it constantly works on these people psychologically through the schools, media and mosques to make sure the artificial sense of grievance and the dram of killing and expelling every Jew in Israel remains fresh.

Translated from the German by The Elder of Ziyon

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1 comment:

B.Poster said...

What's especially interesting about this is the "not for sale" sign. Most "experts" in the West seem to think that this is some type of dispute over land or other resources the like of which we have in the "West." They seem to think like our disputes there can be a negotiated settlement to this. In such a negotiated settlement, neither side gets every thing they want but each side gets enough of what they want to reach a compromise that is equitable to all parties involved. The rules of conflict resolution that typically apply in the "West" and America clearly don't apply here.

Its hard to know what they are thinking. Clearly things like the "not for Sale" key and the rhetoric emanating from the Arab side should dispel such notions of a negotiated two state solution that is even remotely equitable to Israel is possible. It seems they have substituted their own ideology in place of the facts on the ground.

Its also curious that we claim to want a two state solution yet we continue to fund people like those at this refugee camp who clearly don't want this. It would seem our best option would be cut off the flow of funds to these people. Without aid from the "West" they would not be in as good of a position. This might put them in a position where it might be more advantageous to them to take a more concilitory approach than the current approach. Such an action on our part would have two basic advantages to us. 1.)It would be more likely to achieve our stated goal of "two democratic states living side by side in peace."
2.) It would save us money. This money saved could be used to do things like pay down our national debts or to address problems facing America and the "West."

Wgy don't we do what I suggest? I suspect the reason is one of the following. A.) Our actual goals are not our stated goals. In toehr words, there is something sinister here. B.) The ideology of our leaders is getting in the way of common sense.

I suspect the problem is b. The reason I think this is because to oppose a two state solution and support something like the Palestinian lady suggests costs very little in America or the West and in fact can be hugely profitable. Yet we continue to cling to an idea of a two state solution that currently is good for no one.

Now back to what I suggested before. Cut off the funding to the "refugees." This would mean the position they would be in would not be as favorable as their current position. They just might be more concilitory to an equitable solution and if not the Israelis are fully capable of dealing with the problem. Either way the problem is solved.

Btw, the "Palestinians" are enemies of America. Yet we are showering them with our treasure. Is it any wonder we are despised. Its profitable indeed to oppose America and its just interests.