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汉语
 http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/columnists/orl-opd-reese072601.column

In 1947-48, Palestinians became victims

Charley Reese, July 26, 2001

Let's play let's pretend.

Pretend you live in Miami-Dade County, Fla., and you evacuate the area because a bad storm is bearing down on it.

After the storm passes, you drive back but are met by military roadblocks. "You can't come back," you're told.

"What do you mean I can't come back? I have a home and business there," you say.

"Not anymore," the soldier says. "All of your property and possessions have been declared abandoned property and now will be used by us. So turn around. You've got 49 other states you can live in, but you're never going to the home you abandoned."

Now, let's pretend that after NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia, the Yugoslavian government said it was willing to negotiate a cease-fire, but the Albanian refugees could not return to Kosovo. Do you think the United States would have agreed to that? I don't think so. I think the United States would have said to Yugoslavia the right of refugees to return to their homes is non-negotiable and, if you try to stop them, you'll have to get through us first.

Well, this is exactly what happened to 700,000 Palestinians in 1947-48. By what one journalist called a "psychological warfare campaign punctuated with some well-timed massacres," the Israelis drove these people out of their homes and villages with nothing much but the clothes on their backs.

Then, at a peace conference, the Israelis said first off that no refugees would be allowed to return nor would they be compensated for any property lost. That was Israel's original sin. It was also our original sin because the United States government did nothing and it should have insisted on the refugees' return.

Zionists, however, were not acting in an arbitrary manner. The Zionist ideology, on which the current state of Israel is based, demands a Jewish state defined as a state with a Jewish majority, a Jewish government and Jewish laws. Small, non-Jewish minorities can be tolerated, though in practice in Israel they have been treated like second-class people. But a plural state is out of the question.

The problem the Zionists faced in 1947-48 was this: Despite their best efforts, they had not succeeded in persuading a sufficient number of Jews to emigrate to Palestine. Consequently, even in the territory allotted by the partition of Palestine to the Jews, there were so many Palestinian Arabs that the early Zionists knew they should soon equal or exceed the Jews in number.

In 1919, there were 57,000 Jews and 533,000 Arabs in Palestine. The Jews owned about 2 percent of the land. In 1946, the imbalance remained. There were 608,000 Jews and 1.2 million Arabs. In 1946, Jews owned only 7 percent of Palestine.

An Arab majority was unacceptable to Zionist ideology, so they practiced ethnic cleansing.

So, for the same reason they drove them out in the first place, they could not let them back in. The Arab governments said if the refugees could not return, then they would not sign a peace treaty. This original sin -- the disposition of 700,000 Palestinians -- bred the conflict which rages to this day and will continue to rage until the Palestinians get justice or everybody on both sides are dead.

I know that it's difficult. The Israelis have done a superb job of creating a racist stereotype of Palestinians in the minds of most Americans. But try, for a moment, to put yourself in their shoes back in 1947-48.

You had a family, a farm or a business or shop. You had friends and relatives in a village where your ancestors had lived for centuries. Then, in the blink of an eye, you are torn from your roots and cast into a foreign country with no possessions, no money and no state you can call your own.

These people and their descendants still live in those camps, at least those the Israelis haven't killed during their periodic bombing and shelling. These are the people Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak told Yasser Arafat that he must agree can never return or be compensated for their losses. That alone would have prevented Arafat from signing the agreement.

It is this expulsion, not the establishment of the state of Israel, that Palestinians mean when they speak of the "Catastrophe." It was not only a cruel act of ethnic cleansing, but it was one of the greatest robberies in the history of mankind. Imagine if you could suddenly gain ownership of Miami-Dade, with all its businesses, inventories, bank accounts, houses, farms, and crops. Palestine was no Miami-Dade County, but the Palestinian possessions were nevertheless quite a pile of loot for the Israelis.

This happened, by the way, before Jews left the Arab countries. It most defintely was not a population transfer. The Palestinian victims of ethnic cleansing had nothing to do with what happened to Jews in other Arab countries later.

Copyright © 2001, Orlando Sentinel


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