January 14, 2018
OK, let’s get reality out of the way. Nobody’s perfect – that’s easily said. If perfection is 100%, try aiming for 80; it’s reachable. Well, that’s what I tell my kids.
Refugees is a big issue nowadays, and as I have mentioned before, Israel also has an immigrant problem. Most came from Sudan and Eritrea across the Egyptian border (now practically closed with another wall/fence); most are men, most are political refugees; most reside in south Tel Aviv, and have changed that area almost into a no-go area, with a sad/bad rise in crime etc.
With all of it’s other problems, and they are countless, Israel has so far not handled this situation well. A few have been sent back, and that’s a horror. Others have been exiled to other countries, without due care for their prospects. And the 35-40,000 still here are foundering. That they form a part of our cheap labour source is not the answer. That’s almost human nature. We have to do more, especially if/when we complain about the next subject: UNRWA.
Let’s try a Q & A:
Q. What does this stand for?
A. United Nations Relief and Works Agency (for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East).
Q. What defines ‘Palestinian’ in this context?
A. Originally, it included ANY refugees following the War of (Israeli) Independence.
Q. Who/what started that War?
A. After the UN vote in 1947 divided the land of Mandate Palestine between the Jews and Arabs, the British left the area in May 1948, and the State of Israel was declared. For some reason, instead of ALSO declaring the establishment of the State of Palestine, with Jerusalem under UN jurisdiction – which is officially what the more moderate Palestinians now strive for – they and their Arab neighbours declared war on the new state.
Q. How come there were no Jewish refugees after that war.
A. There were. And most figures show that the number of Jewish refugees from Arabs lands was greater than Arabs from Israel. But in 1949, with most of those Jews then settled either in Israel or in the Diaspora, Israel officially stepped back from UNRWA.
Q. How many other refugees have a UN dept. specifically functioning on their behalf.
A. None. The UNHCR – United Nations Refugee Agency – covers ALL other refugees.
Q. How many Palestinian refugees are there?
A. Now, well over 5 million.
Q. 5 Million refugees left or were thrown out of Israel/Palestine?
A. No, that is the number of descendants of the original refugees, almost 70 years ago.
Q. How many other ‘descendants’ of refugees are still recognised as such by the UN?
A. None. Only the Palestinians.
A. God Knows.
Q. What about those in the neighbouring countries?
A. Egypt, Lebanon and Syria have an ugly history of perpetuating the Palestinians’ refugee status. In general, no citizenship, no land ownership etc. They are being kept in neighbourhoods, common known as ‘refugee camps’ in the expectation that they will win back their great-grandparents rights.
Jordan is the only Arab neighbour who has given them such rights, which in hindsight is quite clever, considering they make up well over 60% of the population. (That still does not make them welcome – when Arafat threatened the status quo back in 1970, King Hussein crashed the uprising, which became known as ‘Black September’).
Q. Which is the only country in the Middle East that has given the Palestinian people full democratic rights?
A. Yes, you guessed it….
Q. How many people are employed by UNRWA?
A. According to the UN’s own figures from January 2016, they have 30,627 “area staff”, apart from 21,571 “educational staff”.
Q. Are any of these Palestinians themselves, or are they all ‘foreigners’.
A. About 90% of these people are Palestinians.
Q. Wow, and how much is all this costing?
A. Nearly $400 million.
Q. And this amount is spread proportionally among UN nations?
A. No. US pays more than half.
Q. Approximately how many other people in the World can be described as ‘refugees’?
A. About 65.6 million.
Q. And how many UN employees staff THAT department.
A. Around 11,000. So, discounting the UN educational staff, the Palestinians get about 30 times more UN personnel per capita than the rest of the World.
Q. So what’s the incentive to end the Palestinian refugee crisis?
A. Very little. The only perpetual refugees in the World create jobs for so many people. Why rock the boat..
Q. Any simple solutions?
A. Of course. First would be to give refugee status only to those still deserving it, as per the rules that cover the rest of the World.
Q. But that would totally delete the Palestinian refugee numbers.
A. No, it would leave perhaps 20,000 out of the total of over 5 million.
Q. Is that practical?
A. Absolutely. Just disband UNRWA and bring this issue under the auspices o f the UNHCR, specifically set up for refugees of any nationality.
A. But you would be taking away most of the Palestinian’s arguments against Israel…
Q. Is that so bad?
A. And there would be more chance of peace.
Q. Is that so bad?