Hilal’s dismissal of Jewish refugees won’t wash

Leila Hilal’s article in theonce-respectableAtlantic is crying out to be ‘fisked’. Alarmed at Israel’s deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon’s slickvideo on refugees, she advances one weaselly argument after another to explain why Palestinian refugees do not merit being resettled like other refugees. It doesn’t seem to occur to Hilal (pictured) that it is a tad strange for Palestinians of all refugees to be uniquely wedded to a ‘right of return’ – a right that doesn’t actually exist in international law – when the last thing most genuine refugees would want to do is go back to a country which persecuted them.

I can’t improve onDavid G’s thorough ‘fisking’ at Elder of Ziyon’s blog, except to add the following about Hilal’s take on Jewish refugees:

In order to avoid any possible comparison between Palestinian and Jewish refugees Hilal echoes Michael Fischbach‘s argument that Jews left Arab countries for a whole variety of reasons. Those who really do have a grievance should take it up with Arab states, not the Palestinians.

What about the 19,000 Jews directly expelled from Jerusalem and the West Bank? To whom should they address their claims for compensation? The Jordanian Arab Legion?

As David G says, Hilal takes no account of the Jewish Nakba: Jews in all Arab lands suffered simply for being Jews. There is no statute of limitations on the rights of Jewish refugees although their exodus spanned several decades. Many Jews would have left earlier if they had not been kept as virtual hostages.

The suggestion that Palestinians had no part to play in the dispossession of Jews from Arab countries is pure revisionism. The Palestinian leadership is guilty of inciting much of the anti-Semitism sweeping Arab lands from the 1920s onwards. It entered into an alliance with Nazism and dragged the Arab League into invading the nascent state of Israel in 1948. An exchange of refugee populations followed.

Danny Ayalon’s presentations may be slick, but they are at least telling the truth.


  • we now have proof of what I was saying: The Palestinian press and movements calling for the return of whatever they claim have a tremendous impact on all the Arabs. And you know what they used to say: it's written therefore it's true!!!
    the great majority is not very highly educated and therefote they will believe anything they read as long as it vomits on Jews!!!
    suzy vidal

  • Those pro-palestinian apologists.. so uninspired. They should talk about the "whole variety of reasons" that made Arabs flee Israel.
    Karsh claims that the only refugees really expelled by the Jews were the ones from Lod (50.000 – 70.000).

    I'm pretty sure Leila will never talk about this:

  • Yes, that was disingeuous of Hilal to imply Yisrael Beitenu favour transferring people out of their homes.
    It's a nonsense to pretend the Palestinians were innocent victims when they were acting in collusion with the Arab armies.

  • Hilal smears the Yisrael Beytenu party. Their program for peace with Arabs includes redrawing Israel's 1949 armistice lines ["1967 borders"] so as to leave several Arab communities that border on the "West Bank" within the territory of the palestinian Arab state, although the people in these communities are now Israeli citizens. I do not favor this program but it does not drive people out of their homes, which the PLO/PA and EU are demanding in the case of Jews living east of the armistice lines. All of that territory is part of the Jewish National Home recognized by the San Remo conference and League of Nations and confirmed by Article 80 of the UN charter.

    It should also be pointed out that the first refugees in the Israeli War of Independence [1947-1949] were Jews driven out of parts of Jerusalem, south Tel Aviv, Jaffa, and Haifa. In the cases of Haifa and Jerusalem, Arab irregular forces were helped by troops of the Transjordan Arab Legion stationed west of the Jordan river by the British. The parts of Jerusalem ethnically cleansed of Jews by Arab forces were annexed by Transjordan after 1949.


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