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.