To advocates for the Jewish refugee cause, it comes as a pleasant surprise to hear the columnist, author and commentator Melanie Phillips apply her forensic mind to the question of Jewish and Palestinian refugees in her Voice of Israel programme of 7 December.
You can hear Melanie give an overview of the Jewish refugee issue in this segment. She refers to the work of the historian Nathan Weinstock, who has researched the unequal relationship between Arab Muslim rulers and their Dhimmi Jews.
In a segment on Palestinian refugees, she asks Chris Gunness, spokesman for UNWRA, the agency exclusively dedicated to the care of Palestinian refugees, why these refugees are entitled to pass on their refugee status in perpetuity. It is because the conflict has not yet been resolved, he argues unconvincingly. If this logic applied to the descendants of Jewish refugees from Arab lands, there would be three or four million entitled to claim refugee status.
In the final segment, Melanie compares and contrasts the two sets of refugees, ‘genuine’ Jewish and ‘false’ Palestinian ( what she prefers to call ‘stateless Arabs’). The Jewish refugees did what refugees the world over have always done: they resettled and moved on.