Monday, January 31, 2011

UN's Double Standard for Arab Refugees

Hillel Fendel

An artist and poetess from the Negev have embarked on a personal campaign to prove that the story on which she was raised – that the Jews stole the land from Palestinians – is untrue.

Yona Levy Grossman, a resident of Moshav Ein HaBesor, located within short-range rocket reach of Hamas terrorists, has begun circulating a slide-show presentation on the internet of late. "For a long time," she told Arutz-7’s Shimon Cohen, “I didn’t know the true story, and was influenced by the Arab lies.” She was finally “tipped off” to the falsehood of the claim that Jews stole Palestinian land by none other than a professor associated with the left-wing camp. 80-90% of Arabs are New Arrivals
“He gave a talk in which he said that 80% to 90% of the Arabs living here today have not lived here for many centuries, as they claim, but are new arrivals,” she said. “I then began researching the topic, and I found out that he was right.” She said that the professor asked that she not reveal his name, however.

Lenient Criteria for Arabs
Grossman also found out some interesting information on UNRWA: “Just like many other people, I was sad to hear that Israel had bombed a school in Gaza run by UNRWA [the UN agency responsible for the Arab refugees of 1948] during Operation Cast Lead. So I began to look into this as well.”

She explains on her slideshow what she found: “The UN has two organizations dealing with refugees around the world: One is UNRWA, which deals exclusively with the Arab refugees caused by Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, and the other is UNHCR, which deals with all the other millions of refugees all over the world. UNRWA is the only one that deals with a specific area, and that deals only with refugees caused a particular war.”

Even more significantly, Grossman found that the two organizations define “refugee” differently. UNHCR counts only those refugees who lived in a particular place “from time immemorial” and were forced to leave because of war and the like. UNRWA’s definition, however, is: "Every Arab who left Israel in 1948, and who lived there for two years [emphasis added], will also be considered a refugee - he and his descendants.”

In short, Grossman explains, an Arab need have lived in the Holy Land for only two years in order for him and his descendants to be granted refugee status – whereas in the rest of the world, one who seeks refugee status must be able to trace his ancestry in the area back 'from time immemorial.'"

In terms of numbers, UNRWA employs 28,000 people - one for every 164 refugees, while UNHCR employs 6,300 people, one for every 2,803 refugees.

"Direct Contradiction to Foundation of Arab Claims"
As Joan Peters writes in her seminal work, From Time Immemorial (page 5), she abruptly realized that the different definition for ‘Arab refugee’ implied “a direct contradiction of... the very foundation of the current Arab claim of ‘legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to their [ancient] homeland.’”

In trying to understand the reason for the “two-year” clause, Grossman said she came to realize that a tremendous proportion of the Arabs in question had only been in the Holy Land for two years before 1948: “If refugee-status would have been contingent upon having lived there for five years, for instance, then there would hardly have been any Arab refugees to speak of!”

Different Goals for Different Refugees
Grossman said she also came to realize that the two UN refugee agencies have different goals: “Around the world, the UNHRC seeks to rehabilitate refugees and improve their civil rights and personal conditions. UNRWA, however, seeks only to regain the ‘Right of Return’ for its refugees, without concern for the people’s actual rights, and even if they have already received citizenship somewhere else.”

They Don't Care About Palestinians!
Asked if this shows her that the UN is driven by a Palestinian agenda, Grossman said, “They don’t care at all about the Palestinians! Whoever treats them in this way and keeps them as refugees doesn’t care about them at all. Rather, there is an oil-driven lobby in the world that simply wants to liquidate the State of Israel; it bothers them that the Jews are a free nation in their land.”

Though the slide-show is in Hebrew, Grossman’s English explanation of her findings can be seen here.

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