Israel, Zionism and the Media


The practical absurdity of a Palestinian Right of Return

In the current round of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority one of the sticking points will certainly be the Palestinian claim to a Right of Return for Palestinian refugees.

The Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister argued today in the Jerusalem Post that no such Right existed:

The so-called Palestinian ‘right of return’ is legal fiction. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194, the supposed source for this ‘right’ does not mention this term, is not legally binding and, like all other relevant United Nations resolutions uses the intentionally ambiguous term ‘refugees’ with no appellation.

This is also taken up on the Zionism and Israel Information Center website:

Palestinian advocates claim that the refugees of 1948 have a right guaranteed in international law to return to Israel. In fact, there is no such law. The Fourth Geneva Convention, often cited in this context, does not stipulate a right of return for refugees. UN Resolution 194, also cited as the basis for this “right” is a resolution of the UN General Assembly. Such resolutions are not binding in international law. No nation has the obligation to admit enemy belligerents. Moreover, Resolution 194 does not insist on a Right of Return. It says that “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so.”

The refugees were not Israeli citizens. They did not want Israeli citizenship. Beyond the dry provisions of the law, in this case admission of several million refugees would soon create an Arab majority in Israel. The people who advocate “Right of Return” also favor abolishing the Israeli Law of Return that permits Jews to immigrate to Israel freely. Israel would cease to be the national home of the Jews, and the Jewish people would lose the right to self-determination. Clearly “Right of Return” cannot be implemented in any case if it contradicts a different fundamental right that is anchored in international law.

Here we are already beginning to explore the practical absurdity of any such Right.

As indicated above, allowing ‘refugees’ to return, assuming that were practical or even practicable would effectively destroy the Jewish nature of the State of Israel, and Israel would cease to be a guarantor of the safety of Jews worldwide, which was one of the major factors in its establishment. And I am not referring here to the Holocaust; any student of Jewish history can list a very long litany of Jewish persecution for the last 2000 years, and they could also reference the current growing antisemitism in Europe and around the world. The need for a state of the Jewish people is as urgent now as at any time in history.

But let’s assume there is a Right of Return for Palestinian refugees. Let’s assume that they can now return to the homes or villages across Israel where they or their forefathers once lived 62 years ago.

1. How would any individual Palestinian prove his/her claim to his/her ancestor’s residency in any particlualr home or village?

2. What would happen to the current residents of those properties? They may not all be Jews, of course.

3. We are assuming that the ‘refugees’ want to become Israelis? Why would they? Why would they want to become citizens of a country that their leaders, media and education system has taught to loathe and despise? Has anyone asked? If not,  what is the basis for the Palestinian Authority’s insistence that this is a non-negotiable agenda item?

4. How would Israel accommodate several million new citizens?

5. As Israel has never been compensated for the 900,000 Jewish refugees who were forced out of, or fled, Arab lands after 1948, why should Israel now have to foot the bill for several million people who need homes, schools, hospitals, sanitation, water, food?

5. How can Israel be expected to accept within its borders millions of people with an historic grudge against the state who have demonstrated for several decades that they are willing to shoot, bomb, attack and sabotage Israelis and Israeli infrastructure with the ultimate aim of destroying the very state they are now asking to become citizens of?

Is it not patently obvious that the Palestinian so-called Right of Return is nothing but the expression of an on-going desire to destroy Israel and remove the Zionist entity?

As Danny Ayalon puts it in the article cited above:

Before 1948 there were nearly 900,000 Jews in Arab lands while only a few thousand remain. Where is the international outrage, the conferences, the proclamations for redress and compensation? While the Palestinian refugee issue has become a political weapon to beat Israel, the Arab League has ordered its member states not to provide their Palestinian population with citizenship; Israel absorbed all of its refugees, whether fleeing the Holocaust or persecution and expulsion from Arab lands.

Can Mahmoud Abbas really be a genuine believer in a two-state solution when one of the most cherished and immoveable pillars of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and the PLO is the Right of Return?

How can a peace settlement be based on the negation and denial of the rights of one side?

A limited return based on humanitarian grounds such as the reunification of families might be a possibility.

Beyond that, the Right is and always has been an instrument of delegitimisation and an excuse for scuppering peace.

I would not be at all surprised if it were again.

Back to Ayalon:

EVEN THOUGH the number of Jewish refugees [from Arab lands] and their assets are larger than that of the Palestinians, the international community only appears to be aware of the latter’s plight.

There are numerous major international organizations devoted to the Palestinian refugees. There is an annual conference held at the United Nations and a refugee agency was created just for the Palestinian refugees. While all the world’s refugees have one agency, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Palestinians fall under the auspices of another agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

UNWRA’s budget for 2010 is almost half of UNHCR’s budget.

Equally impressive is the fact that UNHCR prides itself on having found “durable solutions” for “tens of millions” of refugees since 1951, the year of its establishment. However, UNRWA does not even claim to have found “durable solutions” for anyone.

What is also impressive is the Palestinians’ and their supporters’ success in completely obliterating the story of the fate of Jews from Arab lands whilst perpetuating their own refugees for more than six decades.

What constantly surprises me is why the practical absurdity of the Palestinian Right of Return has rarely, if ever, been examined and no comprehensive survey of Palestinian ‘refugees’ intentions has ever taken place.

Is UNRWA getting the message at last?

Two articles today, the first in the Jerusalem Post and the second on the BBC website cast an interesting light on the way UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) and its chief in Gaza, John Ging, are beginning to speak out against Hamas and its affect on Gaza, rather than Israel’s embargo and maritime blockade. Or are they?

During Operation Cast, Ging was scathing of Israel and its putative attacks on UN compounds and its general tactics. The term ‘War Crimes’ was bandied about and there was a decided lack of interest in the tactics being employed by Hamas.

But now Ging has criticised ‘Palestinian infighting’. Why?

“It is such a tragedy that, on top of all the other crises that we have in the Gaza Strip, we now have a crisis of electricity,” John Ging, director of UNRWA in Gaza, was quoted by AFP as saying.

“It’s an unbearable situation here at the moment, and it needs to be solved very quickly. It’s a Palestinian problem, made by Palestinians, and causing Palestinian suffering. So let’s have a Palestinian solution,” he added.

Strong words indeed. Or are they? ‘Unbearable situation’ if he believes the Palestinians inflict it on their own people, ‘Humanitarian Crisis’ if he believes it’s the Israelis.

The single power plant in Gaza, which normally generates 25 percent of the electricity used in the Strip, was shut down over the weekend due to a payment dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

Do you know where the other 75% comes from? yeah, you guessed it – Israel.

A couple of weeks ago I was reading an article in the JC written by a Palestinian journalist who described the wretched conditions. He said no-one was starving but electricity was unreliable and so was water. He blames neither Hamas (he would be hanged, no doubt) or Israel (his voice may not be heard).

Most people would have concluded that this situation is 100% attributable to the Israeli maritime blockade and embargo (since eased, somewhat).

But if Hamas cares so much for its people’s suffering, then how can it allow electricity to be cut in this way? And who is ultimately responsible responsible for the stoppage of fuel required to power the plant? The Palestinian Authority. And where is the world outrage? Where are the flotillas? Where are the emergency sessions in the UN?

The BBC reports that for the second time a children’s camp, arranged and funded by UNRWA, has been burned down by ‘extremist militants’. Hamas condemned the first attack but even the BBC has to admit that nothing happens in Gaza without the say-so of the Hamas.

And what does Mr Ging say?:

“This is another example of the growing levels of extremism in Gaza and further evidence, if that were needed, of the urgency to change the circumstances on the ground,” John Ging said.

What does he mean ‘change the circumstances on the ground’?

Does he mean that Israel is to blame for this? Israel, because of the blockade and the embargo? Has he too fallen into the causal quagmire? Does he really think that Islamist extremism is caused by Israel’s blockade and embargo rather than the blockade and embargo being a result of Islamist extremism?

Hamas, having gained possession of Gaza, having seen every last Israeli leave, decided to destroy millions of dollars of agricultural equipment left gratis by Israel and then begin a campaign of launching thousands of rockets into Israel.

And what about the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ aid which was held up for days by Hamas. Does the world expect a ruthless, genocidal, Islamist, terrorist group to care more about its people than Israel?

Or does Ging mean that Hamas and the extremists need to be defeated? Does he ‘get it’ or not?

You decide.

Hamas, Israel and the Flotilla Aid

Whilst the world rushes to judgement on Israel’s interception of the Freedom Flotilla and the deaths of 9 Turkish nationals, the actual humanitarian aid languishes in Israel.


MissingPeace have just issued a report after they inspected the aid along with members of the media at the Tzifrin army base.

Their report is vital in understanding the true intentions of the Turkish organisers and also the disgusting way that the IHH hijacked the cause of the real humanitarians in the convoy.

Journalists including international news media were taken to Tzifrin on June 7th.  Only the cargo of one of the  ships was at the stage where it had been processed and unloaded and awaiting delivery.  Other ships’ cargoes had already gone through this process and 45 trucks of aid had been loaded ready to be sent, but not delivered, of which more later.

Most of the unloading of other ships was completed.

The ship in question was the Defne Y.

So you are thinking, ‘ three ships? But there were six ‘ (Rachel Corrie arrived later).  So here goes:

A breakdown of the cargo found on the ships shows that of the six ships of the flotilla only three had humanitarian aid aboard:

Gaza ship: building materials, cement, iron – The ship has not been fully unloaded.

Sofi ship:  building materials, iron

Defne Y ship: clothing, humanitarian aid (roughly 40 trucks worth), and games, building materials, wheelchairs.

The “Marmara”: carried only passengers and their personal belongings. Many passengers carried large sums of money on their body. There was no Humanitarian aid on this ship.

The other two ships did not carry humanitarian aid as well.

There were 600 people on board the Mavi Marmara, mainly Turkish, but no aid. What then, was their purpose? This was the largest boat by far. Why fill it with hundreds of people and their belongings but no aid? Why was the aid, the real aid from the Free Gaza Movement, on the small ships only? No aid whatsoever on the largest, Turkish boat. It could have taken hundreds of tonnes. Nothing. Why? Because it was never an aid ship, it was a blockade-breaking ship. It was an IHH propaganda weapon. It was a political demonstration. Well that’s fine if that is your purpose.

But this ground, the intention of the ‘activists’ [read: terrorists] who had taken over the Mavi Marmara in Istanbul and the subsequent lethal confrontation, is now the subject of an enquiry and has already been covered ad nauseam.

Let’s look at the fate of the cargo.

The humanitarian aid on all the ships was not packaged and not placed on the ship in an organized way, as one would expect from an organized humanitarian aid cargo. Everything was in individual units thrown on to a pile on the ships. This was not only unsafe, but it also caused a lot of damage to the objects, since the weight crushed a lot of things and since a lot of the things were just thrown on board.

So even where there was aid, no great care was taken. No-one thought to make use of an experienced aid agency to advise on loading. Hundreds of people gave money and aid items which were carelessly loaded. Does this tell us anything about the real priority of those involved?

And now what rogue/terrorist/racist/apartheid Israel does:

To deal with the cargo on the ships, here are the stages that it must undergo by Israel:

  1. Israel scans all the cargo and sifts out the humanitarian aid. The aid is then placed on trucks.
  2. The aid goes through x-ray machines to see that everything is indeed safe.
  3. Since nothing was packaged and organized, Israel did this.

This entire procedure costs a lot of time and a lot of money.

They actually package it up!

When asked how many tons of aid was on all the ships, the spokesman said they don’t know yet, since the only way one can weigh something is, if it’s packaged, compressed and sealed. He showed a stack of wood boxes with labels and said that this was done by Israel …

But Hamas still try to smear Israel, accusing them of taking batteries out of the electric wheelchairs (part of their excuse, no doubt for not letting the aid through).

The spokesman said that first of all, Hamas can’t know what Israel is doing because they are not allowing the aid into the Strip. Secondly, one needs to take out the batteries from the wheel chairs because if they are stored for a long time in the heat with the batteries, the batteries get ruined. He then took the journalists to the inside storage space, which is kept cool. There all the batteries were neatly placed in boxes all lined up. He said that the minute they will get a green light from Gaza, Israel can transfer everything into the Strip. Then the batteries will be transferred together with the chairs.

The batteries for the electric wheel chairs are gel batteries. Hamas says that Israel does not allow the entry of batteries into the Gaza Strip. Asked what the problem is with batteries the spokesman said the problem is not with gel but with liquid batteries.  This is because 1 liter of this battery liquid can produce 50 kilos of nitroglycerin which is an active ingredient in the manufacture of explosives, specifically dynamite.

One can’t avoid the conclusion that Hamas invented a serious need for wheelchairs specifically because they wanted the liquid batteries to make explosives and if Israel didn’t allow them in they can accuse them of callousness. But this time Hamas weren’t quite clever enough. They should have been more specific when they asked for wheelchairs.

For me the story of the wheelchairs shows exactly why there is a blockade and exactly why even items that look innocent, such as wheelchairs, have to be checked and why Israel insisted that the ships dock at Ashdod.

Some of the cargo was expired medicine and worn goods. Only 1 per cent of the goods by weight was medicine.

A Japanese reporter who visits Gaza regularly, said that what is needed in Gaza is hospital/medical equipment and medicine. He said that if the flotilla would have been really concerned about what is needed in Gaza, they would have made sure to send more medical things.

Indeed. But even these expired medicines were being stored by Israel in a cool indoor space.

And finally a complete fiasco as to what to do with the aid because Hamas refuses to accept it. Hamas says the aid is tainted by passage through Israel even though hundreds of tonnes come through via Israel every day. The other reason is that they are waiting for Turkey to decide what to do with it.

The Japanese reporter was trying to unravel the reasons for the delay in delivering this so-called vital aid.

He spoke with the PA civil-committee about this issue. They said that it is the responsibility of UNRWA. Then he called UNRWA and he was told that they are not in contact with Israel and that it is not in their power to decide, but that it is the responsibility of UNSCO.

UNRWA also said that they received a message from Hamas telling them that they should not allow any humanitarian aid from the flotilla to enter the Gaza Strip.  UNSCO also said that they are not in charge of the flotilla aid. They said that UNRWA deals with it, when confronted with the UNRWA reference to them, the man on the phone laughed and said this is not the case.

Next was COGAT, they first refused to give specific names and said “you can imagine who these international authorities are”. When pressed they said they are in touch with UNRWA, the Red Cross and “other powerful players such as the USA”, The COGAT official did not want to get more specific because he did not want to blame any particular organization until things are sorted out.  The International Red Cross in Gaza told that they have their own projects and bring in their own aid.

They said they have nothing to do with the flotilla. When asked if they have met with Hamas about the flotilla, IRC said that they have had discussions with Hamas who told them not to accept any of the aid…

… [The Japanese journalist]  said that if there is a real need for humanitarian aid in Gaza then everyone would work quickly to allow the entry of the aid into the Strip. Furthermore he said that if in Africa they need food, no one waits to deliver it.

Yet these very same international relief agencies are the first to accuse Israel of causing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

This is beyond belief.

Update: *See also the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs report