Plight of the Refugees
The great tragedy of the Palestinian people is that the rulers of the Muslim world have never cared about their needs. When the United Nations proposed dividing 20 percent of Britain’s Palestinian Mandate into a Jewish state and an Arab state — 80 percent had been used to create Transjordan — those rulers said the Arabs of Palestine didn’t need a state; they were simply southern Syrians. Their families settled in Palestine after Zionist activity began to improve the economy in the 1880s.
When the Arab-initiated 1948 war resulted in 800,000 Arab refugees and 800,000 Jewish refugees, the Jews were absorbed and uplifted by Israel. The Arabs and their descendants were reclassified as a distinctive group and denied citizenship and economic opportunity throughout much of the Muslim world.
The Palestinians are the only group allowed to pass refugee status from one generation to the next. The U.N. agency created to serve them, the U.N. Refugee Welfare Agency, has colluded in keeping them poor and stateless, allowing them to be fed a diet of anti-Jewish hatred for decades.
Although the Palestinians receive the highest humanitarian aid, per capita, of any refugee group, little of the money reaches the people; it lines the bank accounts of corrupt rulers or is diverted into the war against Israel and her people.
Yasser Arafat flatly rejected Ehud Barak’s proposal for a Palestinian state in all of Gaza and 97 percent of the West Bank, with the possibility of shared governance in Jerusalem (2000-01); Mahmoud Abbas did the same when Ehud Olmert made a slightly more generous proposal in 2008.
Abbas says Israeli settlements in the West Bank prevent him from establishing a state. Yet those settlements cover only 2 percent of the West Bank and provide much-needed employment for Palestinians, both in construction and in Israeli businesses (think SodaStream before it relocated inside the Green Line). Thus, the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is just another effort to continue imposing victimhood on the Palestinians.
Many of the migrants currently risking their lives to get into Europe aren’t fleeing directly from Syria; they have already been sitting in refugee camps for several years. Is their flight impelled by a fear of being trapped in limbo as the Palestinians have been for nearly 70 years? Has the refusal of the Muslim world to uplift the Palestinians caused today’s migrants to despair of being rehabilitated in the Muslim nations of the Middle East?
— Toby F. Block, Atlanta
Where’s the Line?
I assume that Rabbi Malka Packer would not discriminate against a rabbinical student married to a Jew for Jesus or Messianic Jew (“Seminary Right on Non-Jewish Spouses,” Oct. 9).
Would Rabbi Packer’s “radical hospitality” ideal call for allowing a Jew for Jesus to become a rabbi? I mean, if the individual’s morals, values, Jewish practices and family observances meet the litmus test, and the only difference is that the individual happens to believe that Jesus is the son of G-d and the Messiah, why should he or she be excluded from the rabbinate? What say you, Rabbi Packer?
— Lee Pearlman, Atlanta
Palestinians Fail Peace
While your editorial of Oct. 9, “Two Leaders,” makes some valuable points, it makes the remarkable assertion that Palestinians responded to Benjamin Netanyahu’s Iran obsession with a wave of violence designed to grab his attention.
Netanyahu is not to blame for the current upsurge in violence. The clear cause is incitement by Palestinian leaders. Mahmoud Abbas himself said two weeks ago that “Jews desecrate the Temple Mount with their filthy feet.” He went onto say, “We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem.” Of course, this is nothing compared with the anti-Semitism spewed by his own religious and political officials. All this is readily available in translation at palwatch.org.
The failure of leadership in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been almost all on the Palestinian side. Palestinian leaders such as Yasser Arafat and Abbas have rejected every peace plan, with or without U.S. involvement. They have refused to accept the principle of two states for two peoples, rejected the notion of Israel as a Jewish homeland, and consistently disputed Jewish links to Jerusalem, even denying the existence of a temple there. They have made it clear that a Palestinian state in the West Bank will not end the conflict but instead be used as a base for further hostilities against a weakened Jewish state.
The tragedy of the Palestinian cause is that its real goal is not to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank (in addition to majority-Palestinian Jordan), but to negate and destroy Israel. Until this changes, Israel just has to keep defending itself. Rather than the easy option of blaming Israeli leadership, Jews worldwide need to face up to this reality and to publicize the rejectionism and incitement of Palestinian leaders.
— Doron Lubinsky, Atlanta