Of course the Arab states will continue to vote in support of the Palestinians at the U.N., and to make pro-forma statements, verbal boilerplate on their behalf. That costs the Arabs nothing. A few of the richest states — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar — will donate what for them are trivial sums, to UNRWA. In 2019, that came to only $50 million apiece, which for them was a mere rounding error. But so uneager are the Arabs to support the Palestinians that it was the Israelis who had to plead on their behalf, by recently sending the head of Mossad, Yossi Cohen, to Qatar in order to convince the Emir to send more money to Gaza so as prevent further distress among its inhabitants. When the PA needed money in May, it did not go to any Arab state, but to Israel, for a $230 million loan. The loan was granted.
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The Palestinians, however, show no sign of giving up on the right of return, because it is the one way they may still be able to convert Israel into an Arab state by sheer weight of demographics, the authors argue….
Unfortunately, Wilf said, the Western world — particularly in the form of the Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA — is indulging the fantasy of a return even as the Arab world is hoping to put the issue behind it.
Wilf and Schwartz are right about other irredentist claims. The Germans gave up their claims to return to ancestral lands in Poland and Czechoslovakia. No Hindus who left what are now Pakistan and Bangladesh have demanded to be taken back, nor do Muslims in those countries claim a“right of return” to India. No Turks demand the right to return to where their ancestors lived in Greece, nor do Greeks demand the right to “return” to where their grandparents lived in what is now Turkey. Arab leaders, even those that reject the Deal of the Century, have no longer been mentioning that “right of return.” Their silence on this is telling.
“Much of the tragedy of what’s happening at this moment is that you’re beginning to hear voices in the Arab world — not among Palestinians — but in the Arab world, Saudi [Arabia] and the Gulf, who are saying these things,” Wilf said. “Who are beginning to say, the Palestinians have made a mess of things, they made a mistake.”
Certainly the refusal of the Palestinians to accept the extraordinarily generous offers that were made by Ehud Barak to Arafat in 2000, and by Ehud Olmert to Mahmoud Abbas in 2008, offers which promised the Palestinians at least 95% of the West Bank, with Barak even promising to hand over the entire Old City of Jerusalem to the Arabs, while Olmert offered to surrender the Old City to international jurisdiction – was madness. They did indeed “make a mess of things.” As Abba Eban famously said, the “Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
“The way they’re speaking, no Westerner would dare speak,” she asserted. “They’re saying very hard truths: That it’s over. That it’s time to move forward.”
“The tragedy is that as the Arab world is slowly moving away from their support for the Palestinian vision that the war of 1948 is not over and could still be undone, we have Western countries giving a billion dollars to UNRWA, thereby continuing to fuel the Palestinian vision that the war is still ongoing, that there’s still refugees, and that the outcome of 1948 could still be rolled back,” Wilf noted.
The Western world should disabuse the Palestinian Arabs of their irredentist dreams, by taking every conceivable occasion to insist that their claim to a “right of return” is off the table; it is no longer a subject for discussion, end of story. For the exercise of that “right of return” would spell the demographic end of the Jewish state, and Israel has no intention of committing suicide.
The Americans should remind the Palestinian Arabs that no other group has ever been allowed to pass their refugee status down through the generations, and it’s time to call a halt to this farce. One way to do this is to dry up the funds given to UNRWA and to shut its doors. For UNRWA is no mere dispenser of humanitarian aid. It is staffed and run by Palestinian Arabs, who continue to encourage the campaign to delegitimize the Jewish state. UNRWA schools use textbooks that teach hatred of Jews. Those schools have also been used by Hamas to hide weapons, including rockets, for use against Israel. Recently grenades and a military vest were found in an UNRWA school. Even terror tunnels have been discovered as leading from inside UNRWA schools. Israel’s U.N. ambassador Danny Danon has described UNRWA’s schools in Gaza as “terror storage facilities.” UNRWA has employed known Hamas operatives. UNRWA’s former long-time spokesman, Chris Gunness, posted his praise online of Hamas for hanging “collaborators” with Israel. As an organization, UNRWA has recently been revealed, through a set of interlocking scandals, as riddled with financial corruption, embezzlement, nepotism, and sexual misconduct at its highest levels; several of its top officials, including its Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl, were forced to resign.
Krahenbuhl’s successor, Philippe Lazzarini, promises to repair the reputational damage done to UNRWA and to win back donors. He has said that until there is a state for Palestinians, the role of UNRWA should be to provide dignity and education, which would contribute to promoting peace and security in the region. But how can UNRWA work with a recognized terror group whose stated aim is to kill Jews and destroy Israel, and still hope to “promote peace and security in the region”?
Lazzarini added that by providing ‘”dignity and education” (that “education” includes schoolbooks that teach hatred of Jews) UNRWA “will contribute to having a future generation ready and educated to take over or be part of a future country where they will be full citizens.” Clearly he is making no distinction between Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza and those who live in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. They will all be ready to “take over or be part of a future [Palestinian] country.” That means that Philippe Lazzarini, as the new Commissioner-General of UNRWA, is endorsing the “right of return” for millions of descendants of the original refugees; if they were all to exercise that “right,” it would soon mean the end of the Jewish state.
The American government did well to end its previous, and far too generous, contributions to UNRWA. Now that it has recognized UNRWA as the malign organization it has so abundantly proved to be, is it too much to hope that Washington will use its influence to persuade other members of the Western alliance, as a famous Palestinian Jew once said, to “go and do thou likewise “?
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