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Who is a refugee? (ISRAEL HAYOM OP-ED) Dror Eydar 06/22/12)Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=2108 Israel Hayom Israel Hayom Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
The U.S. Congress is seeking clarifications over why it is that only Palestinian refugees are able to pass the "refugee" status down from generation to generation, while every other refugee in the world cannot.

A lot has already been written about the U.N. body established specifically to assist Palestinian refugees – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, or UNRWA. It has become a professional organization, that provides many employees with a steady living, but it does very little to resolve the refugee status of the Palestinians. The bulk of UNRWA´s budget comes from the U.S.

A key achievement can be credited to Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon. He is promoting a new memorial day on the Jewish calendar – Jewish refugee day. On this day, we will remember the 850,000 Jewish refugees who were forced to flee from Arab states. This would not just be a symbolic act; in our blood-soaked region, remembrance carries a political and diplomatic meaning. The Palestinians are speaking about refugees at length? Then we will too. While our refugees have assimilated into society, the Palestinian refuges have always been, and still remain, no more than a propaganda tool for their leaders.

On this day, our schools should teach Joan Peter´s book "From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine" (on the demographics of the Arab population of Palestine and of the Jewish population of the Arab world before and after the establishment of the State of Israel). Peters found that only when it came to Palestinians did the U.N. alter its classification of refugees to apply to people who lived in the territory for only two years prior the establishment of Israel. Why did the criteria need to be changed? Because many of the refugees arrived in the area on the heels of the Zionist enterprise and the British mandate in search of work. Somebody should tell Israel´s African infiltrator population – they have been here for more than two years, and they, too, can demand a right of return to Israel.

Yair Lapid´s peace

Journalist-turned-politician Yair Lapid was interviewed by Channel 2 newscaster Yonit Levy on Tuesday. The interview raised some interesting points. My problem is with Lapid´s diplomatic platform (on which, unsurprisingly, Levy did not challenge him). According to Lapid, "[Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu decided that he is not interested in doing anything that could ever possibly bring peace. He took Israel´s most complicated, most bleeding issue – the Israeli- Palestinian conflict – and said ´let´s pass this one on to our children… let them figure it out.´"

Excuse me? Netanyahu hasn´t done anything to advance peace? In his Bar Ilan speech at the beginning of his term he said "two states for two peoples," he froze settlement construction (in some places in Judea and Samaria the freeze is still in place), what about all that? The chance for peace is directly linked to Israel´s financial, security and cultural strength. In these areas, in my opinion, the current government is doing more than its predecessors.

As far as I can recall, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert presented the Palestinians with the most reckless offer in Israel´s history – he offered to hand over to the Palestinians 100% of Judea and Samaria, he agreed to divide Jerusalem, and even offered a compromise on the absorption of Palestinian refugees within our borders. Short of turning this country into a state of all its citizens (as opposed to a Jewish state), a more extreme offer is not possible.

And still, the Palestinians rejected Olmert´s offer as though it were the plague. The honest truth is, and Lapid knows it, that the Palestinians will not agree to any deal that will force them to recognize the rights of Jews to any part of this country. Even the most extreme Left would not be able to strike peace with the Palestinians in our time.

Yes, this is our "most complex, bleeding issue," but not because of any diplomatic negotiations. It is a complex issue because it touches on the very essence of the Israeli debate: the question of our identity. In this debate, Judea and Samaria, and Jerusalem above all, carry a very clear message of being the cradle of ancient Hebrew nationhood.

Therein lies the root of the desire expressed by parts of our society to relinquish these territories, and the Jewish majority´s desire to hold on to this land. Not every problem has a solution. Western logic doesn´t always work here in the Middle East, and sometimes, the passage of time resolves things in the best possible way, defying certain reporters´ doomsday prophecies. Therefore, it is okay to leave this issue for the next generation to resolve.


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