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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The second-most hated people in the Middle East

The most hated people in the Middle East? That's easy.

But who comes in at #2?

It is, hands down, the Iraqis of Palestinian origin.

Saddam Hussein gave huge privileges to Palestinian Arabs (short of citizenship, of course.) He gave them subsidized housing, forcing Iraqi landlords to charge less for Palestinian Iraqis. When Saddam fell, jealous Iraqi landlords started evicting them - and worse. Many were killed and blamed for terror attacks.

Hundreds fled Iraq, but found that none of their Arab brethren had any interest in taking them in. They have been stuck in real refugee camps - not the towns that the UNRWA runs in Jordan and the territories that it calls "refugee camps" - on the Iraqi borders with Jordan and Syria. And for years, the UNHCR has been trying to find countries to take them in.

Arab countries - even those that accepted thousands of other Iraqi refugees - refused to take the Palestinian Iraqis.

Yet, in 2006, when Canada offered to take a few dozen of the Palestinian Iraqis as refugees, both Hamas and the PA complained to the UNHCR, not wanting them to leave the area - preferrring that they stay in miserable conditions.

The reason? As an Arabic Falasteen editorial said, it is because happy Palestinian Arabs don't support their idea of "unity" - once they go to the West they have little interest in "returning" to the place where their Arab brethren can treat them like dirt:
We have warned and others in more than one location and an article about the dangers to be dissipating refugee diaspora Palestinians, since this will negatively impact on the fabric of their unity and their syndicated in the areas of asylum...these will lead to migration to other European countries and therefore as a result of this disruption to the bloc refugees in Lebanon and the resulting in the end of the negative impact on their right to return to their homes and property.
Today, the situation is similar:
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today warned that the situation of the more than 2,700 Palestinians who have been stranded and are living in inhumane conditions in two camps on the Iraqi-Syrian border continues to deteriorate.

“Over the past 22 months, UNHCR has been calling for urgent humanitarian solutions for this group and – even if only temporary – relocation elsewhere, preferably in the Arab region,” the agency’s spokesperson Ron Redmond said at a press briefing in Geneva.

In 2006, Canada received 64 Palestinians from Iraq, while last year, Brazil accepted 107. Recently, Chile, which itself was once a refugee-producing country, offered to resettle an initial group of 117 Palestinians, who are expected to leave Iraq for the South American nation in April.

Additionally, Sudan has extended an offer to accept 2,000 Palestinians, and UNHCR and Palestinian representatives are currently working to finalize a plan to allow the operation to take place.

The agency welcomed these responses from third countries, but reminded countries that there is a further need to help in dealing with acute cases.
So whenever you hear people from Saudi Arabia or Jordan or Syria or Egypt or Kuwait or any other Arab state complain about how terribly Israel treats the Palestinian Arabs, ask them politely what exactly they have done for this group of less than 3000 refugees - who can be easily absorbed by any Arab country. Ask the oil-rich states how much money they contribute for the upkeep of these camps. Ask them whether they would allow temporary visas or work permits to this group of their beloved Palestinian brethren.

And then ask them why not.