The State Department confirmed today that as many as 1,350 Iraqi Palestinians – once the well-treated guests of Saddam Hussein and now at outs with much of Iraqi society – will be resettled in the US, mostly in southern California, starting this fall.
It will be the largest-ever resettlement of Palestinian refugees into the US – and welcome news to the Palestinians who fled to Iraq after 1948 but who have had a tough time since Mr. Hussein was deposed in 2003. Targeted by Iraqi Shiites, the mostly-Sunni Palestinians have spent recent years in one of the region's roughest refugee camps, Al Waleed, near Iraq's border with Syria.
[S]ome critics say the State Department is sloughing off its problems onto American cities, especially since in this case the Palestinians were sympathizers of Hussein, who was deposed by the US.
"This is politically a real hot potato," says Mark Krikorian, director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, adding, "[A]merica has become a dumping ground for the State Department's problems – they're tossing their problems over their head into Harrisburg, Pa., or Omaha, Neb."
While the US generally doesn't accept Palestinians, Todd Pierce, a spokesman for the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, says that the Iraqi population of Palestinians falls under a different category from those in Gaza and the West Bank. Each applicant will be carefully scrutinized for terrorist ties, he adds.
The US reluctance to accept Palestinians is because it "doesn't want the refugee program to become an issue in its relationship with Israel," says a diplomat in the region, who requested anonymity because he is not cleared to talk to the press. But these Palestinians, he says, will be processed as refugees from Iraq.
People are misunderstanding this issue.
Unlike the vast majority of "Palestinian refugees," these people really are refugees - but from Iraq, not from Palestine. These are the people who have been treated like garbage throughout the Arab world, which has refused to take in their relatively small numbers. These people live in real refugee camps, with tents, not the permanent towns that Palestinian Arabs live in.
The Arab world has consistently refused to help them out, despite pleas from UNHCR. The rich Gulf countries don't spend a dime on helping them out.
On the contrary - they work hard to keep them in misery!
The Arabs have decried all previous attempts to resettle these refugees in Western countries.The reason they give is the most cynical one imaginable - that by keeping them stateless and miserable, they keep alive "Palestinian unity." So it is for their own good!
The US has a golden opportunity to publicize these facts and shame the Arab world into taking responsibility for Palestinian Arabs. It should not take in these people under the radar - it should trumpet this humanitarian action and announce that we have no choice but to take them in because their Arab brethren have refused to help out this population for years and have actively worked to keep them in their camps on the Iraqi border. We need to expose the naked hypocrisy of the Arab world's pretenses that they care about Palestinian Arabs when they are actually the ones responsible for their misery.
This is not nearly as bad as some think it is, and if the US was smart, this could become the most important turning point in forcing Arabs to take real responsibility for their own problems.
Read my previous articles about these refugees and how Arabs treat them:The second-most hated people in the Middle East
Iraqi "Palestinians" find refuge outside the Arab world
The Arab world isn't embarrassed at all....
The Arab world's nightmareArab world screwing their own people
Palestinian Arabs fighting to keep their brethren miserable
Guess who offered to help Palestinian Iraqi refugees?