Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Khaled Abu Toameh touches on one of the major themes of this blog:
When was the last time the United Nations Security Council met to condemn an Arab government for its mistreatment of Palestinians?

How come groups and individuals on university campuses in the US and Canada that call themselves "pro-Palestinian" remain silent when Jordan revokes the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians?

The plight of Palestinians living in Arab countries in general, and Lebanon in particular, is one that is often ignored by the mainstream media in West.

How come they turn a blind eye to the fact that Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and many more Arab countries continue to impose severe travel restrictions on Palestinians?

And where do these groups and individuals stand regarding the current debate in Lebanon about whether to grant Palestinians long-denied basic rights, including employment, social security and medical care?

Or have they not heard about this debate at all? Probably not, since the case has failed to draw the attention of most Middle East correspondents and commentators.

A news story on the Palestinians that does not include an anti-Israel angle rarely makes it to the front pages of Western newspapers.

The demolition of an Arab-owned illegal building in Jerusalem is, for most of these correspondents, much more important than the fact that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Lebanon continue to suffer from a series of humiliating restrictions.

Not only are Palestinians living in Lebanon denied the right to own property, but they also do not qualify for health care, and are banned by law from working in a large number of jobs.

Can someone imagine what would be the reaction in the international community if Israel tomorrow passed a law that prohibits its Arab citizens from working as taxi drivers, journalists, physicians, cooks, waiters, engineers and lawyers? Or if the Israeli Ministry of Education issued a directive prohibiting Arab children from enrolling in universities and schools?

Ironically, it is much easier for a Palestinian to acquire American and Canadian citizenship than a passport of an Arab country. In the past, Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were even entitled to Israeli citizenship if they married an Israeli citizen, or were reunited with their families inside the country.

Lebanese politicians are now debating new legislation that would grant "civil rights" to Palestinians for the first time in 62 years. The new bill includes the right to own property, social security payments and medical care.

Many Lebanese are said to be opposed to the legislation out of fear that it would pave the way for the integration of Palestinians into their society and would constitute a burden to the economy.
I would add that there a a couple of other major reasons why the Lebanese are almost all against granting Palestinian Arabs equal rights.

One is that there is still a legally mandated balance between Shiites, Sunnis and Christians in Lebanon. A new influx of hundreds of thousands of mostly Sunni Palestinians would upset the demographics, and Lebanon is very sensitive to demographics. In fact, Lebanon has avoided doing a census for that very reason - the fear that it will be discovered that the number of Christians has been shrinking and that Sunnis and Shiites have been growing.

The other reason is that there is still a lot of resentment over the PLO's role in the civil war that killed hundreds of thousands of people in the 1970s and 1980s. For all the pro-Palestinian Arab rhetoric that Lebanon spews, in the end they really don't love their Palestinians at all - quite the opposite.

The Arab supposed support for their Palestinian brethren is pretty much  limited to only how they can be used as pawns to hurt Israel. When it comes to concrete actions that would actually help the Palestinian Arab economy, or their quality of life, Arab nations are far less forthcoming.

And this answers Toameh's question of why Arab mistreatment of their Palestinians is muted - because it does not have anything to do with Israel, and that is the entire reason that the Palestinian Arabs exist as a people today. Practically their entire quasi-nationhood is a fiction that was foisted upon them by decades of abuse by their Arab neighbors, and if they would have been integrated into Arab societies the way that a similar number of Jews from Arab countries were integrated into Israel, there would be very few people identifying as "Palestinian" today - and the major weapon that the Arabs have against Israel would disappear.

Modern Palestinian Arab nationalism began as a purely anti-Israel movement (Fatah and the PLO were founded in the early 1960s, before any "occupation.") It is not an expression of hundreds of years of any sort of cohesive unity - there never was any, and there still isn't. Their peoplehood is from 62 years of being treated like garbage mostly by their Arab brothers, and those are the people who should take their fair share of the responsibility to eliminate the scourge of millions of fake "refugees" that they have hosted and persecuted for six decades.

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