In an Arabic-language article published last week, I argued that Israel's new campaign to artificially equate Palestinian refugees and Jews who either immigrated or fled to Israel from Arab states relies on a forced and false analogy. Zionist ideology contradicts the notion that these Israeli Jews are refugees, and six decades of Israeli policy demonstrate Israel's complete disregard for Palestinian refugee rights. Israel's manipulative strategy is part of a public relations campaign that is both cynical and hypocritical.This is unadulterated garbage.
At the very core of Zionist ideology is the idea that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people. If this is the case, and Jews living in Israel are citizens of their singular national homeland, then the state cannot consider them refugees -- they cannot be returnees to Israel and refugees from another homeland at the same time. Demanding that the international community treat Jewish immigrants as refugees is therefore an act of "dezionization." If, however, they are refugees and Israel is not their homeland, then their primary right is the right to return.
The definition of "refugee" is quite clear, and comes from the Refugee Convention:
The 1951 Refugee Convention establishing UNHCR spells out that a refugee is someone who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country."Of course Jews who fled Arab countries are refugees - because they fit the legal definition. And of course they do not want to return, because of their quite well-founded fear of persecution, not to mention that they came to a country that welcomed them.
Ashrawi's defining refugees' primary right to "return" is her pathetic attempt to fit all refugees under the umbrella of the bizarre, unique definition that Palestinian Arabs give themselves. This is a definition that is quite at odds with the Refugee Convention definition, although it added what it thought was a temporary exclusion for Palestinian Arabs when it was written. Thanks to people like Ashrawi, who will do everything possible to keep the Palestinian Arabs in the category of "refugees" forever - including lobbying against their becoming citizens of the countries that they are born in - that exception is still there.
And she calls Israel's definition of "refugee" - the same one the UN uses - "cynical!"
(Plus, if you think that Ashrawi really cares about "dezionization," I have a "refugee camp" for sale at a good price....)
UPDATE: While HuffPo bans me - I'm really not sure why - someone else pasted my post as a talkback to the article, thanks.