Donate

No, Israel Did Not Commit “War Crimes” in Restoring Jerusalem after the Six-Day War

July 13 2017

Last month, the New Yorker published an article alleging that the Jewish state violated international law when it cleared out the Mughrabi neighborhood of Jerusalem that once stood directly in front of the Western Wall. The truth is very different, write Nathaniel Belmont and Lenny Ben-David:

[Even before the 1967 war], there is evidence that the neighborhood’s days were numbered. Much like the adjacent Jewish quarter, which had been demolished by the Jordanians [in 1949], the Mughrabi quarter was nothing more than decaying slums built on rubble. . . . In 1965 and 1966, prior to the war, some 1,000 Arabs were relocated by the Jordanian administration—some by force—from the [former] Jewish quarter to the newly created Shuafat refugee camp, by order of Jordan’s then-prime minister Wasfi al-Tal, [and a similar fate likely was in store for the Mughrabi quarter]. . . .

[Furthermore, the] accusation of “war crimes” perpetrated by Israel ignores legal norms appropriating private property for public use and public safety—provided due compensation is paid. Ironically, it is Jordan that failed to recognize this basic legal norm in 1949, razing the Jewish Quarter, expelling its residents, and looting and desecrating 58 synagogues, all without compensation.

Jordan’s 1948 actions stand in stark contrast to Israel’s actions in 1967. Regarding compensation, a 1968 letter from former residents of the Mughrabi Quarter affirms that many residents received compensation.

During the 1948-1967 period, Jewish access to the shrine was totally banned; but [even] the pre-1948 situation was hardly tolerable for Jewish worshippers. After navigating through a labyrinth of potentially dangerous, narrow alleyways, Jews wishing to pray at the Western Wall found themselves in a cramped area of approximately 120 square meters. (In contrast, the al-Aqsa complex on the Temple Mount covers 144,000 square meters.) Visitors in the pre-1948 era encountered broken stones, sewage, animals (and the refuse they left behind), and Mughrabi Quarter residents who “had a tendency to harass Jewish worshipers.”

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Israel & Zionism, Jerusalem, Laws of war, New Yorker, Six-Day War, Western Wall

 

Why Cutting U.S. Funding for Palestinian “Refugees” Is the Right Move

Jan. 22 2018

Last week the Trump administration announced that it is withholding some of America’s annual contribution to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the organization tasked with providing humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees and their descendants. To explain why this decision was correct, Elliott Abrams compares UNRWA with the agency run by the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR), which provides humanitarian aid to refugees who are not Palestinian:

One of [UNHCR’s] core missions is “ending statelessness.” [By contrast, UNRWA’s] mission appears to be “never ending statelessness.” A phrase such as “ending statelessness” would be anathema and is found nowhere on its website. Since 1950, UNHCR has tried to place refugees in permanent new situations, while since 1950 UNRWA has with its staff of 30,000 “helped” over 5 million Palestinian “refugees” to remain “refugees.” . . . UNRWA has three times as large a staff as UNHCR—but helps far fewer people than the 17 million refugees UNHCR tries to assist. . . .

The argument for cutting funding to UNRWA is not primarily financial. The United States is an enormously generous donor to UNHCR, providing just under 40 percent of its budget. I hope we maintain that level of funding. . . . The argument for cutting funding to UNRWA instead rests on two pillars. The first is that UNRWA’s activities repeatedly give rise to concern that it has too many connections to Hamas and to rejectionist ideology. . . .

But even if those flaws were corrected, this would not solve the second and more fundamental problem with UNRWA—which is that it will perpetuate the Palestinian “refugee” problem forever rather than helping to solve it. . . . [T]hat the sole group of refugees whom the UN keeps enlarging is Palestinian, and that the only way to remedy this under UN definitions would be to eliminate the state of Israel or have 5 million Palestinian “refugees” move there should simply be unacceptable. . . .

Perpetuating and enlarging the Palestinian “refugee” crisis has harmed Israel and it has certainly harmed Palestinians. Keeping their grievances alive may have served anti-Israel political ends, but it has brought peace no closer and it has helped prevent generations of Palestinians from leading normal lives. That archipelago of displaced-persons and refugee camps that once dotted Europe [in the aftermath of World War II] is long gone now, and the descendants of those who tragically lived in those camps now lead productive and fruitful lives in many countries. One can only wish such a fate for Palestinian refugee camps and for Palestinians. More money for UNRWA won’t solve anything.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Israel & Zionism, Palestinians, Refugees, U.S. Foreign policy, UNRWA