Rather Than Help Palestinian Refugees, Arab Leaders and Their Western Enablers Have Used Them as a Weapon to Defeat Israel

After the major conflicts of the 20th century, the United Nations and its predecessor organizations sought to resettle millions of refugees in new homes. But, as Adi Schwartz and Einat Wilf explain in The War of Return, the UN has taken a different approach to those Arabs who fled their homes during Israel’s War of Independence, seeking instead to keep them and their descendants in a permanent state of a homelessness. Matti Friedman writes in his review:

When I started reporting on Israel for the international press, I was made aware of linguistic quirks unique to this particular beat. One good example was the word “settlement,” which, in ordinary usage, means “a small village,” an isolated community out of Little House on the Prairie or perhaps colonial Rhodesia—but which we often used to describe suburban towns of 50,000 in the West Bank or certain neighborhoods in Jerusalem. A typical reader of the English language envisioned one thing, while the reality was another.

Another quirk was our use of the word “capital,” which we refused to apply to Jerusalem, even though Jerusalem is Israel’s official seat of government, and that is the meaning of the word, which has nothing to do with international recognition. Or there was the word “disputed,” which we weren’t allowed to use for the West Bank, even though there’s obviously a dispute over the territory—the word “disputed” would make it seem like Israel might have a case. Our vocabulary was a kind of political code.

One of the most confusing examples was the word “refugee.” In describing the problems associated with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we regularly referred to “millions of Palestinian refugees,” summoning a clear image for Western readers—tents, camps, displaced people. The word “refugee” means “a person who flees for refuge or safety, especially to a foreign country,” but this wasn’t true of the vast majority of the people we were describing.

Most of them are in fact descendants of refugees, and very many already have citizenship in the countries they live, i.e., they don’t fit any standard definition of the term. Why did Arab governments insist on perpetual refugee status? So they could demand of Israel the “right of return.”

Arab leaders weren’t coy about their plan. “It is well known and understood,” said Egypt’s foreign minister Mohammad Salah al-Din, “that the Arabs, in demanding the return of the refugees to Palestine, mean their return as masters of the homeland and not as its slaves. With greater clarity, they mean the liquidation of the state of Israel.”

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Media, Palestinian refugees

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy