Posted by Judy K. Warner on August 3, 2010
I don’t have time to comment on this, but I want to bring to your attention a piece on FrontPage Magazine by Dr. Martin Sherman, The Palestinian Problem: A Real Solution. So I’ll excerpt generously. The problem:
Any dispassionate evaluation of the events of the past two decades invariably leads one to accept the following conclusion: that the Palestinians seem far more focused on annulling Jewish political independence than attaining Palestinian political independence. That is to say, Palestinians are far more committed to the deconstruction of the Jewish State than to construction of a Palestinian one.
However, no matter how convincingly one can show that the Palestinians as a national entity have failed to create their own national destiny, a stark reality remains: there are hundreds of thousands of essentially disenfranchised Palestinian families residing both in Israeli territory and in the wider Arab world.
The solution is threefold. First, eliminate UNRWA, the UN’s agency devoted solely to Palestinian refugees.
As Daniel Pipes has pointed out, the persistence and scale of the Palestinian refugee problem is, to a large degree, an artificial construct. The UN body under whose auspices all the refugees on the face of the globe fall — except for the Palestinians — is the UN Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). A separate institution exists for the Palestinians — the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. UNHCR and UNRWA have widely different definitions for the term “refugee” and widely divergent mandates for dealing with them.
According to the High Commission’s definition, the number of refuges decreases over time, while according to the UNRWA definition, the number increases. This “definition disparity” brings about an astonishing situation: If the High Commission criterion was applied to the Palestinians, the number of refugees would shrink dramatically to around 200,000 – i.e., less than 5 percent of the current number of almost 5 million according to the UNRWA definition.
Moreover, while the mandate of the UNHCR permits the body to seek permanent solutions for refugees under its auspices, UNRWA is permitted only to provide ongoing humanitarian aid for the ever-increasing population of Palestinians. Accordingly, while UNHCR operates to dissipate the problems of the refugees under its auspices, UNRWA activities serve only to prolong their refugee status and thus, their predicament. Indeed, rather than reduce the dimensions of the refugee problem, UNRWA has actually functioned to perpetuate the refugee status of the Palestinians from one generation to the next. It has create an enduring and expanding culture of dependency, while cultivating an unrealistic fantasy of returning to a home that no longer exists.
Second, eliminate Arab discrimination against Palestinians.
Throughout the Arab world, the Palestinians are subject to blatant discrimination with regard to employment opportunities, property ownership, freedom of movement, and acquisition of citizenship. For example, Saudi Arabia in 2004 announced it was introducing measures to ease the attainment of Saudi citizenship for all foreigners who were residing in the country except Palestinians, half a million of whom live in the kingdom.
When approached on this issue of discrimination against the Palestinian residents in Arab countries, Hisham Youssef, spokesman for the 22-nation Arab League, openly acknowledged that Palestinians live “in very bad conditions,” but claimed the policy is meant “to preserve their Palestinian identity.” He went on to explain with perhaps unintended candor: “If every Palestinian who sought refuge in a certain country was integrated and accommodated into that country, there won’t be any reason for them to return to Palestine.”
But according to a survey conducted by the well-known Palestinian pollster, Dr. Khalil Shikaki, most Palestinians were less interested in being nationalist standard-bearers than in living fuller lives. This view resonates strongly with opinion samples gathered by the leading Arab television stations Al-Arabiya and Al Jazeera of Palestinians living in the various Arab states, the vast majority of whom very much want to become citizens in the their respective countries of residence.
And third, allow Palestinians to choose their courses individually or as families, not as a total entity directed by leaders who do not have their best interests at heart.
After decades of disastrous failure, it should be clear that there is little chance of resolving the Palestinian issue if we continue to consider Palestinians as a cohesive entity with which contacts are conducted via some sort of “leadership.” Efforts should therefore be devoted exclusively towards individual Palestinians and towards allowing them, as individuals, free choice as to how to chart their future.
These efforts should be channeled in two major ways:
- Generous monetary compensation to aid the relocation and rehabilitation of the Palestinian residents in territories outside the confines of the 1967 “Green Line,” presumably — but not necessarily — in the Arab/Moslem world.
- Making the offer of compensation and relocation directly to the heads of families and not through any collective Palestinian entity or organizational framework.
It should be stipulated that an offer of financially-induced relocation made to a Palestinian political leadership would be vehemently rejected. But the approach suggested here would be made directly by an Israeli (or possibly an appropriately constituted international) entity, to the individual recipients. The scale of the offer would be on the order of the average lifetime earnings in some relevant host country for each family head — i.e. the GDP per capita of such a country multiplied by at least say 40-50 years. (As a comparative yardstick, this would be equivalent to an immigrant bread-winner arriving in the US with 2-2.5 million dollars.)
…. A November 2004 survey commissioned by the Jerusalem Summit and conducted by a reputable Palestinian polling center and in conjunction with a well-know Israeli institute to gauge Palestinians’ willingness to emigrate permanently in exchange for material compensation. Significantly, the poll showed that only 15% of those polled would absolutely refuse to accept any such inducements, while over 70% stated that they would be willing to take the bargain.
What this would mean to the host countries:
For the prospective host countries the proposal has considerable potential economic benefits. The Palestinians arriving at their gates will not be impoverished refugees, but relatively prosperous individuals with the equivalent of decades of local per capita GDP in their pockets. Indeed, for every hundred Palestinian families received, the host country could count on around fifteen to twenty million dollars going directly into the private sector. Absorbing 2,500 new Palestinian family units could mean the injection of up to half a billion into local economies often in dire need of such funds.
He goes into the economics of the offer in detail — how Israel could do it, what it would mean if other countries helped, and so forth. There are some objections I can think of right off, but it’s worth talking about. Maybe not discussing in public, because “world opinion” would find a way to condemn Israel for such a plan. But it’s worth discussing within Israel.