The “Right of Return” is an elementary demand of the Palestinians for the past sixty plus years, since the creation of the State of Israel. The refugee situation is in consequence of the refusal of the Palestinian/Arab world to accept the creation of the Jewish state and share a tiny corridor of the vast lands in “their” Middle-East.
The exact number of refugees caused by the wars is not exactly known. But the estimates are in the area of seven hundred thousand individuals. This includes the upper class elite who left months before the actual invasion by the armies of five Arab states.
The question of the “RIGHT” of return, i.e. the legal and or moral dimension of this critical issue is a complex matter and I will not deal with it in this article.
My concern is to stimulate thinking about the practical aspects of such a major movement of people into a society which is foreign to them and to which they are antagonistic and hateful.
While the topography of the land to which they aspire to return may be familiar, the nation and its culture which currently inhabits this area are not only strange, they are regarded with hostility. And here lies the heart of the problem.
Can anyone honestly anticipate that these several million Arabic speaking people, who have experienced sixty years of dependent refugee status, in which their health and educational needs were provided for without any effort on their part, who’s culture is based on a conservative and restrictive Islamic code can integrate into a largely western non-Islamic culture in which the predominant language is Hebrew and the principal cultural ethos is dynamic ever changing and western? This is to my mind, the less critical challenge.
We know that within the Arab world Israel and the Jewish people are considered the epitome of evil. We are The Small Satan next to the USA, the Large Satan. This is a very active, strong and powerful religious image perpetuated within their world. In addition we are often called “children of pigs and dogs” sometimes of dogs and monkeys, (animals that within Muslim culture are genetically impure and ugly) and perpetrated by the political and cultural voices of Palestinian/Arab/Muslim society.
We have heard over and over again that the Prophet himself called for our destruction. We are accused of every possible malevolence and wickedness. Just recently the accusation of organ harvesting by Israelis of Palestinians has been making the rounds of Arab/Muslim popular culture. All this is in addition the actual extremely distasteful and unpleasant experience by anyone who suffers the fate of being a refugee for which we and only we are held to blame.
Difficult and unpleasant as their experiences was in the first nineteen years of their homelessness, the past forty years of Israeli occupation and control of their environment has exacerbated an already horrendous experience and the consequentially gruesome and distasteful perception of Israel and Israelis.
Does someone seriously believe that this community has the potential to integrate and live peacefully with Israeli Jews? Is there the slightest chance that they can join our dynamic and creative society and contribute their share to our continued development in an appropriate and positive way? Can they possibly find peace, tranquility and the required constructive attitude necessary to create for themselves personally satisfying lives?
With all the economic, climatic and social challenges facing the community of nations is there any logical reason to create, out of a contributing, functional nation another failed state to the family of nations. Are there not enough failed, unsuccessful destructive and needy national entities with which we already share this planet who require our assistance?