Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Homemade Genocide

The Arab world is subject to genocide, it is true. It's just that it's mostly self-inflicted, and Israel has nothing to do with any of it. Fact no. 1: Since the establishment of the State of Israel a merciless genocide is being perpetrated against Muslims and/or Arabs. Fact no. 2: The conflict in the Middle East, between Israel and the Arabs as a whole and against the Palestinians in particular, is regarded as the central conflict in the world today. Fact no. 3: According to polls carried out in the European Union, Israel holds first place as “Danger to world peace”. In Holland, for instance, 74% of the population holds this view. Not Iran. Not North Korea. Israel. Connecting between these findings creates one of the biggest deceptions of modern times: Israel is regarded as the country responsible for every calamity, misfortune and hardship. It is a danger to world peace, not just to the Arab or Muslim world.

The finger is pointed cleverly. It’s difficult to blame Israel for the genocide in Sudan or for the civil war in Algeria. How is it done? Dozens of publications, articles, books, periodicals and websites are dedicated to one purpose only: Turning Israel into a state that ceaselessly perpetrates war crimes. In Jakarta and in Khartoum they burn the Israeli flag, and in London, in Oslo and in Zurich hate articles are published, supporting the destruction of Israel.

Any request in Internet search engines for the words “genocide” against “Muslims”, “Arabs” or “Palestinians”, in the context of “Zionists” or “Israel” – will give us endless results. Even after we’ve filtered out the trash, we are left with millions of publications written in deadly seriousness.

This abundance brings results. It works like brainwashing. It is the accepted position, and not just a fringe opinion. Only five years ago we
were witness to a international anti-Israeli show in the Durban Convention. Only two years ago we were shocked when a member of our Academia blamed Israel of ‘symbolic genocide’ against the Palestinian people. Much ado about nothing. There are thousands of publications blaming Israel of genocide, and not ‘symbolic’.

Under an academic and/or journalistic umbrella, today’s Israel is compared to the damned Germany of yesteryear. In conclusion, there are those who call to terminate the ‘Zionist project’. And in more simple words: because Israel is a country that perpetrates so many war crimes and engages in ethnic cleansing and genocide – it has no right to exist. This, for instance, is the essence of an article by the Norwegian writer Jostein Gaarder (writer of “Sophie’s world”), who wrote, among other things: “We call killers of children by their name”). The conclusion is that Israel has no right to exist.

How the deception works

The tragedy is that in Arab and Muslim countries a massacre is happening. A genocide protected by the silence of the world. A genocide protected by a deception that is perhaps unparalleled in the history of mankind. A genocide that has no connection to Israel, to Zionism or to Jews. A genocide of mainly Arabs and Muslims, by Arabs and Muslims.

This is not a matter of opinion or viewpoint. This is the result of factual examination, as precise as possible, of the numbers of victims of various wars and conflicts that have taken place since the establishment of the State of Israel up till this time, in which the massacre continues. It is, indeed, death on a massive scale. A massacre. It is the wiping out of villages and cities and whole populations. And the world is silent. The Muslims are indeed abandoned. They are murdered and the world is silent. And if it bothers to open its mouth, it doesn’t complain about the murderers. It doesn’t complain about the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity. It complains about Israel.

This great deception, that covers up the real facts, endures and even grows because of one reason only: The Media and Academia in the West participate in it. In endless publications, books, periodicals and websites Israel is portrayed as a state that perpetrates “war crimes”, “ethnic cleansing”, and “systematic murder”. Sometimes it is because this is fashionable, sometimes it is mistakenly, sometimes it is the result of hypocrisy and double standards. Sometimes it is new and old anti-Semitism, from the left and from the right, overt and covert. Most of the classic blood libels were refuted not long after they came into being. The blood libel of modern times, against the state of Israel, continues to grow. Many Israelis and Jews are accessories to the nurturing of the libel.

The Arab-Israeli conflict

The Zionist settling of this country, which began at the end of the 19th century, did indeed create a conflict between Jews and Arabs. The amount of those killed in various clashes up till the establishment of the State of Israel was no more than a few thousands, of both Jews and Arabs. Most of the Arabs killed in those years were killed in armed struggles of Arabs amongst themselves; such as, for example, in the days of the Great Arab Uprising of 1936 – 1939. That was a sign of things to come. Many others were killed as a result of the harsh hand wielded by the British. Israel never did anything comparable.

Israel’s War of Independence, known also as the War of 48’, left between 5,000 to 15,000 dead from among the Palestinians and citizens of Arab countries. In this war, as in any war, there were indeed atrocities. The attackers declared their goal, and if they had won, a mass extermination of Jews would have taken place. On Israel’s side there were also barbarous acts, but they were on the fringe of the fringe. Less, far less, than in any other war in modern times. Far less than what is being perpetrated every day in these very times, by Muslims, mainly against Muslims, in Sudan and in Iraq.

The next event of importance was the Sinai War of 1956. About 1,650 Egyptians were killed, about 1,000 at the hands of the Israelis and about 650 by the French and British forces. Next came the Six Day War (1967- IJ). The highest estimates talk of 21,000 Arabs killed on all three fronts – Egypt, Syria and Jordan. The Yom Kippur War (1973 – IJ) resulted in 8,500 Arab dead, this time on only two fronts – Egypt and Syria.

Then there were ‘smaller’ wars: The first Lebanon war, which was initially mainly against the PLO and not against Lebanon. This was a war in a war. These were the years of the bloody civil war in Lebanon, a war we will discuss further later on. And thus also in the second Lebanon war, in which about a thousand Lebanese were killed.

Thousands of Palestinians were killed during the Israeli occupation of the territories, that began at the end of the Six Day War. Most were killed during the two Intifadas, the one that commenced in 1987 and resulted in 1,800 Palestinian deaths, and the one that commenced in 2000 with a Palestinan death toll of 3,700. In between, there were more military actions that caused further Arab fatalities. If we exaggerate, we can say that these were a few hundred more who were killed. Hundreds. Not hundreds of thousands. Not millions.

The total count reaches about 60,000 Arabs killed in the framework of the Israeli-Arab conflict. Among them only several thousand Palestinians, although it is because of them, and only them, that Israel is the target of the world’s anger. Every Arab and Muslim death is regrettable. And it is okay to criticize Israel. But the obsessive and demonic criticism emphasizes a far more amazing fact: The silence of the world, or at least relative silence, in the face of the systematic extermination of millions of others by Muslim and Arab regimes.

The blood price of the Muslims

From here on we must ask: How many Arabs and Muslims have been killed in those same years in other countries, for instance, in Russia or in France, and how many Arabs, Muslims and others, were killed in those same years by Arabs and Muslims. The information gathered here is based on various research institutes, academic bodies, international organizations (such as Amnesty and other bodies that follow human rights), the UN, and governmental agents.

In many cases the different organizations present different and contradictory numbers. The differences sometimes reach hundreds of thousands, and sometimes even millions. We will probably never know the precise number. But even the lowest agreed numbers, that are the basis for the tables given here, present a staggering and horrific picture. In addition, time is too short to survey bloody conflicts that are not even covered in these tables, although these conflicts took a higher human toll than the blood price of the whole Arab-Israeli conflict.

Algeria: A few years after the establishment of the State of Israel, there began another war of independence. This time it was Algeria against France, between the years 1954-1962. The number of victims on the Muslim side is a subject for controversy. According to official sources in Algeria it is over a million. There are research institutes in the west that tend to accept that number. French sources have tried in the past to claim that it is only a quarter of a million Muslims, with an additional 100,000 Muslim collaborators with the French. But these estimates are regarded as tendentious and low. Today there is no question that the French killed nearly 600,000 Muslims. And these are the French, who do not stop preaching to Israel, the Israel that in the whole history of its conflict with the Arabs failed to reach even one tenth of that number, and even then, according to the more severe assessments.

The massacre in Algeria continues. In the 1991 elections the Islamic Salvation Front was voted in. The results of the elections were cancelled by the army. Since then a civil war has been raging, between the central government, supported by the army, and Islamic movements. According to various estimates, there have been about 100,000 victims so far. Most of them have been innocent civilians. In most cases it has been horrific massacres of whole villages, women, children and old people. A massacre in the name of Islam.

Algeria summary: 500,000 to 1 million in the war of independence; 100,000 in the civil war in the 90’s.

sudan: the worst series of crimes

Sudan: A country torn by campaigns of destruction, almost all of them between the Arab-Muslim north, that is control of the country, and the south, populated by blacks. Two civil wars have taken place in this country, and a massacre, under government patronage, has been taking place in recent years in the district of Darfur. The first civil war spanned the years of 1955-1972. Moderate estimates talk of 500,000 victims. In 1983 the second civil war began. But it wasn’t a civil war but a systematic massacre suitably defined as ‘genocide’. The goals were Islamization, Arabization and mass deportation, that occasionally becomes slaughter, also for the need to gain control over giant oil fields. We are talking about an estimated 1.9 million victims.

The division between Muslim and other victims is unclear. The large district of Noba, populated by many black Muslims, was served its portion of horrors. The Muslims, should they be black, are not granted any favors. Since the rise to power of radical Islam, under the spiritual guidance of Dr. Hassan Thorabi, the situation has worsened. This is probably the worst series of crimes against humanity since WWII. We’re talking about ethnic cleansing, deportations, mass murder, slave trade, forcible enforcement of the laws of Islam, taking children from their parents and more. Millions have become refugees. As far as is known, there are not millions of publications about the Sudanese ‘Right of Return’ and there are no petitions by intellectuals negating Sudan’s right to exist.

Recent years have been all about Darfur. Again Muslims (Arabs) are murdering (black) Muslims and heathens, and the numbers are unclear. Moderate estimates are talking about 200,000 victims, higher estimates say 600,000. No one knows for sure. And the slaughter continues.

Throughout the atrocities of Sudan, the slaughter has been perpetrated mainly by the Arab Muslim regime, and the great majority of victims, if not all, are black, of all religions, including Muslims.

Sudan summary: 2.6 million to 3 million.

Afghanistan: This is a web of nonstop mass killing – domestic and external. The Soviet invasion, which began on 24th December 1979 and ended on 2nd February 1989, left about a million dead. Other estimates talk of 1.5 million dead civilians and an additional 90,000 soldiers.

After the withdrawal of the Soviet Forces, Afghanistan went through a series of civil wars and struggles between the Soviet supporters, the Mojahidin and the Taliban. Each group carried out a doctrine of mass extermination of its opponents. The sum of the fatalities in civil war, up to the invasion of the coalition forces under American leadership in 2001, is about one million.

There are those who complain, and rightly so, about the carnage that took place as a result of the coalition offensive to overthrow the Taliban regime and as part of the armed struggle against al Qaida. Well, the invasion into Afghanistan caused a relatively limited number of deaths, less than 10,000. Had it not taken place, we would have seen a continuation of the self-inflicted genocide, with an average of 100,000 fatalities a year.

Afghanistan Summary: One million to one and a half million, as a result of the Soviet invasion; about one million in the civil war.

somalia: unending civil war

Somalia: Since 1977 this Muslim state in East Africa has been immersed in an unending civil war. The number of victims is estimated at about 550,000. It is Muslims killing mainly Muslims. UN attempts to intervene, in the interest of peace keeping, ended in the failure, as did later attempts by American Forces.

Most of the victims died not in the battle fields, but as a result of deliberate starvation and slaughter of civilians, in bombardments aimed at the civilian population (massive bombardments of opponent districts, such as the bombardment of Somaliland, that caused the deaths of 50,000 ).

Somalia Summary: 400,000 to 550,000 victims in the civil war.

Bangladesh: 1 of the 3 greatest genocides

Bangladesh: This country aspired to gain independence from Pakistan. Pakistan reacted with a military invasion that caused mass destruction. It was not a war, it was a massacre. One to two million people were systematically liquidated in 1971. Some researchers define the events of that year in Bangladesh as one of the three greatest genocides in (history - IJ) (after the Holocaust and the Ruanda genocide).

An inquiry committee appointed by the government of Bangladesh counted 1.247 million fatalities as a result of systematic murder of civilians by Pakistan’s army forces. There are also numerous reports of ‘Death squads’, in which “Muslim soldiers were sent to execute mass killings of Muslim farmers”.

The Pakistani army ceased only after the intervention of India, which suffered from waves of refugees - millions – arriving from Bangladesh. At least 150 thousand more were murdered in acts of retaliation after the retreat of the Pakistan army.

Bangladesh summary: 1.4 million to 2 million.

indonesia: The massacre commenced with a communist uprising

Indonesia: The biggest Muslim state in the world competes with Bangladesh for the dubious title of ‘The biggest massacre since the Holocaust’. The massacre commenced with a communist uprising in 1965. There are different assessments (of the number of fatalities - IJ) in this case as well. The accepted estimate talks of as many as 400 thousand Indonesians killed in the years 1965-1966, although stricter estimates claim the number is higher.

The massacre was perpetrated by the army, led by Hag’i Mohammed Soharto, who seized power in the country for the next 32 years. An investigator of those years points out that the person who was in charge of suppressing the rebellion, General Srv Adei, admitted: “We killed 2 million not 1 million, and we did good work”. For this argument, we will stick to the lower, more accepted estimates.

In 1975, after the end of the Portuguese rule, East Timor announced its independence. Within a short time it was invaded by Indonesia, who ruled the area until 1999. During these years about 100,000 to 200,000 people were killed, along with the complete destruction of infrastructure.

Indonesia summary: 400,000 killed, with an additional 100,000 to 200,000 in East Timor

Iraq: the destruction of Saddam Hussein

Iraq: Most of the of the last two decades was the doing of Saddam Hussein. This is another case of a regime that caused the deaths of millions. Nonstop death. One of the highpoints was during the Iran-Iraq war, in the conflict over the Shat El Arab River, the river that is created by the convergence of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. This was a conflict that led to nothing but large scale destruction and mass killing. Estimates are between 450,000 and 650,000 Iraqis, and between 450,000 and 970,000 Iranians. Jews, Israelis, and Zionists were not around, as far as is known.

Waves of purges, some politically motivated (opposition), some ethnic ( the Kurdish minority) and some religiously motivated (the ruling Suni minority against the Shiite majority), yielded an astounding number of victims. Estimates vary from one million, according to local sources, to a quarter million, according to Human Rights Watch. Other international organizations quote an estimate of about half a million.

In the years 1991 - 1992 there was a Shiite uprising in Iraq. There are contradictory estimates about the number of victims. The numbers vary from 40,000 to 200,000. In addition to the Iraqis that were slaughtered one must add the Kurds. During Saddam Hussein’s reign, between 200,000 to 300,000 of them were killed in a genocide that continued all through the 1980’s and the 1990’s.

Over half a million more Iraqis died from diseases because of the shortage of medicine, which was the result of sanctions imposed after the first Gulf War. Today it is clear that this was a continuation of the genocide perpetrated by Saddam on his own people. He could have purchased medicine, he had enough money to buy food and to build hospitals for all the children of Iraq, but Saddam preferred to build palaces and to distribute franchises to many in the west and in Arab states. This issue is being exposed in the corruption of the UN’s ‘Oil for Food’ project.

The Iraqis continue to suffer. The civil war that is raging there now - even if some would rather not give that name to the mutual massacre of Sunis and Shiites – is costing tens of thousands of lives. It is estimated that about 100,000 people have been killed since the coalition forces took control in Iraq.

Iraq Summary: 1.54 million to 2 million victims.
Iran Summary: 450,000 to 970,000 victims.

Lebanon: The Lebanese civil war

Lebanon: The Lebanese civil war took place from 1975 to 1990. Israel was involved in certain stages, by way of the first Lebanon War in 1982. There is no disagreement that a considerable part of the victims were killed in the first two years.

The more assessments talk of over 130,000 killed. Most of them were Lebanese killed by other Lebanese, on religious, ethnic grounds and in connection with the Syrian involvement. Syria transferred its support between various parties in the conflict. The highest estimates claim that Israeli activities were the cause of around 18,000 people, the great majority of which were fighters.

Lebanon summary: 130,000.

Yemen: In the civil war that took place in Yemen from 1962 to 1970, with Egyptian and Saudi involvement, 100,000 to 150,000 Yemenites were killed, and more than a thousand Egyptians and a thousand Saudis.

Egypt committed war crimes by incorporating the use of chemical warfare. Riots in Yemen from 1984 to 1986 caused the deaths of thousands more.

Yemen summary: 100,000 to 150,000 fatalities
Chechnya: Russia turned down Chechen Republic demands for independence, and this led to the first Chechen war of 1994 to 1996. The war cost the lives of 50,000 to 200,000 Chechens.

Russia put a great deal into this conflict, but failed miserably. This did not help Chechens, because although they had gained autonomy there republic was in ruins.

The second Chechen War began in 1999 and officially ended in 2001, but it has not really ended, and number of the victims is estimated at 30,000 to 100,000.

Chechnya summary: 80,000 to 300,000 fatalities.

smaller confrontations

From Jordan to Zanzibar: In addition to the wars and the massacres, there have also been smaller confrontations, that have cost the lives of thousands and tens of thousands, of Muslims and Arabs (killed) by Muslims and Arabs. These confrontations are not even taken into account in the tables presented on these pages, because the numbers are small, relatively speaking, even though the numbers of those killed are far higher than the numbers of the victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Here are some of them:

Jordan: 1970 to 1971 the Black September riots took place In the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan. King Hussein was fed up of the Palestians use of the country and their threatened to take control of it. The confrontation, mainly a massacre in the refugee camps, took thousands of lives. According to estimates provided by the Palestinians themselves - 10,000 to 25,000 fatalities. According to other sources - a few thousand.

Chad: Half of the population of Chad are Muslims: In various civil wars 30,000 civilians have been killed.

Kosovo: In the mainly Muslim area of Yugoslavia about 10,000 were killed in the war there from 1998 to 2000.

Tajikistan: Civil war from 1992 to 1996 left about 50,000 dead.

Syria: Hafez Assad’s systematic persecution of the Muslim Brotherhood ended in the 1982 massacre in the city of Hama, costing the lives of about 20,000 people.

Iran: Thousands were killed in the beginning of the Humeini Revolution. The precise number is unknown, but is somewhere between thousands and tens of thousands. The Kurds also suffered at the hands of Iran, and about 10,000 of them were murdered there.

Turkey: About 20,000 Kurds were killed in Turkey as part of the conflict there.

Zanzibar: In the earlyu 1960’s the island was granted independence, but only for a short time. At first, the Arabs were in power, but a black group, made up mainly of Muslims, slaughtered the Arab group, also Muslim, in 1964. The estimates are that 5,000 to 17,000 were killed.

Even this is not the end of the list. There were more conflicts with unknown numbers of victims in former USSR republics with Muslim majority populations (like the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagurno Karabach), and a disputable number of Muslims that were killed in mixed population countries in Africa, such as Nigeria, Mauritania or Uganda (in the years of Idi Amins reign in Uganda, in the decade that began in 1971, about 300,000 Ugandans were killed. Amin defined himself as Muslim, but in contrast to Sudan, it is hard to say that the background for the slaughter was Muslim, and it certainly wasn’t Arab.

"to liquidate the Jewish entity"

To all the above, one can add this data: The great majority of Arabs killed in the framework of the Israeli-Arab Conflict were killed as a result of wars instigated by the Arabs and as a result of their refusal to recognize the UN decision regarding the establishment of the State of Israel, or their refusal to recognize the Jews’ right of self-definition.

The number of Israelis killed by Arab aggression has been relatively far than the numbers of Arabs killed. In the War of the Independence, for example, more than 6,000 Israelis were killed out of a population that was then made up of 600,000. This means: One percent of the population. In comparison with this, Arab fatalities in the war against Israel came from seven countries, the populations of which were already tens of millions. Israel did not dream, did not think and did not want to destroy any Arab state. But the ostensible goal of the attacking armies was “to liquidate the Jewish entity”.

Obviously, in recent years, the Palestinian victims have received most of the attention of the Media and the Academia. In actual fact, these make up just a small percentage of the total sum of all victims. The total sum of Palestinians killed by Israel in the territories that were conquered is several thousand. 1,378 were killed in the first Intifada, and 3,700 since the start of the second Intifada.

This is less, for instance, than the Muslim victims massacred by former Syrian president, Hafez Assad in Hama in 1982. This is less than the Palestinians massacred by King Hussein in 1971. This is less than the number of those killed in one single massacre of Muslim Bosnians by the Serbs in 1991 in Srebrenica, a massacre that left 8,000 dead.

Every person killed is regrettable, but there is no greater libel than to call Israel’s actions ‘genocide’. And even so, the string ‘Israel’ and ‘genocide’ in Google search engine leads to 13,600,000 referrals. Try typing ‘Sudan’ and ‘genocide’ and you’ll get less than 9 million results. These numbers, if you will, are the essence of the great deception.

not enlightened, but is not brutal

Another fact: Since WWII, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the national conflict with the lowest number of victims, but with the world’s highest number of publications hostile to Israel in the media and in the Academia.

At least half a million Algerians died during the French occupation. A million Afghanis died during the Soviet occupation. Millions of Muslims and Arabs were killed and slaughtered at the hands of Muslims. But all the world knows about one Mohammed a-Dura (whose death was regrettable, but there is some doubt whether he was killed by Israeli gunfire at all).

It is possible and acceptable to criticize Israel. But the excessive, obsessive, and at times anti-Semitic criticism serves also as a coverup, and in some cases also as an approval, of the genocide of millions of others.
Occupation is not enlightened and can’t be enlightened. But if we try to create a scale of ‘brutal occupation’, Israel will come last. This is a fact. This is not an opinion.

And what would have happened to the Palestinians if, instead of being under Israeli occupation they were under Iraqi occupation? Or Sudanese? Or even French or Soviet? It is highly probable that they would have been victims of genocide, at worst, and of mass killings, purges, and deportations at best.

But luckily for them they are under Israeli occupation. And even if, I repeat, there is no such thing as an enlightened occupation, and even if it is acceptable and possible, and at times necessary, to criticize Israel, there is no occupation and there has never been an occupation with so few fatalities (indeed, there are other injuries that are not manifested in the numbers of fatalities, such as the refugee problem. This will be discussed in a separate chapter).

Television screen ethics

So why is the impression of the world the direct opposite? How come there is no connection between the facts and the numbers and the so very demonic image of Israel in the world?

There are many answers. One of them is that western ethics have become the ethics of television cameras. If a Palestinian terrorist or a Hizballah man tries to shoot a rocket from the midst of a civilian neighborhood, and Israel retaliates with fire - causing the death of two children - there will be endless headlines and articles all over the world that “Israel murders children”. But if entire villages are destroyed in Sudan or whole cities are erased in Syria, there will be no television cameras in the area.

And so, according to television ethics, Jose Saramago and Harold Pinter sign a petition protesting ‘genocide’ and ‘war crimes’ perpetrated by Israel. They have never read the Geneva Convention either. They probably do not know that, aside for very few exceptions, the actions of Israel against military targets hitting civilians is allowed according to the Geneva Convention (protocol 1 paragraph 52.2). And because these people are so submerged in television ethics, they will not sign any petitions in protest of the genocide of Muslims by Muslims. Murder for the sake of it. They are allowed to do it.

Television ethics is a tragedy for the Arabs and the Muslims themselves. Israel pays dearly because of it, but the Arabs and the Muslims are its real victims. And as long as this blue screen morality continues, the Arabs and the Muslims will continue to pay the price.


There are those that claim that Arab and Muslim states are immune from criticism, because they are not democratic, but Israel is more worthy of criticism because it has democratic pretences. Claims like this are Orientalism at its worst. The covert assumption is that the Arabs and the Muslims are the retarded child of the world. They are allowed. It is not only Orientalism. It is racism.

The Arabs and the Muslims are not children and they are not retarded. Many Arabs and Muslims know this and write about it. They know that only an end to the self-deception and a taking of responsibility will lead to change. They know that as long as the west treats them as unequal and irresponsible it is lending a hand not only to a racist attitude, but also, and mainly, to a continuation of their mass murder.

The genocide that Israel is not committing, that is completely libelous, hides the real genocide, the silenced genocide that Arabs and Muslims are committing mainly against themselves. The libel has to stop so as to look at reality. It is in the interest of the Arabs and the Muslims. Israel pays in image. They pay in blood. If there is any morality left in the world, this should be in the interest of whoever has a remaining drop of it in him. And should it happen, it will be small news for Israel, and great news, far greater news, for Arabs and Muslims.

Ben-Dror Yemini: “And the World is Lying” - The Plight of the Refugees

Ben Dror Yemini's last article was a lengthy must-read that attempted to set the record straight on the huge numbers of Arabs and Muslims killed in various conflicts around the world and their juxtapose them with the relatively tiny number killed in wars against Israel -- though the former looms huge in significance and imagination: And the world is silent

This, Yemini's second must-read tackles the special status of Palestinian refugees. Here is the article at Maariv in Hebrew. Gadi Taub has a short review, here.

Someone has forwarded me an English translation of the article, and I have included it in the entry below in full. As far as I can tell, this is its first appearance in English. Due to its length, and for issues of readability, I have not pasted it in blockquote style. Everything below this paragraph is quoted material. Do read.

This article is the second in a series of investigations of the unique standards applied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by the international community and world media. Part I of the series ("And the World is Silent" - 22 Sept. 2006) dealt with the world's silence in response to mass murders by Arabs of their fellow Arabs and Moslems. That silence is of particular significance in light of the constantly reiterated charge that Israel is implementing genocidal policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians. As we demonstrated, the number of Palestinian casualties inflicted by Israel is trivial compared to the magnitude of casualties inflicted in other ethnic or religious conflicts around the globe.

Part II focuses on the unique treatment of Palestinian refugees compared with the refugees generated by other ethnic and religious conflicts over the course of the last century. Let us begin with a well-known story. In a country that formerly belonged to the Ottoman Empire, a Moslem minority continues to reside. There is no love lost between the majority and minority populations, and long history of conflict. Eventually the majority population forces large numbers of the minority Moslem population to flee to a neighboring country with a majority Moslem population.

No, this story is not about Israel and the Palestinians. It is the story of the Moslem Turks in Bulgaria. Nor is it a story from 200 years ago. It took place at the end of the 1980's. Three hundred thousand Moslems were pressured to flee Bulgaria.

If the reader has never heard of any discussion of the "right of return" of ethnic Turks to Bulgaria, or of any international organizations devoted to their plight, the explanation is simple: they are not Palestinians. Nor is the case of ethnic Turks in Bulgaria an isolated one. In the course of the last century, tens of millions of people fled their native lands in the wake of religious or ethnic conflict.

Were the world to impose a "right of return" similar to that advocated for the Palestinians to other instances of population transfer, millions of Moslems would be permitted to return to India and millions of Hindus to Pakistan. Entire populations of the Balkan states would have to be reshuffled.

Yet no international body advocates the return of Moslems to Greece or Bulgaria or ethnic Greeks to Turkey. And for a very good reason: Doing so would only reopen bitter past conflicts and lead to rivers of blood.

Only with respect to the Palestinians does the world harp on the "right of return." Different rules apply to God's little acre, which just happens to be the acre of the Jews. Rules developed for other nations that have been the subject of mass population transfers - India, Pakistan, Turkey, Greece, Czechoslovakia, and dozens of others - suddenly no longer apply when it comes to Israel.

Entire international organizations deal with just one group of the last century's refugees - the Palestinians. An entire international bureaucracy and a worldwide propaganda campaign is devoted not to alleviating the plight of Palestinian refugees but to perpetuating it. Some support the Palestinian "right of return" out of good-hearted naiveté. But many others have a different agenda. Their purpose is not the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but the destruction of Israel. As one of Yasser Arafat's closest advisors, Sahar Habash, once commented, "The right of return is our winning lottery ticket for the destruction of Israel."

Who is a Refugee?

The "right of return" is just one example of the ways in which Palestinian refugees are treated differently from other war refugees. Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than by the existence of two U.N. bodies for dealing with refugees - the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) deals exclusively with Palestinians; the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is charged with responsibility for all other refugees around the globe. The mission of the UNHCR is to assist refugees to begin a new life As a consequence of its activities tens of millions of former refugees are no longer classified as "refugees" when they gain citizenship in their new host countries.

By contrast, not a single Palestinian has ever lost his refugee status. There are hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees or their descendants who are citizens of Jordan. Yet as far as UNRWA is concerned they are still refugees.

Indeed the number of Palestinian refugees continues to expand rapidly. That is so because a unique definition of refugee is applied to Palestinians. Everywhere else in the world only those who fled their previous place of residence are classified as refugees, but not their descendants. With respect to Palestinians, however, refugee status is transmitted from generation to generation. Even if one's children never set foot within Israel's 1949 armistice lines and are as wealthy as Bill Gates, they are still classified as refugees.

Moreover, UNRWA applies a far more expansive definition of refugee to Palestinians than that applied by UNHCR to refugees anywhere else in the world. According to UNRWA's definition, an Egyptian, Jordanian, Lebanese, or Syrian citizen whose primary place of residence between June 1946 and May 1948 was within Israel's 1949 armistice lines is classified as a refugee, even if he was only temporarily in the country in search of work.

The effect of the special treatment of Palestinian refugees by the U.N. is not to solve the plight of Palestinian refugees but to perpetuate it. As the number of those classified as refugees grows year by year, the only consequence is to make any solution of the underlying Palestinian-Israeli conflict that much more difficult.

Population Exchange

The Palestinians were not the only ones to be uprooted by the fighting between Israel and invading Arab armies in 1948-49. As a result of anti-Jewish rioting in Arab countries in the wake of the war, between 600,000 and 800,000 Jews fled the Arab lands where they had lived for centuries and even millennia. Most of those refugees came to Israel, where they were absorbed without assistance from the international community. Such population exchanges are common following major religious or ethnic strife all around the world.

Any place else in the world, the exchange of populations between Arabs fleeing Israel - i.e., the area within the 1949 armistice lines - and Jews fleeing Arab lands would have been the end of story. Such exchanges have been common throughout history down to the present, as the following survey will show. Indeed they were once considered the optimal solution to such strife. Fridtjof Nansen, a Norwegian geographer who was awarded the 1922 Nobel Peace Prize, was the man who proposed and implemented the population transfer between Greece and Turkey.

Population Shifts in the Balkans

With the exception of the Indian subcontinent, no area of the world has experienced more widespread population shifts over the last century than the Balkan states. From the beginning of the first Balkan War in 1912 to the wars following the dissolution of Yugoslavia, between seven and ten million people were uprooted from their homes on the basis of ethnic identity.

It is estimated that in the two Balkan Wars between 1912 and 1915, 250,000 Bulgarians, 150,000 Greeks and 200,000 ethnic Turks were uprooted and returned to their ancestral homelands.

World War II brought about even more significant population flux. Three-quarters of a million Serbs fled their homes in the course of the war, and another quarter million were forced into labor brigades in Bulgaria and Hungary. After the conclusion of the war, 300,000 Bulgarian nationals returned to Bulgaria from areas which had been under Bulgarian rule prior to the war. At the same time, 200,000 Hungarians emigrated from Transylvania to Hungary. A similar number of Hungarian nationals were forced to leave their homes in Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia.

The 1920's brought another significant wave of population transfers between Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria, pursuant to the signing of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne between Turkey and the Entente Powers. The major transfer was that of 1.5 million ethnic Greeks from Turkey to Greece, and 500,000 ethnic Turks from Greece to Turkey. In addition, 80,000 Bulgarians were transferred to Greece.

Not all ethnic Greeks (who were Christians) left Turkey for Greece, and not all ethnic Turks (who were Moslems) left Greece for Turkey. But the stated purpose of the population exchange was the creation of religious and ethnic homogeneity. It was Fridtjof Nansen, who won the Nobel Peace Prize, who initiated, planned and implemented the transfer.

Events connected to World War II brought further population transfers to the Balkans. After a pro-Nazi government took power in Croatia, thousands of Serbs fled the country. In addition, after Hungary took control of Transylvania, 200,000 Rumanians fled Transylvania for Rumania.

The next major wave of population shifts in the Balkans came about as a result of the ten years of warfare that followed the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, after Tito's death in 1991. Following fighting between Croatia and Serbia, 250,000 Serbs were expelled from regions that remained in Croatian hands. According to the peace treaty signed between Croatia and Serbia, a procedure was established for Serbs to reclaim their former homes.

In practice, however, few Serbs have successfully exercised their rights to reclaim their former homes. Serbs returning to Croatia have encountered job discrimination and various forms of harassment. Most have found their homes occupied, and even when they have successfully asserted their rights in Croat courts, the courts' orders have rarely been executed.

In short, whatever sort of "right of return" exists for Serbs, it has proven largely ineffectual. And that is so, even though historic tensions between Serbians and Croats are far lower than those between Palestinians and Israelis. Moreover, 200,000 ethnic Serbs pose no demographic threat to Croatia, with a population of 4.4 million people. Nor have Serbs been subjected to a massive propaganda campaign since 1995 calling for the elimination of Croatia, as Palestinians have been vis-à-vis Israel almost since the outset of the Oslo process.

A survey of Western newspapers at the conclusion of the fighting between Serbia and Croatia reveals a general acceptance of the need to create ethnically homogeneous states by means of an exchange of Serbs and Croats. That was more or less the leading position of the New York Times on the issue.

In renewed fighting in 1999, 800,000 ethnic Albanians were expelled from the Serbian province of Kosovo. Most of those were subsequently returned to their homes after NATO's military intervention. In the meantime, 150,000 Serbs, fearing Albanian retribution, fled Albania. An equal number of Serbs fled Kosovo, after NATO's intervention, for the same reason.

Hundreds of thousands more people became refugees over the course of a decade of fighting in the former Yugoslavia, including an estimated 170,000 Croats who fled Serbia. Some of those refugees fled from one newly created country to another; others fled from one region to another within a single country like Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Of the 7-10 million Balkan refugees over the course of less than a century, some became refugees as a result of deliberate efforts at ethnic cleansing, some as a consequence of military action, and others pursuant to treaty. The common denominator of these population shifts, however, is that they all led to increased religious and ethnic homogeneity. And that process was accepted by the international community as necessary in order to prevent far greater bloodletting. Only in the case of the Serbs, who were allowed to return to Croatia, was there any recognition of a right of return. And even in that case, that recognition remained almost purely theoretical.

Poland - Ukraine

After World War II, Poland's eastern border was set at the so-called Curzon Line, which had first been proposed as the border between Poland and the USSR in 1919 by British Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon. At that time, however, Poland, succeeded in pressing further demands, and under the Treaty of Riga signed in 1921, its eastern border was set on average 200 kilometers to the east of the Curzon Line. The movement of Poland's border westward after World War II led to a total of 1.4 million Poles and Ukrainians crossing the border in opposite directions: ethnic Poles returning westward to Poland and ethnic Ukrainians moving eastward to Ukraine. Just as in the Balkans, the basis of that transfer was the preservation of ethnic and religious homogeneity.

Germany - Eastern Europe

At the Potsdam Conference after World War II, the Allies met to discuss the post-War administration of Germany, including the fate of ethnic Germans who had settled throughout Eastern Europe and southern Russia over several centuries. The German majority in the Sudetenland had been the pretext for Hitler's demand, at the Munich Conference, for German annexation of the Sudetenland at the expense of Czechoslovakia. After World War II, the Allies were eager to remove any future pretexts for further German expansionism.

As a consequence, it was decided that millions of ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland, Romania, Hungary and Poland - many of whom had never been Nazi supporters - be repatriated to Germany "in an orderly fashion." Between 12-16 million ethnic Germans were moved against their will. Some of the ferries carrying the refugees back to Germany were torpedoed. According to some German sources, many Germans were killed in the process of transfer to Germany.

Yet just a few years after this mass exodus, there was not one German refugee still in a refugee camp or with refugee status. The fate of those repatriated is nowhere to be found on the public agenda today in Germany, with the exception of one fringe group BdV (Federation of Expellees) that concerns itself with the issue. The consensus in Germany today is that the refugees have no rights - not to restitution and not to return to those areas in which their ancestors lived for centuries.


Though Moslems and Hindus joined together to secure India's independence from Great Britain, as independence drew near religious tensions between Moslems and Hindus flared, though religion was only one of the many dividing lines between different sectors of the population. Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of the struggle for Indian independence, envisioned a single state composed of Hindus, Moslems and Sikhs. The British, however, opted for the creation of two states - one majority Hindu and the other overwhelmingly Moslem - to avoid a bloody war between Hindus and Moslems. As a result, British sovereignty over the Indian subcontinent ended in August 1947 with the creation of two states: India and Pakistan.

The creation of two states - one overwhelmingly Moslem and the other predominantly Hindu - resulted in a massive population transfer. More than seven million Hindus and Sikhs transferred from Pakistan to India and a similar number of Moslems left India for Pakistan. Many massacres were perpetrated in the process of these population exchanges. Estimates of the number of those killed range from 200,000 to 1,000,000.

Today Pakistan is almost entirely Moslem, while India, with almost a billion people, is home to roughly 160,000,000 Moslems. The two countries have lived in a constant state of tension almost since their creation. Much of that tension is focused today on the Kashmir region of India, which abuts Pakistan, and which has a majority Moslem population.

Though the creation of India and Pakistan resulted in over 14 million refugees, the absorption of whom placed enormous burdens of the fledgling states that took them in, today not one person still classified as a refugee as a result of that massive population transfer.

Armenia- Azerbaijan

The break-up of the Soviet Union brought about the formation of new countries and rekindled old ethnic and religious tensions. Chechnyan Moslems, who were sent to other regions of the former Soviet Union during the Stalin era, suddenly returned to Chechnya, and ignited a movement seeking independence from Russia.

More closely related to our topic is the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. The majority of Azerbaijan is Moslem, but within Nagorno-Karabakh, the majority of the people are Armenian Christians. In 1988, this semi-autonomous region sought to be joined to Armenia. That request triggered widespread killings of Moslems in Armenia and Armenians in Azerbaijan. Fighting ended with a ceasefire in 1994, but the conflict gave rise to one million new refugees: 740,000 Moslems fled Armenia for Azerbaijan, and 360,000 Armenian Christians fled Azerbaijan for Armenia.

One other interesting detail. Armenia made an effort, in conjunction with UNHCR to absorb its Christian brethren seeking refuge in Armenia. By contrast, the Moslem refugees to Azerbaijan still langusih in refugee camps, unabsorbed and unintegrated into Azerbaijan. In that way, the Moslem refugees resemble the Palestinian refugees, many of whom still live in fetid refugee camps nearly sixty years after they became refugees.


As a consequence of warfare between non-Moslem blacks and Arab Moslems in Mauritania, 75,000 blacks were exiled to the neighboring states of Senegal and Mali, and an equal number of Arabs sought refuge in Mauritania in the late '80s and early '90s.


Sudan has been plagued in recent years by a series of vicious ethnic conflicts: between Moslem Arabs and black animists in the South; and between Moslem Arabs and black Moslems in the Darfur Province. Arab militias, known as the Janjaweed are making a concerted effort to rid Darfur of its black population. So far they have killed between 200,000 and 400,000 blacks in Darfur and forced three to four million black farmers and their families to flee their homes, some into neighboring Chad. Though both the victims and the perpetrators in Darfur are Moslems, to date there have been no protests in the Arab world against the ethnic cleansing and genocidal policies being pursued by the Janjaweed against black Darfurians. The Arab-dominated government in Khartoum continues to resist intervention by the U.N. and African peacekeepers, and to do everything possible to prevent them from stopping the ethnic cleansing in Darfur.


The population of Cyprus is 80% Greek and 20% Turkish. In response to a threat by the majority Greek population to unite the island with Greece in 1974, Turkish forces invaded the island. As a result of the invasion, Cyprus was divided into two halves: one Greek and the other Turkish. Two hundred thousand ethnic Greeks moved to the Greek-controlled half of the island, and 50,000 Turkish Moslems moved to the Turkish part of the island.

From the time of the partition of the island, the Greek half has flourished - there are no refugee camps, no terror, and no incitement of terror against the Turks, despite the fact that Turkey settled 100,000 more Turks on the Turkish-controlled half of the island (in contravention of international law) and brought in tens of thousands of soldiers to maintain its military regime. In contrast to the Greek half of the island, the Turkish half has experienced severe unemployment and a stagnant economy.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan devised a far-reaching proposal to reunite the island in 2004, but in a national referendum, the Greek half of the island rejected the plan. Nevertheless, the U.N. plan does provide an interesting insight into the international community's view of the "right of return" in general. The plan did not hint at a general right of return of those who had fled their homes upon partition of the island. Only Greeks over 65 years old were granted anything like a right of return, and even then, only on condition that they not constitute more than 10% of the total Turkish population, and no more than 20% in any particular area.

Had Israel accepted such a proposal, it would have had to export Palestinians rather than bring them back for the simple reason that Palestinians constitute over 10% of Israel's population.

Manipulation of the Palestinian Refugees

The number of refugees in the above survey (which is only partial) totals approximately 38 million people. Of all the tens of millions of refugees generated by religious and ethnic strife, however, only the 700,000 Palestinians who fled their homes in Israel in 1948 - most of them at the urging of their leaders - remain a "problem" for the international community nearly sixty years later.

All over the world, the same pattern pertains. Those who have been expelled or forced to flee from areas in which they were part of a religious or ethnic minority to areas or countries in which their religious or ethnic group is the majority have been absorbed by their co-religionists or those of the same ethnicity. That is what happened when Israel absorbed 600,000-800,000 Jews from Arab lands after the creation of the state. And it is what has happened everywhere else in the world. The two Germanys absorbed ethnic Germans after World War II; India took in Hindus fleeing Pakistan, and Pakistan received Moslems fleeing India.

That too should be the fate of the Palestinians. They should be absorbed in an independent Arab state of Palestine to be established one day alongside Israel, not in place of Israel.

Only the Palestinians (and Moslem refugees to Azerbaijan) depart from the general pattern of absorption by those who share their religion and ethnic identity. The Palestinians were never absorbed by their Arab co-religionists in the countries bordering Israel. They faced both de facto and de jure discrimination in many of those countries. Today hundreds of thousands of those who left Israel in 1948 and their descendants still languish in refugee camps nursing their bitter historical grievances and constituting a permanent attack force to be unleashed against Israel.

The Arab states deliberately maintain the Palestinians in their pitiable state. The international community was also complicit in the process. Rather than helping the Palestinians out of their refugee status, UNRWA and international donors have frozen the Palestinians in that state. That is true not only those who fled Israel in 1948, but all their descendants in perpetuity.

In place of medicine, the Palestinians' "benefactors" have only rubbed salt in their wounds - sometimes for their own purposes and sometimes from the best of motives. The day that the international community ceases applying a double standard to the Palestinians will be a day of rejoicing for them. On that day, they will stop being political pawns and be on the way to gaining their independence.

Of the tens of millions of refugees created by World War II and the grant of independence to India and Pakistan in 1947, all lost their refugee status, as far as the international community is concerned, decades ago. And the possibility of those former refugees returning to the lands of their birth would strike the international community with horror, for an attempt to do so would only unleash old ethnic and religious conflicts. We might as well discuss the return of North America to its original native inhabitants.

Only with respect to the Palestinians does the "right of return" continued to be discussed. Not just discussed, but to be the subject of thousands of books, articles, and documentaries. That "right" is never placed in the context of comparable cases of other refugees around the world.

Sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians dwarfs that for other peoples who have suffered far worse fates, and who are far less complicit in their fate. The exodus of Palestinians from what is today Israel took place only because five Arab armies invaded Israel immediately after its declaration of statehood. And the Palestinians could long ago have had their own independent state. They have preferred instead to focus their energies on the destruction of Israel.

The black farmers of the Darfur province of Sudan constitute just the most blatant current example of the disproportionate sympathy for the Palestinians. The U.N. places the number of those killed by Arab Moslem militias at 400,000, while another two to three million people have fled their homes, as a consequence of a concerted effort at ethnic cleansing.

And yet it is the plight of the Palestinians that continues to be portrayed as the greatest injustice perpetrated by man against his fellow in the world today. International humanitarian aid to the Palestinians is an order of magnitude greater than that directed towards any other people. (That will be the subject of our third investigation.) Meanwhile the black farmers of Darfur are left to their fate.

The international community has long acknowledged the rule that religious and ethnic homogeneity serves as a preventative to the most vicious of conflicts. For that reason, Turkish Moslems will not return to Greece nor Greeks to their former homes in Turkey. Sometimes history must be forgotten if peace is to be maintained. Judea and Samaria is the historical homeland of the Jewish people. Yet we do not advocate Jewish rule of that area today, for it is home to another people.

But just as Arabs dwelling today in Judea and Samaria have a right to national self-determination, so do Jews. And Israel is the only place in the world where Jews can exercise that right today. Those who call for the "right of return" for Palestinians would deny the right of self-determination to Jews.

Let us be clear. When we argue that Cyprus is the model for the solution of religious and ethnic conflicts, we do not mean that ethnic and religious homogeneity need not be absolute. There is room for an Arab minority in Israel, just as there is Jewish minority in Morocco. We oppose with every fiber of our being the idea of transfer - either of Arabs from what is today Israel proper or from Judea and Samaria.

Though ethnic cleansing has taken place many times in the past, and even though the results of such a policy have subsequently become part of the accepted status quo, we reject ethnic cleansing. Jews in Israel will not do to Arabs in Judea and Samaria what government-supported Arab militias are doing to their black co-religionists in the Darfur province of Sudan.

Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's paper "The Israel Lobby" has received deservedly warm approbation from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and has been featured prominently on neo-Nazi and anti-Israel sites. The main thesis of the paper is that a nefarious pro-Israel lobby has subverted American foreign policy in favor of Israel, and at great cost to American interests. The paper is a virtual compendium of the most tendentious charges against Israel. Opposing facts and views are not even cited much less refuted. (For a detailed point-by-point refutation of the Mearsheimer/Walt thesis, the reader is invited to consult the posting by Professor Alan Dershowitz.) No charge is too wild to lay at Israel's doorstep. For instance, the authors claim that Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in order to bring about Hamas' ascendance to power, and thereby end the peace process.

Among the claims made by Mearsheimer/Walt is that there is strong support for transfer in Israel. Nowhere do the authors mention that no party advocating transfer has ever wielded any significant political power in Israel.

It is interesting, however, that Mearsheimer, who fulminates against Israel for the popular support for transfer, himself wrote in a New York Times op-ed in 1993 that the only solution to the chaos in the Balkans was the creation of "ethnically homogeneous states." Needless to say, as Mearsheimer wrote, "Creating homogeneous states would require transferring populations and drawing new borders".

We mention this little bit of hypocrisy only because it typifies the world's hypocrisy with respect to discussion of all aspects of the Palestinian refugee question. Had the world treated Palestinian refugees as it once treated German, Hindu, and Moslem refugees, the refugee problem would no longer exist. By treating Palestinians as a uniquely privileged class of refugees instead, through dozens of organizations supporting the Palestinian "right of return" and maintaining them as wards of the international community, they have only succeeded in perpetuating their plight.

The determination that every country has the right to maintain ethnic or religious homogeneity and that refugees who are already located in places in which they belong to the religious or ethnic majority have no right of return, applies to Israel as well. That means that even though Judea and Samaria are part of the historical homeland of the Jewish people, the Jews have no right of return there just as the Palestinians have no right of return to Israel, even though that is their historical homeland. There must be one rule for the Germans absorbed in Germany, for the Hindus absorbed in India, for the Moslems who transferred to Pakistan and, by this rule, the Jews have the right of return to Israel but not to Palestine, and the Palestinians have the right of return to Palestine but not to Israel.

The absolute rejection of the right of return is a corollary of not only the international situation but also the right to self-determination. The Palestinians have such a right and the Jews have such a right. Anyone who demands the right of return for the Palestinians, and only for them is, in effect, rejecting the Jewish right to self-determination.

It is not Israel, but rather the international community that is responsible for perpetuating the problem of the Palestinian refugees. Instead of balm, it spread salt on the wound. It utilized manipulation. The irony - and it is a very bitter irony - is that the double standard has only increased the suffering of the Palestinians. It has eternalized them in their suffering. It has prevented the resolution of their problem. The day the world abandons this double standard will be a good day for the Palestinians. It will be the first day on which the level of their suffering begins to recede. It will be the day on which they cease to be political pawns. For the sake of the Palestinians, for the sake of peace, that day should come.

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