Sunday, March 01, 2009

Who were the 1948 refugees?

From ICJS, Thursday February 26, 2009, by Charles Oren:

1. 320,000 Palestinian, and 820,000 Jewish, refugees were produced by the 1948 war, which was launched by Palestinians, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon against Israel.

2. The Jewish refugees - from Muslim countries - were absorbed (590,000 in Israel), as were millions of European refugees in the aftermath of WW2. In contrast, Palestinian refugees have been confined to camps, by Arab and PLO leaders, fomenting terrorism. None of the financial aid received by the PLO, from the US and other countries, has been directed at the refugee camps!

3. 800,000 Arabs resided in Israel (defined by the 1949 ceasefire lines) on November 30, 1947. At the end of the war there were 170,000 Arabs in Israel (including 14,000 Bedouins, down from 64,000 before the war). Considering the 100,000 who were absorbed by Israel, the 1%-2% war fatalities (Israel lost 1% of its people!), the 50,000 Bedouins, who joined tribes in Jordan and Sinai, the 100,000 Palestinians who rejoined their families in Lebanon and Syria (please see below) and the wealthy Palestinians who were resettled in the Mideast and in other parts of the globe and the 50,000 who were foreign laborers returning to their countries of origin, the actual number of Palestinians refugees, in 1949, was 320,000!

4. Many Palestinians are descendants of Egyptian, Sudanese, Syrian and Lebanese migrants, who settled in the current boundaries of Israel during 1830-1945. Migration by Arab citizens of the Ottoman Empire did not require any permit until WW1. Migrant workers were imported by the Ottoman and (since 1919) by the British authorities for infrastructure projects: The port of Haifa, the Haifa-Qantara, Haifa-Edrei, Haifa-Nablus and Jerusalem-Jaffa railroads, military installations, roads, quarries, reclamation of wetlands, etc. Illegal Arab laborers were also attracted by the relative boom, stimulated by Jewish immigration, which expanded labor-intensive enterprises (construction, agriculture, etc.).

5. The (1831-1840) conquest, by Egypt\'s Mohammed Ali, was solidified by thousands of Egyptians settling empty spaces between Gaza and Tul-Karem up to the Hula Valley. They followed in the footsteps of Egyptian draft dodgers, who fled Egypt before 1831. The British traveler, H.B. Tristram, identified Egyptian migrants in the Beit-Shean Valley, Acre, Hadera, Netanya and Jaffa.

The British Palestine Exploration Fund indicated that Egyptian neighborhoods proliferated in and around Jaffa: Saknet el-Mussariya, Abu Kebir, Abu Derwish, Sumeil, Sheikh Muwanis, Salame\', Fejja, etc. Many of those who fled in 1948 attempted to reunite with their families of origin.

6. "30,000-36,000 Syrian migrants (Huranis) entered Palestine during the last few months alone" ("La Syrie" daily, August 12, 1934). Syrian rulers have always considered the area as a southern province of Greater Syria. Az-ed-Din el-Qassam, the role-model of Hamas terrorism, who terrorized Jews in British Mandate Palestine, was a Syrian, as were Said el-A'az, a leader of the 1936-38 anti-Jewish pogroms and Kaukji, the commander-in-chief of the Arab mercenaries terrorizing Jews in the thirties and forties.

7. Tristram, and other travelers, identified over 15 Arab nationalities who settled in Jaffa. Libyan migrants and refugees settled in Gedera, south of Tel Aviv. Algerian refugees (Mugrabis), escaping the French conquest of 1830, settled in Safed, Tiberias and other parts of the Galilee. Their leader, Abd el-Kader el-Hasseini, headquartered in Syria! Circassian refugees, fleeing Russian oppression (1878), Moslems from Bosnia, Turkomans, Yemenite Arabs (1908) and Bedouin tribes from Jordan (escaping wars and famine) diversified Arab demography there.

The aforementioned data are contained in the book The Claim Of Dispossession (Arieh Avneri, 1982) and by From Time Immemorial (Joan Peters, Harper, 1984).

8. Habib Issa, Secretary General of the Arab League: In 1948, Azzam Pasha, the former Secretary General, "assured Arabs that the occupation of Palestine, including Tel Aviv, would be as simple as a military promenade...Brotherly advice was given to the Arabs of Palestine to leave their land, homes and property, and to stay temporarily in neighboring fraternal states." (Al-Hoda Lebanese daily, New York, June 8, 1951).
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