Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Tuesday 2 August 2011

A British Ambassador On The Palestinian Arab Refugees

I decided to pay a call on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Middle East blogs, having neglected them for quite a while.

On a blog posted on 20 June to mark World Refugee Day, Britain's woman in Lebanon, our old friend Frances Guy (pictured, with a certain notorious Hezbollah cleric she admired, the late Sheikh Fadlallah), writes, inter alia:
"A timely reminder too this morning on the BBC that the world's biggest refugee problem is here in the Middle East; 5 million Palestinians, who technically don't yet have a home to return to. (A troubling thought and arguably unique in refugee situations, where refugees, however traumatised can dream of going home one day). The UNRWA spokesman argued vigorously that there can be no peace in the Middle East until the refugee situation is dealt with. There has been a tendancy [sic] to say that other issues need to be dealt with first. But these refugees deserve better. 
They also deserve better treatment in the interim, as I have argued before. I hope the new Lebanese government will take its responsibilities seriously and make a commitment to granting Palestinian residents in Lebanon full rights; including above all, access to work." [My emphasis]
 I assume Ambassador Guy, in the phrase "technically don't yet have a home to return to,"  is envisaging a future Palestinian state as the destination of these "refugees" and not hinting that Israel should take them in.
I recommend this post to her: and remind her of all the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees who fled Arab countries.

Her post has attracted a lone comment, from a pro-Palestinian activist, who writes:
'Dear Ambassador
 I could not agree with you more. We need to find a solution to the 5,000,000 Palestinian refugees. How long have we being saying this? Why have we 5,000,000 Palestinian refugees? Where did they come from? Why are they not allowed to go home?
 It is good that you bring it to our intention but surely after 60 years we expect something better from the FCO. The FCO keep on saying that we need to support the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinains. We have not been honest brokers in these communications. We do not speak to all the representatives of the Palestinains [sic]. Moreover, we bend over backwards to support Israel. The Human Rights report in 2010 produced by the FCO demonstrates clearly that Israel is no friend of democracy and theferore [sic] should be no friend of the UK.. Israel treat their arab citizens terribly. They already run apartheid policies against there own citizens, never mind the millions they hold under occupation. 
Should we not agree that the 1948 UN agreement got it wrong. Why do we not go back to the drawing board and decide the correct solution for all the peo[p]le currently living in Palestine. Do we let a fanatical religious minority decide matters' [My emphasis]
It's disappointing that such a comment has been accepted for publication on the FCO website, with no attempt at rebuttal.

More disturbing is the fact that Frances Guy expresses with impunity her own views on foreign policy rather than doing what as an ambassador she ought to be doing - strictly reflecting the official views of the elected government of the day. 


  1. I hate blogs that moderate comments and not for the purpose of keeping the comment section clean, but to filter out opposing views to create a false consensus - it really is pathetic.

  2. Sorry, not sure if that was a dig at me or a comment on the ambassador accepting that comment.
    I have rejected a few comments this week - two from anonymous antisemites and several from a conspiracy theorist/antisemite who often drops in!

  3. “.... [T]here can be no peace in the Middle East until the refugee situation is dealt with.” ... Huh?

    How the “UNRWA spokesman” propose to “deal with” the “situation”? Does he suggest that flooding Israel with 5 million Arabs will bring peace to the Middle East or perhaps he envisages a Middle East without Israel? Indeed if 5 million Arabs would be allowed into Israel there would be no Israel!

    But we need not worry, before we run for the Kleenex to wipe our tears for “5 million Palestinians, who technically don't yet have a home to return to” let look at the facts; FACT: THERE ARE NO 5 MILLIONS PALESTINIAN REFUGEES; the number of 5 million is an UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) CLAIM of the number of people who are registered with UNRWRA which is vastly different from what we normally regard as “refugees”.

    UNWRA definition of a “Palestine refugee” is not only more liberal than that of the UN 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees but it overrides it on a number of aspects; in other words a person who is not qualified as an “asylum seeker” may still qualifies as “Palestinian Refugee” under the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) under certain circumstances, such as:

    [All persons] “Who, as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, were displaced from that part of Mandate Palestine which became Israel, and who have been unable to return there”

    UNWRA further clarifies that its scope to cover those persons and their descendants irrespective of whether they live in a refugee camp or not AND INCLUDES “Palestinians” who emigrated to countries outside the Middle East and are entitled to or received citizenships of their new countries but for some reason do not take it up. (Perhaps UNWRA would consider opening an office in a south-western suburb in Sydney :-)

    As UNWRA receive funding according to the number of persons that are registered for its services, it is not hard to see why they have a distinct interest to keep that number as high as possible.

    The number of Arabs who left Israel during its War of Independence was about 400,000 (the UN own original estimate was 360,000). Within a few months of the commencement of UNRWA operations in the Arab countries, that number swelled to around 700,000 largely because free food was handed out and the host governments of the (real) refugees declared some of their own citizens as “refugees” as they too have an interest to keep the number of refugees as high as possible; consequently, Egypt declared practically all of the Gaza Strip inhabitants as refugees as did Jordan with more than half of the inhabitants of the West Bank.

    Although UNWRA was fully aware of what the Arab countries were up to, they put their blind eye to it (more money), they also put blind eye to the facts that refugees families were not reporting deaths so they could use the food portion of the dead, surprise surprise.

    The good news I have to madam Ambassador is that even UNWRA inflated numbers put the number of refugees who live in camps at about 1.5 million but hey why let the fact spoil a good sob story.

    And I said nothing about UNWRA anti-Semitism, oops anti-Zionism.

  4. Jacob, thanks for all that! Here's what Ephraim Karsh wrote about the number of Arabs who left their homes:

  5. Just a thought...why do you assume her position is not that of the British Foreign Office? It sounds in keeping with everything I hear coming from the UK. As far as I can see, the British politicos are having a time tripping over themselves to see who can be the most antisemitic both as far as Israel is concerned and their own citizens, as usual. But you wouldn't hear anyone but the Chief Rabbi mention how bad it is.

  6. Thanks, IP - apologies for any delay in posting your comment.
    The Foreign Office is of course pro the Two State Solution and against the "settlements" but Ms Guy gas a bit of a history of sounding off above and beyond the call of "duty" and I really feel she oversteps the mark. I've mentioned this tendency several times...
    I do not, of course, put anything beyond the FO "Camel Corps".

  7. See, for example:

  8. The first step to resolving the refugee problem is simple abolish UNRWA and move all 'refugees' to the care of UNHCR. This would immediately reduce the numbers as all those permanently settled elsewhere would lose their status. Any living in Gaza or the P.A. would lose their status as technically they are at home. Most importantly the ridiculous situation when Palestinians uniquely transfer their refugee status as an inherited asset would be abolished, as would the unique situation where there is no defined end to refugee status.

    A further reasonable twist would be removing the requirement where aid can only be delivered through refugee camps would result in either the abandonment of camps or recognition that they are now permanent settlements with the normal rights and duties of town and villages can't hurt.

    Somehow I don't think that's what the activist means.

    BTW not related to Frances Guy

  9. Thanks, David! Incidentally, fellow Aussie and former UNRWA chief Sir Raphael Cilento was something of a judeophobe.


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