The BBC presenter, in his final thoughts on the problem, opines that for Palestinians, living in camps in Lebanon and Jordan, their refugee status is the only thing they possess. However, a Palestinian hope based on a right (of return) they don’t have, and on a future vision of life (in Israel) that will never be brought to fruition, is not a possession. It’s a handicap, and a cynical formula for perpetuating Palestinian victimhood that continues to be amplified and legitimized by media outlets like the BBC.
This conclusion that the flight of Arabs from Haifa was instigated by the Arab leadership, and not by the Hagana, isn’t just reached by Karsh, but by historian Benny Morris, and even radical anti-Israel historian Illan Pappe, who acknowledged that “Jewish troops had no clear intention of provoking an Arab exodus” and that “their military strategy was not calculated to produce such an outcome”.
This month, the New Statesman published an article by Sarah Helm entitled “How Donald Trump provoked a Palestinian refugee revolt” which is inaccurate on two levels – it makes false assertions and misleading statements about specific details, and presents a very selective version of the overall story.
There are good humanitarian-based arguments for maintaining current UNRWA funding until a long-term solution can be found, but there can be no serious argument to maintain the fiction that there are over 5 million actual Palestinian refugees and that these non-refugees of Palestinian descent should be “repatriated” to a place they never once stepped foot.
Most the world’s actual refugees today are from three war-torn countries – Syria (4.9 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million) and Somalia (1.1 million). Perhaps the reason why Anish Kapoor didn’t mention Palestine when he spoke out against “abhorrent government policies” towards refugees is because he broadly knows these figures, and understands intuitively that there are relatively few actual Palestinian refugees in the world.
The UN has two bodies which deal with refugees. The High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which deals with all the world’s refugees and UNRWA, which deals only with those who became Palestinians. […]