Monday, December 29, 2008

What is a Refugee Camp?

[Jack's latest update on Gaza is here.]

Over at IsraellyCool, Shukri makes the following comment:
Are you calling the Gazans murderers? Take a look at the places that they live in. Its mostly refugee camps.

"Refugee camps." I love it. The Gazans live in "refugee camps," and therefore it's okay for them to rocket kindergartens and hospitals in Israel.

What is a refugee camp?

Some Arab families have indeed lived in "refugee camps" for sixty years - not because they have to, but because of one or more of the following factors:
a) The local government will not allow them to take citizenship;
b) They are too busy rocketing Israel to build homes on the land they have;
c) The UN has promised them loads of cash in exchange for agreeing to stay in those camps;
d) They like being able to tell the world they are waiting to return to "their land" in the Ottoman Empire.

Reading the above, I realize that some of it sounds harsh - but it’s also the truth.

First, Arab nations have refused to grant citizenship to these "refugees" -
To cite the well-footnoted Wikipedia article, "Palestinian Refugees":
In 1957, the Refugee Conference at Homs, Syria, passed a resolution stating that "Any discussion aimed at a solution of the Palestine problem which will not be based on ensuring the refugees' right to annihilate Israel will be regarded as a desecration of the Arab people and an act of treason."
The Arab League issued instructions barring the Arab states from granting citizenship to Palestinian Arab refugees (or their descendants) "to avoid dissolution of their identity and protect their right to return to their homeland".
Iraqis kill them, Syria refuses to grant them citizenship and will not permit the ones fleeing from Iraq to enter, Kuwait has kicked them out, Egypt has kicked them out, Lebanon denies them citizenship and Jordan keeps more than one million of them in camps. Israel should have greater rachmanus than these Arab countries? Let the refugees fire rockets into Egypt!

Second, they are too busy rocketing Israel to build homes on the land they do have.
There is quite a bit of undeveloped land in Gaza. For that matter, when Israel left Gaza in 2005 they abandoned homes, towns, greenhouses and infrastructure. However, because the Palestinians chose to demolish and loot what was given to them, and because they have spent more time rocketing than reconstructing, we have these "refugees."

Third, the UN has promised them plenty of cash, so long as they stay in these camps.
The United Nations has a special branch dedicated to this purpose: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This is a relief and human development agency, providing education, health care, social services and emergency aid to over four million Palestinian refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, as well as in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
So any resettlement and normalization of life results in the loss of UN benefits.
Note, by the way: There is no dedicated agency for Jews who were exiled from Arab lands in 1948.

And fourth, they like being able to tell the world they are waiting to return to "their land" in the Ottoman Empire.
This, to me, speaks for itself.

And there you have it - these are your refugees, and their refugee camps, and their justification for attacking Israel.

Any questions?


  1. Well said. I did include this in the second round up.

  2. Note also that the UN has two bodies that deals with refugees. The UNHCR "strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country" (according to the official site) - basically, to resettle them somewhere as soon as possible if they can't return home. They have no option to stay in a refugee camp indefinitely. Only UNWRA aims to prolong their time as refugees.