The Rot of Return

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Pass the tissues. The Christian Science Monitor breaks out the violins for Palestinian refugees who want to return to the villages they fled years ago.

If you’re looking for intelligent discourse on the matter, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Reporter Ben Lynfield plugs maximalist Palestinian demands that are rotten to the core. This Monitor dispatch is a real disservice, for several reasons.

First of all, contrary to the conventional wisdom, there’s no legal basis for the so-called “right” of return.

Secondly, any responsible article about the “right” of return has to explain its consequences for Israel, not just bury a brief Mark Regev reaction at the bottom of the story. If the more than one million registered Palestinian refugees flooded what is today the state of Israel, it would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state.

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Next, Lynfield takes at face value exaggerated and manipulated Palestinian accounts of Deir Yassin and its impact on the refugee situation today. Fatima al-Haj Ali Adawi, told Lynfield:

During fighting in October 1948, Jewish forces shelled the village, she says. But they also told villagers they could remain in their homes if they surrendered. The vast majority of the population – which numbered 1,180, according to a 1945 count – fled, fearing the Jewish forces would kill Arabs, she says.

“‘We were afraid after Deir Yassin,” she said, referring to the April 1948 massacre of about 250 Palestinians near Jerusalem by right-wing armed groups.

That fear, actually,was based on Arab radio broadcasts, falsely accusing the Jews of atrocities (the death toll is also disputed). The Arabs admitted inventing the atrocities, hoping to force greater intervention from the neighboring Arab states. But as Mitchell Bard documented, the move backfired:

Hazam Nusseibi, who worked for the Palestine Broadcasting Service in 1948, admitted being told by Hussein Khalidi, a Palestinian Arab leader, to fabricate the atrocity claims. Abu Mahmud, a Deir Yassin resident in 1948 told Khalidi “there was no rape,” but Khalidi replied, “We have to say this, so the Arab armies will come to liberate Palestine from the Jews.” Nusseibeh told the BBC 50 years later, “This was our biggest mistake. We did not realize how our people would react. As soon as they heard that women had been raped at Deir Yassin, Palestinians fled in terror.”

The so-called “right of return” is a non-starter for any peace agreement. Yet the Christian Science Monitor sympathizes with uncompromising Palestinian claims. That’s the real tear-jerker.


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