Solving the Problem
Anyone with a heart has to be sickened by news reports and videos of brutalised Palestinian civilians in Gaza today, abandoned by every nation to depend on the charity of United Nations’ relief funds1 with no end in sight. Their elected leaders of Hamas have led them into a war which they can never win and which will surely result in many more dead Palestinian babies, women, and elders.
What on earth can be done? How did they get into this truly horrifying situation but, more importantly, how can they get out?
There is an answer but you’ll never hear it even discussed, let alone actioned. Why? Because, when the 711,0002 Palestinian refugees first fled their land in 1948, the Arab nations could have immediately solved the problem of their resettlement but they refused. They could have solved it anytime in the last 75 years – they can solve it today, they still refuse, and they will never change.
I’ve been accused by my critics of being ahistorical, i.e. ‘unconcerned with or ignorant of history. Lacking historical perspective or context’,3 and lacking a Ph D. What I offer, nevertheless, is the fruit of five decades of studying Israel and the Palestinians.
I’ve read the eloquent and gracious writings of Edward Said, Naim Ateek, Alex Awad, and Elias Chacour as well as the polemics of Western journalists Robert Fisk, John Pilger, and Gywnne Dyer, Israeli historian Benny Morris, and world-renowned Jewish intellectual Noam Chomsky. In 2011, I wrote Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws which contains three appendices4 documenting the plight of the Palestinians from every angle, including the massacres of Deir Yassin, Black September, and Chatila and Sabra.
I have visited Israel twice, talking with Palestinians at every opportunity and leading a tour group to hear Arab Christians at Bethlehem Bible College and Musalaha, an organisation devoted to reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.5
I’m also accused of using the term Arab as if the people comprise a monolithic entity. I do indeed use it in its usual English meaning (‘A member of a Semitic people originally from the Arabian Peninsula and surrounding territories who speaks Arabic and who inhabits much of the Middle East and northern Africa’6) but also by accepting the self-identification of the Arab League of 22 nations. Of course, this includes many tribal and ethnic differences, just as ‘British’ includes the English, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh people groups.
I’m happy to have my data, reasoning, and conclusions challenged by anyone – if I’m wrong, I want to be corrected because my conclusions are bleak and one day I will have to give an account for ‘every careless word’ that I’ve uttered.7 All I ask is that my critics come with facts and respectful reasoning instead of lofty dismissals. If I’m proven wrong in any points or conclusions, I will gladly retract and correct my errors.
How did the Palestinians get into Gaza? On May 15 every year, they lament the Nakba, Arabic for catastrophe, or as Al Jazeera describes it:
the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948…[when] Zionist military forces expelled at least 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and lands and captured 78 percent of historic Palestine. The remaining 22 percent was divided into what are now the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.8
So they believe that in 1948 the Jews “captured 78% of historic Palestine” – consider what actually happened. In 1922, the British gave the Arabs 77% of the Palestinian Mandate (see map on left) which they then renamed the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (see centre map). In 1948, therefore, there was just 23% of Palestine left to be divided up again between Jews and Arabs, meaning the Jews would get just 13% of the Mandate (see blue area, map on right). Let that sink in – the Arabs would have received 87% of the Mandate!
However, they wanted more. In 1948, when the Jews proclaimed the new nation of Israel, the Arabs, now renamed as Jordanians, crossed the Jordan River and annexed the West Bank. With the Egyptians grabbing Gaza, the Palestinians had no territory at all. Israel didn’t capture the West Bank and Gaza from Jordan and Egypt until the Six Day War of 1967 so why didn’t the Jordanians and Egyptians create Palestine for the Palestinians when they could? Don’t take my word for any of this – look it up for yourself.
But what of the 711,000 Palestinian refugees and their apolitical, deeply personal Nakba when they lost their homes and lands? They ended up in refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza and the Arab nations of Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria where only Jordan would allow them to become citizens (in fact, until 1988 the Jordanians claimed that “Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan”). They have since grown to 5.9 million refugees and 58 official refugee camps and 10 unofficial camps, although only a third live in the camps.9 This is truly appalling, isn’t it.
Now for what you may not have heard, either from our superficial media or academic ‘experts’. At the same time as the Palestinian Nakba in 1948, there was a Jewish Nakba. There were 856,000 Jewish refugees who had to leave their homes and livelihoods in Morocco (265,000), Iraq (135,000), Algeria (140,000), Tunisia (105,000), Egypt (75,000), Yemen (55,000), Libya (38,000), Syria (30,000), Lebanon (5,000), and Aden (8,000), as well as 17,000 from the Arab areas of Palestine.10 The UN finally acknowledged their existence sixty years later in 2008!
Official decrees and legislation enacted by Arab regimes denied human and civil rights to Jews and other minorities; expropriated their property; stripped them of their citizenship; and other means of livelihood. Jews were often victims of murder; arbitrary arrest and detention; torture; and expulsions.11
Was that not catastrophic for them too? Was this not ethnic cleansing by Al Jazeera’s definition?
Why don’t we hear about these Jewish refugees today? Why haven’t they also grown to 6 million today, living in 68 refugee camps? I’m not engaging in “what-about-ism” – I’m simply pointing out what actually worked for them!
There’s a simple but unpublicised answer. In 1948 there were 630,000 Jews living in Palestine but their numbers doubled because 620,000 Jewish refugees from the Arab states were absorbed into the Jewish state, the last Jewish refugee camp there closing down in 1958! The other 236,000 Jews fled to the Europe and the Americas.12
In other words, Israel absorbed their share of 1948’s population transfer of 620,000 Jewish refugees while retaining 160,000 Arabs. Of the twenty-one Arab nations,13 only Jordan absorbed a share of the Arab refugees, leaving them instead to be supported by UNWRA’s annual budget of US$1.1 billion, half of which is funded by the USA and Germany!14
This is how the Palestinians ended up in Gaza. How can they get out of their dire situation?
Firstly, and this seems a no-brainer, they have to reject Hamas and their aim to annihilate the Jews or the Jewish state of Israel. The slogan beloved and chanted today even by our uneducated university students of “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free!” means the extinction of Israel by genocidal ethnic cleansing. Stop being blatantly hateful and murderous.
Secondly, the international community has to stop abandoning the Palestinians to their fate and demand, even shame, the Arab nations to accept and shoulder their share of the twin refugee problems of 1948, just as Israel did. Why should Israel have to resolve everyone else’s problems as well as their own? Some of the Arab nations are fabulously and ostentatiously wealthy due to their oil resources and well able to afford any solution for the Palestinians.
How Feasible is This?
This exchange of population is the only possible solution.
In 1947, India was facing an even more dire situation than existed in Palestine. Muslims wanted Muslim rule and Sharia Law while the Hindus didn’t, so amid appalling atrocities and an estimated 1 million dead, 7,226,600 Muslims left India for the newly created Pakistan and 7,295,870 Hindus and Sikhs left Pakistan for India. In Palestine in 1947, there was less than a tenth of these numbers.
And where do today’s 6 million registered Palestinian refugees live? Over a third live in Gaza (1.5 million) and the West Bank (850,000), another third live in Jordan (2.3 million); the rest live in Syria (560,000), Lebanon (480,000), Israel (350,000), Egypt (50,000), and Iraq (11,500).15
Even if the other Arab nations keep rejecting them, why don’t they settle down where they are now, ignore genocidal leaders, and stop attacking Israel and each other?
 Iraq used to have 34,000 but drove most of them out. www.thenewhumanitarian.org/report/89571/middle-east-palestinian-refugee-numberswhereabouts, 17 Oct, 2023. Also wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_refugee_camps
Will any of this happen? No possibility. The Arab and Muslim nations will never back down. We’re heading for Armageddon when “all the nations” will join in their cause to take Jerusalem from the Jews in the tiny, tiny little nation of Israel.
Do not just believe me or superficial media reports or academic spin – check it out for yourself.
By بلال الدويك – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=97515029
By Zero0000A/RES/181(II) – m0103_1b.gif on PLAN OF PARTITION is from UNGA Resolution 181 (27 Nov 1947). Overdrawn UNSCOP boundary is from United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, Report to the General Assembly, 3 Sep 1947, Volume II, A/364, Add. 1., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27649381
- Via UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
- UN figures in 1950. Population data, however, shows that before the Nakba, there were 1.2 million Arabs in the land. Afterwards, there 450,000-500,000 in the West Bank and Gaza and 160,000 continued to live in the new nation of Israel, meaning between 540,000 and 590,000 became refugees. The UN funding seems to have boosted numbers.
- The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition on-line.
- Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws, pp. 194-214.
- https://musalaha.org, 14 Oct, 2023.
- The Century Dictionary.
- Matt 12:36
- www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/5/15/nakba-mapping-palestinian-villages-destroyed-by-israel-in-1948, 14 Oct, 2023.
- www.unrwa.org/palestine-refugees, 17 Oct, 2023
- www.justiceforjews.com/faq2013.pdf, 14 Oct, 2023.
- Palestine is to be number twenty-two
- UNWRA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. ‘How is UNRWA Funded?’ www.unrwa.org/who-we-are/frequently-asked-questions, 14 Oct, 2023.
- Iraq used to have 34,000 but drove most of them out (www.thenewhumanitarian.org/report/89571/middle-east-palestinian-refugee-numberswhereabouts, 17 Oct, 2023. Also wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_refugee_camps)