In my last post, I noted with disgust this particular boil belonging to The Daily Telegraph's rotund pundit Piers Akerman: "Ever since the Arab nations surrounding Israel encouraged Palestinians to flee the nascent state of Israel 60 years ago, they have refused to permit them to settle and integrate into their populations, preferring to see a United Nations-supported permanent 'refugee' state of Palestine fester on the Israeli border and remain a canker in international relations."
I lanced it thus: "And that, folks, is all anyone expelled from his homeland would want, right? Just to forget and move on - as far away from his alleged homeland as possible, right? Content that it's gone to more deserving folk, right?"
Since reading the following two news reports, my sarcasm has turned out to be far closer to reality than I imagined:-
The first concerns Palestinian refugees whose grandparents were ethnically cleansed by Israeli forces in 1948 and took refuge in Iraq. Following the US invasion and occupation of that country in 2003, they now find themselves refugees twice over: "More than 2 dozen vulnerable Palestinian refugees stranded for the last 2 years in a makeshift camp in the desert on the Iraq-Syria border are set to leave the camp in the coming weeks for Iceland." (Resettlement to Iceland rescues Palestinians from border camp limbo, 4/8/08, unhcr.org) That's right, not Palestine - Iceland!
The second concerns the findings of an Israeli study of what Israelis (whose kibbutzes and moshavs were built on the ruins of pre-1948 Palestinian villages) think about living in the homes of Palestinian refugees such as those featured in the previous item: " 'There was nothing there', members of Kibbutz Barkai write in one pamphlet that is quoted in the book. There was some mention here and there of the Arabs 'bequeathing' their lands, their homes and even their furniture and household goods to the new settlers." (The makings of history/Secrets of the olive trees, Tom Segev, Haaretz, 25/7/08) That's right, the Palestinians bequeathed all they owned to the more deserving Israelis! Talk about Arab hospitality.
We know how well Israel has repaid such extraordinary Palestinian generosity over the past 60 years, but what about those generous, self-sacrificing Palestinians who had gone, for example, to Gaza in 1948, and found they'd left themselves a little short? You know - before they began bludging on the UN, as Piers has reminded us. When they slipped back into their former homeland for a bit of fruit or the odd bit of furniture, the Israelis, to whom the Palestinians had bequeathed the very shirts off their backs, showed their gratitude by "hunting them down" and handing them over to the army for a bounty!