The Unique Tragedy of the Palestinian Refugees – Avi Jorisch
The Palestinian refugees have an emotional hold in the Muslim world unlike any other refugee group. Yet by any measure, the scale of the Palestinian refugee problem is dwarfed by numerous other refugee events. Most were forgotten because after one generation, or two at most, the refugees were integrated into other countries. But the Palestinian problem is unique because it has lasted for generations.
Imagine if the Palestinians had been allowed to integrate into neighboring Arab countries – often less than 20 miles away from their original homes? But the Arab League has instructed Arab states to deny citizenship to Palestinian refugees and their descendants. The result is that six decades later, Palestinians languish in camps throughout Lebanon, Jordan and Syria – instead of becoming productive citizens, as they have in other countries where they have emigrated.
History is replete with refugee suffering. It is hard to see what good can come from this false sense of uniqueness. Arguably, it causes even greater pain and trauma. It also makes it harder for Palestinians to envisage peacemaking rather than revenge, and strengthens extremists who feed on hatred and oppose any prospect for peace.
The writer is a Senior Fellow for Counter-Terrorism at the American Foreign Policy Council. (Al-Arabiya)