September 25, 2020

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Jewish refugees would restore politics and accountability to conflict

The expulsion of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries is a key component of the Middle East conflict. Restoring the Jewish refugees to the narrative would restore balance and Arab accountability, argues Shmuel Trigano in Le Blog de Therèse:

Professor Shmuel Trigano

A comparison (between the two sets of refugees)  is still impossible at the level of historical causality. Jews in Arab countries have been expelled or pushed out by the new Arab states; Palestinians found themselves on the road to exile because their rulers and all Arab states in 1947 refused the UN partition plan and massively attacked the newly-proclaimed state of Israel to destroy it. The condition of the Palestinians results from this failed global Arab aggression. Disguised as a nakbah, or a “catastrophe” designating their exodus, as if the event were comparable to the Holocaust, is astonishingly ideological manipulation. We do not see – unless we assume, together with Nazis and anti-Semites, that the Jews are responsible for World War II – how the comparison could be possible. It is part of a devious system that aims to distort the reality of facts and responsibilities.

Another anomaly in the history of international relations: victim status has been conferred on the aggressor, whereas as a general rule, the military outcome of a largely defensive war creates a fait accompli and new realities, the victors dictating the new international order, as in Europe after 1945. However, the Western powers (including over a long period the United States) have systematically challenged territorial gains from the recurrent victories of the Israelis over their aggressors, so that a problem that should have been solved, namely, that of the Palestinian refugees – and not the existence of Israel – has been kept alive.

The Arab states are doubly responsible for an irreversible situation: after expelling their Jewish residents, they did not resettle the Palestinian refugees. Instead, they turned them into a weapon against Israel. So this is why this one and only refugee problem in contemporary history has still not been resolved at a time when there were sixty million refugees? While all of the world’s refugees depended on the High Commissioner for Refugees and eventually rebuilt their lives in the places they were, Palestinians remained in camps and dependent on UNRWA, sustaining a bureaucracy of 17,000. employees and swallowing up (according to 1986 figures) $2 939,774,915  –  to which the Arab States have contributed very little.

It is to be feared that concealing the drama of the Jews of the Arab countries results from the exception in which one wants to imprison the State of Israel, applying  unequal justice standards which appraise Jewish affairs according to “different criteria”. “.The current ideological mix reconstructs the Palestinians, in the words of historian of Orientalism Edward Said,  as “victims of the victims”; it situates the origin of the conflict at a metaphysical and ideological level not unrelated to an old reservoir of prejudices on the “Jewish question” which blurs the real issues.  Recalling the memory of Jews in Arab countries brings the conflict back to the level of politics and accountability.

Read article in full (French)

More from Shmuel Trigano

Professor Trigano will be interviewed (in French) at a Harif Zoom event on Tuesday 11 August  2020 at 7 pm UK time. Details from

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