The Story of Arab Apartheid


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Only 30% of those who, for some reason, are still considered “Palestinian refugees in Syria” still live in refugee camps. Actually, they should long ago have been considered Syrians for all intents and purposes. They were part of the national Arab identity, they are connected by family ties, they should have been assimilated into the economic life of the country. But despite that, as a result of political brainwashing, they remain in Syria as a foreign element. They daydream about the “right of return,” and are kept perpetually in their inferior status. Most of them are at the bottom of the employment ladder, in the service (41%) and construction (27%) professions. Twenty-three percent do not even go to elementary school and only 3% reach academic education.

Apartheid in Lebanon

In the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians suffered for only two decades because of the Egyptian régime. In Lebanon, the apartheid continues to this day. The result is poverty, neglect, and enormous unemployment. Up to 1969, the refugee camps were under the stringent military control of Lebanon. According to the descriptions of Martha Gellhorn, most of the refugees were in a reasonable situation. Many even improved their standard of living compared with the days before the “nakba.” But in 1969, the Cairo Agreement was signed, which transferred control of the camps to the refugees themselves. The situation only grew worse. Terrorist organizations took control of the camps, which turned them into arenas of conflict — mostly violent — among the various groups.

A new study that was published in December 2010 presents data that makes the Gaza Strip look like paradise compared with Lebanon. Indeed, there was some scant publicity about it here and there, but as far as we know, there was no worldwide protest, not even a Turkish or international flotilla.

In contrast to Syria and Jordan, in which most of those defined as refugees are no longer in refugee camps, two thirds of the Palestinians in Lebanon live in camps, which are “enclaves outside the control of the state.” The most stunning data is that, despite the fact that about 425,000 refugees are registered with UNRWA, the study found that only between 260,000 and 280,000 Palestinians live in Lebanon. The paradox is that UNRWA is receiving financing for more than 150,000 people who are not even in Lebanon. This figure alone should have led to a serious inquest by the financing countries (primarily the US and Europe), but there is no chance that that will happen. The issue of the refugees is fraught with so many errors and lies that one more lie doesn’t really change anything. And so UNRWA can demand a budget for 425,000 people from the international community, while its website has a link to the study that shows that it’s all a fiction.

According to the study, the refugees are suffering from 56% unemployment. That seems to be the highest figure, not just among the Palestinians, but in the entire Arab world. Even those who are working are at the bottom of the employment ladder. Only 6% of those in the workforce have some kind of academic degree (compared with 20% of the workforce in Lebanon). The result is that 66% of the Palestinians in Lebanon live below the poverty line, which was set at six dollars per day per person. That is double the number of the Lebanese.

This dismal state of affairs is a result of apartheid for all intents and purposes. A series of Lebanese laws restrict the right to citizenship, to property, and to employment in the fields of law, medicine, pharmaceutics, journalism, etc. In August 2010, there was a limited amendment to the labor law, but the amendment did not actually lead to any real change. Another directive prohibits the entry of building materials into refugee camps, and there are reports of arrests and the demolition of houses resulting from construction in the refugee camps. The partial and limited prohibition of some building materials imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip stemmed from the firing of rockets at population centers. As far as we know, no prohibition was imposed in Lebanon due to a similar firing of rockets at population centers. And despite that, again, beyond the dry reports of human rights organizations, as part of the outlook that “they are permitted to do as they please,” no serious protest was recorded and no “apartheid week” was held against Lebanon.

Apartheid in Kuwait

In 1991, the Palestinians constituted 30% of the country of Kuwait’s population. Relative to other Arab countries, their situation there was reasonable. Then Saddam Hussein invaded from Iraq. As part of the attempts at compromise that proceeded to first Gulf War, Saddam made a “proposal” to retreat from Kuwait in exchange for Israel’s retreat from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The PLO, headed by Yasir Arafat, supported Saddam’s proposal. That support was the opening salvo in one of the worst events in Palestinian history. After Kuwait was liberated from the Iraqi conquest, an anti-Palestinian campaign commenced, which included persecution, arrests and show trials. The terrible saga ended in the expulsion of 450,000 Palestinians. Incidentally, some of them had settled there back in the 1930s, and most of them had no connection to Arafat’s support for Saddam. Nevertheless, they were subject to collective punishment, a transfer of proportions similar to the original nakba in 1948, which barely earned any mention in the world media. There are endless academic publications on the expulsion and flight in 1948. There are close to zero studies on the “nakba” of 1991.

* * *

These are the main countries in which the refugees are located. Apartheid is also rampant in other countries. In Saudi Arabia, the refugees from mandatory Palestine have not received citizenship. In 2004, Saudi Arabia announced some changes, but clarified that the changes do not include the Palestinians. Jordan also prevents 150,000 refugees, most of them originally from the Gaza Strip, from receiving citizenship now. In Iraq, the refugees were actually given preference under the leadership of Saddam Hussein, but since he fell from power, they have become one of the most persecuted groups. Twice, both on the Libyan-Egyptian border and on the Syria-Iraqi border, thousands of expelled Palestinians lived in temporary camps and not a single Arab state agreed to take them. That was a formidable show of “Arab solidarity,” in making the “Arab nation.” And it continues. Palestinians from Libya, refugees from the civil war, are now arriving at the border of Egypt, which refuses to grant them entry.

Time after time, the Arab countries have rejected proposals to resettle the refugees, despite the fact that there was room and there was a need. The march continues. In 1995, the ruler of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, decided to expel 30,000 Palestinians, just because he was angry about the Oslo accords, about the PLO, and about the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. A Palestinian doctor, Dr. Ashraf al-Hazouz, spent 8 years in a Libyan prison (together with Bulgarian nurses) on false charges of spreading AIDS. In August 2010, before the present uprising, Libya passed laws that made the lives of the Palestinians impossible. It was at precisely the same time that Libya dispatched a “humanitarian aid ship” to the Gaza Strip. There is no limit to hypocrisy.

The following is a summary of the apartheid against minorities in the Arab world in general, and against the Palestinians in particular. But there is a difference. While the Copts in Egypt or the Kurds in Syria are, indeed, minorities, the Arabs from mandatory Palestine were supposed to be an integral part of the Arab nation. Two of the symbols of the Palestinian struggle were born in Egypt – Edward Said and Yasir Arafat. Both of them tried to fabricate their birthplace as Palestine. Two other prominent symbols of the struggle by the Arabs of mandatory Palestine are Fawzi al-Qawuqji (who competed with the mufti to lead the Arab struggle against the British) and Izz al-Din al-Qassam – the former Lebanese and the latter Syrian. There is nothing strange about this, because the struggle was Arab, not Palestinian. And despite that, the Arabs of mandatory Palestine became the most downtrodden and spurned group of all, following the Arab defeat in 1948. The vast majority of the descriptions from those years talks about Arabs, not about Palestinians. Later, only later, did they become Palestinians.

The Arab countries are well aware that their treatment of the refugees from mandatory Palestine was no less than scandalous. To that end, they signed the “Casablanca Protocol” in 1965, which was supposed to grant the Palestinians the right of employment and movement, but not citizenship. Some relief was almost within their grasp. But like other documents of that type, this one did not change a thing. The abuse continued.

Comparatively, it seems that the Palestinian group that underwent the most significant growth is the one that is under Israeli sovereignty — both the Israeli Arabs who received Israeli citizenship, whose situation is far better, and the Arabs of the territories. Despite the harsh living conditions in Lebanon and Syria, and before that also in Egypt and the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians under Israeli rule, beginning in 1967, have enjoyed a steady rise in their standard of living, in employment, in health services, in life expectancy, in the dramatic drop in infant mortality, and in the enormous growth of higher education.

For example, in all the territories captured by Israel in 1967, there was not one institution of higher education. In the 1970s, academic institutions began to sprout one after the other, and today there are at least 16 institutions of higher education. The growth in the number of students has continued for three decades, including during the years of the Intifada in the last decade. Within six decades, the Palestinians — only those under Israeli rule — have become the most educated group in the Arab world.

The same is true in the political arena. After decades of political oppression, it was only under Israeli rule that the Palestinian national consciousness sprang up. For two decades after the War of Independence, the Arabs could have established a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. They did not do so — until Israel arrived and released them from the oppression of two decades. That didn’t make the occupation desirable. It doesn’t mean that there weren’t injustices and dispossessions. There were. But it seems that after the first two decades following the “nakba,” it was actually the era of Israeli rule that caused the enormous flourishing growth in every field. We should, and we must, criticize the negative aspects of the occupation. But we should, and we must, also remember the aspect that is ignored.

In the past decades, the lie has arisen again and again about Israel’s responsibility for the distress of the Palestinians, so it is advisable to set matters straight. The Palestinians went through a terrible experience of uprooting and expulsion. Most of them fled. Some of them were expelled. But, again, that type of occurrence was experienced by tens of millions of others. The difference lies in the fact that all the other tens of millions were absorbed by the countries to which they went. That has not been the case with the Palestinians. They have gone through ordeals of oppression, abuse, and denial of rights. That was the work of the Arab countries, which decided to perpetuate the situation. Many proposals to resolve the problem of the Palestinians and resettle them have been rejected again and again. The open wound has festered. Yet, time after time, the Arabs themselves have claimed that the Arabs are one nation.

The borders between the countries, and of this there is no dispute, are a fiction of the colonial government. After all, there is no difference, either ethnic, or religious, or cultural, or national, between the Arabs of Jaffa and Gaza and the Arabs of El Arish and Port Said, or between the Arabs of Safed and Tiberias and the Arabs of Syria and Lebanon. Despite that, the Arab refugees have become the forced victims of the Arab world. The “right of return,” which is primarily a propaganda invention, has become the ultimate demand. Behind this demand was hidden, and still hides, one single intention: the annihilation of the State of Israel. The Egyptian Foreign Minister, Muhammad Salah al-Din, said back in 1949 that the “demand for the right of return was actually intended to achieve the purpose of annihilating Israel.”

That was also the case at a conference of refugees that was held in 1957 in Homs in Syria, where it was declared that “any discussion of the refugee issue that does not promise the right to the annihilation of Israel will be deemed a desecration of the Arab nation and treason.” There is no confusion here between the “right of return” and the “right of annihilation.” It is the same “right.” Identical words about return, whose purpose is the annihilation of Israel, were stated in 1988 by Sacher Habash, Yasir Arafat’s adviser. So, too, in our day, is the BDS campaign, whose platform supports the “right of return,” and whose leaders, such as Omar Barghouti, explained that the real objective is the annihilation of Israel.

Already back in 1952, Alexander Galloway, a senior official in UNRWA, stated that “the Arab countries do not want to resolve the problem of the refugees. They want to leave them like an open wound, as a weapon against Israel. The Arab rulers don’t care at all if the refugees live or die.” The Palestinian historiography has erased all expressions of this type, just as it has erased the absorption of tens of millions of refugees in other places, and as it has erased the “Jewish nakba,” the story of the dispossession and expulsion of Jews from Arab countries, and as it has erased the story of the Arab apartheid. But the truth must be told. Indeed, there was a nakba, but it is a nakba that is recorded primarily in the name of the Arab apartheid.

Ben-Dror Yemini is a researcher, a lecturer and a journalist. He can be reached at bdyemini@gmail.com.

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  • EricD

    This is one of the best pieces I have read. I commend the author for his presentation.

  • aspacia

    I have countered Muslims regarding these fact only to be told that those are Zionist Lies. There never will be peace until one side annihilates the other.

    • tanstaafl

      More Islamic projection.

    • ahmadnb

      I happen to be a strong Muslim who is also pro-Israel. This article doesn't surprise me at all…there's a lot more than what this article talks about, which is why I find it completely believable.

      Israel should just annex the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. End of story. And if the Palestinian refugees there refuse to accept Israeli citizenship and quit fighting Israel, they should be expelled. It's what i would do.

      • aspacia

        Awesome, another courageous Muslim:-) Now, write to Zudi Jasser of AIFD, another courageous, patriotic Muslims: http://www.aifdemocracy.org/

        • ahmadnb

          I know of him but haven't contacted him yet. Ever heard of Stephen Schwartz? He was instrumental in turning my opinion in Israel's favor. He's a convert to Islam with a Jewish/Christian/leftist background.

        • ahmadnb

          BTW, thanks for the link.

      • ObamaYoMoma

        I happen to be a strong Muslim who is also pro-Israel.

        For that absurdity to be true, you would have to be dead already, as any Muslim that doesn’t strive and advocate for the annihilation of Israel isn’t a Muslim at all but instead a blasphemous apostate that must be executed, which also unequivocally indicates at the same time, by the way, that you aren’t a Muslim at all

        And if the Palestinian refugees there refuse to accept Israeli citizenship and quit fighting Israel, they should be expelled. It's what i would do.

        Of course, that is what you would do, because as your first statement above indicates, you don’t have the first clue about Islam.

        • ahmadnb

          I wasn't talking to you. Your opinion means as much to me as a yellow dog's growl.

          • aspacia

            Meant as an insult, but you are talking to Americans, usually U.S. citizens who happen to love yellow dogs, especially Golden Retrievers.

          • ahmadnb

            Golden retrievers look nice. What I meant here, as you may have guessed, is a rabid dog. That individual is, in my opinion, rabid. Nothing satisfies it. It's arguments against me are not grounded in anything but ignorance, fear and hatred. There's no logic to them.

          • aspacia

            No, I had no idea. Many in the West love dogs, in contrast most from your neck of the woods consider dogs unclean.

            How about a rat's a$$.

        • ahmadnb

          You know as much about Islam, Islamic hstory and the Qur'an as a chimpanzee knows about nuclear thermodynamics. Your opinions and views mean nothing.

        • aspacia

          Obama, there are actually many articles written by Israeli Muslims in support of Israel, try perusing Israeli media for insight. Granted they are few and far between, and many live in exile, but there are some.

          • ObamaYoMoma

            Apparently you don’t understand that Islam is an ideology that first and foremost requires total and complete submission to the will of Allah. Islam is not in any way similar to true faith-based religions where adherents can freely question, challenge, criticize, and denounce the texts and tenets of their respective religions, freely convert to another religion, or otherwise leave the religion altogether, as all of those things in Islam are capital offenses. In fact, Islam doesn’t even allow unbelievers to criticize Islam, as that is also a capital offense when it can be enforced. Thus, any person who questions the will of Allah by definition can’t be a Muslim.

            Of course, all of those restrictions arise out of Islam’s main goal and most fundamental mission, the forceful subjugation of the world into a very draconian form of totalitarianism via the imposition of Sharia. Hence, anything less than total and complete submission by allowing adherents to question, challenge, and criticize the texts and tenets of Islam would be self-defeating.

            Hence, the notion that a Muslim can disagree with Islam’s main goal and most fundamental mission and at the same time remain a Muslim is absurd. Such a person is not a so-called moderate Muslim in the eyes of devout Muslims, maybe in your naïve eyes they are, but in the eyes of devout Muslims such persons are blasphemous apostates that must be executed.

            Dr. Zudhi Jasser despite his ludicrous claims is not a devout Muslim, he is a mentally incompetent loon, and if he is a devout Muslim, then he is a taqiyya spewing and very deceptive Muslim.

            He also isn’t a Muslim reformer, because all devout Muslims consider him to be a blasphemous apostate that must be executed. Indeed, if he lived in an Islamic country and promoted the same things he promotes in the USA, he would have already been executed. Indeed, Jasser was even tossed out of his own mosque. Thus, how can he be deemed a Muslim reformer when he has exactly zero following in the Islamic world?

            The truth is Jasser is a media whore and the lamestream media is enamored with him exactly because he legitimizes their false narrative, which is that Islam is a Religion of Peace™ being hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists.

            Hence, while you may be duped by Jasser’s game, please excuse me if I’m not.

            Moreover, anyone who has studied the evolution of Islam in depth knows that Islam is not even a religion and is therefore impossible to be reformed since Islam is far more a totalitarian ideology than it is a religion, and just because Christianity was eventually reformed and modernized, it doesn’t mean that it could happen again. Not to mention that the texts and tenets of Islam are also immutable and anyone seen as altering just one word of it would instantly be declared a blasphemous apostate and executed for his offense.

            Hence, with respect to those so-called Israelis you claim are Muslims, they are no more Muslims than Jasser is a Muslim or that pretender above masquerading as being a Muslim but who clearly doesn’t have the first clue about Islam except for what he naively and stupidly assumes. Anyway, if Israeli Muslims are writing articles in support of Israel, then by all means please post links to those alleged articles. I want to read them and know whom they are. Sorry Christian Arabs with Arab names don’t count.

          • aspacia

            Obama, this is not about me and what I believe; it is about Muslims and what they believe. Who are you or I or Spencer or Geller to tell a person what faith they are? I am a Deist, and who better to define what I am than myself. Jasser believes himself to be a devout Muslim, so did bin Lauden.

            You claim that Islam is about total control without questioning, and to do so makes a person a heretic, this was true regarding most Christian faiths until Martin Luther and the Reformation, and even after with both
            Catholics and Protestants burning heretics at the stake. This was reform, so why can't Islam reform? Because you say so? Get Real! You are not that important.

            As you claim extremist will murder those they consider heretics. Guess what, so did Lenin with communist heretics. What about environmental extremists? Extremists do not need religion to be extreme. Actually, you are quite extreme and your absolutism and knowing your are right. Have you ever doubted yourself?

            How odd that you call an honorably discharged, military combat veteran and surgeon a loon and a media whore because of his beliefs. He only acted after 9/11 when he realized Muslims were not protesting the attacks.

            Look, the Pope forbids birth control except the rhythm method, however many Catholics practice birth control You logic dictates that they are not Catholics. Take a step back and think for once, instead of continuous, hate filled rants.

            Try reading some Israeli Media for insight. Israeli Arab Muslims periodically post articles regarding the positives of Israel. It is important to remember, that their Muslim brethren threaten them for doing so, and they write these articles at considerable risk to their families and themselves.

  • g_jochnowitz

    Is there any way this information could get into the mainstream press? Perhaps a shorter version of this articlee could be an Op-ed in the Washington Post.

    • aspacia

      Neither the Post or NYTimes will publish this.

  • Weiserite

    Excellent!!! I went on several trips to Syria from 2003 – 2006 – specifically the Rif Dimashq area south of Damascus near the town of Kiswe. I was looking to start an agricultural project. The workers on the farms were Palestinians living in special camps, without Syrian citizenship, and who had been there since '47 – 55 years. My Baathi handlers explained to me frankly that they could not allow them citizenship because they wanted to keep alive the light of their returning to Palestine. Of course no one had ever asked these poor people what they individually may have wanted. .

    This is all sick, sick

  • Weiserite

    Let me tell another story. My son, attending the American school in the Arab country I live in, brought a friend home one day. He spoke perfect American, but when I asked him where he was from he mentioned a town in Palestine. I said, nicely, OK, but from where in the "interval" between. He said San Gabriel CA. and was of course an American citizen from an affluent family, his father was working in this same Arab country. I asked him if he was ready to leave the USA and return to that town when it was "liberated". I let the kid off the hook when he couldn't answer. He was only a kid. But I still wanted to whack the little smart ass.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Overall it’s a very enlightening article, especially if you didn’t already know the truth. However, the article deliberately left out the underlying motivation that under girds everything that happens in the Middle East and also throughout the Islamic world, which is Islam’s main goal and fundamental mission of subjugating the world into a very draconian form of Islamic totalitarianism via the imposition of Sharia.

    First, Arab countries refused to accept the proposal of Israel-Palestine partition, and they launched a war of annihilation against the State of Israel, which had barely been established. All precedents on this matter show that the party that starts the war — and with a declaration of annihilation — pays a price for it.

    The above paragraph should be rewritten to reflect the actual reality and facts on the ground. The Islamic world, which happens to include most but not all Arabs, launched a genocidal jihad of conquest against the Jewish unbelievers in Israel, and one of many such jihads of conquest that the Islamic world are also waging perpetually against many unbelievers around the world, because the establishment of Israel in 1948 represented the re-establishment of the Dar al Harb (the realm of jahiliyya (ignorance) on what was formerly the Dar al Islam (the realm of submission and enlightenment), and any land that was once part of the Dar al Islam according to Islam must always forever remain part of the Dar al Islam.

    That was also the case at a conference of refugees that was held in 1957 in Homs in Syria, where it was declared that “any discussion of the refugee issue that does not promise the right to the annihilation of Israel will be deemed a desecration of the Arab nation and treason.”

    Indeed, anything less than the total and complete annihilation of Israel would be sacrileges and blasphemous, not because of Arabism, but instead because of the dictates of Islam. Thus, the jihad of conquest being waged against the Jewish unbelievers in Israel by the Islamic world is permanent and will continue to be waged perpetually for as long as Israel continues to exist and regardless of any and all fake peace processes used by the Islamic world to weaken Israel and to dupe gullible useful idiots. Exactly like the greater global jihad at large that is being waged against all unbelievers throughout the world is also permanent and will also continue to be waged perpetually as long as unbelievers continue to exist that haven’t been forced to submit to the authority of Islam.

  • Fred Dawes

    I can see in all our futures a civil and race war soon with billions dead, just keep walking down the path.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Aspacia

    Apparently you don’t understand that Islam is an ideology that first and foremost requires total and complete submission to the will of Allah. Islam is not in any way similar to true faith-based religions where adherents can freely question, challenge, criticize, and denounce the texts and tenets of their respective religions, freely convert to another religion, or otherwise leave the religion altogether, as all of those things in Islam are capital offenses. In fact, Islam doesn’t even allow unbelievers to criticize Islam, as that is also a capital offense when it can be enforced. Thus, any person who questions the will of Allah by definition can’t be a Muslim.

    Of course, all of those restrictions arise out of Islam’s main goal and most fundamental mission, the forceful subjugation of the world into a very draconian form of totalitarianism via the imposition of Sharia. Hence, anything less than total and complete submission by allowing adherents to question, challenge, and criticize the texts and tenets of Islam would be self-defeating.

    Hence, the notion that a Muslim can disagree with Islam’s main goal and most fundamental mission and at the same time remain a Muslim is absurd. Such a person is not a so-called moderate Muslim in the eyes of devout Muslims, maybe in your naïve eyes they are, but in the eyes of devout Muslims such persons are blasphemous apostates that must be executed.

    Dr. Zudhi Jasser despite his ludicrous claims is not a devout Muslim, he is a mentally incompetent loon, and if he is a devout Muslim, then he is a taqiyya spewing and very deceptive Muslim.

    He also isn’t a Muslim reformer, because all devout Muslims consider him to be a blasphemous apostate that must be executed. Indeed, if he lived in an Islamic country and promoted the same things he promotes in the USA, he would have already been executed. Indeed, Jasser was even tossed out of his own mosque. Thus, how can he be deemed a Muslim reformer when he has exactly zero following in the Islamic world?

    The truth is Jasser is a media whore and the lamestream media is enamored with him exactly because he legitimizes their false narrative, which is that Islam is a Religion of Peace™ being hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists.

    Hence, while you may be duped by Jasser’s game, please excuse me if I’m not.

    Moreover, anyone who has studied the evolution of Islam in depth knows that Islam is not even a religion and is therefore impossible to be reformed since Islam is far more a totalitarian ideology than it is a religion, and just because Christianity was eventually reformed and modernized, it doesn’t mean that it could happen again. Not to mention that the texts and tenets of Islam are also immutable and anyone seen as altering just one word of it would instantly be declared a blasphemous apostate and executed for his offense.

    Hence, with respect to those so-called Israelis you claim are Muslims, they are no more Muslims than Jasser is a Muslim or that loon above masquerading as being a Muslim but who clearly doesn’t have the first clue about Islam except for what he naively and stupidly assumes. Anyway, if Israeli Muslims are writing articles in support of Israel, then by all means please post links to those alleged articles. I want to read them and know whom they are. Christian Arabs with Arab names don’t count.