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Israel and Double Standards: The Palestinian Refugees

Israel is subject to all sorts of double standards. This happens over and over again. One area where this is the case involves Israel’s treatment of its non-Jewish citizens. Israel is said to be an apartheid regime, even though it confers equal rights on its non-Jewish citizens. The harsh treatment by Arab states of non-Muslims is often barely mentioned. Another area involves the UN’s special rule for refugees. Many Israeli critics don’t realize that Palestinian refugees would not be considered refugees if they were former residents of any other place in the world. But because the U.N discriminates against Israel, many more Palestinians are treated as refugees. As Wikipedia states:

Palestinian refugees from 1948 and their descendants do not come under the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees [which governs all other refugees], but under the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, which created its own criteria for refugee classification. The great majority of Palestinian refugees have kept the refugee status for generations, under a special decree of the UN, and legally defined to include descendants of refugees, as well as others who might otherwise be considered internally displaced persons.

But perhaps the greatest double standard is the attention that the world—especially Europe, the Muslim world, and the Left in the United States—pays to Israeli actions. If there is a conflict in Israel, it is front page news. In the many other places throughout the world, not nearly as much. Usually, this attention is focused on criticisms of Israel.

The discriminatory focus on Israel is illustrated by the attention conferred on the “refugees” from Israel. Whatever one’s views of the causes of these people becoming refugees, the world focuses on them and their descendants. By contrast, the world cares not that much about other refugees. For example, consider the Germans who were expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II. I became interested in this issue during my recent trip to the Czech Republic. According to Wikipedia, “An estimated 1.6 million ethnic Germans were deported to . . . what would become West Germany. An estimated 800,000 were deported to . . . what would become East Germany.” Initially, the death toll was put at about 270,000, but later historical work suggests that it may be a vast underestimation.

Yet, one hears from very little about the refugees from Czechoslovakia, even though those refugees were expelled at about the same time as the Palestinians left Israel. While all of the Germans were expelled, that is not true of Palestinians: the issue is contentious, but it seems clear that the Palestinians left for a variety of causes, in some cases leaving due to fear, in others by instruction from Arab leadership, and in others by being driven out by Zionist paramilitary groups. In addition, while approximately 700,000 Palestinians became refugees, more than three times as many Germans were expelled.

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