Not all refugees are created equal. This is an incontestable fact – regardless
of prevalent propaganda fronting as humanitarian indignation. Some refugees are
the world’s darlings and have unremittingly been tugging hard at its
heartstrings for decades. Others got a passing glance at most, accompanied – for
a fleeting moment – by quasi-compassionate handwringing.
unpopular refugees were altogether treated as perennial pariahs, whose agony
plainly disturbs global peace.
It’s not the objective distress and misery
which count but the identity of the refugees in question – to say nothing of the
identity of their alleged persecutors. When given factors converge, given
refugees are considered more deserving of support from the dysfunctional family
Occasionally, news headlines serve up unpleasant reminders of
the hypocrisy, not that most news consumers are inclined to pay attention and
focus on the double standards. Take the plight of the refugees from
Some 285,000 of them wallow in Lebanese tent cities. Another
250,000 crowd under rudimentary conditions in Jordan. Turkey has allowed about
180,000 into a narrow border security zone. Even troubled Iraq plays unwilling
host to about 85,000. Beyond that there are countless uprooted Syrians still
within the borders of their own country, though homeless and on the
In all, it’s conservatively estimated that well over a
million-and-half Syrians have been dislodged. They aren’t of one mold. Some were
victimized by Bashar Assad and his Hezbollah collaborators. Others are Alawite
and Christian – predisposed to side with Assad – who are terrorized by the
largely Sunni rebels, among whom are fanatical al-Qaeda cohorts.
Alawites or Christians flee to a neighboring territory that’s largely Sunni,
they aren’t well-treated (to resort to understatement). When Sunnis find
themselves across the border among Shiites, they too are ill-treated. It’s a
complex ugly mosaic that confoundedly defies shallow 20-second media
These refugees make piteous TV fare and offer talking heads the
opportunity to pontificate pompously. But so what? These refugees’ destitution
isn’t unavoidable. Their Arab brethren are the wealthiest on earth and wouldn’t
feel the pinch if they loosened their purse strings a tiny tad and helped out.
But this isn’t happening.
It’s not that Saudi and Gulf States potentates
don’t care. If anything, they are far from apathetic about the Syrian upheaval.
They avidly bankroll it. They unstintingly pour in oil revenue to finance
ostensible grassroots uprisings. However, they’re notoriously miserly when it
comes to aiding the victims of the fight they finance.
Why does the
international community – especially in the presumably freethinking Western
democracies – fail to register this anomaly and fail to decry it? No surprise
here. It’s a set pattern. While Syrian refugees make good tearjerker visuals, no
true notice is taken of the ongoing indifference to their plight by their
affluent Arab kinfolk. That would perhaps be to egregiously cross the bounds of
That same political correctness, dictated by what
has been cemented as axiomatic throughout the world, produces quite
contradictory responses to other refugee sagas. The much-lamented Palestinian
refugees, for example, had mind-blowingly topped the agenda of world opinion
Even by the Arab world’s most inflated arithmetic, the
numbers of Palestinian refugees are way lower than those of the Syrians today.
But somehow the outcry about the Syrians is outstandingly less vociferous and
less shrill. They aren’t the emotive nationalist and jihadist cause célèbre that
the Palestinians still are – generations post-1948.
Mind you, Arab oil
moguls never went out of their way to help out the Palestinians either, but they
did go remarkably out of their way to use them. Piercing protests from all
corners of the Arab/Muslim realm impelled the UN to set the Palestinians apart
from all other refugees, designate them for exceptional treatment and assure
that their cause, such as it is, would never be allowed to fade away.
1949 the UN established a special agency for those deemed to be Palestinian
refugees – as distinct from all of the world’s bona fide refugees. All other
refugees, regardless of objective hardship, are looked after by the UN High
Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), while the privileged Palestinian category is
singularly aided by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees
UNRWA’s own records consistently divulge that the Arab countries
– their inflammatory rhetoric notwithstanding – are the most tightfisted of
UNRWA donors, despite their own extraordinary opulence and heartrending
depictions of the benefits-recipients as their oppressed and needy brethren.
Indeed Arab contributions decline consistently.
inordinately wrong with this reality even by the skewed standards of realpolitik
expediency. Those who do least for the refugees are the very nations responsible
for creating their problem to begin with (by attacking newborn Israel and
exhorting local Arabs to flee, by keeping the “refugees” displaced, by spurring
them to pursue irredentist goals and by whipping up lust for
But this is more than only a matter of deplorable miserliness
and disgraceful hypocrisy on part of the UN’s most moneyed members. These very
same parsimonious regimes keep Palestinian refugees from being resettled. For
over six decades they unconscionably exploit them as pawns in an artificially
prolonged conflict with Israel.
These luxury-loving Arabs, so niggardly
in their handouts to UNRWA, utilize that very agency to calculatingly prevent
refugee-offspring from losing their refugee status, thereby creating the
greatest obstacle to the peace they ostensibly seek.
keep alive and fan the ambition to inundate Israel with millions of so-called
refugees, while paying lip-service to a two-state solution. Had these same
stingy states counseled refugee-descendents to drop their “right-of-return”
demands, they would make a colossal contribution both to refugee welfare and to
By unnaturally perpetuating a problem for generations, they give
the lie to their own claims to promote a peaceful two-state solution. The same
goes for UNRWA itself, an organization whose raison d’être is fraudulent and
whose self-preservation hinges on making sure the problem entrusted to it would
never be solved.
This becomes self-evident when we consider the different
definitions for “refugee” according to UNHCR and UNRWA. UNHCR’s refugee is one
who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted... is outside the country
of his nationality.”
By this definition the refugee’s descendents aren’t
refugees. Florida-born children of Cuban refugees are no longer considered
The only exceptions are the Palestinians. UNRWA classifies as
refugees any Arabs, native or not, who sojourned “in Palestine between June 1946
and May 1948, and lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of
the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict.”
Not only did numerous itinerant foreign
Arab laborers claim Palestinian refugee status, but UNRWA stipulates that the
right extends to “descendents of persons who became refugees in 1948.” Indeed
one refugee-parent suffices for inheriting the distinction – even when not
“outside the country of one’s nationality.”
By UNHCR’s yardsticks over 97
percent of those whom UNRWA regards as refugees are nothing of the sort. Layers
upon layers of unabashed duplicity overlap under UNRWA’s auspices and contribute
cynically to the perpetuation of wretchedness instead of assisting the cause of
peace and prosperity.
It’s safe to predict that nothing of the sort will
happen in the case of the far larger numbers of Syrian refugees, even though
they had suffered indisputably more than Palestinians. Not a hair on a
Palestinian head would have been touched had Palestinians not set out on a
mission of unconcealed genocide against their Jewish neighbors.
Syrians different from Palestinians? Why the inequity? What makes Syrians less
deserving? It’s the Jewish connection. All scales are scandalously tipped when
Jews are involved.
The Syrian mayhem cannot convincingly be connected to
Israel, much as all of Syria’s warring sides try to outdo each other in painting
Israel as the bête noir culpable for any malevolence. Therefore, it’s a surefire
bet that the Syrians won’t get their own custom-made UNRWA.
Palestinians have always postured as the Jewish state’s victims, even if it was
they who had attacked Israel. They were rendered refugees in a conflict of their
own instigation, launched with the boastfully broadcast intention to “throw all
the Jews into the sea” – i.e. perpetrate genocide and ethnic cleansing.
Nonetheless, a mere four years after the Holocaust (which the Arabs collaborated
in and cheered) the UN could pass up no opportunity to single out the Jewish
state for blame.
Given this mindset, no special succor was dispensed to
Jewish refugees. The Brits chased them on the open seas to prevent their rickety
“illegal” boats from reaching the Jewish homeland. Those caught were
incarcerated in forbidding camps, under shocking conditions, after having just
emerged from the Nazi nightmare.
Things were no better in Europe’s
Displaced Persons camps, where Jews resided “legally.” Bombastic American Gen.
George Patton regarded exiled and traumatized Holocaust survivors as sinister
scum. He confined the Jews in DP camps under his command, within barbed-wire
enclosures, in stark contrast to his treatment of German civilians – admiration
for whom he never bothered to hide.
Jewish refugees from the Middle East
– who outnumbered the Palestinian refugees, who had resided in the various
currently Arab countries long before the first Arab appeared on their soil, who
didn’t launch wars against anyone, who left behind far greater property than
Palestinians ever had, who were terrorized and robbed in full view of the
uncaring international community – were never even counted as refugees. To this
day world opinion adamantly refuses to concede that an exchange of populations
had taken place here.
Facts will never be allowed to interfere with
popular prejudice – not so long as any refugee episode can be linked to some
Jewish aspect or another.
There’s no end to the shameless perversion of
truth. Soon after Israel’s independence, the young, embattled country was
covered with tent cities full of refugees, many of them from Arab countries. In
early 1950, legendary photographer Robert Capa captured the image of a tiny
weeping girl in Haifa’s Sha’ar Ha’aliya transit camp.
In no time, the
Arab propaganda machine hijacked the evocative image, falsely hyping it as that
of a pint-sized Palestinian refugee crying her heart out. She became an instant
poster child among self-professed humanitarians.
Nobody cared that she
was, in fact, a Jewish refugee crying her heart out. The corrected caption put
the picture out of mind. As we said – not all refugees are created equal.