Israel Should be Held Responsible for Palestinian Refugees
Nasrallah Threatens Israel… with No Response
Al-Arab, Saudi Arabia,
Al-Etihad, UAE, June 7
When we discuss the American peace project, or the so-called “Deal of the Century,” we must remember the fact that the classic Israeli narrative of the Palestinian refugees is an incorrect one. According to the Israeli narrative, the Palestinian people left Palestine voluntarily, on the basis of calls from Arab leaders to leave their homes and lands to make way for Arab armies to invade.
However, various media and political sources – including some Israeli ones – have repeatedly refuted this claim, which was supported and propagated by classical Israeli academics keen to justify the 1948 War, led by David Ben-Gurion, who later became Israel’s first prime minister. The false Israeli narrative completely rejects and denies the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were forced to leave their villages and flee to foreign lands.
Sadly, for many decades, the Israeli narrative succeeded in overshadowing the Palestinian one. It was only in recent years that an Israeli academic movement dubbed “Beyond Zionism” emerged and began stripping the Israeli refugee narrative of its lies. The historian Benny Morris and the political scientist Ilan Pappe – both Israelis belonging to the post-Zionist movement – presented numerous studies confirming the validity of the Arab narrative on the creation of the refugee problem by uncovering a secret military plan developed by the Hagana, known as “Plan D,” which instructed Israeli military leaders to forcefully expel the Arab masses from their homes.
Strangely, even after these documents had been unveiled to the public, many Israeli academics continued to claim that the Palestinian masses fled at the behest of Arab leaders. Today, we know without a doubt that the first Israeli massacres took place on April 9, 1948, in the Palestinian town of Deir Yassin, leaving over 100 villagers dead. In other words, the Israeli expulsion campaign began long before Israel’s independence was declared in mid-May of that year. Therefore, blaming Arab armies for creating the refugee problem is misleading.
There is unequivocal historical evidence pointing to the fact that Israel is responsible for creating the Palestinian refugee problem. Therefore, it must also be held responsible for solving it. This fact must be kept in mind as we discuss possible solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and before we propose different American frameworks to bring about a lasting peace between the two sides.
– Ibrahim Al-Bahrawi
The secretary-general of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, gave a green light to the Lebanese president to engage in negotiations with Israel in order to delineate and demarcate the land and sea borders between the two countries. This tacit agreement to directly engage with Israel is rather surprising, given the recent remarks made by Nasrallah just a week earlier.
In that speech, the secretary-general threatened Israel and the United States that any strike against Iran will not go by unanswered by Hezbollah. He specifically warned that his organization was developing precision rockets that would be used to target sensitive sites in Israel.
Surprisingly, this speech received serious response neither from Israeli nor from American officials. What’s more, nearly 24 hours after Nasrallah delivered his threat, several mortar shells were fired at Mount Hermon, an unsettled zone in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. This suggests that the missiles were never intended to inflict any human or material damage to Israel, but rather to send a message. Israel retaliated by targeting military installations in southern Damascus, leading to 10 deaths and several injuries.
Yet what is especially interesting is Israel’s silence in response to Nasrallah’s speech. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been particularly vocal about Hezbollah’s rocket capabilities and threatened to launch a war against Lebanon if such weapons made their way into Hezbollah’s hands. Indeed, the issue of precision missiles poses a great danger to Israel.
However, it poses an even greater danger to Lebanon, which cannot control these weapons once they reach the hands of Hezbollah. The Lebanese government is not in a position to decide whether to use these weapons or not. Yet it is the Lebanese people who will eventually bear the consequences of any war between Hezbollah and Israel. The lack of response on both the Israeli and Lebanese side to Nasrallah’s threats is therefore conspicuous and alarming.
– Ali al-Amin
The Queen’s Gift to President Trump
Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
, June 7
In his recent state visit to Britain, US President Donald Trump received an exciting and unexpected gift from Queen Elizabeth II: a copy of Winston Churchill’s memoir of World War II. This was a symbolic gift with which the queen sought to convey a message to the American president. What exactly is this message? No one knows for sure.
In my humble opinion, there are two possible explanations, both of which imply that the best way to deal with current affairs is to draw on historical experiences. First, it is possible that the queen wanted to reiterate the importance of the American-British alliance to President Trump. This gift was meant to serve as a reminder that the United States was a vital and important player in the stability of the world and that this role should not be taken lightly, as a tool to influence internal politics.
In the book, Churchill recalls his continued attempts to convince US President [Franklin D.] Roosevelt to intervene in the war and repel German aggression. The British prime minister recalls traveling to Washington and staying there for weeks before managing to break the barriers and deepen the ties of friendship with the American president and convince him to join the war effort.
The second explanation suggests that the queen gave President Trump the book to make a statement against soft diplomacy and in favor of decisive confrontation against belligerent forces in the world. This goes back to the basic message of the book, in which Churchill recalls his refusal to surrender to the Germans despite the heavy bombing campaign of London. He was opposed to the position of his predecessor, [Neville] Chamberlain, whose name became a symbol of political and moral weakness, and the Munich Treaty he signed an example of diplomatic catastrophe. It is possible that, in this context, the queen was alluding to Iran, which is currently trying to spread an evil ideology and undermine regional and global order.
Regardless of which explanation holds true, the message that the queen wanted to send to Trump is clear: We must learn from history and make sure we don’t repeat political mistakes from our past. And while we don’t know if Trump will even bother reading the book, we can only hope that the message will sink in.
– Mamdouh al-Miheni Mecca Will Change Forever
Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London
, June 5
Very little, if any, attention has been given to one of the most ground-breaking national programs currently underway in Saudi Arabia. This program, known as “At the Service of Allah’s Guests,” is one of the most important pillars of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. It was inaugurated by the custodian of the two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, in an effort to increase the number of Muslim pilgrims coming to Mecca each year from some nine million people today to over 30 million people in just over a decade.
Once completed, this program will bring thousands of pilgrims to Mecca on a daily basis. However, it will also pose a huge challenge for authorities, which will have to establish a robust infrastructure that can sustain these waves of visitors.
To get a sense of this undertaking, it is important to remember the following: Hong Kong currently receives 20 million visitors each year; London receives 19 million visitors each year; Paris receives 17 million visitors each year; and New York receives 13 million visitors on an annual basis. Therefore, hosting 30 million pilgrims every year will make Mecca the largest tourist destination in the entire world.
However, unlike the average tourist, most of the pilgrims who come to Mecca are old, have low income and speak [only] their native language. Therefore, the only way to make pilgrimage affordable is to grow Mecca’s infrastructure outside its expensive downtown area.
To this end, Saudi authorities have already begun planning a high-speed electric train that will transport visitors from the outskirts of the city to the Grand Mosque. In addition, the country’s second largest airport, in Jeddah, will be connected to Mecca and allow passengers to reach the city within 30 minutes. Furthermore, Saudi authorities will revamp the country’s visa program to enable an easier and more seamless application process for pilgrims coming to Saudi Arabia from across the world.
This plan is a matter of great importance to most Saudis, who view Mecca as one of their country’s greatest sources of pride. Once implemented, this plan will improve life in Mecca for both its residents and its visitors, and change the face of the city – and perhaps the kingdom – for decades to come.
– Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed
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