"We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying employment for it in our country." Theodor Herzl, Zionist Godfather, 1895
I really don't know which is the more revolting: the hypocrisy of Zionists who speak out for refugees, so long as they're not Palestinian refugees (or indigenous people, so long as they're not indigenous Palestinians), or the alacrity with which opinion editors give them a platform to do so in our newspapers - which is precisely what opinion editor Paul Austin has done in today's Age:
Under the heading Stop the ugly politicking: this is a matter of life & death, tax lawyer and national chairman of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) Mark Leibler claims that "[i]t chills me that we have come to a point where we are denying refugees reaching Australian waters any prospect of ever being settled in this country."
At various points, he refers to "vulnerable refugees fleeing persecution [who] while deserving of our empathy... are instead left degraded and dehumanised"; "[Australia's] record as a nation that embraces a 'fair go' for refugees fleeing persecution"; "our moral obligation to contribute to the global refugee crisis"; and the fact that "most refugees would want to go home if it was safe to do so."
Leibler's piece is replete with noble sentiments and oozes humanitarian feeling. But there's only one thing wrong. He just happens to be one of Australia's foremost apologists for Israel, a colonial-settler state with a Jewish majority only achieved by the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 and the creation of over 750,000 Palestinian Arab REFUGEES, who are still refugees today, 65 years later.
That's right, Palestinian refugees. Remember them, Mark?
Just to remind you, the following account, by Swedish photo-journalist Per-Olow Anderson, was published back in 1957. Anderson's concluding questions are as relevant today as they were in the 50s:
"Human suffering is nothing new to me. As a photo-journalist I have encountered it many times during the newspaper and magazine assignments that have taken me to 74 countries in the past 20 years. But none of my experiences was more shocking to me than my introduction to the plight of the more than 1 million Palestine Arab refugees in the Middle East, whom I first saw in April, 1956, on my arrival at Gaza on an assignment for my Swedish magazine.
"The Palestine Arab refugees exist in misery and despair in crowded camps in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip - in caves in Palestine, squatters' rows near large Arab cities, and the slums of the cities themselves. I have seen the squalor of their tents and mud huts sprawled on rocky hillsides and in bone-dry, dust-blown valleys. I have felt their grief and suffering, heard their bitter memories and frustrations, and their tense and emotional cry: 'Justice, justice! All we ask is justice!'
"What is justice in their particular case, and why has it been denied them for so long? When the United Nations sanctioned the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, it did not intend that the Arab population of the territory given to the Jews should be expropriated, expelled or forced to flee. But this is what actually happened. Nearly a million Arabs whose ancestors had lived for countless generations in Palestine lost their lands and homes and became penniless refugees, to make way for Jewish refugees, who had themselves been forced by Nazi persecution to flee their homelands.
"The world has extended its help and sympathy to the Jewish refugees. Everything possible was done for them and the conscience of humanity was so stirred that it approved of their being given a Jewish state of their own. Ironically and tragically, however, the world in attempting to right an injustice to one people sowed the seeds of injustice to another. The Palestine Arabs, whom the Jewish refugees displaced, also became victims of war and terror. For them, the world set up only a relief agency to hand out a dole and to carry out a plan for resettling them in other Arab lands, against the wishes of both themselves and of the countries to which they were to be assigned. Nothing has been done to answer the desire of the Palestine Arabs for repatriation to their former homes, or to compensate them for the loss of their property, or to enforce the UN-imposed boundaries that would have divided Palestine almost equally between Jew and Arab.
"I cannot see why - after 9 years - the world still has not solved this problem. I cannot understand how the world at large came to forget these people who, in terms of human suffering, are paying an agonizing price for a mistake for which all of us are responsible." (From the Introduction to They are human too...: A Photographic Essay on the Palestine Arab Refugees)