Friday, June 9, 2017

Refugees? What Refugees?

Today is the 50th anniversary of the fifth day of the June/Six-Day War of 1967.

So Israel's grabbed the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but what to do with all those Palestinian refugees the apartheid state invariably generates whenever it goes to war?

Simple: Deny they're refugees. Say they just decided to go walkabout. Admittedly in large numbers, and all at the same time, but hey, Bedouin genes, what can I say? Oh, and play the Holocaust card. Always works a treat:

"The plight of the refugees was a photogenic subject. Israeli ambassadors overseas wrote to Jerusalem that television broadcasts from the bridges [over the Jordan] and the tent camps set up by the UN on the eastern side of the river were damning. They reported on pictures of Israeli soldiers firing shots in the air to hurry the refugees over the bridges. Correspondents estimated that the new tent camps housed some 80,000 refugees from Gaza and the West Bank. Winter was coming, threatening to make their conditions intolerable 'The most terrible impression is made by scenes of fathers with children in their arms, begging our guards to let them go back to their wives and children still on our side,' wrote Israel's ambassador to Germany. He added, 'We cannot stand up, here or in other countries, to the wave of protest, which we believe will also have political implications.' He asked that Israel at least permit family reunifications. The ambassadors were right: the ugly images in the media led too many governments, including the United States, to demand that Israel allow the refugees to return...  [PM] Eshkol gave orders to explain to British prime minister Harold Wilson that the reporters were misconstruing the scenes: the people they were photographing had left their homes willingly. As was the usual custom, he also cited the Holocaust. 'No people,' he told the vice president of the International Red Cross, 'that, like ours, six million of its old and young butchered and burnt by the Nazis less than a generation ago, could be unresponsive to any humanitarian interest'." (Tom Segev, 1967: Israel, the War & the Year that Transformed the Middle East, 2007, pp 540-41)

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