2 t Friday,
October 8, 1982
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
Challenges to Leadership and the Position of
U.S. Jewry in Current Crises ... Exaggerations
That Lead to Distortions of Refugees' Status
The New Complaints on the
Jewish Agenda and the
Targeted Leadership and Press
Are they acquainted with their bedfellows?
Joining the protesters and condemners of Israel and
Israeli and Jewish leadership, the U.S. Communist Party
issued a 1,500-word statement. Among other attacks, typi-
A new complaint is on the agenda. It is a collective cally Communist, now embraced by the anti-Israel, anti-
chagrin. It questions Jewish leadership. It expresses dis- Zionist Leftists, there is this paragraph:
satisfaction with the Jewish press.
Jews in the U.S. will reject the Jewish leaders
It really isn't very new. The disgruntled always found
cover-up of the crimes committed by the Begin
cause to be dissatisfied. Since nothing is ever totally per-
government. Jews throughout the U.S. will note
fect, and the personal affectations normally cause disap-
with alarm and grave concern that not one of the
proval of matters that are not suitable to the affected, there
statements of the Jewish leaders had even one
word to say about ending the war and bringing
Unless such conditions prevailed, there could be little
about peace in the Middle East. It will be crystal
hope for improvement. When there are complainants, there
clear to the Jews in the U.S. that the concern of the
arise the urgencies to effect improvements.
Jewish leaders is for the continuation of the flow
It is an entirely different story with matters involving
of funds for the politically, economically and
Israel. With criticisms abounding, scapegoats appearing on
morally bankrupt leadership whose continued
the scene as target for attacks, it doesn't always matter
presence in office threatens the very existence of
whether the attackers are from ranks antagonistic to Is-
the state of Israel and may very well trigger a
rael. That's when the critics can shout foul and complain
world nuclear conflagration.
that there is both bigotry and chauvinism in the attach-
The intention is apparent. The Communist memoran-
ment of the anti-Semitic label to all who criticize Israel. dum exposes itself completely, in criticism if Israel and
Out of it develops a panic in Jewish ranks and the fearful Jewish leadership, assailing philanthropic aid to the
become concerned and make the charge that Jewish Jewish state.
spokesmen, by failing to challenge Israel, are submissive to
Are these the bedfellows one would welcome in the
bitterness that has marked the critics?
Is the chagrin justified? Is Jewish leadership really
Refugees as 'Numbers Game':
bankrupt? Is it a s pokesmanship that is horrified into bon-
dage to Israel?
Propagandistic Methods Utilized
Perhaps there is a grain of truth in such concern over
in Villification of Israel
an independence of action. There were times when alloca-
"Refugees" is a term constantly utilized in an endless
tion of funds for certain necessities in Israel, stemming
from American philanthropies, had their shortcomings. effort to distort facts in the Middle East. It has become a
villifying weapon in the repetitive effort to accuse Israel of
The demand for American Jewish participation in Israel's
utilization of American aid had some merit. There are, inhumanities not of the Jewish state's making. The blame
however, always the constantly-improving administrative rests on Arabs continuing in methods of distorting
functions. Therefore the criticisms, even if they are realities.
As has already been indicated here, the figure of some
peripheral, function and bring results.
The newest condemnations, however, relate to the 400,000 Arabs who fled when Israel was reborn as a sover-
eign state, in the internationally acclaimed decision of the
political, to the military in Israel, to the conflicts with
Israel's enemies. On these scores there are grounds for United Nations in 1948, grew to the claimed 4,000,000. The
actual figures acknowledged by Israeli sources were
rejecting the well-meaning but the misleading.
Jewish leadership: Is it that bad because it is critical of enumerated here last week. These are the basic facts, defin-
ing the actual status of refugeeism as applied to Israel.
President Reagan's latest proposals and differs with those
They demand additional scrutiny.
who would swallow it even if it gives legitimacy to provid-
In an analysis in the Jerusalem Post, under the title
ing Jerusalem with a negotiable label? Is Jewish leader-
"Refugees and the Numbers Game," Alexander Zvielli
ship so bad if it undertakes to criticize newspapers that had
denied proper recognition to returnees from the Lebanon summarizes the facts that demand public attention.
Refugees are not a one-sided issue. Zvielli calls atten-
front with reports of humanism dominating the principles
tion to the Arab viewpoint:
of Israel's army while seeking out and giving a platform to
Operation Peace for Galilee has accentuated
those emphasizing atrocities, in degradation . of Israel?
the problem of the Palestinian refugees and made
What's wrong with Jewish leadership if it responds
it obvious that the Arab states and their prop-
promptly to Israel's needs and seeks new ways of support-
aganda have succeeded in creating a golem — the
ing the Jewish state?
myth of millions of Palestinian refugees which
Must it all come from the handful of rabbis and some
has been adopted by the world press.
dissidents who are shouting insults at Israel at a time when
The Arab states, who are responsible for the
the Big Lie is displayed on placards, carried in Kennedy
refugee problem, have taken care to
Square in Detroit and reproduced in a Detroit newspaper,
obstruct any independent inquiry into the
with the slogan "Israel Kills 10,000 Muslim women and
number of genuine Palestinian refugees.
children" — placards undoubtedly carried by coreligionists
It is well to bear in mind that in 1973, Haled Al
of the actual murderers in' Beirut?
Azm, who was the prime minister of Syra during
Organized Jewish leadership asked for, actually de-
Israel's War of Independence, admitted that the
manded, calling into action a commission of inquiry on the
true cause of the Palestinian tragedy was the ap-
charges leveled at Israel under the claim of "complicity" in
peal by Arab governments to the Arabs in Pales-
the Beirut tragedy. That makes Jewish leadership evil?
tine to evacuate their homes and go to bordering
Oh, there is another charge: organized Jewish leader-
countries, later to return in triumph.
ship is not asking for the resignation of Menahem Begin.
Azm wrote "Since 1948 we have been demand-
All glory to a leadership that refrains from interfering in
return of refugees to their homes; but we
Israel's democratic political structure. That's when criti-
ourselves are the ones who encouraged them to
cism is politicized.
leave . . . we have brought destruction on one mil-
The Jewish press: Should it join the venom of a George
Arab refugees . . . "
Ball and his cohorts to demand-Begin's resignation? Should
What was the status of the Arab refugees at the found-
it echo the senselessness of newspapers whose editorials
ing of Israel, and how were they matched by Jews who were
base their criticisms on the Israeli leadership under Begin
out of Arab lands at about the same time as the flight
and have the hutzpa to advocate politicizing the issues with
from Israel occurred? On this score, Zvielli states:
calls for Begin's ouster?
In April 1948, there were 1,282,000 Arabs in
If the Jewish press joins in challenging unfairness of
Palestine. About 117,000 lived in Gaza, 469,000 on
the media whose sins are on the record, and the Jewish
the West Bank, while 157,000 were in what came to
press consistently acts in Israel's defense, it earns a bit of
be Israeli-held territories or returned there. The
credit for responsibility.
number of the genuine Arab refugees at the time
Criticism is a necessity. It should be encouraged. When
of the War of Independence is generally regarded
it is a comfort to Israel's enemies it must never be condoned.
as the approximately 540,000.
* * *
It should be noted that the tiny, war-torn Is-
rael has, since 1948, resettled 621,000 Jewish refu-
Recalling 'Protest Rabiner':
gees from Arab countries, thus achieving a true
Strange Bedfellows in the
exchange in population.
Leadership Critics' Ranks
After World War U, West Germany absorbed
In Theodor Herzl's days, some German rabbis inter-
and rehabilitated almost 10 million displaced per-
fered with official Zionist programming and objected to
sons. Other countries have absorbed hundreds of
World Zionist Congresses being held in German cities.
thousands of refugees; India and Pakistan, for
They were labeled and are so remembered in Jewish his-
example, exchanged some 15,000,000 people. Only
tory as the "Protest Rabiner."
the Palestinian refugee problem seems insoluble,
In fairness to the currently-protesting rabbis, a line
as the Arab states have resolved to keep that pot
should be drawn. The rabbis who are now protesting and
are critical of Jewish leadership do not deny their Zionist
Arab governments used the refugees as a "festering
sore" and retained them, without opportunities for reset-
Yet, they should be asked how they align and who are
tlement. Zvielli draws upon that record to indicate the
•- when . . he
, . makes this additional revelation: ,
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency
was set up by the UN in 1949 to care for those
refugees who fled before and during the creation
of Israel, and it spread its wings over the refugees
of the 1967 Six-Day War. From the inception of
UNRWA, the Arab governments consistently re-
fused any proper check or rectification of refugee
lists or any kind of universal census.
The possibility of receiving UNRWA relief
was a considerable temptation where living
- standards for the average citizen were often even
lower than that of registered refugees. Padding of
UNRWA rolls became a widespread practice.
Births were reported; but deaths hardly ever.
This was admitted by UNRWA in 1952.
Moreover, in July 1966, former American
Secretary of State Dean Rusk told a Senate com-
mittee: "There are almost half a million refugees
who have registered status but who, in fact, have
jobs and some of them at some distance from
camps, living reasonably_ normal lives."
After the first generation who actually left
Palestine, who counts as a refugee? An American
born in that country may suddenly discover that
he is actually "a Palestinian" while in Gaza hun-
dreds of Arabs who were never displaced and
whose families have lived there for generations
may call themselves "Palestine refugees" for the
sake of propaganda or accruing benefits.
Who, then is to be rated as a refugee and what are the
actual figures? Let Zvielli make the proper point:
The matter is further complicated by all kinds
of "estimates." On June 4, 1982, the New York
Times published an attractive table according to
which the U.S. State Department maintains that
there are 4,300,000 Palestinians, a number quite
close to that of the PLO, which claims there are
-some 4,642,000 Palestinians.
According to this report, there are about
1,000,000 Palestinians in Jordan; 700,000 in the
West Bank; half a million in Israel; 450,000 in the
Gaza Strip; 400,000 in Lebanon; 320,000 in Kuwait;
and 250,000 in Syria. None in Saudi Arabia? The
PLO claims there are 127,000 there. The State De-
partment puts 120,000 in Iraq, but the PLO finds
only 20,000 there. The rest are dispersed through-
out the world.
But the New York Times was careful to add
that the figures are estimates only, and that there
had never been a definitive count of their num-
Israel's Foreign Ministry says that only
3,500,000 Palestinians at most can claim that title
and some 400,000 are refugees. Unless the interna-
tional community .can agree on definitions of who
is a "Palestinian" or a "Palestinian refugee," the
numbers game will continue indefinitely.
It seems to me that the only genuine Palesti-
nan refugees are those who still live in their
camps and have no means of independent subsis-
tence; those who left this country in 1948 or 1967
and their immediate dependents who were un-
able to find a better life elsewhere. The number
quoted of 400,000 seems to more than cover this
When a practicing physician in Grosse Pointe, Mich.
who found haven in this country and is benefitting from the
economic advantages here, claims to have been dispos-
sessed by Israel and expresses a desire to "reclaim his
homeland," as he and others were given notoriety in a
series of articles in the Free Press, are they to be utilized as
weapons which could lead to Israel's destruction?
It is one thing to aspire to Pulitzer Prize status, and
another to merit recognition as a human factor when the
fate of the Jewish state and its nation is at stake.
Therefore, the truth about "refugees" must be de- •
manded. The facts dispute the exaggerated claims.
Blessings for the Inquiry:
Hopefully It Will Clarify
and Lend Relief from Rancor
Jerusalem's former deputy mayor, Meron Benvenisti,
challenges and at the same time provides hope and prayer
that the creation of a commission of inquiry in Israel will
lead to relief from the heartrending agonies that have been
caused by the torturing events of recent weeks.
He wrote an article on the NYTimes Op-Ed Page under
the title "Regaining Israel's Soul." Much has been written
about Israel. This is one of the most serious indictments of
his nation. There is much in it that is subject to questioning
as to its realities.
The former deputy mayor of Jerusalem fails to indicate
an important point: that Israel's action in Lebanon, to oust
the PLO, had unanimous Israeli approval, including that of
his Labor Alignment with which he is associated. But his
article reads in part like resort to party politics.
An inquiry must clarify issues and remove false stain-
ing of the issue. It .must place blame where it belongs.