By Mona Charen, May 6, 2002
As the Jenin “massacre” takes its place alongside other Arab myths – Mossad
or CIA responsibility for the crash of Egypt Air Flight 990 in 1999, the
suspicious “fact” that 4,000 Jews failed to show up for work at the World
Trade Center on September 11, the Jewish practice of using human blood in
their holiday cakes – some on this side of the Atlantic and this side of sanity
have been asking: “What’s with these refugee camps? Why do people remain in
camps 54 years after Israel’s founding?”
This is key to understanding the conflict. The Arab refugees remain in camps
because of the cynical decision by Arab governments and the Palestine
Liberation Organization to keep them miserable and poor. Refugee camps are
distributed among Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Only Jordan has offered citizenship to them.
Before June 1967, when Egypt controlled Gaza and Jordan held the
West Bank, neither nation gave the land to the Palestinians for a state because
the idea was that they would eventually return to the real Palestine – Israel. A
Syrian-sponsored conference in 1957 declared that “a solution of the Palestine
problem which will not be based on ensuring the refugees’ right to annihilate
Israel will be regarded as a desecration of the Arab people.”
Who supports the Palestinians living in these camps? Mostly, the Europeans.
We pay approximately 30 percent of the bill for the United Nations Relief and
Works Agency, the U.N. agency that administers the relief. The Palestinians are
the only people on Earth who live on international welfare. In 1948, the United
States contributed $25 million and Israel gave $3 million (though the identical
number of Jewish refugees who fled Arab states got nothing). All of the Arab
nations combined gave $600,000.
For the next 20 years, the United States provided two-thirds of the funds for
the Palestinians. The Arab governments, who claimed that no issue was closer
to their hearts than the “plight” of the Palestinians, gave a pittance. They
increased their contributions somewhat during the 1980s.
But last year, according to Fox News, the United States gave $83.6
million to UNRWA. Saudi Arabia gave $1.8 million. All of the Arab nations
combined contributed only 2 percent of UNRWA’s budget.
We are told repeatedly that the Palestinians are “desperate” and that Israel’s
act of self-defense will only create more suicide killers. This is doubtful.
Weakness is provocative, and defeat can be a wonderful teacher.
Besides, passivity in the face of daily murders is something no society
can tolerate. Only the certainty that she would be universally condemned
stayed Israel’s hand for 18 months.
But this also raises another question: Why are the Palestinians desperate? Since
the Oslo Accords of 1993, 97 percent of them have been living under the
sovereignty of the Palestinian Authority, not under Israeli “occupation.”
And what did Yasser Arafat and his brethren do with this freedom? Did they
welcome investment, build the infrastructure, settle people permanently in Arab
villages and towns, and in general begin to behave like a people eager for a
peaceful state next to Israel?
No. In fact they spurned many offers of development aid in favor of
building breeding grounds for fanatics and terrorists, importing massive
amounts of weapons and preaching jihad. The suicide killer has become a
heroic symbol of Palestinian “struggle.” Mr. Arafat’s wife lamented that she had
no sons to send to their deaths.
In this, the United Nations is complicit. At schools funded and run by the
UNRWA, depictions of Jews as monkeys and Israelis as Nazis are common fare.
U.N. employees have abetted the vehement anti-Semitism that is bread and
butter to the Palestinian Authority.
A few days ago, the U.N. Human Rights Commission voted (without the
approval of Canada, Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Germany or Guatemala)
to condemn Israel for “acts of mass killings” (which never happened) and
endorsed Palestinian “armed struggle” (i.e., terrorism).
The cruel decision by Arab governments to use the Palestinians as ticking time
bombs against Israel has paid off more handsomely than they could have
imagined in 1948. Their metaphorical bombs have become real.
What a victory for their people.