The Middle East in Transition: Studies in Contemporary History

By Walter Z. Laqueur | Go to book overview

THE ARAB REFUGEES: A STUDY IN FRUSTRATION

by MIZRA KHAN

FEW HUMAN TRAGEDIES in recent years have held the attention and the sympathy of the world as has that of the Palestine refugees, and rarely has the international community rallied so readily and with such generosity in an effort to rehabilitate uprooted masses, consisting mostly of innocent victims of events brought about by the follies and ambitions of a bankrupt leadership.

But just as rarely has an essentially local problem like this been allowed to bedevil international relations to such an extent and for so long a time, or human suffering been so cynically prolonged and exploited to serve a reckless political game. Seldom has history been so brazenly rewritten, and once-accepted facts so shamelessly distorted beyond recognition.

The following pages aim to recapitulate, briefly, and in the light of the record, the salient points of the problem and its origins, its treatment by the international community at large, by the parties most directly concerned, and by the United States, on whose shoulders rests the major financial burden of refugee relief and attempted rehabilitation.


I. THE PROBLEM

In the wake of the Arab War on Israel in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs fled the country and became refugees in neighbouring Arab states, in the Jordan-held Arab sector of Palestine, and in the Egyptian-occupied part of Palestine known as the Gaza Strip. Their plight immediately engaged the attention of world opinion and the energies of the international

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