When Israel declared its independence in 1948, she was immediately invaded by Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.
The Arabs expected to make quick work of Israel, so they encouraged the Arabs living in Israel to flee, promising they’d get a much better deal on land once the Jews had all been killed.
And that is the origin of the Palestinian refugees — they are the people who left Israel hoping that they could come back in a few weeks once their Jewish neighbors were dead. Unfortunately for them … the Israelis won the war, and the Arabs who had left felt cheated.
The war had also displaced a huge number of Jews — roughly 850,000 had been living in Arab territories in 1948 [e.g. Baghdad, Cairo] and most found themselves either expelled or murdered. The expelled Jews, of course, were able to find a home in Israel.
But the Arabs who had left Israel were not similarly welcomed by their brethren: Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan refused to settle them, choosing instead to build refugee camps and deny them citizenship. Not that there wasn’t plenty of land. As late as the 1970s, Syria was offering free land to anyone who would come cultivate it — providing he was neither Jewish nor Palestinian.
The Arab armies were humiliated in 1948, in 1967, and in 1973. It wasn’t just that they kept losing wars despite overwhelming territorial and numerical superiority. It was the shameful sight of seven Arab nations teaming up against one tiny Jewish country that wasn’t even as big as its smallest attacker. It was a modern David and Goliath story, and each Arab defeat was a huge PR victory for the Jews. Hollywood was making movies about it.
The narrative needed to change. The Arab nations saw this as early as 1948, and realized that the Palestinians — their own flesh and blood — were the perfect victims to be sacrificed towards the destruction of Israel.
By refusing to accept them into the neighboring land, the Arabs were able to make them a permanently aggrieved class. The U.N. helped by designating as a refugee anyone who had lived in Israel for just two years. No longer would it be seven big nations against a small one, but now one nation against a small group of stateless refugees. Rather than invading Israel, the surrounding nations could simply pay for attacks coming out of the West Bank and Gaza. It would look as though the Arab nations were defending the Palestinians against heartless Israeli belligerence. Never mind that they created these refugees in the first place.
The Palestinians cannot leave. The only thing they are allowed to do by their fellow Muslim Arabs is to reconquer Israel. But Israel is too strong. Hence the never ending conflict.
Hence resignation like this:
Shocking phone call of IDF calling to warn a building owner where children are present. A heartbreaking response.
— Emily Schrader – אמילי שריידר (@emilykschrader) May 19, 2021