This chapter addresses the attitude of the nations of the world to issues about the Land of Israel, refugees and Zionism. A large part of the chapter is devoted to Britain, because of its extensive role in creating the conflict and the rooting of the Arab narrative. At the same time, the other nations of the world, and especially the Arab nations, played a significant role in creating, expanding, and perpetuating Arab refugeehood.
Britain’s role in the Land of Israel began with high hopes – the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate on the Land of Israel (1917). The Mandate was a legal obligation imposed by the League of Nations on the British, which indicated the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel (with borders including both sides of the Jordan River). Britain, which aspired to gain influence in the region, within a few years concluded that its main interest was in serving the Arabs living in the region because of their control of the oil resources there. As early as 1921, Britain split off three quarters of the territories of the Mandate and established the Kingdom of Jordan on them, which was then handed over to King Abdullah I. This was the first of many steps that reflected Britain’s denial of its commitment and turning from being the patron of Zionism into the biggest obstacle in its path.
The greatest betrayal by the British of the Zionist enterprise was their tireless attempt to stop Jewish immigration to Palestine, while turning a blind eye to the massive flow of Arabs to it. In 1922, following the events of 1921, Colonial Secretary Churchill published the first “White Paper” in which he set immigration quotas. In 1929, following the 1929 riots, Colonial Secretary Passfield published the second “White Paper,” in which the sale of land to Jews was also restricted, culminating in 1939 with the publication of the third “White Paper”, which constituted a death sentence for the aspiration to establish a Jewish state as well as a complete withdrawal from the British commitment to the mandate it was given: The declaration that a bi-national state would be established in Palestine, limiting immigration to only 75,000 in five years , after which any further increase will be subject to the Arabs’ consent, and a ban on land purchases in 95 percent of the country.
Alongside the damage to the Jewish community, the British allowed the Arabs to emigrate from neighboring countries and enjoy the accelerated development that the Zionist enterprise brought to Israel. In some cases, they turned a blind eye to the land-based migration of tens of thousands of Haurans, and in other cases officially allowed Arab workers to be brought to Israel. Britain acted in a hypocritical manner, on the one hand, publishing reports distorting facts and presenting a reality of a lack of “absorptive capacity” by the country, and on the other hand imposing restrictions only on Jewish immigration. Thus creating the main movement, which eventually became the refugee population in the state of Israel.
With the establishment of the state, the Arab states turned the refugee issue into a tool for battering Israel. The nations of the world cooperated with this double standard, creating a separate mechanism for dealing with refugees from the Arab-Israeli conflict, in addition to the existing mechanism for the care of tens of millions of refugees from all other parts of the world. While the regular agency found a solution to 100 Million refugees throughout the world, UNRWA didn’t get a single Palestinian refugee out of his refugee status, and only added more generations, born into hopless refugee camps.
UNRWA created a new definition for the concept of “refugee” – a person who lived in Israel before 1946 (Only two years before the state of Israel was established), contrary to the universal requirement for residency “from time immemorial” ; it awarded refugee rights to descendants of refugees throughout the generations – contrary to the universal definition that refugee’s children are not refugees; and allowed masses of Arabs to “join” the refugee camps, receive aid, and inflate the number of refugees disproportionally.
The Arab states did everything in their power to keep their brothers in camps, under conditions of starvation and neglect. Even when they might have needed the population to promote their economy, they preferred not to offer migration opportunities to the refugees.
All the mechanisms and blunders of the nations of the world have in fact perpetuated the distress of hundreds of thousands, and have inflated and intensified the suffering of millions, in a cynical perception turning these millions into cannon fodder in a struggle aimed at harming the State of Israel.