View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Thursday, June 26, 2003

More on those Palestinian "refugees" in Baghdad, this time from the Press Office at the UNHCR. (This is a printable version. Take a look at the whole site. They publish something called "Refugee Magazine," as though there were refugee junkies, like political junkies.) Some key quotes:

These Palestinians have been living as refugees in Iraq for 50 years; most of them were born and educated here. They hold jobs in the capital and feel fully integrated. Only a few are old enough to remember Palestine.

Now, what on Earth is the UNHCR doing dealing with these people as refugees? They're Iraqis. Anyone who had been through that process here in this country would have been naturalized, oh, 40 years ago. It's not like they even have bilingual education as an excuse. Most of them were born there. But the Iraqis actively encourage irridentism: the UNHCR has set up a tent city at something called the Haifa Sports Center. Which should tell you something about what parts of "Palestine" they really want back.

All these efforts, however, cannot undo the trauma of becoming refugees within a society many of the Palestinians had regarded as home.

What does E'tidal (a 73-year-old refugee) hope for the future? She answers without hesitation: "I want to see the Palestinian sun before I die," adding after a short pause: "I know this is only a dream, but thinking of return helps me survive this."

If they regard Iraq as home, why are they dreaming of "Palestine?" Once again, the US should offer them Iraqi citizenship, and undermine this dangerous nonsense once and for all. Fine, it's hard to believe that Jenin or Ramallah will be better in a year than Baghdad will be, but we all know he doesn't want to see a dusty sunset over Arafat's bomb-wrecked compound. No, he wants to see a sunset over the Med from his house on Mt. Carmel.

In another, May 9 Press Release, the UNHCR expresses worries about another 90,000 Palestinians in Iraq. Remember that number next time someone says there are 4 million refugees from 1948 and 1967.

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