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Countering Bias and Misinformation mainly about the Arab-Israel conflict

An Arab view of the refugee tragedy

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About Maurice Ostroff
The writer, Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed is the general manager of Al -Arabiya television. Mr. Al Rashed is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al- Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a senior Columnist in the daily newspapers of Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is a US post-graduate degree in mass communications. He has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.
 
 
 

Saturday, June 16, 2007
Al -Arabiya TV GM: Arab treatment
of Palestinians far worse a crime than what Israel did to them

40 Years: The Real Stigma
Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed * Asharq Al-Awsat - English Edition 9 June 2007
www.asharqalawsat.com/english/news.asp?section=2&id=9216

There is no questioning the fairness of the Palestinian issue: land is being
occupied by force and a nation is displaced. However, only a few know about
the inhumane aspects of the issue such as the refugees in camps that are
shrouded in misery and despair. They have existed for many decades, either
because of a longstanding indifference and oblivion or due to giving
priority to both military and political concerns over humanitarian matters.

Regarded by some as a temporary issue, the tragedy of the Palestinians is
rarely presented to the Arab and international public opinion through the
media or
during political occasions. Even some Arabs and Palestinians intentionally
turn a blind eye to the issue so as not to expose abuses. What is happening
in Lebanon's Nahr al Bared camp today is just one such example where battles
have raised an overwhelming number of questions: who are these people? How
long have they lived in the camp and how? What are their rights? The answers
can be found on the UNRWA's website. Tens of thousands of people crammed in
undignified houses, where many of them were born and have lived for five
decades.

Some Arab countries "hosting" refugees ban them from leaving [camps], from
occupying a large number of positions and deny them any other legal rights.

Some of them have to jump over walls and sneak out to complete their chores
or to breathe and experience the outside world. One can imagine these
randomly and poorly built houses during the winter chill and sweltering heat
of the summer among the sewage and insufficient services. It is a shame. How
can we talk about the liberation of Palestine, which we simply associate
with stolen land, a desecrated mosque and a powerful enemy, while we do not
allow Palestinians to settle down, earn a living or travel like all other
human beings?

Our insistence to lock the Palestinians in camps and treat them like animals
in the name of preserving the issue is far worse a crime than Israel
stealing land and causing the displacement of people. The 60 year-old camps
only signify our inhumanity and double standards. Israel can claim that it
treats the Palestinians better than their Arab brothers do. It gives
citizenship to the Palestinians of 1948 as well as the right to work and the
right to lead a somewhat normal life, although they are treated as
second-class citizens.

In Nahr al Bared and other camps, however, they are neither citizens nor
humans based on weak pretexts. I cannot believe Lebanese allegations that
state that they have been confining the Palestinians, being Sunnis, to camps
so as not to disturb the demographic balance between the Shia and
Christians. It is a ridiculous excuse that even Israel would not try to use.
No one is asking for citizenship or permanent settlement for them-only
permission to live like any other foreigner. Blame lies with the Arab League
and Arab governments that took part in or kept silent about this moral
scandal. Rather than seeking to help them or provide for their demands, they
preoccupy Arab public opinion with conferences and hollow rhetoric on the
issue and on refugees.

Finally, we have to be true to ourselves and ask whether the way of life of
these one million people is fair.

 

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