Mideast ‘apartheid’

 

The June 25 story Arab Idol champ in Gaza, urges Palestinian unity illustrates the frustrations and insecurity Palestinian refugees endure under their fractious and duplicitous leadership. But they do not go far enough.

Why is a talented young man like Mohammed Assaf, the new Arab Idol, and his family still living in a refugee camp?

The 1948 Arab-Israeli war displaced thousands of Arabs and Jews. Jewish refugees found haven in Israel and elsewhere, but the United Nations set up a special agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, to care for the Arab refugees.

Egypt and Jordan occupied Gaza and the West Bank. Jordan offered citizenship to everyone, and UNRWA offered refugee status to anyone who claimed to have lived in Israel for two years. West Bank Arabs chose whether to accept Jordanian citizenship, UN refugee status or to remain Palestinian Arabs.

Today, there are two distinct classes of Palestinians: those who are free and live in towns and cities and those who are refugees.

The refugees are forced to live in camps and are not allowed to move out. They survive on welfare, have restricted employment opportunities and little control over their lives. Palestinian refugees in Gaza and the West Bank live no better than those in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, even though they are governed by their own people.

UNRWA, with the collaboration of the Arab League, has created a system of Palestinian apartheid.

Len Bennett, Deerfield Beach

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