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Monday, April 16, 2007


I just read parts of two articles that left me absolutely speechless.  Both articles appeared in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, and were penned by Saudi columnist Yousef Nasser Al-Sweidan.

I'm speechless because these ideas were written by an Arab Journalist for an Arab news outlet... but sound like they are the work of a center/right-wing Israeli! 

Here are excerpts that appeared in a Jerusalem Post article (translation by Memri):

"The slogan 'right of return'... which is brandished by Palestinian organizations, is perceived as one of the greatest difficulties and as the main obstacle to renewing and advancing the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians based on the road map and a two-state solution.

"It is patently obvious that uprooting the descendants of the refugees from their current homes in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and other countries, and returning them to Israel, to the West Bank, and to Gaza is a utopian ideal and [a recipe for] anarchy. More than that - it is an idea that cannot be implemented, not only because it would upset the demographic [balance] in a dangerous and destructive manner and have [far-reaching] political, economic and social ramifications in such a small and constrained geographical area, but [mainly] because the return [of the refugees] stands in blatant contradiction to Israel's right as a sovereign [state], while the Palestinian Authority lacks the infrastructure to absorb such a large number of immigrants as long as the peace process... is not at its peak."

"Clearly, the refugee problem is mainly the result of cumulative mistakes made by the countries where [the refugees] live... such as Syria and Lebanon, which have isolated the refugees in poor and shabby camps lacking the most basic conditions for a dignified human existence.

"Instead of helping them to become fully integrated in their new society, they let them become victims of isolation and suffering... Later, the worst of all happened when Arab intelligence agencies used the Palestinian organizations as a tool for settling scores in internal Arab conflicts that probably have nothing to do with the Palestinians...

"The Israelis, on the other hand, were civilized and humane in their treatment of the thousands of Jewish refugees who had lost their property, homes and businesses in the Arab countries, and who were forced to emigrate to Israel after the 1948 war. The Israeli government received them, helped them, and provided them with all the conditions [they needed] to become integrated in their new society...

"The lies of the Syrian Ba'th regime, and its trading in slogans like 'right of return,' 'steadfastness,' 'resistance,' 'national struggle' and all the other ridiculous [slogans], are evident from the fact that, to this day, dozens of Palestinian families [remain] stranded in the desert on the Syrian-Iraqi border, because the Syrian regime refuses to let them enter its horrifying Ba'th republic and return to the Yarmouk [refugee] camp.

"The Arab countries where the Palestinians live in refugee camps must pass the laws necessary to integrate the inhabitants of these camps into society.

"[In addition, they must] provide them with education and health services, and allow them freedom of occupation and movement and the right to own real estate, instead of [continuing] their policy of excluding [the refugees] and leaving the responsibility [of caring for them] to others, while marketing the impossible illusion of return [to Palestine],"

In the second article, published on March 16 and titled "Naturalization is the solution," Sweidan wrote: "There is no doubt that the Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon - who have for many long years been fed by their Arab hosts on impossible dreams and on shiny promises that were soon broken - do not need another 60 years of misery, wretchedness and suffering... to figure out for the thousandth time that all the talk about the 'bridge of return' is nonsense and deceit - a fairy tale that exists only in the old, worn-out demagogy of the Arab propaganda...

"In reality, there is no 'bridge [of return]'... except for the bridge that we now must pass... called the peace process and normalization of relations between the Arabs and Israel.

"Undoubtedly, the Arabs cannot continue to avoid the implementation [of the peace process], which brooks no further delay. [Any delay] will have a heavy price for the Arab societies in the present and in the future, considering the sharp strategic changes in the Middle East. [These changes] demand an immediate and final solution to the Arab-Israeli conflicts, and [require] the two sides to direct their joint energies and efforts toward confronting the Iranian nuclear threat which imperils us all."

"As the Middle East peace process gains momentum, and as the regional and international forces remain committed to the need to resolve this [conflict]... there is a growing necessity for a realistic, unavoidable and bold decision that will provide a just solution to the problem of the Palestinian refugees by naturalizing them in the host countries, such as Syria, Lebanon and other countries.

"Even though this is a humanitarian [project], it requires intensive efforts on the legislative, economic, logistic and administrative levels, to integrate the Palestinians organically into the social, economic and political fabric of the Arab societies...

"By every conceivable and accepted criterion, naturalizing the refugees [in the Arab countries] is the inevitable solution to [this] chronic humanitarian problem. The fact that [this solution] constitutes an important part of the overall peace process and of the historic reconciliation between the Arabs and the Israelis will help to reinforce [the naturalization process] and to perpetuate it," Sweidan wrote.

Now do you see why I'm speechless??? 

At this point, one of two things could happen:

1.  This kind of unprecedented, outrageous thinking could catch on in the Arab world.


2.  This guy will be found beheaded within the next few days.

Posted by David Bogner on April 16, 2007 | Permalink


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Meanwhile, British journalism's response to the kidnapping an murder of a BBC journalist by a Palestinian faction is to boycott Israel for its inhumane treatment of civilians.

And black is white, by the way.


Posted by: Yehuda Berlinger | Apr 16, 2007 3:11:00 PM

Virtually all of the people I have discussed this with vote for death.

Ok, let me clarify, they aren't hopeful that he'll die, just certain that he'll be murdered for this kind of talk.

Posted by: Jack | Apr 16, 2007 5:28:03 PM

I think at least one of these authors was good at hide and seek as a kid....

Posted by: Jewish Blogmeister | Apr 16, 2007 5:37:33 PM

Kuwait is one of the few Arab countries where he could get away with publishing those comments. Let's be thankful that he spoke up.

Posted by: K Newman | Apr 16, 2007 6:57:58 PM

Could you update us when (not if) they find him beheaded.

Posted by: dave | Apr 16, 2007 8:08:43 PM

Y'all sound like you want him dead. :-/

Posted by: K Newman | Apr 17, 2007 6:15:18 AM

Wow! Yes, I can see why you're speechless and yes, all through the article I was thinking, "He's not going to be alive for long."

Posted by: Tracey | Apr 17, 2007 8:25:31 AM

What's interesting is the JP's in-house Arab writer (Daoud Khatub (sp)) writes (after irrationally blaming Israel for creating the refugees) that Israel must freely accept all the refugees and their decendents.

He claims that few (except for those in Lebanon, Syria,...) would want to go to Israel.

Of course he also ignores what a financial incentive to overrun Israel (from say Saudi Arabia) might do to change their mind (Nefesh b'Nefesh anyone?).

Posted by: JoeSettler | Apr 17, 2007 8:38:14 AM

This columnist can be commended for his courageous writings, reasonableness, and desire to make real progress.

Posted by: Seattle | Apr 17, 2007 9:10:33 AM

Wow. Thanks for sharing the articles.

Posted by: tnspr569 | Apr 17, 2007 11:07:54 AM

Kuwait isn't Syria or Iran. The Kuwaiti's are quite pro-western. So it really shouldn't surprise us that a Kuwaiti is capable of well reasoned rational thought. But I am truly impressed at this man's courage in the middle of the Muslim world.

Posted by: Bob | Apr 18, 2007 3:20:08 AM

Yehuda Berlinger... Yup, it is getting pretty strange out there.

Jack... I got your meaning. BTW, I was shocked at how little coverage this got in the western press.

Jewish Blogmeister... If he wasn't, then I hope he develops the skill quickly.

K Newman... Maybe, but he is a Saudi national. That has to raise some eyebrows, no?

Dave... I don't have any magic news source that you lack. I just have a very narrow interest that allows me to notice stuff like this.

K Newman... I don't think so. I just think people are making a pretty safe assumption that voicing opinions like those found in the two articles could be detrimental to an Arab journalist's health.

Tracey... Let's hope we're both wrong.

JoeSettler... Forget some Arab Israeli journalist... Arab Israeli Members of Knesset are calling Israel a terrorist state and working with our enemies to bring about our downfall!

Seattle... Your comment would be a fitting inscription on his headstone. :-/

tnspr569... Don't thank me, I'm a giver.

Bob... I don't doubt the Arab's ability to think rationally. What shocked me was that he had the courage to express his thoughts. Now we wait to see if anything comes of these ideas.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Apr 18, 2007 11:18:12 AM

A couple of things to remember about Kuwait:
1) Kuwait was invaded by Iraq in 1991, and pretty much saved from destruction by the U.S. - and the current President's father.
2) At the time, about the only Arab group to openly support Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was the Palestinians.
3) At the time, the Kuwaitis were also very impressed with Israel for not retaliating against Saddam's Scud missile attack, which (in their view) would have thrown a monkey wrench into America's war effort. There has been a definite (if not widely known) thaw in Israeli-Kuwaiti relations in the last few years.
What I'm saying: I doubt that your journalist will wind up dead, because he's echoing the sentiments of a lot of Kuwaitis. Gives us a little hope for the future, doesn't it?

Posted by: psachya | Apr 18, 2007 11:46:08 AM

Nice to have a little hope.
What he seems to be saying, though, is that the Palestinian problem can be made to go away by absorbing the Palestinians - i.e. dissolving the Palestinians as a people. Assuming the Arab countries would want to do this, hasn't that train left the station already - i.e. is this at all possible? Haven't the Palestinians already developed a national identity?

Posted by: dov weinstock | Apr 18, 2007 6:56:46 PM


The fact that any Arab or Muslim in your part of the world would make such comments is more than eye-raising. It's stunning. You know what, though? If I were a betting man, I'd bet that there are plenty more where he came from. My guess is that many people in other Arab countries are tired of the Palestinians and the non-stop violence associated with them. That would be especially true for an Egyptian living in the Sinai or a Hashemite Jordanian. Of course that doesn't mean those people are willing to accept Israel, but at some point 'compassion fatigue' toward the Pals has to set in.

Mr. Weinstock,

Assimilation could take a lot of wind out of the Palestinian's sails, but there is a danger. Now that the Palestinians are so wound up, allowing them to run loose in the surrounding Arab countries could cause a lot of internal instability.

Posted by: K Newman | Apr 18, 2007 8:06:42 PM

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