You'd Terrorize Too if it Happened to You
*This article is part of a series*
Palestine Remembered lists as their primary purpose for existing "To emphasize that the CORE issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict are the dispossession and ethnic cleansing (compulsory population transfer to achieve political gains) of the Palestinian people for the past five decades. In our opinion, the conflict would have been at the same level of intensity even if both parties had been Jewish, Muslims, or Christians."1
It was wise of them to preface this assertion with "In our opinion" because opinion is all it is, and an ill-informed one at that. If "compulsory population transfer to achieve political gains" is sufficient to create conflicts at the "same level of intensity even if both parties had been Jewish, Muslims, or Christians," we should be seeing similar prolonged and intractable conflicts all over the world. The following examples of compulsory population transfer to achieve political gains occurred between Muslims as well as all manner of other combinations of one group expelling the other, to test if the decades and decades of violent Palestinian terrorism is the normal reaction, or "intensity":
- Perhaps the most obvious starting point would be during and after the 1948 Palestine War when a number of Arab countries began their retaliatory mass expulsions of Jews. By most accounts, somewhere around 800,000 Jews were ethnically cleansed from Arab countries all over the Middle East. Most of the Jewish families had long-standing community ties, had been there for hundreds of years, and had nothing to do with the war in Palestine. The expulsions were strictly vengeful and as unjust as one can get. There is no expectation any of these refugees will be compensated for their stolen assets or repatriated to their homes. Despite all this, the ethnically cleansed Jewish refugees re-settled and built new lives in their new homes (primarily America and Israel) with not even significant individual acts of terrorism to be found, much less organized violence lasting for generations.
- During the late 60's and early 70's the large population of Palestinian Arabs living in Jordan became an increasingly serious security risk to the Jordanian kingdom. In 1970 King Hussein made the decision to turn his army against them and in a matter of 11 days, approximately 3,400 Palestinian Arabs were killed. The majority of the surviving population was forcibly expelled and wound up in Lebanon (where they proceeded to completely destabilize that country as well, the leadership eventually being expelled once again, this time to Tunisia).
- "The example par excellence of a modern time mass expulsion is the 1972 expulsion of Asians from Uganda. In August 1972, President Idi Amin Dada, who had seized power after a military coup in 1971, issued a decree ordering all people of Indian and Pakistani origin, and who had not become Ugandan citizens, some 40,000-50,000 persons in total, to leave the country within 90 days. The short term notice caused extra hardship and since no one was allowed to transfer or export any assets, the order also meant a de facto expropriation."2
- In March 1976 "Libya expelled over 20,000 Egyptians and some 2,000 Tunisians and confiscated their property."3
- "... a number of tribal groups is [sic] Africa such as the approximately 75,000 Banyarwanda who were forced to leave Uganda in 1982."4
- In 1983, Nigeria's first mass expulsion affected "around 1.5 million broken down approximately as follows: 700,000 Ghanaians, 180,000 Nigeriens, 150,000 Chadians, 120,000 Cameroonians, 5,000 Togolese, and 5,000 Beninoise."5 These expulsions were "carried out hurriedly, in circumstances of confusion and harsh treatment by the locals." The expulsions were supposed to relieve Nigeria of "crime and moral turpitude" allegedly caused by the aliens, although this goal was not realized.
- "Peaceful demonstrations by ethnic Turks in May of 1989 prompted the Bulgarian authorities to expel in a direct manner several thousand ethnic Turks during May and June of 1989. ... These expulsions were discriminatory and arbitrary and constituted an unlawful direct mass expulsion. ... Thereafter, a second wave of expulsions took place from mid-June to late August, 1989, in which the number of persons expelled rose from several thousands to some 300,000. ... Helsinki Watch was of the opinion that 'a substantial portion of the hundreds of thousands of ethnic Turks who left Bulgaria ... were essentially forced to leave because they continue[d] to be denied their most basic human rights,'".6
- For their passive support of Saddam Hussein's invasion, Kuwait expelled 400,000 Palestinian Arabs living there.7 "Kuwait proceeded with the mass expulsion of Bedoons [a generic term literally meaning 'without' applied to those in Kuwait without nationality, not to be confused with nomadic Arab Bedouins] who were indiscriminately rounded up and expelled together with Iraqis, Palestinians and other Arabs."8 But there is no conflict of any intensity against Kuwait for these expulsions, however. Not only is there no conflict, but the Palestinian chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, actually apologized to Kuwait for their support of Saddam Hussein.
- Yemen was officially opposed to the war against Iraq in 1990. For this grievous crime, "some 800,000 Yemeni workers [were] expelled by Saudi Arabia."9 Where is the terrorism or political activism against Saudi Arabia by the Yemenites for this expulsion? After all, Saudi Arabia expelled many more Yemenis than there were Palestinian Arab refugees in 1948 but the ongoing political struggle for repatriation is virtually nil.
- Human Rights Watch published a report detailing the forced expulsion of the largely Muslim Kurds, Turkmen, and Assyrian minority groups.10 With few exceptions, there are no repatriation movements on par with that of the Palestinian Arab "right of return" demands. Instead, the UNHCR is arranging for the resettlement, not the repatriation, of Kurds either to the north in Iraq or to Turkey.11 The voluntary nature of this population transfer is being played up so as to distract from the fact it is a tacit recognition in modern times that sometimes this is what needs to happen.
- "On July 23, 1978, the then President of Gabon, Omar Bongo, decreed the forthwith expulsion of all Benin nationals, some 9,000 people in total. ... The expulsion decision was prompted by the spiraling bad relations between President Bongo and President Kerekou of Benin."12
- "In 1993, Greece 'rounded up more than 4,500 Albanians in a 48-hour sweep and [began] expelling the suspected illegal refugees.' This was in retaliation for the expulsion of a senior Greek Orthodox priest from Albania."13
- "Greece expelled more than 30,000 illegally residing Albanians in retaliation for the conviction of five prominent members of Omonia on September 7th in Tirana. Omonia is the Greek political movement in Albania fighting for Greek minority rights. ... While Greece has every right to expel illegal aliens, to do so in retaliation taints its actions will illegality."14
- "As objectionable as it may be, in recent years some governments have become guilty of retaliatory mass expulsions for the most futile reasons. According to Ricca, 'two football matches which degenerated into fights were at the origin of the expulsion of 5,000 Cameroonians from Gabon in 1982 and 10,000 Ghanaians from Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in 1985.' ... A lost soccer match was at the origin of expulsions from El Salvador and Honduras from 1969 to 1974. In April 1989, a border incident between Mauritania and Senegal over grazing rights along the Senegal river sparked rioting and looting, in the course of which some 400 people were killed. At first this led to the departure, and later the expulsion, of the nationals of each of the two countries living in the other."15
During this expulsion, "Mauritania's security forces allegedly killed, tortured and arbitrarily arrested people, all of which added to the suffering of the people and the illegality of the measure."16 "It was estimated that between 40,000 and 50,000 black Mauritanians were expelled, mostly members of the Peul-speaking ethnic groups ..."17
- "Other expulsions of migrant workers in Africa include: the expulsion in 1958 of Togolese, Beninoise (then Dahomeyans) and Nigerians from Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), the expulsion in 1964 of about 16,000 Beninoise from Cote d'Ivoire, the expulsion of Ghanaian fisherment in 1966 from Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the expulsion in 1971 of Malians and Senegalese accused of illegal diamond traffic from Zaire, the expulsion from Zambia in 1971 of 150,000 aliens without work permits mostly from Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zaire, Tanzania and Somalia, the expulsion of all West Africans from Congo in 1977, the expulsion in 1979 of thousands of Beninoise from Chad, the expulsion in 1979 of 2,500 to 4,000 Ugandans and Tanzanians, both refugees and established migrant workers, without valid documentation from Kenya, and the expulsion in late 1980 early 1981 of 2,000 Tanzanians from the Kenyan informal sector."18
If the Palestinian Arab model of incessant terrorism for almost one hundred years, that still today has no end in sight is acceptable for those who have been expelled, its advocates have some serious issues to address. Before Israel made the decision to expel Palestinian Arabs, there were tens of millions of people that fell victim to expulsions in dozens of separate instances. After Israel made the decision to expel, millions more have been expelled in dozens more separate instances. Certainly at the time the expulsions occurred, there was outrage, reactionary violence, and protest. But the outrage and protest subsided over time and the violence ran its course. The vast majority of these millions and millions of expelees in these dozens and dozens of expulsions have progressed beyond being victimized and moved on. They do not perpetually exist as a group of victims and the descendants of victims bent on revenge at the continued expense of their own state and frequently their own lives.
Some were expelled under more humane conditions, some under worse. Some were expelled for justified security concerns, others for petty or trivial matters. Some were expelled legally, others illegally. The point is, after taking into consideration all the injustice, the illegality, and the immorality that is rightfully attached to many of these expulsions, it is the Palestinian Arabs who stand alone in the spotlight of international concern. They have been standing there for 60 years while the other expelees of both relatively just and relatively injust circumstances have moved on long ago.
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Navigate this series:
Part 1 - Expulsions and Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinian Arabs
Part 2 - Population Transfer in International Affairs
Part 3 - Were the Expulsions of Palestinian Arabs Necessary?
Part 4 - Terrorism as a Response to Expulsion
1 http://www.palestineremembered.com/MissionStatement.htm (Quote last confirmed on site as of Nov 1, 2007)
2 Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pg. 20
3 Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pg. 44
4 Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pg. 117
5 Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pg. 67
6 Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pp. 111-112
7 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4089961.stm (Citation last confirmed on site as of Nov 1, 2007)
8 Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pp. 98-99
9 "Palestinian Refugees and Peace" by Elia Zureik. Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 24, No. 1. (Autumn, 1994), pg. 5.
10 http://www.hrw.org/reports/2003/iraq0303/index.htm (Internet Archive confirms citation as of June 5, 2007)
11 http://www0.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=9541&Cr=Iraq&Cr1= (Internet Archive confirms citation as of Nov 6, 2005)
12 Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pg. 16
13 Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pp. 17-18
14 Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pg. 18
15 Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pg. 18
16 Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pg. 40
17 Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pg. 82
18 Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice, Pg. 71