-1- 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

   OCTOBER 2002 -  Issue #149    


Saying the Unspeakable

Herbert Zweibon

A recent public opinion poll found that more than one-third of Israelis favor the transfer of Arabs from Judea, Samaria and Gaza to neighboring Arab countries. That figure may rise or fall in response to specific events in the months to come, but one thing is now undeniably clear: the transfer solution is a serious proposition that can no longer be ignored.

One need not endorse the idea of relocating the Arabs in order to agree that it should be just as open for discussion as any other idea. Liberals invoke principles such as free speech, pluralism, and open debate when asserting their right to promote controversial policy positions such as giving large portions of Israel to Israel's enemies, dividing Jerusalem in half, preventing Jews from access to their holy places, or expulsion of Jewish "settlers" from their homes and villages. Well, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If Peace Now insists that the transfer of Jews from Judea, Samaria, and Gaza should be on the negotiating table, it cannot reasonably object to placing the transfer of Arabs from those or other territories on that same table.

It is only in the last two decades or so that the Israeli left tried to make transfer "beyond the pale." As the articles in this issue of Outpost demonstrate, resettlement of the Arabs has been advocated by prominent Jews and non-Jews since the very beginnings of the modern Zionist movement in the 1890s. Zionist leaders from right and left advocated it in the 1920s and 1930s. Two American presidents endorsed it in the 1940s. The British Labor Party made transfer of Arabs from Palestine part of its official Middle East plank in 1944. Of course, there were many opponents, as well. But that is the point: it was open for discussion.

The events surrounding the establishment of Israel included a de-facto population exchange. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs left Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were expelled from Arab countries and relocated to Israel. But while the Jews became Israeli citizens and left behind their "refugee" status, the Arabs deliberately perpetuated the "refugee" status of their brethren, and herded them into "refugee camps" near Israel's borders. There they could be exploited for propaganda purposes and become a breeding ground for terrorists. When Israel liberated Judea, Samaria, and Gaza in 1967, it suddenly inherited this large and hostile Arab population.

What to do with this population is a legitimate subject for debate. The Israeli left tried, and for a brief time succeeded, in intimidating the Jewish public -- both in Israel and the Diaspora -- into believing that to so much as mention the idea of transfer was "racist." Rabbi Meir Kahane's party was even banned from running for the Knesset in 1988 because it advocated transfer. Yet by 1990, another party endorsing transfer, Rehavam Ze'evi's Moledet Party, had become part of the Israeli government coalition. Last year, Moledet was again part of the government--this time alongside both Likud and Labor. And earlier this year, the National Religious Party chose a new leader, General Effie Eitam, who has called for transfer of hostile Arabs to other countries. The "racism" taboo has been shattered.

Not only is transfer not racist, it is in fact humanitarian, and if liberals were truly concerned for these Arabs' welfare, they would recognize its humanitarian virtues. Keeping the Palestinian Arabs in the "refugee camps" condemns them to a lifetime of poverty, bitterness, and constant conflict with the Israeli authorities. Transferring them to Jordan or Lebanon involves no more than a move from Yonkers to Hackensack -- these people would remain just a short distance from their former residences in communities where everyone shares their religion, culture, and language.

If anyone has a better solution, let them put it forward. That is the purpose of this issue of Outpost: to begin a debate that is long overdue.

Herbert Zweibon is chairman of Americans for a Safe Israel.


Keeping All Options ...3

The Demographic Wall ...6

Historical Roots of the Idea of Transfer ...7

October 2002               - 1 -               Outpost


-1- 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12