Monday, December 25, 2006

Return? Right...

It's time to replace the phrase "right of return". By using the phrase (which is likely to become much more common the next few years), you implicitly accept two weighty but false Palestinian claims. The "right of return" is in fact not a "right", because international law does not guarantee refugees the right to return home, but only the right to humanitarian accommodations which do not cause political instability. Nor for the vast majority of Palestinian "refugees" would it be "return", because not they, but rather their uncles or second cousins or grandparents, left Israel in 1948. And nowhere in international law is there the idea that the descendants of refugees have the same status as refugees themselves. There needs to be a phrase which will allow discussion of Palestinian "refugees", without immediately prejudging the issue in the most extreme and destructive direction.

How about "demand of displacement"? "Demand" is a much more accurate description than "right", and "displacement" correctly focuses attention on what both Israelis and Palestinians know is the real point at issue - whether or not the Jewish state will be demographically overwhelmed by Arabs. You wouldn't even have to give up the alliteration.

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