Ved oprettelsen af Israel og arabernes efterfølgende krig mod den nye stat flygtede, blev fordrevet eller rejste af andre grunde i hundrede tusinder arabere kamppladsen. Lige så mange jøder blev drevet ud af de arabiske lande, som straf for at være jøder. Jødernes skæbne i Israel er ofte overset selv om den står i kontrast til arabernes skæbne, som statsløse palæstinensere. Denne statsløshed er ikke et produkt af Israel, men af de arabiske regimers politik, der kynisk spekulerede i menneskeskæbner, som en pression mod det de opfattede, som deres altoverskyggende fjende. Elder Of Zion har kigget lidt i historiebøgerne for at finde ud af forholdene for palæstinensiske arabere under arabisk overhøjhed. Om Ægypten hedder det bl.a.
During long periods of time there was no real distinction made between the residents of Egypt and the residents of the coastal plain (of Israel). Both groups were Muslim Arabs who lived under the Ottoman regime. According to the researcher Oroub El-Abed, commercial and trade ties existed between the two groups, mutual immigration and marriage took place as a matter of course. Many of the citizens of Jaffa were defined as Egyptian because they arrived there in waves of immigration such as the one to Jaffa in the days of the invasion by Mohammed Ali and his sons of many areas of the coastal plain. Residents of the Ottoman Empire, which became Mandate Palestine, did not have a different ethnic or religious identity from those of the Egyptian Arabs.
Various records from the end of 1949 show that some 202,000 refugees arrived in the Gaza strip, mostly from Jaffa, Be’er Sheva and Majdal (Ashkelon). The numbers may be inflated because some of the local poor also joined the list of those receiving welfare hand-outs. The refugees arrived in a place where they were part of the majority from all points of view: ethnic, national and religious. Egypt thought differently. For a start, as early as September 1948, the “Government of all of Palestine” was set up, under Ahmed al-Baki. This was an Egyptian-sponsored organisation, which sprang from rivalry with Jordan. The so-called Palestinian government faded away after a decade.
What happened to the people of the Gaza Strip? How did the Egyptians treat them? Strangely, there are very few items of research relating to those days. But it is a little difficult to hide that not so distant past. The Strip became a closed camp. The exit from Gaza was almost impossible. The Gazans (indigenous and refugees) were subject to strict limitations on employment, education and more. Every evening a curfew was enforced from sunset to sunrise the next day. Only in one field did Egypt help as much as it could: textbooks contained severe incitement against Jews. As early as 1950 Egypt informed the UN that “due to over-population” it could not help the Palestinians by resettling them. That was a suspect excuse. Egypt scuppered a proposal by the UN to re-settle 150,000 refugees in Libya. Even many of the refugees who had run away earlier and were in Egypt proper were forced to move to the giant concentration camp which was being created in the Gaza Strip. In fact, all the proposals for the re-settlement of refugees were brought down by the Arab nations.
Despite the total closure, there are witness statements telling what happened in the Strip in those years. The American journalist Martha Gellhorn visited the refugee camps in 1961. She arrived in the Strip too. It wasn’t simple. Gellhorn describes the bureaucratic torture involved in securing an entry visa to Gaza, the days of waiting in Cairo. She also describes the “stark contrast between the pleasantries of the clerks and the anti-Semitic propaganda flowering in Cairo”. “The Gaza Strip is not a hole”, recounts Gellhorn, “but a big prison. The Government of Egypt is the prison guard”. She describes a strict military regime, with all the elite of the Gaza Strip residents expressing devoutly Nasserite views. And so, for instance, “during 13 years (1948-1961) only 300 refugees received temporary exit visas”. The only thing the Egyptians provided for the Palestinians was hate propaganda.
…we are left with a repressive regime of two decades. And it is worth noting another fact – when Israel got to the Strip the local life expectancy was just 48. After a little more than two decades, life expectancy jumped to 72, and surpassed Egypt. More than allocating points to Israel, this just clarifies the depths in which the Strip was during Egyptian rule.
Refugees from Mandate Palestine also lived in Egypt itself. Many of them did not feel Palestinian and preferred integration. The Egyptians prevented them from achieving that. Apart from a short period of time considered a ‘golden era’, in some of the years of Nasser’s rule, which did not include the Gaza Strip refugees, those in Egypt too suffered restrictions on land purchase, employment in some professions and education (for instance a ban on the establishment of Palestinian schools). Egyptian citizenship law allows citizenship for anyone with an Egyptian father, and was subsequently extended to include Egyptian mothers. But in practice, limitations were placed upon those considered Palestinian. Even an Egyptian court decision to cancel the restrictions did not help. The new regime in Egypt recently promised change. The change, if it does occur, can wipe out years of discrimination, which even reached collective punishment. For instance in 1978 the Egyptian Minister of Culture - Yussuf al Shiba’I - was murdered in Cyprus by an assassin from the Abu Nidal group. In retaliation, the Palestinians suffered a new wave of attacks and the Egyptian Parliament renewed laws putting restrictions on Palestinians in education and employment.
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