216. Jews also faced refugee situation
I am responding to the Dec. 10 article about Palestinian refugees.
In 1948, the United Nations partitioned western Palestine into a Jewish and a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as an international city. Immediately upon the evacuation of the British army, six surrounding Arab nations invaded western Palestine. The local Arabs were told by the invading nations to leave the area so that they would have a clear view to get rid of the Jews. This resulted in the Palestinian Arabs leaving.
Also, simultaneously, with the foundation of Israel the Jews, of Iraq and Egypt were physically expelled from the very countries that they have lived in for more than 2,000 years. While other countries such a Syria, Iran and North African Muslim countries did not expelled the Jews they made life so miserable that the Jews were forced to flee. About 750,000 of these Jews settled in Israel, which proceeded to absorb them into the nation.
Based on the history of the 20th century these Jewish refugees and the Arab refugees should be considered as having exchanged places. After the breaking of the Ottoman Empire, Christian Greek and Muslim Turkish populations were forcibly exchanged based on a treaty signed by both countries. The same situation occurred when India obtained its independence from Britain. Pakistan was created out of India, and Hindu and Muslim populations were exchanged. There were some other population exchanges following World War I in the Balkans. All this is recognized in International law.
Thus there is a strong precedent for the legal concept of exchange of populations.
Gerald Schawratz, Scarsdale
December 22, 2001
For a reply see