NYT Peddles U.N. Propaganda about Palestinia​n Refugees

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, whose sole task is to perpetuate the festering problem of Palestinian refugees, is mounting a traveling photo exhibit about their continuing plight. And the New York Times is only too pleased to help UNRWA peddle a grossly revisionist history of Palestinian refugees and their sad lot.

In its Nov. 29 edition, the Times devotes a four-column spread, including five heart-tugging photographs, to depict Palestinian refugees as victims of Israel's founding. Jerusalem correspondent Isabel Kershner tells readers that "about 700,000 Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes during the Arab-Israeli war over the foundation of Israel" in 1948. And, she adds, "hundreds of thousands more were later displaced by the Arab-Israeli war of 1967." ("Photographs Tell a History of Palestinians Unmoored -- Exhibit Traces Steps of Refugees Since 1948" page A6).

Nowhere in her article, however, does Kershner mention that there would have been no Palestinian refugee problem if the Arabs had accepted the 1947 U.N. two-state partition plan, calling for creation of an Arab state and a Jewish state. Israel accepted partition. Arabs rejected it and instead launched an all-out war against the nascent Jewish state with the avowed aim of destroying it.

Nor does Kershner mention that some 800,000 Jews who had lived for centuries in Arab lands were mercilessly persecuted by their host countries about the same time and forced to flee and become refugees as well. Jewish refugees numbered more than Palestinian refugees. But Jewish plight doesn't grab the New York Times as much.

Neither does Kershner point out that these Jewish refugees were integrated into Israel, the United States and other countries, unlike Palestinian refugees who were -- and still are -- used as political pawns to undergird Arab and Palestinian calls for a "right of return" to Israel for an estimated 5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

As for the impact of the 1967 Six-Day War, there is no mention that whatever happened to Palestinians, it was Egypt and Syria that precipitated the conflict, again with the avowed aim of annihilating the Jewish state.

In other words, history shows that the Palestinian refugee problem is a self-made, self-inflicted phenomenon which need never have happened.

Kershner, however, is not interested in real history. Instead, she join UNRWA in a transparent anti-Israel propaganda campaign to validate Palestinian victimhood at the expense of Israel's basic legal and historical right to its very existence.

Thus, she highlights photos in the UNRWA exhibit of Palestinian children studying by the "dim light of gas lamps" in a camp in Gaza, rows of shacks in a "desolate refugee camp," and a family carrying suitcases, "young son clutching a white ball," heading east over the Allenby Bridge across the Jordan River. Kershner's appraises these photos as "powerful and haunting." But it's all a promo for UNRWA's exhibit, dubbed the "Long Journey," which soon will go on a journey of its own to cities in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Europe and North America."

"This is an important piece of work," Filippo Grandi, UNRWA's commissioner-general, tells reporters at the exhibit's opening -- in Jerusalem's Old City, no less. "It is a contribution to building a national heritage for the Palestinians. "UNRWA is clearly satisfied with its propaganda project. But are there no critics? Kershner grudgingly admits that some Israelis might have a different take on the Palestinian refugee problem, but immediately dismisses any objections. Israelis, she writes, might be biased because they would "view the memorialization of the refugee experience through a prism of politics and contention."

UNRWA is okay and can be trusted, Kershner opines. But Israeli views are colored by political considerations, she cautions. Such is the anti-Israel bias of a New York Times correspondent in Jerusalem.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers