Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Libya May Expel Palestinians

A Middle Eastern nation may expel thousands of Palestinians to protest the (unspecified) actions of the new Palestinian government. If this were Israel, this would be front-page news, and lead all newscasts. But --it's Libya.

According to Israel's largest newspaper, Yediot Aharonot, and Arutz Sheva, at
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Blogs/Blog.aspx/2, the Palestinian Minister for Refugee Affairs, Dr. Atef Adouan, "went public on the issue, telling the London-based newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi this, 'We hope that the Libyan leadership will act wisely and with patience. Deporting the Palestinians from Libya would cause greater suffering to the Palestinian refugees.'" It's not an empty threat--Libya expelled thousands of Palestinians to protest the Oslo Accords, in 1995. Libya wants to expel more Palestinians by the end of March.

A few thoughts: what PA policies bother the Libyans? Not terrorism--the Palestinian government has endorsed or winked at terrorism for decades. Not hateful incitement against Jews, the US, the West, etc.--that's a staple of Palestinian media. Perhaps there were calls for Arab governments to become more responsible, open and democratic? That would terrify Libya. No. Libya is upset that the Palestinian Authority may accept the Saudi peace plan, which might mean softening the "right of return" of refugees who left in 1948.

It's up to everyone (regardless of your thoughts on the Saudi Peace Plan) who cares about protecting innocent people to try, however hopeless it may seem, to protect the Palestinians in Libya from deportation. They are, in a sense "the Jews" of that country, quite vulnerable and disliked. As the Jewish saying goes, "Whoever saves one life, saves a world entire." Write or e-mail the Libyan Embassy or consulate in your country. I do believe (naively, I know), that decent people of all races, creeds and colors must always speak out to protect the innocent, and this effort--a bit like this blog, perhaps--is part of building a more peaceful Middle East.
--Wendy Leibowitz, Washington, D.C.

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