“Hey, that’s not fair,” objected Muhammad Chalabi, 45, a father of six originally from a Damascus suburb. “I don’t want to rebuild my life.”
Near the border with southern Syria, Jordan, November 9 – Former residents of Syria who fled the brutality either of the Assad regime or Islamist militias and now find themselves relegated to tents in the Jordanian wilderness have expressed resentment that the UN agency addressing their plight will try to resettle them elsewhere and afford them a chance to rebuild their lives, instead of keeping them in perpetual statelessness, dependency, and radicalization in the manner of Palestinian “refugees” from 1948.
Increasing numbers of the Syrian refugees have been voicing objection to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in recent months, as they contrast the agency’s treatment of them with that given by a different UN agency to the descendants of Arabs who fled or were expelled from Palestine in the context of Israel’s War of Independence nearly seventy years ago. Whereas most refugees are resettled in new host countries and permitted to start over, the mandate for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees requires that Palestinians on its rolls remain forever stateless.
While other refugees are therefore forced to gain citizenship, develop careers, and exercise autonomy, UNRWA refugees enjoy free health care, free education, and the freedom to nurse a destructive, seven-decade-old grudge against a country whose forces played only a minor role in causing the vast majority of the refugees’ ancestors to leave their homes. In addition, many of the UNRWA refugees, such as in Lebanon and Syria, are barred by local laws from entering most prestigious or lucrative professions, in contrast to other refugees under UN care who must pursue an education, support families, and cope with the myriad burdens of being productive, free, responsible citizens.
“Hey, that’s not fair,” objected Muhammad Chalabi, 45, a father of six originally from a Damascus suburb. “I don’t want to rebuild my life. I want to be like a Palestinian refugee and forever be stuck in a mythic, idyllic past that never existed but was abruptly and brutally rent asunder by usurping colonialists. I want to be able to blame Jews, rather than Arab regimes encouraging Palestinian Arabs to get out of the way of the massacres of Jews they planned, for my misery, and remain unable to move beyond that pathetic limbo for multiple generations.”
“Who are these UN people to decide for me that I should have a life?” concurred Aisha Ghneim, 19. “What if I don’t want to handle the nuances and compromise necessary to live in the real world? If I feel like not working for a living but still getting all my needs met by the UN as they endorse my demands for total destruction of my enemies or else my situation, and that of my descendants in perpetuity, will never be resolved. If UNRWA Palestine refugees can do that, I should be able to, as well.”
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