Two Israeli Academicians Say Refugee Problem Partly Israel’s Responsibility

Two Israeli academicians agreed that their country bears a degree of responsibility for a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem. Dr. Eliezer Schweid, senior lecturer on Jewish philosophy at the Hebrew University and Prof, Yehoshua Arieli, chairman of the university’s department of American studies, stated their views in a symposium on the Middle East crisis, published in the latest issue of “Dimensions in American Judaism.” publication of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. Another participant, Haim Yahil, a former diplomat and presently chairman of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, discussed what Israel’s image should be to “freedom loving people in the world.” Dr. Schweld said, “The fact that Israel is not guilty of the refugees’ predicament does not mean that it bears no responsibility whatever for their plight. Since human and national rights have been infringed upon as a direct result of actions of the State of Israel, it, too, bears a responsibility.”

Professor Arieli thought that Israel could have done much to improve its own standing in the situation after 1949 “by proclaiming its readiness, even unilaterally, to offer reparations for the loss of property to the Palestinian refugees and to cooperate fully with international bodies on the solution of the problem, independently from a general peace settlement.” He maintained however that “apart from a relatively small percentage, Israel cannot allow these refugees to return to their former homes.” Mr. Yahil said freedom loving people should see Israel as “a small nation ready and capable of defending its existence and its freedom, a nation resolved not to submit to force, but to resist the evil, a nation maintaining its democratic order in spite of war and siege, a nation defended by a people’s army that is the nation’s most popular institution.”

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