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Goebbels Redux By: David Bedein
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, November 17, 2005

A generation after Nazi Germany launched a campaign to exterminate the Jews, a new German government is underwriting a campaign to create Judenrein (Jewish-free territory) in parts of Israel.

Consider that one worrying aspect of cultural life in the Palestinian refugee camps is film screenings that motivate the Palestinian "refugees" to long for a so-called "right of return" to villages that most of their ancestors left in 1948, even though those villages were turned into Israeli communities after that war. These films are organized through the Cine Club, a project of the Palestinian Diaspora and Refugee Center, also known as the Palestinian advocacy group, Shaml. Shaml is registered with the Palestinian Authority's Organizational Registrar and the Cine Club is but one initiative in their systematic effort to build a powerful Palestinian movement that will possess Israel in its entirety by implementing the "right of return,” that is, a policy that envisions Israel's destruction as the ultimate end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

That much is public knowledge. What is generally unknown is that the agency that sponsors the Shaml organization is not an Arab entity. Rather, it is the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, funded by the German Social Democratic Party, which receives direct funding from the German government. According to the Ebert Foundation's website, its primary mission is "promoting peace and understanding between peoples."

The German sponsored Shaml touts UN resolution 194 as proof that an absolute "right of refugee" return exists. That article states that:

Refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.

The resolution also applied to the 650,000 Jews who fled Arab countries for Israel in 1948, though this never seems to be part of the equation for Arabs seeking a peace settlement. But Resolution 194 does not guarantee return as a right. Instead—and the distinction is key—it makes any possible return conditional on the agreement of two equal governments providing peace for their citizens.

Such inconvenient details have not kept Palestinian organizations from proclaiming the “right of return” a codified fact. Besides Shaml, the Ebert Foundation also aids the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (PASSIA). In 2004, PASSIA published a bulletin, still in circulation, titled "Palestinian Refugees.” In it, PASSIA purports to offer "facts" and "proof" establishing the "right of return,” though in fact neither are to be found in the bulletin. (The publication does highlight the role that the Friedrich Ebert Foundation’s support played in its production.)

Cohre, the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, is yet another Palestinian entity that campaigns for the "right of return." Scott Leckie, Cohre's director, was a member of the PLO's Palestinian Negotiations Support Unit on Housing and Property Restitution for Refugees, a less-than-impartial position.

Today, Cohre has teamed up with Badil, The Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, another leading Palestinian advocate for the "right of return." The Cohre Activity Report of 2000 – 2002 reveals their joint intention to shape international law to satisfy their demand for Israeli land. It notes that "Cohre and Badil are planning to jointly hire a lobbyist to co-ordinate a campaign to change policies within various UN agencies and States with regard to the right of Palestinian refugees to repossess the properties confiscated by Israel since 1947.” On page 72 of the Cohre Activity Report, it praises the support provided for the "right of return" campaign by The Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

Badil, for its part, was recently denied membership to the U.N. Social and Economic Council. The reason, according to NGO Watch, was that Badil's "extremist anti-Israel political agenda is incompatible with universal human rights norms." This is evidenced by their 23rd Occasional Bulletin of December 2004. In it, Badil candidly reveals that the scope of the Palestinian "right of return" entails nothing less that the destruction of the Jewish state. It states: 

"The real Zionist opposition to return is that that return would alter the demographic balance in Israel so much that it would destroy Israel's Zionist, exclusionist character. This, of course, is true. But the preservation of this character of Israel is neither an international responsibility nor a moral-juridical-political fact that outweighs in importance the restoration of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people." 

When the president of Germany, Horst Kohler, visited the Israeli Knesset in January, 2005, Gila Finkelstein, Israeli Member of the Knesset, made sure to note the Ebert Foundation’s funding of an extremist Palestinian agenda. Waving PASSIA’s bulletin at Kohler, she walked out of the Knesset. Finkelstein then requested and received an appointment with German President Kohler. She used the opportunity to express her outrage that Germany would ever fund an effort that supported the "right of return,” which, she pointed out, was a code name for dismembering the state of Israel. Kohler expressed his concern and promised to look into the matter. He didn’t look very hard. In April, Kohler wrote to Finkelstein that he relied on the professional judgment of the Fredrich Ebert Foundation.

In contrast to the lofty goals of peace and reconciliation advocated by the German government publicly, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation has aligned itself with the most virulent proponents of the Palestinian "right of return." It is operating with funds traced directly to the German government, and is openly subsidizing groups that seek to dismember the state of Israel.

How dispiriting to behold that sixty years after the Holocaust, the German government is once again sponsoring the annihilation of the Jews.

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David Bedein, author of the forthcoming book, "Swimming Against the Mainstream", has run the Israel Resource News Agency. www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com, since 1987, at the Beit Agron Press Center in Jerusalem, where he also heads the Center for Near East Policy Research and serves as the Middle East correspondent for the Philadelphia Bulletin, www.thebulletin.us.

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