PA Journalist Calls for Revival of Abbas’s ‘Arab Keren Hayesod’ Concept


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Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas at a meeting of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the city of Ramallah in the West Bank

{Originally posted to the JNS website}

In a two-part article in the Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat al-Jadida last month, journalist Muwaffaq Matar called for the adoption of an idea presented by P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas in a 1982 booklet titled “We Need an Arab Keren Hayesod.”


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In this 14-page booklet, Abbas reviewed the activity of the Zionist movement after Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, with an emphasis on the Keren Hayesod organization, which was established in 1920 to raise funds for encouraging Jewish immigration to Palestine and consolidating the Jewish settlement there.

Abbas concluded the booklet by stating that Keren Hayesod had served its purpose and that Israel no longer had any use for it. However, he advocated establishing an “Arab Keren Hayesod” that would help Jews leave Israel.

He wrote that the Zionist movement had lured the Jews to Palestine with false promises, and that their lives there have been nothing but “pain, difficulty, anxiety and loss”; therefore, many of them now wished to flee Israel, and helping them do so would benefit both them and the Palestinian cause.

After summarizing Abbas’s arguments, Matar writes that the Zionist movement deliberately pushed Jews to leave their countries of origin and emigrate to Palestine by drumming up fear of anti-Semitism, and also by initiating terrorist actions against Jews around the world. The greatest victims of its activity, he said, were not only the Palestinians but also the Eastern or Sephardi Jews, i.e., the Jews originating in Arab countries, whom he calls “Jewish Arabs.”

According to him, the Ashkenazi Jews, i.e., Jews of European origin, took over Israel’s state institutions and positions of power, while using the Eastern Jews as pawns and settling them in Israel’s border regions to serve as cannon fodder in the conflict with the Arabs. Consequently, said Matar, these Jews are now disillusioned with Zionism and would be happy to flee the State of Israel.

P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas’s 1982 booklet titled “We Need an Arab Keren Hayesod.” (MEMRI)

The uprooting of the Jews from the Arab countries, he adds, was the most dangerous plot in the history of mankind, second only to the extermination of the native Americans.

Matar claims that the Eastern Jews have remained devoted to their Arab culture and heritage and yearn to return to their Arab countries of origin. It therefore behooves the Arabs, he argues, to liberate them from “the shackles of the racist imperialist state [of Israel]” by helping them to realize this hope. To this end, he says, the Arabs should implement Abbas’s idea and establish an “Arab Keren Hayesod” that would raise funds for this purpose.

Matar calls on the Arab states to facilitate their return by giving them back the property they left behind when they immigrated to Israel and allowing them to return to their cities and homes. He also calls on the Palestinians to foster ties with the Eastern Jews in order to pave the way for their return, and notes that the PLO began doing this when it founded the Committee for Interacting with Israeli Society in 2012.

These suggestions to fund the emigration of the Jews—who were ostensibly deceived into coming to Israel and now yearn to leave it—may be intended to justify the demand to allow the Palestinian refugees and their descendants return to their homes in the 1948 territories. If so, this would correspond to the uncompromising official Palestinian position on this matter, which is that all Palestinian refugees must be returned to their original homes and given compensation.


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