*No place left in Israel for Arabs who fled
June 5, 1949
James M. Long
Nazareth, Israel (AP) The Arab refugee from Israel has practically nothing left here to which he could return--whatever the outcome of world discussions as to his fate. There is no tendency to belittle the humanitarian problem of the several hundred thousand Arab displaced persons, victims of the war in Palestine. But neither is there any serious belief in Israel that the answer to that problem will be found in the new Jewish state.
There are three reasons apparent here for that. One is theoretical, one practical and one political.
The first is simple. This new nation is straining every effort to create a Jewish homeland, not a minority state. There is no intention to bar Arabs, nor treat unjustly with the 75,000 of them who are still here. But eh chief problem is how to absorb Jewish immigrants at a rate that would double the 800,000 Jewish population in Israel in five years.
Demolished or Reoccupied,
The second is even clearer. The stone or mud plaster homes the Arabs once occupied have either been demolished or occupied by new Jewish immigrants.
The once solid Arab towns of Jaffa, Lydda, Ramle and many others are now Jewish immigrant towns-- packed full. Dozens of smaller villages have also been taken over.
Between Tel Aviv and Haifa the string of roadside Arab villages was virtually wiped away during the fighting. The Jews felt they could not risk having Arab snipers in position to menace their only north-south highway. Now the weeds and the wildflowers have overgrown the rubble that was left.
Between Haifa and Nazareth another large village has hardly one stone left on another, and the only building left standing is a small Catholic church.
These and many more villages are only memories in the minds of the Arabs who lived there up to a year ago. Others that were undamaged but taken over for Jewish immigrants are changed already beyond recognition.
Most of the Arab refugees are jammed into the Nablus and Hebron-Bethlehem areas, and the Gaza coastal strip sections of Palestine that remain Arab. Some are across the frontiers in neighboring Arab states, where most Israeli Jews feel there is more room for them and a brighter future.
According to the United Nations Bulletin, official publication of the UN, the number of Palestine refugees as of Apr.1 had risen to more than 750,000. Last year the UN asked for 32 million dollars to help feed and care for the refugees. As of Apr.1, 14 million dollars in supplies and currencies had been donated or pledged by 19 governments. Largest contribution was eight million dollars pledged by the United States.
One of the few large Arab refugee concentrations inside Israel is the largely Christian Arab city of Nazareth.
It is here that the third, political factor is seen. For this all-Arab city that was once
the home of Jesus is turning to communism.
Those who watch the political balance of the Jewish state wonder to what extent this may reflect a political trend in all the Arab refugee centers.
Half Vote for Communists
With refugee Arabs packed into every possible living space, Nazareth is swollen from its normal seven or eight thousand population, to more than 20,000. Although the Communist party polled less than 3% of the total popular vote in Israel's legislative elections, the Communist vote in Arab Nazareth was 50.8%
Communism in Nazareth is not strongly ideological, nor so far is it actively pro-Russian, but members of the party parade through the bustling little market streets under the red flag with the hammer and sickle.
There are questions as yet unanswered: if a hundred thousand more refugees came back to Israel from their camps of misery and discontent in the adjoining Arab states, how much would they strengthen the Communist vote in the next elections?