One of the most under-reported stories of the Iraq war has been the plight of Palestinians in the country. Refugees from 1948 after a new-born Israel expelled them from their homes, these Palestinians settled in Baghdad among other Iraqi cities. They have always been a small tight-knit community, numbering today no more than a little over 14,000.
Under Saddam Hussein, the Palestinians were seen as getting preferential treatment. A tyrant like Saddam never did anything for the Palestinian cause and Palestinians did not serve in the government. But as a small community, Saddam did provide some housing for the Palestinians.
When the U.S. invaded Iraq, the extreme Shia Sadr militia was intent not only on seeking revenge against the previously dominant Sunnis under the Hussein dictatorship that oppressed Shias, but also the Palestinians. The war between Shias and Sunnis has been well documented. And although the Sunni community is much smaller than the Shia community, it is large enough to defend itself. The Palestinians are not so lucky and have been left defenseless against the Sadr militia. And their plight is further ignored by the U.S. media.
Palestinians in Iraq have been killed simply for being Palestinian. Sadr militia men will often kill the husband to send a message to the rest of the family to leave their homes. Out of fear they do. Nearly all of Iraq’s Palestinian diaspora today finds itself in no-mans-land between the Syrian and Iraqi border. The Syrian regime refuses to allow them entry [unlike Iraqi refugees] and the Baghdad government refuses to allow them return or issue them a passport. Over 60 years after the first Palestinian refugees were living in tents after the Nakba, today the grand-children of the first refugees find themselves in tents in an illustration of the say history that has befallen the Palestinians. But today, as one Iraqi-Palestinian remarked, it is the Arabs whom are at fault for such an injustice. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees [UNHCR] cares for the Palestinians, but the tents does not protect them from the freezing desert winter and the incredibly heat of the summer. The Palestinians in Iraq are currently listed as the most vulnerable people in the world.
Because Iraq will not take them back, the UNHCR is trying to find new homes for them. Not surprisingly corrupt and cruel Arab governments have all closed their doors. There are a few righteous nations: Iceland, New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway, and Chile; and possibly others. Notice what nation is not on the list: United States.
The nation most responsible for the upheaval in Iraq refuses to allow even one Palestinian to seek refugee in the country. Norway, it should be added, has closes its doors on the ostensible grounds that it is now safe to return to Iraq. Whether it is safe for Iraqis remains debatable, but Palestinians are still persona non grata. But Norway did not launch, nor support, the war. America is directly responsible because it has filled to protect the Palestinians. While U.S. troops have failed to protect or provide any relief for Palestinians, The Economist reports that U.S. troops apparently have time to protect a terrorist-extremist Iranian cult living in Iraq.
America’s actions here are another illustration of the great injustice the U.S. government has participated in against the Palestinians since 1948. It is beyond the pale that such a large and wealthy nation founded by immigrants would deny the right of migration to the “tired, . . . hunger, . . . huddled masses” when it is responsible for their incredibly sad misfortune.