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2008年5月16日 (金)



EDITORIAL: 60 years of hardship


Sixty years ago, on May 14, 1948, Israel was founded in Palestine, which was a British mandate. For Jewish people, it is the "day of joy" that put an end to their history of exile and persecution. The next day, Arab countries that refused to recognize Israel's independence attacked the new Jewish state. In the process, 700,000 people were displaced and became refugees. Palestinians refer to this day as Nakba, meaning catastrophe.




In the six decades since then, a history of turbulence continued not only for the two peoples but also for the rest of the world, causing repeated Arab-Israeli wars, occupations, acts of terrorism around the world and massacres. In the process, millions of refugees were created. Embargoes imposed by Arab oil producers produced oil shocks for many countries. Japan was no exception.


 数次にわたる中東戦争、占領、世界各地でのテロ、虐殺、難民……。(この期間に多くのユダヤ人難民が生まれた by Srachai)アラブ産油国の禁輸戦略により、多くの国がオイルショックに見舞われた。日本も無縁ではなかった。


Arming itself like a hedgehog, Israel came to be viewed as a virtual nuclear power boring a large hole in the global nuclear nonproliferation system. The situation apparently tempted countries such as Iraq, Syria and Iran to develop nuclear programs of their own.



The United States continues to pursue a pro-Israeli policy by providing huge amounts of military aid to Israel, causing the Middle East and the entire Islamic world to harbor anti-American sentiment. International terrorism targeting the United States is also connected with the Israel-Palestine conflict at its root.


pursue=実行する、遂行する、推し進める)(pro-Israeli policy=イスラエル寄りの政策)

While such dramatic political and economic moves continue to attract global attention, the global community tends to forget about the predicament of refugees. The population of Palestinian refugees officially recognized by the United Nations has swelled to 4.5 million. Many of them have been forced to live in refugee camps in Israeli-occupied territories, Jordan, Lebanon and elsewhere in dreadful conditions. Many refugees were born and raised in the camps.




Having been handed down the keys and deeds to their homes in their homeland from their grandparents and parents, they are waiting for the day when they can be repatriated. But as despair and anger deepen, some people are drawn to extremism.



A resolution to promote repatriation of refugees and guarantee their rights was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in December 1948. Since then, similar resolutions have been repeatedly adopted, but the situation has made no progress.


U.S. President George W. Bush is stepping up a diplomatic initiative to reach a Middle East peace accord before his term expires in January. But peace cannot be achieved without settling the refugee situation.


Abrupt repatriation of refugees that could threaten Israel's existence is not realistic. The first step starts with recognizing the presence and rights of refugees. Both sides should also seek ways for peaceful coexistence. We urge the United States to play a fairer and more active role as a mediator.



We must put an end to the hardships of Palestinian refugees as soon as possible. What level of repatriation is acceptable? International society also needs to come up with wisdom to find places for refugees who cannot go home to settle down and provide economic compensation.


Japan has a positive track record in supporting Palestine. Why not seize the 60th anniversary of the exodus of Palestinians as an opportunity to propose to the United Nations that a framework be set up to support them?



--The Asahi Shimbun, May 15(IHT/Asahi: May 16,2008)

朝日新聞5月15日号 (英語版 2008年5月16日発行)


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