Palestinian refugees are Israel’s Achilles’ heel

Book Review of The War of Return by Adi Schwartz and Einat Wilf

Sam Bahour
13 min readMay 1, 2020

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On 8 December 2019, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) turned seventy years old. (Source: UNRWA)

What do you get when a disillusioned Israeli politician from the political “Left” links up with a veteran Israeli journalist, also from the political “Left,” to take on the issue of Palestinian refugees, a key element for Middle East peace? Answer: Israeli Hasbara (public diplomacy propaganda) on steroids, with about one-third more words than necessary.

This was my immediate reaction while reading the newly released book The War of Return: How Western Indulgence of the Palestinian Dream Has Obstructed the Path to Peace by Adi Schwartz and Einat Wilf. I try to not judge a book by its cover, but its back cover is a different story. Having now read the book, I can confidently claim that this book can be judged by its three back cover endorsements.

The first endorsement is by Benjamin Shapiro, an American conservative political commentator and former Breitbart News editor who penned as far back as in 2003 that “Here is the bottom line: If you believe that the Jewish state has a right to exist, then you must allow Israel to transfer the Palestinians and the Israeli-Arabs from Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Israel proper. It’s an ugly solution, but it is the only solution.” (Transfer is not a dirty word, Townhall.com).

The second is by Yossi Klein Halevi, an American-born Israeli author and journalist who panders to Western ears. Mr. Halevi is a conniving writer who excels in camouflaging Israel’s military occupation and his status as a settler living in an illegal settlement in Jerusalem.

The third endorsement comes from none other than Benny Morris. In the article “Israeli historian Benny Morris doubles down on his advocacy for ethnic cleansing,” Jonathan Ofir writes that “the Israeli historian who has documented Israeli-Palestinian history so meticulously, is again bemoaning that a full ethnic cleansing was not completed in 1948.” (Mondoweiss, Jan. 18, 2019).

Run forward

The book is a long-winded frontal attack on Palestinian refugees and reads more as a commissioned assignment from the Hasbara-hub called the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs rather than a truly deep analysis of the issue of…

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