Palestinian Refugee Repatriation presents a selection of papers given at an international workshop on the comparative study of refugee return programs with reference to the Palestinian context (at the University of Exeter in June 2004). The authors wish to examine "the extent to which international best practices in refugee repatriation can be transferred to the Palestinian context." The authors do not consider the possibilities of full absorption of the refugees where they are or resettlement in a third country but assume that such repatriation offers the best option for resolving the Palestinian Arab issue.
Dumper, the editor, sets the tone by page 3 where he provides background. "Great Britain, authorized by the League of Nations in 1922 to be the mandatory authority in Palestine, was unable to reconcile the conflicting aspirations of the two ethnic groups to self-determination." This is a fundamental distortion of the historical reality: London was not charged with bringing about reconciliation but rather with fostering a homeland for the Jewish people.
The various papers are serious, academic works that address complex issues; they deal with the problems presented by repatriation, including a sense of failure among refugees that they were not accepted by the host country, changes in the homeland that make return problematic, and changes in the refugees themselves, which make it impossible for them to resume former lives.
Yet, in the end, every presenter returns to the highly politicized thesis of the workshop. Michael Black speaks for many when he declares that, problems notwithstanding, "the goal—in this case, for a Palestine at peace with itself—is surely worthwhile." A Palestine at peace with itself? Indeed. Bringing the Palestinians who fled Israel in 1948 and their descendents into Israel would spell the end of the Jewish state and open the door to an enormous amount of violence directed at Jews.
Perhaps most egregious is Dumper's statement that "the post September 11 period has brought renewed emphasis on security. In this context, repatriation will remain the preferred option for the international community." Dumper, it seems, is promoting the "return" of Palestinians to Israel with the expectation that this will mitigate terrorism within the international community. This outrageous and specious thinking renders Israel a sacrifice for others' problems. Or, is that precisely Dumper et al.'s purpose?