In 1948, seven hundred thousand Palestinians were forced out of their homes by the first Arab-Israeli War. More than seventy years later, most of their houses are long gone, but millions of their descendants are still registered as refugees, with many living in refugee camps. This group―unlike countless others that were displaced in the aftermath of World War II and other conflicts―has remained unsettled, demanding to settle in the state of Israel. Their belief in a “right of return” is one of the largest obstacles to successful diplomacy and lasting peace in the region.
In The War of Return, Adi Schwartz and Einat Wilf―both liberal Israelis supportive of a two-state solution―reveal the origins of the idea of a right of return, and explain how UNRWA – the very agency charged with finding a solution for the refugees – gave in to Palestinian, Arab and international political pressure to create a permanent “refugee” problem. They argue that this Palestinian demand for a “right of return” has no legal or moral basis and make an impassioned plea for the US, the UN, and the EU to recognize this fact, for the good of Israelis and Palestinians alike.
A runaway bestseller in Israel, the first English translation of The War of Return is certain to spark lively debate throughout America and abroad.
Adi Schwartz is an Israeli researcher and author. His work focuses on the Arab-Israeli conflict and Israeli history and current affairs.
Einat Wilf is a former Israeli politician who served as a member of Knesset for Independence and the Labor Party. She is the author of six books, and one of Israel’s leading intellectuals.
Prof. Gerald Steinberg is founder and president of NGO Monitor and founder of the Program on Conflict Management and Negotiation at Bar Ilan University. His research focuses on the The Politics of Human Rights Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Israeli Politics and Arms Control.