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Jews Discover Refugees Are Asset In Disrupting Enemy’s Economy

By ROBERT MILLER United Press Staff Writer

TEL AVIV, Aug. 3-More that 300,000 miserable, homeless Arab refugees have become a weapon for Israel.

Camped in olive groves, cluttering the highways and wandering aimlessly about the Arab states, the refugees are disrupting the Arab economy, impeding Arab military plans and menacing the stability of the Middle East.

At first, Israel attempted to halt the exodus of Arabs from Jewish-captured territory. Now, however, the flight is encouraged, for the Jews believe it gives them tremendous new bargaining power with the Arabs and will spare the lives and fortunes of hundreds of thousands of Jews living in the Arab world.

Neither Jewish nor Arab leaders suspected that refugees would become a determining factor in the Palestine war. The Jews, at first, offered the Arabs concessions to remain in Jewish territory in the belief the world would be shown that Jews and Arabs could live together peacefully.

But the Arabs refused to listen. They load their possessions on trucks and cars and fled to Arab Palestine, to Trans-Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, moving in with relatives and setting up housekeeping wherever possible.


The migration was reasonably orderly at first. Hospitable Arabs welcomed their cohorts-until the proportions became alarming and the refugees ran out of money.

When the supposedly invincible Arab armies began to fall back in panic, more and more Arab people joined the pitiful procession.

The refugees fled on foot or on donkeys, taking with them bitterness, disappointment and rumors, which spread wherever they moved. The morale problem among them became almost as great as the question of feeding and housing the descending thousands.

Suddenly the Jews realized the military usefulness of the refugees. After Haganah’s capture of Lydda and Ramleh, Israel encouraged them to flee, telling the Arabs they could remain but could not be guaranteed food.

It was the Arabs themselves who revealed the desperateness of their situation by demanding the Jews allow the refugees to return to their homes.


The Arabs must somehow find accommodations for the refugees before cold weather and fall rains make the olive groves uninhabitable. Arab governments are attempting to feed and paucity the refugees to keep emotional, hungry mobs from starting riots.

Recent demonstrations at Nablus and Ramallah in Palestine, and Amman, capital of Trans-Jordan, were led by Palestine Arabs calling for a more forceful prosecution of the war or a change of government.

Natives of the towns now over-run by refugees blame them for the disruption of their economy, for the inflated prices which have come with increased demand.

The Jews, meanwhile, do not hesitate to capitalize on the miseries of the refugee. The Jews maintain the Arabs brought this on themselves, that everything is fair in this war and that Israel, faced with victory or annihilation, must use every available weapon, whether it is a Sten gun or the shivering hungry.