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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: April 2020

1 - Displaced in the National Home


The first chapter focuses on the experiences of Jewish refugees who came to Palestine before or during World War II but sought to return to their European countries of origin at war’s end through a repatriation program launched by the Middle East office of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). Since the repatriation program took place during the heightened period of the Zionist struggle for statehood in Palestine, it became a source of conflict between the Zionist leadership in Palestine and the UNRRA. The former accused the latter of encouraging Jewish return to Europe, whereas UNRRA officials accused Zionists in the Yishuv of trying to prevent repatriation and of ostracizing those opting to return. The chapter analyzes this conflict from the perspectives of UNRRA, the Jewish Agency, the Jewish press in Palestine, and the refugees themselves. It shows that the controversy derived from conflicting ideological and political considerations regarding the role of Jewish refugees in postwar reconstruction. But the positions of the quarreling parties were disconnected from those of repatriation applicants, who were determined to rebuild their lives outside Palestine, but conceived of postwar reconstruction mainly in material and personal rather than ideological and political terms.

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