Via the Elder, we get a unique insight into what Palestinian "refugee" camps are really all about:
In 1961, I had made a long tour of the UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) Palestinian refugee camps [in] Lebanon. West Jordan and the Gaza Strip, and I had been at this camp near Jericho before. It is disheartening. The world believes, because it is constantly told, that the Palestinian refugees have lived in physical misery for nineteen years. Middle-class refugees will confide, in private, that their poorer compatriots, those who remarn in the camps, owned nothing at home and are no worse off now than before. The majority of refugees, educated, skilled, semi-skilled, live outside the camps and manage like any other Arabs.
The refugees’ misery is in the head. They are sick in their minds from a diet of propaganda, official Arab dogma and homemade fantasy, which they have gobbled for nineteen years. Schooled in self-pity, encouraged to believe they are the worlds unique vlctims of injustice, they have never been allowed to forget the daydream past or to settle for the real future. Since the third Arab-lsrael war hardly touched them, they learned nothing from it.
...Then, as on remembered cue, we went into the fantasy phase of conversation. It consists of recounting how many acres of fine fields and orchards, what splendid houses, were left behind in Palestine and stolen by the Jews. There is competition in fantasy ownership: if you add up the lost acreage claimed by the inhabitants of any camp you usually arrive at a total larger than the whole recovered arable land of Israel. One very nice man in another camp told me that he had owned 11,000 acres of citrus groves: legend has it that once the Sultan of Turkey owned that much land in Palestine and sold it to the Rothschilds. But I think this ownership fantasy is the real human core of the Palestinian refugee problem, as opposed to the unreal Arab propaganda problem.