Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4 Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
Sam Bahour’s Oct. 9, 2000 article, “Palestinians fight decades of injustice,” is a mix of truths and half-truths. He states, “Israel uprooted Palestinians from historic Palestine over 50 years ago, creating a people in exile that has been living in squalid refugee camps throughout the region ever since.” The Palestinian refugee situation is primarily of Arab making. During the Israeli war of independence, the surrounding Arab governments promised Palestinian Arabs a swift victory over the Jews and encouraged them to vacate their lands while their armies exterminated the enemy. The Jews urged Palestinians to stay and live in peace in the new state. Through incompetent politics and even more incompetent soldiering, the Arab nations fumbled. In the aftermath, instead of absorbing and assimilating their Palestinian Muslim brothers and providing some kind of compensation for their failed promises, it became a matter of policy to deliberately maintain the camps as a political tool, to ensure that the issue would not go away.
Bahour also wrote, “Israel then occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem in 1967.” This was not the best move by Israel, but it was once again the surrounding Arab neighbors who attacked. And once again due to their incompetent soldiering they fumbled. Occupation of those territories was a common-sense strategy to fill the void of a retreating, crumbling force. The Israelis fought with skill and perseverance because, after all, the Arabs threatened genocide.
There never was a Palestinian nation that Jews infiltrated, invaded or stole. The land was controlled by Arab landowners in Amman and Damascus - pashas of the Ottoman Turks when Turkey held the territory. Any claims by Palestinians today that the Israelis are occupying “their country” ignore the fact that they never had a country to begin with, and in any event, their fellow Muslims, Arabs and Turks have been worse to them throughout history than the Jews ever have been.
Published on Sunday, October 22, 2000 as “Mideast article has it wrong.”
I feel out on a limb on this idea, but I feel determined about it. The land some call Palestine never, in fact, belonged to the people who lived there, the Palestinians. It was never their land. Before the State of Israel was founded Palestine was a fief of the Ottoman Turks, then a part of Jordan, etc. The Jews did not steal the land from the owners of it. In most cases they bought it until, finally, in 1947/48 they occupied for self defense what the British vacated. The British could have handed over Palestine much better, but they were so deep in double-handed wrongdoing on the matter that there was no pretty way for them to extricate themselves from the Levant. The truth is that, except for the 1973 war, it is always the Arabs who started the conflict. That’s the kind of people they are.