SIR – I was surprised to read in Storey’s letter (‘Israel still operating without boundaries,’ July 14th) that, in 1948, ‘…Zionist armed groups expelled some 440,000 Palestinians…’. Really?
Has Storey forgotten that when Israel was established, by the UN in 1947, the UN proposed the ‘partition plan’ whereby, areas predominantly occupied by Arabs would become a Palestinian Arab state (btw; for the first time in history as there had never been such a thing as a Palestinian entity or nation) and those predominantly Jewish, a Jewish state.
This ‘two-states’ solution was flatly rejected by the Arabs and Palestinians (they had also refused a similar offer, in 1937, by the Peel commission) and chose, instead, to join the five Arab armies and attack the tiny new-born Jewish state, on the day of its birth. Sadly, as often happens in wars there are refugees (see the map of Europe after World War 2, which had many millions of refuges who had to vacate their homes and countries as a result of the war).
In this war, called the ‘war of independence,’ which lasted 18 months, there were some 440,000 Palestinian refugees. Some fled because they were afraid of Israel (not surprising considering the way their leaders promised to ‘slaughter’ all the Jews).
Others fled because their spiritual leader – the Grand Mufti (Haj Amin al Huseini) called for them to ‘clear the field’ for a massive ‘counter-attack.’ Yet others fled because their leaders left the land at the first sight of trouble and they were left leaderless.
Either way, were it not for the Arab aggression and attack, there would have been no refugees. The Israel government repeatedly begged the local Arabs to remain and the large majority who did so, benefitted enormously from the democratic freedoms and prosperity which Israel offers and are infinitely better off than their brethren who fled to Arab lands.
What Storey also may have forgotten is that there were also some 800,000 Jewish refugees who were expelled from Arab lands, at that time, and who were absorbed with dignity and nobility by the fledging Jewish state (contrast that with the way the vast and wealthy Arab state dealt with their refugees).