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LETTER: People who know more about the Middle East

June 4th, 2016 5:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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A CHARA – Daniel Teegan (Letters, May 26th) never passes up a chance to get it wrong. He is a man with a fixation (Israel) who knows next to nothing about the object of his fixation. He has just written: ‘Sixty-eight years have passed since the Nakba of 1948, the year that marked the expulsion and exodus of the Palestinian people.’ 

Really? ‘Expulsion’? ‘Exodus’? What is he wittering on about? 

Since I am a Middle East historian, let me explain to Mr Teegan and your readers what really happened. In November 1947, the United Nations offered a small state to the Jewish people and a small state to the Arabs of the region. The Jews, though cheated out of much they had been promised, gladly accepted the offer, and in May 1948 they proclaimed an independent state called Israel. 

The Arabs turned down the offer (and have turned down every single offer since then), and the day after Israel was brought into being, five Arab countries sent armies into the Jewish state to teach the Jews a lesson, to destroy the new state, and, according to the boasts of their leaders, to commit genocide. 

Those threatened included large numbers of Jews who had survived the Holocaust. Israel won that war, as it has won many wars since then, through sheer guts and determination, saying ‘Never Again’ after the deaths of six million. 

During the war, small numbers of Arab villagers were forced to leave since they were caught up in fighting instigated by their own brethren. But far larger numbers (around 300,000 in total) either chose to get out of the way of the Arab armies (the rich and middle classes), waiting to return once the Jews were dead or driven out. 

Even more were told to leave by the Arab Higher Committee and the Arab Liberation Army (from Transjordan), in order to clear the way for their victorious armies. This is not fantasy. 

Mahmoud Abbas, currently president of the Palestinian Authority, put it this way: ‘The Arab armies entered Palestine to protect the Palestinians from the Zionist tyranny but, instead, they abandoned them, forced them to emigrate and to leave their homeland, and threw them into prisons similar to the ghettos in which the Jews used to live in Eastern Europe, as if we were condemned to change places with them: they moved out of their ghettos and we occupied similar ones. 

‘The Arab States succeeded in scattering the Palestinian people and in destroying their unity.’ (Mahmoud Abbas, 1976, in official PLO journal Filastin al-Thawra). Others stayed on and became full Israeli citizens, which they remain today.

I think Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader and I, a scholar in the field know rather more than the perpetually ignorant amateur, Daniel Teegan. It is time the deeply anti-Semitic Mr Teegan shut up about his imaginary Nakba and his constant vilification of one of the world’s strongest democracies. 

Without facts, he is asking Irish men and women to swallow a heap of lies, exaggerations, and gross misunderstandings. A great many Jews died in 1948, fighting against overwhelming odds, having survived Europe’s death camps only to find themselves facing extinction by Arab leaders who had supported Hitler. 

If Daniel Teegan has any shame, he should go to Israel, see for himself what a fine, open and tolerant country it is, and leave his obsessions behind. If he loves the Palestinians, he should try to persuade them to stop terrorism and accept the state they have been offered so many times.

Mise le meas,

Dr Denis Mac Eoin,

Distinguished Senior 

Fellow,

The Gatestone Institute,

New York.

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