SIR – I was surprised to read R Storey’s letter (‘Argument that land was empty devoid of sense,’ June 9th)
First, Storey is writing about 1948, whereas I was writing about the middle of the 19th century – around 100 years earlier. In my letter, I explained that it was Jewish industry, enterprise and generous social conditions which attracted many Arabs, from surrounding countries, into the land and Story’s figures corroborate that.
Secondly, Storey omits to mention that the plight of the Arab refugees was caused directly by the fact that when the Palestinian Arabs were offered a state and independence (for the first time in history) in 1937 (by the Peel commission) and in 1947 (by the UN), they refused it and chose instead to join the five other Arab armies and invade the tiny Jewish state, on the day of its birth, in 1948.
This caused a war which lasted some 18 months and resulted in Arab refugees (many of whom were instructed to leave the land, to ‘clear the field for a major counter attack’ by their spiritual leader, the Grand Mufti). Incidentally, Storey may not know that, as a result of that war, there were many more Jewish refugees who were expelled from Arabs lands and were absorbed and integrated, with compassion and dignity, by the tiny state of Israel (in contrast to the way the vast and wealthy Arab states dealt with their refugees).
And, perhaps, when Story speaks of 70 massacres he mistakes that for massacres perpetrated by Arabs, not Israel. Had the Arabs accepted the offer of a state and independence and not attacked Israel, there would have been no refugees.
Thirdly, contrary to Storey’s unfounded allegations, Israel has fulfilled the letter and spirit of the Balfour declaration and, as it promised in its own declaration of independence, it has given all minorities every religious and political (persuasion) freedoms and rights. Indeed, the only place in the Middle East where Arabs (and Arab women) have complete and equal human, political and unfettered voting rights, is in Israel
And finally, to Storey and all the well-meaning people who genuinely support the Palestinian cause, may I suggest they persuade the Palestinian leadership to do the one thing they have never done – cease their hatred and belligerence and make genuine peace with Israel.
The minute they do that, Israel will be glad to end its occupation (just as it did with Egypt, when it made peace) and the Palestinians will have a state, independence, peace and prosperity.
Is that asking too much?