Mu­tual re­spect

Jerusalem Post - - COMMENT & FEATURES -

When 19th-cen­tury Bri­tish Chris­tian Bible schol­ars James Finn and his wife El­iz­a­beth Anne (1850s), and Col. Claude Con­der (1870s) and oth­ers asked il­lit­er­ate na­tive farm­ers in Pales­tine for the names of lo­cal places, they were ab­so­lutely as­ton­ished that, as of­ten as not, these fel­lahin replied by us­ing the very same He­brew names as found in the Bible (as­sum­ing, of course, that the places were men­tioned there). Few Is­raelis know this, and most fel­lahin, if they ever did, seem to have for­got­ten.

This strongly sug­gests, to my mind at least, a pre-Arab, pre-Pales­tine, slightly abo­rig­i­nal prove­nance for the fel­lahin. Recog­ni­tion of this by Jews might be the be­gin­ning of the mu­tual re­spect called for in Daniel K. Eisen­bud’s “Con­flict casts pall on cap­i­tal ahead of Jerusalem Day” (June 5).

But what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gan­der, and fel­lahin, in their mod­ern-day in­car­na­tion as “Pales­tini­ans,” must also learn that the Jewish re­turn and re­set­tle­ment of the Land of Is­rael has been a central plank of Ju­daism for near on 2,000 years.

Both sides need to (re)ed­u­cate them­selves about the other. Di­a­logue, so far, has been a di­a­logue of the deaf. The bot­tom line is that fel­lah and Jew might well share a com­mon ori­gin, even though they seem to each other to be light years apart.

GE­OF­FREY BEN-NATHAN Lon­don/Jerusalem

The de­ci­sion was made thou­sands of years ago that we would re­turn, and here we are! It’s out of the realm of re­al­ity as mankind un­der­stands, at least ac­cord­ing to hu­man his­tory. But ev­ery civ­i­liza­tion has a his­tory ac­cord­ing to its own in­ter­pre­ta­tion.

We are a phe­nom­e­non. Our sur­vival was promised to us thou­sands of years ago, and we never lost sight of Jerusalem dur­ing cru­sades, in­qui­si­tions, pogroms and the Holo­caust.

While our ex­ile contributed to the well-be­ing of our host coun­tries, we were al­ways ac­cused of some kind of ul­te­rior plan. The only plan we ever prayed for, how­ever, and on a daily ba­sis, was our re­turn to Is­rael and Jerusalem.

We still give the na­tions of the world our best. Most for­eign­ers I’m in con­tact with are in awe of us, re­al­iz­ing how much we con­trib­ute. There is no place like Is­rael, and I’m so grateful I live here.

No so­ci­ety is per­fect, but what’s go­ing on here is a phe­nom­e­non.

ELISHEVA WEBERMAN Jerusalem

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