ONE-SIDED STORY OF REFUGEES NEEDS CONTEXT
Professor Simon Baron Cohen ( JC, Nov 13) gives the Arab narrative of the Arab/Israel war in 1948.
He mentions the Arab refugees but omits Jewish refugees thrown out of Arab states. He mentions the so-called Israeli atrocities but fails to mention that many of the Arab states invaded Israel after it declared independence with the stated aim of killing every Jew in Palestine.
It is high time Arab countries took responsibility for their refugees (as Israel has done for its) instead of using them for political and propaganda purposes. Uri Rabin Redbridge, Essex
Professor Baron Cohen is somewhat anachronistic and selective on the facts he chooses on the roots of the Arab/Israeli conflict.
First, he refers to Palestinian land in the period before 1948; there was no such thing. Prior to the Paris Peace Conference at the end of WW1, this land was part of the Ottoman Empire. The Jews that had moved there lived on land sold to them by the Arabs. After the Conference, it was British mandated land, promised by the British to Jews and Arabs during WW1.
The professor then goes on to talk about the fighting around Lydda, overlooking the fact that this occurred three months after the War of Independence had begun. If the Jews had lost, it is arguable it would have ended in a massacre and not a long column of refugees.
Finally, he is keen to stress the figure of 700,000 Palestinians who left, many of whom it is widely chronicled did so under the encouragement of Abdul Nasser, who promised them better land and houses once the Jews were destroyed. What Professor Baron Cohen fails to mention is the almost equal number of Jews living in Arab countries who were expelled, and their assets confiscated, at the birth of the State of Israel. I yearn for peace but all the facts have to be presented and presented in context. Gerry Kandler London N3