ONE-SIDED STORY OF REFUGEES NEEDS CON­TEXT

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT -

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

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