"Strange" letter in The Irish Times
Rights of Palestinians
Madam, - In talking about Palestinian refugees' right to return to Israel, Raymond Deane, Chairman of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, speaks of Jewish people returning, "after almost 2,000 years, to a country that happens to be inhabited by another people" (January 25th).
As he will know, the Jews have lived continuously throughout the Middle East, and in the Palestine/Israel land mass in particular, for more than 3,000 years. Their history of defeat, persecution and pogroms by, successively, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Crusaders and Arabs attests to this.
Thus their right to continued settlement is at least equal to that of the Arabs.
As for the 750,000 Palestinian refugees who fled or were pushed out in the 1947/48 war launched and lost by the Arabs, why are they and their descendents still refugees? A similar number of Jews fled or were pushed out of Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and other Arab countries as a result of the same conflict, not to mention the millions fleeing from Europe.
Every single one was absorbed by fellow Jews, mainly in Israel, and given citizenship.
Why have the Palestinians never been absorbed by their fellow Arabs? How many Palestinians hold Saudi passports?
The Palestinian refugee problem exists only because of:
(a) Israel's refusal to massacre them in 1948, as it could have (who doubts that the Jews would have been massacred had they lost?)
(b) the disdain of fellow Arabs for Palestinians ever since.
Meanwhile, the recent election of Mahmoud Abbas, who promotes a combination of toughness and non-violence towards Israel, gives the Palestinians the first chance of a peaceful resolution to their piteous situation in a generation. - Yours, etc.,
Mr. Allwright has made some shocking statements in todays Irish Times, although the printing of his letter may have been in the interests of attempting to provide a fair and balanced account, it has however made for quite uncomfortable reading. In a sweeping acerate condensation of the conflict Mr. Allwright states: "The Palestinian refugee problem exists only because of: (a) Israel's refusal to massacre them in 1948, as it could have (who doubts that the Jews would have been massacred had they lost?) (b) the disdain of fellow Arabs for Palestinians ever since."
This is one of the most shameful statements I have read in this paper. We are to believe that it was Israeli restraint in not culling the remaining Palestinains and/or the fact that fellow Arabs have not welcomed them into their countries in the following years the reason for the refugee status of the population.
Why does the fact that other Arab countries have not aided the Palestinians sufficiently have any bearing on the situation. Is it their responsibility to address the situation any more than it is ours?
He says, quite rightly that [Israeli] "right to continued settlement is at least equal to that of the Arabs" and this is the very reason a two state solution is being sought. This unfortunately [has been] "unilaterally blocked for the last 30 years by the US" (Noam Chomsky). And while this stalement continues to exist, the most basic of human rights is being violated "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country" (article 13, Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Even on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz we have yet to learn the lessons it was said to have taught us.