History lesson misses the mark

Regarding the letter, “Most of territory has been taken’: The writer needs to read up on his history of Israel and Palestine. First of all, the West did not rip out a chunk of the Arabs’ country and give it to the Israelis. Jews have lived in the Holy Land continuously since the time of Joshua (c. 1400 B.C.). Secondly, modern emigration of Jews to the Land of Israel began in 1882, when the territory was under the control of the Ottoman Empire. (There has never been an Arab Palestinian state up to now.) The Jews purchased the land they settled.

When the U.N. proposed dividing the soon-to-be-terminated British mandate between a Jewish state and an Arab state in 1947, the Jews accepted the proposal but the Arabs did not. With no agreement in place when the British withdrew, the Jews declared the establishment of Israel along the proposed borders; its Arab neighbors promptly invaded in order to drive the Jews away entirely. Although many Arabs indeed fled the Israeli counterattack, many migrated voluntarily and many that demonstrated no hostility toward the Jews were allowed to stay.

In 1949, at the end of the war, Israel held the borders now commonly referred to as the “1967 borders.” After winning a defensive war against its neighbors in 1967, Israel, for largely defensive purposes, occupied the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, and the Sinai Peninsula (which was returned in 1978). To say that Israel “stole” the land by “invasion” is inaccurate to say the least. While I will admit that the settlements in the West Bank are a problem (Israel, recognizing the diplomatic problems its settlements were causing, withdrew from all its settlements in the Gaza Strip in 2005), to mischaracterize the history of the region and blame Israel for all the problems there is highly unfair.

Peter Scougale


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