The Real Palestinians | Letters | Chicago Reader

The Real Palestinians 

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To the editors:

For what purports to be an attack on "mendacity," today's letter from Dina DiLorenzo [November 15] contains a remarkable number of "facts" that are the very thing decried. To list a few:

1. The "Palestinians" are the indigenous population of the Land of Israel. Archaeology testifies that the Jews preceded them by many centuries. When the Romans conquered the country and renamed it "Palestine" they found only Jews. The first Arabs, who originated in Saudi Arabia, didn't arrive until the great Muslim conquests of the seventh century. Indeed, the bulk of those who today call themselves "Palestinians" are descended from people who migrated to the country after 1840. Even their family names testify to this: one of the most common ones is Masri or al-Masri, meaning Egyptian. As the Jews had two kingdoms there and maintained a continuous presence in the country except for a brief period during the Crusaders' massacres, they and not the Arabs are the indigenous ones.

2. The Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria (the so-called "West Bank") are "illegal." Under whose law--Saudi Arabian? The territory in question was illegally seized by Jordan in 1948--an annexation recognized by no nation except Pakistan and Great Britain--and taken by Israel during a defensive war in 1967. Israel has as good a claim on it in international law as anyone. Some experts in the subject, such as Eugene Rostow, think she has the best one.

3. The "Palestinians" are descendants of the biblical Canaanites and Philistines. There is not a shred of evidence for this claim. Indeed, the Arabs who now call themselves "Palestinians" didn't even start to do so until well after the State of Israel was established. Before 1948, they called themselves "Arabs" and it was the Jews who called themselves Palestinians.

The real truth is that the so-called Palestinians are squatters on the Jewish homeland who have not been willing to acquiesce in the return of the rightful owner. That is the stuff of many an English novel, but it doesn't merit the sympathy due a "dispossessed" indigenous population. All the more so when we recall, as DiLorenzo didn't, that they still are the majority in 77 percent of historic Palestine, the Kingdom of Jordan. If they don't like being ruled by King Hussein it's an internal Arab dispute which doubtless will be settled in the usual violent way of such matters.

Zalman Gaibel

W. Touhy

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