Israel was not established as compensation for the Holocaust

IN his feature article (May 19), Elias Khoury perpetuates many falsehoods about the history of Israel which I would like to challenge.

He overlooks the fact that there has been a continuous Jewish presence in the land of Israel since biblical times.

In addition, the Jewish community that existed before 1947 in what became Israel, was comprised not of “new invaders”, but rather a people seeking refuge, returning to live in peace in the land of their forefathers, their historic birthplace.

Khoury is wrong also to insinuate that Israel was created as compensation for the Holocaust. The fact is that the state of Israel was established in 1948 after more than 50 years of diplomatic and political efforts by the Zionist movement to establish a Jewish state in their historic homeland where a permanent Jewish presence had blossomed and grown.

Regarding Khoury’s assertion that the Jewish population wished to empty the land of Arabs, the historical record tells precisely the opposite. Organised attacks on isolated Jewish communities took place as early as 1920. In 1929, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini (later a Nazi collaborator), orchestrated riots that killed dozens of Jews throughout the country.

Many of those deaths were in Hebron, bringing an end to more than 2,000 years of continuous Jewish life in that town.

The Arab revolt of 1936-’39 was led by al-Husseini to prevent plans to establish a Jewish state and led to further killings of Jews by his forces.

Again in 1947, when the UN Special Commission held its hearings, al-Husseini boycotted it, warning that any partition would lead to bloodshed.

True to his word, immediately on the passing of the UN Resolution of November 29, 1947 for the creation of Jewish and Arab states, he launched a severe countrywide assault on the Jewish community.

On the issue of the Palestinian refugees, the fact is that the majority left because they were advised to do so by either Palestinian or Arab leaders or commanders in expectation of an early return following an Israeli defeat.

Historical records and statements by the Syrian and Iraqi prime ministers of that time, and even the current Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, testify to this.

Finally, Khoury overlooks that there were places where Jews pleaded with Palestinians not to leave such as in the cities of Haifa and Tel Aviv.

In the same period more than 800,000 Jews fled their homes in the Arab countries, many of them going to Israel as refugees. Today only a handful of Jews reside in Arab states whereas there are more than 1.5 million Arabs who are citizens of Israel.

Unfortunately, the Arab rejection of the Jewish state in 1948 was part of trend that started long before the Second World War.

In 1937, an earlier partition plan proposed by the Peel Commission that would have created an Arab state beside a Jewish one was rejected by the Palestinians. Since the revolt from 1936 to 1939, it was clear the Arab objection was not to any particular way of dividing the land, but to the very existence of any Jewish state in the region.

This attitude was evident most recently in 2000, when the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, walked away from the negotiations and led his people once more into the futility of terrorism and the second intifada. Throughout the years Israel has shown its willingness for peace through treaties with two former adversaries, Egypt and Jordan.

In 2005, Israel pulled its army and all Jewish settlers out of Gaza.

Unfortunately, the result has been the emergence of a hostile entity controlled by the Hamas terrorist organisation.

Since January, more than 840 rockets have been fired from Gaza at southern Israel, killing innocent civilians, destroying schools, kindergartens, hitting hospitals and, recently, a crowded shopping centre in Ashkelon.

However, Israel continues to seek peace and is involved in negotiations on core issues of the conflict with the Palestinian Authority with the stated goal of realising a two state-solution — Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people and the future state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinians.

Nadav Cohen

Counsellor

Embassy of Israel

Dublin

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