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May 1, 2008
To the Editor,
From Maurice Ostroff
Re “We’re not celebrating Israel’s anniversary” (The Guardian April 30), I believe the motivation of the signatories is sincere, though based on misinformation and I assume they would not have signed this letter unless they believed the accuracy of the contents.
And because I believe in their sincerity, I assume they are open to consider verifiable information that may lead to reconsidering their opinions.
For example “the infamous massacre at Deir Yassin” of which they write, was contradicted by no less than Arab eye-witnesses in a 1998 BBC interview which can be viewed on YouTube at the link shown above. Hazem Nusseibeh, an editor of the Palestine Broadcasting Service’s, admitted that on the instructions of Palestinian notable Dr. Hussein Khalidi, he fabricated a false press release stating that at Deir Yassin atrocities were committed including murder of children and rapes of pregnant women. Another interviewee, Abu Mahmud, emphatically denied the atrocity and rape stories.
Nusseibeh, told the BBC that the fabricated atrocity stories about Deir Yassin were “our biggest mistake,” because “Palestinians fled in terror” and left the country in huge numbers after hearing the atrocity claims.
As the signatories seem to be under the impression that all Israeli attacks on Arab villages were unprovoked, I strongly recommend that they visit Arab villages, which remained neutral in 1948 such as the flourishing village of Abu Ghosh. Mohammed Abu Ghosh has been quoted as saying, “What we did, we did for Abu Ghosh, for nobody else. Others who lost their land, hated us then, but now all over the Arab world, many people see we were right. If everyone did what we did, there’d be no refugee problem . . . And if we were traitors? Look where we are, look where they are.”
If, as concerned humanitarians, the signatories wish to contribute towards a better life for Palestinians, I respectfully suggest that they address the greatest stumbling block to a peaceful solution, the continuing daily inculcation of hate in mosques and schools. In a typical sermon, Sheik Muhammad Ibrahim Al-Madhi, called for turning Jews and Christians into Ahl-Dhimma [protected second rate citizens] under Muslim rule. Note that the hate is directed at Christians as well as Jews.
Nor can the signatories be unperturbed by the indoctrination of even infants as typified in an interview broadcast on Iqra TV in which three-and-a-half year old Egyptian girl, Basmallah, is taught that Jews are apes and pigs. (See link above, re incitement)
We’re not celebrating Israel’s anniversary
This article appeared in the Guardian on Wednesday April 30 2008 on p33 of the Leaders & reply section. It was last updated at 12:44 on April 30 2008.
In May, Jewish organisations will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. This is understandable in the context of centuries of persecution culminating in the Holocaust. Nevertheless, we are Jews who will not be celebrating. Surely it is now time to acknowledge the narrative of the other, the price paid by another people for European anti-semitism and Hitler’s genocidal policies. As Edward Said emphasised, what the Holocaust is to the Jews, the Naqba is to the Palestinians.
In April 1948, the same month as the infamous massacre at Deir Yassin and the mortar attack on Palestinian civilians in Haifa’s market square, Plan Dalet was put into operation. This authorised the destruction of Palestinian villages and the expulsion of the indigenous population outside the borders of the state. We will not be celebrating.
In July 1948, 70,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes in Lydda and Ramleh in the heat of the summer with no food or water. Hundreds died. It was known as the Death March. We will not be celebrating.
In all, 750,000 Palestinians became refugees. Some 400 villages were wiped off the map. That did not end the ethnic cleansing. Thousands of Palestinians (Israeli citizens) were expelled from the Galilee in 1956. Many thousands more when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza. Under international law and sanctioned by UN resolution 194, refugees from war have a right to return or compensation. Israel has never accepted that right. We will not be celebrating.
We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land. We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state that even now engages in ethnic cleansing, that violates international law, that is inflicting a monstrous collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza and that continues to deny to Palestinians their human rights and national aspirations.
We will celebrate when Arab and Jew live as equals in a peaceful Middle East.
Cllr Jonathan Bloch
Prof. Haim Bresheeth
Dr. Linda Edmondson
Brian Fisher MBE
Yael Oren Kahn
Prof. Adah Kay
Prof. Eleonore Kofman
Prof. Yosefa Loshitzky
Prof. Emeritus Moshe Machover
Miriam Margolyes OBE
Dr. Brian Robinson
Prof. Steven Rose
Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead
Prof. Frances Stewart