After having read Ray Fleming's article which was written in reply to a letter of mine which you so kindly printed, I am left wondering if he is ignorant of the facts or just highly selective in his use of them. For instance, he suggests that a fair starting point from which to study the problems of the Middle East would be 1917. It may seem fair to him but it is historically inaccurate. The sequence of events which ended with the birth of the State of Israel began not in 1917 but at the turn of the last century when Theodor Herzl came to an arrangement with the Tsar of Russia whereby any Jews wishing to return to Zion, (Zion means the Promised Land), could do so. These early settlers found their Zion a barren malaria-filled landscape. There were no Arabs living in the area at all. There were Arabs living in Jerusalem at that time but even then they were outnumbered by the local Jewish population.
I refer Mr Fleming to two books; The Innocents Abroad by Marc Twain, which is about his travels in the Middle East at the end of the nineteenth century, and the writings of the eminent British cartographer, Arthur Penrhyn Stanley on his visit to the area in the 1890s. Both confirm that this part of what was then the Ottoman Empire was devoid of human life. It was the early Jewish settlers who, by their willingness to pay good money for additional manual labour, caused many hundreds of impoverished Arabs to come to the area. It is quite inaccurate of Ray Fleming to talk of the Palestinians wanting their historical homelands back. The Palestinians are a hodge-podge amalgam of Arabs from all over the world. They are not an indigenous race that occupied the area for thousands of years. They came to the area only after the Jews had returned to their biblical homeland. As to the name Palestine, it does not now, nor it has ever existed in the Arab mind as a separate entity from the rest of the Arab territories. After the people of Eretz Israel were conquered and subjugated by the Romans in 70 AD, as a final insult to their beaten foe, the Romans renamed the country Philestinia, (the Philestines being the Israelites' bitterest enemy). Over time it was watered down to Palestine before finally falling into disuse.
It was the British who revived the name Palestine after the 1914-18 war during which the Ottoman Empire was finally destroyed and broken up. Another piece of ill-supported nonsense is Mr Arafat's claim of an Arab Jerusalem, a claim no doubt supported by Mr Fleming. The Arabs have no historical connection with Jerusalem. It is not even mentioned once in the Koran. Neither is there any mention in the Koran of Allah ascending to heaven from the area of Solomon's temple, (a.k.a. the Al Aksa Mosque). Incidentally, in the Jewish Talmud, (which is an ancient and learned Hebrew discourse on the Five Books of Moses), the sacred city of Jerusalem is mentioned 218 times! Lastly, to the title of Mr Fleming's piece, Why the Terror Will Continue, I will tell him that it will continue whilst the Arab TV, radio and press continue to pour out vile anti-Israel and anti-Jewish propaganda. It will continue whilst the Arab nations put anti-semitic and anti-Isreal lies and rubbish in their children's school books. It will continue whilst Muslim priests scream demands for Jihad and death to Jews. There will be no light at the end of the tunnel whilst this goes on. And Mr Fleming is not, I am afraid, helping anyone by trying to support totally insupportable Arab claims.
As to the other points he made in his article, to address these here would cause this letter to be too long. However if he wishes to contact me personally, I am quite willing to meet him and straighten him out on these outstanding points.
Ray Fleming comments: I chose the 1917 Balfour Declaration because it was the first time that Jewish immigration to Palestine was formally recognised and its conditions defined. Of the slightly earlier period, the Encyclopaedia Britannica refers only to promotion of immigration by the Zionist movement in the first two decades of the 20th century. If the Balfour Declaration had not been made the subsequent course of Jewish immigration to Palestine might have been very different.
Nowhere in my article did I refer to the Palestinians' historical homelands; I concentrated on land taken illegally from the Arabs at the time of Partition in 1948 and since the Six Day War of 1967. I wonder whether Mr Lee's disparaging description of the Palestinians as a hodgepodge amalgam of Arabs from all over the Arab world is altogether wise. If the term hodgepodge is acceptable at all in this context it can with much greater accuracy be used to describe the Jews of Israel who most certainly come from all over the whole world.