July 20, 2006
Letter to the NY Times Editor:
In today’s edition of the Times, Mr. Mohamed Khodr quotes the historian Arnold Toynbee about the Jews and Palestine to support his argument that the United States has been unfair in its support of Israel. According to Mr. Khodr, the Israelis had indiscriminately killed many more innocent Lebanese than the Hezbollah had killed Israelis. What he conveniently left out is that so-called innocent Lebanon has been the willing “host” to this known and recognized terrorist group of brigands. This group, despite the UN Resolution 1559, which called for its disarmament, has terrorized northern Israel for years with hundreds of missile attacks.
With regards to Toynbee, one has to only read D.C Somervell’s abridged version of Toynbee’s A Study in History, volume two, pages, 177-8, to see how anti-Semitic he was. Toynbee attempts to couch his own prejudices by making all sorts of accusations about the founding of Israel, and the rise of Zionism, coinciding with the rise of German neo-anti-Semitism in the pre-1918 German-speaking territories of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In reality the land of Israel, which had been the ancestral home of Jewry for thousands of years, was made virtually Judenrein, free of Jews, by the “Diaspora” caused by outside conquerors (Babylonians and Romans). European anti-Semitism, brought to a disastrous crescendo by the Nazis obviously accelerated the demand for a Jewish Homeland. Toynbee talks about the dispossession from the land of Palestine of hundreds of thousands of Arabs. Again he conveniently forgets that first of all Jews always lived in that area of the world, and second of all Jewish settlers paid for their land, mostly unoccupied desert, from the Ottoman Turks, who controlled Palestine and from absentee Egyptian landholders. The Palestinians and the Arab world rejected the UN partition in 1947, war ensued, and many Palestinians voluntarily left their homes encouraged by the prospects of a quick Arab victory over the nascent Jewish State.
Ironically the Arabs want it both ways. They want to refer back to their so-called dispossession as a result of their losses in the 1948 war, but they also want to ignore the earlier history that Jews lived on that land two thousand years before the Common Era. Peace can come to the Middle East when the Arab states stop their own endless fratricide and recognize that keeping Israel as their ultimate scapegoat won’t solve their problems.
Richard J. Garfunkel