Voice of the People         The Halifax Herald         Aug. 30,2002


Historic fact

Dear Editor:

Naomi Honey's diatribe ("Palestine a region," Aug. 24) defies credibility and insults the intelligence of The Herald's readers.

Palestine has been known and documented as a country for many centuries, despite its being subjected to many successive foreign invasions. The maps and documents of the Ottoman era show conclusively Palestine as an entity distinct from what became known as Transjordan. Historians of all backgrounds recognize this historic fact.

As to the Palestinian people, their roots in this land are recorded by historians. Maxime Rodinson, professor of history at the Sorbonne University in Paris, and who is Jewish, stated: "The Arab population of Palestine was native in all senses of the word and their roots in Palestine can be traced back at least forty centuries."

The noted British historian, Professor Arnold Toynbee, in reference to the Balfour Declaration, where Lord Balfour, in 1917, was making an extraordinary act of "generosity," at the Palestinians' expense, "to establish in Palestine a national home for the Jewish people," stated: "We [the British] are taking it upon ourselves to give away something that was not ours to give. We were promising rights of some kind in the Palestinian Arabs' country to a third party."

The horrors of the conflict that people are watching today are a direct outcome of Israel's policy of ethnic cleansing and illegal occupation of the Palestinians' land, in violation of international law and repeated UN Security Council resolutions.

This occupation is practising the most violent acts of repression, state terrorism and war crimes, as confirmed by Human Rights Watch, Israeli human rights group B'Tselem and many international human rights bodies, all in violation of virtually every article of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The Palestinians are resisting this foreign occupation of their land, as they are entitled to do, in accordance with international law and the UN Charter.

Ismail Zayid, Halifax

Ethnic cleansing

Dear Editor:

Re: Naomi Honey's letter, "Palestine a region," Aug. 24. I asked myself, how would South Africans feel if we told them that South Africa is not a country, but a region in the south of the African continent?

The people of Palestine, who according to any English dictionary are called "Palestinians," are the largest refugee population on the face of the planet, and have been living under Israeli military occupation for 35 years.

Israel's first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, commented in 1956: "If I was an Arab leader, I would never make terms with Israel. This is natural: we have taken their country."

Political Zionists have a rich history of denying the existence of Palestinians in order to fulfil their conquest of Palestine. Such a tactic is not new - it is the tradition of conquerors to either deny the existence of the native population or classify them as "subhuman" to identify them as part of the animal life of the land to be conquered.

Until recently, the official Israeli historiography denied the existence of Palestinians. Golda Meir in the 1960s asserted that Palestinians did not exist. But thanks to many Israeli historians, who have the scholastic integrity to speak honestly about the issue, we know better.

For example, Benny Morris and Ilan Pepe assured us that between 600,000 and 750,000 people were expelled from Palestine in 1948, the year Israel was created.

Ms. Honey must be reminded the human and legal rights of Palestinians do not depend on her enlightened opinions and fictional information. The whole world knows what has been happening to Palestinians since 1948; their history is very well documented and their rights are ingrained in international law.

It was Josef Weitz, a leading Zionist of the "transfer" policy of Arabs in the 1920-40s who said, "The only solution is Eretz Israel (the Land of Israel) - without the Arabs - and there is no other way but to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighboring countries, transfer all of them - only with this transfer could the country absorb millions of our brothers."

Now how could this be anything but a premeditated plan of ethnic cleansing?

Denying any act of violence against an ethnic or a religious group - whether it is the Armenian genocide, the Jewish Holocaust, or the Palestinian expulsion - is an act of violence against those communities. This denial can only promote more violence and intolerance and therefore should not be circulated.

Hakem Rustom, Canadian graduate student, London School of Economics, London, England

Look me in the eye

Dear Editor:

Re: "Palestine a region," by Naomi Honey, Aug. 24. I was stunned to read the incredible level of ignorance in this letter.

I am Palestinian, I speak a Palestinian-dialect Arabic, I make Palestinian spiced foods, I listen to Palestinian-tuned music and I wear the distinctly Palestinian patterned kafiya (scarf). I may also add that my birthplace is Jerusalem.

It's high time Ms. Honey looked me in the eye and came to terms with my existence.

Rasha Ayouby, Montreal