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LETTER: Background of conflict has been 'conveniently forgotten'

'If one group decides to dehumanize another it dehumanizes itself in the process,' laments letter writer
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

OrilliaMatters welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected] or via the website. Please include your full name, daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to a letter about LU Solidarity with Palestine, published May 11, and Check facts on Israel, Palestine before making demands published May 12.

I have read with interest the two most recent letters re: the situation in the Middle East and Palestine/Israel in particular. I believe that it is important to remember that the situation did not begin in October 2023, but over 100 years ago.

During WWI the British government issued the Balfour Declaration promising the Zionists a homeland in the region. Two things to note. Firstly, this was to obtain financial backing from Jewish banks to fight the war and secondly there was no mention of a state, just a homeland. Of course, the Brits being imperialists had already promised the Arabs that once the Turks were defeated, with Arab support, the land would be theirs. Initially they kept neither promise and kept the territory using their power in the League of Nations.

Between the wars the region changed. Firstly you had the presence of the British Army and secondly you had the immigration of European Jews. The Zionist movement had a slogan at that time which said, "Palestine is a land without people and Jews are a people without land." However, surprise, surprise, there were an estimated one million Arabs living there.

This gave rise to several Jewish terrorist groups of which the Stern Gang and Irgun are notable. These cells attacked the British and Arabs, targeting dignitaries, soldiers, peasants, hotels, barracks and Palestinian villages. They instituted a reign of terror and created the “Palestinian refugee.” 

The Brits, worn out by WWII and a terror campaign, withdrew and Begin, a Stern Gang leader, declared a State of Israel, which was eagerly supported by the Truman government of the U.S.A. Probably a payback for very generous donations to his recent election campaign.

This background seems to have conveniently been forgotten here in the West and I have left a lot out but it can be checked. I would like to add that I was fortunate to have met both representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Israeli UN delegation some 40 years ago. The meetings lasted about an hour. 

The PLO were young and stuck largely to the loss of land and Israeli laws affecting them. They also responded to questions re: bombing etc. The Israelis spent a lot of their time with ad hominems attacking the humanity of the Palestinians. This latter approach has been very effective in influencing the West's decision-making.

I have no axe to grind in this matter only a desire to see justice done and an end to the meaningless slaughter of thousands of innocent women, children and elderly. 

I don't believe that the deaths are warranted or wanted by humanity at large but I am convinced that if one group decides to dehumanize another it dehumanizes itself in the process and is capable of carrying out the horrors that we witness daily.

Tom Lyons