Letters to the Editor: Disputing Israeli 'Ethnic Cleansing,' Camus in Jerusalem and a Dead Sea Alert

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Distorting 1948 war

In response to “Yes, Benny Morris, Israel Did Perpetrate Ethnic Cleansing in 1948,” October 14.

I do not know Prof. Daniel Blatman personally. From Wikipedia I learned that he was born in 1953, five years after Israel was founded and four years after the end of the War of Independence. I was there, and I saw fit to comment on his opinion piece. On November 30, 1947, the day after the United Nations voted for the Partition Plan, the War of Independence began. It was the Palestinian Arab community, with help from volunteers, that tried to forcibly prevent implementation of the resolution, to prevent the establishment of the Jewish state. The War of Independence was a “civil war,” with neither front nor rearguard lines, a war that was concentrated mainly along the roads. The Arab strategy was to cut off Jewish communities from the center; the battles were primarily on the routes to Jerusalem, the Negev and Galilee.

We knew that within a few months the British flag would be lowered and the minimal order that the British forces attempted to maintain would end with their withdrawal. We anticipated that with this would come the signal for the Arab armies to invade Palestine and prevent the establishment of the Jewish state. Military preparations based on the balance of forces prevailing on May 15 were needed. That was the background to Plan D – offensive actions aimed at establishing clear lines that would eliminate the need to battle the invasion force on the front while simultaneously fighting the Palestinian Arab enemy at the rear. In these circumstances, there was a need to take control of territory, occupy villages and expel/force the flight of the armed enemy, the Arab inhabitants, who remained behind.

We did it, and only a miracle and many sacrificed lives prevented the elimination of the Jewish community after the invasion of the Arab armies. To today regard the expulsion/flight of the Arab inhabitants back then as “ethnic cleansing,” in isolation from the larger picture of the conduct of the war, is to distort the truth, deceive the innocent reader and ignore the atrocities of the time. I can only repeat to Prof. Blatman the immortal words of Ephraim Kishon: “Forgive us for winning!”

Shlomo Gazit

Kfar Sava

Remember Camus

So, Lieberman and Netanyahu are boycotting the Joint List because their MKs refused to attend Shimon Peres’ funeral. This is rich. Perhaps Naftali Bennett and Miri Regev should (re)introduce Albert Camus’ “The Stranger” into the high school curriculum and the national culture basket. The novel’s protagonist, Meursault, a French Algerian like Camus, is sentenced to death solely because he did not cry at his mother’s funeral. (His crime - “by the way” – was fatally shooting an Arab, who was lying on the beach and pulled out a knife. Meursault was 10 meters away and bothered by the heat and the sun. After killing the Arab with his first bullet, he then shot him four more times)

Alyssa Dayan

Tel Aviv

Dead Sea is global issue

In response to “The Dead Sea Is Dying Fast.”

While Israel is right in not wanting outsiders to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the tragedy of the disappearing Dead Sea - a national as well as a global natural treasure - is another matter, however. What happened to the salty Aral Sea in Uzbekistan, once the fourth largest lake in the world, now all but gone, must not happen to the Dead Sea. The world’s leading scientists must find a solution to this ecological disaster.

Since Jordan borders the Dead Sea and Israel provides water to it under a treaty, why can’t the two co-operate to their mutual benefit? Why isn’t there a moratorium or reduction of the chemical industry based there? There must be a cost-benefit analysis if continued extraction of chemicals is worth the loss in tourism. As someone who lives in the Canadian province of Ontario, which has a staggering 250,000 lakes, I wonder why Israel, a can-do country, doesn’t value its handful of lakes.

Jacob Mendlovic


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