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August 10, 1984 - Image 42

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-08-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.



42 Friday, August 10, 1984

t7:1:t.:rosomerstttt,aart-r,- Kilemoos.W;rt.tr,

-

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

NEWS

ezeali6ur

Turning the Mideast debate

Continued from preceding page

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said refugees were habitual residents
who had spent their lifetimes in an
area. In the case of the. Arabs, that
was changed to define as a refugee
any Arab who had lived in Palestine
a total of two years.
And so 'was born the Palestinian
problem. The irony of that, says Pet-
ers, is that Arabs who weren't refu-
gees were proclaimed so and made
the focus of attention while, at the
same time, Jewish refugees from
Arab countries were ignored. How
ignored, says Peters, was clearly
demonstrated to her when she called
the Center for Middle Eastern
Studies of a prestigious American
university to ask a question about
Jewish refugees of 1948. The re-
sponse: "What Jewish refugees?"
In fact, 800,000 Jews were forced
to flee their homes in Arab counties
— in Egypt, Yemen, Syria, North Af-
rica. "For every refugee — adult or
child — in Syria, Lebanon or
elsewhere in the Arab world, there
was a Jewish refugee who fled from
the Arab country of his birth. For
every Arab who moved to neighbor-
ing lands, a Jew was forced to flee
from a community where he and his
ancestors may have lived for 2,000 -
years.
"At the very least, an equal
number of Jews were forced to flee,
robbed of all they owned. They went
to Israel to live in hovels and camps of .
the worst kind."
What that means, says Peters, is
that what occurred was not a dis-
placement but an exchange of popu-
lation with between 430,000 and
650,000 Arab's leaving Palestine and
going into "compatible areas where
they spoke the same language and
practiced the same religion" and
about 800,000 Jews being expelled
from Arab countries and returning to
their historic homeland guaranteed
them by international commitments.
But the cause of the Palestinian
problem that still exists today, Peters
says, is that Israel absorbed its new
population and the Arabs didn't, the
Arabs instead choosing to keep them
in refugee camps and use them as
political pawns in their continuing
fight against Israel.
"If it wasn't for politics," says
Peters,'"the problem of what to do

about the Palestinians could have
been solved long ago." Noting the
massive and successful exchange of
Hindus between India and Pakistan
and the resettlement of millions of
World War II refugees, Peters said,
"the number of Arab emigrants in-
volved in 1948 was, in truth, a far less
important number than those others.
It could easily have been handled."
But, says peters, "the heart of
the matter is not the Palestinian
Arab refugees or even Palestine. The
Arab leaders believe that by invent-
ing an age-old Arab-Palestinian
identity at the sacrifice of the well-
being and the very lives of the hap-
less Arab refugees themselves, they

Peters expected to find
reasons to be sympathetic
to the Palestinians and
critical of the Israelis. But
the more she learned, the
less things were ,coming
out the way she expected.

can pre-empt Jewish identification
with the Holy Land and accomplish
politically what they have failed to
achieve militarily — the destruction
of Israel'. That is the heart of the mat-
ter."
Peters hopes, though, that if
people use their heads and see the
facts for what they really are, things
in the Middle East might change.
"An inversion of history has taken
place. The whole situation has been
twisted, distorted, turned on its head.
I've tried to turn that situation on its
head, or really to turn things right
side up. The Arabs can't continue to
invoke history and moral rights as
claims, then deny history if it re-
bukes their claim. They can't have it
both ways.
"Now, we know considerations
we didn't know before. That's vital if
we want to find the road to a solution.
Now we know the facts and don't
have to continue this cynical rework-
ing of history for political ends. Be-
cause, in the end, continuing to do
that, benefits nobody — not Arabs,
not Jews."

New Testament nixed from GOP welcome kit

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Washington (JTA) — The
Dallas Host Committee for
the Republican National
Convention has removed
the copies of the New Tes-
tament from the welcome
kits it planned to give the
5,000 delegates and alter-
nates to the convention,
which begins Aug. 20. The
American Jewish Commit-
tee had lodged a protest
against plans to distribute
the Bibles, an AJCommit-
tee representatives said
Monday.
Hyman Bookbinder, AJ-
.
gton

representative, complained
to the White House last
week after the organiza
tion's Dallas chapter in-
, formed the Washington
office of plans to include the
New Testament as part of
various material in the in-
formation kits. Bookbinder
asked an assistant to
President Reagan to inves-
tigate.

"All this is part of a gen-
eral effort for formally
Christianize America, and
that's not what our found-
'ing lattierr4,3ws.n.tret1 itj3ka

country to be," Bookbinder
said.

Library fun
in Southfield

The Southfield Public Li-
brary summer program will
show the movie, Old Yeller
Wednesday at 2 p.m. in the
Marcotte Room of the li-
brary. "
This free program is for
school-age children. No
registration is required.. .

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