Middle East History, View through the Funhouse Mirror of Revisionism

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In "Aftershocks and the lessons of history," (Commentary, July 3) Cal Thomas shows exactly why achieving peace with justice in the Middle East is so difficult.

Mr. Thomas writes, "The success of Arab propaganda, Western betrayal and media ignorance has rewritten history in a manner that is positively Orwellian." Apparently, we are supposed to believe the ridiculous notion that the enemies of true peace in the Middle East are those brilliant "Arab propagandists," Westerners who somehow betrayed Israel, and ignorant American media professionals who have accepted revisionist Middle Eastern history. Anyone with knowledge of the Arab-Israeli conflict (including most Israelis) will tell you that it is Mr. Thomas who shows profound ignorance of the conflict in the Middle East.

For example, Mr. Thomas wraps quotes around the word Palestine and says it is "a word created out of nothing - such an entity has no historical parent." Furthermore, he writes, " `Palestine' was revived not by Arabs but by the British." However, in later arguments Mr. Thomas writes that "the League of Nations Mandate of 1922 recognized `the historic connection of the Jewish people with Palestine.' " Suddenly, the word "Palestine" has legitimacy! Interestingly enough, even the most hawkish elements in Israel acknowledge the historical existence of Palestine and the Palestinian people. This would place Mr. Thomas, somewhere to the right of Ariel Sharon on the Israeli political spectrum.

Later, Mr. Thomas quotes only the beginning of a historic document, stating, "The Balfour Declaration in 1917 promised the Jewish people a national home in `Palestine.'" He conveniently leaves out the end of this document, which roughly states that this will occur only insofar as it does not prejudice the rights of the existing population.

Furthermore, Mr. Thomas notes "the betrayal of Jewish people by the British, Americans, Arabs and others who once gave them aid and comfort. …