(Dear Andy) James Avenell's intemperate language and wild exaggeration (Letters) must notprevent Britain from honouring modern Israel's 60th birthday. The conflict of long ago had faults on both sides. After we promised the League of Nations to facilitate "close Jewish settlement" in their ancient homeland, Jewish enterprise reclaimed desert, swamp and rock to provide food and jobs to both Arab and Jew. But we gave three-quarters of the territory away to an emir in Arabia to create (Trans)Jordan - barred to Jews - and then allowed unlimited Arab immigration into the remainder while restricting entry to Jews, many of whom consequently perished in the Holocaust.
Moreover, while Jewish inhabitants fought for us in the Jewish Brigade in World War II, the Mufti of Jerusalem, el-Husseini, spent the war at Hitler's side recruiting Muslims to fight us in Europe, having previously fomented anti-Jewish riots to "slaughter" Jewish "cannon fodder" (to use Mr Avenell's vocabulary) on the Mufti's home ground. It was to protect their families in kibbutzim and moshavim from murderous Arab infiltrators that the Jews (many trained by our own Brigadier Orde Wingate for the very purpose) took up arms - for which "offence" some were later hanged on British orders, leading to a couple of retaliatory hangings and the blowing up of British HQ, the King David Hotel, after due warning - which, sadly, we ignored.
Of course, all of this sorry tale is regrettable. We should have stuck by our international obligations and the Palestinian Jews - the name "Palestinian" was not used for local Arabs until Egyptian-born Arafat adopted it in 1964 - should doubtless have exercised restraint. But they were fighting for a Promised Land - by God and man - and even after the rebirth of Israel by UN vote in 1948 they had to fight for their rights against five invading Arab armies (including the British-led Jordanians) with such weapons as our military leaders had not discovered and confiscated.
Today, the bitterness has long gone and Israel is a staunch ally. The Queen has recognised it and it behoves the likes of Mr Avenell to calm down.
(Yours sincerely)WALLY LEAF, Wembley
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