(the following LTE was published in the Toledo Blade on May 12, 2008, and in the Chronicle Telegram and the Oberlin News-Tribune during May, 2008)
A recent spate of wrong-headed diatribe by columinsts attacking former President Carter's peace mission to Palestine requires a history lesson.
Prior to WWI, Palestine had been under the thumb of the Ottoman Turks for over five centuries. Palestinians were a mixture of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Many Christians and Muslims were themselves Jewish converts to Christianity or Islam. A remarkable degree of tolerance was practiced; it was not uncommon to see all three faiths represented at family reunions as late as the 20th century.
Palestine's problems began when the British approached them with the promise of independence if they helped the British against the Turks, who had allied with German. The Palestinians agree.
After the war, the British reneged. T.E. Lawrence was incensed that his government was out to betray the Palestinians. He complained loudly at Versailles. "Lawrence of Arabia" did not know that the British made a deal with Lord Walter Rothschild who had agreed to bankroll Britain's war effort in return for a Zionist state in Palestine. Lawrence was later killed in a suspicious hit-and-run accident.
There was much opposition to Rothschild's dream. It would take World War II and Adolf Hitler's death camps to bring European Jews to Palestine. When they arrived, they too often allowed Hitler's faults to take revenge on themselves. They terrorized the Palestinians, who fled for the hills, then promptly occupied their homes. Today Palestinian Christians and Muslims , many more Hebrew-blooded than their oppressors, live under apartheid in tent cities.