By industry, by vision, and by suffering Jews made the land new again. As prosperity grew so immigration also increased. Foremost among immigrants in this land, which the leaders of the Arab nationalist movement saw, together with the British, as a Jewish national home, were Arabs, the Arabs of the surrounding countries. Moving across borders attracted by good wages and rising standards of living they joined the work force. Between 1922 and 1939 for example, the Arab population of the port city of Haifa expanded by almost 200 per cent. When in 1948 the Arab world, having turned down the partition of the part of Palestine that still remained of the Jewish national home (80 per cent had already been given to the Emir Abdullah), invaded the “upstart” Jewish state that had dared to challenge the totality of Arab/Islamic rule, it was these same Arab immigrants of the inter-war years who now, heeding the call of the Arab world, fled to become the Palestinian refugees. They did not leave behind them vast land holdings and the rich orchards implied in the agricultural fantasies of Elisabeth Elliot; neither did they settle the “choice” plain of Sharon or cultivate Jaffa oranges. The Sharon was practically a malarial swamp, unsettled agriculturally until after World War I, while the Jaffa orange was introduced by Jewish settlers.

This disregard for the truth and an adherence to the propaganda fantasies of Damascus and Beirut seems to be the dominant theme of Elliot’s article. Take for example the claim that thousands of olive groves and vineyards on cultivated hill terraces have dried up for lack of Israeli knowledge. The truth is not that they have dried up for lack of knowledge, but rather because superior knowledge and technique has brought previously barren and swamp land into cultivation. Or take the sly half-truth that the war of 1967 “finally got for the Jews what they wanted above all else, all of Jerusalem.” As if the Jews had not been a majority of the city’s population since the first half of the nineteenth century; as if the Jewish Quarter had not been destroyed and its inhabitants expelled by the Arab Legion; as if Judaism’s holiest site, the Western Wall, and the Jewish Quarter had not been closed to Jews for nineteen years of Jordanian rule and its holy sites desecrated beyond understanding. The fact is that Israeli rule of a reunited Jerusalem has for the first time in history assured the tranquility of all holy places and guaranteed access to the adherents of all faiths, something that neither Jordan nor Saudi Arabia have ever been willing to do in their custodianship of holy places.

It is insensitive and insulting to imply that the Jews of Israel are an ungodly people, with faiths only in themselves. While only a small proportion are orthodox Jews a very high proportion observe the traditional rites, study the Bible, and keep the traditional faith in the special tasks allotted the Jewish people, among them to be a light unto the nations.

Any consideration of Israel and her deeds must take account both of this faith and of the strong Jewish adherence to the moral precepts that gave the world the Ten Commandments and that have guided Jewish family and society ever since. A cool consideration of the Middle East must also take into account not only the fantasy of the Arab as a primeval moral innocent, but also the image that has come out of the carnage of the Lebanese Civil War and the five wars of aggression against Israel. This is the side of the Arab character that has been presented to Israel and to which Israel is forced to relate. Israel is a small country. Faced with the massive strength of arms, of manpower (President Sadat was ready to sacrifice a million Egyptians for a few square miles of desert), and of petrodollars wealth, it must be honest with itself, and it must place its security interests above all other considerations.

The Arab world can afford to lose a battle in its war with Israel. Israel, however, cannot even afford to lose a skirmish. It can, however, search for practical and realizable solutions to the problems that face it. Above all it can, and has, produced sensitive and human solutions to the conflict. Not the swamping of the only independent Jewish country in the world by a million Moslem Arabs backed by the armed force of the entire Arab world and the propaganda machine of the Soviet bloc, but a proposal for the resettlement and rehabilitation of the refugees, as Israel absorbed its refugees, and the meeting of all Egyptian territorial claims. In this settlement would be justice carrying the seeds of future peace. In a surrender to the revanchist demands of Palestinian terror or the dictates of Egyptian pride there would be only the seeds of future war, more suffering, and more distress.

The little chickens of the old Arab will not be returned to him. They never existed; except in his imagination. Now he makes of his dream a reality and convinces the innocent wide-eyed American tourist or journalist that an injustice has been done. One day the old Arab will have new chickens. But to benefit from them he must live in peace with his neighbor. He may continue to deal dishonestly with the casual tourist, but with his neighbors he must deal honestly. He must wash away the bitterness of his dream and face a new day.—ARIEL KEREM, Information Department, Embassy of Israel, Washington, D.C.

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