To the Editor:
Last week’s opinion piece “Questioning Half-Truths” was appropriately subtitled, “Why we need more education about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Indeed, we do need more education.
The author attempted to reduce the founding of the state of Israel to the United Nations (UN) partition decision on November 29, 1947. In 1947, as the author stated, the United Nations General Assembly approved a partition plan, which divided the British mandate of Palestine between two states, one Jewish and one Arab, while placing Jerusalem under UN administration. It was not the UN’s partition plan, however, that led to the displacement of 750,000 Palestinian civilians over the course of the 1947-48 wars. The historical record is quite clear that the vast majority of the civilians were either expelled from Palestine by Zionist forces or fled in fear of massacres like those at Deir Yassin and al-Dawayima, where villagers, including women and children, were systematically killed by Israeli groups. Following the cessation of hostilities, the Israeli government – in defiance of UN General Assembly Resolution 194 – refused to allow the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.
These refugees included the grandparents of the author of a previous op-ed (“Modern Oppression,” April 14), who, as residents of West Jerusalem, would have resided under UN administration under the 1947 partition plan. Dismissing a fellow student’s narrative of his grandparent’s expulsion is problematic enough; doing so fallaciously is quite offensive. In attempting to attack the ideas in “Modern Oppression,” the author of “Questioning Half-Truths” herself engages in the telling of half-truths, or perhaps more accurately, full falsehoods.
On a larger level, “Questioning Half-Truths” bombastically characterized the previous op-ed as a hateful propaganda piece, engaging in ad hominem attacks against its author and in the process misreading and misinterpreting that article’s message. “Modern Oppression” was a critical piece reflecting on the past and present reality of Palestinian existence. It was itself a call for productive dialogue on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To dismiss such writing is to dismiss the very real voices of millions of Palestinians worldwide; it is to dismiss their reality. Then again, sometimes reality hits a little too hard.