First, the letter of the week from yesterday's Australian
Wrong on Israel
JOHN Lyons's article on historian Tom Segev ("Israeli widows reveal the reality of land built on myths", 11-12/8) made the absurd claim that before the "new" historians such as Segev, Israeli "children were taught that when Israel was established in 1948 it had been empty - it was a land without people for a people without land".
This is not true. There has certainly been criticism of past Israeli curriculums for having paid insufficient attention to the 1948 Palestinian refugees, and Palestinian plight generally, but students were never taught that the land was completely empty.
Indeed, the line about "a land without people for a people without land" has nothing to do with the 1948 refugees. It is the core of a twisted criticism of the whole Zionist movement from 1895 onward by Edward Said and his followers.
The misrepresentation is two-fold. First, while there was a slogan used by a small part of the Zionist movement for a few years after 1900 that spoke of "a land without a people for a people without a land", this is materially different from "a land without people". The early Zionists were aware that Palestine had Arab inhabitants but noted they were not considered a separate nationality or people at that time. But for those dedicated to Israel's destruction, such as Said, it is more convenient to dishonestly rewrite the slogan to pretend that the "racist" Zionists declared Palestinians were not people.
Moreover, to characterise Zionist and Israeli history on the basis of this single slogan, employed by a few Zionists for only a few years more than 100 years ago, is to indulge in the crudest form of propaganda.
Tzvi Fleischer, Australia-Israel Review, South Melbourne, Vic
Followed by a nasty piece of hearsay upon hearsay and more hearsay which does nothing other for me than to prove Tzvi Fleischer's proposition that it is more convenient for some to dishonestly rewrite history and "to pretend that the "racist" Zionists declared Palestinians were not people."
Terra Nullius myth
TZVI Fleischer claims history is being dishonestly misrepresented on the basis of a "single slogan" used by "a few Zionists for only a few years more than 100 years ago" (Letters, 14/8).
In 1935, my husband (then a teenager, now deceased) spent six months in a training camp for German Jews being prepared to work on kibbutzim in Palestine. He was told the land of Palestine was empty except for a few nomadic Arabs down in the desert. Similar "indoctrination" (my husband's word for the training) must have been practised on Australian Jewish youth in that period, as I've heard older Australians born and educated here reciting similar untruths. Funnily enough, another slogan I've heard recalled implicitly admits the land was already occupied and farmed: "Yard by yard, goat by goat."
Robyn Walton, Toorak, Vic