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Palestinians not 'strangers' in their land

by
10 August 2012

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From the Revd David Willis

Sir, - Your correspondent from Israel (Letters, 27 July) unwittingly highlights the vast gulf in world-views surrounding the rights of Palestinian people.

I will leave aside his somewhat confusing use of scripture and also accept for the sake of this argument (but not as a matter of fact) his conjecture that there were no Arabs and no Palestine until "Arabs as a people arrived in the land of Israel in the seventh century as conquerors and occupiers." He then refers to the current situation, and says that "The Arab, as a stranger, must be provided with all human rights and civil liberties and social freedoms."

I suggest that in this seemingly innocent remark lie the seeds of the injustices and inequities that we see in present-day Israel and the Occu­pied Palestinian Territories.

By his own reckoning, the "Arabs" have considered their home as Palestine for about 1300 years. My own ancestors are reckoned to have arrived on British shores about the time of William the Conqueror, a mere 946 years ago. I would be initi­ally amused, but then, when it be­came apparent that they were serious, offended and alarmed if anyone, especially the British Government, considered me as a "stranger", no matter how many rights, liberties, and freedoms it bestowed on me in its magnanimity.

Palestinians are not "strangers" in their land (Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza) any more than I and my family are in this country, although they have been made strangers for the past 64 years. Progress will be made only when they are respected as indige­nous and treated as equals in every way with the rest of society.

This, of course includes, but is not exclusive to, the Christian Palestin­ians, whom I have had the privilege of meeting, many of whom can date their own ancestry in the land from the days of Jesus. They were, and are, truly the living ex­ample of both the disciples' question and Jesus's answer in Acts 1.6-8.
DAVID WILLIS
33 Boystown Place, Eastry
Sandwich, Kent CT13 0DS

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