Helena Cobban's article, "Once Again Palestinians Must Die For Attention" (Op-Ed, Dec. 17), is reflective of the pattern of thinking of Arabists who are a part of the Washington establishment. Seeking to reconstruct the events of the Middle East within a limited time prism, Cobban presents to the readers of The Los Angeles Times a series of issues neatly setting aside the historical framework by which the issues on the West Bank and Gaza must be viewed.
Prior to the Israeli presence in these areas, Arab governments had the opportunity to resolve the refugee crisis. Neither Jordan nor Egypt, when given the challenge prior to 1967, were prepared to assist their Arab brethren.
Since Israel's inception in 1948, 400,000 Jews from Muslim lands have been absorbed into Israel. Why has no such opportunity for Arab resettlement occurred on the part of Muslim governments? Clearly, the blatant reality is to use these "refugees" as pawns in the international political campaign against Israel. The critics of Israel tend to forget the reality of this exchange of populations or opportunities for others to likewise participate in these tasks of salvaging lives.
It is troubling to note the singularity of focus given to this issue by commentators, such as Cobban and the press, where little attention has ever been paid to the status of Jews in Arab lands, one might cite with horror the chronology of Arab atrocities against others, including the slaughter of 10,000 Muslims in Hama, Syria or the hundreds of deaths reported in Mecca during this past year.