27 MARCH 1970, Page 26

Violence pays

Sir: I would like to comment on Mr Archi- bald Tober's letter (7 March). History is everything but 'dejective'. The historical nar- rative or the historical description of past states of affairs are determined solely by the narrator's ideology, moral code and interests. The history of Palestine taught in Israeli schools has nothing in common with the one taught in Egyptian or Jordanian schools; that is so because Israelis claim a certain body of facts to be relevant and discount all other, and vice versa.

Since this is the normal human procedure employed I would be reluctant to claim that Mr Tober is simply lying. I would rather ask what is implied by the history of Palestine he claims to be true. He implies that (1) a person that has no 'roots' in a country and flees from the calamities of war loses all rights of property and return, (2) that the rights of the Jews to have a 'little piece of land of their own' (which is, by the way, not so very little today), entitles them to confiscate 300,000 acres of 'rootless' Arab lands and hand them over to the Jewish national fund and the Israeli land administration for the purpose of populating them solely by the Jews (no new Arab settlement has been established in Israel since 1948).

I would very much suspect that Mr Tober would be reluctant to universalise such a code of morality. We, Israelis and Jews, should try to remember something; that the predicate 'rootless' has been too often ascribed to us and far too many atrocities against Jews have been justified by it. I wonder how Mr Tober would react if Ger- many would refuse Jews the right of repatria- tion and/or return, by the argument that since Jews had no real roots in Germany they have no rights of repatriation and/or return. True. German Jews have fled from extermination, while Palestinians have fled for fear of war, but does this make their rights less inalienable?

Uri Davis 104/22 Brazil Street, Jerusalem, Israel