14 JULY 1961, Page 14

SIR,—In his letter published in your issue of June 23,

Mr. Kimche says: 'According to Musa Alami, 400,000 Arabs left Palestine while the British Admini- stration and some 50,000 British troops remained in charge' (my italics). This quotation, out of context, is another example of the distortion and misrepre- sentation resorted to by Zionist propagandists. Musa Alami did say on page 17 of his book, The Lesson of Palestine, that 400,000 Arabs had left Palestine by May 15 in 1948 when the mandate was officially ter- minated and the last British troops left Haifa. But the crucial point here is that this exodus did not take place while the British Administration and troops were in effective charge of Palestine. In fact, the British authorities had declared, as soon as the partition resolution was passed, that they would leave the country on or before May. 15, and further, that they would start at once a gradual withdrawal of their troops from their various positions in Pales- tine to an evacuation base (Haifa). The major towns evacuated by the British before May 15 were New Jerusalem, i.e. the area jointly occupied by Arabs and Jews and where the Jews were predominant. Some 100,000 Arabs left as the British troops with- drew from that area and the near-by villages. Jaffa was the next city to be evacuated by the British, and again more than 100,000 Arabs had to leave it in this case in twenty-four hours, because that was the time limit beyond which the British authorities said they would not be able to protect them. Jaffa was being bombed and bombarded by the Jews from Tel Aviv, and the British, as in all cases, told the Arabs that they could not defend them. Refugees from Jaffa left by sailing boats, by all other kinds of sea- craft, and by trucks going inland under Jewish fire. Tiberias was another Arab city to be evacuated, and so on. By May 15 the only British troops left in the country were in Haifa, and as they withdrew the Arabs were forced to leave because of continuous attacks by the Jews and, warnings by the British that they could not protect them.—Yours faithfully,