195. Letter-writer rewrites history

John Weiner’s letter of Nov. 25 contains historic inaccuracies that need to be corrected.
Mr. Weiner said that Great Britain “promised a homeland for the Jews and indicated the same for the Arabs.” Great Britain didn’t promise a homeland, much less a state for the Jews. In fact, it didn’t promise anything. According to the text of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, it viewed “with favor” the establishment of a “national home” for the Jewish people. It didn’t promise the same for the Arabs because they were already living in their homeland. It simply said that nothing should be done which may prejudice their civil and religious rights. To jump from a national home to a homeland requires a lot of imagination.
Mr. Wenier also said that “Jews and Arabs are racially both Semites.” If an Irish American decides to convert to Islam, his conversion will not make him Semite nor will it make Arabia his homeland. He will remain Irish and America will still be his homeland. The same is true with those who converted to Judaism, which was a proselytizing force over the years. In fact, the conversion of the ancestors of the Ashkenazi Jews, the Khazars, occurred in Europe in the 8th Century. It doesn’t take an anthropologist to notice that there is ethnically a difference between the Ashkenazi Jews and the Sepharadi Jews who are indeed Semites.
Rewriting history, like Mr. Weiner did, doesn’t serve the truth and can only obfuscate an issue that is already complicated.
December 1, 2000