Whose land?

By manipulating statistics to show that the Arabs were always a majority in Palestine (Letters, 13 November), Roderick Walters fails to point out that the 1914 figures would have included Jordan. He omits to mention that Jerusalem had a Jewish majority, and that while the Arab population in Palestine increased eight-fold, mostly through illegal immigration in the Twenties and Thirties, growth of the Jewish population was artificially curtailed by the British.

Still, today, some 66 per cent of Israel is desert. Arab absentee landowners were only too happy to sell to the Jews at inflated prices. If Israel "stole the land", what of the lands stolen from Jews expelled from elsewhere in the Middle East - an area the size of Hungary? What about "their" stolen assets: schools, hospitals, synagogues, businesses and homes? By rights, the Arabs would have to restore 40 per cent of Baghdad to the Jews, as well as most other Middle Eastern cities which were once heavily populated by them.

London SW5

This article first appeared in the 20 November 2006 issue of the New Statesman, Missing presumed tortured