Via Alert and Alarmed, an interesting series of Letters to the Editor published in the UK Independent during August 2006, which you won't see any time soon in a major U.S. publication.
Sir: Last month I celebrated my eightieth birthday. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to live so long. I survived four years in Vienna under Nazi rule, and three years in concentration camps. When I was liberated in Germany I never thought of revenge, all I wanted was to start a new life in my own country. It never entered my mind to go among Germans and blow them up or revenge myself in any way.
I have been here now for 58 years. In spite of everything we have built a beautiful, vibrant country. Israel has been a state for all these years and still a great part of the world debates whether to recognise us or not. No other country's right to exist is ever questioned; why us?
I know there are many reasons that I could name, but hatred is the driving force. Anti- Semitism is stronger than ever, even if is called by another name like anti-Zionism. Our history has been so twisted out of shape that people have forgotten that the Jews in the British occupied Palestine were called Palestinians. When I was a child in Vienna, people used to shout at us "Jews to Palestine." Now that I have lived the greater part of my life here, it seems I still have no right to my own country. Where can I go? I certainly can't go back to Vienna, which is a huge cemetery for me: almost everybody I knew there was murdered. ...
Lucy Mandelstam, Netanya, Israel
Sir: Lucy Mandelstam, writing from Israel, states that, aged 19 in 1945, on being released from a concentration camp, "All I wanted to do was start a new life in my own country".
Yet Palestine was not her own country. More than two thirds of the population were Palestinian Arabs and the majority of Jewish Palestinians were immigrants who had lived there for less than 30 years. Sixty one years later with over 3 million Palestinians living behind the barbed wire fences of Gaza or the walled ghettos of much of the West bank the writer lives in denial over the disaster her bright new state caused the indigenous people of Palestine. Until Lucy Mandelstam faces up to that tragedy the legitimacy she craves for Israel and the future of her children and grandchildren will remain as elusive as ever.
Lynne Timperley, Bracknell, Berkshire
Also 15 August
Sir: Lucy Mandelstam tells a terrible personal history of suffering abusive shouts of "Jews to Palestine" as a child in Vienna and of years in concentration camps; but it wasn't Palestinians who shouted at her. I am sorry that she now feels insecure living in Israel. But I am sorry too that great numbers of Palestinians, displaced for more than half a century, are still being made to pay the price for European atrocities which they had no part in.
Tom Rasmussen, Manchester
Sir: I am a little confused over complaints that Jews displaced Palestinians in 1947 (letter, 15 August). As I recall my history, the Jews were originally there first. How is it that their descendants should not have the right of return?
Alex Swanson, Milton Keynes
Sir: I read Alex Swanson's letter (17 August), which stated that the descendants of the Jews should have the right of return to Palestine, and remarked how relevant it was to my own life, as I had just returned home to find a nice young Welsh couple occupying my house. They claimed that their Celtic ancestors had lived here 1500 years previously, and therefore it now belonged to them.
Naturally I accepted this reasonable argument, and I am now negotiating my move back to the forests of my own ancestral Saxony. Of course, I'd better hurry, before over 200 million "returning" Americans overwhelm the European housing market.
Colin Readman, Twyford, Berkshire
Sir: Lucy Mandelstam's letter (9 August) puts everyone to shame. My heart went out to her when she said "I wish I had an answer" to her desperate desire to live in peace in Israel.
Ms Mandelstam writes to you from Netanya in Israel. When she was being subjected to horrendous treatment by the Nazis in Austria, my father was happily tilling his land in Netanya in Palestine. I was brought up on endless stories of these halcyon days when the land was so wonderfully fertile and the living was good.
When people in Vienna were shouting "Jews to Palestine", my family did not dream that soon they would be dispossessed by the victims of vicious Nazi policies. I have cuttings from Palestinian newspapers of the time in which my father writes eloquently of the Islamic architecture of Andalusia and discusses agricultural ideas to enhance production in Palestine. I have another in which he suggests what the independent Palestine national flag should be after the British Mandate. I can imagine him living on his land in Netanya and working it just as an Israeli is probably doing today. I have a few land deeds in Arabic, English and Hebrew which tell me that the land was my father's and it is consequently now mine.
Ms Mandelstam lives on this land now while I live in a diaspora not dissimilar to the Jewish one. With increasing Islamophobia around the world, I am beginning to feel like the new Jew - wandering and hoping.
Dr F H Mikdadi, Dorchester, Dorset
Sir: Being Jewish by race I have a right to return to Israel should I desire. However I am so appalled by what this country stands for that I could never claim this right. Couldn't I just give it to a Palestinian refugee instead?
Thomas Eisner, London