A Political Masquerade

The following is a letter submitted to the New York Times in 1975 which the New York Times did not see fit to print (Arthur Kahn and Thomas Murray, The Palestinians: A Political Masquerade, Published by Americans For A Safe Israel)

Dear Sir:

Your newspaper frequently uses the term “Palestinian” to describe a section of the Middle East population which is Arab, to differentiate it from Israeli Jews. As the holder of a Palestinian Identity Card and a Certificate of Discharge from a Palestinian Unit of the British army, I find this practice annoying and certainly untrue…

We Palestinian Jews wore the uniform of the British Army, and on our shoulder epaulettes the single word, “Palestine” in English. We tried to get permission to wear Hebrew insignia, fly the Jewish flag and be recognized as Palestinian Jews, but-no, Palestinian meant Jew and Arab, and who cared if there were fewer than 3000 Arabs as compared to 36,000 Jews in khaki? In British army nomenclature, the equivalent of a GI is BOR, meaning British Other Rank. We were formally known as POR , Palestinian Other Ranks.

So we fought the war as Palestinians, set up the Jewish Brigade as Palestinians, and I’ll be damned if I agree that only Arafat and his assassins are Palestinians.

As a Palestinian, I was arrested by the British on suspicion of smuggling immigrants into the country. As a Palestinian, I had the honor of commanding the 329th Palestinian Companyof the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (all Jews). There were no equivalent Arab units. Once a British general said to me, “Migawd| I have so many things to dislike you for, for being a Jew, American born, a Palestinian-and you don’t even know how to handle a knife and fork!

So cut it out, please. Call them what you will, but not Palestinians.

Yours truly,

Joe Criden

The Palestinian Identity

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *