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Martin Fletcher, author of "Promised Land" (Program 546)

The guest asked the rhetorical question, "How do you create a country?" He didn't say that first you roll in the tanks and weapons and kill the inhabitants of another land, take their homes and their wealth, make the survivors live forever as refugees, occupy what is left of the land that you give them (which is shrinking day by day) and hold them as prisoners. And if the native inhabitants respond by throwing rocks, retalliate with bombs and bullets. All these actions condemned by the entire international community as illegal and inhumane--except for the US. Travel to "The Holy Land" and celebrate these people's miraculous "Promised Land"? No way in hell. This program contained the light and dark sides of religion. The first story was about a woman in the Greek Orthodox tradition who spoke about the enduring commitment that elders in that tradition make to children at baptism and throughout their lives. Very touching and beautiful. The "Promised Land" story is about the triumph of military rule, murder and death, the theft of ancestral land, and man's inhumanity to man--all in the name of religion.

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I agree Tom; Martin Fletcher's comments were pretty outrageous. In particular, I thought there was a huge disconnect with reality in his response to Rick's question below :

Rick Steves: "Now Martin, when you read through the novel, there's very little mention of Arabs and Muslims and Palestinians, it's immersed in the whole Israeli perspective ... you're a Jewish writer and this kind of shows the Jewish perspective, what about the whole ignored Palestinian reality during this 20 yr period ...?"

Martin Fletcher: "I thought long and hard about whether to include the Palestinian, Israeli Arab view in the book ... the reason I left them both out was that in that period the Arabs ... played almost no role in the story of Israel."

Well, that's like writing a novel about Nazi Germany and deciding not to mention the Holocaust or include a Jewish perspective, or writing about apartheid South Africa and not including the perspective of black South Africans.

And the fact that Fletcher states that Palestinians "played almost no role in the story of Israel," and suggests that "the number of Arabs in Israel at that time was about 18% of the population" shows that his novel, far from a "historical" fiction, is actually grounded in revisionist history. Palestinians comprised only 18% of the population in what became Israel because 80% of Palestinians (or about 750,000 of a population of 900,000) were ethnically cleansed by Israeli armed forces. More than 400 Palestinian villages were subsequently either demolished or repopulated with Jews, and the Palestinian refugees who were expelled were barred from returning by the Israeli government.