To the Editor:
Abdelaleem El-Abyad of the Press and Information Bureau at the Embassy of Egypt in Washington writes [Correspondence, Sept. 1998] that Egypt provided sanctuary to "Jewish settlers in Palestine fleeing German and Turkish persecution during 1914, World War I." The Turkish part of this statement is simply untrue.
First, Egypt was not independent in 1914 but a British protectorate. Therefore, if sanctuary was offered it was done by the British, not the Egyptians. Arabs, to have the desire, the time, or the energy to persecute Jews. If there was persecution
Second, the Turkish army in Palestine facing the British military presence in 1914 was too busy protecting itself from the backstabbing of its fellow Muslims, the of Jewish settlers then and there, it had to be done by the Arabs resident in the region.
In this connection, it bears noting that about 70 percent of Turkish casualties in the Palestine campaign during World War I were inflicted by guerrilla attacks instigated by Arabs, leaving only about 30 percent of the war casualties caused by fighting on the front lines. So far as I know, this ratio of 70:30 is unique among the history of documented wars anywhere in the world. The guerrilla casualties were a major cause of the Turkish army's defeat in the Canal campaign and then the Palestine front.
I wish Mr. Abyad would get his facts right before he comments about Turkish-Jewish relations. These are unique, for neither has ever persecuted the other. And the historical record is full of examples of Turks, not Arabs, providing sanctuary to the Jews.
E. Levent Mertsoy
Med Sønai Ürünleri