Edward Said’s book opens with what should be a shocking statement from Kirkus Reviews, calling the fate of Palestinians “one of the greatest tragedies of our time.” Yet the Israelis do not exterminate the Palestinians. Israelis do not loot Palestinian movable property and rape their women. Palestinians do not work in Israeli concentration camps but live more comfortably than Jewish immigrants did fifty years ago. Palestinians are not starving but have gotten unprecedented welfare benefits for four generations. Many Palestinians emigrated to other countries long ago; those left do nothing positive. How can one compare life in a subsidized community with real tragedies like the Holocaust of Jews and gypsies in World War II, the slaughter of the two world wars, the millions dead in Algeria and Rwanda, and other catastrophes, all of which arose from the desire to kill for the sake of killing? The Jews do not want to kill Arabs. Israel Defense Forces took heavy losses in street fighting in Lebanon and Palestine instead of razing them from the air, as any other army would have done. Indeed, Israel’s restraint with Arab civilians led to Israeli defeat in Lebanon—the proof of the impossibility of reestablishing order in a heavily militarized country without brutality.
Speaking of the Holocaust, Edward Said says, “Many of us [Arabs] may wish to regard it as none of our business.” But no less a Muslim authority than the Mufti of Jerusalem sat the war out in Berlin, collaborating with the Nazis with the full support of other Arabs and no dissident of distinction.
Israeli leaders conspired to drive the Arabs out, and Professor Said is quick to condemn it. But every action should be considered in its context. No one wants to live next to someone who tried to evict and kill him, even after an accepted arbitrator issued its verdict, as the United Nations did in 1947. If such a neighbor could be driven out by legitimate pressure, well and good, and Israel’s pressure has been mild by comparison with the violence attendant on the establishment of modern states. The Palestinian resistance to the flood of Jewish refugees could be justified, but that is not the point. The important thing is that they proved their hostility to Jews, and so the Jews have reasonably tried to run them out.
 After de facto settlement of Jews in Palestine, and de jure recognition, Palestinians cannot argue that Jews forced their way into the neighborhood. Black activists forced their way into white American neighborhoods like the Jews entered Palestine. A combination of force and legal devices substitutes for welcome reception.