In "Apples and Oranges" {Free for All, July 8}, Helen Khal claimed that the Jordanian government has been the "protector" of Palestinians. It has been anything but.

First, if Jordan was so concerned about the Palestinians, why in 1947 did it and other Arab governments refuse to recognize the United Nations' partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish homelands? That would have solved the Palestinian homeland issue 43 years ago.

Second, why, during the Jordanian occupation of the West Bank and the Egyptian occupation of Gaza, were the Palestinians forced to live in refugee camps and not integrated into the society of their "protectors"? Is this what Khal calls "enjoying full, equal rights as Jordanian citizens"? With all the land under Arab control and with the financial resources of several Arab nations, surely the Arabs could have done more in the past four decades to help the Palestinians, especially those in the camps.

Finally, how does Khal explain more recent Jordanian treatment of Palestinians? Has she forgotten Black September in 1970, when Jordanian troops killed thousands of Palestinians? Is she unaware of reports that Jordan maintains camps where Palestinian "troublemakers" are interned? Is this her idea of a Palestinian "protector?"

Maybe it's time for the Palestinians to stand up to the Jordanian government. Considering that they make up two-thirds of Jordan's population and that Jordan was carved out of the British mandate of Palestine, they could peacefully, via the ballot box, have a homeland. They could even keep King Hussein as a figurehead. And perhaps, if the Palestinians had such a legitimate and democratically elected government, they and Israel could negotiate such issues as the West Bank, reparations and cessation of hostilities.

-- Martin Freeman