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Podhoretz and Segal on Ending Conflict in the Middle East

November 21, 1987

The pieces by Podhoretz and Segal on whether there should be an international peace conference, or direct negotiations between Israel and its warring neighbor, leaves the decision to the affected parties when Jewish security, and survival everywhere, is as important, if not more so, than the internal political struggles in Israel, and the organized American-Jewish community.

True, Jews who are not living in Israel "can't vote." But they are involved in Israel's battle, and play a vital role in the public arena and financing.

Our future, as Jews living outside of Israel, is at stake, too. Continued war will harm us more than a peace that fulfills the spiritual ideals humankind needs to save all of us from self-destruction. We can't stand aside. We must insist on being partners with Israel in deciding tomorrow's promises.

Segal's arguments not to "lose the best opportunity for peace in a decade" merit our wholehearted support.

On the other hand, the cold warrior, Podhoretz, while reciting a number of truths as to the refusal by Arabs to accept Israel's being, only gives us an option of Israel selecting one of the two dangers his neo-conservative eyes see: "unacceptable alternatives . . . holding the territories (that) could compromise the Jewish character or democratic character of Israel, or both . . . (or) giving up the territories (and) compromise Israel's security, making it mortally vulnerable to military assault."

His vision, in comparing Israel's problem to the "U.S.-Soviet conflict," remind me of a rejected lover, as in our younger days the socialist dream was raped by communism.

The United States, Israel, nor the world will never find peace if the distance between the parties remains measured by lost ideals and military power.

The proposed international conference for resolution of the Middle East conflict is today's reality.

The Soviets are in the Middle East. Their support of the original partition, and subsequent supplying of arms to Israel through its client state(s), as well as our current demands, to let Soviet Jews go free, are part of reality, too. And that it will take outside pressures to move Israel and the Arabs to the negotiating table is also a reality.

Neo-conservatives like Podhoretz must not determine our agenda. By the advocacy of his philosophy, he does "tell Israelis how to survive." And we have every right to counter it, and must!

HYMAN H. HAVES

Pacific Palisades

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