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'Making Things Worse' in Gaza

January 10, 1988

Your editorial "Making Things Worse" (Dec. 30) perpetrates inaccuracies and misconceptions. "The people of Gaza have been stateless since the Egyptian administration of the territory was ended 20 years ago," it says.

Wrong.

They have been stateless under Egyptian administration too. For 19 years Egypt has kept the Gaza area under repressive military rule that has done nothing to better the lot of the inhabitants. Israel has poured a lot of money and effort into improving the quality of life there. "Israel . . . denies the legitimacy of Jordanian sovereignty of that land." Does the U.S.? Only two countries have ever recognized the Jordanian annexation of the West Bank in 1950--Britain and Pakistan. Interestingly enough no Arab country did.

And how did Israel come to possess the West Bank? Through a Sunday afternoon stroll? We are there as a result of a war of aggression waged against us, in spite of pleas to the Jordanians to keep out of the fray. If you kill your parents, do not ask to be pitied as an orphan.

And yet, who did more than Israel to restore the flagging fortunes of Jordan in the West Bank? Allowing civil servants to receive salaries from Jordan, the opening of a Jordanian bank, the appointment of pro-Jordanian mayors and civic leaders, the open bridges (literally) to Jordan--all these do not count?

And opposite this editorial you open your forum to Rashid Khalidi ("Somnolent America Must Act to Support Palestinian Rights," Op-Ed Page), whose ax grinding is well known, all capped by a cartoon that would not be out of place in certain European publications of the '30s and '40s.

And lastly back to your editorial. Israel is not perfect and does not have a monopoly over wisdom. However, it has survived under extremely difficult conditions and prospered because it does recognize its interests and acted accordingly, even if sometimes not in full accordance with its friends' (not to say enemies') views. Israel does not need to be saved from itself as you imply. The U.S. pressure on Israel to withdraw unilaterally from the Sinai in 1957 has sewn the seeds of the Six Days War, not to mention the wholesale defection of the Arab world to the Soviet block.

To borrow a line from an American advertisement: "Even if 200 million people believe in a dumb idea, it is still a dumb idea."

ILAN ELGAR

Consul for Press and Information

Consulate of Israel

Los Angeles

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