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Mubarak Awad and Israel

May 22, 1988

This is not an easy letter to write. I am a Jew, a rabbi, and a Zionist. I watch the news and read the newspapers with ever-increasing distress. I visited Israel in March and met with everyone from left-wing Palestinians to right-wing Israelis and those in between. One of the people I heard was Awad.

Awad formally and publicly recognizes the right of Israel to exist, unlike Yasser Arafat and most other Palestinian leaders. That position makes him a true moderate. I do not share many of Awad's opinions. Some of his statements even border on the outrageous. None of these opinions and statements should merit his deportation from Jerusalem.

I strongly disagree with the policies and the practices of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's government. I warmly applaud the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court to block Awad's deportation (Part I, May 9). No Arab government would provide the same rights for their Jewish populace if the situation were reversed.

Since March I have become convinced that there are no pure victims and no pure villains in the Middle East. The dilemma is far too complex for shallow and simplistic labeling. The case of Awad is an illuminating example of this complexity.

RABBI EARL KAPLAN

Pomona

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