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Mideast Peace Settlement

September 10, 1993

* We welcome the initiative of Israel's government under the leadership of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. If agreement is reached with Palestinian representatives, it will represent a breakthrough of historic proportions that will make possible a permanent peace between Israel and the Palestinians in the foreseeable future and encourage progress in the negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

There are powerful forces, both within Israel and among the Palestinians, that oppose the initiative. This opposition seeks to exploit the risks inherent in these accords to justify the status quo. But of course the status quo is itself not without risks. Indeed, any movement toward peace requires that risks be taken and this agreement represents a pragmatic, responsible and potentially effective solution.


Vice President, International Relations

American Jewish Congress, Los Angeles

* Conrad's Aug. 31 cartoon with "V" for victory as the base of Israel's Shield of David emblem is heartwarming as it'll be accomplished through conclusive talk around a negotiating table rather than on the battlefield of war.

The contrary-minded Likud leadership needs to decide whether it is to chance the role of Begin, their founding father, or Shamir, who opposed the Camp David Accords Begin signed.

Peace and equal justice are fundamental to Judaism. What a wonderful way to celebrate the Jewish New Year, which begins on Sept. 18.


Pacific Palisades

* As a Palestinian-American, I find Zeev Benjamin Begin's Commentary piece (Sept. 2) offensive, as I am sure every person with conscience does. It is not just full of poison, it even attempts to rewrite history.

Its accusatory tone is reminiscent of the anti-Semitic propaganda that permeated Europe against Jews. He would not accept this poison in an article about Jews.

In addition, his attempts to rewrite history is no different from those who deny the Holocaust. By insisting that Middle East history starts in biblical times and suddenly leaps to 1948, he is denying the existence of the Palestinian people. Moreover, he seems to ignore his father's memoirs that document deliberate terrorism against the Palestinians in an attempt to frighten Palestinians into leaving their homeland, a process we now call ethnic cleansing. He also ignores Israeli state-sanctioned terrorism as an occupying force and the Israeli torture of Palestinian prisoners.

Begin should let Israel's elected government govern and take his father as an example of a man who gave peace a chance. His rhetoric is not helping what the whole world wants, a just peace in the Middle East.


Newport Beach

* Steven L. Spiegel has it wrong (Commentary, Sept. 1). The ending of the Cold War did not "deprive the Arab side of its major patron," rather it has made Israeli interests irrelevant to American Middle East interests at best and at worst, a hindrance.

Nonetheless, Israelis should count themselves lucky, for save "Give 'em hell" Harry Truman, near limitless and indefatigable American Jewish political clout and financial aid, and tens of billions funneled into Israel via the House Foreign Affairs Committee over the last 45 years, Israel would have a long time ago been little more than a footnote to 20th Century Middle Eastern history.



* The cliche concludes that there are only two things predictable in life--death and taxes. To that ignoble list can be added Alexander Cockburn. No matter the issue, if it involves the U.S., Israel or Jews, his venom and sourness will infuse his polemic.

His Sept. 7 Column Left is the latest in his bitter musings. A settlement that is apparently good enough for Yasser Arafat, a majority of the leaders of Al Fatah and the heads of Arab governments is not good enough for Cockburn.

What may be the most momentous breakthrough in the recent history of the Middle East is dismissed by Cockburn as "a wretched thing." What nearly every sane and sober observer of world events is marveling at and admiring is seen by Cockburn as just a precursor for Palestinians to engage in "new struggles."

He remains dismally predictable, consistently depressing and almost always wrong.

DAVID A. LEHRER, Regional Director

Anti-Defamation League, Los Angeles

* Even when thrust into deepest despair, one can hope, and hope seems to have a good chance now that the Israelis and PLO representatives have worked out an agreement whereby Israel will withdraw from the Gaza Strip and the city of Jericho and will permit Palestinians self-government in these areas (editorial, Aug. 30). The Likud Party--anti-progressive, anti-Palestinian--and extreme Palestinians such as Hamas have voiced strong opposition.

Let them rant. We can never satisfy them. We must strike a note for peace. Let the old enjoy visions, let the young dream dreams. We have come too far to go back now. Most Jews and Arabs want to live together.


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