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Mideast Peace Opponent Said

October 25, 1994

On the very same morning (Oct. 20) that The Times brought its readers the shocking front-page photograph of Hamas' terror in Tel Aviv, you also published a lengthy article (Commentary) which provided a prominent Palestinian speaker the stage to call for renewed Arab resistance and revival of the intifada .

Edward Said (quoted in Alexander Cockburn's Column Left), a professor at Columbia University, is well-known as an opponent of Arafat and of the Oslo agreement. He does not believe that all stages of the agreement will be implemented or that peace will come. He supports his arguments with innumerable "facts," most of which are simply wrong and others that are baseless accusations.

It is possible and perhaps even desirable to hold public discussions that consider exactly how to implement the Oslo agreement. Open discussions such as these could have pointed out not only Israel's adherence to its clauses and stages, but also the tremendous contribution Israel has made in laying a foundation for an economic infrastructure in Gaza and the autonomous region, above and beyond that which was agreed to. Furthermore, there has been no comparable contribution to Palestinians themselves, including from those Palestinians who sit comfortably across the ocean.

Earlier this month, the foreign minister of Israel, Shimon Peres, completed a 36-hour sweep of Los Angeles which was dedicated in its entirety to advancing economic development in the region with conspicuous emphasis on the Palestinians.

Such open debate would also point out the remarkable gains that the Palestinians have made in setting up an autonomous government and the fact that never before in their history have the Palestinians been given the chance, by any other ruling power in the region, to determine their status or their fate by themselves. They did not have self-rule during the 19 years (1948-1967) that King Hussein governed them. They did not have self-rule throughout the 30 years (1918-1948) of British rule, nor did they have any expression of autonomy whatsoever during the hundreds of years that the Ottoman Empire ruled the area prior to 1918. Most Palestinians dismiss these facts just as most of them dismiss the fact that in 1967 Israel was forced to take over the territories of Gaza and the West Bank after repeated attacks by the Arabs.

Perhaps Said knows these facts well. He ought to know because upon accepting the Israeli proposals (after many years of refusal) the Palestinians have made important advances toward creating a Palestinian authority and realizing their goals as a nation.

All of these facts and statements are the likely subject, as previously stated, of legitimate public debate. However, publishing an article that urges the Palestinians to renew the intifada against Israel on the very day in which the world stands in horror in the face of atrocities by Hamas, is at the very least, miserable timing.

URI OREN

Consul General of Israel

Los Angeles

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