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America's Role in the Middle East

June 13, 1996

The arrogance of my former colleague Walter Ruby is astounding (Commentary, June 3). By what right does he, and those other American Jews who agree with him, decide that Israel should implement the facile slogan of land for peace? Writing from the predator-free vastness of the continental U.S., he airily asserts that minuscule Israel should yield sensitive security border rims to a still-implacable enemy. (Witness Yasser Arafat's double-talk on the PLO covenant; his panegyrics to terrorists; his consistent violations of the Oslo accords.)

This is a matter that only Israelis have the right to decide. It is their lives that are on the line. A majority of some 55% of Israeli Jews showed they prefer Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu's measured steps toward a safe and endurable peace over Shimon Peres' headlong, blindfolded rush into a dream.

If American Jews have a role in the current peace process, it surely must be to persuade President Clinton to cease demanding perilous concessions from one side of the equation, the only democracy in the region and the only ally of the U.S., while pandering to the brutal, bloodstained despotisms of the PLO and Assad's Syria. A glance at the article by John McCain, adjacent to that of Ruby, should provide the latter with food for thought about Clinton's foreign policy "whims."

N. DAVID GROSS

Former Editor-in-Chief of the Jerusalem Post Jerusalem

* Ruby's column ends with this observation: "If American Jewish leaders share that concern, then they have a pressing obligation to state openly and forcefully that they cannot support the program Netanyahu has enunciated." Now let me get this straight: These leaders are citizens of the United States, not Israel; Israel is an independent nation and free to develop and follow its own domestic and foreign policies.

Why should American citizens be so actively involved in the affairs of another nation? And this raises two other questions: What right do Americans have to determine the direction another nation is to take? Why should the United States continue to make an annual contribution of $1 billion-plus to Israel when that nation knows full well that there are strings attached to that money?

ROLAND M. MUELLER

Tustin

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