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Wilentz on Mideast Bombings, Negotiations

September 21, 1997

* "Losing Ground" by Amy Wilentz (Opinion, Sept. 14) is one-sided, especially in the last paragraph when she writes, "It must be remembered that the Palestinians are the victims, whose land was taken away in 1948 and then taken away in 1967."

Jews and the ancestors of the Palestinians have lived side by side continuously in what is now Israel for thousands of years. When Israel became independent in 1948, it was the Arabs who declared war on Israel, not the other way around. It also was and still is the stated goal of many Arab leaders to push the Jews into the sea and annihilate them.

In 1967 that was the stated goal, too. It is asking a lot of the Israelis to give up this land, which does give them some security, to the Palestinians, when many still have the goal. It is not unreasonable to expect the Palestinian Authority to act like a responsible government and protect their neighbors from criminals who are using their territory to kill innocent people in Israel with terrorist bomb attacks. Any other government would expect that and demand it of its neighbor country.


Redondo Beach

* Just a word of support on the excellent and thoughtful Opinion piece by Wilentz. Its very realistic assessment of the sad situation in Palestine and Israel will probably be attacked, but as one who has followed developments in the Middle East for 30 years it all rings too true. Every year that passes without a real peace entrenches the hatred and hostility on both sides. The Palestinians since before 1948 have been the losers and this is something that Israeli and U.S. policymakers seem to be unable to admit.

An apology for past injustices (a la the United States' toward the Japanese interred during World War II) and genuine effort to redress the wrongs done during 30 years of occupation would go a long way toward establishing Israelis' sincerity in desiring a real peace with justice. I do not expect it from Benjamin Netanyahu and neither unfortunately can I hope for pressure toward that end from the Clinton administration. How many more years and lost lives can either the Palestinians or the Israelis withstand?



* It's realistic to note that the Mideast peace process between longtime protagonists Israel and Palestine is deteriorating to the point of extinction, beginning with the election of Netanyahu as Israeli prime minister. That choice made by the electorate should be a signal to the U.S. that third-party intervention is seldom fruitful. Like addiction to drugs and alcohol, the cure for strife between nations rests with the nations themselves.



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