If any paradigm exists for the validity of Israel's new policies toward the Palestinians, it is what happened in Beit Jala ("Under Pressure, Israelis Pull Out," Aug. 30).
Until the Israeli tanks took it over, the Palestinian Authority did absolutely nothing to restrain anyone from shooting at Jews on the other side of the ravine. The PA welcomed the sympathetic news reports of damage caused to this nice Christian town by Israeli responses each night.
Once Israel took charge of the village by entering it, the rules changed. Now Yasser Arafat is prepared, or so he says, to restrain the shooting in return for Israel's withdrawal. The lesson is obvious: When Israel charges the PA a high enough price for not making peace, we just might see some peace. It's the Middle East.
Re "Israel's Retaliation Is on Target," Commentary, Aug. 30: Edward Luttwak relishes the fact that Israel's occupation army could "easily kill 600 Palestinians each day." He implies that the world should be thankful that instead Israel demolishes Palestinians' homes, destroys their wells, uproots their olive and orange trees and keeps their lot imprisoned in countless towns and villages. He further supports Israeli assassinations of Palestinian freedom fighters and the reoccupation of Beit Jala, on whose land the illegal Jewish settlement of Gilo was built.
Luttwak, however, overlooks another fact: for over 50 years, Israeli massacres, assassinations, ethnic cleansing and bulldozing of homes failed to break the Palestinians' will to survive and resist, in spite of their leaders' frailties. The certainty of the eventual defeat of foreign occupation renders, therefore, the issue of Arafat's successor irrelevant.
I agree with your Aug. 29 editorial on the Mideast and the need for the U.S. to be involved. However, your criticism of Bill Clinton and his attempts to broker peace are unwarranted.
What you term a "monumental act of egotism" I call "stature." And while his efforts may not have resulted in a lasting Middle East peace, it certainly seems that fewer Palestinians and Israelis were dying when we had a president willing to get involved and stay engaged.