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The Mideast Requires a Political Settlement

July 04, 2002

Re "No Details, No Hope," Opinion, June 30: Gershom Gorenberg wrote the clearest exposition of the religious basis for Israeli claims to Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and of contemporary Jewish messianism in his book "The End of Days." He is an authentic expert on why war is breaking out over rival claims to land in Israel-Palestine.

That said, ideologues on both sides of the conflict will criticize Gorenberg's defense of compromise with the Palestinians and the return to the goals of the process begun by Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated by a Jewish messianist. The martyrdom of the peace process in the Middle East continues with the sole use of militant means to confront Palestinian extremists, which only escalates both hate and acts of revenge.

President Bush has listened to all sides, but he has chosen to hear the polarized message of extreme elements who see the conflict in stark terms of "evildoers." Gorenberg points out that if today's enemies are to become tomorrow's neighbors, one must negotiate about what matters to them as well as to oneself. The U.S. is in a position to enforce dialogue about the ultimate status of Jerusalem, the ultimate boundaries of a Palestinian state and the militant intransigence of Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon, whose policies have called down destruction on their own people. What the U.S. cannot enforce is the cessation of violence by extremists who deliberately attack when both sides begin to pull back.

By shrinking from the tough process of political settlement of religious territorial claims, the U.S. has empowered the very terrorists it wishes to defeat. The road to peace is mined with extremist bombs, but it is the only road and we must keep walking.

Jean E. Rosenfeld

Pacific Palisades

*

Gorenberg's article was the best one I have seen in a very long time on this subject. But alas, with the coming elections in November, President Bush would never say anything about how to bring peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that might turn the Jewish lobby against the Republicans. His speech was exactly what they wanted to hear, no more, no less, and it will bring the peace process no further than it has been up to this point. I wish there were a lot more in Israel like Gorenberg, with the intelligence he obviously has.

John Concilio

Garden Grove

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Much is being said, by Bush, Arafat, the Saudis and everyone else, on defusing the Israeli-Palestinian thing. But the truth is that two peoples are stuck in an overly populated area with no way to let off steam. The Jews have nowhere to go. The Palestinians could readily adapt to life in the sparsely populated neighboring lands of their Arab brothers. While the Saudis are to be commended for their lead in suggesting a Palestinian state, their goal of peace could be more rapidly attained if they were also to lead the Arab countries in permitting the emigration to their lands of those Palestinians who wish to do so, with the eventual likelihood of citizenship.

Leonard Greiner

Santa Ana

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