Re "Hard ground," Opinion, Nov. 20
To continue arguing that Jewish settlements are an obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians is to ignore the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. After all, Israel removed its settlements from Gaza. What did it gain in return? A daily barrage of rockets raining down on Israeli villages, killing and injuring innocent civilians. Sooner or later, Bernard Avishai and all other misguided people of his mind-set will realize that the only hope for peace lies in the realization by Palestinian Arabs that Israel is here to stay and that they stand to benefit more by accepting Israelis as neighbors than by trying to destroy them.
\f7How did these settlements come about? A massive campaign to fulfill the goal of a "Greater Israel" was launched by a Likud-led government first elected in the late 1970s and dominated by ultra-religious and ultranationalist groups.
Building settlements in the occupied territories was the unique method used to achieve this territorial appropriation. Predictably, this relentless land grab produced a rising resistance in the Palestinian population. Destabilizing waves of anger and hatred resonated throughout the Mideast.
By this indefensible drive to gain possession of all the land, the chance over time to exchange land for peace was forfeited. Put another way, if Israel's democracy had chosen another path, the present perilous stalemate would probably not exist.