To the Editor:

Ben Trachtenberg’s column (“American should stand by her Israeli friends,” 1/11) makes a problematic assumption in claiming Israeli leaders are more “legitimate” than their Palestinian counterparts because they win free and democratic elections. Trachtenberg assumes it would be possible for the Palestinians to actually hold an election at this point.

Given that most Palestinians are scattered around the world, making Arafat the leader of a refugee population; that the remainder of the Palestinian community has lived under Israeli military occupation for the last 20 years; and that the Israelis threaten to quash all Palestinian political activity with medium sized artillery, I wonder how Trachtenberg would go about holding this election.

Rahul Rajkumar ’00 MED ’04

january 11, 2001