To the Editor:

I find the letter submitted by Badr Albanna ’04 (“Demanding divestment for the Palestinian cause,” 10/16) completely biased and one-sided. While the current situation of the Palestinian people in Israel and in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is hardly ideal, it is necessary to examine the causes before labeling it apartheid.

As former Prime Minister Ehud Barak clearly stated last week, the plan put on the table two years at Camp David was closer to what the Palestinians wanted than it was to what Israel wanted. Israel responded by being willing to open negotiations, whereas Yasir Arafat responded by walking away and stepping up a terrorist campaign against the people of Israel. Just as one year ago the United States responded militarily against terrorism, so Israel responded.

Albanna asks how one can justify Israel’s actions against the Palestinians. The answer is quite simple: war. This war against terrorism is not like a war against a conventional army. It is a war where anyone can take a bomb and use it to intentionally murder innocent civilians. How does one fight such a war? The only way is to maintain control. I am always surprised how Americans so quickly condemn Israeli containment of terrorism, yet they come very close to saying that Palestinian terrorism is justified by the situation.

In answer to Albanna’s attack on Israeli democracy, I respond that no democracy is perfect. However, with Barak as living proof, democracy is about the peaceful transition of power based on the will of people. While many may call the Palestinian government democracy, since Afarat has won “elections,” I ask, was there a plausible opponent? Did anyone believe that someone else would win and more importantly, if he or she had won that there would have been a peaceful transfer of power, as there was in Israel? The answer is no.

David Gershkoff ’06

October 16, 2002