To the Editor:
While in her recent article, Amanda Elbogen (“New view could aid Palestinians,” 1/29) may have been a little light in her criticism of Israel’s role in Palestinian suffering, her main points remain undeniable: the bulk of Palestinian suffering is a result of Israel having to weed out terrorists from amongst the civilian population, as well as corruption in the Palestinian’s own leadership. Raja Shamas, (“Israeli policies will not lead to security,” 2/3) in yesterday’s response, attempts to redirect blame from the Palestinians back at the Israelis. In this game of polarized finger-pointing, Shamas engages in the same oversimplifications and misrepresentations he aims to criticize.
Anyone who can say that “peace with the Palestinians is not on [Israel’s] agenda” clearly has no grasp of both the historical overtures and recent debates and discussions occurring within the Israeli government and society at large. Shamas conveniently ignores the Oslo and the Camp David Accords, unambiguous Israeli efforts toward peace, whose failure was clearly placed on Yasser Arafat by Bill Clinton and others involved. He is further deluded in thinking that Arab countries ever offered Israel any level of recognition or true peace.
But more recently, groundbreaking shifts in the Likud party’s policy indicate that Israel is ready for peace. Ariel Sharon has pledged to remove all the settlements in Gaza, and other hawks like Ehud Olmert have begun advocating for large-scale settlement withdrawal. Shamas clearly does not grasp the magnitude of these discussions, and would rather focus on the biased, myopic reports of ultra left-wing advocacy groups. Israel is ready for peace, but until Palestinian leaders begin the soul-searching that has occurred in the Israeli government and decide to take responsibility for themselves, Israel has no partner.
Shamas’ rationalization of suicide bombings is alarming, to say the least, and he proves nothing with his disingenuous moral equivalency between Palestinian terrorism and Israel’s attempts to combat it.
Yes, the Palestinians do have a right to self-determination. But as a frequent visitor to Israel, and someone who lived down the block from last week’s suicide bombing, I see no problem withholding that right until the Palestinians have proven themselves capable of organizing a government and civil society that can fight terrorism and ensure peace with Israel.
Zvika Krieger ’06
February 3, 2004