The Frustrated NYTimes Letter Writer
The claim of letter writer Martin Putnam, that "Israel's policies in the occupied territories are morally flawed and contrary to international law", Sept. 24) is a constant element in news reports and political comment in the New York Times, international forums and academic campuses. And it is wrong. Not one international judicial body has ever passed judgment on the question. It is an Arab claim promoted by their ideological fellow-travellers and mindlessly repeated without sufficient research.
At the most, the territories Israel has administered since 1967 are "disputed". It is far from a surety that the 1949 Geneva Conventions apply to the Israeli case, given the fact, among many, that international legal recognition by the League of Nations and US Congressional resolutions was granted in 1922 to the Jewish Agency, the forerunner to Israel, to promote "close settlement" throughout the area the world now calls the "West Bank" but which was then Judea and Samaria, as it always was for almost three millennia. In rejecting the 1947 UN Partition Resolution, Arabs who termed themselves "Palestinians" flouted international law and in 1967, they and their terror groups and allies flouted international once again.
To support them and their repugnant actions, I agree with Putnam, is not being "anti-semitic". It is being horribly wrong and morally flawed.
Letter writer Karen Russo is espousing an historical 'twist', an act similar to media spin, in claiming that
"Palestinians have already given up their claim to 78 percent of historical Palestine [and]...they hope to establish an independent Palestinian state on the remaining 22 percent" (Nov. 1). Russo is engaged in propaganda, not facts.
Israel today, without the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria, is actually 19% of the original area of what was Palestine promised to the Jewish people as their homeland and, in accordance with international law, ratified as such in 1922 by the League of Nations and the United States Congress. A British-initiated partition in 1923 severed all of
TransJordan and in 1947, another partition was to further reduce the area of the state of Israel's historic homeland.
But even that did not satisfy the Arabs and they launched a war.
Moreover, I would deny her claim that Palestinian's have yielded their demand for all of Israel. Besides the Hamas and Jihad, representing 40% of Palestinians, Yasir Arafat's acceptance of a "two-state" solution is as worthless and unintended as his 1996 statement that the PLO Covenent is caduq and is his belief that the Temple Mount is not a Jewish sacred site.
In the letter of Aravinda Ananda, representing the Yale branch of Students for Justice in Palestine,
the students simply want "justice, peace, human rights and equality before the law" and
the establishment of a legal framework to accomplish these goals (November 23).
They will achieve this by a campaign of divestment of all financial resources from Israel.
If, however, their divestment campaign succeeds, the only democratic country in the region
just might be overwhelmed by forces of terror, human rights' abuse, degradation of women
and financial corruption, all of which is promoted and supported by the Palestinian Authority.
Students are supposed to be high-minded but not at a cost of shortsightedness.
In his report of the murder of husband and wife near Hebron, James Bennet notes that
"attacks on settlers...in the West Bank...which Israel occupied in the 1967 war, are widely viewed by
Palestinians as legitimate resistance" ("Arab Gunmen Kill 2 at Settlement Near Hebron",
However, Arab attacks, whether they be termed terror by Israelis or resistance by Arabs,
predated Israeli control over additional portions of the historical Land of Israel in 1967.
Arab terror was the expression of opposition since 1920 to the establishment of a Jewish state
anywhere. After the state was established in 1948, the terror gangs were called fedayeen and
Yasir Arafat's Fatah was created in 1964, three years prior to the "occupation".
The simple conclusion is that Arab terror needs no excuses such as "occupation" and that
the dismantling of Jewish communities across the Green Line are no solution to a halt in terror.
In her letter, Ms. Leonard (March 15) cites examples of instances when the US supported regime changes and the introduction of new governments and asks does "our conceit no end?"
Without necessarily agreeing with her premise, at the very least Ms. Leonard should have included President
Clinton's enthusiastic support for the Oslo Accords which reinstated the PLO's Yasir Arafat in the area of Judea,
Samaria and Gaza. His backing of this regime only succeeded in facilitating the rebirth of Palestinian armed
terror, and in cases, Arab snipers trained by the CIA and police forces such as in Philadelphia.
GREG MYRE, reporting on the death of Rachel Corrie, caused by an Israeli bulldozer in Rafah acting against terrorist positions, quotes the media coordinator of the International Solidarity Movement's protesters, Michael Shaik, saying that Israeli troops had previously shot over their heads and fired tear gas, "but we thought we had an understanding. We didn't think they would kill us." ("Israeli Army Bulldozer Kills American in Gaza", Mar. 17).
Many Israelis also thought they had an understanding, even a signed agreement witnessed by US President Bill Clinton and signed by Yasir Arafat, that the Palestinians would not kill us anymore. Since September 1993, over 1000 persons have been killed by Palestinian terror directed against Israeli, 758 of them since September 2000. Perhaps these "human shields" could extend their protection to us?
In his Letter to the Editor, Bruce Laingen asserts for himself the "obvious", that Israel's "settlement activity
in itself is an obstacle to peace" ("Israel and Settlements", April 4).
This is neither obvious nor logical. Prior to 1967, when Israel first assumed the administration for
the so-called disputed territories, there had not been one Jewish community there since 1948 when
the Arabs ethnically cleansed the area, expelling its Jewish residents. The area had not been under
Israeli "occupation" either but part of the Hashemite Kingdom. And yet, for the previous 19 years,
the Arabs had been conducting a fedayeen terror campaign against Israel.
If "settlements" did not exist but Arab terror did, why should the halt to settlement activity today
be a precondition to peace?
In your report on the killing of AP cameraman, Narweh Darwazeh, ("Israeli Soldier Kills
Journalist in West Bank", April 18), a variety of explanations for the shooting are given, all
except one: that the soldier was firing at someone threatening the trapped armored vehicle
The article quotes another Palestinian as saying that the journalists were specifically targeted.
That the most logical and probable situation was left out of the story, even if only to balance
the Arab charge of malicious intent, is unfortunate.
One other lesson that can be learned from the rule of Faisal I over Iraq, starting in 1921,
which Hasan Ibn Talal excluded from his op-ed ("Seeing Iraq's Future by Looking at Its Past", July 18)
is that Arabs from geographically distant countries can succeed in others.
Faisal originated from western Saudi Arabia, was first crowned king of Syria in July 1920 but
was deposed by the French and, after becoming a refugee from his own country following
the Wahabi revolt, found his place in Iraq. Moving around in an Arab, Muslim Middle East is not
In Steven Weisman's report on the pressing of Yassir Arafat by Colin Powell to eliminate
Palestinian terror, another administration official is quoted as saying, "The bombing has
forced [Mahmoud] Abbas to move against terrorist groups sooner than he would like,"
("Powell Is Now Pressing Arafat to Combat Hamas", Aug. 23, 2003).
The fact is that Tuesday night's bus bombing was not the first terror act since a
so-called 'cease-fire' by Arab terror groups was supposedly announced, nor were
the 20 victims the first Israeli mortalities in this period. The question, then, that needs to be
addressed is not why Abbas has been slow to act but why the U.S. administration
has been too non-denunciatory until now. Could it be that Palestinian terror is
a responsibility of America, too, and that Arab terrorists do not feel adequately
pressed by personages such as Powell and even feel they are allowed a certain
Letter write Max Wein, while correctly distinguishing between the issue of Jewish communities
established across the Green Line and Arab terror, is of the opinion that Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
has not dismantled "illegal" settlements (Aug. 6).
Mr. Wein ignores, unfortunately, the text of the Road Map Plan which, incidentally, is defined as
"performance based". A Phase I condition is that the Government of Israel "immediately dismantles
settlement outposts erected since March 2001". Thus, not all settlements are to be dismantled but only
outposts and nowhere are they described as illegal in the document. Sharon made some progress
toward this goal but the Palestinians did not move forward in any of theirs, especially this most important
one: to "undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups
conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere".
Your leader asserts that "Ending settlement in the occupied lands is central to the survival of the Jewish state"
(Sept. 12), a demand based on cost and demographics.
As for expenses, most of the money required for construction would need to be expended for the same
amount of people in any case, no matter where they live, on this or that side of the Green Line.
As for demographics, if Jews leave the disputed territories, the Arabs there will procreate less?
The Arabs of the Galilee or northern Negev will not increase and bring about an irredentist pressure on
Israel from within?
But more importantly, since no Jewish communities existed in these areas prior to 1967, they
could not have been a cause for PLO terror nor for the 1967 war that was planned to destroy Israel.
Why, then, should Jews, who most assuredly belong in the area as it is part of their historic homeland,
recognized as such by international law whether or not the Jewish state is sovereign there, be forcefully
transferred and transported out of their homes?
In your correspondent's report, the Western Wall, upon whose worshippers gathered there rocks were thrown from the Temple Mount esplanade above by Muslims after their Friday prayers, is described as " the holiest site in Judaism"
("Israel Rejects Wide Criticism of Its Threat to Exile Arafat", Sept. 13). This is an error and needs to be corrected.
The Temple Mount, upon which stood the First and Second Temples for a combined 830 years in two main periods,
is Judaism's most sacred location. Jews the world over face the site of the Temple, not the Western Wall. As a remnant of the magnificent structure the Romans destroyed almost 2000 years ago, following which the Jewish people lost their political sovereignty and went into exile, the Wall's plaza had become a focal point for the recitation of psalms, lamentations and songs of redemption over the centuries.
It has never, however, replaced the Temple Mount's degree of holiness
The headline over John F. Burn's October 10 report on the dispute between Palestinian Authority President Yasir Arafat and the authority's Premier, Ahmed Qurei, is problematic.
You write, "Feud Erupts Anew Between Arafat and His Premier". Firstly, anew means again. This, though, is the first time Mr. Qurei and Mr. Arafat have disputed since the latter became premier. True, Arafat feuded with the previous premier, Muhammed Abbas, but this isn't clear from your syntax. Second, Mr. Qurei is not Arafat's premier but that of the Palestinian Authority.
Third, since, as the story makes clear, Mr. Arafat has a long history of feuding with his coterie of fellow PLO revolutionaries, and is in fact an autocratic leader, it may have been advisable to have written "Feud Erupts Yet Again
Between Arafat and the PA Premier". Accurate language can only add to a reader's comprehension.
In his letter (Feb. 15), Ken Galal writes that the March 2002 Arab League peace offer "was dismissed by [Israel's] Prime Minister Ariel Sharon".
However, an archival review shows that official Israeli spokespersons greeted the plan, albeit with reservations.
Sharon's media advisor said it is "a very interesting development, something that should be pursued" but
insisted Arab nations must open "direct negotiations with Israel" and underlined Israel's rejection of the return of Palestinian refugees.
Unfortunately, the horrific Netanya Passover bombing with over 20 dead had already occurred and all Yasser Arafat could say was that he was ready to work for "an immediate cease-fire". It was, again, Palestinian terror that sabotaged any peace talks.
Ethan Bronner describes as "stunning" Benny Morris' statement that "there are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing", ("Who Is to Blame for the Creation of Palestinian Refugees?", Feb. 20). Why should Bronner be stunned?
Was not the demand of the Palestinian leadership, since 1920, that as few as Jews as possible be permitted to live in anywhere west of the Jordan River not so? Was not the war the Arabs launched on the morrow of the 1947 UN Partition Resolution intended to ethnically cleanse the country of Jews?
Does the American policy of encouraging the dismantling of Jewish communities not resonant with ethnic cleansing? Indeed, is not Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's current policy, to expel all Jews from Gaza, where Jews have lived, as in Hebron in Judea, for centuries until Arab riots in 1929 forced them to leave, also engaged in ethnic cleansing?
We revenants, the Jews who have returned to the regions of our historic homeland, have a recognized right in international law, based on the League of Nations decision in 1922, to live in the Land of Israel. We will not be ethnically cleansed.