In reply to Alexander Dolitsky's statement that I made various historical and statistical errors in the My Turn I wrote on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict I would like to say:
My information was based on a book that was published in 1986. Some of the statistics may be different now, but the history is accurate. Mr. Dolitsky writes that "in 70 A.D., the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem, and the Jewish people scattered throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. From this time until 1948, Jews had no state." Therefore, the Jewish people were away for 1,878 years before returning in 1948 to reclaim Israel from the Palestinians. Mr. Dolitsky concludes that "this leads to the question, 'Whose land is it?' " I wonder what legal precedent there is for reclaiming real estate after being absent for 1,878 years.
Anyway, I don't think the Israelis should have to leave Israel. They've built a nation. They need a home. But, they should give part of Israel back to the Palestinians in exchange for peace so they, too, can have a home. The Palestinians fought partition in the 1940s, but now that they don't have anything, they're probably ready to accept reality and trade peace for land. Israel, however, against U.S. wishes, continues to build Jewish settlements in the West Bank, undermining hopes for a Palestinian state and thereby provoking more desperate Palestinian attacks. Building more Jewish settlements in Arab territory is not the way to make peace.
Mr. Dolitsky thinks "terrorism always has been a complex problem for humanity and for peace-seeking nations." Is Israel a peace-seeking nation? In 1982, when Ariel Sharon was Israel's minister of Defense, Israeli tanks surrounded two refugee camps in southern Lebanon and held the perimeter while Christian Falangists went into the camps and slaughtered 2,000 men, women and children. Is that not terrorism? Sharon is now Israel's prime minister.
What is so complex about people having their rights and their homes taken from them? The Nazis did it to the Jews. The Israelis do it to the Palestinians. Both people were humiliated and infuriated. Both people subsequently engaged in terrorism. I think the most complex part of this issue, for us and for Israel, is how to justify our actions against our humanistic, democratic principles. Without our military and financial aid, Israel might be inclined to want peace rather than more territory. America, as Israel's main backer, should do everything within its power to encourage a just settlement with the Palestinians. That is, if we don't want to continue being hated by the Arabs and targeted for terrorism.
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