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Can You Compare South African Blacks and Palestinians?

In the Opinion page article "Palestinians: Second-Class Citizens in the Territories," March 9, the author's comparison between apartheid and the situation of Palestinian Arabs in the territories is based in part on his selective citing of the recent State Department Report on Human Rights.

South African blacks seek citizenship and equal participation in their country, while Palestinian Arabs do not want Israeli citizenship or participation in Israeli society. Whereas South African blacks never viewed the dismantlement of South Africa as intrinsic to their struggle to end apartheid, the Arab states, the Palestinians, and the PLO long advocated and fought for Israel's destruction. Unfortunately, even as the Arab-Israeli peace process brings hope for peace, there are still many in the Arab wo rld who reject the existence of a safe and secure Jewish state in the Middle East.

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The author failed to cite the following facts from the State Department report: Israel's receptivity to human-rights issues; recent easing of restrictions in the territories including the reopening of schools and universities; Palestinian terrorist violence against Israeli civilians and soldiers and intra-Palestinian violence carried out under the direction of the intifadah leadership.

Israeli policies in the territories were never in a vacuum. Comparisons with apartheid and arbitrary quotes from the State Department report only reinforce stale and hardened attitudes. It's time to cast aside the old rhetoric. Bluma Zuckerbrot, New York, Cheryl Cutler, Boston, Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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