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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about Israel-Palestinian relations 60 years after Israeli independence.

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Responses to retrospectives on Israel's 60th anniversary

Regarding the recent article on the 1948 Palestinian war: Thank you for telling both sides of the story in the formation of Israel – the destruction of Palestine.

For its own sake and that of world peace, Israel must find a way to declare victory and withdraw from the West Bank and make peace with Gaza.

Regarding the May 9 article, "A veteran of 1948 recalls Palestinian 'catastrophe' ": My understanding was that the surrounding Arab states told the Arab residents of the newly created Israel to leave and that they would drive the Zionists into the sea and then the Palestinians could return home. After Israel repelled the attacks, they kept the territory they had driven their attackers from. There is a penalty for countries that try to conquer another country and fail!

Regarding the recent article on the 1948 Israeli-Arab war: The article states that "Israel agreed to the partition plan," which is untrue. If Israelis had agreed to the plan, why did they work against it? This may have been a major factor in the decision by neighboring Arab states to attack in an effort to save what was left of Palestine.

In response to the recent article on the Arab-Israeli war: I can sympathize with the Arabs interviewed for the article describing the fight against the Zionists. However, the article does not describe the previous 70 years of attacks on Jewish settlements by Arab irregulars.

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Regarding the recent article on the 1948 Palestinian war: The Palestinian being interviewed contradicts himself. First he says that the Arabs rejected the partition vote because the Jews got too much of the area, and a bit later he questions why the Arabs lost the 1948 war: "Israel was so tiny then and we were big." Can't have it both ways.

Regarding Alan Dershowitz's May 8 Opinion piece, "Israel at 60: so vilified, yet so deserving of praise": Mr. Dershowitz is entitled to his opinions about Israel's progress and contributions to world society, some of which I share. However, he should check his facts about the Arab-Israel wars, most of which I covered for the Monitor, especially his statement about Israel's refraining from air attacks on Arab capitals.

In the June war of 1967, an Israeli fighter pilot strafed King Hussein's palace in Amman. The king and his staff were unhurt, as he related to me later. During the October 1973 Arab-Israeli war, the Israeli air force bombed central Damascus, hitting, among other things, the Soviet embassy, probably aiming at the nearby Defense Ministry. There were civilian casualties.

During the Israeli siege of West Beirut aimed at destroying the Palestine Liberation Organization, I escaped several Israeli air raids on West Beirut and its outskirts. Again, there were civilian casualties from this and from Israeli artillery shelling of the city.

During the "war of attrition" between Egypt and Israel in 1969-70, there were several Israeli airstrikes on Helwan and other near suburbs of Cairo, one of which damaged the American school located in suburban Maadi, but without hurting any of the students.

Regarding Alan Dershowitz's recent Opinion piece on Israel: In his final paragraph, Mr. Dershowitz poses this: "Imagine ... if [Israel] were blessed with peace and were allowed to turn its swords into plowshares!" I submit that Israel would most assuredly be blessed with peace if it did so – rather than resisting, avoiding, and rejecting those whose efforts have been to assist it in finding its way to peace.

In response to Alan Dershowitz's recent Opinion piece on Israel's self-defense: On June 8, 1967, 34 Americans were killed and 174 wounded when Israeli air and naval forces attacked the USS Liberty in international waters. The families of those wounded and killed American servicemen would probably not agree that this attack "exemplified restraint and high ethical standards."

In response to Alan Dershowitz's recent Opinion piece on the world's view of Israel: The reason, I believe, that Israel has gotten far more attention than another similar country would is its close relationship to the United States. America's role in the world has been to point out other countries' abuses and to try hard to be a good influence against aggressive behavior by our friends. America's seemingly-blind eye to the Greater Israel crowd, who want the land but not the native Arabs, is in direct opposition to the principles America stands for and asserts to the world.

Regarding Ben White's May 2 Opinion piece, "In praise of Palestinian steadfastness": What a rarity! Discourse in the United States on the Israeli occupation has long seemed little more than monotone regurgitation of right-wing Israeli government talking points. I hope Mr. White's piece heralds a new opening for clearer and less propagandized discussion.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, 210 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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