Letters to the Editor – Weekly Issue of May 23, 2011
Readers write in with reflections on the Monitor's commentary series 'Peace Within Reach' about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Peace within reach?
The April 25, 2011, issue featured three commentaries regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ("Peace Within Reach"). I agree with all three writers – Sandy Tolan, Yossi Beilin, and George Moffett – and hope their analyses for a peaceful future can be realized.
However, they all miss what I see as the one essential point: This situation was and is being manipulated by the autocratic regimes of the region – what Natan Sharansky calls "fear societies." These regimes need an outside enemy for their people to fear as an excuse to maintain their own power. Israel is their scapegoat and the Palestinians are their cannon fodder.
We can only hope the recent unrest in the Middle East will result in the establishment of democratic regimes and an end to "fear societies."
Mr. Tolan describes a fantasy situation in Israel with no checkpoints and eventually no wall ("For Arab and Jew, a new beginning"). This is a marvelous but utopian idea. The wall and the check sites have been created out of necessity to protect Israeli Jews from terrorist actions, especially suicide bombers. To have the "fruits" Tolan describes, Muslim clerics must stop teaching children to be suicide bombers.
What if, in 1947, the United Nations committee charged with seeking a solution to Arab and Jewish claims to Palestine had rejected partition? Instead, what if they had declared all Palestine west of the Jordan River to be one indivisible state?
Everyone currently living there, regardless of religion or ethnicity, could stay – no confiscation of land, no resettlement.
Under tutelage of the UN, citizens of Palestine – both Arab and Jew – could have elected delegates to a constitutional convention to design their government. Philanthropic and foreign aid and investments would have established needed infrastructure. The richness of shared Arab-Jewish culture would have blossomed.
In this scenario, Jerusalem would be the undivided capital, with its religious sites open to all. Arab states, especially those beginning to realize the potential of the oil wealth beneath their sands, might well seek Palestinian expertise, both Jewish and Arab, in engineering, technology, and marketing.
It could have happened. Is there still a chance it will?
I'd like to congratulate the Monitor on the "inspiring stuff" published on April 25. That issue truly is in line with the paper's motto, "To bless all mankind" – especially the three profound and brilliantly written essays on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The outcome can only be peace.