Two Views of the Stalled Peace Process
Regarding the editorial "Israel: Overplayed Hands" (Aug. 12): To blame Palestinian terrorism against Israeli targets on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to build a new Jewish neighborhood at Har Homa in Jerusalem is to miss the point.
Palestinian terrorism has continued, regardless of the particular Israeli government in power. In fact, it was in February and March 1996, when Shimon Peres was in office, that the worst spate of suicide bombing terrorism occurred. Such terrorist acts do not distinguish between Israeli government or leaders. They have only one target - Israel.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has made it clear that the first and foremost "rule of Oslo" is that the Palestinian Authority uphold its commitment to control violence and terror and provide greater security. This is the sine qua non of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Before there is further discussion about Israeli construction projects, Palestinians must control terror and violence.
Assistant national director
The editorial presents an even-handed analysis of the debacle in the Middle East, but I think the following point should be made.
When international opinion deems US pressure necessary to bring Israeli leaders to their senses, Israel cries foul. Sympathizers in the US start pontificating about the importance of Israel and Palestine resolving their differences themselves. Then, when there are unfortunate but not surprising acts of terrorism by Palestinians, Israel's UN ambassador asks the US not to be "even handed" but to "come down hard" on Yasser Arafat.
It seems Israel's prime minister has succeeded in reframing the Palestinian-Israeli peace process debate from land-for-peace to peace-for-security. With such a frame of reference, the peace process has been diverted from talks about the fate of settlements, freezing future settlement activity, and the political roots of violence to policing Palestinians in a vain effort for greater security.
Ihsan Alkhatib Toledo, Ohio
Greater respect for Islam, please
You could not have chosen a more inappropriate headline to run on the front page than "When Bombs Rip, Where Is Islam?" (Aug. 11). I don't think The Christian Science Monitor would run articles with headlines such as "Genocide in Bosnia: Where Is Christianity?," or "Palestinians Tormented for Decades: Where is Judaism?" It seems that when it comes to Islam, anything goes.
In fact, the headline contradicts the content of the article itself. The author is aware that Islam is a "world religion" and "open to interpretation." Yet the author quotes only Palestinians, and Palestinians don't represent all Muslims.
Most Muslims do not accept the killing of innocent people. There is no question that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the top Palestinian Muslim cleric, is at fault for not condemning the suicide bombings. But mixing terrorism with religion in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cuts both ways.
Serdar M. Degirmencioglu
Suggestions for peace
The opinion-page article "Seven Ways to Keep Mideast Peace Alive," (Aug. 13), is the sort of sane, responsible thinking needed to unravel this complicated mess in Israel/Palestine. As former representatives of the United Methodist Church in Jerusalem, we have watched in agony as the peace process has ground to a standstill. Our thanks to the author for his helpful list of suggestions.
One of those suggestions is to develop tourist programs that combine Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank. Readers might be interested to know that now there are tours going to once out-of-bound places such as Gaza, Hebron, Nablus, and other West Bank towns and sites. On these tours it's possible to meet Israelis and Palestinians who favor peace and reconciliation. Balanced tours and real pilgrimages, not just "quicky tours" of traditional holy sites, is what's needed for people, particularly Westerners, to become more educated about and involved in this difficult but not impossible situation in the Middle East.
Robert and Margaret Hannum