In his Feb. 2 Opinion piece, "What 'Israel's right to exist' means to Palestinians," John V. Whitbeck claims that Palestinians are within their rights to be upset about the need to recognize "Israel's right to exist" because they "were driven from their homeland." This is a false affirmation of the myth of a Palestinian homeland in the first place.
The identity of a Palestinian "homeland" was not emphasized until the proposed partition of the area under the British mandate forming Israel. In fact, there were no "Palestinians" per se, only Arabs who identified themselves from different parts of the area known as Palestine. Perhaps part of the problem for groups such as Hamas or Fatah is the need to cling to myth rather than negotiate from fact and realistic opportunities.
In his Opinion piece, John V. Whitbeck chooses to have selective historical memory. In 1947, Palestinians had the opportunity to choose to live in a Palestinian state, but they rejected the notion of living next to a Jewish state. Mr. Whitbeck claims that Palestinians were driven from their homes, but he fails to mention that Palestinians were driven away by promises from Arab leaders that the Jews would quickly be thrown into the sea and that Palestinians could then return to their homes.
To compare this situation to the Holocaust is absolutely absurd. European Jews were not given a choice between having a state of their own or being sent off to death camps.
In response to John V. Whitbeck's Opinion piece: The US government relies on and exploits the ignorance of most Americans of the true plight of the Palestinian people, which allows a foreign policy of blind support for Israel to the detriment of our own national interest.
The quagmire in the Middle East could be resolved easily if people knew the truth of the degradation suffered by the Palestinians, a truth that clamors for justice. Our foreign aid to nations must be contingent on the respect for human rights, which reflect the principles that are the foundation of our great nation.
Regarding John V. Whitbeck's Opinion piece: The indefinable "right" to exist for any nation is not given but earned and recognized by others. Israel was established by Western "might," not "right," at the expense of the indigenous Palestinians. On May 11, 1949, the United Nations admitted Israel as a member on the condition that it would implement the UN's partition plan (Resolution 181) and Palestinian refugees' right of return (Resolution 194), and honor all UN Charter obligations.
Israel has not met these obligations, and thus it has essentially voided its UN membership. If morality, humanity, and adherence to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are the yardsticks for a nation's "right to exist," then Israel is found wanting by these international measures.
Like all nations, Israel has a "right to exist" in peace and defined borders with its Arab neighbors. The question is, will Israel abide by all UN resolutions that demand its withdrawal from all occupied territories in exchange for peace? The best guarantor of Israel's peace is implementing the only viable solution: "land for peace," as expressed by the US, UN, the Arab League, and others.
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