Editors, the Gauntlet,
Re: "Israel’s history more complex than media lets on," Oct. 19, 2000
Balanero’s statement regarding Bailey’s understanding of the Middle East from the media and his suggestion to Bailey to have another look at his history books is the same advice I would give to Balanero.
Balanero seems to feel that because of the persecution of six million Jewish brothers and sisters during WWII, Israel is justified in the persecution of just as many in the Middle East. I regret to inform Balanero that he is wrong. Consider the massacres at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, when Israel’s militia allies killed up to 2,000 Palestinian civilians and more than 100 innocent Lebanese in the Quana Massacre in 1996. Balanero calls it a "buffer strip" to protect Israel’s northern villages. I would call it a genocide.
The situation in Israel is such that the originally persecuted ethnic group is now responsible for persecuting the Palestinians and other neighbouring countries such as Lebanon. How can a nation that experienced the Holocaust turn back and act in the same indecent manner to another nation even if it is to achieve their "promised land?" Jews believe that God promised Moses Palestine when he released the Jewish people from the Pharoah’s hands, known as Exodus. Where did God say that no one else was allowed to live there? Where did God say to acquire the "promised land" through bloodshed? Where did God say to expel the natives of the land and force them into refugee camps?
If Balanero would take his own advice and look into history books, he will find that the Palestinian Arabs of today, Muslims and Christians are mainly the descendants of the original native population–Canaanites, Edomits and Philistines. They were there when the Hebrews invaded the land in about 1550 BC, and have lived there ever since. Historically, the fact remains that the major portion of the territory (now called Israel) still legitimately belongs to the people of Palestine.
Balanero’s statement that "the Palestinians should realize by now that Israel won’t give up Temple Mount, the holiest Jewish site" and in brackets "the third holiest for Muslims" is incorrect. Temple Mount, known as Al-Aqsa Mosque to Muslims, is not the third holiest site for Muslims but is one of the three holiest sites for Muslims, and Muslims have equal interest in Al-Aqsa Mosque. Is the religious significance of Al-Aqsa to Muslims any less important? Obviously not. Israelis should understand that Muslims will not give that up either.
If Israelis are really making "major steps" towards peace, how about starting with a simple apology? Throughout his article, Balanero defends and justifies the genocides of Palestinians by Israelis and only at the end mentions that talks and negotiations are the only answers.
I have a question: If someone occupied your homeland, killed your mother and father, raped your sisters, took your home, and left you alive to live in a refugee camp with less rights than an animal, would you talk and negotiate with that person? Peace can only be achieved by the Israeli government admitting to what they say are "mistakes" followed by an apology and compromising with the Palestinians. Definitely, Palestine’s history is more complex than media lets on.