Can there be peace in the middle east?

Editors, the Gauntlet,

Re: "War is not the answer," Oct. 12, 2000

Lawrence Bailey characterized Israel’s response to the Palestinian riots as a "Zionist temper tantrum" and an act of "blind aggression" by a "terrorist state." Like many others who have limited knowledge of Middle Eastern history and politics, Bailey has been misguided by news coverage of the region, which has been predominantly pro-Palestinian and has grossly distorted the roles played by Israelis and Palestinians in the conflict.

In most instances where Israeli soldiers open fire, it is armed Palestinians (including some of Arafat’s very own policemen) who fire first. The Palestinian militia’s tactic of firing at Israeli soldiers to provoke them and then using stone-yielding women and children as a buffer against the Israeli response, largely accounts for the disparity in the casualty ratio.

The brutal torture and murder of the Israeli soldiers in Palestinian police custody in Ramallah, the desecration of Jewish holy sites such as Joseph’s Tomb and the ongoing riots do not indicate an interest in peace on the part of Palestinians–neither does the Palestinian collaboration with the terrorist organization Hamas, nor the release of Hamas and Jihad terrorists from behind bars by Arafat. Rather, these events support the view held by many Israelis that the peace process is nothing more than a negotiating tool used to get further concessions from Israel. The Palestinian authorities are not actually interested in being a part of the peace process, but in getting a Palestinian state as soon as possible, regardless of the cost to their own people. While they undoubtedly mourn their dead civilians, they believe they are securing their cause by inciting unarmed civilians to participate in the riots and then drawing the world’s attention to the fact that Palestinian civilians have been killed or injured as a result of Israel’s "excessive use of aggression."

Israel has expressed its willingness to sit down with the Palestinians and resume the peace negotiations, on the condition that the violence ceases; until now, this hasn’t happened. Despite recent events, most Israelis remain hopeful that one day, Israel will make peace with the Palestinians. Until that time comes however, Israel deserves to live as the free and democratic society it is, without being coerced into settling Palestinian land claims by acts of violence.

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