The July 30 article Unstable Arabs undermine peace effort by Elliot Bartky and Allon Friedman is disappointing. These two men, who clearly love Israel, have unfortunately chosen to defend it through half- truth, vilification and innuendo rather than with reasoned argument.
Oddly, they argue that Israel gave up the West Bank in 1948 despite being promised this land and in spite of the unique historical, religious, moral and legal claims Jews had to it, disregarding the same claims by the Palestinians who lived there. Promised by whom? They are probably referring to a 1917 private letter from the foreign minister of Britain which was, at that very moment, attempting to seize Palestine through war.
When Israel did indeed conquer the West Bank in 1967, its occupation was condemned by the international community. UN Resolution 242, passed unanimously by the Security Council, refers to the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and calls for Israel to withdraw its armed forces. At the end of the Yom Kippur War in 1973, UN Resolution 338 reaffirmed 242. Israel has ignored those resolutions.
Bartky and Friedman have conflated the territory of Gaza and the Jewish settlement there. The Gaza settlement, illegally established in the first place, was untenable and had to be abandoned. But Israel has kept Gaza as the largest prison in the world – totally cut off from the outside world. Settlements, used by Israel as a means of fragmenting Palestine, have been declared illegal by the entire international community. Ariel Sharon, as head of Israel’s Ministerial Committee on Settlements, said they would establish facts on the ground that would render Israel’s occupation irreversible. Sharon went on to found dozens of settlements and many are still being constructed today.
Underscoring the illegality of settlements, a stunning European Community directive issued last month bars all 28 member states from dealings with Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, including annexed Arab east Jerusalem. Settlements and Jewish-only highways that crisscross Palestine are central to the intentional fragmentation of the occupied territories.
The unbridled vilification of Mahmoud Abbas and Arab peoples in general is perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the Bartky-Friedman article. Reverse anti-Semitism is no more attractive than the original product. I would encourage readers to explore the website of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD.org), the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (pchrgaza.org) as well as Palestinian Territory on the UN Human Rights website. Our mutual objective should be to seek a balanced exploration of this most difficult and tragic situation.