Meditations on the Middle East

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Thank you for Mortimer Zuckerman's excellent editorial "The Elusive Mideast Peace" [January 28-February 4].

However, even he fails to fully elucidate Israel's plight. Since Israel left Gaza in September 2005, Palestinians have fired 4,000 rockets and mortars at Israel, mostly at the town of Sderot. As a result, nearly one-third of Sderot's 24,000 residents have fled, and many Israeli children there are too traumatized to go to school. According to a recent study, more than a quarter of Sderot's residents who remain have post-traumatic stress disorder, more than half have had their homes hit by a rocket or shrapnel, and nearly half have known someone who was killed by a rocket. The stories of the Israelis killed there are heart wrenching, such as 17-year-old Ayala Haya Abukasis, who died while shielding her 10-year-old brother Tamir from an exploding Palestinian missile. This is intolerable. All Israelis yearn for peace, but until the Palestinians stop terrorizing Israelis, Israel cannot make further concessions that risk subjecting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to the same fate as Sderot. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once observed, "Peace for Israel means security, and that security must be a reality."

Stephen A. Silver


San Francisco  

Please permit me to take exception to Mort Zuckerman ' s revisionist Jewish history. His is correct that Mideast peace is elusive but not for the reasons he gives. The Balfour Declaration, 1917, did give the Jews the right to a Jewish homeland but it was laced with deceptions. The Hashemites under Sharif Hussein saw World War I as an opportunity to rid the land o f the Ottoman Turks to which Great Britain was agreeable. But the Hashemites were betrayed . Through the Sykes-Picot Agreement the French and British behind the scenes divided the Mideast after the war. Sir James Balfour instead of self-determination for the Palestinian Arabs who had lived there for centuries promised the land instead to the Jewish people, who were only a fraction of the population. Then in 1920, the League of Nations gave Britain a mandate over Palestine , Iraq and Jordan . The late King Hussein of Jordan said it best in one short quote: " The root cause of almost all the bitterness and frustration in our Arab world today is the Balfour Declaration. "

Catherine Bridgman

Albuquerque , N.M.  

Thank you, Mortimer Zuckerman, for such an honest and unbiased editorial on the Israel-Palestinian issue. I find it rare and a pleasure for someone to understand that Israel will stop its attacks once Hamas stops its rocket attacks. The Israelis have longed for peace since its inception; many of the Arab states go to war with Israel whenever they have the chance.

Mim Grace Gieser


Cincinnati  

To retaliate is worse than to initiate a fight, because it takes more courage, by far, to not retaliate than it does to start a fight. Therefore Israel, and its main ally, the United States are to blame for the continued trouble in the mid-east. Until this is understood there will be not just "little hope" but no hope for peace in the mid-east or anywhere else.

Howard Loewen


Honolulu