Middle East

From Our Readers

To the Editors of The Crimson:

I must take issue with Steven Lichtman's article of November 4, entitled "Middle-Eastern Establishments." Lichtman had the obvious intent of churning out Zionist propaganda, which was rather poorly disguised as a "book review" of David K. Shipler's Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in the Promised Land. His commentary not only falsifies many facts in regard to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but also demonstrates blatant anti-Semitism, in the form of reprehensible prejudice against the Arab people.

The first claim is typical of Zionism's apologists. After all, to "understand" Israel, one must first realize "the importance of the Holocaust." How true, both in understanding Israel and in calculating the attitudes of the European nations toward Israel. The Holocaust plays a part in Israeli siege mentality, an attitude without which the disparate Jewish state could not exist. Similar "learning" from the Holocaust becomes evident when one examines Israel's murderous tactics in Lebanon and the occupied territories. What the Arabs lack in regard to the Holocaust is not understanding, but rather guilt. The Arabs are not Germany, which perpetrated those terrible events. Nor are they France or Italy which either stood by or helped in the slaughter. The Arabs are not even Britain or the United States which allowed cries for help to go unheeded. Thus the Arabs can not be faulted if they refuse to be blackmailed by the memory of those tragic murders.

Zionist leaders are mistaken, however, if they believe that they have gotten away with this grand endeavor. The superpowers, despite the "moral" and other support lent by the U.S., have their own interests in the Middle East. The Arab-Israeli conflict serves as a great chessboard, a weapons testing ground, and the focus of the struggle for intelligence and precious resources. It is not the interest of either to allow the other's proxies to win the incessant wars, so there is no real hope for a military solution. Israel's great tactical superiority is neutralized, while the population clock ticks furiously away. Can Israel throw out the Arabs like so much trash? Probably not, and that leaves only one hope for a solution: negotiation.

According to Lichtman, the tragedy of the Palestinians is the result of their "betrayal" by the Arab states and the "violent path" of Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasir Arafat. He ignores the fact that there would be no Palestinian diaspora without the actions taken by the various Jewish underground forces in Palestine to frighten, intimidate and physically force the Palestinians to leave. Nor would 25,000 Palestinians and Lebanese, along with more than 500 Israeli soldiers, have been killed in 1982 if Israel had not decided to break the American-arranged truce and invade Lebanon. In addition, Yasir Arafat and the PLO do not dictate policy to the Palestinian people. The PLO is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and as such, its armed struggle represents the legitimate aspirations of that people.


In regard to the peace process, Lichtman's statements are ill-founded, irresponsible and simply incorrect. The PLO maintains its commitment to the peace process, as articulated in the "Three Proposals," which were published in the March 31 New York Times. The claim that Israel initiated only one war of the six it has fought is ridiculous. In 1948, even before the establishment of Israel, the Jewish underground forces undertook a campaign of terror to drive the Palestinians from their native land. In 1956, Israel, Britain and France attacked Egypt for the great crime of having nationalized its own territory, the Suez Canal Zone. In 1967, Israel launched its attack on Egypt, knowing full well that Egyptian President Abdel-Nasser was desparately seeking a way to avoid a military confrontation. While the 1973 war was initiated by the Arabs, the intent of the offensive--as evidenced by the extent of Egyptian advance--was to recapture the territories lost in 1967 only. In 1978, the Israelis invaded Lebanon to prevent the Arab League from restoring order in the Lebanese chaos.

Somewhere in the ashes of destruction lies the hope of mutual recognition, Shipler's "looking into each other's eyes." The PLO has offered one such proposal. If the Israelis disapprove, they should present their own ideas. Without someone to negotiate with, the moderates in the Palestinian community will eventually be displaced. Articles such as Mr. Lichtman's which promotes only bigotry and violence, are no help to those interested in real peace. Adam Abdelhamid Sabra '90

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