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Occupied Territories of Palestine?



To the Editors of The Crimson:

I might have dismissed The Crimson's March I coverage of the "Mother Courage Peace Tour," featuring Palestinian women who criticized the allies' intervention in Kuwait, as one more far-left Cambridge event. If these courageous mothers want to claim that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the root of all problems in the Middle East, let them. (Just don't mention Iraq.)

Yet The Crimson seems to have bought into their myth, writing that these women hail from a number of Arab countries, including "the occupied territories of Palestine." It is to correct this misleading syntax that I am writing.

"Palestine," as anyone who took Gov 1960 can tell you, was a British invention including the land that is now Israel and Jordan. Jordan got most of the land (and most of the Palestinians, too) when it was created in 1948. It has never recognized Israel and has been at war with her ever since.

When Israel captured the Sinai, West Bank and Gaza in a defensive war in 1967, it didn't capture a sovereign "Palestine" that is now "occupied Palestine," but pieces of Egypt and Jordan.

Jordan, with the largest Palestinian population in the world, keeper of the West Bank for 19 years, has never lifted a finger to help the Palestinians.

Yassir Arafat, chairman of the PLO, realizes he'll never get anything out of Jordan, and instead focuses all his efforts on criticism of Israel. Gone are the days when Arafat told a correspondent, "What you call Jordan is actually Palestine." (1970) Ten years later, he had become savvy enough to define "Palestine" as Israel, or the land "from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea." (1980) By stating that they hailed from "occupied Palestine," the Mother Courage speakers seem to have embraced this PLO view that all of Israel is "negotiable."

Israel is struggling to find an acceptable Palestinian solution. While progress might be slow, the Palestinian issue at least dominates Israel's domestic agenda. Can the same be said of Jordan, Syria or the half dozen other Arab countries with large Palestinian populations? Concerned students here at Harvard should recognize the complexity of the Palestinian's problem, and work with, not against, the only country that takes Palestinian rights seriously. Yvette C. Alt '92

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