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Ramy Tadros's piece ("Israel's `Independence' Day," guest commentary, May 3, 1995) states the obvious in emphasizing that the rights of freedom, independence and self-determination belong to every people. His stories also show that any attempt at achieving these goals is bound to be as fractured as the world in which we live.
But his account is incorrect and unbalanced on several points. Though a Jewish state may have been created in the midst of an Arab population, a Jewish homeland was not. Jews have lived in Israel and called it home for millennia. If the aspirations for an independent Jewish state were merely political, the early Zionists would have chosen the much less complicated option of establishing a state in Uganda.
From Tadros's description, one would think that the War of Independence was the victory of a powerful Israeli army over a helpless civilian population. It was not. The moment Israel's independence was announced, the surrounding countries immediately attacked. All of them, except Egypt, remained in a permanent state of war with Israel until the 1990s. The miracle of independence is at once the miracle of survival.
But we must move beyond all of this. Conflict and violence between Israelis and Palestinians dates back to before the tragedy of Deir Yassin, to the massacre of Jewish pioneers at Tel-Hai in 1920 and the riots of the 1930s. The Israeli public rejected that heritage by electing leaders who realize the ethical erosion that results from dominating another people.
Tadros's charge that Israelis and Jews around the world do not consider the plight of the Palestinians rings hollow. Leading thinkers like Amos Oz have helped build the Israeli consensus for peace by critiquing flaws in the Zionist dream. Yet just as the Israeli public must recognize its moral imperative to stay committed to peace, Palestinians must reject a path to self-determination which is bloodied with the death of the innocent. Where are the Palestinian voices of self-critique that must speak up against the radical brutality of groups like Hamas?
Tadros and others in the Palestinian community must strongly reject those leaders in their own ranks whose stated goals are the destruction of Jewish lives and the state of Israel, and whose avowed means are violence and terror. We need a meaningful peace, not historical recapitulation, to heal the wounds of the past.
Our celebration Wednesday night was not a chance to gloat over a vanquished enemy. We celebrated the miracle of freedom for a people nearly annihilated in this century. The Palestinian and Israeli communities must continually reevaluate national myths and recognize that human imperfection will always be a blemish on our hopes for true freedom. And I hope that we can walk arm in arm towards a brighter future. Ethan M. Tucker '97 Chair, Harvard-Radcliffe Hillel
The writer is a Crimson editor.
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