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Israelis and Palestinians Must Compromise

To the editors:

I logged on to to read about The Game and found something even more disturbing--Yasmin Bin-Humam's naive anti-Israel polemic (Editorial, Nov. 17). In all fairness, it sounded like the kind of naive pro-Israel polemic I might have written when I was a sophomore at Harvard.

First, her charge that Israeli soldiers are deliberately shooting children is inflammatory, irresponsible and also a current staple of Palestinian propaganda. She should never have made it without much stronger evidence.

In the larger sense, she fails to admit that both sides are to blame for the situation and both sides need to make concrete steps to bring about a lasting peace.

Most immediately, all rhetoric aside, and fair or not, the reality is that the current violence won't stop until the Palestinian Authority acts to keep mobs and gunmen away from checkpoints. This is because the Israeli Defense Force will always vigorously defend checkpoints, working under the assumption that if it doesn't, the mobs will pour through and attack the Israeli civilans who often live right beyond. At the same time, Israel should refrain from rocket attacks against targets inside the West Bank and Gaza. Justified or not, they only worsen the situation.

Once the current violence dies down, Israel must act decisively to remove most or all settlements from Palestinian occupied lands. At the same time, the Palestinians must accept Prime Minister Ehud Barak's offer of a shared East Jerusalem--since neither side will ever trust the other to protect its holy places, sharing is the only solution. I fear both of these issues are incredibly touchy and will probably take years to resolve.

Finally, the ball lands in the Palestinian court--the Palestinians and their Arab supporters must convince Israel beyond a reasonable doubt that they support the right of Israel and Jews to exist in the area. Otherwise, for Israel to allow a fully-fledged Palestinian state to develop and arm itself would be tantamount to suicide.

Unfortunately, this convincing will not be easy. The Palestinians have only been occupied by Israel since 1967 but they have sought its destruction since 1948. In the past 50 years Israel has been attacked no less than five times by the Palestinians and neighboring Arab states. Until very recently, the Palestinian charter called for the destruction of Israel. Palestinian textbooks often don't acknowledge the existence of Israel. Palestinian clerics call upon their congregants to slaughter Jews. Hate crimes against Jews by Palestinians have skyrocketed all over the the world in the past six weeks. My own synagogue had a window smashed by a young Palestinian-American.

Many people think that Israel is invincible, but it's not. It's a country of four million Jews surrounded by 100 million hostile Muslims, and it can only afford to lose one war. Israelis truly fear for their survival, and the grim reality--fair or not--is that the Palestinians must assuage these fears before any long-term peaceful co-existence can be possible.

David H. Goldbrenner '96-'97

New York, NY

Nov. 20, 2000

The writer is a former Crimson executive.

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