Several readers criticized my letter urging Israel’s Netanyahu/Lieberman government to be more conciliatory in words and actions and saying that much of the rise in anti-Semitism in Europe and elsewhere can be attributed to Israeli policies.
These letters voiced the same old clichÃ©s.
First, they said: “The Arabs refused to recognize Israel.” True, Iran and Hamas have made statements reflecting a desire to destroy Israel. However, the majority of Palestinians have repeatedly reflected in surveys that they are ready to accept Israel once there is an independent Palestinian state. How can we constantly repeat the slogans of Iran and Arab extremists but ignore the Oslo Declaration and the Arab Peace Initiative, which have clearly recognized Israel, and the fact that our own extremists make similar threats against Arabs, stating that there is no Palestinian nation and never should be?
Second, “The recent rocket attacks from Gaza after the Gaza evacuation means that Israel cannot afford to make any further land concessions.” The facts are that Israel evacuated Gaza for its own benefit, doing so abruptly and without coordination with the Palestinian Authority. Without a trained police force in place in Gaza, it is no wonder that Hamas was able to take control and permit extremists to send rockets into Israel. Any future withdrawal needs to have a trained Palestinian police force in place to take responsibility.
Third, “The Palestinians have not accepted Israel’s generous offers in the past.” True, Israel has made proposals that would give the Palestinians 90 percent to 95 percent of the west bank. However, these offers have involved establishing a Palestinian state in several land masses, so that some distant Israeli settlements could continue to exist and that there would be settler-only roads to connect these settlers to the Israel mainland. A reasonable two-state solution requires some additional negotiations between the parties.
Fourth, “Abbas of the Palestinian Authority is too weak to make a deal.” Abbas is weak because he has not been able to improve the living conditions of his people until recently. The removal of a few of the 410 checkpoints by Israel has already shown a significant increase in the approval by Palestinians of the Abbas government
As I said in my original letter, I am a strong supporter of Israel. However, it is support for an Israel that tries to understand the aspirations of others, that recognizes the need to make concessions that satisfy the reasonable expectation of the other side. It is with that thought that I want to destroy the clichÃ©s and myths that have often led Israel to take actions that are contrary to its own best interests.