January 17: Man from Mars

Gershon Baskin couldn't have presented a more utterly unattainable Declaration of Principles for a negotiated settlement.

letters to the editor 88 (photo credit: )
letters to the editor 88
(photo credit: )
Sir, ' If Gershon Baskin had landed by spaceship from an alien planet he could not have presented a more utterly unattainable Declaration of Principles for a negotiated agreement between Israel and the State of Palestine-to-be ('Peek at an agreement," January 15). Ignoring the fact that Gaza is under the iron rule of Hamas is analogous to ignoring the 800-pound gorilla in the room, whose virulence shows no sign of abating. The expectation that Israel will agree to 'acknowledge that it shares responsibility with other parties for the emergence of [the] refugees' plight is to engage in an exercise of pure historical revisionism. Baskin has a penchant for strictly evenhanded advocacy: 'The two sides undertake to foster a culture of peace, including the undertaking of curricula review and modification of textbooks' as if both sides were equally culpable of hateful incitement in schoolbooks, TV programs and the media. His cavalier expectation of unlimited international funds for 'new housing and establishing new cities in Palestine; 'compensation for refugees who wish to remain in their present country of residence; 'compensation for all Palestinian refugees in recognition of years of suffering' suffering caused by their leaders deliberate decision to maintain the refugees in camps as political pawns while receiving massive international aid ' and, the ultimate obscenity, that 'all Palestinians will be able to present property claims to an international commission indicates a dreamworld mentality. The article is a compendium of wishful thinking and denial of facts on the ground, predicting another utopia which stands no chance of being realized in the foreseeable future. FAY DICKERLakewood, New Jersey The three Noes hadsomething to do with it Sir, ' 'Why didn't Israel make peace in the first 27 years of its occupation...? (between 1967 and 1994)? asks Johannes Zang in 'End the occupation" (Letters, January 16). Apparently he is too young to remember the '3 Noes of Khartoum. Israel returned the keys of the Temple Mount to the Wakf. Israel then offered to talk; to which the Arabs replied: 'No recognition, no talks, no peace. Anyone who believes that the suicide bus bombings were the result of the action of Baruch Goldstein should also believe that Goldstein's action was the result of murders committed by Palestinians against Israelis after the beginning of the 'Oslo Peace Process. Mr. Zang, go out and learn the facts. It seems clear that you know only what you were told during your four years of living among the Palestinians. DAVID M. ARLAN Rehovot Sir, ' I have three questions of my own for Johannes Zang: What happened to Gaza after Israel left the region? Are the Palestinians better off? Are the Israelis more secure? Surely an unbiased journalist would conclude that leaving Gaza, an enormous sacrifice Israel is grappling with to this day, was an unmitigated disaster. End the occupation, in light of the Gaza experience? You must be joking. RACHEL BIRATI Melbourne Sir, ' Johannes Zang says that after living in the West Bank for four years he has encountered little Arab hatred toward Jews, only 'sadness and despair that our cousins do not want peace. He obviously has not interviewed any would-be suicide bombers and their proud families, read any Arabic schoolbooks or newspapers, or watched Palestinian TV. Has he interviewed any Jewish terror victims? All over Israel one sees hospitals, schools and other institutions built with money donated by Jews worldwide. Money donated by Arabs goes to finance suicide bombers and purchase weapons and armaments to continue the war against the Arabs' cousins. In the 60 years since the State of Israel was founded, there is no reason why the Arabs of Palestine could not have built up a state equal to Israel's success story. Instead of pontificating, Mr. Zang needs to learn the history of this region. ISADORE SOLOMONS Beit Shemesh He knows the tune,let him sing the words Sir, ' World-famous conductor and performer Daniel Barenboim is a great champion of Palestinian rights and has very good relations with the Palestinian Authority chairman and all other leading PA figures. He could bring about some basic changes which no Israeli statesman has succeeded in achieving:
  • amending of the Palestinian Covenant to remove those clauses that obviate the hope of any peaceful settlement with Israel. These changes were promised by Yasser Arafat and other leaders, but never made.
  • encouraging the Palestinian leadership to bring the terror to an end. No one can handle the problem more efficiently than the Arabs themselves (as king Hussein of Jordan so clearly demonstrated).
  • revising the education curriculum to remove the hate-filled propaganda disseminated to young children through adulthood, and via the media. Some conflicts continue for generations, like the one between Barenboim's homeland, Argentina, and its neighbor, Chile. That ended only after a very long and drawn-out bloody struggle. Daniel Barenboim can make a real contribution to peace. If he takes advantage of the opportunity, any criticism we may have of him will quickly be forgotten ('Barenboim gets Palestiniancitizenship," January 16). DAVID GOSHEN Kiryat Ono Misleading picture Sir, ' On January 14 and 15 your Web site carried an article referring to a discovery by the Israel Airports Authority of two tons of dual-purpose fuel in a humanitarian aid transport vehicle at Kerem Shalom on Monday, January 13 ('Kassam materials caught at border'). The accompanying picture showed a truck transporting WHO humanitarian aid, with clearly visible WHO logos. This illustration was misleading, suggesting to the reader that the incident was connected to WHO humanitarian aid shipments to Gaza. The World Health Organization would like to clearly express its objection to its use. We wish to emphasize that our organization is in daily contact with the IDF Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) under COGAT at Erez. At no point of time have we had any incident such as the one described in the article. In fact, during a meeting between WHO and CLA last week, it was reconfirmed that the transparency of our organization's shipping procedures is well appreciated by the Israeli authorities. In addition, WHO is solely transporting items for medical purposes. AMBROGIO MANENTI Head of Office WHO West Bank and Gaza Jerusalem Wrens reply, please Sir, ' The Jewish Military Museum is designing a panel showing Jews who have served in the Royal Navy. We are in urgent need of photographs and details of women who served in the WRNS (Women's Royal Naval Service). Please reply to Henry Morris, Curator, Jewish Military Museum, Shield House, Harmony Way, Victoria Road, London. HENRY MORRIS London Better choice Sir, 'Instead of your headline 'Fit to drive? Fit to serve! (January 14) I would have preferred 'Unfit to serve? Unfit to drive! That would help improve the road accident statistics, as well as the army recruitment levels. MAURICE STEINHART Jerusalem