Archive for the ‘Palestinians’ Category

Practicality Should Drive the Peace Process

March 12, 2014

Emphraim Sneh wrote one of the wisest and most hopeful analyses of the Arab-Israeli peace process that I have seen in the New York Times in quite a while (“Lift the Mideast Roadblocks,” Mar. 12).  The politics of the conflict is about settling scores and blaming the other for the impasse, but what Sneh is advocating is more practical.  The crimes of the past are important and relevant, of course, but many of the problems of the present have practical solutions that are worth implementing despite the hard feelings on all sides.  The Arab-Israeli conflict has long ceased to be a conflict between Arabs and Jews.  Over the past few decades, it has morphed into a conflict between those who advance the two-state solution (and its implications) and those who oppose the two-state solution.  When the conflict is conceived in those terms, Arabs and Jews can be (and often are) on the same side.

UPDATE: The Times published my letter!


Michael Moore on Israel

November 9, 2011

[sent to]

Dear Mr. Moore:

I have been a fan of your since my high school English teacher played for us a VHS of Roger & Me.  Since then, I have not seen a single film of yours that I did not love.  I have even read a couple of your books and enjoyed them very much.  Even when I disagree with you (which is rare), you are an interesting and entertaining voice.

For this reason, I was disturbed by your comments at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue regarding Israel and the Palestinians.  On that issue, you implied that you were in favor of the unilateral Palestinian movement to get the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state, thus subverting U.S. policy of bringing about a Palestinian state through negotiating a just settlement of the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.  On this point, you not only diverge from U.S. policy, but also from the stated opinions of some Palestinians leaders and left-wing Israeli leaders that moves like this will not bring about peace in the region and will only serve to isolate Israel internationally.

I invite you to rethink your opinions on the Middle East.  I direct you to responsible, left-wing groups such as J Street, Americans for Peace Now, and the American Task Force on Palestine for groups that for you to research, and whose views you may find it useful to endorse.

Thank you.

Upon Gilad Shalit’s return home

October 18, 2011

[Sent to Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA)]

Dear Congressman Berman:

I read your message concerning Israeli Army Sergeant-Major Gilad Shalit’s return home after more than five years of captivity by Hamas.  Without getting into the specifics, your message presented an accurate picture of how your constituents, and indeed all believers in human rights, feel at this historic moment.  Thank you for taking this opportunity to use your position to bring light to this important topic.

North Hollywood, CA

The Christian Science Monitor Responds

November 17, 2009

I just got an email from Ilene Prusher of the Christian Science Monitor:

I’m reply to your letter to my editor yesterday.

I used the sentence I did as shorthand for what would otherwise take at least two paragraphs. Monitor stories on the web are sometimes short and we don’t have a lot of space to get into deep history.

You correctly point out the 1947 Partition Plan, which is of course the turning point. But following the Partition Plan in late 1947, there was a war, after which Israel itself declared itself an independent state in May 1948. Then its recognition was put before the UN, and recognition was won with a vote of two-thirds of the General Assembly.

Shorthand for all of that is that the UN created – or at least sanctioned the creation of – Israel, first by the Partition Plan in 1947, and then by recognizing it as a state in 1948. These two UN votes, as you know, were crucial in the creation of the state [sic] of Israel.

I wrote back:

Dear Ms. Prusher:

Thank you for responding.  Unfortunately, the explanation in your response has left me unconvinced that your shorthand (“Israel itself was created by a vote in the United Nations”) is sufficiently accurate.  Although both events were very important in Israel’s founding moments, neither the UN’s support of the partition plan in 1947 nor the UN’s recognition of the State of Israel in 1948 was the act that created Israel.  Similarly, if the Palestinians decide to declare independence, it will be the Palestinians themselves who would create the State of Palestine, and not a vote in the UN (although that would certainly help their cause).  Sanctioning the creation of a state and actually creating it are very different things.  By that logic, Harry Truman was at least as much the creator of the State of Israel as the United Nations.

Thank you,

UPDATE: Ms. Prusher wrote back immediately, “I see your distinction, and I’ll take it into consideration in our future coverage.”