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November 13, 1987 - Image 63

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-11-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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that I've heard and seen no concessions on
Mr. Abourezk's part that Jews, because of
their history, because of a lot of things, are
basically entitled to a secure home in the
Middle East.
I'd like to hear those words. I haven't
heard them in this debate, in this book, or
anywhere else. There can be peace in the
Middle East. There must be peace in the
Middle East. The basic needs of all the
peoples there can be satisfied.
I don't pretend to be an expert in this
area, but Palestinian Arabs are Arabs, with
a rich culture and a rich identity of interest
among all of them. There would have been
peace and harmony and progress for
Palestinian Arabs these last forty years,
these last seventy years. There could have
been; there should have been.
I have contended all along that there is
no Palestinian Arab state primarily

MR. ABOUREZK:
What has really happened
is that the U.S. government
and that segment of the
American public that pay
attention to Middle East
affairs just has had no
understanding of
Palestinian aspirations.
They just don't care about
the Palestinians.

>

because the Arabs of the world did not
want an additional, separate Palestinian
Arab state. The Jews, the Israelis, for
many years could not have, would not have,
did not want to stop that from happening.
But because other significant things have
now happened, the immediate creation of
a hostile Palestinian state right next to
Israel has caused great concern among the
Israelis.
I hope that concern can be overcome, not
by the kind of angry rhetoric we've seen in
this book on the part of a man who believes
strongly about it. I regret it very much.
But I think we can overcome these dif-
ferences, we must overcome these dif-
ferences. There is room enough in the
Middle East for the existence of a viable
Jewish state that's not constantly
threatened. There's room for Arab aspira-
tions, and specifically Palestinian aspira-
tions. I desire that.
MR. SHIPLER: Mr. Abourezk, is dialogue
fruitful?
MR. ABOUREZK: Yes, I think it's
definitely fruitful. The big problem with

dialogue as it has taken place in the United
States is that it's been altogether too one-
sided. Mr. Bookbinder talks about hoping
that peace breaks out. The unfortunate
part about his aspirations for peace is that
he is somewhat like the Israeli government
which would like to have peace only on their
terms, not on anyone else's terms.
In other words, let's split off Egypt and
make peace with them so they're not a
threat to us anymore. Let's split off Jor-
dan, let's try them next and see if we can
get them out of the way. And then we'll
work on Syria after that. Then we don't
ever have to worry about the Palestinians
once we remove these military powers from
the equation. That was basically what was
behind Camp David.
You just can't say, "Well, I'm hopeful for
peace and I hope Mr. Abourezk would not
be so angry and would not say all these
things."
What has really happened is that the
U.S. government and that segment of the
American public that pays attention to
Middle East affairs just has had no
understanding of Palestinian aspirations.
They just don't care about the
Palestinians.
lb have Mr. Bookbinder say that not all
peoples are entitled to self-determination,
to try to ring in the American Indians and
the Sikhs in India and the Punjabis and
on and on and on, is ridiculous. You're talk-
ing here about Palestinians living in oc-
cupied land under a military occupation,
he's basically trying to say that they're not
entitled to their own state.
He's saying that he doesn't like the oc-
cupation, but it's the best thing we have.
He's saying that I won't talk about Israel's
right to exist, but what he's really doing
is dancing around this whole issue of the
Palestinians' right to their own state. He
won't come right out and say it, and I
know why he won't — because Israel
doesn't want a Palestinian state right next
door. They just don't want it there, period,
and they're going to use every conceivable
excuse not to allow it.
You can talk from now until next year
about our hopes for peace, but unless there
is a real dialogue between the P.L.O. and
the Israelis, it's not going to happen. And
you won't get negotiations when one side
is excessively strong and the other is ex-
cessively weak, and that's why Israel won't
negotiate now.
It's incumbent upon the U.S. govern-
ment, which gives Israel its strength, to
come around and tell Israel that if they
don't negotiate, if they don't want to sit
down and talk peace with the P.L.O., then
U.S. support of Israel will end.
It's got to be done that way or it just
won't happen at all. ❑

From "Through Different Eyes," copyright 1987
by James Abourezk and Hyman Bookbinder,
reprinted by permission of Adler and Adler
Publishers, Inc.

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