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July 21, 1989 - Image 24

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-07-21

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

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24

FRIDAY, JULY 21, 1989 ,

All Disputes Are Not
Created Equal

!

181 S. Woodward Ave.
Birmingham, MI 48011

642-1690

There is a major
fallacy in many
discussions of
the Mideast di-
lemma, one that
even fervent ad-
vocates of Is-
/
rael's cause like
me sometimes fail to
recognize. And that is in the
attempt to see a balanced
equation between Palestinian
and Israeli grievances.
It's all too easy to make
that mistake. Human nature
dictates that there is a
measure of equality between
disputants, and reporting on
the Mideast has stressed that
message, explicitly and
implicitly.
Most recently, in the wake
of the terrorist incident on the
Tel Aviv to Jerusalem bus,
which killed 14 innocent peo-
ple, we read that the man
responsible for the tragedy
reportedly acted out of anger
over the fact that his relatives
in Gaza had been beaten by
Israeli troops. True, his was a
dastardly deed but hadn't he
been provoked? one might
ask.
In dealing with the in-
tifada, we acknowledge that
Palestinian men, women and
children are throwing rocks,
and worse, against Israeli
soldiers. But some American
Jews wonder whether the
years of frustration these peo-
ple feel over living in such
squalid conditions is not
justification for their actions.
And on the diplomatic level,
the focus is on the Palesti-
nians curtailing the intifada
and Israel, in turn, making
concessions of its own.
But the Mideast dilemma is
not a symmetrical dispute,
pitting the Palestinians
against the Israelis. What
about the more than 20 Arab
states in the region, all of
whom, with the notable ex-
ception of Egypt, continue to
advocate the destruction of
the state of Israel? Two
million Jews seeking to live
in peace in a democratic state
of their own vs. hundreds of
millions of Arabs fervently
dedicated to preventing that
reality. Indeed, the Arab-
Israeli dispute may very well
be the most assymetrical
dispute in history. The Arab
states' response to Israel's
declaration of statehood in
1948 was a declaration of war,
and 41 years later the
violence and bloodshed con-
tinues. Where is the sym-

metry in an equation that has
countless Israelis over the
last four decades struggling
to formulate peace proposals
and Anwar Sadat the only
Arab leader ever to sit down
and negotiate?

For all the fervent debate in
Israel over how best to make
peace and how much territory
to give up, are there any
groups in all the Arab world
urging their leaders to
negotiate with the Jewish
state? On the contrary, any
Palestinian in Gaza or the
West Bank even willing to
consider talking with Israel is
murdered by his brethren.
There is no pressure on
Syria, Saudi Arabia or even
Jordan to end their state of
war against Israel; the man-
tle of leadership has fallen on
Yassir Arafat, a longtime ter-
rorist dedicated to destroying
the Jewish state. So is it not
reasonable if Israelis are
skeptical of Arafat's protesta-
tions that he only desires a
state of his own, given that
the PLO leader is responsible
for the deaths of hundreds of
Israelis over the last two
decades and remains commit-
ted to a PLO charter calling
for the destruction of Israel?

It is important for
us to appreciate
that Israel's
conflict is not only
with the PLO and
the Palestinians.

Decades of hatred, violence
and bloodshed cannot be eras-
ed by the recitation of a few
phrases — particularly when
the PLO leadership continues
to assert in the Arab press
that any PLO state would be
but the first phase in an effort
to take over all of Israel.

What we have have been
seeing in recent years is an
attempt to isolate the
Palestinian-Israeli confronta-
tion at the expense of the
larger issue of the Arab-
Israeli dilemma. U.S. officials
acknowledge that this is so,
asserting that there is a bet-
ter chance for progress on the
Palestinian-Israel front. They
are hoping that a
breakthrough regarding West
Bank elections could lead to
dialogue between the Arab
states and Israel. But even
the most optimistic State

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