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September 27, 1970 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1970-09-27

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&4411 an 3 t
Eighty years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich.

News Phone: 764-0552

Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily express the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in al reprints.

The va
SLOWLY, WiTH the stately in-
decision that most Republican
gentemen usually reserve for ques-
tions that might involve Jews, the
Nixon Administration seems to be
moving toward intervention in
Jordan. First you parachute a
field hospital into the desert, with
the best intentions in the world;
then you find that you must have
someone to protect the field hos-
pital, and the Marines land on the
next C-130. And then the 82nd
Airborne is flown in to secure the
perimeter for the Marines. and
you find yourself enmeshed. Again.
And yet. there is some feeling
that the defeat of King Hussein
miaht not bp such a very bad .
thine. It could, in fact, lead to a








kind of peace in the Middle East
that the great powers and 'the
various contending governments
might not be able ever to obtain.
THE HEART of the matter in
the present Middle East situation
is the fate of the 2.5 million Pales-
tinian Arabs; some 600,000 are
scattered through the refugee
camps in Egypt, Jordan. Syria
and Lebanon; othershave done
well in these countries and else-
where in the Arab world; some
live under Israeli rule. In 1948,
when the UN proposed partition
of Palestine into a Jewish state
and an Arab state, the Palestinian
Arabs did not seize the moment.
They have been literally stateless
since then.
The fedayeen are Palestinian

The Middle East impasse

Arabs. The urban terrorists are
Palestinian Arabs. The men mov-
ing across the deserts of Jordan
Are Palestinian Arabs. For too long
the older generation of Israeli
leaders (especially those of Golda
Meir's age, the Eastern European
Zionists) have refused to recognize
their existence. They refuse to
bargain with them, on the grounds
that Israel bargains with states.
not movements, certainlytnot ter-
rorists. It is the position the U.S.
tried to maintain for so long with-
out success about the Viet Cong.
The Palestinian Arabs might call
themselves Marxists, Maoists, or
any of a dozen other names; but
in essence they are nationalists.
Like the Israelis, they want a piece
of land to call home, a place in
the sun, a state. A refugee camp
is not a state.
IF HUSSEIN were defeated they
would have a state. Jordan, after
all, was arbitrarily sliced out of
the map by Winston Churchill in
1921 as a payoff to the Hashemites
who supported the British in the
First World War; Hussein's an-
cestors aren't even from the coun-
try (they're from Saudi Arabia).
If the Al Fatah revolutionaries
(and the other revolutionary
groups around them) were to win,
they would have to make the pain-
ful transition from romantic rev-
olution, with all its gaudy rhetoric,
to the dull and plodding process
of governing.
But at least they would have a
home. They would have a state
(which could be called Palestine if
they chose).
This would take some changes
in attitude on the part of both the
Palestinian Arabs and the Israelis.
The Arabs will have to gave up
the nut rhetoric abofit driving the
Israelis into the sea. That is not
going to happen; the Israelis are
there to stay. But the Israelis
would have to cooperate too. Those
Palestinian Arabs who lost their
homes and properties -in 1948
would have to be compensated for,
their losses. But more important ,
the Israelis would have to rec-
ognize the legitimacy of the Pales-
tinian Arab government.


SUCH A SOLUTION would have
mutual advantages and some large
dangers. The ?alestinians are pro-
ducts of the olitics of grievance
(as, in some important ways, are
the Israelis); some of their leaders.
think that the way to relieve old
grievances is to slaughter Israelis.
They would have to be contained
by more moderate elements. Some
Israelis and the U.S. government,
might object to a Jordan that is
Marxist or radical; but the Pales-
tinian Arabs are already led by
Marxists, and have, already been
radicalized. The difference now is
that they are also outlaws; given
responsibility and a home state,
they might stop acting like cut-
"Ultimately," wrote Prof. Shlo-

MORE THAN three years ago, prior to
the six-day war, it wa§ relatively
easy to make a "rational" judgment on
the situation in the Middle East. Then it
seemed isolated Israel deserved the
world's support. Threatened with anni-
hilation, Israel appeared to have few al-
ternatives when it launched a pre-emp-
tive war for self-preservation. Lines were
clear-cut; there was no agonizing decis-
ion to be made.
Today, following 39 months of conflict,
terrorism and retaliation, with no appar-
ent end in sight, the lines of right and
wrong, and justice and injustice have
been swept away by the shifting sands of
war. At a time when the need for a ra-
tional solution weighs on all concerned.
eyes are blinded or diverted by existential
prejudices and- ideological one-sidedness'
which only provide the simple explana-
tions necessary to motivate human beings
to kill one another.
Every day, Israelis and Arabs confront
each other in the death landscape to
which the Holy Land has grown accus-
tomed. Few believe that a solution to the
conflict will be 'reached in their lifetimes,
and virtually all seem resigned to some
form of extended battle.
Even more horrifying is the growing
consciousness on both sides that peace is
more than impossible - that it is un-
desirable. People say they are willing and
ready to fight wars of "attrition" against
their enemies rather than accept a n y
form of compromise. And as for the
gnawing reality that the costs of these
wars of attrition amount to watching the
Editorial Staff
Editorial Director Managing Editor
NADINE COHODAS. ......Feature Editor
JIM NEUBACHER . ..... Editorial Page Editor
ROB BIER .......... Associate Managing Editor
JUDY KAHN ...Personnel Director
DANIEL ZWERDLING ....... ... Magazine Editor
ROBERT CONROw. .........Books Editor
NIGHT EDITORS: Dave Chudwin, Erika Hoff, Steve
Koppman, Robert Kraftowitz, Lynn Weiner
Chaney, Steve Koppman, Pat Mahoney, Rick
Sports Staff
ERIC SIEGAL, Sports Editor
PAT ATKINS, Executive Sports Editor
PHIL HERTZ Associate Sports Editor
LEE KIRK.. ............Associate Sports Editor
BILL DINNER . .. Contributing Sports Editor

young and the innocent waste their lives
in orgies of killing and -useless slaughter;
a common explanation echoes: "This is
the price we have to pay."
Behind the daily violence which oc-
cupies everyone in the Middle East, ithe
vibrations of hatred oppress all normal
life, building anxiety into all social rela-
tionships. A whole generation of child-
ren has been raised against this back-
kround of, hatred and intolerance, and as
time passes the Middle Eastern vortex
grows stronger sucking more and more
people into its confusion.
HOW WILL the Middle Eastern dilemma
be resolved? The arguments on both
sides are powerful. Certainly it is under-
standable that Jews emerging from a
war-torn Europe desired their own state.
And certainly the Palestinians have been
wrongly deprived of their homeland.
However, three years of Palestinian ter-
rorism have finally taken their toll on the
Arab population, where bitter fraternal
fighting has ripped Jordan apart. As for
Israel, the question of its right to exist
verses its "colonialization" of Palestine is
a moot point. What is important is that
the militaristic, hard-headed arrogance
which lubricates the army has worked its
way into all the joints of society, causing
a coldness and brutality which raises
doubts about the very value of Israel's
It is as if the continuous war - which
is the means of Israel's existence - h a s
corrupted the idea of a Jewish state. For
the motivating concept behind Zionism
was always more than political. It was
always hoped that Israel would be a social
experiment, a just society. But the war
has transformed many Israelis into noth-
ing less than chauvinists, completely and
egotistically engaged in the preservation
of their state - where right loses its
meaning in terms of ideas and re-emerges
as a function of fire-power statistics.
How does one confront a situation
which has no rational solution, no just
alternatives? While answers are lacking
and negotiations seem hopeless it is ob-
vious that somehow, Arabs and Israelis
must learn to live together. No argument
will ever justify the continuation of this
insane war.
Editorial Director

mo Avineri of "Hebrew University
(Commentary, June, 1970) "there
is no conflict between Israel and
Egypt, or between Israel and
Syria; the conflict is between Is-
rael and the Palestinians."
That seems clear, event at this
distance. The Palestinian Arabs
have been treated so badly by
Arab governments which helped
keep them; in misery that they
'annot be expected to owe loyalty
to anyone but themselves. There
might not have been a Palestinian
Arab identity in 1948, but there is
one now, and it must be dealt
Editor's note: The author is
a featured ° columnist for the
New York Post).
e New York Post


The virtue




lowing article is reprinted from
the Sept. 28 edition of News-
week magazine.)
As the contending forces in
Amman were rushing headlong
toward undisguised civil war, a
little-noticed event took place
farther north in Irbid, the se-
cond-largest city in Jordan.
There, Al Fatah commandos
proclaimed a "liberated" area
and set about creating the first
revolutionary city-state in the
Middle East. On hand to wit-
ness the birth of this Palestinian
,oviet was Newsweek's Loren
Jenkins. His report:,
POWER TO THE people has
long been one of the principal
tenets of the Palestinian libera-
tion movement's Marxist fringe.
But most outside observers have
disrr issed such revolutionary slo-
ganeering as the boastful prattle
of coffeehouse intellectuals. After
what happened in Irbid last week.
no one can afford to sneer. The
actual take-over of the ramshackle
trading community of 150,000 peo-
ple occurred two weeks ago while
Jordanian authorities were bus-
ily trying to free the hundreds of
hijacked passengers held at near-
,by Dawson Field.
After Bedouin supporters of King
Hussein masacred 23 guerrillas in
an ambush near Irbid, local Fed-
ayeen - most of them members of
Al Fatah and an extremist com-
mando group called the Popular
Democratic Front for the Libera-
tion of Palestine (PDF) -
brought the bodies of their dead
comrades into the city and dis-
played them in front of the main
mosque. "They were completely
mutilated," one Irbid shopkeeper
told me. "Some had their hands
tied with their intestines, others
had their eyes gouged out or had
been dismembered."

THE REACTION of the popu-
lace was what the commandos
had expected - instant outrage.
"Those who had never believed us
abo- :t the barbarity of the army
were suddenly awakened to ac-
tion," said one guerrilla. In a
seemingly spontaneous explosion
of anger, the Irbidians swarmed
out of the mosque and laid seige
to government buildings. B u t
after the initial flare-up there was
little bloodshed. Early last week,
a hastily summoned "people's
court" condemned nine Jordanian
Army officers to death, but since
all government troops had already
retreated from the city, the sent-
ences were meaningless. The gov-
ernor of Irbid and several score
of his supporters who had sought
refuge in the central m i 1i t a r y
casern were provided with food
and water by the commandos and
told that they would be allowed
to leave if they surrendered their
weapons to the insurgents and re-
nounced their allegiance to King
By midweek, when I arrived in
Irbid, the city seemed surprisingly
calm. Shops were doing a brisk
business and people were milling
around the fly-infested souk
(market) or sipping thick Turk-
ish coffee in side-street cafes.
The only outward signs of change
were the heavily armed commando
patrols which ambled about the
city, often with a sheepish-look-
ing policeman in tow to prove
that the guerrillas were willing to
make their peace with coopera-
tive government authorities.
"Many of the government people
have been willing to work f o r
us for the good of the revolu-
tion," a young chemical engineer
who claimed to be the city's chief
commissar told me. "See for your-
self how normal the situation is.
We are now ruling here and things

are working better than before."
BUT DESPITE the surface
tranquility of life in Irbid, genuine.
revolutionary activity was going
on behind the scenes. To replace
the city administration, the com-
mandoes set up on every street
"people's committees," which in
turn elected members to larger dis-
trict committees. These groups.
composed of commando commis-
sars as well as leading residents of
Irbid who support the Palestinian
cause, held evening meetings to
discuss such matters as the future
organization of the city and pre-
parations for its defense. Although
they are similar in structure to
the local soviets that the Bolshe-
viks formed in the early days of
the Russian Revolution, the com-
mittees seemed to be a relatively
spontaneous response to local
events with no overt influence
from Moscow or Peking. "We

have not had enough time yet to
crystallize our thoughts," a Syr-
ian doctor who is a member of
one committee told me. "Every-
thing is moving so fast that we
just try to cope with things as
they come up." Clearly, however,
the Marxist leaders of the Pop-
ular Democratic Front were more
certain about where they were
headed. "This week .you are see-
ing the birth of the first Arab
liberated area," commented a
commando chief. "You could call
it - and I prefer to call it - the
first Arab soviet."
BEFORE I left Irbid, a "peo-
ple's congress" met in the center
of the city and resolved to bar all
pro-government officials from the
city and to resist any attack by
the Jordanian Army. Toward that
end, some 1,200 commandos hast-
ily dug trenches along the main
routes of attack and set up road

blocks to control movement to
and from the city. "We are pre-
paring to fight here until the end,"
said Lt. Abu Kussai, a burly 30-
year-oldPalestinian college grad-
uate who is in charge of the city's
defenses. "We are a poor nation
in a very big struggle, but we- are
confident of victory."
By the end of the week, how-
ever, that confidence seemed
somewhat premature. There were
reports of skirmishes between the
commandos and units of the Jor-
danian Army in the'vicinity of Ir-
bid. And it seemed only a matter
of time before the army would
launch a major assault on the
Marxist stronghold. "If Hussein
is going to rule his country, he
will have to retake Irbid," com-
mented a Western diplomat based
in Amman. "No government can
allow such a situation to exist and
still pretend to be a government."
o Newsweek




ARM~Y, Ulf-
7~ I-~I

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tOST ViC1e

TrPUSH4 1 6 WT

ANf; 71i&
Gc0MM~T To

Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:
IN THE WAKE of the recent
hijackings of civilian aircraft, an
interesting dilemma has arisen in
describing the people who execut-
ed these acts, namely the mem-
bers of the Popular Front for the
Liberation- of Palestine.
The Front, spokesmen constant-
ly refer to themselves as "freedom
fighters," European and American
press intermingle the labels "ter-

their homeland for their people,
they indulge in Marxist-Maoist
ideology which has helped them
in the formation of a philosophy
which advocates peaceful coexist-
ene for all religious groups in the
Holy Land. So what shall they
be called?.
I HAD AN interesting experience
in Israel this year during a visit
to Acre. The Israeli government
has made a former British prison
into a museum, I believe it to be

dent of the right wing Gahal par-
ty which advocates retention of
all the land gained in the 1967 war
and former minister without port-
folio, was head of this organiza-
tion and has publicly claimed re-
sponsibility for, among other
things, such acts as the bombing
of the King David Hotel in which
100 people were killed, the slaugh-
ter of 250 men, women, and chil-
dren at Deir Yassin, and placing
a time bomb in the British colo-
nial office.

fP05(4 T6



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