This letter is meant to be somewhat of a primer for Sue Gray’s dedicated readers. All of the facts which I will outline Sue knows quite well but perhaps some of her readers don’t.
Sue starts her last letter by implying that in 1967, Israel for no apparent reason attacked all of its neighboring Arab countries. Almost everyone knows that several huge Arab armies were massed on Israel’s borders, ready to exterminate “the Jews” before Israel struck a massive pre-emptive blow in order to avoid annihilation. Since almost everyone knows that, I won’t dwell on it other than to say that these were armies from Egypt, Jordan and Syria, who, along with the other Arab states in the region, are the real protagonists in the “Middle East” war. Palestinian Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza were not involved and were merely pawns in this battle.
The territories that Israel occupied after the Six-Day War had been occupied for almost 20 years by Egypt (Gaza and Sinai), Jordan (the entire West Bank and East Jerusalem) and Syria (the Golan Heights). During those years of occupation those countries never gave any consideration to establishing a separate state for the Palestinian Arabs who lived there, nor did those inhabitants ever raise their voices to ask for one. Those people have for more than 60 years been caught in the middle of a Jewish state fighting for its existence against an Arab world seeking to deny them that right.
The conditions for the Arab Palestinians under Arab domination were untenable. Where were their defenders then? Why did no Arab country act to help them, and why did no European country condemn those occupiers for not giving them their freedom? Where was the U.N.; where was the U.S.A.? They were condemned to perpetually live in the squalor of refugee camps because of the Arab countries’ determination to use them as a symbol of their hatred for Israel.
Their situation under Israeli domination is probably no better, and I believe most Israelis would like for it to end. But, as they say, “therein lies the rub.” For Israel cannot just walk away and live next door to what to them represents an existential threat. They must, in collaboration with somebody who can speak for all Palestinians, find a way to coexist peacefully.
But Sue, in her own inimitable way, has again characterized the Israelis under Prime Minister Netanyahu as being the only impediment to peace and security in the area (rockets and suicide bombers not withstanding). Almost everyone knows that it takes more than one authoritative voice to settle a dispute and find agreement. I believe that Israel should and will continue to look for that second voice but I also believe it is the Palestinians’ obligation to come up with one.
As an aside, Sue suggested that we should have gone to listen to Gilad Atzman as a dissenting Israeli voice. Although I’m sure he is a wonderful musician he represents far more than a dissenting voice. He is an Israeli who is anti-Israel and has even written in support of President Ahmadinejad of Iran. Once again she doesn’t look for dissent; she looks for opposition voices that support her view.
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