Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Anger at Israel's actions misguided II

Published as a letter in the Connecticut Post, January 20, 2009.

In his letter of Jan. 14, Robert Harbinson falsely accused Israel of the crimes of which its enemies are guilty.

As a liberal, Western-oriented democracy with equal legal rights for all its citizens, Israel is much further from being an apartheid state than any other in the Middle East.

In contrast, the goal of even the "moderate" Palestinian Arabs is far worse than apartheid. One of the first laws passed by the Palestinian Authority after it was established made it a capital crime to sell land to a Jew. The ethnic cleansing of any Jewish presence from his prospective Palestinian Arab state remains a prime demand of Palestinian Authority chair Mahmoud Abbas.

There is generally some blame on all sides in any conflict, but the blame for the Arab-Israeli conflict is far more asymmetric than most.

From its inception, Israel has striven to live together with its neighbors in peace, extending its "hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness" in its Declaration of Independence while those very neighbors chose to invade Israel with no fewer than six armies the same day. Had the Arab states accepted Israel's offer of peace and brotherhood rather than going to war, all the ensuing death, destruction and misery would have been avoided.

Israel continues to strive for peace, making tremendous sacrifices, but Hamas and even the supposedly moderate Fatah still call for the destruction of Israel in the charters which define their causes and their agendas. Until Israel's enemies change and finally make peace a goal, there will be conflict and suffering and all will pay a terrible price.

In the meantime, strong support for Israel is both in our national interest and a moral imperative.

Alan H. Stein

Stein is president of PRIMER -- Connecticut Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting.

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