This letter was published in the Waterbury Republican American on September 10, 2010.
To the editor:
There's a valuable lesson between the lines of the Sept. 6 Associated Press article "Israel considers resuming settlement construction" in the Republican-American: One sided, unreciprocated concessions by Israel not only do nothing to further peace but are counterproductive.
Last year, under intense pressure from the United States, Israel did something that would be illegal in America: It temporarily declared some disputed parts of its territory off-limits for the construction of homes.
U.S. leaders assured Israel this concession, lauded as far-reaching and unprecedented by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, would be matched by gestures to be taken by Israel's Arab neighbors and would bring the supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table.
The first never happened, and it took nine months for PA President Mahmoud Abbas to agree, kicking and screaming, to resume negotiating with Israel, even though the core of all negotiations consists of Israel offering even more concessions to the Palestinian Arabs.
And he already is effectively announcing he's going to pull out after less than a month.
Israelis may debate among them selves whether it's wise to build homes in areas where they'll be surrounded by hostile Arabs.
But the rest of the world ought to be smart enough to realize if the Palestinian Arabs were interested in peace, the presence of a relative handful of Jews in those areas would not be an issue.
Jews around the world, in Israel and in the diaspora, are in the midst of our High Holidays. We are pray ing for peace, not just for America and Israel but for the entire world.
Many congregations are including special prayers that the current negotiations succeed in bringing peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, even if not with the rest of the Arab and Muslim world.
Unfortunately, these negotiations will have little chance of success if we don't learn from our mistakes and finally start putting pressure on those, the Palestinian Arabs, who have been resisting peace, rather continuing to pressure Israel to make unreciprocated concessions that only encourage the intransigence of its enemies.
Alan H. Stein
The writer is president of PRIMER-Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting; www.primerct.org).