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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 1, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Israelis and Palestinians

The potential to soar

Gad Barzilai calls for “steppingstones” to peace in Palestine [guest column, Jan. 29], but the four “steps” he lists do not need to be taken in the order indicated.

The Gaza Strip is home to 1.5 million Palestinians and no Israeli settlers at all. There is no good reason why Gaza could not become a Palestinian state within a year or two, provided only that all parties agreed to a “Gaza-first solution.” This would require abandoning the two options that have been under discussion for years, namely the “one-state solution” and the “two-state solution.”

The former is absolutely anathema to Jewish Israelis (and many Jews outside of Israel) since it could and probably would lead to Jews representing a minority in the world’s only Jewish state. The second peace option becomes more unlikely with every passing month, since Israeli West Bank-settlement expansion is proceeding without interruption.

If President Obama were to announce U.S. willingness only to assist in forming and developing a Gazan state in 2009 and 2010, his stock, already high among Arabs, would soar.

Obama’s standing with the “Arab street” is exceedingly important to America, as it reduces al-Qaida’s prospects for recruitment. Al-Qaida recognizes this, whence the steady stream of vitriol against the president, even before his election.

— Donald Fritz, Tacoma

Reporting with excessive simplicity

The considerable space given to professor Gad Barzilai’s “Obama and Gaza: steppingstones to peace” is hardly credible as the work of a full-time professor in a major university.

While apparently well-intended, the excessive simplicity with respect to historical fact and his ultimate recommendations really do need more work.

First, in asserting 150,000 Palestinians were forced to settle in Gaza when driven out of their land by the Israeli military in 1948, Barzilai overlooks the reality that there was hardly an Israeli military at that time. In fact, the newly born state was under assault by no fewer than five Arab nations committed to its destruction.

His recounting of the ’48 war also overlooks the fact that a few hundred thousand Jews were driven out of Arab lands with nowhere to go, no U.N. aid and only the new state of Israel as a natural destination. Certainly there was no question about repayment for such removals.

Second, the professor’s idea that Arab moderates can help with a peace accord fails on the reality that anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish propaganda is rife in bookstores and schools, making it quite difficult to raise a generation of young people with a sense of peace toward not just Israel, but Jews anywhere.

You could not find articles such as the professor’s when old men were slain while praying during the Sabbath in Paris, when Israeli Olympic athletes were kidnapped and murdered, or when a wheelchair-bound old man was tossed overboard on a cruise ship. These were hot news stories that came and went quickly.

There is of course much more that Barzilai chooses to overlook, but he is, after all, a teacher of subjects that call for much more accuracy in detail and impartiality to achieve credibility.

— Joseph Honick, Bainbridge Island

No solution except jihad

Since the equivocating professor Barzilai of the University of Washington seems unsure about whether Hamas’ intentions toward Israel are benign or genocidal, I refer him to the Hamas Foundational Covenant:

“The Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to realize the promise of Allah, no matter how long it takes. … The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them. … Initiatives and so-called peaceful solutions contradict the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. …There is no solution to the Palestine question except by Jihad.”

Clear now?

— Edward Alexander, Seattle

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