This reader wholeheartedly agrees with the March 30 editorial “What To Do?” with respect to the necessity of ending the Israeli occupation in order to safeguard Israel’s democratic Jewish nature, and to provide Palestinians with the self-determination they seek. However, we must understand that this worthy goal may in fact be sadly distinct from the larger goal of achieving a meaningful peace in the Middle East.
Many of Israel’s detractors loudly claim to link the Israeli occupation to their hostility toward Israel. To its peril, much of the world has blindly taken these false claims at face value and then pursued peace initiatives based on this faulty premise. Modern history holds the key. If the occupation was truly the root of the enmity now directed against Israel, then there would have been peace during 1947 to 1967, a time when no such occupation existed, when East Jerusalem was under Arab control and when Israel’s size was even smaller than it is today. In fact, the occupation occurred in 1967 precisely because there was already no peace. So now, 65 years later, peace will not necessarily sprout following the removal of settlements and the creation of a Palestinian state, any more than it existed prior to 1967.
The two thorny issues of settlements and peace in the Middle East are each momentous and worthy issues of our day, but unless their distinct historical origins are openly acknowledged, the fundamental nature of the conflict will remain obscured, and a solution to either will remain tragically elusive.
David E. Cohen