The fraud of American "peacemaking"

Salon readers respond to Michael Adams' indictment of U.S. policy toward Israel.

Published January 5, 2001 9:00AM (EST)

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Thank you, Salon, for throwing off the mask of objectivity and revealing your biases in all their shameless glory. As an American Jewish resident of Tel Aviv, I am still reeling from the double-barreled attack leveled against me and mine by your Israel-bashing top story of January 4, 2001.

Michael Adams accuses Israel of "[denying the Palestinians'] right to freedom and independence" and "frustrating [their] right to self-determination." In fact, it was only a few months ago that the Barak government offered the Palestinians 92 percent of what they claimed they wanted -- an offer that was spurned, like most every other Israeli offer that has indicated progress toward peace since the signing of the Oslo Accords, with yet another explosion of Palestinian violence.

Adams then hauls out a stale anti-Semitic slander that even old-school Jew-baiters hesitate to employ: That American government policy is secretly dictated by a cabal of powerful Jews. His bias is on naked display in his accusation that the Jews wish to "hijack the Holy City," and there is something distinctly hopeful in his stirring description of Arabs across the Middle East raising their voices in unison on behalf of their brother Palestinians. It does not seem to occur to him to ask why the Arab world has spent the past 50 years slamming its doors to these same Palestinians.

What a pity Mr. Adams couldn't spare any of his ample supply of vitriol for the useless and cynical Palestinian leadership, who prefer to let their people sink into ever more hopeless squalor and misery while padding their bank accounts and decorating their villas. Apparently it is only Jews whom the Solomon-like Adams believes must take the consequences of their historical mistakes. God forbid that anyone should remind the Palestinians that they were in fact offered a state in 1948 and turned it down. There would be no "right of return" issue in the first place had the Arab side not unilaterally rejected the United Nations resolution granting them a homeland (both sides can trot out U.N. resolutions, Mike). They dismissed the resolution, opted instead for war, and lost.

Adams' cavalier one-sidedness is seriously dangerous. By glossing conveniently over the negotiating style of the violent Palestinian minority, he implicitly endorses it. By puffing up with righteous indignation at the presumption of Jewish settlers (with whom, by the way, I too take serious issue) -- and neglecting even to mention the Palestinian penchant for blowing the legs off Jewish elementary school children and shooting civilian Jewish women in the head -- he joins the legions of other international media whose tacit approval permits Palestinian violence to continue.

I am shortly to move to Jaffa, a mixed city of Arabs, Jews and Christians. I look forward very much to establishing healthy, respectful and warm relationships with my Arab neighbors. Mr. Adams, neither the Palestinian refugees in the territories nor the Arab citizens of Israel need your sanctimonious condescension, and we Jews certainly don't need your rather vicious and transparent brand of racism. There are plenty of us right here on the spot who are doing the real work of peacemaking: trying to live side by side and see one another as human beings who value each other's children as our own.

-- Judith Wrubel

I applaud Michael Adams for an honest article about the so-called Middle East "peace process," but would like to make note of what I feel is an omission in the story. The U.S. government's unwavering support of Israel in the face of Israel's repeated and egregious violations of international law and international human rights norms would not be possible if the media gave this story an honest and balanced treatment.

Mr. Adams' observations about the incessant building of settlements, demolition of homes and brutal and unequal force used against a people will probably come as news to many who have no indication of what the Israeli occupation of Palestine means to Palestinians. Because his portrayal differs so strikingly from most of what the mainstream media reports on this conflict, many will probably believe that he is biased to the Palestinian position, as opposed to reporting facts as they exist.

The truth is, that after spending three months two years ago living and working in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, I have seen the things about which Mr. Adams writes and know them, not what the mainstream media reports, to be true. This is a conflict where one side has all the advantage because its actions continue to fly in the face of the rule of law and because it has a benefactor that never questions any of those actions.

If the American public were given a more balanced view, as the European public is, would it stand for its government's support of a brutal occupier that has no respect for the basic civil rights of an entire people?

-- Nadine Moustafa

Mr. Adams claims to seek a "balanced" approach for US mediation of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Yet his article is curious in its amazing lack of balance.

He offers up U.N. Resolution 242 as the ideal model for peace yet fails to mention that most Arab countries in Israel's neighborhood still do not recognize Israel's right to exist in peace and security (one of the two main conditions of the resolution). And as recent news reports have made clear, the Palestinian National Authority has done absolutely nothing to encourage its citizens to view Israel in a peaceful manner. Instead, school curriculums and television programming stress war and conflict with Israel, peace process nonwithstanding. The PNA's continued ambivalence towards terrorist groups like Hamas, since the very start of the peace process, also does little to reflect the spirit of the U.N. resolution.

Israel demonstrated very clearly in its peace treaty with Egypt, when settlers in Yamit in the Sinai territory were forcibly resettled in other areas in Israel, that settlements will not be allowed to serve as an obstacle to a serious offer of peace. Unfortunately, the Palestinians do not appear ready to make a serious offer of peace.

-- Harry Glazer

Michael Adams' article was simple yet brilliant and accurate. It's time the United States treated the Arabs as equals. Israel and its army is occupying the West Bank, killing innocent children and blaming their deaths on the childrens parents for putting them in harms way . It's time to end the Israeli genocide against the Palestinians.

-- David O'Brien

Mr. Adams is right when he casts the Palestinians as victims, but he has got things completely backwards. They are victims, not of the Israelis, but of the stupidity and bellicosity of their own leaders.

The only reason that there are Arab refugees is because the Arabs rejected the original U.N. resolution for the partition of Israel/Palestine, refused to recognize the right of the Jews to a country in their ancestral homeland and started a war to destroy that state at the moment of its birth.

The "West Bank" and the eastern part of Jerusalem (where the Jews had also been living for centuries and from which they had been driven by the Jordanians in 1948) were in Arab hands for 19 years until the Arabs tried to destroy Israel again in 1967, yet was there ever a peep about an independent Palestinian state during all this time? No. The reason is simple: The Arab goal has always been not to aid the Palestinian refugees but to destroy Israel.

The Arabs claim that the refugees have the "right" to return to Israel. Since when have vanquished aggressors ever been able to claim any "rights"? The continued Arab insistence that Israel be held responsible for the results of Arab aggression just shows that they still believe that Israel can and should be destroyed, either by armed force or through a demographic fifth column.

If the Palestinians have a right to an independent state of, by and for Palestinians, so do the Jews have a right to a state of, by and for Jews. It is obvious that Mr. Adams doesn't think so. He should make things easier for everyone and just come out and say so.

-- Earl Hartman

By Salon Staff

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