Letters

Readers respond -- at times identically -- to Gary Kamiya's "A Faint Sliver of Mideast Hope."


Salon Staff
June 12, 2003 12:56AM (UTC)

[Read the story.]

Kamiya asks that Israel make concessions for peace and return to the pre-1967 borders, but fails to impose on the Palestinians the one concession that Israel has asked for -- a cessation of terrorist activities -- by saying that "it would cause a civil war." Why is it that Israel has to sacrifice its own security concerns due to Palestinian loss of life, but the Palestinians cannot make concessions for the same reason?

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Contrary to popular belief, the conflict started before 1967. Remember that within hours of Israel's declaration of independence, the surrounding Arab nations declared war in an effort to "drive the Jews into the sea." The Arab world has continually used the Palestinians as a means to achieving the destruction of the state of Israel.

Until the Arab world recognizes Israel's right to exist and makes an effort to end the violence in Israel, Israel will act to preserve its existence. Then and only then will there be peace in the region.

Abbas' promise of efforts to curb Hamas is a start. Let us hope that Bush is able to exert the influence on the rest of the Arab world that he has exerted on Sharon.

-- Eric Breitman

I would like to commend Gary Kamiya on some of the finest scholarship and thinking on the Israel-Palestine issues I have seen in years.

His views are insightful and brutally honest. I hope every American will read this article and learn of the true source of this terrible violence: a type of Zionism that views the land of the Middle East as one ONLY belonging to Jews. It is in this spirit that Israel retains the post-67 borders.

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Indeed, the day Americans -- especially American Jews -- realize that they have funded this occupation for more than three decades, Israel will no longer be the country that "made the desert bloom."

The Palestinian refugees here in the camp are equally skeptical of this plan, but I think there is a sliver of hope. For all the rheotoric surrounding their historic homeland, I beleive that they are ready to accept a state of Israel. Now is the time to act, because if the Road Map fails, I don't know what will happen to these people.

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-- Sina Rahmani, Bourj-Al-Barajneh Refugee Camp, Lebanon

Every night before I go to sleep, I close my eyes and try to imagine Israel as it was when I last saw it, a more peaceful time before the current intifada. Every night I tell myself that real peace will come to Israel soon, and I fall asleep happily dreaming of a time when I may safely travel there again. Though I have clear opinions on the conflict, I try to be as objective as possible; though I am Jewish and I believe in the Jewish homeland, I understand that we are not blameless in this struggle.

What I do not understand is the rampant belief that Israel is in some way deserving of the violence and terrorism it is subjected to. Make no mistake: The IDF and the government of Israel are seeking to protect Israeli people, not destroy Palestinian people. Like the 87 percent of Israelis recently surveyed, I believe that a Palestinian state is necessary for peace, but I put the safety of my people first.

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In his recent article, Gary Kamiya stated that Israeli restrictions must be lifted before Arab officials attempt to end radical terrorism, perhaps as a sign of good faith. I believe I can safely say that Mr. Kamiya would not be saying that if it were his family being put at risk. How can one expect the Israeli government to relent on its most fundamental task of protecting its people? When bombs enter Israel through ambulances, buses, parcels and even young men and women, how can the people of Israel feel safe? In what world is it acceptable to so blatantly blame the victim and suggest that those who are in danger cease to protect themselves? Why has terrorism become a valid political force in this conflict when it wields so little political power throughout the rest of the world? Why is so much of the world focused on this small piece of land when so many larger, more gruesome events are taking place constantly?

I believe that every Palestinian has the right to exist in a safe environment, and I long for the day that they are free to do so. Why can such a vision not be extended to the Israelis?

-- Jill Fertel

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What a smart, sensible, nuanced and thoughtful piece. I was extremely impressed by the way this article explored the complexities of the situation. Most reporting on this peace process and issues surrounding it is hysterical, uninformed, analytically mediocre, and hopelessly biased. This piece was brilliant, touching, hard-assed, and hopeful all at once. Bravo. Very rare.

--Dr. Annie Seaton

Gary Kamiya needs to do more homework on the subjects he writes about. Israel has been the Jewish homeland for over 3,000 years. The Arabs have been in the same neighborhood for just as long. Both have a right to live there, yet there is one side with an intractable position of intolerance that is unparalleled in our time; I speak, of course, of the Arab refusal to acknowledge Israel's right to exist.

Until you understand that it is this violent, intolerant Arab position that lies at the heart of the matter, you will not understand the Arab-Israeli conflict. Israel has always said yes to peace and the Arabs have always said no. Do the research on partition plans. Check the historical record.

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Mr. Kamiya's opinion on the Middle East is fatally flawed, having no redeeming value as far as any future peace may be concerned -- unless, of course, he realizes that the truth of the matter lies at levels of understanding much deeper than he has apparently been willing to investigate.

-- Daniel Hennessy

I find it odd that your executive editor should try to make it seem that terror of any kind is excusable. It is a fact that the road map to peace in the Middle East may be stalling due to the inability of the Palestinian prime minister to curb Hamas, as well as other extremists.

Yet Kamiya tries to make it seem as if Israeli policy is to blame. This is outrageous considering that the very road map to peace that everyone wants calls for direct action on the part of the Palestinian prime minister to deter terror -- without pre-conditions.

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Shame on you, Mr. Kamiya, for trying to blame Israel for the Palestinians' inept handling of the terror situation on their home front.

-- Will Blesch

Sunday, just four days after the hopeful Aqaba summit, five Israelis were killed by Palestinian gunfire in Gaza and Hebron. The most deadly attack, which killed four IDF soldiers, was a joint effort of the three largest Palestinian terror organizations: Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades. This new co-ordination between the groups reveals a central terror command that remains unfazed by Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas, despite his international mandate to uproot terror.

In a Monday news conference, Abbas stated he will continue to try to negotiate with the terror leaders, offering them an appeasement carrot instead of wielding a resolute stick. MSNBC reported Abbas' affirmation that he "will not order a crackdown on the militias under any circumstances." One thing remains clear: If the road map's hope for peace is to continue, Abbas must somehow eliminate the terror infrastructure.

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Much of the media, however, has diluted this fundamental point. Salon, the popular online magazine, published Thursday an anti-Israeli harangue by executive editor Gary Kamiya, who asserts that Abbas' hands are tied by Sharon ("Israel's martial leader") until the IDF lowers its anti-terror guard: "In order for the Palestinian leadership to fight extremism, the Israelis must make real and tangible concessions. Closures must cease, work permits must be given, and so on [sic]."

[HonestReporting subscribers will recall this same Gary Kamiya claiming immediately after 9/11 that Israeli policy lay at the heart of anti-American terror, suggesting that Israel -- alongside bin Laden -- was ultimately responsible for those attacks.]

The very text of the road map calls upon Palestinian leadership at this stage "to undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere." Abbas' smoothing things over with Hamas falls far short of "arrest," or even mild "disruption."

So why does Salon.com blame Israel for Abbas' false start on the road map?

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-- Lisa Youngworth

Sunday, just four days after the hopeful Aqaba summit, five Israelis were killed by Palestinian gunfire in Gaza and Hebron. The most deadly attack, which killed four IDF soldiers, was a joint effort of the three largest Palestinian terror organizations: Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades. This new co-ordination between the groups reveals a central terror command that remains unfazed by Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas, despite his international mandate to uproot terror.

In a Monday news conference, Abbas stated he will continue to try to negotiate with the terror leaders, offering them an appeasement carrot instead of wielding a resolute stick. MSNBC reported Abbas' affirmation that he "will not order a crackdown on the militias under any circumstances." One thing remains clear: If the road map's hope for peace is to continue, Abbas must somehow eliminate the terror infrastructure.

Much of the media, however, has diluted this fundamental point. Salon, the popular online magazine, published Thursday an anti-Israeli harangue by executive editor Gary Kamiya, who asserts that Abbas' hands are tied by Sharon ("Israel's martial leader") until the IDF lowers its anti-terror guard: "In order for the Palestinian leadership to fight extremism, the Israelis must make real and tangible concessions. Closures must cease, work permits must be given, and so on [sic]."

[HonestReporting subscribers will recall this same Gary Kamiya claiming immediately after 9/11 that Israeli policy lay at the heart of anti-American terror, suggesting that Israel -- alongside bin Laden -- was ultimately responsible for those attacks.]

The very text of the road map calls upon Palestinian leadership at this stage "to undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere." Abbas' smoothing things over with Hamas falls far short of "arrest," or even mild "disruption."

So why does Salon.com blame Israel for Abbas' false start on the road map?

-- Igor Shapiro

Sunday, just four days after the hopeful Aqaba summit, five Israelis were killed by Palestinian gunfire in Gaza and Hebron. The most deadly attack, which killed four IDF soldiers, was a joint effort of the three largest Palestinian terror organizations: Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades. This new co-ordination between the groups reveals a central terror command that remains unfazed by Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas, despite his international mandate to uproot terror.

In a Monday news conference, Abbas stated he will continue to try to negotiate with the terror leaders, offering them an appeasement carrot instead of wielding a resolute stick. MSNBC reported Abbas' affirmation that he "will not order a crackdown on the militias under any circumstances." One thing remains clear: If the road map's hope for peace is to continue, Abbas must somehow eliminate the terror infrastructure.

Much of the media, however, has diluted this fundamental point. Salon, the popular online magazine, published Thursday an anti-Israeli harangue by executive editor Gary Kamiya, who asserts that Abbas' hands are tied by Sharon ("Israel's martial leader") until the IDF lowers its anti-terror guard: "In order for the Palestinian leadership to fight extremism, the Israelis must make real and tangible concessions. Closures must cease, work permits must be given, and so on [sic]."

[HonestReporting subscribers will recall this same Gary Kamiya claiming immediately after 9/11 that Israeli policy lay at the heart of anti-American terror, suggesting that Israel -- alongside bin Laden -- was ultimately responsible for those attacks.]

The very text of the road map calls upon Palestinian leadership at this stage "to undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere." Abbas' smoothing things over with Hamas falls far short of "arrest," or even mild "disruption."

So why does Salon.com blame Israel for Abbas' false start on the road map?

-- Neal W.

To view the original source of these last three individual letters to the editor, click here. Scroll to Section 3 at the bottom of the page for further details.


Salon Staff

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