To the Editor: Other side of Jerusalem journey story presented PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Rob Vincent   
Wednesday, 06 January 2010 09:45
Bill Ryan's Dec. 29 story on the Jerusalem journey of Jim Bailey was interesting.  As someone who has also traveled to the region, however, I feel that a critique of some of Mr. Bailey's observations is warranted.
He submits that both sides in the conflict are "right" at different times in history concerning their claims to the land, implying that said competing claims are equally valid.  Yet, also at 'different times in history', Germany controlled Alsace-Lorraine in present-day France, and Silesia, in present-day Poland; these were also "disputed territories" of mixed ethnicity.  However, Germany's belligerence led to her permanent forfeiture of these lands, an outcome that is universally recognized as just.
Under the UN Partition Plan of 1947, no Arabs were forced to leave the lands accorded the newly-created state of modern Israel, which was only half the size of even pre-1967 Israel.  It was only when the Arabs subsequently attacked that Palestinian Arab refugees were created.  Countries that launch wars of aggression are in no moral position to dictate terms.
Mr. Bailey says that he is neither pro-Palestinian nor pro-Israeli, but simply, "pro-peace".  Should we have adopted a similarly neutral "pro-peace" policy between Britain and Nazi Germany circa 1940? This is not an outlandish comparison.  There have rarely been two sides that are farther apart in the values they represent than what we see with respect to Israel on the one hand, and her Palestinian adversaries - along with their backers - on the other.
For example, Mr. Bailey maintains that "ÉNeither the Palestinians nor the Israelis have confidence in their political leadership."  Yet there is a key difference:  If the Israelis become dissatisfied with their leaders, they can vote them out of office.  They can form new political parties.  They have a free press and can openly criticize government policies.  The Palestinians - with the exception of some questionable elections held in recent years - enjoy none of these rights.
I am amazed that Mr. Bailey, as a student of history, does not acknowledge such differences, and what they portend.  His mouthing of pious platitudes serve only to treat both sides as "morally comparable" when they clearly are not.  Thus, the agenda of those who would carry out more homicide bombings is given a measure of tacit legitimacy from his quarter.  This hardly serves the cause of peace, which Mr. Bailey claims to hold so dear.
Rob Vincent

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