To the Editor: Responds to comments on Israel, Palestine
Written by Mario Goveia   
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 09:50
This is in response to Jim Bailey's trip to Israel and Palestine.  As an American Catholic of east Indian heritage I have no axe to grind in this conflict.
Palestine was partitioned in 1947 as was India.  The world community represented by the UN approved both partitions.
Indians and Pakistanis accepted their partition.  In the Middle East, Israel accepted the partition but the Palestinians did not.  Neither did they try to negotiate their grievances through the UN.  Instead, Israel was attacked by five Arab armies to "push the Jews into the sea".
In the ensuing conflict, many Palestinian families fled to safety.  When the dust had settled, the Palestinians had less territory than they had before.  Most of the people who had fled their homes ended up in refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza and their property were taken over by Israel.
Jordan and Egypt have since accepted Israel and peace treaties were signed.  None of the other Arab nations have accepted Israel's right to exist as far as I know, and the radical factions like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, etc. even have the destruction of Israel in their founding charters and use insignias that show maps with no Israel.
This is a critical nuance that seems to be lost on those who demand concessions from Israel while completely ignoring the box they are in from their non-acceptance.  I shake my head when President Obama and others demand that Israel do something or other to facilitate negotiations, or to be "proportional" in their retaliation to deadly attacks.  I have never heard any of them demand that the radical Palestinians who have the real physical power in the region unconditionally accept Israel's right to exist as a necessary pre-condition to any serious negotiations.
Frankly, I wouldn't know how to be "proportional" when defending against someone trying to kill me.  Doesn't that mean I would have to wait to be mortally wounded before I could strike back with lethal force?  As an independent observer, I also can't see how one side in a conflict can negotiate with adversaries who have publicly declared their intentions of eliminating them as a nation.
Sadly, I did not see any recognition of this fundamental fact in your report on Mr. Bailey's trip.  He is reported to be "focused on peace-making".  I have no idea what that means in the context I have described.
Mario Goveia

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