Palestinian Statehood vs. Israeli Rule: What Shade of Democracy?
The opinion-page column ``Why Israel Should Rule,'' Oct. 19, advocates that Israel annex the land, but not the people, of the West Bank and Gaza. If statehood should be denied to any newly created state because it could lead to war, then, by this column's argument, Israel should have been crushed in 1948 by the international community.
Professing concern about democracy in Israel, but ignoring the antidemocractic impact of Israel's expulsion of roughly 80 percent of its non-Jewish population in 1948, the writer characterizes the Palestinians undeserving of representation because they ``have unfettered population growth.'' Yet many Jews in Israel raise large families, and Israel has an enormous potential supply of Jewish voters from US and Soviet immigrants.
The problems between Israelis and Palestinians should either be defined or dealt with in discussions between the parties. But in this column's plan, the Palestinians have no voice.
The writer makes no allowance for the many Israeli military men who argue that Israel must talk to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). These people see the dangers from the long-term prevention of Palestinian self-determination. Peter Belmont, Lexington, Mass., Search for Justice and Equality in Palestine/Israel
This column reports that ``when Lebanan was created, the number of Christians and Muslims was equal.'' Then it states that today Christians in Lebanon are being ``massacred and forced to hand their country over to the Syrians because they were outbred by the Muslims.'' In 1948, Palestinians escaping the war in their homeland fled into Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Most were Muslims. Syria, Jordan, and Egypt more or less absorbed the refugees into their existing population. Lebanon did not. The Palestinians were not considered citizens but refugees, living in the wretched camps I saw in regular visits during 1957-67.
In 1948 Christians were the majority. The influx of an estimated 142,419 refugees - about 94 percent of them Muslim - eventually made Muslims the majority. The Palestinian refugees could consider themselves part of Lebanon. Frank Hutchison, Las Cruces, N.M.
Acknowledging that Palestinians would likely never yield their self-determination, the writer suggests that ``if given no other alternative, they might seriously take a look at it.'' Sadly, this column reveals the attitude of too many Israeli leaders: Arabs cannot handle democracy and need a strong, paternal presence to keep them in check. Douglas Richie, Harpers Ferry, W.Va.
A true study of the PLO shows that it is more democratic than many states in the Arab world and beyond. Its various social-service organizations, the decision making process of the Palestine National Council, its women's movements, and so on are clear examples of a sound democratic institution. In fact, the potential for a democratic, secular Palestinian state may be making the Jewish, theocratic state of Israel apprehensive. Kaleel Sakakeeny, Boston
For the record Joel Bainerman, the writer of the column discussed above, is described in the footnote as Israel bureau chief for the Canadian Press (CP), Canada's national press agency. CP does not have a bureau in Israel, and Mr. Bainerman's connection with the agency has been that of an occasional freelance correspondent.
Bainerman's expressed opinions are his own and are in no way shared by CP. Jamie Underhill, Toronto, Foreign Editor, The Canadian Press