Eric Weiner has brought a breath of fresh air into the stale, dead-end discourse on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in his Nov. 15 opinion piece, "Palestinians need a Gandhi, not a new Arafat." For years the Palestinians have struggled against superior military force with terrorism, but this has been counterproductive. In the United States, the only country capable of forcing Israel to make concessions, negative attitudes toward the Palestinian cause have only increased with each suicide bombing.
Mr. Weiner implicitly acknowledges that Israel's ongoing policy of expanding settlements in the West Bank is a thinly veiled exercise in conquest by force. By broaching the subject of active but nonviolent resistance, he is offering the Palestinians a tool that may work - although it would be no less costly in Palestinian lives than the current approach.
Like Weiner, I totally condemn the suicide bombings. I equally regret the years of occupation, abuse, and contempt that have led at least a few to feel that they had no other recourse. With Yasser Arafat gone and President Bush in a second term, we could endorse Weiner's conclusion, "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is ripe for Gandhi-style civil disobedience." That is fine, but it will take more than the Palestinians to accomplish it: Will the Israelis and Americans be willing to respond?
Bernice L. Youtz
Eric Weiner gives the impression that Palestinians have not tried nonviolent resistance. How then does he explain the gathering momentum of the Israeli occupation from 1967 to 1994, when there were no suicide bombings? During those years and since, countless peaceful Palestinian protests were put down violently by Israel. In fact, the current intifada was sparked by the Israeli army shooting and killing scores of peaceful demonstrators at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It's time to stop blaming the victims and face reality.
John M. Grosvenor
Only through religious groups have I seen pictures of nonviolent Palestinian resistance. I believe one of the reasons Palestinians have not adopted nonviolence as a strategy is that the media, at least in the United States, have failed to cover their attempts at peaceful resistance. One should ask why it was not covered.
Weiner has opined that the Palestinians should have followed the path of Gandhi in their struggle for independence. So should we, who support the largest military establishment the world has ever known, renounce massive organized armed violence and adopt "soul force," instead? If it is a good philosophy for the weak, it is a far better one for the strong.
Instead, in the name of "defense," we probe, needle, undermine, and overthrow countries and kingdoms the world over. We have carried out military ventures, in Iraq as in Vietnam before, in which we have abandoned nearly all hope of distinguishing soldiers from noncombatants, providing the excuse of ignorance for killing - in large numbers - women, children, and the elderly. Our current war in Iraq has caused an estimated 100,000 civilian deaths, according to a recent study published in the British medical journal, The Lancet.
The death of Arafat would have been a moment of opportunity for the United States to exert influence toward both peace and justice for Israelis and Palestinians, if we had not already destroyed our own credibility in so many ways and for so many years. Let us become morally qualified to encourage others to do good.
The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.
Any letter accepted will appear in print and on www.csmonitor.com .
Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to Letters.