Letters to the Editor

Readers write about a one-state solution for Israel/Palestine.

Is a one-state solution the answer for Israel/Palestine?

Regarding John Whitbeck's Sept. 14 Opinion piece, "Palestine: democracy not Zionism": the author twists Zionism, the Jewish quest for self-determination, into a demonic force, seeking to disqualify the Jewish people from a right to national sovereignty. But that right was recognized by the United Nations and reflected recognition of the ancient link between Jews and the land, and a belief that two states – Arab and Jewish – should live side by side.

Alas, Israel's neighbors opposed the coexistence it sought. When Egypt and Jordan later stepped forward, they found Israel was an eager peace partner. And Israel's repeated efforts to make peace with the Palestinians have underscored its sincerity.

But it takes two to tango, and Israel's partner has been largely absent. Yet, rather than assign any responsibility to the Palestinians, Mr. Whitbeck proposes the dissolution of Israel as we know it. If this is what he has been counseling, as an adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team, no wonder the talks have not succeeded.

David A. Harris
New York

Executive Director, American Jewish Committee

In response to the Sept. 14 piece regarding Palestine: This shines light on a too-often ignored truth about the situation. I recently returned from a trip to the area. There are now only two realistic possibilities: a one-state democracy, or an apartheid regime.

There are some Palestinian leaders willing to call apartheid a two-state solution to preserve their personal perquisites, and many Palestinian people are willing to temporarily settle for anything that will make their intolerable lives incrementally better. But, as South Africa has shown, apartheid cannot be a final solution, for the sake of both sides.

Jack Robinson
Fort Collins, Colo.

Regarding the Opinion piece on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: I was delighted and relieved to see John Whitbeck's probing piece. Political Zionism is a huge problem mainly because the institutionalized bigotry, injustice, and hate inspired by political Zionism simply is not compatible with real freedom, equality, and the rule of fair and just laws – real democracy.

The Palestinian territories today are being brutalized – harshly oppressed, insulted, impoverished, and fragmented - and the Palestinians need our sympathy, compassion, and understanding.

Our highest priority really must be full respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including but not limited to the Palestinian refugees' sacred and secular right to return: true return, not more forced transfer creating divisive segregation and despair.

Anne Selden Annab

Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Regarding Whitbeck's Sept. 14 Opinion piece: He compares Israel to the European colonial powers. But he ignores the indisputable historic fact that not a single colonial power had any historic connection to the land it colonized.

The Jewish people became a nation in what was later called Palestine, and in spite of some 1,900 years of exile, never lost their emotional connection to the land of their origin.

There has a been a Jewish presence in Palestine centuries before the appearance of political Zionism. Neither the Zionists nor the Jews living in Palestine during the centuries were colonialists. Zionism is the movement of national liberation of the Jewish people, and Israel is its political expression.

Jacob Amir

Regarding Whitbeck's Sept. 14 Opinion piece: The "two-state solution" has always been fundamentally racist and Zionist, as it would serve to perpetuate Jewish supremacy in most of Palestine. The fundamental contradiction – and consequent hopelessness – of a "solution" based on ethnic discrimination, while perpetuating ethnic cleansing, should be obvious.

That false Zionist "solution" has served to silence the one truth that would be understood by most Americans: Peace will come when we apply our beliefs and constitutional principles regarding human, ethnic, and religious equality, as opposed to financing official prejudice.

The "decent two-state solution" has always been a Zionist carrot offered to mislead peace discussions into hopelessness, while making ordinary calls for equality and justice appear "too radical."

This simple argument has been presented many times and has never received an attempt at logical rebuttal. That disregard for elementary logic and justice has stalled genuine peace efforts since the beginning of Zionist claims in Palestine. It can be explained only as the subversion of intelligence itself by Zionist ideas, combined with the relative intellectual lethargy of opponents of Zionism.

Dave Kersting
Tiburon, Calif.

Regarding the Sept. 14 piece: How interesting that Whitbeck is "an international lawyer who has advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel."

So the Palestinians were advised by an individual who believes that the Jewish state should not exist? That certainly dooms negotiations from the start. What does this choice of an adviser say about the Palestinian agenda? Further, if Whitbeck believes that Israel should not exist, how could he engage in the process?

Honesty should have compelled him to state to the Israelis that his goal is not national self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians – a proposal supported by the majorities of both people – but for Israel to negotiate away its very existence.

Jeff Tone
Kew Gardens, N.Y.

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