To the Editor,
In last week’s issue, Zac Goldstein shows that he is very interested in the facts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is commendable – facts are a good thing, after all. In the interests of balance, here are a few more:
Fact: Military occupation of a foriegn country is illegal under international law. Israel has been doing so since 1967.
Fact: Building settlements in occupied foriegn territory is illegal under international law. Again, Israel has been doing so since 1967, which is condemned even by the United States.
Fact: Israel currently stands in violation of 32 United Nations resolutions, about double the amount violated by Iraq, our current whipping boy (This number takes into account only resolutions that call for specific changes in Israeli government actions, not all resolutions concerning Israel; otherwise, the number would more than double).
Fact: Israel, by itself, receives 20 percent of the United States’ foreign aid budget, which is largely spent on Israel’s military.
(Interestingly enough, the massive military imbalance between these two peoples is the primary reason for terrorism directed at civilians – the Palestinians have absolutely no other way to resist. Does that make it morally justifiable? Not at all. But it’s certainly not inexplicable.)
Fact: Both Israel and Palestine are currently led by de facto, if not convicted, war criminals. Sharon was found responsible, by an Israeli investigation, of refugee camp massacres in 1983. Arafat has sponsored terrorism against civilians for years. Both are too pigheaded to allow for any real peace.
What I am trying to show here, and what has already been shown in this newspaper over the last few weeks, is that clearly neither side in this conflict can make any claim to the moral high ground. What is needed, on both sides, are leaders who are capable of acting like adults, not children, who can make real compromises on both sides and forge a real peace. Israel needs to give up settlements on occupied territory and pull back troops. Palestinians need to drop claims to a right of return and need to stop all terrorism. Both sides need to share Jerusalem. Right there is probably about 90 percent of a real peace. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that leaders like this will emerge in the forseeable future (the last time one appeared on the Israeli side, he was assassinated). Certainly the United States is making no effort to lead towards progress, nor has it since Clinton left office. The whole thing is a damned shame.