Israel isn't the cause of Mideast unrest

September 07, 1997

THE editorial ''Going backward in the Middle East'' (Aug. 24) faults Israel for planning to build a dam in a location which would be ''provoking Syria to intransigence.'' Perhaps the writer does not recall what happened in April 1996.

Despite having the conciliatory government of Prime Minister Shimon Peres in power in Israel, Syria unleashed its proxy army of Hezbollah terrorists against northern Israel.

The Peres government was prepared to relinquish most if not all of the Golan Heights in exchange for peace. Even under such favorable circumstances, Syrian President Hafez el Assad failed to take any steps toward normalization with Israel.

It is hard to see how Syrian intransigence is somehow a function of any Israeli action.

In the aftermath of Israel's defense in April 1996 of its northern communities against Hezbollah attacks, a monitoring committee was established to prevent further attacks on civilians in northern Israel and southern Lebanon. This monitoring committee recently contradicted another claim of the editorial.

It faulted Hezbollah, but not Israel, for violating the understandings reached last year during the recent round of violence. Specifically, the editorial faults Israel's ''combative'' stance in shelling Hezbollah positions in order to protect its northern citizens who were recently forced to shelters by the thousands to escape Hezbollah rocket attacks.

The editorial described the Hezbollah outrages as ''terrorist pinpricks,'' a judgment that the monitoring committee, which is actually observing the situation, clearly doesn't agree with.

This editorial once again puts the blame for the tension in the Middle East on the democratically elected Likud government in Israel rather than on terrorists, despots and a man who embraces both.

David Gerstman

Baltimore

Pub Date: 9/07/97

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