Letters To The Editor


January 15, 2003

Giving up land would not bring Mideast peace

I read with dismay the column "Sharon, settlers leading Israel into destruction" (Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 3) by Neve Gordon.

Mr. Gordon champions a "just peace" with the Arabs and an end to the Israeli settlements. He accuses Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of being held hostage by the settlement movement, and likens the hold of the settlers movement on the Israeli public to the "Stockholm syndrome - the tendency of hostages to identify with their captors."

I suggest Mr. Gordon and others who think as he does are better candidates for the Stockholm syndrome diagnosis. Does he really think that after the disputed territories are Judenrein the truncated state of Israel will be safe?

Is he fool enough to think that the violence will stop if Israel goes back to its 1967 borders and welcomes all the descendants of Arabs who claim to be former inhabitants back to their old houses?

Maybe a better diagnosis for Mr. Gordon is "one slice short of a ham sandwich."

Richard Schabb


Arab attacks push Israel to the right

While I do not disagree with Neve Gordon's assessment of the deleterious effects the settlements have had on Israeli politics, I feel that comparing this dire phenomenon to apartheid, South African or American style, does a great disservice to his own cause ("Sharon, settlers leading Israel to destruction," Opinion Commentary, Jan. 3).

Segregation in South Africa and America was conditioned by the ruthless exploitation and persecution of blacks. And it had little to do with the main thing that counts in Israel now - the need to protect Israeli citizens against the ruthless murder of Jews by Palestinians.

Even Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount (or for that matter the Israeli settlements themselves) cannot justify the bloody outbreak of Palestinian violence that ensued at a time when the peace process was beginning to work.

And if anything has given legitimacy to the Israeli right wing, it is just this violence.

Jack Eisenberg


Settlements, wall preclude peace

Neve Gordon rightly exposes Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's ties to the settler movement as negatively affecting Israel's economy while transforming the country into an apartheid regime ("Sharon, settlers leading Israel into destruction," Opinion Commentary, Jan. 3).

Another Sharon-sponsored project contributing to the apartheid-like reality of the Holy Land is the construction of a wall, 8 meters high and more than 250 miles long, which will effectively turn the West Bank into the world's largest prison. The wall is being constructed east of Israel's 1967 border, thus annexing yet more Palestinian land.

We U.S. citizens should be asking how much of the billions in aid and loans Israel has requested from our government will go to the construction of this wall, whose estimated construction cost is $1.7 million a mile.

Both the settlements and the wall need to be exposed for what they are: obstacles to any diplomatic solution to the conflict that further fan the flames of violence.

The Rev. John J. Podsiadlo


U.S. must help stop Ivory Coast fighting

While I agree that fighting in Ivory Coast must be stopped, France is not equipped to go it alone in bringing the fighting to an end ("Ivory Coast implodes," editorial, Jan. 3),

Certainly the French have a responsibility to their former colony, and to the 20,000 French citizens and $3 billion in French investment in that country. But if a sustainable political settlement is to be found, greater U.S. involvement is needed.

The United States should use its considerable influence to compel neighboring countries, specifically Burkina Faso and Liberia, to suspend any and all support for the rebel groups within Ivory Coast.

If we choose not to involve ourselves directly on the ground, then we should at least ensure that the fighting stays limited to the area and the parties already involved.

Timothy L. Towell


The writer is a former U.S. ambassador to Paraguay.

Ehrlich should follow Gov. Ryan's example

Amnesty International applauds Illinois Gov. George Ryan's courageous acts in commuting the death sentences of 167 death row inmates in Illinois and pardoning four others who were wrongly convicted and sentenced to death ("Illinois governor commutes all of state's death sentences," Jan. 12).

Mr. Ryan acted on the basis of the recommendations in a report from a blue-ribbon commission that concluded that the death penalty system in his state was inherently unjust, and because the Illinois legislature failed to enact any of the reforms the commission had recommended.

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