Palestinian protests are nothing like those in Egypt, Tunisia

March 16, 2011

Kimberly Katz is a professor of Middle East history who desperately needs a refresher course in her own area of specialty.

Far from being the models of "nonviolent resistance to oppression" claimed by Professor Katz ("Nonviolent movements nothing new in the Middle East," March 7), the Palestinians and their supporters across the Arab world have engaged in a long and bloody war against Israel and its people. This war has taken many forms, including multiple ground and air attacks by Arab armies, years of Palestine Liberation Organization terrorism that included the notorious murder of Olympic athletes, waves of suicide bombings, and rocket attacks on Israeli towns that continue to this day. The one unifying factor of all of these tactics has been a complete disregard for human life and a willingness on the part of Israel's enemies to employ extreme and indiscriminate violence as a means to advance their cause.

And what is that cause? While Ms. Katz considers Palestinian "resistance" to be the natural response of an occupied people in the face of overwhelming power, terror organizations like the PLO were formed years before Israel's victory in the 1967 war expanded its borders. The sad truth is that for Palestinian groups such as Hamas, the cause to be resisted is not the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza but Israel's very existence.

Ms. Katz is correct when she notes that "the world is full of people ready to make sacrifices for the safety of their children, the land they love and from which they make their living." What she fails to recognize is that this aptly describes the state of Israel, a country which has made repeated sacrifices for peace and which promotes and advances democratic values and human rights notwithstanding ongoing security threats. If Ms. Katz is looking for a model to be emulated by the protesters in Tunisia, Egypt and other Arab countries, Israel would be a good place to start.

Jay Bernstein, Baltimore

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