Israel's dilemma

May 26, 2011

Letter writer Abel J. Merrill expresses disappointment in President Obama for "demanding" that Israel withdraw to its pre-1967 borders ("Obama shows ignorance or malice toward Israel," May 25). Mr. Merrill must watch Fox News exclusively, since the president said no such thing.

What he said is that negotiations must begin with the 1967 borders. Like all complex issues, peace negotiations require intelligence and a willingness to compromise. In the 21st century, war is less and less an option. If Israel truly wants peace, it must first answer the question: Do the benefits of occupying more land outweigh the benefits of peace?

Of course, Israel must be assured of peace before any agreement can be reached. The natural invasion route of the Golan Heights must be addressed, and I do not have an answer to that thorny problem. That's what negotiations are for.

However, blowing up the homes of Palestinians and interfering in their elections is more reminiscent of the former Soviet Union than of a democratic nation. Israel has isolated itself from the democratic nations by its arrogance in building settlements on the West Bank, where they do not belong, diverting water from the Palestinians and building a wall on land it does not own.

The strident tone of Mr. Merrill's letter is frequently present when the subject of Israel comes up. He assesses blame on others for Israel's present dilemma, and in fact plays the race card.

I have supported Israel my entire life, but I have observed with great disappointment Israel's recent domestic policies. 9/11 was a price all Americans paid for our support of Israel; the president had every right to demand better from Israel in the search for a Mideast peace.

Monroe Brown, Baltimore

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