Letter to the Editor

Pushing on for Mideast peace

The Palestinian statehood bid appears to have resulted in a very wise decision on the part of the United Nations [“Major powers push for new Mideast talks,” news story, Sept. 26]. The Israelis and Palestinians were told to restart direct talks and try to reach a settlement by the end of next year.

The two parties have given assurances that they want a peaceful settlement and that they are willing to consider a two-state solution. Both have declared in no uncertain terms what they want and what they are unwilling to consider. Since the conditions they have put on the table are irreconcilable, some compromise will be necessary. Both parties will have to give up some of their demands.

Let us hope that they will not waste their time repeating the demands that the rest of the world has been listening to for several decades and that they will focus and bid on the “preconditions” and “essentials” they are willing to abandon.

L. John Martin, Bethesda

●For 44 years, Israel has militarily occupied and, in terms of the Geneva Conventions, illegally settled and annexed portions of the West Bank. Yet by failing to mention those undeniable facts in his Sept. 28 op-ed piece, “Deaf ears to hate speech,” Robert L. Bernstein absolved Israel of responsibility for the frustration and rage of Palestinians and other Arabs. It is not surprising that some Arabs conflate anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. 

Mr. Bernstein calls on human rights organizations to condemn the vehemence and vocabulary of these critics of Israel. Rather than seek to stifle free speech, perhaps partisans of Israel should urge the authorities in that country to negotiate in good faith with the Palestinians’ democratically elected leaders. This startling change in tactics would go further, and faster, to achieve Mr. Bernstein’s goal.

Richard McKee, Arlington

●Bravo to Robert L. Bernstein for his op-ed piece. Finally, someone has called to our attention the fact that nongovernmental organizations such as Human Rights Watch, as well as the United Nations, attack Israel for defending itself while turning a deaf ear to the hate speech — including incitement to genocide — in the Arab and Muslim world against Israel and Jews.

It is a sad irony that an op-ed such as Mr. Bernstein’s was necessary, because the majority of the Western media has also been deaf to the hate speech that has led to so much Palestinian aggression.

Veda R. Charrow, Chevy Chase

Regarding David Ignatius’s Sept. 25 column, “Obama’s Mideast retreat”:

When President Harry S. Truman recognized Israel, he defied his secretary of state, resisted “logic” and opposed many of his “experts.” Some believe Truman was right; some believe that we are still paying for a premature decision. Subsequent presidents have launched peace initiatives, peace missions, peace plans, peace accords, peace conferences, peace summits, peace talks, peace solutions and peace proposals. Has this worked for anyone?

Perhaps it is time for President Obama to defy his experts and recognize Palestine. Can things be worse than the Middle East wars, occupations, assassinations, massacres, suicide bombs, refugee camps and security barriers of the past 63 years?

This might be the wrong time, this might be the right time, but if we incline to hope, it might be the perfect time to defy logic and the experts — and try something different.

Felicity O. Yost, New York

 
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