This is addressed to certain Palestinians I know who want peace and a homeland for their people and routinely blame Israel for all their troubles. I agree that the harsh West Bank rule of the Begin regime is futile and actually harms Israel, but I would still urge you to open your minds to the notion that better days are ahead.
If you look probingly into Israel and across the world at the Jewish community, you will find more peacemakers and rational souls than you ever admitted to me. I regret that I am still looking for Palestinian counterparts to the fair-mined, intelligent Jews who want to resolve the Palestinian question.
There's no question that you are a people (four million) deserving justice and grossly misrepresented in the media, particularly in the American entertainment media. Still, world opinion is increasingly on your side. The more militant among you argue that Palestinians are at war with Israel. But these militants are a small percentage of all Palestinians. The PLO army and its loosely connected commando/terrorist units altogether don't number 80,000.
Your terrorists have committed atrocities, as Jewish terrorists did a generation ago, and these artrocities must be condemned. You also know that for every Jewish life you take, you pay horrible price in the form of four or five Palestinian lives. You cannot expect the Israelis to sit on their hands, particularly when PLO terrorists camp in Lebanon, close to Israel's border.
But you Palestinians should know that if anything characterizes a Jewish community anywhere, it is diversity of opinion and a readiness to dissent. For years, prominent, articulate people in Israel have called for peace with the Palestinians. And aren't there European Jewish leaders who talk the same, including Bruno Kriesky, Austria's chancellor?
Only last week, a group of 56 prominent American Jews issued a statement in Jerusalem denouncing Begin's "extremism" and urging Israeli concessions in the occupied West Bank. Among them were Theodore Bikel, Martin Peretz (publisher of The New Republic), and Rabbi Alexander Schindler -- all believers in a Zionism that lives in peace with its neighbors.
Many of this group are current and former members of organizations that lobby and raise money for Israel in the United States, so they are clearly "on the reservation." I only wish there would be 56 ardent Palestinians nationalists who would also declare a goal of living in peace with Israel and calling for an end to terrorism.
Then there's Nahum goldmann, former president of the World Zionist Organization, who months ago went so far as to call for Israel to become neutralist, its borders defended by armies of non-aligned nations and backed by big powers. Goldmann said West Germany would make the supreme reparation to the Jewish people if it agreed to be a co-guarantor of "a Jewish state."
You see, many Jews only want a homeland to sustain their religion, culture and intellectual ferment, the same goals you want for Palestinians. These Jews realize that the greatest danger to Israel is losing the support of world opinion and that, with Arab states having privately acknowledged that they can live with Israel, now is the time to take initiatives.
In Israel, there is a sizable "peace Now" movement, not like the ragtag anti-war movement the United States knew in the Vietnam period, but led by 350 Israeli reserve combat officers and thousands of other Israelis who would fight the moment an invader set foot in Israel. They call for an end to the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and want to live in peace with you. are you going to respond?
Where is the Palestinian counterpart to Gen. (Reserves) Matti Peled, chairman of the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, a man gusty enough to fight for his country and also to call for the dismissal of Gen. Benjamin B. Eliezer, military commander of the West Bank? Where is a Palestinian editor like Israel's Simha Flapan, of New Outlook, "trying to arrange a peace dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians?"
You know, Israelis are a lot like you yearning Palestinians. You both have an apetite for learning and achievement, are spicy and are stubborn to defend your rights. fYou have not suffered as the European Jews did under the Nazis and should understand why the survivors of that horror sometimes act irrationally when threatened. But you also know that the vast majority of Jews in Israel are Sephardic people and share the Arab tongue, food, culture and even appearance with you. Eventually, they will moderate the intemperate fears often expressed in Ashkenzai-dominated Israel.
But the Sephardics will have no truck with PLO brutality. Indeed, since they are especially familiar with Arabs, they know how to punish and are well aware that the Middle Eastern address is one often visited with killing and revenge.
Anyway, the militant moderates among you Palestinians must show courage and speak out. The dangerous game between Israel and the Palestinians must stop. Do you really want what was once called Palestine -- and could be so called again -- to become a Northern Ireland, where the murder-minded IRA and vigilante Protestant terrorists have fought a senseless, bloody, endless war and inflicted great suffering on innocent people? The intelligent among you Palestinians should reach out to the intelligent in Israel and in the world Jewish community and start something that will win all of you a hearty salute from the world.