In recent days, this newspaper among others, as well as the electronic media, have carried stories, editorials and cartoons in response to the events on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. By means of their precise emphases, these stories, and, in particular, The Times editorial of Dec. 24, have sought to exclusively place responsibility for the unrest on Israeli authorities. Indeed, the tragedy of the loss of life should and must be addressed. These riots reflect the general frustration of residents in these areas and the absence of any progress toward peace in the Middle East.
The Times has singularly defined the problem as the "failure of the State of Israel." It should be noted that during the 20 years of Arab governance over these territories, no constructive economic or political initiatives were introduced. The Times further has sought to explain that the "hopelessness," as demonstrated by these riots, rests on the "inability" of Israel to establish goals for itself. For Israel, the goal of peace has always been and remains a constant.
During the course of the past 40 years, only Egypt has stepped forward to join the process of establishing a peaceful relationship with Israel. The process launched at Camp David has gone unfulfilled, as other Arab states have refused to pursue a similar course.
The Times implies the need for the United States to leverage its financial relationship with Israel as a means of demanding an Israeli response. While claiming that Israel's security and essential viability is in America's interest, The Times is, nonetheless, willing to point the finger of responsibility to but one party. The Times has forgotten the record of wars waged to destroy Israel, decades of terrorism aimed at murdering Israel's civilians and the contributions of Israel to United States and Western interests. Moreover, "it takes two to tango." Even assuming that a peace process can be established, with whom would the Times recommend that Israel enter into dialogue? The PLO? Syria? Libya? The reality is that none of these parties are prepared today to sit with Israel or, for that matter, to recognize its existence.
Governments such as those of the United States and Israel, which expose themselves to media review, must face the consequences of public scrutiny. Accordingly, press analysis must be fair, consistent, and responsive to the standards by which all nations are judged.
RABBI MARVIN GROSS
Director, Middle East Commission Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles
Chairman, Middle East Commission Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles