Re "Moderate Breeze in Israel," Jan 15:
Nearly 10 years ago, the first President Bush helped advance Mideast peace by rejecting an Israeli request for $10 billion in loan guarantees, as he signaled U.S. displeasure over continued illegal settlement activity by the right-wing government of Yitzhak Shamir.
Such resoluteness on the part of the U.S. helped Shamir's moderate rival, Yitzhak Rabin, get elected and could well have resulted in peace had he not been assassinated by Israeli extremists.
Today we are at a nearly identical crossroads, with Likud candidate Ariel "The Bulldozer" Sharon running against Labor candidate Amram Mitzna. And as before, Israel has requested $10 billion more in loan guarantees and $4 billion in military aid -- beyond the $3 billion in aid already budgeted for 2003.
The current Bush administration cannot afford to keep up the charade that Sharon is a "man of peace," despite the fact that he steadfastly refuses to negotiate and is only willing to consider returning, at most, 41% of a fractured West Bank to the Palestinians.
President Bush should take a page from his father's administration and demand that Sharon dismantle all Israeli settlements and return the entire West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinians, or do without billions in U.S. aid to Israel. This would clearly cause most Israelis to think twice about voting for Sharon and his dead-end policies.
This "moderate breeze" hopefully will fan into a raging fire to burn away the hatred and killings, by both parties, that endanger human lives and any hope for peace in the Middle East. Israeli leaders should heed and remember the words of Israel's founding father, David Ben-Gurion, when he said the Negev desert transformed into a land of milk and honey can assure Israel's place and accommodate greater numbers than what is wrongfully desired in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Nor should American Jews be silent in this regard.
Hyman H. Haves