Re "Forget the two-state solution," Opinion, May 11
I find it touching that a professor in English and comparative literature is venturing into international relations, but Saree Makdisi's suggestion that a one-state solution will magically bring together two peoples with hundreds of years of animosity is not grounded in reality.
It will take great leadership and sacrifice on both sides, but the only way to a real and lasting peace will be to create two secure and economically viable states side by side with leaders dedicated to peaceful coexistence. This is why every mainstream Israeli and Palestinian political group -- and both Democrats and Republicans -- back this solution.
After reading Makdisi's Op-Ed article about combining Israel, West Bank and Gaza into one entity, I expect him to strongly condemn the recent carving up of Serbia to create a separate state for the Muslim minority in Kosovo.
After reading his call for "a single democratic, secular and multicultural state," I expect he will even more eloquently denounce Saudi Arabia, which blatantly discriminates against non-Muslims.
But I am not holding my breath. The two-state solution is not in place primarily because the Palestinian leadership has always been intent on destroying Israel rather than building a state of their own. Unable to do it militarily, they are now trying to do it demographically -- with the help of the Makdisis of the world.
Makdisi recycles his long-held view that a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is not viable. Embedded in his approach is an outright denial of the legitimacy of Israel's existence.
This line of thinking has been around for more than 60 years. It was the basis for Arab repudiation when the U.N. voted in favor of a two-state solution in 1947. It has been the basis for Arab decisions to invade Israel, and it is the justification for Hamas' terror attacks against Israel.
Sadly, negating Israel's right to exist undermines the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a state of their own. If the Arab leadership had accepted the judgment of the international community in 1947, Palestinians would also be celebrating the 60th anniversary of their state.
The writer is the board chairman of the Anti-Defamation League's Pacific Southwest region.
Re "Israel's unhappy birthday," Opinion, May 11
Benny Morris' retrospective on Israeli history whitewashes Israel's role in rejecting peace. Israel has been engaged in one of the longest, most brutal occupations in recent history.
Intensified settlement construction, which scholar Avi Shlaim identified as the primary reason for the death of the Oslo Accords, reflects Israel's attempts to annex as much Palestinian territory as possible. Yasser Arafat's refusal of the Camp David offer in 2000 was not a refusal to recognize Israel but a refusal to accept massive Israeli annexation of the West Bank.
How does Morris reconcile his vision of Arab Muslim rejectionism with the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty, PLO recognition of Israel in the Oslo Accords and the Saudi peace plan? Even Hamas has hinted that it would be willing to accept Israel within its pre-1967 borders and has called for multiple cease-fires (which Israel has rejected).
It is surprising that a scholar who has devoted his career to debunking Israeli myths of the conflict should resurrect such tired arguments.
Both of the Op-Ed articles you printed have merit. However, there has been a singular, progressive step taken within the last few years among Israelis and Palestinians -- the establishment of 120 jointly managed nongovernmental organizations working toward peace. These NGOs focus on education, civil rights, the arts, the environment, science and medicine, and they take a nonpolitical, person-to-person approach toward rapprochement and civility.
The tens of thousands of Israelis and Palestinians involved in these NGOs are not sad, as Morris would have you believe. The feeling in the air in coffee shops in Tel Aviv and Ramallah is one of optimism and hope.
One has the choice to work toward peace or to continue to fan the flames of despair and doom.
The writer works with the Alliance for Middle East Peace.