Re "Evenhanded in the Mideast," Editorial, July 31
Why would the "Israelis and their supporters" consider what The Times calls President Obama's evenhanded approach a "code for pro-Arab policy"? How about a simple look at the ledger?
Tangible Israeli concessions: peace with Egypt, peace with Jordan, giving back the entire Sinai Peninsula, giving back the Gaza Strip (which included displacing thousands of Jews and giving up important agricultural facilities), transferring control of West Bank cities to Palestinians, offering to hand over the vast majority of West Bank territories, releasing thousands of Palestinian prisoners, transferring millions of dollars to the Palestinian Authority and more.
Tangible Palestinian concessions: speeches in English for the Western media expressing a desire for "peace" with a country that has no right to exist.
Your editorial fails to grasp the fatal trap America is in, thanks to its misguided policies that work not only against its own national interests in the Middle East but those of Israel.
Our commitment to the latter's existence as an independent Jewish state has never extended to Israel's expansionist goals in the occupied West Bank. Nevertheless, over many years, our steadfast financial and political support enabled Israel to pursue its destabilizing goals.
Israel's thrust into the West Bank already precludes a two-state solution, and Palestinians are consigned to an underclass status. The basic dynamics are unending tension and violence.
For all his resourcefulness, the prospects before Obama for a breakthrough are extremely bleak. The odds favor a perilous stalemate and an eventual catastrophic showdown.
The president's "evenhandedness" is hardly a new phenomenon in American foreign policy.
In the early days of World War II, American isolationists and Nazi sympathizers argued strenuously that the U.S. should remain neutral between Britain and Germany, as opposed to favoring our British ally. The attack on Pearl Harbor and America's entry into the war decisively discredited the advocates for evenhandedness.
Now, about 70 years later, this morally bankrupt policy is resurrected in the form of neutrality between Israel, America's steadfast friend and the only democracy in the Middle East, and the forces that seek to destroy both it and us. Have the advocates of evenhandedness, including the Obama administration, forgotten the searing images of jubilation in the Arab streets on 9/11?
Steven M. Goldberg
The writer is national vice chairman of the Zionist Organization of America.
More than 1 million Arabs live in relative peace and prosperity in Israel with citizenship, seats in the parliament, voting rights and so on. Yet the roughly 300,000 Israelis in the West Bank are an international cause celebre and an intense thorn in the psyche of the Arabs. What's wrong with Jews residing in the future Palestinian state in peace with the same privileges the Arabs have in Israel?
Why not convince Palestinians to try to coexist peacefully and abandon their hatred and destruction toward Israel? Impossible? Maybe, but don't make Israel the magician to solve this problem.
To those familiar with the history of this conflict, one simple truth stands out above all others: The existence of the state of Israel is, has always been and will continue to be unacceptable to most of the Arab world, including the majority of Palestinians.
How does one make peace with an enemy that teaches its children to hate Jews?
Obama's "evenhanded" approach to the Middle East is doomed to failure unless it is predicated on the assumption that both sides have the authority to back up their words with deeds.