How sad that even such a knowledgeable person as Harry Stern accepts the Palestinian Big Lie that Jews building houses are an obstacle to peace (“Ugly on Campus,” Oct. 23). Please consider the following facts.
The Palestinian refugee situation has deliberately been kept unresolved. The Palestinians are the only refugee group permitted to pass refugee status from one generation to the next. Their designated U.N. agency, UNRWA, does not have a mandate for resettlement or rehabilitation; this is the opposite of the mandate of the U.N. agency that handles all other refugee situations worldwide, UNHCR.
The Palestinians have been denied citizenship and economic opportunity in most Muslim countries for nearly 70 years. The propagators of the Big Lie refer only to 50 years of occupation (the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza by Jordan and Egypt from 1948 until 1967 doesn’t count).
Israel liberated the West Bank and Gaza from Jordan and Egypt in a defensive war that had been openly launched with genocidal intent. She offered to withdraw in 1968 in exchange for peace and was met by three Arab nos (no recognition, no negotiations, no peace).
Yasser Arafat (2000/2001) flatly rejected the proposal of Ehud Barak’s left-wing government for a Palestinian state in all of Gaza and 97 percent of the West Bank with shared governance in parts of Jerusalem. Mahmoud Abbas (2008) did the same with a slightly more generous offer from the centrist government of Ehud Olmert.
Even if a Palestinian state is established, Abbas will not grant citizenship to the refugees (actually mostly third- and fourth-generation descendants of Arabs who fled the Arab-initiated 1948 war); Abbas still wants Israel to give them the homes their forebears fled.
Jewish settlements in the West Bank cover only 2 percent of the land. No new communities have been authorized since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993. Under Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government, some unauthorized settlements have been dismantled, and the growth of existing communities has actually slowed.
Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza was reciprocated with thousands of rockets being fired at Israeli population centers. Abbas’ government has not given any indication that withdrawal from the West Bank wouldn’t have the same result.
For true peace to be achieved, the Palestinian leadership must agree that signing a peace treaty ends the conflict. They must begin to undo decades of anti-Jewish incitement and prepare the Palestinian people to live, peaceably, beside the nation-state of the Jews.
— Toby F. Block, Atlanta