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Sunday, May 25, 2003

Letters to the Editors, Sunday New York Times: "Locating Palestine" (2 Letters)

To the Editor:

Re "Crossing Jordan: The Exit That Isn't on Bush's `Road Map' " (Week in Review, May 18):

The chimerical idea of solving the Palestinian problem by declaring that "Jordan is Palestine" has been peddled by hard-right Israelis for years. The Jordanian monarchy won't accept it (is, in fact, terrified of it). The Palestinians won't accept it, since that would mean permanently accepting what they see as their unjust dispossession of their ancestral lands. And most Israelis don't want it either --because it would solve nothing.

If a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza is unacceptable because it would be a "terrorist base" for attacks against Israel, how long would it be before Israel viewed a Palestinianized Jordan the same way? The proposal of Benyamin Elon, a minister in the Israeli government, would only make a bad situation worse -- especially if carried out at gunpoint.

Staten Island, May 18, 2003

To the Editor:

Benyamin Elon's vision of transferring the Palestinians from the West Bank (Week in Review, May 18) should be called ethnic cleansing. But the inherent flaws of the "road map" and its two-state formula deserve scrutiny.

As a former member of the International Solidarity Movement -- some of whose members have been maimed, killed and detained by the Israeli military -- I recognize that Jews have legitimate ties to the West Bank. Furthermore, Jews should have free access to holy sites like the Tomb of Abraham (or the Ibrahimi Mosque, as it is known to Muslims). Just as surely, Palestinians have the right to reclaim land lost in Israel through nearly six decades of war.

So when will we finally give a fair hearing to the idea of binationality, with full electoral enfranchisement, and separation of religion and state? No wall between Jews and Palestinians can ever resolve each side's deep existential fears.

New York, May 18, 2003