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Friday, July 11, 2003

Mimi Ito's Letter in the Camera

MIDDLE EAST
Holding Israel to different standard

I'd like to address several myths about Israel asserted or implied in Juliet Wittman's June 27 Open Forum letter, most of which seek to create the image of Palestinians as victims and Israelis as agressors.

First is Wittman's comparison of Palestinians to Native Americans. If anyone can be compared to Native Americans, it is the Israelis. Both of these groups have suffered persecution and massacres; both know the folly of land for peace, giving up something concrete for promises broken time after time. Wittman's mention of only Palestinians as "indigenous people" seems an attempt to erase the three-and-a-half thousand years Jews have lived on this land.

Wittman writes that several letters and editorials have claimed all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. This claim is often used by anti-Semites as a ploy to silence any opposition. But if you see a black jaywalker, a white murderer and a white rapist, and only the black jaywalker is arrested, surely cries of racism would be justified. Those who constantly criticize Israel, usually in her attempts to defend herself, but ignore persecution and murders everywhere else — including those by Palestinians — certainly invite the label of anti-Semite.

The worst myth is Wittman's claim that polls show both Israelis and Palestinians desire "peaceful co-existence." This is true of Israelis, but in poll after poll, an overwhelming majority of Palestinians (between 60 and 80 percent) continue to support suicide attacks against Israeli civilians.

Wittman ends with the myth of moral equivalence. It's just a few "agitators" on both sides causing the problem. If we hold the eighth-grade bully and his third-grade victim equally accountable, we have completely misunderstood the situation. As long as we obscure the causes of the conflict in Israel, we will never have peace.

MIMI ITO, Boulder

Kol hakavod!