In the aftermath of the failed Mideast peace talks, U.S. journalists seem to have reverted to their all-too-familiar stereotypes: Arabs are war-mongers, they want to push the Jews to the sea, they are not interested in peace, they just want to wage war. However, what Yasser Arafat and the Palestinians want is not “the land of Israel,” as some observers have argued, but the right to self-determination.
What Arafat and the Palestinians want is Israel to end its occupation of East Jerusalem, which it annexed in 1967, and to hand over complete sovereignty of East Jerusalem to the Palestinians. East Jerusalem has, for hundreds of years, been the historic, social, economic and religious capital of the Palestinians people.
In 1967, the number of Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem was zero. Today, Jewish settlers outnumber Palestinians in East Jerusalem due to Israeli government policy, which denies permits to Palestinians, demolishes their homes and generally makes life miserable for indigenous Arabs.
What Palestinians want is to determine their own future, free from the fear of night-time raids or house demolitions or closure. What Palestinians want is Israeli acknowledgement of wrong-doing. I believe that Palestinians and Israelis can live side by side peacefully.
It is convenient to blame Arafat for the demise of the Mideast peace summit, but the reality is far more complex, and will require creativity and flexibility from both sides.
August 12, Faris Khader, Chappaqua
For a response see 183
For a rebuttal see 184