The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 38.0°F | A Few Clouds

Yablon column distorted the Palestinian question

Andrew D. Yablon '92 in his recent column displays a limited knowledge of historical facts and one-sided logic in his attempt at legitimizing the Israeli occupation of the West Bank ["Hussein uses Palestinian cause for personal gain," Sep. 25].

Yablon argues that Jordan has no legitimate claim to the West Bank because "Jordan's borders are arbitrary partitions created by European colonialists when they divided the Ottoman Empire." If this argument were to be used as a basis for legitimacy, then one has to accept that Israel has no legitimate claim to its entire territory (let alone the West Bank and Gaza), because it owes its very creation as a country to the partitions of these same European colonialists. Clearly, Yablon's line of argument does not advance his claim.

Even if Yablon's conclusion were true, his facts are wrong. The West Bank was under Jordanian control between 1948 and 1967 because it was annexed by Jordan after the 1948 war, not as a result of colonial partitioning. This, by the way, does not make the claim of Jordanian sovereignty over the West Bank more legitimate, it just makes it as legitimate as the claim of Israeli sovereignty over the territory it gained in the 1948 war: a country annexing a territory occupied during a war. In any case, arguing against Jordanian rule over the West Bank is irrelevant, since Jordan gave up its claim to it in 1988.

What Israeli apologists fail to mention is that the call for a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza (which Yablon forgot to include in his discussion of a Palestinian state), alongside the Israel of post-1948 and pre-1967, is a historic concession by the Palestinians, who have agreed to give up the larger part of a land which was entirely theirs less than 80 years ago, in order to be allowed to keep the smaller part, because they would rather live in peace in their state than to keep suffering and dying for a goal that they will never achieve.

Yablon's column contains further distortions:

He claims, without any substantiation, that "Palestinians fared worse under the Jordanian occupation than under the current Israeli occupation." Jordanian occupation was no heaven, but Palestinians in the West Bank were given Jordanian nationality, were allowed to vote for their representatives in the Jordanian Parliament, and did not have their land and water confiscated to build "Jordanian settlements." Contrast this to the Israeli occupation.

He states that Palestinians "raided Jewish settlements and shed Jewish blood long before there ever was a Jewish homeland," ignoring that violence and bloodshed was, and still is, a two-way street (does he need examples?). Moreover, by using the Holocaust victims to gain sympathy for his point of view, he trivializes that tragic part of history, and introduces facts which have no relevance to the issue he is discussing.

He claims that "the Palestinians have systematically rejected diplomatic initiatives in favor of more violent means of expression." He conveniently ignores their acceptance of United Nations Resolution 242 and of the international peace conference on the Middle East, which was rejected by Israel, as well as the fact that it was Israel which refused the Baker plan less than a year ago, not the Palestinians.

He states that "the Palestinians have hampered their cause through their intifada," as if the intifada were the actual obstruction to Israeli recognition of a Palestinian state. Indeed, without the pressure of world opinion, which shifted to the Palestinian side only because of the intifada, Israel would have continued its policy of gradual annexation of the occupied territories with little international outcry.

As for the Palestinian support of Saddam Hussein, it can only be understood within the context of popular frustration at the biased US policy with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (After considerable concessions by the Palestinian leadership, the United States never permitted more than low-level diplomatic contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organization, and even those were subsequently withdrawn.)

One occupation does not justify another. Just as the world has united to condemn Iraq's occupation of Kuwait, the UN should enforce its previous condemnation of Israel's illegal occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Samer Madanat G->