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Israel's defensive efforts are justified

Ennis Rimawi '91 and Adeeb W. Shanaa '93's attack on Andrew D. Yablon '92's column concerning Saddam Hussein and the West Bank is littered with inaccuracies and distortions ["No basis for Israeli claims to territory in West Bank," Sep. 5].

These two writers would have you believe that the Palestinians welcomed with open arms the Jews who were returning to their homeland. Attacks on Jewish settlements took place throughout the early 1900s.

In fact, Jews fleeing Nazi Europe during the early 1940s were turned back from landing in what is now Israel by the British rulers who were under intense Arab pressure. Many of these people were forced to return to Europe and were sent to the gas chambers.

They erroneously claim that prior to Jewish immigration, "the whole area was already a Palestinian state." This would probably come as news to the British (who controlled the land from 1918 to 1948) and to the Turks, who ruled it for the previous 400 years.

The column states that that the Zionists unilaterally declared this area a Jewish state. On the contrary, the United Nations partitioned the area (after the British first gave two-thirds of the territory to the Arabs to form Jordan, whose population is now 70 percent Palestinian) into an Arab and Jewish area.

The Jews merely proclaimed a state in the area provided for them by the United Nations. Had the Palestinians accepted this settlement peacefully, they could have had a real state of their own.

The threat to Israeli security is not a myth. After four wars in which Israel's very survival was at stake, and after hundreds of terrorist attacks, security becomes a very serious, and a very real, issue.

The terrain of the West Bank limits the routes of attack on Israel to only four areas. This significantly adds to the defense of an outnumbered and surrounded Israel. Israel proper has no such geographic border and thus requires large defensive contingents along its entire frontier. Also, considering that pre-1967 Israel is only eight miles wide at points, the West Bank provides essential space for defense.

As Yablon stated in the original article, Israel's attack in

the 1967 war was purely in self-defense. Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser had ordered UN troops out of the border area between Egypt and Israel and massed a large number of troops there.

Other Arab nations followed suit, and soon Israel found itself surrounded by 250,000 troops. These countries were taken by surprise by the Israeli first strike, since they were expecting to attack and to determine when the fighting would start. Just because they were caught by surprise does not mean they were not preparing for war.

Those 250,000 troops were not sent to the border so they could have a picnic. Rimawi and Shanaa conveniently neglected

to mention anything about the Arab-launched wars in 1948, 1956 and 1973, the last one beginning on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.

The writers would have us believe that the Palestine Liberation Organization has suddenly turned into a peace-loving group. Considering its refusal to condemn a recent Palestinian attempt at

a terrorist attack on an Israeli beach, and considering the PLO's violent past, you'll have to ex-

cuse me if I'm just a little bit skeptical.

The column lists several figures about Israeli-caused casualties that the authors hope readers will take at face value. Their figures are highly inflated.

Additionally, casualties partly resulted from Palestinian terrorists often setting up their headquarters next to schools and refugee camps. This way, even precision attacks on the terrorists ultimately result in civilian casualties.

As for the intifada, more Palestinians were killed in July by other Palestinians (because they were suspected of working with the Israelis) than by Israeli soldiers. Recently, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip stoned and burned to death an Israeli.

These two writers made reference to the refugee camp massacres. It must be made clear that the Lebanese Phalangists, and not the Israelis, did the killing.

In response to the fact that Israeli soldiers were in the area, over 300,000 Israelis (over one-tenth of the population) marched in Tel Aviv to demand an investigation of the matter.

Furthermore, the authors refer to the assassination of an Arab-American and wonder about "the implications if an extremist Palestinian group assassinated

a Jewish-American." You mean like when wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer was thrown off the Achille Lauro by Palestinian terrorists?

Jews across the world have been victims of Palestinian terrorism. Currently, the cantor of my temple at home is in Sweden assisting a Jewish community there. He writes that the synagogue has a security entrance and a 24-hour guard. If the Jews in Sweden cannot feel safe from Palestinian terrorism, how are the Israeli Jews supposed to feel secure?

The answer is that they must prepare a strong defense in order to prevent further terrorist attacks or even a fifth war. The West Bank plays an influential part in this defense. Recent events have shown that strength, not appeasement, provides secure borders in that area of the world.

Steven Lustig '93->