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Lerner's notebook omits terrorist attacks by Israel

In his discussion of terrorism in Israel, Reuven M. Lerner '92 clearly attempts to treat the relevant issues fairly, but I believe his account is misguided ["Reporter in Israel: the trap of terrorism," March 19].

Lerner balances Arab terrorism by mentioning Jewish terrorist groups whose "activities have been condemned by the Israeli government and military authorities." However, he omits the much more important examples of Israeli state terrorism, such

as the Haram al-Sharif killings

of last October, even though he notes that many define terrorism to include government violence directed against civilians.

This bias is strongest in his description of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, which he claims was undertaken "to stop the [Palestine Liberation Organization] from firing rockets at Israeli settlements along the northern border."

In fact, during the year preceding the invasion there was a cease-fire with the PLO. The PLO twice attacked the Israeli settlements in this period, but as Norman Finklestein notes in the Journal of Palestine Studies [Winter 1991], "both these attacks were preceded by Israeli air assaults against Lebanon."

An official pretext for the 1982 invasion not mentioned by Lerner was the attempted assassination of the Israeli ambassador in London; however, this was carried out not by the PLO but rather one of its deadliest enemies, the Abu Nidal terrorist group, possibly with the aid of Iraq.

What was, then, the motivation for the invasion of Lebanon? Many Israeli commentators have suggested that the cause was the PLO's apparent willingness to abide by the cease-fire and the Israeli government's preference for a politically weak, terrorist PLO to a politically strong, orderly one.

Finally, Lerner agrees that "the government's policy of not negotiating with terrorist groups has resulted in more, rather than fewer, attacks," but then claims that "Israel has told those who would negotiate through fear that they have nothing to gain by continuing to use the same tactics."

An obvious corollary to this statement is that Israel would reward those who renounce terrorism with negotiations. There is little compelling evidence for this, especially given Israel's policy of not negotiating with the PLO.

I think the matter was best put by Yehoshafat Harkabi, former head of Israeli military intelligence: "Terrorism is ugly . . . but put yourself in the shoes of the Palestinians and ask yourself what you would do -- climb on the roof and shout, `We deserve a state of our own!'? Who would pay attention to that?"

Stephen Fromm G->