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Syria letter misrepresents facts, unfair to the Israeli perspective

Ibrahim Elfadel G's letter ["Column ignored reality of Mid-East situation, Arab-Israeli conflict," Oct.8] disturbed me because his perception of the facts in the Middle East clash with mine. It would be easy to accuse him of twisting history, but it would not be fair. I would like to understand some of his statements, rather than simply dismiss them.

Elfadel's implication that due to Israel's "ever-expanding weapons stocks. . . the Syrians have. . . endured a national defense budget that is out of proportion with their scarce resources," seems odd, given that Israel's defense burden also overwhelms its scarce resources and that in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973 Israel was forced to enter defensive wars involving, among others, Syria. When the Golan and the administered territories ended up in Israel's hands after the 1967 war, she offered to exchange land for peace. What was Syria's response for the past 24 years? The "three no's" -- no negotiations, no recognition, no peace.

Elfadel and I obviously have deeply-held views on how the situation arose and how it should be resolved. But to point to either side as a purely innocent victim or as a purely ruthless aggressor is unwise. It is equally unwise to ignore the history of the region and to disregard the past behavior of any of those now involved in talks. By trying to understand the valid concerns on all sides, and by carefully discerning between those valid concerns and the unfounded claims of demagogues, perhaps a solution will be found to lead to a just peace and secure borders for all who live in this tinderbox of history.

Andrew M. Greene '91->

evening phone, 738-4070]