The following letter was published on September 8 in the Baltimore Sun:
September 8, 2007
In their column “A new opening for Mideast peace” (Opinion • Commentary, Sept. 4), U.S. Rep. James Moran and Rabbi Marc Gopin make several questionable assertions.
Among these points are:
• According to Mr. Moran and Rabbi Gopin, “Polls have always indicated that the majority of Palestinians and Israelis were in favor of a two-state solution.”
While that has been true generally of Israeli public opinion since the start of the Oslo process in 1993, Palestinian majorities or pluralities often have favored a “two-state solution” that includes the “right of return” of Arab refugees and their descendants to what is now Israel, which would destroy the Jewish state demographically.
• Mr. Moran and Rabbi Gopin claim “we need a mini-Marshall Plan for Palestine that will appeal to secular and religious Palestinians alike.”
But a “mini-Marshall Plan” already has been attempted, with the United States, European Union, Japan and other countries pouring billions of dollars into the roughly Delaware-size area of the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
And the marked economic gains Palestinians saw from 1993 through 1999 did not dissuade Palestinian leaders from launching the al-Aqsa intifada terror war in 2000.
• The writers note that “most Palestinians want reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas as well as new elections” and so the United States “must speak to the majority – not simply Fatah.”
But the Fatah-Hamas “unity government” collapsed in June when Hamas drove Fatah out of the Gaza Strip in a five-day war.
And now, as Mr. Moran and Rabbi Gopin urge American outreach to supporters of Hamas-Fatah reconciliation, Israeli and Arab newspapers report Hamas infiltration of the Fatah-led West Bank security forces in preparation for a possible purge there.
Mr. Moran and Rabbi Gopin take as a positive sign remarks by Syrian leaders suggesting that their country might participate in a fall Arab-Israeli conference called by President Bush.
But Damascus has a history of using diplomatic feints to buy time. And Syria now may be seeking to lessen U.S. pressure over its support for the Iraqi insurgency and deflect attention from the international investigation implicating Syria in assassinations of Lebanese politicians.
Meanwhile, Syria hosts Hamas’ terrorist leadership and collaborates with Iran and Hezbollah.
The writers call for “honest engagement” that includes those in the Middle East who “can undo the delicate process of rapprochement,” and claim that “truly comprehensive peace is the order of the day.”
This would seem to imply that the leaders of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Syria, Iran and Hezbollah do not mean what they say and do.
The writer is the Washington director for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.