letters | crisis in syria

Lessons, and warnings, for Mideast peacemakers

For many years, James Carroll has used his Globe commentary to urge that Palestinians and Israelis seek a peaceful resolution to their conflict. While it has been easy to applaud his intent, Carroll has often discounted the profound challenges faced by a Jewish state seeking peace and acceptance in a region where minorities, be they Muslim, Christian, or Jewish, are routinely persecuted, murdered, and subject to ethnic cleansing.

This made a comment in his June 10 op-ed “No military intervention in Syria” especially noteworthy. Carroll wrote, “Horrible as Syria is, the present conflict pales beside the prospect of an entire Middle East enflamed in a Sunni-Shiite war, with even Israel and Palestine reduced to sideshow.” Exactly. The Middle East is fractured by conflicts that are, in part, rooted in an incapacity to coexist with people unlike oneself. The longstanding conflict between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors is no exception.

While Israelis overwhelmingly support the creation of a Palestinian state existing side by side with Israel, most Palestinians still do not accept Israel as a legitimate presence in the region. As a result, many Israelis react with caution to foreigners who purport to be peacemakers but glibly ignore inconvenient truths that stand in the way of genuine peace and coexistence.


It was good to see Carroll give a nod to this difficult reality.

Mel Shuman

Vice president

Regional office

American Jewish Committee