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letters | echoes of history in the Middle East

At root, rejection of a Jewish state

IS IT truly “humiliation that drives the Palestinians,” as H.D.S. Greenway asserts (“In Middle East, who’s David and who’s Goliath?” (Op-ed, Feb. 14)? If so, what sort of “humiliation”? That they are unable to establish their own independent state? Or, far more plausibly, that the Jews have been able to establish theirs on lands once conquered by Islam?

The latter understanding lies at the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is why the Arab states rejected the 1947 UN Partition Plan that would have divided the remainder of the British Palestine Mandate into Jewish and Arab states. It is why the Arab states joined militarily to destroy the nascent State of Israel in 1948. It is why terrorists repeatedly have attacked Israelis and Jewish sites around the world. It is why all manner of diplomatic, economic, media, and now, even academic, levers have been employed against Israel.

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The Palestinians have many times been offered a state but have steadfastly refused. In their eyes, the cost is far too high: acceptance of the legitimacy of a sovereign Mideast Jewish state, declaration of an end to conflict, and abandonment of “right of return’’ claims for a dwindling remainder of real refugees and their multi-generational descendants.

Cutting that Gordian Knot would instantly sever the sinews supporting this decades-long war and rapidly lead to peace. But that is an action only the Palestinians can take.

Richard D. Wilkins

Waterbury, Conn.

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