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Voice: Thomas' take on Palestine-Israel appalling, one-sided

February 19, 2001

I am writing in response to Cal Thomas' "Sharon Victory a Better Road to Peace," from the Feb. 11 Imperial Valley Press. I was compelled to write due to the appalling, one-sided comments by Mr. Thomas that represent an archaic and entrenched mentality about the situation in the Middle East.

Implicit in Mr. Thomas' remarks are that Arabs are "terrorists" and do not want peace but only the destruction of Israel. The current violence supposedly proves this point. But let's look at this "violence." It consists of mostly children, teen-agers (human fodder, according to Thomas) armed with sticks and stones attacking heavily armed and fortified Israelis. Thomas would have us believe these people are a real threat to Israel and there is some justification for shooting them down. I recall a politician who once declared we could stop illegal immigration from Mexico by putting an armored division on the border and shooting anything that moved. Would Thomas suggest this as well?

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The violence is not all based on the savage, destructive passions of a few Arab and Palestinian extremists but of the everyday person tired of the delays in the implementation of peace accords. In the Oslo accords, Israel agreed to return land it took during various wars of the '60s and '70s, during which many Arab and Palestinian villages and homes were demolished to make way for Israeli settlements. Promises and conditions were made and years later have not been carried out by both sides. How long would you expect one to wait to return to one's home? How long did Native Americans have to wait to get this country to honor treaties it made with the many tribes? Would Mr. Thomas call the people who fought for dignity and human rights at Wounded Knee terrorists?

If we are to believe Mr. Thomas, the Palestinians have no right to self-determination. Israel does have the right to its continued existence and security, but if by detonating a bomb or throwing a rock at troops stops a peace process, I have to wonder if either side is truly interested in peace. Where are the cooler heads? Mr. Thomas believes Mr. Sharon will have this cooler head … the man who went to the Temple Mount, a sacred Islamic site, and incited some of the worst violence.

You think anyone would live peacefully under oppressive systems? We didn't here in America. When we tired of the British way, we took to the streets, destroyed their property and started a war for freedom. What was the Boston Tea Party but an act of terrorism? We see it as heroism, but ask the British. So Palestinians view the stone-throwers in the same light — as heroes.

Contrary to Mr. Thomas' view, Arabs and Israelis were closer to peace than at any other time in recent history, in large part due to the work of Mr. Barak, who continued down the path of peace started by Mr. Rabin before he was assassinated by an Israeli extremist. If he thinks Sharon will have more success at peace negotiations then he is fooling himself.

What I find truly bankrupt are Mr. Thomas' cold war views that complex situations in the Middle East have simple solutions and a clear enemy. What is bankrupt is the continued demonization of Arab and Palestinian people and a lack of consideration for their dreams, desires and lives. We should all want better from our news and those who report it.

LAURENCE LIGON

San Francisco

(Formerly of Brawley)

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