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Sun offers false equivalence between Israelis and Palestinians [Letter]

The Sun's editorial, "A dangerous turning point in Israel" (July 8) notes the arrest of six Israelis for the killing of a Palestinian teenager and "strong words from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others" condemning the crime. It adds that these actions "should send a message to militants and radicals on both sides that the growing vigilantism in Israel and the occupied territories will not be tolerated."

The equivalence is false. The kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers, subsequently found murdered, was widely celebrated last month in Palestinian society. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' criticism of the crime was itself widely criticized by his public. Palestinian Authority media continued almost daily anti-Israel incitement, including a portrayal of the murdered teens as "vermin."

However, Israeli society — from the parents of the three murdered teens through influential rabbis to political leaders across the board — denounced the Muhammad Abu Khdeir killing. Israeli police quickly identified and detained the suspects. Fair trials and, if guilty verdicts are reached, appropriate punishments are expected. Contrary to The Sun's implication, anti-Arab vigilantism in Israel, even after decades of Palestinian terror, remains a marginal phenomenon.

The Sun fears "that what has been a conflict between the Jewish state and the aspirations for a Palestinian one is turning into a war between the Israeli and Palestinian people." If the Palestinian side aspired to a state of its own rather than the destruction of Israel, why did it reject Israeli-U.S. offers of a country in 95 percent or more of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem in exchange for peace in 2000 and 2001, and a similar Israeli-only offer in 2008?

From Arab rejection of a "two-state solution" proposed by the British in 1937 through rejection of the U.N.'s 1947 partition plan to the present the conflict, this has been, in no small measure, an Arab war — hot or cold — against a Jewish state in any boundaries. Hamas and now reportedly some Fatah units are firing rockets at the "settlements" of Sderot and Ashkelon — towns inside Israel's pre-1967 lines.

The editorial says Mr. Netanyahu "was slower to speak out" about the Abu Khdeir killing than Muhammed's relatives wanted. In fact, shortly after the body of the Palestinian teenager was found on July 2, the prime minister called on Israelis to obey the law and asked investigators to quickly look into what he called "the abominable murder." On July 3, Mr. Netanyahu pledged to find the perpetrators and described the killing as "a despicable crime." But the Hamas members suspected of killing the Israeli teens have vanished, although the mother of one says that if he is indeed guilty, she will be proud.

The Sun worries about a lack of empathy among Israelis as well as Palestinian Arabs for those on the other side. Does it know that while Arabs celebrated the kidnapping of the Jewish teens, an Israeli cardiology unit saved the lives of five Palestinian youngsters — and neither side found either development unusual?

Eric Rozenman, Washington

The writer is Washington Director of CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

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To respond to this letter, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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