Richard Gross asks why the United States signed a deal for military assistance to Israel when by so doing, the U.S. surrendered its "leverage" to force Israel to make peace with the Palestinians ("Israel aid deal delays potential for peace," Sept. 19).
The question wrongly presumes that the military assistance provided to Israel is of so little value to the U.S. that it should be withheld to extract political concessions from the Israelis. To the contrary, the military assistance allows Israel to develop expertise in the fields of intelligence, homeland security, missile defense and anti-terrorism, which is shared with the U.S. and helps the U.S. to meet its own security challenges.
The question also wrongly presumes that confronting Israel is the best way to advance peace. In reality, the withholding of military assistance would only reinforce Israel's sense of isolation and insecurity without inducing the Palestinians to moderate their positions. Only a strong Israel that is confident that it has America's full support will be prepared to take the risks which will be demanded of it as part of a final settlement.
Finally, the question wrongly presumes that Israel is the intransigent party in the conflict. However, regardless of the pressure exerted upon Israel, peace will not be achieved until the Palestinians end their incitement of violence against Jewish Israelis and glorification of murderers, renounce their insistence upon a "right of return" and acknowledge Israel as the national home of the Jewish people.
Jay Bernstein, Baltimore