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Reader comment on item: Bush is rewarding [Palestinian] terrorism

Submitted by Max Singer (Israel), Jun 26, 2002 at 04:40

Dear Dan, I think the stance of your criticism of the Pres's speech is bad tactics, although, certainly, many of your specifics are correct. In view of the debate within the administration, and past US positions, it seems to me that Bush should be supported for going strongly in a substantially different direction.

I believe that State, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia saw the speech as a sharp rejection of their positions. And it seems to me that his willingness to reject their positions is perhaps the key virtue of the speech. The question is whether Bush will impose this new stance on State or will allow it to be whittled away. And that is why I think it would be sounder to support the President.

On democracy. As you know democracy is more than elections, it is a somewhat open process of debate about facts and choices. So I don't think we can take the current polls as the full story of how the Palestinians will act if (i) there is open discussion of the advantages of peace, (ii) a great reduction of government incitement, (iii) a great enough reduction in terrorism to allow Israel to reduce its military interference in Pal life, and (iv) a reduction in Pal casualties.

While the Palestinians have had a good deal of potential say in their own policies in recent years, and therefore are partly responsible, to some extent one can distinguish between the people and the leaders, and they have been ill-served by their leaders -- as they have been for 80 years. They are partly responsible for their leaders, but partly these leaders have been imposed by Arab countries, the US, and Israel (and even the SU). And they have never had a chance to learn how to be responsible, which is a tough thing to learn -- apparently especially for Arabs. My impression is that very few people have had as much outside interference in their politics and affairs as the Palestinians.

It seems to me that the President should be evenhanded in the sense of showing sympathy for the pain of each side, and truthful in recognizing the cause of that pain. Roughly, it seems to me that that is what Bush did -- much more than the US has done before. Best Max
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