Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
I must thank Brian Clacey for his letter “Palestine lived under other names” (Sunday, October 9, 2005). I was expecting some manner of screed and calls for a fatwah against me, but instead I was happy to read a civilized and coherent response.
I am aware of the checkered history of the Levant - occupations and exiles, arbitrary political divisions and re-divisions, human suffering on a scale I am fortunate not to know. The modern Palestinian people have a raw deal and are in a tough boat. They yearn for their own state, and yearning involves great expectations and passion. Here the door is open for propaganda, because expectations are unstable things that can lend themselves to hyperbole and be abused while carrying people’s hearts on a string, and passion is not compatible with right reason.
But the simple observation remains that Palestinians are yearning for something that never existed - their own state - and so the credibility of the complaint that Israel is occupying their lands is compromised. They could have had their own nation state decades ago if Arab countries had accepted the United Nations demarcation proposal, but they chose war instead. Finally, in the 1990s, as part of the policy of engaging the Palestinians in peaceful negotiations and in an effort to bring their most functional leader, Yasser Arafat, in from the cold, the determination to accept the UN’s 1947 division proposal as an outline for a Palestinian state was forged as the ‘new’ official Palestinian policy. But by then it was too late. So, too bad.
Clacey’s insinuation that I am a supporter of Israel indicates that he thinks he knows more about me than even I know about myself. Let’s be careful about assumptions, because you know what they say…