Letters to the editor, up to 500 words, should be sent to AGENDA, 202 E. Washington #512, Ann Arbor, Ml 48104. AGENDA reserves the right to edit, condense or reject any letter. Please include your address and phone number (not intended for publication). Dear AGENDA, Steve Ghannam's profile on the PLO in your June issue is so full of distortions and patent falsehoods, that it hardly deserves comment. Your readers deserve the facts. Ghannam refers to the Palestine National Covenant's visión of a democratie secular polity in Palestine which rejects both Arab and Jewish nationalism, which (he says) would allow two communities (one Arab Palestinian and one Israeli Jewish) to exist in the same land on the basis of full equality. The reality is somewhat different. First, the Covenant does not recognize the term "Israeli" whatsoever. Secondly, it would permit only those Jews who arrived before 1948 to remain, effectively displacing (among others) thcir progeny and the 800,000 or so Jewish refugees who were forced, following Israeli statehood, to leave the Middle Eastcrn lands governcd by the "politically backward" Arab regimes he refers to. Israel, he knows well, absorbed those Jcws and intcgrated them into Israeli society, along with those displaced by the Holocaust, those immigrating from the Soviet Union and from other lands where Jews had no political rights as a community and were oflen physically at risk. No Arab country made the same gesture, nor did the Arab world collectively take responsibilitics for those Palestinian Arabs displaced by the events of 1 948 (whether displaced by war or thcir own choices to leave until thcir Arab brethren "drove the Jews into the sea," as thcy oftcn promiscd). Instead, they forced Palestinian Arabs to live in squalor as refugees and displaced persons. Using them as political pawns, thcy no more acceptcd the possibility of a more permanent population exchange (the numbers of Jews leaving Arab lands roughly equalling the Palcstinians who left Israel), than they accepted the reality of Israel. The dream of a secular, democratie bi-national state in which all would live in harmony may be appealing to many. But it is a dream, only, and not one that is held by many of the factions that make up the PLO. Ghannam knows that there is no othcr democratie state in the Arab world. We all know what has happencd to Lebanon, in what had once been a bi-national state. And Amcricans are fully aware that, regardless of claims to being the "sole, legitímate representative" of the Palestinian people, the PLO is an organization that is rife with conflict. one in which its various faclions regularly kill and maim each other. The PLO is also an organization that sponsors and conducts tcrrorism. Terrorist acts are conducted not only in Israel on Israelis (gencrally children in school, tourists at an airport, or local residents in a bus, rarely military targets), but also on civilian targets outside of Israel. The editor of AGENDA may wish to "provide some balance to the treatment the Palestinians receive from the mainstream U.S. media" by printing Ghannam's distortions. But when the news reports on the hijacking of cruise ships and airliners, or on the murder of thcir passengers (oftcn Americans), the distorters are Palestinians themselves. The pity is that the vast majority of Palestinians continue to be victims, victims of a "politically backward" leadership and of their own delusions. Having lived and worked among them, I think they deserve a botter deal. So do the Israelis.
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