To the Editor:

I agree with everything Douglas J. Feith says in his “Land for No Peace” [June], and reading it is enough to chill the heart of any sane person, . . . Israeli or not.

It makes one wonder where the Israelis who made the agreement with Yasir Arafat have been all these years since the break-up of the Ottoman empire, when Arabs could not get along with Arabs; when agreements they made with each other were never kept for more than three years. Nor am I able to comprehend why Israel would think that Arafat, who has never kept his word before or hesitated to say something he did not mean, could be trusted to keep it now.

Israel is also being forced into making an agreement with Hafez al-Assad of Syria, another man of his word who will do whatever he has to do to get what he wants and then renege on it, as he did with the Lebanese-Israeli agreement. . . .

It took the Arab world 27 years to consider talking to Israel after the Six-Day War. Why the rush to sign an agreement now? There may appear to be many reasons, but are they any more valid than those that led to the Arafat debacle?

At a meeting many years ago with the Christian-Lebanese General Haddad in southern Lebanon, my late husband, Max I. Dimont, asked Haddad if he was surprised that the Christian world had not come to his aid. . . . Haddad’s answer was:

Not really. The Western world refuses to believe that the Arab will sign any agreement or say anything he has to say that serves his purpose, knowing full well that he has no intention of keeping any commitment he makes if it does not fit in with his belief and desires.

Although at the time I thought this was a rather harsh statement, Arafat has proved him correct—as have all the other Arab countries that make agreements and break them when it suits their purpose.

Ethel Dimont
St. Louis, Missouri



To the Editor:

Douglas J. Feith worries that territorial withdrawal would lead to “physical insecurity and a hair-trigger national-defense posture.” But 45 years of similar anxieties have led to Israel’s having defensive capabilities that are among the world’s finest. Barring the development of weapons of mass destruction (with credible delivery systems) by its enemies, Israel will continue to be a respected military power, West Bank or not.

Assuming the worst-case scenario of territorial compromise by invasion, it is “hardly an inconceivable eventuality” that the U.S. would fully assist Israel in repelling the attackers. In such a case, international support would be more forthcoming in the context of a recent Israeli withdrawal from occupied lands.

More disturbing, however, is Mr. Feith’s talk of national rights. He states that, like the U.S., Israel “. . . is an idea,” and that there is more at stake (i.e., Zionism) “. . . in the negotiations than peace and physical security. . . .” While mentioning the U.S. Constitution, Mr. Feith neglects to identify the “idea” upon which America’s Founding is based: individual liberty. For Americans, freedom is more important than peace, since the latter can still be obtained in a totalitarian state. Peace without individual freedom is slavery; fury and revolution are the inevitable consequences.

How then can Israel adhere to Zionism within the “liberal rule of law,” yet condone an armed occupation? I am dismayed that Mr. Feith’s “fulfillment of the Zionist dream” might include continuation of the status quo, whereby hundreds of thousands of people are deprived of many of their occupiers’ liberties. As such, if the universal principle of liberty is to be subordinated to the more parochial principle of Zionism, then the Zionists will continue to be the objects of blind, visceral hatred ad infinitum. . . .

Peter Block
Pittsford, New York



To the Editor:

Douglas J. Feith does not go far enough in his assertion that fear of the demographic bomb constituted by the Arabs of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza logically implies unilateral Israeli withdrawal from those areas, which in turn sends the Arabs a message that they need pay no significant price for those withdrawals because they will receive them as a gift anyway.

In point of fact, the demographic threat represented by the Arab populations on both sides of the Green Line implies much more than that: the long-term nonviability of Israel as a state both democratic and Jewish. Just as Mr. Feith rightly mentions the inspiration that the Arab world draws from the wearing-down of the Crusader kingdom in the Holy Land, I would suggest that Israel’s enemies can derive much comfort from the fact that at current birth rates the Arabs inside Israel double their numbers every 18 years while the Jews take 45 years to accomplish the same thing. It guarantees that time will convert the only Jewish state into one more Arab one.

Israeli demographers such as Roberto Bachi and Sergio Delia Pergola have repeatedly noted that the substantially higher birth rate of the Arabs will make the Jews behind the Green Line a minority in their currently Jewish state some time in the next century, no matter how many Russian Jews arrive. So long as the Jews of Israel maintain an annual natural-population increase (1.6 percent) of less than half that of the Arabs (4 percent), the ultimate triumph of Arab over Jewish sovereignty is assured regardless of how the border is drawn, and each 100,000 new immigrants only postpones that day by one year.

Were Israel’s leaders, past and present, serious about dealing with this threat to the Jewish state, they could have included population transfer as an integral part of any acceptable settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute. Whatever difficulties this might present today, it will be far more difficult to implement in the future. The longstanding substitution of howls of “racism” for rational discussion of the consequences of not removing the Arabs from within whatever Israel’s future borders may be, offers little hope that the Israelis will preserve their state. They will, instead, voluntarily sacrifice it on the altar of a distorted concept of egalitarian democracy that their enemies do not reciprocate and that is irrelevant to the Middle East. It would seem that thus far the “Zionist heritage” in which, Mr. Feith writes, the Israelis must “find the conviction and fortitude to defend themselves” from their enemies without, has not yet indoctrinated them with the will to save their state from its resident branch of that enemy within.

Zalman Gaibel
Chicago, Illinois



Douglas J. Feith writes:

The phenomenon of unreliability highlighted in Ethel Dimont’s letter is by no means limited to Arafat, Assad, or the Arab world. When a democratic and a nondemocratic party conclude peace and arms-control agreements with one another, it is common for the former to find that the latter has violated its undertakings. The democratic side has domestic institutions—e.g., a parliament, an independent judiciary, a free press—that help ensure treaty compliance on its own part. When the nondemocratic party, unconstrained by such institutions, chooses to ignore obligations, the democratic party generally finds that it lacks good options for remedying the problem. This was the case after the U.S. government signed numerous arms-control agreements with the Soviet Union, which the latter violated materially and systematically. And this appears to be the case with Israel in its dealings with its nondemocratic negotiating partners.

Regarding Peter Block’s letter: the scenario I said was “hardly an inconceivable eventuality” was additional political successes by Islamic fundamentalists in Israel’s region. In that event, I believe Israel’s strategic position could change for the worse (especially, for example, if the Egyptian regime fell to the Islamists) and territorial concessions to the PLO could prove more dangerous than they appear to many at present. As for Mr. Block’s faith in Israel’s rescue by the United States, Golda Meir disposed of this point with the observation: “By the time you get here, we won’t be here.” Mr. Block asks, how can Israel “condone an armed occupation?” This question strikes me as peculiar. The territories are “occupied” because Israel was subjected in 1967 to an aggressive attack by its neighbors. While it would clearly be desirable for Israel and its neighbors to resolve the status of Israel and the territories once and for all by mutual consent in the context of honest and sensible peace treaties, Israel, in the meantime, must secure itself as best it can, even if this means preserving the legal status quo in the territories. It is ahistorical, to say the least, for Mr. Block to suggest that the “occupation” accounts for the “blind, visceral hatred” to which the Zionists have been subjected; Arab anti-Zionism was born long before 1967.

I do not agree with Zalman Gaibel that high Arab birth rates will inevitably render the Jews a minority in Israel. Single-factor analyses and straight-lining of current trends into the future are notoriously unreliable bases for policy planning. Predictions in the late 1960’s about the Arab “demographic bomb” proved false because they failed to foresee, for example, Arab emigration related to the oil boom in the 1970’s and Jewish immigration related to the collapse of the Soviet empire. In any event, forced population transfer is considered a wildly unrealistic (not to say morally repugnant) option by the vast majority of Israelis. Israel’s security problems are real, complex, and certain to persist well into the future; they cannot be solved through escape into either peace fantasies or transfer fantasies.

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