Letters | Aug. 22, 2019

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A base offense

Regarding “Protesters bemoan ‘baseless hatred’ of migrants” (Aug. 15), I really wish that people who don’t much care about Jewish observance would stop dragooning Judaism into the service of their left-wing politics. Being in favor of secure borders and the enforcement of immigration laws is not “baseless hatred,” and the comparison is deeply offensive.


DAVID M. FROST
Silver Spring

Returning to Hebrew

https://www.washingtonjewishweek.com/enewsletter/

Thank you for carrying the story “Adults find they can learn Hebrew” by Jacqueline Hyman (Aug. 8). I loved reading it. It made me feel that is not too late for me to try again, although I am in my 80s. The pretty table showing the letters of the Hebrew alphabet was a great way for me to start.
LUIS LANDAU
Washington

UNRWA’s purpose, then and now


In “UNWRA’s corruption runs deep” (Editorials, Aug. 15), you have correctly pointed to the problem of UNRWA corruption and noted that it is not likely that this problem will be solved soon, given present conditions in the UN system.

A point needs to be added concerning the very reason for UNRWA’s continued existence. With strong support from the U.S., the UN created the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in 1949. As its name implies, UNRWA’s purpose was to provide relief and “works” for the Palestinian refugees. “Works” were construction projects that would help integrate the refugees into their new surroundings. Given the fact that they were in Arab territory in which the population was of the same ethnicity, spoke the same language, and adhered to the same religion, that should not have been difficult.

But integration, the process initiated by the UN for millions of other refugees, was not what the Palestinian refugees or their hosts wanted. They rejected the works programs that would lead to integration. UNRWA tried to make progress with resettlement programs, but failed.

By 1960 the UN officials in charge of UNRWA had given up on the goal of integration. UNRWA’s leading officials then made a fundamental change in the initial UNWRA goal. They moved to a deliberate program of keeping Palestinian refugees segregated, providing them with social and health services, and above all educational services. All these segregated services, but particularly the educational services, were designed to have the original refugees and their descendants to continue to consider themselves as Palestinians and claim what they call their “right of return”, their mass migration to Israel. The goal of that migration is to reduce the Jewish population of Israel to a minority and end the existence of the State of Israel. This claim of a “right of return”, supported by UNRWA, has been and remains the major obstacle to an Israeli/Palestinian peace. UNRWA engages in a continuing effort to use its school system to instill hatred of Israel in its students.

It is worth noting that the proposal submitted to the recent Bahrain Conference would call for a program of economic development in the Arab territory adjacent to Israel that would foster the integration, at long last, of the Palestinian “refugees”, 99% of whom are the descendants, including the great-grandchildren, of the original refugees. The Palestinian leadership has rejected that proposal.

RICHARD SCHIFTER
Chairman, Board of Directors, American Jewish International
Relations Institute, Bethesda

Essential goals
Max Singer’s “An Israeli victory is necessary if peace is to be achieved” (Voices, Aug. 8) captured the key point: “Israel’s essential goal is to continue to exist in its homeland, and the Palestinians’ essential goal is the elimination of Israel.”

Consider the response of Taher Herzallah of American Muslims for Palestine to the question of whether
Israel has the right to exist: “Not at my expense. It’s funny for a Palestinian to answer if a colonizer has the right to colonize his homeland” (“High Noon for Takoma Park screening,” Aug. 1). All the time and energy spent debating settlements, occupation, checkpoints, whether there is a Palestinian people, boundaries and BDS are superficial and misleading unless there is a recognition that there is a significant percent of Palestinians who want Israel eliminated.

There can be no peace, whether two states, one state or three states, until either Israel is annihilated or the people of the region (Jews and Arabs) truly accept the existence of Israel as described in UN resolution 181 and Israel’s Declaration of Independence: a Jewish state with minorities whose rights are protected. The Palestinian, Arab and Muslim leadership has always rejected this and never taught this to their people. Enough already. Teach peaceful coexistence first.

EDWARD DIENER
Vienna

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