Letters to the Editor

Commentary ignored truth about Lebanon

In response to "Mideast peace is a global issue," which appeared on May 26, reprinted from the Los Angeles Times, I say educate yourselves about what is truly happening in Lebanon. Go to www.youtube.com and search "Brigitte Gabriel," a Lebanese Christian woman who is an articulate and passionate speaker. Listen to her many talks about radical Islam in Lebanon and the horror they have wreaked upon her country.

To point one's finger at Israel as the villain in this saga is simple — the Arab world has been doing so for decades and has perfected its well-oiled propaganda machinery aimed at delegitimizing Israel in the world. It has been very successful, primarily because most of the world is ignorant of the history of this region, thus the case against Israel is a simple one based on untruths that go unchallenged by most readers.

To assume that America, the United Nations, Russia and the European Union can impose peace on the region is preposterous. Peace needs to emerge from within — the only hope for a real peace. The Palestinian people must confront the cancer in their midst, Hamas and Hizbollah, and be willing to take the huge risk necessary to thwart terrorism. The catalyst for peace will be when the Arab world gives up its desire for destruction and expresses willingness to finally accept Israel as its legitimate neighbor. The huge majority of Israelis are waiting with open hearts for the day when they can embrace peace together with their neighbors.

Ayala Zonnenschein


Prime minister left out many key points

Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri's article reprinted from the Los Angeles Times presents a one-sided narrative. He references the Madrid Conference of 1991 as an attempt "to end a half century of war and desperation" whose first victims were the people of the region including Lebanon.

Hariri never acknowledges that the Arab states declared war on Israel. Even today, all but two Arab nations refuse to acknowledge Israel as a legitimate country and are at war with Israel.

Mr. Hariri omits Lebanon's victimization by two militant movements that immigrated to Lebanon: the PLO in the 1970s and Hezbollah from 1982 until the present.

Hezbollah was formed by order of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1982 for the sole purposes of establishing Lebanon as a Shiite Muslim state modeled on Iran; and, as Hezbollah's charter states, to "obliterate" the Zionist entity.

During the Lebanese civil war between the Christian and Muslim communities, Israel sided with the Christian communities. It ended by Israel defeating Yassir Arafat's PLO, who fled to Tunisia.

In 2006 Israel fought a war against Hezbollah, which was supposed to turn in its weapons, but the truth is that Hezbollah has re-armed with better missile weaponry.

Hariri fails to mention Hezbollah's control on his government. He fails to concede that Arab moderates cannot control Arab extremists, that no Arab state including Lebanon nor the Palestinian Authority has ever been able to guarantee Israel's security, hence the Israel-Palestinian conflict continues regardless of Hariri's opinion.

Will Hershman


Opinion was tragic, just like Lebanon

Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri's opinion piece from the Los Angeles Times (reprinted on May 26 in the Tidings) is a heartbreaking plea from a nation that has, like Israel, suffered from Palestinian violence. As Mr. Hariri says, Lebanon was once a model of peace, prosperity and even peaceful coexistence.

What he doesn't mention is that the country has been in shambles since King Hussein of Jordan ejected Palestinian leaders and militants in 1970-1971 for destabilizing his nation. The evicted Palestinian militants then effectively took over southern Lebanon and made it a base for terrorist attacks against Israel. They injected themselves into Lebanon's civil war, goaded Israel into invading Lebanon and ultimately helped reduce Beirut, once called "the Paris of the Middle East," to rubble.

Today, Mr. Hariri's Lebanon, once a cultural and economic hotspot, is a puppet of Syria and a base for Iran-sponsored Hezbollah terrorism.

It's tragic. What's also tragic is that op-ed pieces like Mr. Hariri's neglect that vital context. He doesn't mention that the Madrid Peace Conference led to a stable and productive peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, or that the land-for-peace deal that Israel presented after the follow-up meetings in Oslo two years later was scuttled by the Palestinians. He doesn't mention that Hamas, the dominant party in the Palestinian territories, does not even recognize Israel.

To be sure, there are barriers to peace on Israel's side, too. Right-wing parties there are eager to continue building settlements in disputed areas. The economy is challenged by constant struggle and sagging tourism, and the populace is frustrated by years of terrorism and global vilification.

Pleas like Mr. Hariri's unfairly place pressure on the U.S. to "fix" the Israel-Palestinian struggle. That's despite the fact that the Palestinians show little interest in truly negotiating a solution, and the fact that the Israelis are frustrated by the apparent fruitlessness of offering anything short of the draconian, non-negotiated "initiative" handed to them in the world press by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which Mr. Hariri describes in his piece.

Lebanon will re-emerge as a beacon of tolerance, Israel will live in peace with its neighbors, and the Palestinian people will build their home when the Palestinian leadership is truly ready to negotiate and live in peace with its neighbors — including Lebanon and Israel.

Until then, peace in the Middle East is actually a local issue, not a global one.

Steve Werblow


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