Lorraine Smalley, a wonderful Goodwill volunteer who is very skillful at fixing up worn-out dolls, has read several books carefully and written out against the U.S. foreign aid policy toward Israel. I find it difficult to respond to Mrs. Smalley’s article because the relationship between the U.S. and Israel is very complicated and I would have to read books and interview many people before I could pass judgment on the financial arrangements between the greatest Democracy and the smallest Democracy on earth.
Is it because Israel is the only true Democracy in the Middle East that the U.S. gives support? Does Israel buy most of its military equipment from U.S. industry and train their people to use them and test them out? Maybe that is beneficial to American safety.
Has Israel’s existence been threatened time and time again by its surrounding neighbors? How has Israel survived surrounded by nations who question its right to exist? Not by weakness but by military might. American support has been vital to the survival of Israel.
And the Palestinian question. I would like to present a more positive scenario.
There are many Israelis who belong to the “Gush Shalom” (peace bloc) movement founded by Uri Avnery. Thousands of Israelis sympathize with the Palestinians. Here are the aims of Gush Shalom: The primary aim is to influence Israeli public opinion and lead it towards peace and conciliation with the Palestinian people based on the following principles:
Putting an end to the occupation.
Accepting the right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent and sovereign State of Palestine in all the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.
Reinstating the pre-1967 “Green line” as the border between the State of Israel and the State of Palestine (with minor exchanges of territories agreed between the parties): the border will be open for the free movement of people and goods, subject to mutual agreement.
Establishing Jerusalem as the capital of the two states, with East Jerusalem (including the Haram al-Sharif) serving as the capital of Palestine and West Jerusalem (including the Western Wall) serving as the capital of Israel. The city to be united on the physical and municipal level, based on mutual agreement.
Recognizing in principle the Right of Return of the Palestinian refugees, allowing each refugee to choose freely between compensation and repatriation to Palestine and Israel, and fixing by mutual agreement the number of refugees who will be able to return to Israel in annual quotas, without undermining the foundations of the State of Israel.
Safeguarding the security of both Israel and Palestine by mutual agreement and guarantees.
Striving for overall peace between Israel and all Arab countries and the creation of a regional union.
The “Gush Shalom” movement is alive and vocal in Israel. Their government is inching towards these goals.
I believe that now is not the time for the U.S. to waver in its support of Israel. A strong Israel, with the support of America, may be able to achieve the peaceful solutions leading to “Shalom.” Let us pray for peace.
Frances Levine Smith lives in Langley and is a past member of the National Board of the Women of Reform Judaism.