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Israel's history more complex than media lets on

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Editors, the Gauntlet,

Re: "War is not the answer," Oct. 12, 2000

If Bailey gains his very deep understanding of the situation in the Middle East from the media, then I understand his ignorance. Otherwise, I suggest him to have another look at his history books.

Bailey writes that Israel is the "western hemisphere's favourite bully" and that "the Israelis want a fight." The declaration of Israel as an independent state for Jewish people in 1948 came only after the Second World War, when Jews lost six million brothers and sisters in Hitler's concentration camps. Since then, Jews have had to fight for their right to live in the Promised Land, the land that God promised Moses when he released the Jewish people from the Pharaoh's hands (Exodus).

In 1948, the same week Israel was declared independent, the Arab countries surrounding Israel declared war. Despite the surprise and differences in military potential, Israelis managed to block them and even take back what belonged to them--the holiest site to the Jews, King Solomon's Temple (Temple Mount). In 1967, after Egypt, Syria and Jordan put their forces on Israel's border, small Israel defended herself and after only six days defeated them all and occupied the West Bank, the Golan heights, the Gaza strip and Sinai. In 1973, on the holiest Jewish day (Yom Kippur), the same Arab countries attacked again. Israel again beat them all.

Since then, Israel has been attacked over and over again by terrorist groups from Lebanon. In response, Israel had to go to Lebanon to create a buffer strip in order to ensure its northern villages' safety. Indeed, Israel is "well trained," but this is because of circumstance.

Presently, Israel, Egypt and Jordan have peace agreements and with some hope, a peace with the Palestinians will come soon. Israel is making major steps on its way to peace, steps that weren't even thinkable two years ago. The Palestinians should realize by now that Israel won't give up Temple Mount, the holiest Jewish site (the third holiest for Muslims), and that the way to independence is through talks and negotiations (which Chairman Arafat apparently hasn't heard about), not violence.

I deeply understand the Palestinian's grief because of their loss, just as I understand the Israelis'.

Mr. Bailey, you were right on one thing: War in not the answer.

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