'End the Occupation' group called obstacle to peace

  As one who yearns for peace in the Middle East, I was troubled to see recent coverage of a local group whose position, if accepted widely, would lead only to continuing violence. As is clear from the very name they've chosen for themselves, the "End the Occupation" group believes that Israel is solely to blame for the violence in that region. If only they were right, because, if so, peace would already have been achieved. Alas, though, the current violence on the part of the Palestinians began as their response to Israel's unprecedented offer of peace at Camp David in the summer of 2000.

  Without a doubt, neither side of the conflict is without some blame, and there have been excesses on each side. The complexity of the crisis defies simple explanation or solution.

  And yet, a simple analysis is precisely what the group offers. It would have us believe that if Israel took unilateral action, peace would descend upon the region. Unfortunately, this position assumes a Palestinian leadership that is both willing and able to make peace with Israel. This is an assumption that is now questioned even by our own government.

  Among Palestinians (and the broader Arab world), there are many who seek the complete destruction of the State of Israel, and who will not rest until that goal is ultimately achieved. I fear that the End the Occupation group, by making the blame and vilification of Israel its primary position, unwittingly plays into the hands of those who intend the worst for Israel.

  Achieving peace in the Middle East is a necessity for Palestinians and Israelis alike. It will not be achieved, though, through terror. And it will not be achieved by simply blaming Israel. The position of the End the Occupation group is an obstacle to peace.

Rabbi Jeff Sultar, Congregation Beth Shalom, Naperville

02/08/02