Attn Mr Iqbal A. K. M. Sacranie
Dear Mr Sacranie
I read your letter in the Times on Monday. I am not a member of the Board
of Deputies, but am Jewish and active in Jewish affairs in London.
You were dismayed by Jo Wagerman's comments. I was depressed to read the
second paragraph of your letter.
You see, whether or not the world wishes to believe it, Mr Barak made a
most significant offer to the Palestinians at Camp David. Its refusal led
directly to the election of Ariel Sharon who has a particular mandate from
his people, instituted through the democratic process. The clear slant
identified by ex-President Clinton and other US representatives who were
directly involved in the negotiations, is that the Palestinian delegation
walked away from Tarba and not the Israelis.
However that is as may be. Ping pong arguments along those lines are not
really constructive. We are where we are today. Not an inviting
position. But, difficult as it may be for others to accept, the Israelis
have indicated their desire for peace and willingness to negotiate. The
Palestinian response is to seek deliberately to maim the old, the young
and other innocent civilians without discrimination.
Whilst you maintain the fiction,, that all refugees and their descendants
have the right of return and all settlements are illegal, there can be
little prospect of peace. It is suggested that at Tarba a figure of about
60,000 returning refugees was under consideration, but I would have to
check my sources to establish the accuracy of that. To offer the
unqualified right of return would lead to the destruction of the State.
Many settlements are constructed on land legally purchased from previous
Arab neighbours many years ago. In any event the whole question of the
settlements was under discussion at Camp David and Tarba, but the talks
were not pursued!
The main issue is that if peace is genuinely in prospect and the Arab
nations are willing to accept the existence of Israel, these matters will
no doubt be the subject of detailed examination with some compromises on
both sides. It is fruitless to write in such a one sided fashion. Your
conditions demonstrate no element of positive or creative thought.
There must be a sensible dialogue from the Arab side. More warfare - for
that is what has been experienced - will result in further Israeli
reactions and could ultimately lead to a change of Prime Minister, when
the Palestinians could face a completely obdurate negotiating stance from
a different Israeli Government.
We all desperately need the establishment of an atmosphere in which
diplomatic and political discussions can flourish. That does mean that
those of both faiths, Jewish and Muslim, standing at the edge of the
debate have to be able to come together and understand the issues on both
sides without rhetoric or cant.
You will appreciate that these view are my own. Jo Wagerman and I have
not met personally and I have not spoken to her about my intention to
write to you in this way. However, as her name is mentioned, I am, as a
matter of courtesy, sending a copy of the e-mail to her.