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May 16, 2012

Vol. 112, No. 12

Griff Witte ’00’s interesting and readable profile of Professor Dan Kurtzer (cover story, April 4) refers in passing to “the ancient conflicts of the Middle East.” But there is nothing ancient about the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territories, which began in 1967.

Witte’s article recapitulates the two implicit assumptions that inform ­mainstream U.S. discourse about the Israel-Palestine “conflict”: that it is an armed struggle between two equally powerful sides, and that the United States is a neutral third party. But by every measure, the overwhelming preponderance of force is on the side of Israeli military occupation. The occupation is a matter of consistent, long-term Israeli policy, as are the new settlements that continue to arise in the Palestinian territories.

The magic moment of the article in which “hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in West Bank settlements suddenly are inside Israel proper as areas outside the 1967 boundaries are absorbed” (ta-da!) reads especially transparently in light of these long-term policies. Like the much-vaunted “withdrawal” from the Gaza Strip, which continues to suffer catastrophically from Israeli blockade and military offensives, this familiar “deal” sounds more like a stratagem for further ­colonization.

More importantly, however, continued occupation and settlement would be impossible without enormous U.S. military aid to Israel. The United States is a party to this conflict, and Americans can stop it, not by waiting for Barack Obama to “[help] the Israelis and Palestinians cut a deal,” but by placing pressure on our own government to end its support for Israel’s belligerent actions. To find “a part of the world where reason is often in short supply,” we need look no further than our own State Department.

Brooklyn, N.Y.

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