Mideast complexities are difficult to elucidate in limited space, as the Denz ’10, McCutchen ’50, and Scudder ’63 letters demonstrate (Inbox, May 16). While Israeli policy has hardly been flawless, at least some of these correspondents’ distortions and mendacities should be briefly answered.

Denz notes the Israeli presence on the West Bank began in 1967. He omits that Arab states’ armed efforts to prevent the establishment and then the survival of Israel began before 1967, and led directly to Israel’s 1967 seizure of the West Bank. The Palestine Liberation Organization was formed in 1964 and was intended to “liberate” Israel, not the West Bank, then controlled by Jordan. Without the effort by some Arab states to destroy Israel, highlighted by the 1967 Egyptian act of war in closing the Gulf of Aqaba, an international waterway, to Israeli shipping, and Jordan’s participation in that overall effort, there would have been no Israeli presence on the West Bank. Arab states adopted a policy of no peace, no negotiation, and no recognition for many years.

Scudder’s grotesque rewrite of history has Israeli intransigence “killing” the 1947 UN partition plan, not the Arab states’ refusal to accept Israel. Gaza has become a base for terrorist rocket and other attacks on Israel following Israel’s withdrawal. It is unfortunate that Israel must act in its self-defense here; dismay is appropriately directed at Hamas. The U.S. government, for example, would not tolerate even the existence of terrorists operating across our borders periodically killing, wounding, and terrorizing innocent American civilians, and across a growing swath of the country. 

Among the factors that underlie the U.S.-Israeli relationship are shared values and interests. McCutchen’s reference to “Israel’s de facto control of Congress” is a more genteelly rendered favorite canard of Israeli critics of a certain ilk. Said Israelis also de facto control his bank, The Washington Post, and PAW.

Mark R. Disler ’74