Author Has It Both Ways


In his new book “Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor,” excerpted on your pages (“The Nearness of You,” April 27), the Israeli writer Yossi Klein Halevi writes longingly for understanding, reconciliation and peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

But first, let him get his story straight. Addressing an imagined Palestinian neighbor, Halevi assigns blame for Palestinian statelessness on Israel, writing, “… my side prevents your people from achieving national sovereignty.” It’s an eye-popping claim. Just paragraphs earlier he fixes blame in the opposite direction, asserting that “… no national movement … has rejected more offers of statehood — going back to the 1930s — than the Palestinian national movement.” Yes. An Arab state west of the Jordan was there to be taken in 1938, 1948, 1967, and many times more. Each time the Arabs looked at opportunity and spit in its eye.

That’s what makes the Palestinian narrative of victimhood false. In 1948, the Jews grabbed history by the throat to create the State of Israel. The Palestinians, alas, have never produced a leader with the courage to smash the victimhood narrative and the statesmanship to make his people agents of their own destiny in order to create a Palestinian state alongside Israel. When such a leader emerges, the understanding, reconciliation, and peace between him and his neighbor that Klein Halevi longs for will be a handshake away.