- The Washington Times - Monday, May 23, 2005

Of historical note

Deborah Simmons’ Op-Ed column (“Unsettling settlers,” Friday) contains major errors of fact. These lead her repeatedly to erroneous conclusions. For example: Miss Simmons states that “Israel was carved out by the United Nations in 1948 [and] Palestine and the free people who lived there held the short stick.” What free people, what Palestine?

Arabs and Jews in British Mandatory Palestine lived under British rule, authorized by the League of Nations — so that, pursuant to the 1917 Balfour Declaration — a Jewish national home could be established.

For 500 years before that, inhabitants of the area were subjects of the Ottoman Empire. Arabs largely considered themselves part of Greater Syria, the Jews as inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel.

Carved out? Miss Simmons omits the first and largest carving: According to the post-World War I San Remo Conference, Palestine was to include Trans-Jordan — what is now Jordan.

In 1922, Great Britain lopped off this area, three-fourths of Mandatory Palestine, for an Arab state in which Jewish settlement was forbidden.

Miss Simmons also is misled by her “short stick” analogy. She says “Americans … need only remind ourselves of how the South felt about the military occupation by the North after our Civil War.”

The South was a defeated aggressor, having started the Civil War with numerous hostile acts. Israel has been attacked many times from the West Bank and Gaza Strip; pending a negotiated compromise, it remains the legitimate military authority there as a result of successful self-defense in the 1967 Six-Day War.

“Short stick”? Palestinian Jews accepted the tiny Jewish state of the 1947 U.N. partition plan. The Arab countries and Palestinian Arabs rejected partition, which would have given them a second state in Mandatory Palestine, and went to war because they demanded the whole stick.

Miss Simmons “empathize with Palestinians who not only lost their homeland, but are reduced to backbreaking work” in Jewish settlements in Gaza. There never was a separate Palestinian Arab “homeland” to be lost.

Well-founded empathy would note that while 500,000 to 600,000 Arabs fled what became Israel as a result of the 1948 war the Arabs initiated, 800,000 Jews fled Arab countries, 600,000 settling in Israel, where they helped rebuild the ancient Jewish homeland.

“Reduced to backbreaking work”? By whom? Before the second intifada, begun in 2000, approximately 150,000 Palestinians worked in Israel. Now, as a result of terrorism, the total is one-fifth of that.

The Palestinian economy experienced marked growth in foreign aid and investment after the 1993 Oslo accords — in which Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization falsely pledged peaceful coexistence. Responsibility for economic misery lies primarily with the Palestinians themselves.

“How can the Palestinians possibly suffer anymore when the Israeli military has its boots on their throats?” Miss Simmons asks. More than 90 percent of the Palestinians were under jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, not the Israeli military, as a result of Oslo-related withdrawals.

But in 2002, to remove the terrorist boot from Israeli throats after incessant attacks murdered hundreds of noncombatants, Israeli forces re-entered Palestinian population centers. The Israeli presence is a consequence of Palestinian aggression. This aggression was committed after the Palestinian Authority rejected an Israeli and U.S. offer of a state on 97 percent of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

How could the Palestinians suffer more?

By being Iraqis trying to build a free country, blown to bits by other Iraqis and outsiders; by being Algerians murdered in the hundreds of thousands by other Algerians in a civil war between Islamic fundamentalists and government forces; by being non-Arab Muslims beset by government-supported forces in Sudan — or being Palestinians intimidated and extorted by Yasser Arafat’s Fatah or, perhaps, suppressed by a Hamas theocracy. That’s why Israeli Arabs objected so to any suggestion that some of their neighborhoods be traded to “Palestine.”

Miss Simmons visited Israeli settlements but did not see the conflict.

ERIC ROZENMAN

Washington director

Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America

Washington

Questioning the treatment of a spy

Joseph Curl’s article about Jonathan Pollard, “Israeli spy to stay in jail, U.S. says” (Nation, Thursday), concludes with “Federal officials [said that] Pollard hurt America’s relations with its Arab allies and endangered the U.S.-Israeli relationship. Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger said at the time that he could not ‘conceive of a greater harm to national security than that caused by’ Pollard.”

If Pollard is in prison for doing harm to the United States, he is in prison for a crime for which he has not been indicted, in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. “Injury or intended injury to the United States” is standard language in spy indictments (as, for example, in the indictments of the FBI’s Robert Hanssen and the CIA’s Aldrich Ames) but it is remarkably missing from Pollard’s. Pollard was charged only with one count of passing classified information to an ally — Israel.

Although at the time for sentencing, Mr. Weinberger informed the court as Mr. Curl has described, he said in an interview several years ago that the Pollard case was really a minor matter, made much bigger than it deserved, for what reason he did not know. This was no small admission.

Dennis Ross, former special Middle East coordinator, advised President Clinton that Pollard had been punished far more than enough but should not be released because he was too big a bargaining chip with the Israelis.

At the time of Pollard’s arrest, Rep. (now Vice President) Dick Cheney opined that he knew of no information to which the Israelis were not entitled. He evidently was unaware that Adm. Bobby Ray Inman and Mr. Weinberger were withholding vital satellite information about Iraq from Israel after Israel’s bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor in violation of an executive agreement.

If any other country treated one of its citizens in a like situation in the manner that Pollard has been treated, universal and well-deserved condemnation would make all its citizens ashamed — as in this instance it should.

JACOB SEIDENBERG

Bethesda

Health-savings plan a bad idea

I read your editorial on giving health-savings accounts (HSA) to seniors to supplement their Medicare (?Health-savings accounts for seniors,? Saturday). Quite frankly, I can’t think of a worse idea.

I am an employee benefit specialist with 12 years in the health-insurance industry, including familiarity with the HSA and its earlier cousin, the medical-savings account (MSA). The problem with the HSA is the funding. The HSA requires folks to meet a high deductible ($1,000 to $2,500) and a co-insurance requirement (30 percent of the first $10,000 in billable charges or $3,000). When combined, that is a total of $5,500 that needs to be paid before insurance takes over. Because seniors are more likely to use their health benefits, one would have to believe they would be the ones to come close to having to max their out-of-pocket maximums, which could be very tough for those on a fixed income.

Now, if the idea is to use Medicare money as a form of ?gap insurance,? that might not be a bad idea, but in New Jersey, where I reside and do most of my business, many of the HSA premiums aren’t cheaper than their managed care counterparts. With there being little to no difference between the premiums on the HSA and managed care, one has to ask, why put them in a high-deductible plan when a moderate co-pay with minimal out-of-pocket expenses is the same price?

It’s good to keep the discussion going. It’s clear we need a fresh new idea, but I don’t believe this one will work.

ROB KULESSA

Toms Rivers, N.J.

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