A COMPASSIONATE PEACE: A Future for the Middle East by American Friends Service Committee

A COMPASSIONATE PEACE: A Future for the Middle East

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Three distinct aspects of this report on Middle East flashpoints, a successor to the AFSC's 1970 Search for Peace in the Middle East, give it special value: the appeal to conscience of its title (and, in some respects, its text); its succinct, clear-cut assessment of each tangled situation; the attention it pays to the attitudes and proposals of participants in making its own recommendations. Also, the separate sections can be consulted separately, and irrespective of purpose--for a fill-in on Lebanon or Afghanisstan, for example. The Arab/israeli/Palestinian conflict is of course focal. Reviewing Israel's administration of the territories captured in the 1967 Six Day War, the authors second those, in Israel and elsewhere, who have found its repressive, discriminatory policies ""counterproductive."" The Palestinians now have an identity; as a people, they must have a state. In that light, the spread of Israeli settlement on the West Bank--now projected, by the Begin regime, to encompass one-third of the entire territory--is ""not encouraging""; the authors' stiffest recommendation is for active US opposition--the reduction of US aid ""in proportion to Israeli expenditures for West Bank settlement [in] disapproval of Israel's claims to full sovereignty."" At the same time, they recognize Israeli security concerns and, to break the impasse, especially commend two proposals by prominent Israelis: the Eban ""vision"" of an independent Palestine integrated into a European-style community-of-interests with Israel and Jordan; and the Yarov-Shemtov formula for reciprocal recognition between Israel and any Palestinian leadership ready to renounce terrorism and accept the pre-1967 boundaries. Would the PLO, in particular, respond? Close scrutiny of Arafat's zigzag statements suggests that it is not inconceivable. (Even Jerusalem--site of ""the deepest and most anguishing problems""--elicits some hope for flexibility, based on specific ""local considerations."") Other sections call primarily for an altered response by external parties, Bluntly, ""the US must renounce its intentions to resort to military force and political intervention"" to protect its access to oil; the major supplier nations should freeze the Middle East arms race; the US should moot its reaction to events in Iran and Afghanistan--and generally avoid imposing the US-Soviet conflict on the region. It is good, for once, to have these issues squarely faced--with substantiating particulars.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1982
Publisher: Hill & Wang/Farrar, Straus & Giroux