Jordan White Enterprises

August 11, 1999

In regard to letters concerning Israel's presence on Palestinian lands (Readers' Forum, July 28 and August 10), it is important to understand that Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip was undertaken illegally under international law. Under the original UN Partition Resolution of l947, these lands were reserved for an "Arab State". UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967 reiterates this by stating that lands may not be acquired by war, and asks Israel to abide by the UN Charter in the interests of peace. Under the Geneva Convention of 1945, civilians may not be displaced or deprived of their property by military action. Yet a total of 4.5 million, or 70% of the Palestinian population, has been expatriated since 1948.
Israel continues to build settlements on this illegally occupied land, at a population growth rate of about 9% a year. The remaining Arab population is subjected to constant harassment and searches. Torture during interrogation is legally sanctioned and an individual may be imprisoned for up to six months without being charged with a crime.
If "world security" depends upon a nation using such tactics against its own inhabitants, we need to rethink what we mean by "world security". If a nation achieves what it thinks of as a "democracy" by killing, maiming, and displacing millions, we need to rethink what we mean by "democracy". If "progress" is achieved by plowing under the olive trees, the homes, hopes and dreams of an innocent people, we have achieved nothing.