National Geographic : 2003 Feb
In Focus: The West Bank Andrew Cockburn should have titled his article "Israelis Bad, Palestinians Good." In his view of the Middle East, every action taken over the past half century by the Israelis is a cold, calculated attempt to take advantage of the Palestinians, and every action by the Palestinians is a reason able response to the oppression by the Israelis. No attempt is made to explain why the Israelis have fought so ferociously to defend themselves. For example, not a single reference is made to the fact that the Palestinians and every country on Israel's borders have vowed, until recently, to destroy Israel. STEVE JEFFRIES Foster City, California I commend you for your cour age in being the first major U.S. publication to accurately report on the problems that have resulted in so much violence and suffering for both Palestinians MEMBERSHIP Please call 1-800 -NGS-LINE (1-800-647-5463). Special device for the hearing-impaired (TDD) 1-800 -548-9797. Online: nationalgeographic.com/ngm AOL Keyword: NatGeoMag and Israelis. You will be severely criticized by some for having told the unvarnished truth, pain ful as it may be. DAVID P. CARROLL Brooklyn, New York As someone who was living in Israel during the 1973 Yom Kip pur War, I am surprised that the article gave that period of Israeli history such short shrift. The entire article is skewed to portray Israel as the supreme villain and aggressor in the Middle East. It neglects to mention the mas sacres that occurred in 1929 and 1936 by Arabs against Jews. It describes the Israeli Army of 1948 as well equipped, which would be amusing if so many Jews had not died. Jordan did manage to take the West Bank, if you recall. Anyone who has han dled "Czecki" rifles, which were received from Czechoslovakia with great effort, will laugh at your description. SYLVIA NAVON New York, New York Israeli settlements are not in violation of international law. Israel's administration of the territory in 1967 replaced Jor dan's control of the West Bank and Egypt's of the Gaza Strip. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC * FEBRUARY 2003 Forum GOGA ' October 2002 The West Bank articlegenerateda torrent of letters (the most received in response to any story since 1998). Most of them questioned the story's facts and accused the author of an anti-Israelbias. Thefacts in every GEOGRAPHIC story are thoroughly checked before publication, and experts-representingdifferent points of view-review texts for accuracy.We stand by the West Bank article. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY "Forthe increase and diffusion of geographicknowledge." The National Geographic Society is chartered in Washington, D.C., as a nonprofit scientific and educational organization. Since 1888 the Society has supported more than 7,000 explorations and research projects, adding to knowledge of earth, sea, and sky. JOHN M. FAHEY, JR., Presidentand CEO Executive Vice Presidents TERRENCE B. 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