Wetenschap - 26 september 2002

Dear Editor

Dear Editor

With increasing astonishment I read the article concerning the PhD work of Jacob van Dam in Israel (Wb25). It gives a subjective and biased view of what is going on in Israel and Palestine.

First, Jacob has been very lucky to be able to do any research at all: this would have been very difficult or even impossible at a Palestinian university in the Occupied Territories. The reason for this is that Israel tends to keep those universities closed half of the time, effectively stopping any academic work whatsoever. Second, Israel is not at war: it is creating a war. A war is normally fought between two peoples, each with an army. In this case only Israel has an army, with tanks, F-16s and equipped with the most modern weaponry in the world, whereas the Palestinians have nothing even remotely like that. Israel is however using all its military might as if it were fighting a war against another well-trained and well-armed army. There are nearly as many soldiers in Israel as there are Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories ....

If I've understood the article well, Jacob is a resident of the Occupied Territories (Samaria). The Occupied Territories are not part of Israel and the Jewish settlers who live there are one of the main obstacles in a future peace agreement. The only reason Israelis are killed is the occupation of these Territories. The reason Jacob needs a to carry a gun therefore seems to be the illegal occupation of land that belongs to someone else. The number of 600 Israelis (mentioned in the article) killed during the past two years sounds terrible and indeed it is terrible. However, far more Palestinians have been killed, according to many sources. So the human tragedy has both an Israeli and a Palestinian side. The truth is that if it were up to the Palestinians, no Israelis at all would have been killed, if the Israelis would have withdrawn from the Occupied Territories. Jacob is very wrong in stating that Palestinians would have wanted to kill ten times more Israelis. All the Palestinians want is a homeland and self-determination, the right of every people. As long as the Palestinians are denied these basic rights, their Resistance will continue their fight for freedom.

Bastian R. Buys

Environmental Technology

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