March 25, 2002
A letter to the Globe and Mail

Dear Editor,

I found Marcus Gee's "End the Occupation? Not so easy" (Globe and Mail, March 23) to be variously incoherent and inaccurate. I challenge anyone who pays for this kind of opinion to be published in a national newspaper to explain how Gee's claims make sense within even the most generous standards of interpretation.

To cite one glaring example, Gee says that "the intifada has caused more than 1,500 needless deaths (three fourths of them Palestinian) and crushed any hope of a negotiated end to the occupation." The undeniable implication is that Palestinians caused the death of Palestinians, i.e. they effectively killed each other. Even a cursory examination of the facts reveals this to be not only false, but exactly wrong.

Indeed, most, if not all of the Palestinians Gee cites were killed by Israeli guns, rockets, or bayonets. Many more have been tortured by Israeli forces, under the sanction of the Israeli government. I haven't noted anything that is not well documented and undisputed by those with even the most tenuous grasp of the situation.

posted by dru in letters

Further, Gee assumes that Arafat represents the Palestinians. There is considerable evidence that suggests that he is in fact a corrupt, self-serving tyrant with no legitimate mandate from Palestinians, whether those living in the occupied territories or those millions who live as refugees. Even if one disregards this evidence, it would seem unwise to base an article on such an assumption without substantiating it.

Gee also assumes that Arafat, who is confined to his offices by Israeli forces, has control over what action various terrorist groups take. This assumption also seems flawed, if not uncommon. By contrast, Israel is a stable, representative democracy with systems of accountability. Gee, however, seems to be claiming that Israel is not at all responsible for the killing done by its military and the torture committed by its other branches. Instead, it is the Palestinians as a people (and not even the terrorists among them) who are responsible for what the Israelis do to Palestinians.

If Gee were to apply the same standards to America's role in September 11, he would not only find that the US not only played a role in provoking the attack, but that they were solely responsible for it. One doesn't need evidence; by Gee's standards all one need do to provoke (and thus be held responsible for) attacks is to attempt to exist, much as the Palestinian people, driven to despair, continue to attempt. Surely the US has intentionally done as much as the Palestinians have been charged with. Thus, they are fully responsible.

But this is Gee's reasoning, not mine.

Surely you agree that editorial standards should say something about arguments being coherent and based in fact before they are published in a paper of the stature of the Globe and Mail?


Dru Oja Jay