To the Editor:
Saree Makdisi's abject dismissal of the significance of Israel's disengagement from Gaza is presented in a vacuum and totally disregards why Israel has been forced to defend itself and its people. ("Israel leaves but Gaza is hardly free," August 21, 2005).
Makdisi ignores why Israeli checkpoints are necessary and why Israel has legitimate reason to be concerned about the Rafah crossing with Egypt. It is unfortunate and misleading that Makdisi's conclusions fail to take into account that Israel's border restraints, including limiting access to the Israeli labor market, only came as Israel's reaction to years of Palestinian suicide bombings, rocket attacks, and arms smuggling across the border from Egypt.
Hopefully, the Palestinians will succeed in asserting order in Gaza after the disengagement and clamp down on terrorist operations. Furthermore, in countless interviews, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said that when the Palestinian Authority proves its ability to govern responsibly in Gaza, constraints will be lifted along with further concessions in the West Bank in the context of negotiations with the Palestinians.
It is unfortunate that Makdisi pursues a line of approach that has ill-served the Palestinians for decades: blame Israel, never take responsibility concerning what the Palestinians themselves need to do, and never take steps to build on Israeli concessions.
Chair, Pacific Southwest Region