Letter: Israeli settlements grow as Arabs fail to condemn Afula

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The Independent Online
Sir: Equating yesterday's massacre at Afula with the one in Hebron last February ('The need for a spirit of urgency', leading article, 7 April) hardly helps to balance the accounts of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

It must not be forgotten that Jews had been killed by the PLO, Hamas and Islamic Jihad for decades before Baruch Goldstein's name hit the headlines, simply because they were Jews and the region had to be 'cleansed' of their presence. Furthermore, the Jews' return to Zion had been endangered by Arab aggression and threats of annihilation since the 19th century.

The Hebron attack was carried out by one deranged individual; it could not have been foreseen neither could it have been prevented, but the Afula outrage had been carefully planned by a whole organisation with the aim to cause maximum deaths and destruction.

After Hebron, the president of Israel, the government and Israelis from right across the political spectrum expressed their shame and condemnation of what had been done, offering apologies, sympathy and compensation to the bereaved and wounded. After Afula, the PLO may have expressed 'regret' (in so perfunctory a manner that President Clinton pronounced it inadequate) but neither Yasser Arafat nor the heads of Arab states involved in the peace process have apologised for or condemned the massacre, and their silence speaks more clearly than words.

Yesterday's tragedy gave a clear insight into the moral difference between Jewish and Arab attitudes towards terrorism: for Jews it is a matter of shame and bitter self-criticism; for the Arabs it is a matter of policy or even strategy. The haste with which Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed 'credit' for Afula suggests they are actually proud of it.

Yours sincerely,

R. WILLERS

Wembley Park, Middlesex

7 April

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