Sat, 29 Oct 1994

Nobel Prize too early?

Your editorial of Oct. 21, 1994, asks, in the wake of the bus bombing in Tel Aviv, whether the Nobel Prize for peace wasn't awarded too early! How can peace be too early? Even the Irish have realized lately that decades of terrorism in Ulster has achieved nothing except to create more orphans and widows.

In the Middle East, Saddam Hussein shouted 'Onwards', cowering in his bunker. Whereas Sadat, Begin, Arafat, Rabin, King Hussein and Peres put their lives and careers on the line to try and obtain peace. And then, out of the woodwork, scurry the cockroaches, like Baruch Goldstein and Hamas. The difference is Goldstein's lone actions in Hebron brought immediate protest demonstrations from Israelis and a public apology from their President.

Hamas on the other hand has open support from that bastion of civil liberties: Iran. A nation which your paper (Oct. 22, page 5) states is "not content with executions, torture and suppression, they have suffocated all the ideals and aspirations of 65 million Iranians and killed the very soul of the people." Clearly a laudable example, currently being followed in Egypt and Algeria, as their imitators kill and destroy, and drag their countries back to the dark ages.

Ironically, the actions of Hamas will make the Palestinians more dependent on Israel, not less! Their people already have Gaza and Jericho, and will have further chance to live in their own land as more of the West Bank is handed back to them. They will require jobs, and Palestine is ideally situated to provide both Europe and the Middle East. But who will build the factories? Who will put venture capital into the country? What foreign manager will volunteer to put his family at risk by going there? The oil rich Arab nations are not exactly rushing to help. Iran's economy is a basket case. Currently, Israel supplies the jobs: if they close the borders, there will be far more hungry Palestinians than there ever were under Israeli rule. These people have the chance to live in dignity with peace and freedom. I hope they don't throw it away.

The citizens of Indonesia are extremely fortunate to live in a country where Pancasila ensures that religion is a route to peace and not hatred. Just what is it that allows zealots to think they have the right to murder those who don't share their views?