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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 29, 2008 at 4:25 PM

Israeli / Palestinian conflict



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Muhammed Muheisen / The Associated Press

An Israeli border police officer fires a tear-gas canister at Palestinian stone throwers during clashes that erupted following a demonstration against the Israeli missiles strike on Gaza Sunday.

A moral low ground

Editor, The Times:

The world recoils at yet another shocking massacre by Israel [“Air attack on Gaza widens,” Times, page one, Dec. 29]. There is no possible justification for trapping and starving a helpless population of 1.5 million people in Gaza with a blockade, creating a humanitarian catastrophe, an “abomination” in the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, then using the fact of their feeble resistance through “rocket attacks” as a cover story for a massive aerial bombing that murders hundreds of people.

I cannot understand how Israel, a country with possibly the most highly educated citizenry on the planet, is not ashamed to spread the notion that its slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza, just like its slaughter in Lebanon in 2006, is for its own “security.”

This is supposed to be such a complex conflict. The rules are different in the Middle East; it’s all about Israel’s “right to exist,” etc.? No. This is nothing but a giant land grab. The clear objective of Israel is to drive 4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza off their land, or corner them into a tiny section of it, so they can take the rest of Palestine for themselves.

Israel’s support for “illegal” Jewish settlers on Palestinian land gives the lie to all of its arguments that it only cares about its security. Look at the maps of Israel’s original borders, agreed to by the United Nations in 1947, and see what’s happened since. Israel is the very model of “ethnic cleansing” — all with the financial and military backing of the U.S. government.

If, like Gazans, we were being suffocated by a country that is trapping us inside our borders, refusing to let in food and medication, barring U.N. observers and journalists, would any of us not marshal whatever resistance we could? I believe if they understood what is happening, most people would not support inhumane cruelty like Israel’s simply to expand a country’s borders.

Like all such seizures through history, this is happening on the orders of a few maddened people, with “security” as their claimed rationale, and the rest following out of fear.

If we can rationalize more carnage by Israel, choose to ignore it or keep our mouths shut to avoid the inevitable flaming we’ll get from Israel’s supporters, what moral high ground do we have left to judge any other conflict in the world? None.

— Anne Paxton, Seattle

In defense

It was perhaps inevitable that the press would present the Israeli attack on Hamas as an attack on Palestinians instead of a reaction to unbridled rocket attacks on farms and other settlements, despite many warnings to stop.

Hamas is hardly representative of the Palestinians, having also undermined the Palestine Authority’s efforts. What you fail to raise are key questions for a Hamas militant operation that cries poor mouth but seems to have an unlimited budget for arms, munitions and the means to keep launching rockets. How does that work, and who is financing those efforts?

How would the U.S. respond should our neighbors to the South or North decide they don’t like us and launch attacks on our cities? This is what Israel, a tiny dot on the Middle East map, is confronted with. And, after many warnings, they decided enough is enough.

None of this had to happen. Where were the powerful and wealthy Arab countries that could not find it in their hearts to help build schools, hospitals and other means of progress and employment for the Palestinians they so often indicate they care about?

— Joseph Honick, Bainbridge Island

Too much to ignore

Israel’s attack on Gaza is once again presented to us as “retaliation” for Hamas rockets over the past few days.

What the U.S. media have failed to report is that Israel had been violating the terms of the truce for months, causing the deaths of numerous Palestinian civilians, especially the elderly and the sick, as a result of a blockade calculated and intended to cause the suffering and slow starvation of 1.5 million Palestinians.

Should we just ignore this crime against humanity, because “never again” simply doesn’t apply when the victims are Palestinian?

— Nada Elia, Redmond

We’re not so innocent

Since 2006, Israel has controlled the flow of goods, food, fuel, access to health care and freedom of movement of all 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. In the past four months, Israel has intensified this siege by reducing imports of food and medicine to a trickle. Despite the lack of clean water for the people of Gaza to drink, Israel bars the delivery of water filters.

Half of the people of Gaza are children under the age of 18. Growing up in this environment, they must be “shocked by the miserable things they see,” as U.N. humanitarian affairs official John Holmes said he was. Holmes also blamed the siege for the collapse of Gaza´s economy, which has left 80 percent of the population dependent on international food aid.

Since 2000, more than 2,680 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israeli violence. While Palestinian militants have been illegally firing rockets into southern Israel, killing 11 people since 2000, collective punishment of the Palestinians by Israel will neither bring about an end to the rockets, improve the security of ordinary Israelis, nor open the path to a viable and just peace. Water filters, food, medicine and clean drinking water in the hands of Gazans are not security threats.

The U.S., which provides Israel with the economic, military and diplomatic support that makes Israel´s history of violating the human rights of Gazans possible, has a moral responsibility to use its influence to stop Israel´s siege of the Gazan people. Instead, it is currently pursuing a policy of fomenting civil war in Gaza.

— Daniel Miller, Redmond

They have the right

Israel has a right to defend itself. The Israeli military operation successfully targeted 94.3 percent of Hamas members, both military and police while the Hamas rockets killed 0 percent of Israeli military and targeted 100 percent of Israeli civilians. You be the judge of what is wrong here.

Additionally, more than 6,300 rockets have been launched from Gaza since Israel unilaterally withdrew from the land in a peace effort for which Israel received nothing (other than renewed terrorism of its children and people by Palestinian terrorists from Hamas).

— Joshua Newson, Seattle

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