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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 30, 2008 at 4:35 PM

Israeli/ Palestinian conflict



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Abed Rahim Khatib/ McClatchy Newspapers

The southern town of Rafah, Palistine, was hit by an Israeli airstrike Saturday.

Blood on our hands

Editor, The Times:

In his second inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln wrestled with the providence of God and the cause of war, daring to suggest that the Civil War would last, “until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s unrequited toil shall be sunk, and every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword.” Lincoln discerned the scales of universal justice, where America’s bloodshed in war was compensation for black blood, shed by the lash of slavery.

We can apply Lincoln’s insight to our present war on terror and the sufferings in Palestine [‘ “War to the bitter end’ for Israel, Hamas,” Times, page one, Dec. 30].

Terrorism is retribution for the West’s racist, religious and corporate oppression of Arab culture. Joshua’s army committed genocide against Canaanite tribes to establish ancient Israel, “slaughtering everything that breathes” (Deuteronomy, Chapter 20). The Crusades violated Arab lands again. After World War I, the West betrayed Palestinians, reneging on a promised homeland.

After World War II, Europe cynically divided and colonized the Middle East for petroleum. Using poison gas on civilian resisters, Britain created Iraq in 1924 as a pumping station for the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, now BP.

In the 1980s, our CIA equipped and trained the Muhajadeem in Afghanistan, al-Qaida’s predecessors. We left their land mined and devastated. In 2003, we invaded Iraq, slaughtering thousands more innocent civilians there than terrorists ever killed in America.

By Lincoln’s standards, terrorism compensates for our historic injustice against Arab people. Until we humbly confess our role in planting its seeds, this long war will continue.

— Alfred LaMotte, Steilacoom

Let them make peace

Five years ago, The Seattle Times printed a remarkable opinion piece by Avraham Burg, former speaker of the Israeli Knesset. It began, “The Zionist revolution has always rested on two pillars: a just path and an ethical leadership. Neither of these is operative any longer” [“Israel must choose between right and wrong,” guest column, Nov. 9, 2003].

For two years, Israel has maintained a blockade of Gaza in an effort to overthrow Hamas by denying civilians essentials of life. It has been capped now by the Israeli air force’s bombing of Gaza, which reportedly killed [more than 300] persons including women and children.

Israel is taking a page from the American playbook. For 12 years in Iraq, U.S./U.N. sanctions denied Iraqi civilians safe drinking water, food and essentials of life—after we had bombed most of Iraq’s electrical plants. Then-Secretary of State James Baker told Congress we would keep the sanctions until Saddam Hussein was gone.

In 1991, 195 Iraqi children died daily from waterborne diseases, according to The New England Journal of Medicine. These blockades are a form of warfare. They anger the target population against the nation imposing the blockade.

Siege and bombing will make it more difficult for Israel to finally make peace with the Arabs, as they must.

— Bert Sacks, Seattle

Remember the past

Three hundred men, women and children are murdered and 1.5 million civilians deprived of food and medical supplies because Israel and the U.S. fear the democratically elected government of Hamas.

The upcoming Israeli elections are undoubtedly another reason for the slaughter—as is the likelihood of testing President-elect Barack Obama.

Israel must immediately end its devastating bombing of Gaza, one the of the most densely populated places on Earth. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other Israeli leaders are the cause of a humanitarian catastrophe that amounts to genocide against the Palestinian people.

Judah Maccabee, who is remembered on Hanukkah, did not lead his fight for Jerusalem in order for his people to become barbarian butchers. The government of Israel has created a Gaza ghetto that shames me and fellow Jews and everyone who remembers the Nazi Holocaust with horror.

The Jews and gentiles of the Freedom Socialist Party demand an immediate halt to the siege of Gaza, respect for Palestinian lives, freedom for all Palestinian political prisoners, and recognition of the right of return for the original inhabitants of Palestine.

— Henry Noble, Seattle

Not the way

After killing more than 320 Palestinians and injuring close to 1,000 this past Saturday by dropping 100 tons of bombs on the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Southern Command GOC announced that the Israeli army will “send Gaza decades into the past” in terms of weapons capabilities while achieving “the maximum number of enemy casualties.”

Despite these echoes from failed uses of force in the past, the current Jewish-Israeli consensus nevertheless favors Israeli military attacks on Gaza. “The goal of our military actions is to force peace on them,” stated member of Knesset Yakov Margi (Shas) in a parliamentary discussion of Gaza.

This attitude demonstrates that neither historical examples nor Israel’s own failure to achieve “peace” through destruction have a visible impact on Israeli public opinion or government policies.

The Jewish violation of the cease-fire has complicated the whole picture more than ever. The Arabs can no longer negotiate a fair political settlement from a position of strength and military advantage.

The Palestinians-Israeli war is an American war with American-Jewish soldiers fighting with weapons for the American territory of an American colony—Israel. The Americans have to win to save their [Israelis’] territory.

— Ted Rudow, Menlo Park, Calif.

Enough is enough

Rocket attacks against Southern Israel pose a significant threat to the lives of Israelis. Yet, the more than 300 Israeli airstrikes and additional naval bombardments against targets in heavily congested civilian areas in Gaza are deplorable and must be stopped.

More than 360 Palestinians dead, including more than 60 civilians, and more than 1,400 people wounded are evidence of the use of overwhelming and excessive force. Instead of ending rocket fire, it is likely that violence against Israelis will increase, causing further Israeli retribution, leading to more attacks against Israel in the continuing escalation of violence.

It is time for a new approach to obtain the security that both Israelis and Palestinians want. Judaism, Christianity and Islam originated in the Middle East, and each point to the power of the human heart to develop mutual understanding and resolve conflict.

The skills of compassionate listening, dialogue and win-win conflict replacement are proven ways to access this transformational power. It is time to bring all parties to the table and apply these skills as part of a process to create the peace and security that both Israelis and Palestinians so desperately seek.

Stop the killing.

— H. Richmond Fisher, Seattle

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