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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 5, 2009 at 5:02 PM

The war in Gaza

MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images

Smoke rise into the sky during clashes between Palestinian fighters and Israeli forces at the border of Gaza City. Israeli tanks rolled into Gaza Jan. 4 and launched into night-time battles with Hamas forces after more than a week of air strikes.

Better not to intervene

Editor, The Times:

In attempting to justify Israel’s invasion of Gaza, The Seattle Times editorial of Jan. 1 [“Gaza, the open wound”] makes the absurd claim that “Hamas is an open surrogate for Iran,” as if Hamas is a mere pawn and there is no basis for Palestinian resistance to Israel’s unjust siege and occupation.

The editorial echoes the Bush administration’s position that Hamas is merely a proxy for a foreign country that is allegedly attempting to dominate the Middle East. Where have we heard this before? In the long history of the Cold War, a variant of this argument was used time and again to justify the CIA-orchestrated overthrows of the democratically-elected Mossadegh government in Iran, the democratically-elected Arbenz government in Guatemala and the democratically-elected Allende government in Chile.

In each case, the argument went, these governments threatened to tilt toward the Soviet Union or were merely pawns or proxies for the Soviets. In the interest of national security, the United States had to intervene to prevent them from falling into the Soviet orbit. American media failed to acknowledge that it was U.S. and British oil interests that sought the ouster of Mossadegh, the United Fruit Company that sought the ouster of Arbenz, and U.S. copper interests that sought the ouster of Allende.

Each time, U.S. intervention resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands, mostly poor, people. Now the same playbook is being used. It’s well known that both the U.S. and Israel have been attempting to unseat Hamas ever since it won the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections in 2006. First by denying economic aid and creating a humanitarian crisis in Gaza by restricting food and medical supplies, then by attempting to foment a Palestinian civil war between Hamas and Fatah, and finally by violating the cease-fire with an attack on Gaza on Nov. 4.

The Bush administration’s claim that it seeks to bring democracy to the Middle East is a lie since it can’t respect the outcome of a democratic election. The Seattle Times editorial board is exposed as not much more than a propaganda tool for those business interests that seek U.S. domination of the Middle East.

— Rod Such, Redmond

Tiny Israel defending itself

For seven years, Hamas has fired thousands of rockets into Israel. The world remained silent. Now that Israel takes action to end the rocket onslaught, the world is outraged.

One wonders what the U.S., Russia, China, France, England, Germany and others would do if a terrorist group in a neighboring country fired rockets into their land for seven years. Would they be as patient as Israel?

And think of Israel’s demands: an end to Palestinian attacks, international supervision of any truce and a halt to Hamas rearming. Are these so outrageous?

But, one should not be surprised at the anti-Israel response. Historically, each time Israel is attacked, the world remains silent. However, when Israel responds, the world immediately demands a cease-fire. Tiny Israel, surrounded by billions of enemies, is criticized whenever it defends itself.

At long last the critics should ask themselves, “What would my country do if we were surrounded by large enemies sworn to destroy us, and one began lobbing rockets at us?”

— Rodger Malcolm Mitchell, Wilmette, Ill.

This is a humanitarian crisis

The Seattle Times is known for outstanding investigative reporting, but it is beyond my imagination how the writer of your Jan. 1 editorial, “Gaza, the open wound,” could give credence to President Shimon Perez’s bewilderment over “motives and purposes of the ones who are shooting at us.” Clearly, well-documented reports of events over the last 12 months were overlooked.

The siege on Gaza began long before Israel’s total blockade on Nov. 5. Since January 2007, international humanitarian-aide organizations and news sources have reported intermittent closures that sharply restricted the flow of essential foods: milk and flour, medicine, cooking and motor fuel, paper, fertilizer, spare parts for hospital and farm equipment, and access to clean water. Aide agencies must pay Israel for storage while shipments are impounded. Running out of food and cash, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which is responsible for feeding 750,000 citizens, had to suspend operations on Dec. 18. For over a year, letters from Palestinians who work in a Christian hospital in Gaza City and the U.N. World Food Program attest to these reports.

Tzipi Livni, quoted in Friday’s New York Times as saying, “There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza … no need for a humanitarian truce,” is either deluded or duplicitous. True, Israel lets some supplies in, sometimes, but the belief that security for Israel will be won by keeping the people of Gaza in a prolonged state of fear, deprivation and desperation is likely to win more Palestinian hearts and minds for Hamas than for Israel and produce more defiance.

–Mary Pneuman, Medina

Stepping in their shoes

At 139 square miles, the Gaza Strip is 3.5 square miles smaller than Seattle (142.5 square miles). Let’s say King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties (combined, the size of Isreal) decided to round up all registered Democrats, seize their property and jam them into Seattle, tripling the population and referring to those who objected or resisted as “pigs” and “terrorists”?

Then let’s imagine that Seattle voters elected a city council that had the audacity to demand that its excess citizens be allowed to return to their homes and, in response, the counties retaliated with a brutal blockade, not allowing delivery of food or medicine in an attempt to coerce Seattle to vote in a more docile and compliant city council. Do you think that maybe, just maybe, a few homemade rockets might start blowing a few potholes in the streets of Bellevue or Everett or Tacoma? I suppose it’s just a matter of perspective.

— Robert Jones, Bellevue

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