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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 15, 2009 at 4:00 PM

War in Gaza

Paralyzed Americans

Israel cannot justify waging war against the entire population of Gaza on the grounds that militants in Gaza are attacking Israel. Over the past 17 days, nearly 1,000 Gazan civilians have been killed — tantamount to collective punishment under the Geneva Conventions.

But, let’s not pretend that Israel’s disregard for the welfare and rights of Palestinians is something new. For more than 40 years, Israel has worked continually to occupy and control the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Less shocking, but just as unacceptable as recent violence, is Israel’s three-year blockade of Gaza, which has severely limited food, water, fuel and medical supplies to enter the region.

As Americans, we can’t afford to be paralyzed by sadness at the horror that is occurring. The U.S. backs Israel’s military in full knowledge of what will be done with the supplies and funds that we send. We are responsible for what has been happening in Palestine for years and for what is happening in Gaza right now.

It is time for all of us to educate ourselves on this issue and to demand a change in U.S. foreign policy. The tanks, guns and bombs leveled against Palestinians are ours. It’s time for us to take responsibility for them.

— Lisa Neher, Covington

“Hiding among civilians” argument once again

Israel is using the argument that strong military powers always use against weaker powers: They “hide among civilians.” The stronger power hopes to shift responsibility for civilian deaths onto the evil and heartless enemy.

When the U.S. and Israel condemn this tactic of “hiding among civilians,” they are condemning and betraying their own histories.

On the back of the Massachusetts quarter is a picture of the Revolutionary War minutemen, one of our heroes. But, to the British, they were cowardly terrorists, wearing civilian clothes, hiding their weapons on their farms and perhaps their churches, and firing on and running from British soldiers.

All resistance fighters do this. The Dutch, Norwegian and French resistance, as well as the Warsaw Ghetto fighters of WWII, hid among civilians, as did Menachem Begin and the Irgun during the struggle against British rule in Palestine.

Strong forces always identify weaker forces as terrorists. All sides try to demonize their opponents with half-truths.

Our job as citizens is to use our common sense and knowledge of history to see the essential truth that people everywhere want to love and protect their children. Unscrupulous leaders want us to think otherwise.

— Bill Distler, Bellingham

More hate, less peace

Israel believes that the more you punish, the more willing people will become to agree with you. But, after this conflict, there will be more hate than ever.

I have no doubts that Palestinian youth will watch and remember. When it’s their turn to try their hand at peacemaking, they will remember this violence and their hearts will be hardened.

The conflict has weakened Arab moderates like Egypt and Jordan, setting Middle East diplomacy back years.

Moral high ground, like your virginity, can only be lost once. For Israel, it’s too late.

— Julia Zhan, Bellevue

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