Monday, December 29, 2008

A Critic of Israel Writes to Me: My Answer

I knew it would not be long before I heard from someone who would be critical of Israel's attack on Gaza. Predictably, a comment showed up today. I printed it in its entirety. Not only that, I am printing it in this posting, along with my answer.

Sorry, I do not say this to offend .. I do accept that the Jewish people have had a tough time over the past few thousand years .. BUT .. am I the only person to see a horrible 'similarity' between the current Gaza 'Prison' and the infamous 'Warsaw Ghetto' ?

People 'driven from their homes and collected in a sealed Ghetto' ?

I am a mere Christian, so I guess you can ignore me .. but we are taught that 'two Wrongs do not make a Right' .. please tell me what Israel hopes to achieve in the long term ?

Surely nobody seriously thinks it is posibble to will 'wipe out' all traces of Palestinian identity ? From my perspective this 'onslaught' is making things a lot worse .. surely it will take generations for the children of Gaza to forget these events.

Granted the Hamas rhetoric and Rocket attacks are equally repugnant, but 'who cast the first stone' ?

This is a serious response to your post, and I would genuinely love to read an equally serious and thoughtful answer. Please Educate me if you have a sincere wish to get the wider world on your side.

I noted that there was not any obscenity in this letter. Although I am at complete odds with its contents, it shows civility and merits an answer. The comment "I am a mere Christian, so I guess you can ignore me" is as insulting as calling me a racist. I have treated my readers with respect and learned from them without regard to creed or ethnicity. I will forgive your implied insult, even though you did not ask me to do so.

The Warsaw Ghetto was a tiny section of the city of Warsaw. It was not a "Jewish Homeland" or "Hebrew Authority". It was a collection point for eventual extermination. Gaza is not a tiny part of a city. It is 139 square miles. Israel was hoping that it would be the start of a partnership, that its residents would use their autonomy to build an economy sufficient to sustain its people. I feel that this hope was extremely misguided. Daily rocket attacks on Israel, perpetrated and celebrated by Gaza residents constituted a danger to life and acts of war that no one should have to tolerate. Far from condemning and preventing the attacks, Hamas has applauded and facilitated them. Military targets were purposely located in civilian areas. According to the Geneva Convention, this constitutes a violation by Hamas.

Under the circumstances, the extreme restraint showed by Israel over the past months is an act of cruelty to its own people and ultimately to the people living under the authority of Hamas. Even in the course of the attack, Israel has tried to minimise civilian casualties. The Hamas strategy of locating military targets in civilian areas has made this almost impossible. Despite this, Israel tries to show mercy to its enemies that remains unreciprocated by its neighbours and unappreciated by much of the world.

Thankfully, Israel is interested belatedly in defending itself rather than dangerous efforts to court world opinion. Its Gaza offensive was a moral imperative, an obligation to its own citizens. "Two wrongs don't make a right" has no place in this discussion. Hamas, a freely elected party considers every Jew from the toughest soldier to the most helpless infant to be an enemy to be exterminated. That does not leave much room for discussion .

You are concerned about the children of Gaza. I believe that the Israeli government shows them far more concern than does Hamas or Fatah. They are being indoctrinated in hatred in school and on their television stations. Their government has chosen war. Even pregnant women and retarded children have been used as suicide bombers. This is child abuse of the worst sort, but not by Israel.

The Palestinians suffer terrible discrimination... Throughout the Arab world. Sixty years after 1948, Palestinians living in Lebanon are not allowed to own land. They are banned from a long list of occupations. Jordan, Kuwait and many other Arab countries also have discriminatory laws aimed at Palestinians. This does sound like some of the discriminatory laws imposed on Jews throughout history. But these laws are imposed upon them by other Arabs.

It saddens me that the tremendous economic potential of the Middle East has been squandered in warfare. Israel has made overtures and efforts for peace that I believe are suicidal. It has gone beyond all reasonable limits to satisfy its moral obligations to its enemies. This has fed a cycle of Israel making concessions that embolden its enemies who reward further concessions with more violence demands more concessions and inflicts more injury.

Israel was founded not only by European Jews but by Arab Jews as well. Close to a million Arab Jews were driven from Israel's neighbouring Arab states. Many of these people came from families that had roots in Arab countries going back centuries. Now they are being hounded and tormented in Israel, wher e they made a new beginning. This facet of the problems in the Middle East is almost completely overlooked.

Israel has not tried to "wipe out all traces of Palestinian identity" as you suggest. It has tried to prevent itself from being wiped out.

You do not sound like a hateful person, but you do sound like you have been given a heavily edited set of facts mixed in with an abundance of deception. This is not your fault. I hope that you will formulate your opinions based upon a more complete picture. I thank you for your letter.

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