Regarding your July 14 editorial, "The way in – and out – of Israel's wars": Unhappily, there is no substitute for war as long as Israel's neighbors insist that it has no right to exist and threaten genocide if it should prevail.
And on those rare occasions when Palestinians do come to a bargaining table, their insistence on a right of return for the Palestinian people is something no sane Israeli politician would agree to. Some form of reparations might well work, though, provided Palestinian politicians could be counted on to shut down groups that attack their Israeli neighbors.
Your comments suggest that if the Israelis, Palestinians, and Lebanese show disgust with those who bring war into their lives, the bloodshed might stop. I wish that were likely, but people who cheer the misfortunes of others are not likely partners for peace.
Your July 14 editorial on the Middle East totally absolves the chief culprit – Israel. Hamas had kept a unilateral cease-fire for 17 months, both before and after its democratic victory this January, but Israel continued to use violence in the West Bank and Gaza and to seize more land and water in the West Bank, all in violation of international law.
Israel's destruction of Gaza's infrastructure has brought severe shortages of fuel, water, food, and medicines and is threatening the health and lives of over 1 million civilians. Hospital patients are especially endangered. Amnesty International calls this collective punishment "war crimes." Israel's excuse: one captured soldier. Israel holds 10,000 Palestinians, many tortured, many women and minors, many without charges. Would this justify comparable collective punishment of 1 million Israelis?
As long as the US gives Israel a blank check, Israel will seek to militarily impose its conditions on the Arabs and act with impunity. The result will be more bloodshed.
Edmund R. Hanauer
I would like to address some of the issues brought up by the July 31 article, "Next troublesome missile test: Taiwan?", concerning Taiwan's defense policy. The article is correct that Taiwan has always pursued a defensive strategy toward the very real threat of China. Included in this strategy are continued efforts to reach out and improve relations and decrease tensions with China. However, Taiwan has the right and the duty to protect its 23 million citizens from the direct threat represented by Beijing's 800 missiles aimed at Taiwan.
It is interesting that while China is a key member in the six-nation talks trying to defuse the North Korean missile crisis, Beijing continues its missile buildup on the Taiwan Strait. This missile buildup is a similar risk to peace and stability in the region and should be included in the six-nation talks as a way to decrease the overall tensions in East Asia. Taiwan is an active partner in maintaining peace and stability in the region, but it cannot overlook its own security.
Director, Information Division
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Boston
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