Letters to the Editor

Readers write about comparing the actions of Hamas and Israel.

Hamas and Israel: problems in comparing their actions

Regarding the Dec. 31 Opinion piece, "Israel, Hamas, and moral idiocy": It seems to me that the distinction drawn in author Alan Dershowitz's commentary between the deliberate targeting of civilians by Hamas rockets and the collateral civilian deaths caused by Israel's military strikes is an important distinction. Surely it is worse to deliberately target civilians than to kill them accidentally.

Yet, it also seems to me that Dershowitz stops short of a full analysis. How does he measure the suffering of Palestinians under Israeli occupation? What means of resistance against the expansion of illegal settlements would he permit as legitimate? These are questions Dershowitz does not ask himself, for he prejudges any sympathy for the plight of the Palestinian people as an apology for terrorism.

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For my own part, I have abandoned any attempt at assigning measures and summing values; the effort to formulate the conflict in a way that pits "good guys" against "bad guys" is vain and counterproductive. The history is too tangled, the misunderstandings too mutual, and too tragic, for that. There are only actions that promote peace, which both sides have failed too often to take, and actions that promote conflict, which both sides too often find too easy to take.

Progress toward peace can only come, as Barack Obama put it at the March 7, 2007, AIPAC Policy Forum in Chicago, when all sides acknowledge that they must lift some "heavy stones."

For peace's sake, let that day be soon.

Jeremy Shipley
Iowa City, Iowa

I am disappointed in Alan Dershowitz's ridiculous rhetoric justifying Israel's Gaza attacks. He claims democracies like Israel are impaired in their response to "terrorists" like Hamas. Never mind that Hamas won office in an open and fair election.

Dershowitz rejects an "equivalence" between Hamas and Israel – as well he should, because the burden of destitution, death, and dismemberment falls overwhelmingly on the Arab side.

But two wrongs don't make a right. Hamas and Likud are all too "equivalent" in attitude – both want an apocalyptic war to the finish. One can say, "let them fight it out," except that it has potentially huge consequences. On the other hand, the Gaza intervention offers no feasible strategic victory for either combatant. It is senseless and stupid as well as tragic. But all Dershowitz offers is cheerleading for carnage.

Here's hoping our new US administration rejects the stupid excuses for a no-win war, and exerts pressure to end the fighting.

Steve Beers
Austin, Texas

Thanks to Alan Dershowitz for speaking rationally in this commentary. It's particularly impressive given that many countries are telling Israel not to defend itself.

We should give the civilians of Gaza the same attention that we would have given civilians in Japan if they had cried "Foul!" when the United States defended itself following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in World War II.

When cowardly Hamas leaders fire rockets (or "allow" rockets to be fired) from heavily populated civilian areas into neighboring Israel, attempting to use the Gaza civilians as shields, then Hamas, not Israel, is responsible for the resulting Gaza civilian casualties. Terrorist organizations should not be allowed to hide behind civilians and then cry "Foul!" when someone responds to their acts of terrorism.

Robert Rains
Billerica, Mass.

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