Letter: No middle ground?

Sherrill Hogen’s My Turn about the Israeli attacks on Gaza prompted me to write about the way that the middle ground in the Israel-Palestine conflict has become tragically obscured, even though a decade ago it seemed that the two-state solution was within reach.

The condemnation of Israel for attacking civilian facilities in Gaza ignores the fact that Hamas deliberately embeds its rocket launching sites in those facilities. Sherill and those who agree with her are simply unwilling to discuss this aspect of the conflict, not even to the extent of denying that Hamas has adopted that strategy.

Israel at least claims to be trying to minimize civilian casualties. You might not believe that, but Hamas doesn’t even make that claim; the rockets fired at Israel are either targeted at population centers or not targeted at all.

Has anyone on the Hamas side said that Hamas is trying not to harm Israeli civilians or aiming only at military targets? Sherrill, would you make that claim?

But on the other side of the fence (literally), Israel — egged on by wealthy American zealots like Sheldon Adelson with his casino fortune — has stolen Palestinian territory in order to pursue the goal of a Greater Israel in which the Palestinians are either removed or denied the vote in Israeli elections.

As many prominent Israelis have pointed out, a united Israel/Palestine could be a Jewish state or a democracy, but not both.

The settler movement in Israel is largely American-financed, and a large proportion of the settlers themselves are American immigrants. Their frequent references to Judea and Samaria are the tipoff to their aim of taking over all of Palestine.

Neither the Israelis themselves nor the Jewish diaspora are united on these issues. Ariel Sharon himself (a former Israeli prime minister) switched from being a hawk to advocating a Palestinian state. The Israeli Knesset is governed by an uneasy coalition, complicated by the conflict between the ultra-Orthodox and the secular majority (since some settler advocates like Naftaly Bennett are themselves opposed to Orthodox control). In this country there are active groups like New Israel and J Street that are working for the two-state solution.

The Israeli treatment of the Palestinians is inexcusable, but that does not justify the Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians. Two wrongs don’t make a right.



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