Sir, – I am not Jewish. I do not have Jewish ancestors. But I recently spent two weeks in Israel. I fell in love with the country and its people and I met new friends. I returned to Poland on November 12, at the start of Operation Pillar of Defense.

Now I watch the news, read The Jerusalem Post website – and I’m terrified. The government has authorized the call-up of 75,000 reservists. Even Jerusalem is threatened. It’s a nightmare.

I keep my fingers crossed for you and I wish for Israel to end this problem successfully.

MAGDALENA HERNIK
Warsaw

Sir, – I work as a doctor in a hospital, reading news on the Middle East online, and as always I am shaking my head about those crazy Israelis and Palestinians (albeit from a comfortable distance).

What is wrong with you? It appears to me that no one in the region shares a number of values that, in my opinion, are self-evident: 1. There is nothing more valuable than a human life. No 2,000-year old rights, no religious laws, no higher goal, nothing.

Anyone who is ready to kill or die in the name of God or to end the occupation or terrorism should be imprisoned. And a very large prison would need to be built.

2. There is no such thing as “The Israelis” or “The Palestinians.”

Both groups are diverse.

Failure to recognize this denies the existence of a large group of peace-loving, normal people within both groups. Not every Muslim is a terrorist and not every Jew is a fascist. Palestinian extremists firing missiles at Israel are not only the enemy of Israelis, but of normal Palestinians. Israeli extremists living in Hebron are not only the enemy of Palestinians, but of normal Israelis. If violence worked, there would have been peace by now.

3. Israelis and Palestinians may have more in common than they think. In both groups the majority supports a two-state solution.

Both suffer from zealots who think that being right is more important than human life.

Israelis and Palestinians fear each other. But in my opinion, there is no conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. There is a conflict between normal Israelis and Palestinians, on the one hand, and extremist Israelis and Palestinians, on the other. I dream of a large, joint Israeli- Palestinian peace movement, with normal Israelis and Palestinians demonstrating side-by-side in the streets of Jerusalem, denouncing Israeli and Palestinian extremism.

Somewhere in the future, a peace settlement will loom, probably imposed by the US and the EU. It will be far from perfect but it will have to do. A bad peace is better than a good war.

JOHANNES VAN DER HEIDE
Amsterdam

Sir, – It is with the utmost sincerity that we, the people of the United States, stand with you and by you in these most troubling times.

Imagine if any of our 50 states were ever attacked in such a manner. I can assure you that the US would never tolerate such acts of aggression and would retaliate with its full force and might.

What you are doing is the only course of action you have to take. The terrorists go on and on with attacks; now they shall reap what they have sown.

RICHARD PLACER
Charlotte, North Carolina

Sir, – As usual, Israel makes every excuse for the bombing of Gaza.

I spent much time in your country in the 1970s, including during the Yom Kippur War.

Nothing has changed. You are still advocating UN mandates when it suits you, and ignoring those that don’t, particularly regarding a return to the pre- 1967 boundaries.

It appears that Israel will not be satisfied until the Palestinian enclaves no longer exist.

Remember your history, my friends. You are in danger of becoming hated by half the world. Your prime minister already is.

JIM GLENDENNING
Liverpool

Sir, – As Israel finds itself under attack by terrorist forces, it once again is forced to defend itself militarily, diplomatically and morally. Once more, as I watch my brethren under attack, the overwhelming emotion I feel is pride. Concern, no doubt, for my family and friends, but also pride.

I feel pride that, despite everything, Israel has not given in to the gathering forces that threaten to smother it in darkness. I feel pride that, unlike Russia, which has called for “restraint,” it doesn’t obliterate entire neighborhoods or massacre thousands of people. I feel pride that Israeli minds, among the brightest in the world, have developed a defense system such as Iron Dome, which is capable of saving lives, not taking them.

Israel is a country that loves life, respects human rights and embraces the future with hope.

Its enemies are a people that celebrates death, destroys freedom and seeks to drag the world into a cesspool of despair. Until that changes, these people will remain in the dark ages while the rest of the world moves on.

JUSTIN AMLER
Melbourne

Sir, – With the violence escalating in Gaza and Israel, I must speak out on behalf of the innocent civilians of Gaza.

Their resounding cries and pleas for help must be heard.

The young population there has been forcibly embroiled in deadly games. Having worked in Gaza twice since the last military bombardment four years ago, I know only too well the scars that will be reopened and the new ones that will result.

Politics must be swept aside.

The rights of the innocent people of Gaza who have been long subjected to abhorrent crimes must be paramount.

Violence on either side is unacceptable.

However, I am certain that the mothers, fathers and children of Gaza will bear the brunt of the slaughter unless this conflict is stopped now.

JENNIFER JONES
Melbourne

Sir, – It disturbs and dismays me to see world leaders attempting to broker a ceasefire in the current hostilities between Israel and Hamas.

History has proved that the only thing Hamas respects is a greater show of force than its own. A ceasefire would accomplish nothing more than an opportunity for Hamas to regroup and rearm with help from its masters in Iran.

It is time for the world, including Israel – yes, Israel – to stop infantilizing the Palestinians in Gaza. Why send daily shipments of food and aid to those who pray for your destruction and celebrate your death? Providing for the inhabitants of Gaza has not won you any credit in the eyes of the world. Furthermore, it frees Hamas from the obligation of caring for its citizens, leaving it to pursue its murderous agenda against Israel.

The Gazans voted for Hamas.

Let them take responsibility and accept the consequences of their foolishness.

JOAN OCALLAGHAN
Toronto

Sir, – Those who fire the rockets knew Israel would retaliate with a vengeance. Israel always does.

“Disproportionate, barbaric!” cry many advocating peace and justice in Palestine/Israel – maintaining a deathly silence in the weeks before Ahmed Jabari’s death, while Gaza nutters lobbed 700 untargetable rockets into southern Israel.

Hate-filled Gazans terrorizing and murdering Israelis do their people no favors; their actions bring ferocious retaliation, death and destruction. Hate-filled Israelis occupying, terrorizing, and murdering Gazans do their people no favors; their policies trigger murderous actions by those they occupy, and the concomitant trauma, death and destruction on all.

To Israeli and Gazan leaders: What long-lasting good has come from your actions and policies? Is this really the “better world” you want to leave for your children and your children’s children?" I, a Jew, just returned from the olive harvest in the West Bank.

My Palestinian friends and I know there’s a better way. Our friendship and actions will lead to it!

JUDY BAMBERGER
O’Connor, Australia

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