May 13: Asymmetric warfare

Reader: “If they target our civilians, we’ll answer by targeting their civilians."

May 12, 2010 20:51
New and ncie

letters 88 NICE. (photo credit: )


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Asymmetric warfare

Sir, – OC Air Force Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan says that “we must be able to only strike terrorist targets while taking care not to strike noncombatants” (“IAF commander says deterrence effective – for now,” May 12).

His statement definitely demonstrates the high ethical level of IDF behavior. During Operation Cast Lead, that same no-targeting-civilians motto was one of the army’s key guidelines. But the Goldstone Report and world public opinion did not take this point into consideration.

Would it not be wiser to state that “if they target our civilians, we’ll answer by targeting their civilians”? Because in the context of asymmetric warfare, only a very naïve and unrealistic approach could label as “noncombatants” innocent-looking villagers who, in Lebanon and elsewhere, tolerate long-range weapons in their immediate neighborhoods, if not in their basements or garages.

In addition, attempts have been made, following the last Gaza war, to change the laws of war in a way that would question – and possibly erase – the differences between civilians and non-civilians. Why isn’t that topic back on the table? Haven’t we enough international lawyers to address the issue?


J Street, by the numbers...

Sir, – When it comes to counting the numbers, Rabbi Boteach is wrong, and Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street is right (“Another dumb move by J Street,” May 11).

While it is fair to argue that insulting Eli Wiesel might not make friends and influence Jews, opposing Israel is a winning strategy. Only the 15 percent of the Jewish population who are Orthodox are solidly pro-Israel; the rest are at best ambivalent and at worst out-and-out hostile. Here in the US, most Jewish-oriented publications have begun to add anti-Israel articles to the usual pro-Israel mix, so editors are also aware of the numbers.

    Highland Park, New Jersey contrast...

Sir, – Like Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, I revere Elie Wiesel; both he and his life’s work are treasures of the Jewish people.

Sadly, however, Rabbi Boteach has used Mr. Wiesel’s well-earned reputation as a bludgeon in an effort to shut down open conversation about important issues facing Israel and our Jewish community. Healthy, respectful debate on a matter of substance, never mind one as significant to our peoplehood as Jerusalem, has characterized our people throughout our long history. Indeed, our ancient Rabbis praised such disagreements conducted for the sake of heaven. Yet Rabbi Boteach has attempted to replace the thoughtful dialogue begun by Elie Wiesel with ad hominem attacks.

Like Mr. Wiesel and Rabbi Boteach, like our rabbis of old and Jews around the world, I cherish personal relationships with two Jerusalems: one a heavenly messianic image and the other a holy city in this world. Even as I pray for the former with all my heart, my head tells me that the Jerusalem of this world must be discussed rationally for the well-being of Israel’s future as the Jewish, democratic homeland of our people.

J Street should be praised, not demonized, for unabashedly insisting that Israel’s future will require a two-state solution, with Jewish Jerusalem remaining Israel’s capital, Arab neighborhoods becoming the capital of the Palestinian state, and guarantees for all religions to ensure access to their respective holy sites.

    San Antonio, Texas

...and by any other slogan

Sir, – Rather than being a “dumb move,” as Shmuley Boteach suggests, J Street’s attack on Elie Wiesel is typical of the group’s approach. J Street protests loudly when it is charged – perhaps not always fairly, but also not without justification – with not being truly “pro-Israel.” Yet it has no difficulty smearing the rest of the pro-Israel community, whether it is Wiesel or others, by proclaiming, “J Street is the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans.”

The unmistakable implication is that others may be “pro-Israel,” but they are not “pro-peace.” This is not just “PR suicide” as Boteach suggests, but national suicide, too, in a world all too eager to condemn Israel and its supporters.

J Street, which also supports a Palestinian state, might change its slogan to “The political home for pro-Palestine, pro-peace Americans.” As PR, this would work better for them than attacking Wiesel, and it would provoke less quarreling. There is no real competition on the Palestinian side to control the “pro-peace” designation.


European advice...

Sir, – The editorial “Uncomfortable connections” (May 7) correctly questions the validity and authority of JCall, a new left-wing group that has denounced Israeli settlements. Putting aside the fact that the PA negotiator has dismissed any attempt at talks, one has to wonder where these Jewish intellectuals of Europe are living.

Evidently they have not noticed that mainstream Israel has lost faith in Oslo and other peace initiatives. The democratically elected government represents the will of the people in Israel. So while over 1,000 Israeli citizens have been murdered due to Arab terror, Jewish intellectuals in Europe have more advice on how to bring peace. One wonders if these same Jewish intellectuals sent a similar letter to the Jordanian government over its brutal violation of the 1949 Armistice agreement with Israel, when it refused Jewish access to holy sites in Jerusalem, including the destruction of its 76 synagogues.

    Petah Tikva

...and our own civil society

Sir, – Upon reading David Newman’s and Sharon Pardo’s praise of the European Union’s contributions to civil society in Israel (“Doomed to succeed,” May 11), one would think that the Jewish people and the State of Israel lacked institutions of civil society before the Europeans rescued us from barbarism. This smacks of neo-colonialism.

Throughout its history, our people have maintained models of voluntarily-supported charitable and self-help organizations for a variety of needs. In Israel, this practice has continued and expanded to include non-Jewish citizens as well. To name a few examples: Yad Sarah, Alut (Israel’s Autism Society), Shekel (Supported Living within the Community), and One Family (for victims of terror). These, as well as soup kitchens, battered women’s shelters, job training programs and a plethora of volunteer organizations, are proof of Israel’s dynamic civil society. We do not need the assistance of the European community to teach us how to do things, with strings attached.


rael, fair and square

Sir, – As an American of both Christian and Jewish parentage, I would like to convey my thoughts on the Israeli-Arab conflict. Having looked at the entire history of this controversy, and with an open mind, I must say that the Israel has made every attempt to resolve all disputes with the Arabs and the international community. I have not seen that from the Arab side.

I see Israel as a democracy, with exactly the same principles that we hold so dear here in the US; yet the US and the rest of the world hold Israel to a different standard.

So to whom does this little piece of land belong? The Arabs have 21 states, I believe. The Jews have only one, a little sliver of land that no cared about until the Jews made Israel a nation. There were no attempts made to call this land a Palestinian state when the Jordanians controlled it. There are no Palestinians; they are Jordanians with their own state, Jordan, Trans-Jordan a land that was already divided. The Arabs living in what is now Israel got caught in the crossfire; they sided with the Arabs, thinking the Arabs would win, and they lost. That’s how war works. Someone wins, someone loses, but it was definitely more than fair.

    Tampa, Florida

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