August 4: Oh, the insanity

We supply electricity and water to the terrorists of Gaza and we are continually being bombarded by Kassam and Grad rockets.

Oh, the insanity
Sir, – Regarding “When a rocket hits a child therapy center” (First person, August 2), we Israelis and our government must be insane. We supply electricity and water to the terrorists of Gaza and we are continually being bombarded by Kassam and Grad rockets. No matter what we do, we are condemned by the world.
If the UN wants humanitarian aid to flow to Gaza, as we are allowing to take place now, let it provide these needs through the border with Egypt. We should have stopped providing aid to Gaza five years ago when we pulled our troops out and destroyed the homes in Gush Katif.
Why is Gaza our responsibility?
Oh, the stupidity
Sir, – Regarding “Water aerators – coming to your home soon” (August 2), we are informed that the new aerators “conserve a third of the water that goes through them....”
Wonderful! That may help compensate for the water wasted by public fountains, as pictured beneath the article.
Is it me who’s stupid?
Wallenberg and the kids
Sir, – Today, August 4, we mark the birthday of Raoul Wallenberg, the great and tragic Holocaust rescuer, credited with saving as many as 100,000 Hungarian Jews.
Wallenberg risked his life many times to pluck Jews off trains bound for Auschwitz. Some of them still live among us in Israel.
If he were here today, I feel sure that he would do everything in his power to prevent the government – which made an inhumane, heartless and manifestly un-Jewish decision – from expelling the children of foreign workers (“Israel decides to deport 400 children of foreign workers,” August 2).
They’re confused enough
Sir, – An American Jewish man, wearing a tallit and a kippa, marries a gentile woman under a chuppa on Shabbat in a ceremony co-conducted by a Reform rabbi and a Methodist minister (“A rabbi and a reverend,” August 2). These are the people who want a say on religion in Israel?
Best of luck, Sir
Tom Sir, – I like reading “Editor’s notes” on Fridays. Being a UK citizen, I felt particularly obliged to read the interview with the outgoing British ambassador, Sir Tom Phillips (“Drifting away from Israel,” July 30).
I have never had the pleasure of meeting him, but the impression is of a pleasant gentleman.
However, since he is obligated to the British Foreign Office, whose anti-Jewish stance predates modern Israel, I was not surprised to read the usual mantras like “conquered territories,” “blockade of Gaza,” “Palestinian rights” and, of course, “the settlements.”
I wish Sir Tom good luck. I am sure he will find the British Foreign Office’s pro-Arab policies easier to cope with in Saudi Arabia than among those pesky Jews who insist on their national rights after 2,000 years.
No comparison
Sir, – Larry Derfner (“One man’s terrorist...,” July 28) argues that anyone who condemns Palestinian terror (e.g., the 1978 Coastal Road massacre), must also condemn actions by the Jewish underground (e.g., the 1946 King David Hotel bombing).
Unfortunately, he totally ignores a critical point: Not all violence is terrorism.
Terrorism is the threat or use of violence against civilians in order to engender fear in the general population. The Coastal Road massacre, directed against a purely civilian target with no conceivable military value, exemplifies terrorism. By launching thousands of rockets toward Israeli towns with no strategic or military significance, Hamas pursues a campaign of unmitigated terror.
Attacks on legitimate military targets are not terrorism, even if they result in unintended civilian casualties. The King David Hotel housed the British military command and its Criminal Investigation Division. The purpose of the attack was to neither kill civilians nor cause generalized fear. The aim was to destroy the part of the hotel containing intelligence records about Jewish underground organizations. While the Irgun could not have hoped to stand toe-to-toe against the British army, its attack on the hotel was an effort to undermine Britain’s military capabilities.
Jewish tit-for-tat bombing of Arab markets and other public places was terrorism, but blowing up bridges and railroad tracks certainly was not. On the Palestinian side, kidnapping Gilad Schalit was an act of war, and his subsequent horrendous treatment violates the fundamental rules of war. But this is not terrorism.
By asserting that one must condemn all violence equally or else “you have no principles at all,” Derfner strips the term “terrorism” of all meaning and consequence.
Worse, he negates modern rules of war that limit the types and amounts of weapons that may be used in a conflict.
EFRAIM A. COHENZichron Ya’akov The writer is a fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism.
Sir, – Larry Derfner is way off base. First of all, Menachem Begin was fighting British soldiers who were hanging Jews fighting for their country. Second, he did not target civilians deliberately, which is the open polity of Arab suicide bombers.
Third, Begin was fighting to establish a Jewish state and save Jews.
If you want, you can claim that Samson, in pulling down the Philistine temple, was a suicide terrorist. Would Derfner not give him the right to avenge his blinding and humiliation?
Sir, – In relating to an interview with Sarah Agassi, the Irgun fighter who participated in the 1946 King David Hotel operation, Larry Derfner seeks to draw a parallel to local Arab terror.
Derfner proposes an equivalency standard: Their violence today is the same as Jewish violence then.
To honor, for example, Menachem Begin would in his eyes be “glorifying terror,” since that is what we call it when the Palestinian Authority honors its “heroes.”
We Israelis, Derfner asserts, are acting at the height of hypocrisy, and he writes that “if you justify or even ‘understand’ Begin’s and [Yitzhak] Shamir’s violence, you also have to justify or at least understand the violence of Muhammad Oudeh and Dalal Mughrabi.” Moreover, if we do not condemn the Irgun and Lehi violence, he claims, “then [we] have no principles at all.”
Whereas in the war for liberation against the British Mandatory regime both the Irgun and Lehi avoided civilian casualties to the fullest extent possible, Arab terror – as it does today – exclusively targeted civilians.
Whereas the British refused to negotiate, Israel has been negotiating for the past 43 years, to no avail. Whereas Begin, as Irgun commander, always had his fighters warn the British about upcoming actions, the Arabs never do. As these and other elements make clear, there is no comparison.
One more point: The Hagana as well as the Palmach also engaged in violence similar to that of the Irgun and Lehi. The loss of lives in such actions was regrettable, but in the war for the establishment of Israel and its liberation from the Mandatory regime, exceptions to the rule occurred. Derfner, however, avoids any mention of this violence perpetrated by the Zionist Left. Was that a personal prejudice?
Head, Menachem Begin Heritage Center
Larry Derfner notes: As I wrote, the Etzel planted bombs in Arab markets and other public places, killing scores of civilians. It gave no warnings. Also, as everyone knows, Arab terrorists strike at both military and civilian targets.