May 13: Asymmetric warfare

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

letters 88 NICE (photo credit: )
letters 88 NICE
(photo credit: )
Asymmetric warfare
Sir,– OC Air Force Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan says that “we must be able toonly strike terrorist targets while taking care not to strikenoncombatants” (“IAF commander says deterrence effective – for now,”May 12).
His statement definitely demonstrates the highethical level of IDF behavior. During Operation Cast Lead, that sameno-targeting-civilians motto was one of the army’s key guidelines. Butthe Goldstone Report and world public opinion did not take this pointinto consideration.
Would it not be wiser to state that “if theytarget our civilians, we’ll answer by targeting their civilians”?Because in the context of asymmetric warfare, only a very naïve andunrealistic approach could label as “noncombatants” innocent-lookingvillagers who, in Lebanon and elsewhere, tolerate long-range weapons intheir immediate neighborhoods, if not in their basements or garages.
Inaddition, attempts have been made, following the last Gaza war, tochange the laws of war in a way that would question – and possiblyerase – the differences between civilians and non-civilians. Why isn’tthat topic back on the table? Haven’t we enough international lawyersto address the issue?
J Street, by the numbers...
Sir,– When it comes to counting the numbers, Rabbi Boteach is wrong, andJeremy Ben-Ami of J Street is right (“Another dumb move by J Street,”May 11).
While it is fair to argue that insulting Eli Wieselmight not make friends and influence Jews, opposing Israel is a winningstrategy. Only the 15 percent of the Jewish population who are Orthodoxare solidly pro-Israel; the rest are at best ambivalent and at worstout-and-out hostile. Here in the US, most Jewish-oriented publicationshave begun to add anti-Israel articles to the usual pro-Israel mix, soeditors are also aware of the numbers.
    ABE KRIEGER     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 asa bludgeon in an effort to shut down open conversation about importantissues facing Israel and our Jewish community. Healthy, respectfuldebate on a matter of substance, never mind one as significant to ourpeoplehood as Jerusalem, has characterized our people throughout ourlong history. Indeed, our ancient Rabbis praised such disagreementsconducted for the sake of heaven. Yet Rabbi Boteach has attempted toreplace the thoughtful dialogue begun by Elie Wiesel with ad hominemattacks.
Like Mr. Wiesel and Rabbi Boteach, like our rabbis ofold and Jews around the world, I cherish personal relationships withtwo Jerusalems: one a heavenly messianic image and the other a holycity in this world. Even as I pray for the former with all my heart, myhead tells me that the Jerusalem of this world must be discussedrationally 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 willrequire a two-state solution, with Jewish Jerusalem remaining Israel’scapital, Arab neighborhoods becoming the capital of the Palestinianstate, and guarantees for all religions to ensure access to theirrespective holy sites.
    RABBI BARRY BLOCK    San Antonio, Texas
...and by any other slogan
Sir,– Rather than being a “dumb move,” as Shmuley Boteach suggests, JStreet’s attack on Elie Wiesel is typical of the group’s approach. JStreet 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 thepolitical home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans.”
Theunmistakable implication is that others may be “pro-Israel,” but theyare not “pro-peace.” This is not just “PR suicide” as Boteach suggests,but national suicide, too, in a world all too eager to condemn Israeland its supporters.
J Street, which also supports a Palestinianstate, might change its slogan to “The political home forpro-Palestine, pro-peace Americans.” As PR, this would work better forthem than attacking Wiesel, and it would provoke less quarreling. Thereis no real competition on the Palestinian side to control the“pro-peace” designation.
    JOHN R. COHN    Philadelphia

European advice...
Sir,– The editorial “Uncomfortable connections” (May 7) correctly questionsthe validity and authority of JCall, a new left-wing group that hasdenounced Israeli settlements. Putting aside the fact that the PAnegotiator has dismissed any attempt at talks, one has to wonder wherethese Jewish intellectuals of Europe are living.
Evidently theyhave not noticed that mainstream Israel has lost faith in Oslo andother peace initiatives. The democratically elected governmentrepresents the will of the people in Israel. So while over 1,000Israeli citizens have been murdered due to Arab terror, Jewishintellectuals in Europe have more advice on how to bring peace. Onewonders if these same Jewish intellectuals sent a similar letter to theJordanian government over its brutal violation of the 1949 Armisticeagreement with Israel, when it refused Jewish access to holy sites inJerusalem, including the destruction of its 76 synagogues.
    MATTIAS ROTENBERG     Petah Tikva

...and our own civil society
Sir,– Upon reading David Newman’s and Sharon Pardo’s praise of the EuropeanUnion’s contributions to civil society in Israel (“Doomed to succeed,”May 11), one would think that the Jewish people and the State of Israellacked institutions of civil society before the Europeans rescued usfrom barbarism. This smacks of neo-colonialism.
Throughout itshistory, our people have maintained models of voluntarily-supportedcharitable and self-help organizations for a variety of needs. InIsrael, this practice has continued and expanded to include non-Jewishcitizens as well. To name a few examples: Yad Sarah, Alut (Israel’sAutism Society), Shekel (Supported Living within the Community), andOne Family (for victims of terror). These, as well as soup kitchens,battered women’s shelters, job training programs and a plethora ofvolunteer organizations, are proof of Israel’s dynamic civil society.We do not need the assistance of the European community to teach us howto do things, with strings attached.
    RIVKAH FISHMAN     Jerusalem

rael, fair and square
Sir,– As an American of both Christian and Jewish parentage, I would liketo convey my thoughts on the Israeli-Arab conflict. Having looked atthe entire history of this controversy, and with an open mind, I mustsay that the Israel has made every attempt to resolve all disputes withthe Arabs and the international community. I have not seen that fromthe Arab side.
I see Israel as a democracy, with exactly thesame principles that we hold so dear here in the US; yet the US and therest of the world hold Israel to a different standard.
So towhom does this little piece of land belong? The Arabs have 21 states, Ibelieve. The Jews have only one, a little sliver of land that no caredabout until the Jews made Israel a nation. There were no attempts madeto call this land a Palestinian state when the Jordanians controlledit. There are no Palestinians; they are Jordanians with their ownstate, Jordan, Trans-Jordan a land that was already divided. The Arabsliving in what is now Israel got caught in the crossfire; they sidedwith the Arabs, thinking the Arabs would win, and they lost. That’s howwar works. Someone wins, someone loses, but it was definitely more thanfair.

    Tampa, Florida