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"We hold these truths to be self-evident" says the American Declaration of Independence and, indeed, what could be more obvious than the above statement? But is there anything "right," for example, about a child born with mental or physical handicaps? "Ah," you will doubtless counter, "One (the child) is often unavoidable, unless you can detect it and believe in abortions, whereas the other (Gaza operation) is the direct result of a human action."

In an ideal world there would be no suffering for innocents, but, alas, our world is not an ideal world. "Wrong," in my opinion, does not mean "unjustifiable." This is not mere sophistry but is at the heart of the present Gaza conflict. I chose the killing of a child as being the worst aspect of the ongoing war.

The suffering of so many civilians as a result of the Israeli attack is appalling and has had a devastating effect on Israel's image. No amount of counter argument and statistics will diminish the shock on the part of the neutral observer -- let alone anti-Israel and/or anti Semitic onlookers. How is, then, that I, as someone who loves children – as a father and grandfather, could have the temerity to justify such things? To be fair, I have no doubt that if I were to see the bodies at close hand, I would be deeply disturbed. Woe to anyone who could remain indifferent to such sights!

Nevertheless, as an Israeli, I am convinced that we had no reasonable alternative, and if you will bear with me, I'll try to explain.

Yesterday the U.N. Security Council voted almost unanimously for a resolution which in our opinion was one-sided. How many of those countries which voted for the resolution would have tolerated eight years of rocket attacks on their civilians from a neighboring country?

Imagine a sustained missile attack over eight years launched from the Mexican side of the border on San Diego, for example, or from Scotland on Carlisle. Yes, it's hard to imagine. That's why all the spectators find it so easy to take the moral high ground, express their horror and try to organize humanitarian aid --because it is not their innocent men, women and children who have been living under the threat of a mortar or Qassam that can destroy their lives if they can't get themselves and their children to the relative safety within 15-60 seconds, depending on where they live.

Let's be less imaginative: how many tears were shed after the Allies bombed German cities and killed hundreds of thousands of civilians as a result of the Nazi raids on Britain? They didn't cry then and I doubt if they feel remorse today. The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. The Hamas deliberately fire from urban centres to draw fire on their own towns to fuel the propaganda fire against Israel. They are good at it ! We have the choice of doing nothing or trying to stop them by force, while trying to minimize damage and death to non-combatants. We sometimes phone people's houses to warn them to evacuate before attacking a block of flats from which they are launching missiles, for example. We have no quarrel with the people of Gaza and have our own interest in avoiding harm done to them. A recent visitor to friends of mine in Israel asked innocently, "But can't you resolve these problems without bloodshed?" If only we could ! When we cause the deaths of innocents it is regrettable and no one I know rejoices at their deaths. On the other side of the border are those who deliberately set out to cause maximum suffering of military and civilians alike. It is their publicly declared aim to exterminate us --as is that of the President of Iran. How can you negotiate that?

Finally the question of proportionality. There is a clear disproportion in the number of deaths on both sides. This is not for lack of motivation, but because -- till now, their missiles are very basic, though Iran is doing its best to supply them with longer-range weapons. We cannot afford to exchange life for life; this is not our approach; we do not promise seventy virgins if you sacrifice yourself for Allah. We recently bombed the home of a Hamas leader, who preached that kind of hatred and who sent his own son on a suicide mission. With him died, I think, all of his family.

We believe in life. If only all that money poured into Gaza had been used constructively instead of arms purchases, the standard of living would have risen. For years thousands of workers would cross every day to work in Israel. I can remember some who worked in our home. It was a symbiotic relationship. We needed workers; they needed work. What went wrong? They started sending in suicide bombers, so we closed the border.

The old adage about truth being the first casualty in war is as true as ever. I have given you our side of the story, and it is natural for the outsider to treat it as such. There is always another side. It is not black and white, but I believe
that it is far whiter this side of the border. But all these arguments count for little against the evidence of one's eyes when looking at the war footage.

Nevertheless when people threaten to exterminate us, history has taught us to take the future threat seriously. That's why we're in Gaza.

Years ago we spoke to friends who live in a small English village about the threat of Moslem fundamentalists. "Not our Moslems!" was her reply. That was before 9/11 and the London bombers. It's true the overwhelming majority of Moslems are not terrorists, but the overwhelming majority of terrorists are also Moslems. Today it's us -- and tomorrow …?

Mike Cohen


Mike and Marianne Cohen live in Ra'anana. Mike Cohen is a veteran of the Yom Kippur war.

Original content is Copyright by the author 2009. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000652.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 19 Comments

In reply to Mr Isseroff: I am sorry if I have upset your sense of reality with my "fib" but it seems I am in some good company, all web sites claiming otherwise notwithstanding. I do sympathize that you have a world view to justify your existence and beliefs, but please do not try to bully bystanders if they have a different (and sometimes broader) view. IDF reports on their own activities are not necessarily equivalent to holy writ. Speaking of which, the coming one on the recent atrocities in Gaza will no doubt set an interesting example to us "fibbers".
If you find the word "atrocities" inappropriate, please provide me with a more apt one for 300 children killed and hundreds badly maimed.

Jon Georgsson, Sunday, January 25th


kill em all...who cares...there's another life of "eternal" bliss after each of ours, right? lets all die then! everyone kill yourselves..so we can each live in our own religions heaven or whatever. jews and pali's...you guys start first..hahahahaha

mark, Saturday, January 24th


Still 400 dead children is no justifiable price for the 8 yrs of rocket torment!!!

I support Israel on going in, but I would also have preferred losing 400 of my own soldiers than 400 innocent children.

You people have really damaged your reputation in the whole world!!

A neutral observer from India

AG, Monday, January 19th


1. "I still have problems with the concept of a Jewish nation which you refer to quite matter of factly, thus equating religion and nationality. (After all Icelandic is not a religion.)"

1. It is quite simple actually. Being Jewish is at he same time a religion and nationality (in the sense of a group sharing history, customs, language, etc.) Unlike Christianity and Islam, which are universal religions, the religion of Moses is viewed, since its beginning, as a religion given to a specific people, a.k.a the chosen people. Being chosen means having the extra laws, and the god is described as the god of our fathers. In that sense the Jews are more similar to tribes or ancient people, whose gods are connected to their identity as a people: Zeus-Greeks, Odin-Vikings.

In modern time the implication of this is that the majority of the Jews are secular, or at least not very religious, but still identify themselves as belonging to the Jewish people.

Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, but it is not religious in any meaningful sense. It is certainly not religious in the sense that Iran is, or other Muslim countries for that matter. The majority of Israelis are secular, quite some are practicing religious, but few are ultra-religious.

We don't have separation of church and state, but that's not unique. It doesn't mean a Muslim citizen is subject to Jewish laws, it means that when a Jew needs religious services they are provided by government payed Rabbis, and when a Muslim needs them, they are provided by government payed Muslim clerics. Many Israelis would prefer if it wasn't so, because they are secular, but this has nothing to do with the conflict.

Obviously, the religion of Judaism has a strong cultural-emotional connection to the Jewish nationality. That's not unique even for universal religions. You have Greek-Orthodox (the religious identity was what kept Greek identity during Turkish rule), Armenian Church, Ethiopian Church, Russian Orthodox Church, Tibetan Budhism, the role of Shinto and the Emperor in Japan, as well as the strong ties between Catholicism and the Irish, Italian and Spanish national identities respectively. Islam is certainly a major part of the national identity of many peoples and nations, including most Arab ones, except, I think, Lebanon. In Lebanon you have a barely stable truce between several groups whose identity is religious. In Iraq we see a conflict between two nationalities (Arab and Kurd) and between two religions (Suni and Shia), but both identities and conflicts seem equally real.

It would also be wise to point again to Pakistan/Bangladesh, a country formed one year before Israel to serve as a national home for Muslims, at great human cost. The connection of the Jewish people to each other is certainly more real historically than that of the various Muslims of the Indian subcontinent, and Israel is a hundred times more secular than Pakistan or Pakistanis, but only a fool would question the existence or reality of the people of Pakistan, or the legitimacy of Pakistan. Strangely people don't have the same reservations about Israel.

2. "I would like to point out a paradox raised in Mica's last posting. Gaza is not at war with Israel and Hamas cannot be so as they are not the Palestinian Authority."

The Hamas is the ruler of Gaza by winning the elections for the Palestinian authority, by taking over Gaza in a revolution, by being the de-facto rulers of Gaza, and by popular support. How then can we say that Gaza is not at war with Israel?

3. "is the same true of Israel where there is a conflict between the expressed aims of Zionism and those more moderate requirements of the orthodox Jews?"

I don't understand what you're saying. Zionism doesn't have expressed aims. The aim of Zionism is the establishment of the state of Israel. So the aims of Zionism is to keep Israel existing. How to do that, and what kind of state it should be, the views differ greatly. The Zionists who are socialist and capitalist, liberal and conservative, who support settlements and who support withdrawal, religious and secular. Orthodox Jews don't have requirements, moderate or otherwise. As individuals they may have their own opinions as to Israel and Zionism. As a broad generalization it can be said that they would like to see Israel more religious than it is now, and that religious Jews tend to lean to the right politically. Ultra-Orthodox Jews are unhappy with the secular nature of Israel. They sometimes do and sometimes don't identify as Zionists. They opposed Zionism prior to Israel's foundation, but today only a not large sub-section of them are hostile toward Israel or Zionism. The rest tend to lean to the right. Generally their aim is to promote the interests of their sector as far as budgets are concerned.

4. "I hope there will be peace but at the present time I see it receding rapidly on the wrong side of the horizon. Surely that cannot be the intention of either side."

It is the intention of the Hamas to make peace impossible. It is the intention of Israeli settlers and to a lesser degree the Israeli right, to oppose peace that involves withdrawal from the West Bank or the Golan heights. Although, even during the withdrawal from Gaza, the settlers did not become violent against the Israeli government. I don't know if this will hold if another withdrawal is tried (which is unlikely at present).

5. "Someone, somewhere, has to put together a map of where those in the conflict wish to be in ten, twenty and thirty years time as a starting point for negotiation so that we all know who is doing what and why."

Like I said, the Hamas doesn't want the conflict to end unless its with Israel gone. About the other Palestinians, I'm not sure. There are times where they talk about the two state solution, but I don't know if they are sincere or use it as a way to undermine Israel. There are other times when they talk about the Right of Return, which invalidates the two state solution. But it might just be a bargaining tactic. The current center left government in Israel ran on a platform of the two state solution and withdrawal from the West Bank. I don't know if they support a full 100% withdrawal from the West Bank (like in Gaza), or just withdrawal from 95% or 90%. These and other issues can cause a peace process to fail even if both negotiating sides are for a two state solution. In any case, it is very likely that the results of the withdrawal from Gaza and from Lebanon will cause more Israelis to shift their votes to right wing parties, who do not support a Palestinian State next to Israel. Although we've seen right wing prime ministers shift to the center more than once, so that's a glimmer of hope, but a small one.

6. "after an arranged lull in rocket attacks of 5 months, Israel launched an unprovoked attack into Gaza on November 4th 2008 killing 8 Gaza citizens. Reason: It suspected criminal activity was being planned!"

Not criminal activity. An activity by the Hamas government whose purpose was to enter Israel via tunnel and kidnap an another Israel soldier (as they did before). The people killed in the Israeli attack were, I believe, the Hamas people doing the digging, not civilians.

"Talking about X and Y's: Would any state Y accept this kind of attack by state X? (You and I have already established that Gaza is independent.)"

No, which is why Israel tried to prevent it before the soldiers in Israel were attacked.

"After the attack Hamas resumed the rocket attacks."

If Israel is attacked by Hamas and Israel responds it is considered disproportionate. Should Hamas's actions be judged by the same terms.

You also forgot to say that the ceasefire was coming to an end, and the Hamas stated that it was not going to continue it.

Also, you have to ask yourself, if the Hamas, who is at war with Israel, gets a ceasefire from it by threatening rocket fire on Israel, what will be the result of this achievement on their part? Won't hey try to extort other concessions in the same way, like a ceasefire in the West Bank that will enable their operatives to topple the Fatah there and establish missiles there too? Gaza is an independent entity, but it is an independent entity at war with Israel. We have to take that into consideration too.

Micha, Wednesday, January 14th


Mr Jon Georgsson,

IDF discovered that Hamas were digging a tunnel into Israel, preparatory to kidnapping Israeli soldiers. That is why they initiated an operation to seal the tunnel, and they were attacked by Hamas during the operation. There was no unprovoked attack. You can find this information at dozens of Web sites. Therefore there is no excuse for the fib you invented.
You seem intent on not only being ignorant but spreading as much disinformation as possible.
In future, check your information. before posting here.
Please stop posting invented "facts" here as it is a chore for everyone to reply to you. We don't want to serve as a platform for spreading lies. Use Electronic Intifada or Stormfront Web site for spreading lies. That is why such sites were created.

Ami Isseroff, Wednesday, January 14th


Having had MY false assumptions so much pointed out in previous postings I feel obliged to mention a fact that I was made aware of that seems to me to render your reasoning at best doubtful and at worst an attempt to justify the unjustifiable: After an arranged lull in rocket attacks of 5 months, Israel launched an unprovoked attack into Gaza on November 4th 2008 killing 8 Gaza citizens. Reason: It suspected criminal activity was being planned! Talking about X and Y's: Would any state Y accept this kind of attack by state X? (You and I have already established that Gaza is independent.) After the attack Hamas resumed the rocket attacks. These are now being used to justify all the dead and mutilated children.

Jon Georgsson, Wednesday, January 14th


It is unanimous. Every single person I have heard or read justifying this atrocious aggression has used the inane analogy: what if region X fired rockets upon region Y? What would Y do? Others here have already explained why this is completely baseless. SHAME ON ISRAEL!

Goliath, Tuesday, January 13th


Whilst I can empathise with much of the exasperation felt and expressed in these comments I would like to point out a paradox raised in Mica's last posting. Gaza is not at war with Israel and Hamas cannot be so as they are not the Palestinian Authority.

As much as the Palestinian democratic process is in chaos is the same true of Israel where there is a conflict between the expressed aims of Zionism and those more moderate requirements of the orthodox Jews? Someone, somewhere, has to put together a map of where those in the conflict wish to be in ten, twenty and thirty years time as a starting point for negotiation so that we all know who is doing what and why.

I hope there will be peace but at the present time I see it receding rapidly on the wrong side of the horizon. Surely that cannot be the intention of either side.

freedom_of_speech, Monday, January 12th


I agree with Micha. Only one thing, the majority of basque nationalism rejects ETA. Moreover, ETA has also killed democratic Basque nationalists (moderate and democratic nationalists has govern the Basque autonomy since 1979).

Miguel, Monday, January 12th


Thank you for your responses. I think I understand your perspective a lot better and I can certainly sympathize with the situation you find yourself in. I will let it rest at this, but I still have problems with the concept of a Jewish nation which you refer to quite matter of factly, thus equating religion and nationality. (After all Icelandic is not a religion.) Would you like to comment on that?

Jon Georgsson, Monday, January 12th


1. "Israel has had as much control over Gaza as it wanted"

False. Until 1994 Gaza was under the complete control of the Israeli army police. The Palestinians ability to gain weapons. training, build bunkers, was limited, while the ability of the Israeli security forces to search, arrest, build roadblocks, was absolute. Since 2005 Israel withdrew completely from Gaza. The Hamas was able to obtain large quantity of arms, training, build bunkers.. The 20,000 strong Hamas militia is in complete control of Gaza. In effect Gaza became a citadel occupied by a Palestinian army, even if one using guerrilla tactics. So, whereas in the past Israel, like Spain today, could simply enter Gaza and deal with whatever terrorists it faced as it would any other criminals, now in order to stop the militia shelling its towns it must approach the problem as a military problem, i.e. either reconquer Gaza or by defeating the Hamas militia sufficiently in order to secure a good ceasefire. The is war, and has no relation whatsoever to the Basque country.

2. "the CIA World Factbook updated 18 Dec 2008 states otherwise:
„West Bank and Gaza Strip are Israeli-occupied with current status subject to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement - permanent status to be determined though further negotiation;“"

False or at least half true. The legal status of the Gaza strip is very muddy. The facts on the other hand are not. Between 1967-1994 Gaza was under Israeli Occupation. Between 1994-2005 part of the Gaza strip was handed to the rule of the Palestinian Authority (with its own armed forces), which was supposed to lead to a Palestinian State, while Israel retained control of the Israeli settlements. In 2005 Israel removed the Settlements and withdrew completely from Gaza, which was now completely under the rule of the government of the Palestinian authority. In 2006 the Palestnians elected a Hamas government and later that year the Hamas militia defeated the military forces of the Palestinian authority and Fatah, and took over Gaza. Since then there has been a separate Palestinian government in Gaza and in the West Bank.

3. "according to B'Tselem: (After the disengagement) "Israel continued to control the air and sea space, movement between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (also via neighboring countries), the population registry, family unification, and the crossing of goods to and from Gaza. Also, residents of the Gaza Strip rely solely on Israel for its supply of fuel, electricity, and gas." Independent entity indeed!"

Again half truths.

Onne way to get between Gaza and the West Bank is trough Israel. Since Gaza is currently controlled by an entity that is at war with Israel, and who wishes to take over the West Bank as it did Gaza, it is no surprise that Israel does not allow passage through its territory to Gazans. Egypt, and not Israel, controls its border with Gaza. Israel does not control the population registry. Goods and fuel can come into Gaza from Egypt and Israel. They only come from Israel despite the fact that Gaza is at war with Israel. How strange. Some of the electricity in Gza comes from stations inside Gaza, some from an Israel station in one of the cities that Hamas has been firing missiles on. Israel did not stop electricity to Gaza. The reality is that good also come to Gaza through tunnels.
Gaza is certainly independent in that it is ruled and policed by a government and military force which are not Israel. The completely independent policy of this government is to wage war against Israel.

3. "NATO bombed Serbia because it was trying to expel people of a different religion that occupied land that many Serbs regard to be historically theirs

Palestinians are not citizens of Israel, Israel is not trying to expel them, Israel withdrew from Gaza despite historical connection.
During the war in Kosovo NATO used air strikes for 3 months in order to force the much weaker Serbians to capitulate. During these attacks civilians were killed. Serbia was not at war with any NATO country, did not attack NATO towns, did not kidnap NATO soldiers, and did not call for the destruction of any member of NATO.

(there was no question of Kosovo leaving Serbia at the time).

I don't think that's true as far as the Kosovars were concerned, but I don't feel comfortable talking about a conflict I don't really understand. But that's just me.

"(my daughter-in-law happens to be Serbian and she lectures me!)."

You can tell your Daughter in Law that if Israel could get peace by withdrawing from a small part of its country, despite it being a site of a historical battle (in 1453?), and stopping ruling a minority that doesn't like us, I would consider us lucky. But our enemies want Israel to stop existing completely.

4. "As to your justification for the present killings in Gaza: History did not begin with rockets from Gaza. To remind: Sderot stands in the farm lands of a former village named Najd."

Should the people of Sderot be condemned for death or a life of terror for history? Are other countries going to let their people be sacrificed in order to repay for history? If so then let the line form. First kill the Europeans for their sins of colonizations, then the countries of America and Australia for the sins against the Indians and aborigines. Then lets dismantle Pakistan and India for the events of 1947. And then Germany and Japan, Russia etc. And then you can kill the people of Sderot because Jews wanted to build their own state in their ancient homeland, in a small part of the Middle East in part of Palestine, and they fought back when the Palestinians attacked them.

5. "I belong to a generation that had for the state of Israel unquestioning admiration (not least after the Yom Kippur war) and sympathy (not least because of the horrors of the Holocaust, may God's peace be upon the victims). But now Israel is benefiting less and less of the sympathy"

You seem to belong to a generation that gives its sympathy to whoever seems the victim in a very simplistic manner without trying to understand the complexity of things or actually staking anything.
I apologize that Jews stopped being victims, it really worked well for us.

6. "in our main daily newspaper the Palestinians are always "warlike"

Newspapers seem to prefer to tell stories with heroes and villains than news. But then, the Hamas conducts big rallies in which many people march with guns and masks, and reenact suicide bombings. So I can understand the mistake.

7. "More and more people I talk to (and there is a lot of interest) have begun to interpret Israel's more and more extreme actions and reactions in light of its foundation in Zionism and even to be convinced by those who claim it is a cleverly disguised religious state. Is Israel indeed a Jewish state?"

In the same sense that Iceland is an Icelandic state.

8. "Your ambassador to Iceland stated in a recent interview that it is not, yet anti-Israeli comments are usually condemned as being at the same time anti-Semitic."

Where? There are times when criticism of Israel is justified, there are times when it is not, there are times when it is motivated by blind hatred of Israel, there are times when it is antisemitic outright.

If I said I don't hate you for being Christian or white but I do hate you for being Icelandic would that be OK?

10. "There is talk of the „Jewish people“ while I have heard of the Christian or Muslim people! It all seems a bit 19th century romantic and Europe and not least its Jewish population learned to its appalling cost that some of those romantic ideas turned out to be deadly."

If having a national identity and nation states in 19th century romanticism then let all nation states be dismantles: Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Scotland, Germany, etc. But national identity is as part of life now as it was in the 19th century. No people are willing to give up their national identity, and you have groups insisting on their own. Look at Belgium, look at Czechoslovakia, look at Spain.

What Jews learned is that even if his their national identity and even if they adopted the national identities of European countries, it will not save their lives. They also learned that Europeans are fickle.

11. "If you look to Northern-Ireland with its imposed dominant Protestant population more than 300 years ago and to the troubles that caused (a mild example), you must wonder what the future holds in store for you in Israel/Palestine."

The people of Northern Ireland don't have a choice but l;ive in a binational state despite all the troubles between them. We are trying to avoid the bad idea of binationalism that doesn't seem to be working anywhere by dividing the land of Palestinian-Israel between the Arab nationality and the Jewish nationality. We don't want to be another Bosnia, another Rwanda, another Iraq or Lebanon. We don't even want to be Belgium.

12. "A settler coming into already populated new lands has two basic choices: to live peacefully alongside the natives (as Jews seem to have done there before 1948 although mixed marriages were probably very rare)

False. The Arabs started fighting Jews in Palestine as early as 1921.

Intermarriage is bullshit. Jews have no desire to give up our own national identity anymore than the Arabs. Why is it so easy to respect the national identity of Basques, Arabs, Tibetans and Irish, but not of Jews?

13. "or if powerful enough to eradicate or marginalize them socially and geographically (cf. colonial Americas and Australia)."

Had Australia been founded on one corner of the continent while leaving the rest to the natives, and if America haad remained with just 13 colonies and not expanded west, then your analogy would have been relevant. As it happens, Jews are probably rare group in always wanting to live in peace with the natives, never seeking to convert or assimilate or marginalize them or expand further.

14. Do you ever wonder what course you are on? What is your vision for the future in say a 100 years time?"

A division of Israel/Palestine into an Jewish-Israeli and Arab-Palestinian states is the only acceptable solution in the next century. After that we can talk about confederacies or what not.

15. "You seem to regard your methods justifiable because they happen to an "independent entity"."

People such as myself, who opposed the occupation of Gaza, and supported the removal of the settlements, owe the people of Israel the promise that the area we withdrew from will not become a base for attacks into Israel, and that if they did, then Israel will be able to defend itself even if the attacking army uses Guerrilla tactics. You see, unlike others we cannot run away from battles that are difficult and then live comfortably in Europe or the US.

Our methods are the ones a country uses when attacked by another country. They are only unique in the effort to avoid civilian deaths.

16. "We live in age of images. Will Israel ever live down the endless enduring images of dismembered and dead children and women?"

Not as easily as Americans, Europeans and Russians did.

17. "Can you think of no other way to survive?"

Unfortunately, for there to be a chance for peace in our region, the Arabs in Palestine and elsewhere must be certain that wars, even guerrilla wars, won't work to eliminate Israel, and Israelis must believe that letting the Palestinians have their own national aspirations in their own state next to Israel would not jeopardize their lives.

Micha, Monday, January 12th


Thanks for taking the time to correct me on ETA. Since it began in the 60's ETA has killed over 800 people, while during the same time around double that number of Israeli civilians have been killed in attacks by various Palestinian groups. These sad figures are not so different though. I mentioned ETA as an example of how a deadly terrorist organization embedded in a civilian population has been dealt with without resorting to overly heavy-handed and deadly measures. Israel has had as much control over Gaza as it wanted and I think the proportion of Basque dead versus Palestinian dead during the same period throws some light on the different attitudes at play here. You seem to regard your methods justifiable because they happen to an "independent entity".

As to Gaza being an "independent entity", the CIA World Factbook updated 18 Dec 2008 states otherwise:
„West Bank and Gaza Strip are Israeli-occupied with current status subject to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement - permanent status to be determined through further negotiation;“
And according to B'Tselem: (After the disengagement) "Israel continued to control the air and sea space, movement between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (also via neighboring countries), the population registry, family unification, and the crossing of goods to and from Gaza. Also, residents of the Gaza Strip rely solely on Israel for its supply of fuel, electricity, and gas." Independent entity indeed!

NATO bombed Serbia because it was trying to expel people of a different religion that occupied land that many Serbs regard to be historically theirs (there was no question of Kosovo leaving Serbia at the time). Do you really see no parallel between the two situations? Luckily for you, Israel has better allies in the West than the poor Serbs (my daughter-in-law happens to be Serbian and she lectures me!).

As to your justification for the present killings in Gaza: History did not begin with rockets from Gaza. To remind: Sderot stands in the farm lands of a former village named Najd.

I belong to a generation that had for the state of Israel unquestioning admiration (not least after the Yom Kippur war) and sympathy (not least because of the horrors of the Holocaust, may God's peace be upon the victims). But now Israel is benefiting less and less of the sympathy (despite a powerful pro-Israeli slant in most media coverage - in our main daily newspaper the Palestinians are always "warlike"). More and more people I talk to (and there is a lot of interest) have begun to interpret Israel's more and more extreme actions and reactions in light of its foundation in Zionism and even to be convinced by those who claim it is a cleverly disguised religious state. Is Israel indeed a Jewish state? Your ambassador to Iceland stated in a recent interview that it is not, yet anti-Israeli comments are usually condemned as being at the same time anti-Semitic. There is talk of the „Jewish people“ while I have heard of the Christian or Muslim people! It all seems a bit 19th century romantic and Europe and not least its Jewish population learned to its appalling cost that some of those romantic ideas turned out to be deadly.

If you look to Northern-Ireland with its imposed dominant Protestant population more than 300 years ago and to the troubles that caused (a mild example), you must wonder what the future holds in store for you in Israel/Palestine. A settler coming into already populated new lands has two basic choices: to live peacefully alongside the natives (as Jews seem to have done there before 1948 although mixed marriages were probably very rare) or if powerful enough to eradicate or marginalize them socially and geographically (cf. colonial Americas and Australia). Do you ever wonder what course you are on? What is your vision for the future in say a 100 years time?

We live in age of images. Will Israel ever live down the endless enduring images of dismembered and dead children and women? Can you think of no other way to survive?

Again thank you for the opportunity for exchange.

Jon Georgsson, Iceland

Jon Georgsson, Monday, January 12th


I find your comments about the Allied forces actions in bombing Axis cities offensive especially in trying to compare with Israel's struggles with the Palestinian people.

There is no comparison between WW2 and Gaza. Firstly there is no war. But, most importantly, the conflict could be avoided by some contrition on both sides, some compromises and some concessions in the interests of peace. The battle over the State of Israel will continue unless everyone begins to build trust and respect in the area. This generation of Israeli's may be found wanting by their grandchildren if there is still the same level of hatred as there is now.

cotton socks, Monday, January 12th


Many years ago, Golda Meyer said that she could forgive Arabs for killing Jewish children, but that she could not forgive the Arabs for their having forced her (as a cabinet member) to make the decision to kill Arab children.

Mark, Sunday, January 11th


Mr. Georgsson,

1) The Basque country is a sovereign part of Spain, controlled by Spain's army and police. Gaza is an independent entity currently controlled by the Hamas.

2) ETA is a small terrorist organization operating inside Spain under Spamish laws. Hamas is a 20,000 militia armed with Iranian weapons that was first elected by the people of Gaza and then established its rule militarily in Gaza.

3) Spain has not given up its sovereignty of the Basque country. The war in Kosovo started because Serbia not only did not want to give-up its control of Kosovo, but tried to expel the Muslim Kosovars from the area. Conversely, Israel withdrew its army and expleled its own civilian settlers from Gaza.

4) While ETA seeks independence for the Basque country only, the Hamas stated goal is to wage war against Israel until it stopped to exist.

5) Since Spain gave the Basques some Autonomy Spain had enjoyed peace. Since Israel withdrew from Gaza completely, Gazans have been firing missiles on a daily basis into Israel, and kidnapped an Israeli soldier inside Israel.

6) It is not true that Israel suffered less casualties then Spain from the Hamas. the Hamas has been responsible for many suicide bombings since the 90's causing the deaths of many hundreds of people if not more (I don't have the numbers).

So, while your comments are welcome they are based on faulty assumptions.

Micha, Sunday, January 11th


If Hamas is a terrorist organization, why does Israel not use methods designed to root out the terrorists? The indiscriminate methods used in this attack seems to suggest that Israel views all Gaza residents as terrorists or at worst regards Palestinians as expendable. I do not see the government of Spain bombing and shelling the Basque country, even though Spain has suffered more casualties from the ETA terrorist campaign than Israel has at the hands of Hamas. I certainly hope NATO never goes and bombs Tel Aviv the way it did Belgrade. Thank you for the opportunity to comment. Jon Georgsson, Iceland.

Jon Georgsson, Sunday, January 11th


The problem with history Mike is that you can always find something somewhere that appears to justify what you do. Of course the real wisdom of history is how things begin and how, if we can ever fix a point where peace seriously evolves, they end. You talk of Hamas as an identity, as if they are IDF soldiers, easily recognisable and their skins easily penetrable by bullets. But anger is a transient emotion. Hatred is a deep seated and illogical psychosis that festers around fear. Is it Israel that is angry and Hamas locked in hatred - or is it the other way around? Or are both sides equally psychotic. It occurs to me that the IDF are quite deliberate in their actions and so there is little anger present and how do they distinguish between the Hamas activist and the Hamas follower or supporter? How does Hamas distinguish between the peace loving Israeli and the Zionist who wants all Palestinians driven into the deserts?

How much do ordinary people in Israel seriously believe of a threat to their existence from the Arab? How many hate the Arab? Would they give up Israel if it meant they could live out their days in a truly peaceful mixed state?

freedom_of_speech, Sunday, January 11th


Hi Mike,

I completelly disagree with you, why do these guys shoot rockets?! Have you wondered!? I could never think of Mexico shooting usa or scottland doing it to england, as none of them are hostile with the other or invaded their territories where they lived for more than 20 generations, as someone did in 1947 or 1968.

I am sorry my friend but the history is a story and you can not start on it where it justifies something for you... So no, lets talk about years and years ago, not eight, lets talk about how you treat people around since then.

The only fact of being a human and thinking of holding a weapon to kill, to private a person of its life, is disgusting, you have no right, you can not do it, not even pretending to defend your land.

But yes, my friend as you said, you are united, maybe because of what the germans did or maybe because of all what happened the time even before, and you think you are preventing a future attack from gaza, but i see that all what you are doing, is crafting the islamic world together, and i am not up to a third world war so please stop oppressing and respect the palestinians, if they elected Hamas which is also a party that Isral instigated so it could fight Yaser Arafat from inside, now you should assume the consecuences.

Thank you for your understaning. Again, please stop killing people.

Santiago, Sunday, January 11th


PEACE between Israel and Gaza !

café paris, Saturday, January 10th


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