The following letters were sent in response to two editorials by the Reformer "Is it apartheid," July 17, and "Blood on our hands," Aug. 2-3. Because the letters came from outside of our printed readership area, we have chosen to post the letters on our website.

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Editor of the Reformer:

You say that Hamas’ goal of destroying Israel and murdering Jews is just "heated rhetoric." I and millions of people would love to believe that! There certainly is a lot of heated hate speech by Muslim clerics exhorting their followers to exterminate Jews. Please share with us how the faithful know that the imams are just impassioned speakers who don’t literally mean it. I also wonder how you know that preschoolers who are told on TV to "shoot Jews" can perceive that the grown-ups are not really serious.

Hamas used building supplies, electricity, time, and expertise to build tunnels to attack and kidnap Israelis, not to make speeches. For years, Hamas procured weapons and launched them at Israel. You are so consumed with the biases of Israel-haters that you are unable to acknowledge that killing, wounding and terrorizing people with rockets is not just fiery rhetoric.

If someone shoots at you and your kids for years but only hits your family every so often because your loved ones keep ducking, would you thus conclude that the shooter, as you say, "poses no realistic threat" or would you get someone to make him stop? The situation in Israel is stickier, as Amos Oz recently commented, the person shooting at your family is not just holding a gun; he is holding his baby.


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Lynn C. Koss,

Fayetteville, N.Y.

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Editor of the Reformer:

Having been refused even entry to a number of Middle Eastern truly apartheid states for the sin of having my passport sport an Israeli stamp, I know what apartheid is.

Any Jew is sequestered and badgered in these majoritarian Islamic states (any non-Islamic element is short-lived and chivvied until dead, converted or driven from the country penniless, as many of my pen-blog colleagues were from Egypt and other states long ago at the birth of Israel) if she is not outright refused entry.

In Pakistan I was shot at, spat at, interrogated (I held more than $10 in currency, which these dim-wattage cretins thought was "too much" for "just a woman") and mocked on every street I walked (in the company of two men, never of course alone, where I would have been beaten or assaulted or even raped). In Turkey I was insulted and accosted daily, too, even in taxis. I was forced to jump from a moving car in another Islamic squalidity to avoid being assaulted and robbed.

In Egypt I was stopped and pestered daily, though I was always in the company of men, and I was legally there as were my colleagues, on business. I stayed at one of egypt’s better hotels, but that made no difference.

Suffice to say your anaeroid, not to say fanciful, rubbish on Israel -- a country extending rights and privileges to all faiths, a protector of all heritages and sites, and equanimitously sheltering homosexuals and heterosexuals alike -- is insulting, counterfactual, seething with ignorance and enmity toward the Jewish state, utterly ignoble.

You will ignore this and probably similar corrections because you appear to have little journalistic integrity, and rarely admit to your endemic bigotries. That does not excuse your slander of a nation fighting for its life under the onslaught of endless Iranian and muslim-money-backed missiles, rockets, and Hamasite tunnel-borne lethal mischief.

Marion DS Dreyfus,

New York City

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Editor of the Reformer:

Only one nation in the entire Middle East grants equality to all citizens under the law, protects religious heritage sites of all religions, and grants freedom to women, religious minorities, and gays. Care to guess which nation this is? Israel? In contrast, in the Palestinian Authority and in Gaza, there is a death penalty for the "crime" of selling land to a Jew, no real religious freedom to speak of, and religious sites are regularly destroyed and desecrated. Your op-ed, by flipping reality on its face and claiming against all evidence that Israel is apartheid, actually supports apartheid in the Middle East. It is because I am a liberal that I support Israel, which is the only liberal democracy in the entire Middle East.

Racquel Reinstein,

New York City

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Editor of the Reformer:

Your editorial "Is It Apartheid " accusing Israel of practicing Apartheid was misguided and rather offensive. To begin with as an American Jew, I take offense at the unpleasant generalization inherent in your comment about what "the Jews" should do. This phraseology and the thinking behind it has very unfortunate historical resonances.

Now on to content. It is utter nonsense to compare Israeli policies to Apartheid. International law defines Apartheid as discrimination by one group against another group in the same country. Israel’s campaign in Gaza, on the other hand, is an attempt by residents of one country (Israel) to defend themselves against unceasing attacks from an outside entity (the Hamas ruled Gaza Strip).

Furthermore Israel regularly supplies the residents of the Gaza Strip with food, electric power, water services, medical supplies and equipment, and building materials which Hamas has unfortunately used to construct rocket launchers and terror tunnels. These actions on the part of Israel to support residents of the Gaza Strip while being attacked from the Gaza Strip are hardly consistent with any feasible definition of apartheid.

In peaceful times, Palestinians are subjected to checkpoints because of the experience of the second intifada, when thousands of innocent Israeli civilians were killed and maimed by Palestinian suicide bombers and other Palestinian terrorist attacks. In addition as the military power in charge, Israel is obligated by the UN to maintain security, which is impossible to do in the face of murderous Palestinian terrorism without fences and checkpoints. Furthermore since Palestinians claim to be creating a state of their own, checkpoints and barriers between that state and Israel are to be expected, similar to the border between Vermont and Canada.

Your use of sources such as Al Haq, a Palestinian NGO well known for advancing a biased anti-Israel agenda, and Global Research, half of whose web site is devoted to scurrilous anti-Israel propaganda, belies any of your pretense about your supposed objectivity or thoughtfulness; particularly since you do not identify the nature of these sources to your readers.

Your use of these sources without any balance, for example using some Israeli sources, makes clear your true motivations in criticizing certain comments made by individual people on the Israeli side, while completely ignoring the daily avalanche of Nazi like propaganda in all of the Palestinian media. It also explains why you have not referenced the parts of the Hamas charter which calls for killing all Jews. How’s that for Apartheid?

When Israel unilaterally left the Gaza Strip in 2005, the Palestinians there had an opportunity to use the greenhouses that were left for them as a foundation for building a peaceful, prosperous Palestinian entity that would serve as an uplifting example of what a Palestinian state might be like. Instead they chose to launch incessant terrorist attacks against Israel. Their residence in a pressure cooker, as you put it, is of their own making. When they cease to value killing innocent Israeli civilians more than they value the creation of their own state, perhaps this will change.

Daniel H. Trigoboff,

Williamsville, N.Y.

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Editor of the Reformer:

Vermont is my favorite vacation state, and I have made many trips to various parts of Vermont for many years. I have read the Reformer many times in that span, and have never been as appalled by anything in it as I am by your editorial "Is it apartheid?" The situation in the Middle East, as you describe it, is just the reverse of what is really happening there.

The population of Israel itself consists of members of a variety of religious and ethnic combinations -- Sephardic Jews whose ancestors were thrown out of their native countries by anti-Semitic Arab dictators; Ashkenazic Jews whose ancestors came from Europe more than a century ago to rebuild the ancient Jewish homeland; Jewish natives born in Israel since statehood was declared in 1948, or before that in the Palestine region of the Ottoman empire prior to World War I or the era when Britain controlled the territory between the World Wars, Arab Muslims whose families have lived within the current borders of Israel for generations, or whose ancestors moved there while the area was under either Ottoman or British control; Arab Christians who have had to flee for their lives from nations now effectively controlled by violent Muslims; and other smaller groups as well. Within Israel, unlike most Middle Eastern countries, the different groups live together with only occasional conflicts, at most, that are group-related. Average Arab citizens have more political, economic, and religious freedom in Israel than they have in any Muslim dictatorship-controlled Arab nation. Arabs vote in elections, serve in the Israeli parliament, and have served on the Israeli Supreme Court. It is about as far from apartheid as any nation could be.

Israel’s Arab neighbors periodically try to murder its citizens and eliminate the state altogether -- two fundamental elements of the charter of Hamas, the internationally -- acknowledged terrorist group which controls Gaza. The most recent attack began with Hamas lobbing rockets into Israel from Gaza a few weeks ago. Israel had occupied Gaza following the Arab attempt to destroy Israel in what turned out to be the Six Day War in 1967, but voluntarily and unilaterally withdrewfrom there in 2005. Gazans elected Hamas to lead them two years later, in the last free election held in that area. Hamas has no concern for the people of Gaza, only the desire to murder Israelis. Israel left houses and greenhouses standing when it left Gaza; instead of letting the Gazans use them, Hamas tore them all down. Hamas acquired concrete and other supplies ostensibly to build houses, but used them instead to build a network of tunnels to store weapons and to enable their soldiers to move into Israel to kill Jews. Israel repeatedly sends out warnings to Gaza residents so that they have time to leave their homes before Israel attacks these buildings, which are in or near military bases and rocket launching pads; Hamas orders them to return to their homes to die for the sake of its propaganda.

As for Israel’s actions in Judea and Samaria, the wall (which in most places is actually only a fence) was built because Arabs were coming into Israel wrapped in explosives, with a mission to murder as many Israelis as they could. TheIsraeli towns which you call "settlements" are not illegal, because the land on which they were built has never been part of any other independent nation. This land, which was part of the British mandate in Palestine, was occupied by Jordan for 19 years before Israel gained control after the 1967 war. Israelis have every bit as much a legal right to live there as any Arabs do.

If Quebec separatist terrorists decided to lob rockets directly into Vermont, would you also believe that they should be allowed to do so unimpeded, or would you prefer to have the U.S. Army repel them, even if doing so resulted in the deaths of Quebecois children? Israel has the right and obligation to defend its citizens too.

Howard Rosenthal,

Sarasota, Fla.

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Editor of the Reformer:

If you really cared about peace, you would condemn Hamas for its commitment to destroy a sovereign nation and murder an entire people.

If you cared about marginalized people, you would be concerned that less than 1 percent of Gazans are Christians and there are virtually no minorities, such as Druze, Baha’i, or the LGBT community. There is little tolerance for these groups in the region, but they find safe haven in Israel. ISIS in Iraq is threatening Christians with death if they don’t convert and Hamas has welcomed ISIS to Gaza. Do you really think that is what most Palestinians want? I don’t.

If you really cared about Palestinians, you would condemn Hamas for stealing cement intended to build Palestinian homes and schools and using it for a sophisticated network of munition-filled tunnels under their streets. You should have protested when Hamas shot scores of Palestinians (Fatah members) in their kneecaps or bound them and flung them from high-rise buildings.

If you cared about the economic prosperity of Palestinians, you would have denounced those among them who destroyed multi-million dollar state-of-the-art greenhouses which were thriving businesses, given to them by Bill Gates and others in 2005.

If you really cared about Palestinians, you would have protested Hamas’ embedding rocket-launchers, explosive factories, munition depots and command centers in homes, schools, mosques and hospitals. You would cry out that Palestinians are being used as human shields. Do you think there is freedom of speech in Gaza so people can protest being abused in this way?

If you really cared about Arabs or Jews, you would beseech Hamas to stop firing rockets indiscriminately on Israel because, not only Jews live in Israel, over one million Arabs are citizens as well. Yes, they are all Israelis. And I wonder, do you support Jews living in a future Palestinian state? Or is excluding an entire religion from a country your idea of avoiding apartheid?

If you really thought it important to "recognize the dignity of all people and refuse to classify people as beneath our contempt" then you would criticize a PLO ambassador for calling people "dogs" or clerics saying Jews are sons of pigs and apes.

You seem to care a lot about children. I must have missed your editorial condemning the intentional, close-range murder of the Fogel children whose bloody bodies are now being used as a recruitment tool to carry out more such attacks. And if they are successful, there will be more candy, pastries and celebration.

Lynn C. Koss

Fayetteville, N.Y.

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Editor of the Reformer:

The 1947 UN partition plan envisioned a Jewish state and another Arab state in British Mandatory Palestine after 80 percent had become Transjordan. The rulers of the existing Arab states objected; the Arabs of Palestine were not different from the Arabs of Syria or Iraq.

As Israel prepared to declare the rebirth of the Jewish nation, Arabs in mandatory Palestine joined with five Arab nations to attacking Israel. This caused several events that had long lasting consequences.

Some 800,000 Arabs fled the war area. An equal number of Jews were then expelled from their long-time homes throughout the Moslem world. Israel absorbed and uplifted the Jews. The Arabs were denied refuge in most Moslem countries. They had suddenly become a distinct group. Palestinian sources now claim that their descendants number 5,000,000. Many still live in refugee camps because they are denied citizenship and economic opportunity, by law, in most Moslem countries.

Egypt and Jordan ruled Gaza and the West Bank, respectively, from 1948 to 1967. Somehow, the Palestinians did not notice that those (Moslem) countries were "occupying" Palestinian land. There was no move to set up an independent Palestinian state.

Israel liberated the areas in 1967, in a defensive war. Her offer to withdraw was met by nO negotiation, no recognition and no peace). Not surprisingly, Jews moved into the areas which have strategic, religious, and historic meaning for Israel.

Although "settlements" are often blamed for the lack of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the fact is that there are no Jewish settlements in Gaza and less than 5 percent of West Bank land is taken up by Israeli communities. The vast majority of Palestinians live in land that is under the civil control of their own leaders.

In Israel, there are many programs fostering Jewish/Arab co-existence. In contrast, anti-Jewish invective spews from Palestinian mosques, schools, and media outlets. In Gaza, children’s programming teaches hatred of the Jews. Summer camps are used for paramilitary training; children are encouraged to become suicide bombers.

Following Israel’s evacuation of its Gazan communities in 2005, American Jews purchased 3,000 hothouses from the evacuees and gifted them to the Palestinians to jump start their economy. All were destroyed within one week. Plans for a joint Israeli/Palestinian industrial park at the border had to be abandoned because of constant missile fire from Gaza.

Operation Protective Edge was launched in response to missiles being fired at Israeli population centers and infiltration (via underground tunnels from Gaza) with the intent of killing or kidnapping Israelis. Israel regrets civilian deaths but has no choice. Hamas fires from populated areas, stores munitions in mosques, schools, and hospitals, and refuses to let the Gazans shelter in the tunnels Hamas built with the cement it stole from the people.

There is no apartheid and there is no moral equivalence. If the terrorists stopped firing, there would be peace. If Israel stopped responding to terrorist attacks, she and her people would be destroyed.

Toby F. Block,

Atlanta, Ga.

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Editor of the Reformer:

This editorial is completely misguided and wildly inaccurate. Although it is always tragic to see innocent people suffering in war, one must understand who started this: Hamas. Hamas has been shooting thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians, rockets that terrorize even though they usually don’t kill (thanks to the many millions of dollars Israel invests in warning sirens, the Iron Dome, and bomb shelters). No other country would have continued ignoring rockets launched at their civilian population. If Hamas had not embedded rocket launchers in civilian areas, including schools, hospitals, and homes, Israel would not have to fight in those areas. Blame Hamas for its cynical exploitation of its own people. Hamas spent millions of dollars and used the cement meant to build schools and hospitals to instead build miles of tunnels to smuggle in weapons to use against Israeli civilians and to hide Hamas leaders while their people die. Their vicious calculation is that the more Palestinian Arab civilians get killed, the worse Israel looks and the more pressure will be placed on it to give in to Hamas demands.

Apartheid? A country that has a 20-plus percent Arab minority with full rights to vote, worship, protest peacefully, and study side by side with Israeli Jews? A country where Arabic is an official language? A country that continues to treat even its terrorist enemies in its fine hospitals, including relatives of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh? A country that allows Arab members of Parliament to say that Israel has no right to exist? A country that allows those advocating academic boycotts of Israel to study in its universities? I dare you to find any similar situation in any Arab country, where genuine, vicious apartheid against non-Muslims (Israelis are not even allowed into many Arab countries) and women is practiced, countries where no Jew -- and sometimes no Palestinian -- may ever become a citizen.

Your wildly biased editorial needs to place the blame where it belongs: on the many rejectionists in the Arab world, especially the fanatics of Hamas, who have always made it clear that they will never accept Israel. Tragically for all, they are more interested in delegitimizing and destroying the one Jewish state than in bringing peace and prosperity to their own people.

Sara Miller,

Queens, N.Y.

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Editor of the Reformer:

Rashid Khalidi informs us that people deprived of all hope will fight back. That explains the Palestinian situation. The Muslim world has spent decades depriving the Palestinians of hope so that they could be manipulated into becoming a force to destroy Israel.

Instead of permitting a new Arab nation to be formed alongside reborn Israel (as envisioned by the UN partition plan), five Arab nations went to war, resulting in 700,000 Arabs fleeing the fighting. Although Israel was able to absorb and uplift a comparable number of Jews (expelled from their homes throughout the Muslim Middle East and North Africa), the Arab refugees were refused citizenship and economic opportunity in most Muslim countries. Their descendants are the only people in the world who are allowed to inherit refugee status. They are also the only refugee group that has its own UN agency, UNRWA; all other refugee problems are handled by UNHCR. Unfortunately, UNRWA has not done anything to rehabilitate the Palestinian "refugees". Its schools teach the same hate that is spewed from mosques and media outlets throughout the Muslim world. The schools have also been used to store terrorists’ missiles; the schoolyards have been launching sites for the missiles that are lobbed at Israeli population centers.

When Palestinians were living under Egyptian and Jordanian rule in Gaza and the West Bank, there was no effort to set up a Palestinian state but terrorist attacks were launched at Israel. After Israel liberated the areas (in a defensive war), Israel offered to withdraw in return for recognition and peace, but the Arabs refused to negotiate. Is it surprising that Israelis moved into places that have strategic, religious, and historic importance to them?

Palestinians once found work in Israel, but repeated suicide bombings led to travel restrictions and the construction of security barriers. While the leaders of the Muslim world complain about the hardships that these measures have imposed on the Palestinians, they have made little effort to develop the economies of Gaza and the West Bank. Much humanitarian aid, donated mostly by America and the EU, is siphoned off into the bank accounts of corrupt leaders or diverted to efforts to destroy Israel.

Israel’s sirens, shelters, and Iron Dome units protect her citizens from the missiles shot from Gaza. It is not Israel’s responsibility to protect the Gazans from Hamas’ shortfalls and misfires. Nor does Israel’s past and current military superiority lessen the terrorists’ culpability in endangering both Israeli and Palestinian civilians or ensure that Israel will always succeed (it’s hard to protect against terrorists who pop up from tunnels in open fields or kindergartens).

I condemn fanatics who purposely target innocents and, surely, there are a few Israeli fanatics. But Israel is an open society which has many programs aimed at inclusion. Why are you not calling for an end to anti-Jewish incitement? Why aren’t you telling the Palestinians that they need to really negotiate instead of insisting that only Israel needs to make concessions?

Toby F. Block,

Atlanta, Ga.

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Editor of the Reformer:

The editorial "Blood on Our Hands" falsely accuses Israel of deliberately killing children in response to Hamas lobbing rockets at Israel. The editorial proceeds to get worse with Israel being blamed for defending itself so well that any threat against it is unrealistic. And then comes a complete diatribe against the Jewish state using lies and propaganda from a list of anti-Semites that want nothing more than to see Israel destroyed.

Absent from the editorial was any outrage of the child abuse taking place in Gaza at the hands of Hamas. Absent is the penchant for Hamas to use human shields.

The captured Hamas Combat Manual by the IDF that explains the benefits of human shields. The manual clearly exposes the dilemma for the Israel Defense Forces: that the terror group knows the IDF will try to limit civilian casualties and that the terror groups exploits these efforts by using civilians as human shields.

Yet the world demands that Israel fight a war where no one gets killed. Because for Hamas everyone is a civilian in Gaza. There are no terrorists.

Hamas does not care about the Palestinians. Palestinians have received more humanitarian aid than any other refugee group known to man. But Hamas has taken the money and supplies like cement and used it not to build playgrounds, schools and hospitals but for tunnels to kill Jews. Palestinian children have died building these tunnels so that Hamas can kill Israeli children.

Perhaps you don’t see the relevance of the Hamas ideology as to being the main cause of the conflict. That is unfortunate. Your editorial only encourages the genocidal impulse of terrorist groups like Hamas. For shame.

Elinor Weiss,

East Amherst, N.Y.

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Editor of the Reformer:

Your editorial slandering Israel is rife with errors and mischaracterizations, so I have selected several of the most egregious ones for comments.

To begin with, you allege that Israel is killing children to retaliate for rocket attacks. In fact Israel does not target children, whose death toll is lower than one would expect given their frequency in the Gaza population, thanks to the IDF’s heroic efforts to minimize civilian casualties. The real killer of Palestinian children is Hamas, which worked 160 of them to death building tunnels, which uses them as human shields, and which abuses them by indoctrinating them into an anti-Semitic death cult.

You minimized the threat to Israel’s borders in past Arab attacks. Yet the 1948, 1967, and 1973 attacks on Israel were designed to obliterate Israel; the death toll Israel suffered in 1973 alone as a per cent of their population at that time would translate into one million fatalities as a per cent of the current US population. Hardly a threat to be dismissed lightly by you or anyone else.

Your citing hate speech by individual Israelis as being equivalent to the words and actions of Hamas is disingenuous. The main stream Israeli political and cultural spectrum condemns anti-Arab hate speech, and the Israeli legal system punishes those who commit hate crimes against Arabs. Hamas has a charter which explicitly calls for killing all Jews, and Hamas lionizes those who kill innocent Israeli civilians. If Brattleboro were hit with over 10,000 rockets in attempts to kill innocent Vermont civilians, would you regard angry verbal hyperbole as being equivalent to the firing of those rockets? Extremely doubtful.

Finally your quotes from Rashid Khalidi are ludicrous in their misplaced, illogical accusations of causality. Specifically it is not Israel which has kept Palestinians in an oppressed, economically benighted condition; it is instead their murderous terrorist leaders of Hamas, and their corrupt Palestinian Authority overseers who find every opportunity to abort the agreements needed to create a Palestinian State so that they can continue to pursue their real agenda, the destruction of Israel. How proud the editorial staff at your newspaper appears to be to join them in this execrable enterprise, by persistently publishing anti-Israel slander.

Daniel H. Trigoboff,

Williamsville, N.Y.

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Editor of the Reformer:

Your newspaper claimed a historical analysis of Israel’s history proves its illegitimacy. However, an analysis of history shows the opposite. Prior to modern Zionism, Jews and Christians were "dhimmis," or second class citizens, in the Ottoman Empire’s area designated as Palestine. During the 19th century, when Europeans and the Arab world were engaging in pogroms against Jews, modern Zionism was founded. The original modern Zionists were idealists who even hoped for a bi-national state; this proved impossible. The leader of Arabs living in pre-state Israel, Haj Amin al Husseini, was an antisemite who was one of the architects of Hitler’s Final Solution. Mr. Husseini led SS Waffen Brigades in Bosnia that killed tens of thousands of Jews and distributed Mein Kampf in Arabic. It was he who ensured that the Arabs did not get a two state solution offered to them numerous times, starting in 1937, and then in 1947 (later offered in 1967, 2000, and 2008). Israel’s Independence War of 1948 was a war of attempted annihilation of Jews, many of them Holocaust survivors; thankfully, Israel won. Sadly, until the present day, Arabs have never accepted their loss and continually attack Israel and seek its destruction. Since your newspaper brought it up, in 1967 and 1973, Arabs were seeking Israel’s destruction again, and radios in Cairo were blaring exuberant calls for Jews to be pushed into the sea. Thankfully, Israel was able to prevent its destruction. But Palestinians, the greater Arab world, and apparently your newspaper, have still never accepted Israel’s existence as a reality.

More recently, Israel faces serious terrorism that the people of Brattleboro have never experienced, with rockets daily raining down upon Israel’s cities. This even has caused the FAA to block American flights from landing at Israel’s airport, out of safety concerns for the planes. In defending its citizens, Israel sends text messages, roof knocks, and leaflets prior to bombing any location (to warn civilians to leave), and Hamas beats civilians with clubs and forces them to be human shields. But instead of blaming Hamas you blame Israel. Your newspaper apparently does not believe Israel actually faces any real threat and should just let Hamas bomb away. I cannot imagine you would feel the same if Brattleboro, Vermont were bombed on a daily basis. This selective outrage against Israel for defending its citizens shows where the sympathies of your newspaper lie. Too bad that if indeed Israel were to fall (God forbid!), it would not make Brattleboro or the United States any safer. In fact, it would only embolden Hamas and global jihadists to then continue attacking targets worldwide.

Racquel Reinstein,

New York City

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Editor of the Reformer:

I had to check my calendar. Was I in a time warp? Was it no longer 2014? Was I back in 1984? Or was I back in 1939 and reading Der Sturmer rather than The Brattleboro Reformer?

In your editorial, you reference innumerable biased, hateful, unreliable anti-Israel sources and take their lies as the gospel. There is very little truth in your editorial and much of what is true is inadvertent. For example, you are correct that the "oppression of the Palestinians is aided and abetted by the United States," but this is because we significantly fund the Palestinian Authority, which uses much of this funding to pay salaries -- several times what it pays to productive civil servants -- to jailed terrorists, including mass murderers.

You might want to read some of the Hamas training manuals captured by Israel in Gaza. In these manuals, Hamas "militants" are taught the advantages of using civilians as human shields, because "The soldiers and commanders (of the IDF) must limit their use of weapons and tactics that lead to the harm and unnecessary loss of people and (destruction of) civilian facilities. It is difficult for them to get the most use out of their firearms, especially of supporting fire (e.g. artillery)."

In other words, Hamas terrorists acknowledge the reality you deny, that Israel does its best to avoid civilian casualties.

Gaza has actually been mostly under the control of the Palestinian Arabs since 1995 and has been totally under their control since 2005. Almost all of the remainder of the disputed territory (95 percent in 2000, the equivalent of 100 percent in 2008) has been offered to the Palestinian Arabs. Unfortunately, even the so-called "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas prefers the continuation of the genocidal campaign against the world’s only Jewish state to the establishment of another independent Palestinian Arab state.

Alan Stein,

Natick, Mass.

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Editor of the Reformer:

You say that Hamas’ goal of destroying Israel and murdering Jews is just "heated rhetoric." I and millions of people would love to believe that! There certainly is a lot of heated hate speech by Muslim clerics exhorting their followers to exterminate Jews. Please share with us how the faithful know that the imams are just impassioned speakers who don’t literally mean it. I also wonder how you know that preschoolers who are told on TV to "shoot Jews" can perceive that the grown-ups are not really serious.

Hamas used building supplies, electricity, time, and expertise to build tunnels to attack and kidnap Israelis, not to make speeches. For years, Hamas procured weapons and launched them at Israel. You are so consumed with the biases of Israel-haters that you are unable to acknowledge that killing, wounding and terrorizing people with rockets is not just fiery rhetoric.

If someone shoots at you and your kids for years but only hits your family every so often because your loved ones keep ducking, would you thus conclude that the shooter, as you say, "poses no realistic threat" or would you get someone to make him stop? The situation in Israel is stickier, as Amos Oz recently commented, the person shooting at your family is not just holding a gun; he is holding his baby.

Lynn C. Koss

Fayetteville, N.Y.

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Editor of the Reformer:

There are a great many distortions in your editorial, so let me focus on a few. Firstly, the core issue in the Arab-Israeli conflict is not "settlements" nor "occupation." The core issue remains Arab refusal to accept a permanent Israel behind any boundaries. Palestinians leaders have rejected numerous opportunities for statehood, starting in 1948. The tragedy of the Palestinian cause is that its obsession with destroying Israel far exceeds the desire for a state.

As one who briefly taught in Israel in the 1980’s, I observed Arab and Jewish graduate students working together, taught by Arab and Jewish faculty. Last year, an Arab Muslim woman was valedictorian at the prestigious Technion. At a recent conference at Bar Ilan university, I saw Muslim students wearing the hijab alongside secular and religious Jewish students. This is not apartheid.

As for Gaza, Israel withdrew in 2005. Gazans had a better chance for development than had embattled Israel after it survived the 1948 Arab invasion. Instead they voted for Hamas, knowing that its charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of all Jews. Hamas has done its best to fulfil that goal, diverting tens of thousands of tons to use in terror tunnels.

Imagine how different the region could have been if the Arab world had uplifted Arab refugees in the way Israel uplifted Jewish refugees from Arab countries? Imagine the difference, if Arab leaders had focused on development, rather than using hostility to Israel as a distraction from their failures?

Doron Lubinsky.

Atlanta, Ga.