Does Israel really
want peace?

Editor of the Reformer:

I greatly appreciate the Reformer’s bold editorial; "Blood on our Hands" (Aug. 2).

I do wish to comment on "Hamas is despicable for hiding behind children while lobbing rockets at Israel." This rhetoric and propaganda is continually being hurled by Israel to justify their horrific killing of children and innocent civilians in Palestine.

According to The Nation News "This is arguably one of Israel’s most insidious claims, because it blames Palestinians for their own death and deprives them of even their victimhood." Israel used this same justification in Lebanon in 2006, and in most all previous wars in Palestine. Israel has yet to prove this assertion. No reporters on the ground have found any evidence to date that support this claim.

Hamas, The Islamic Jihad, and other groups all live within Gaza with their families and extended families. There is not a separate "designated" space for warfare. This is not honorable.

Under international law, even if "human shields" are being used, Israel’s obligation to protect these civilians still applies. Peaceful teachings of non-extremist Judaism condemn violence. It appears that this government now in Israel is violent, obvious by their indiscriminate attacks on schools and UN Shelters.

The op-ed written by Stuart Richards on July 31 ("In Defense of Israel"), extracts sayings from Islamic religious texts.


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Richards has no idea of the deeper interpretation of these sayings and a quote he used was based on a battle of individuals. It was prejudiced and misunderstood in its proper context, written more than 1,000 years ago. The assumption to "kill all Jews" is certainly not in Islamic law. In fact, Jewish people in Islam are considered "cousins, brothers and sisters." Moroccan’s took in Jews to their country after Spanish Christians kicked them out. The prophet Mohammad stood up in respect while witnessing a Jewish funeral and he had a Jewish doctor he consulted and highly respected for his expertise.

I also detected racism in Richards toward Arabs; a familiar tone that I grew up with in my Jewish upbringing. There was a one-down attitude, that somehow we made Israel beautiful while they, the Palestinians lived in squalor. Israel was prided on being better, cleaner and advanced and modern. As Bibi Netanyahu stated yesterday in a news briefing "We, the Israeli’s, are a civilized society," clearly condescending in attitude toward his neighbors.

Why? Wel,l as we live on food stamps and credit cards, America sends $3 billion of our tax dollars to Israel a year, not to mention the other $12 to $17 billion for non-direct warfare.

To summarize -- in an article in Haaretz, Gideon Levy writes "Israel does not want peace. There is nothing I have ever written that I would be happier to be proved wrong about. But the evidence is mounting up. It can be said, Israel never wanted peace, a peace based on compromise."

Continued settlement construction and killing of innocents is nothing other than genocide of a culture and human beings.

Margaret Robbins,

Putney, Aug. 3

Support for Kane

Editor of the Reformer:

Let me offer a positive word on behalf of Paul Kane of Westminster, who is a Democratic candidate for Assistant Judge in the Aug. 26 primary. Paul is an experienced businessman and former social worker of even temperament and sound judgment, who has the interests of Vermont and its people at heart. I hope you will give him every consideration.

Thomas P. Salmon,

Rockingham, Aug. 5

Let us wash the blood from our hands

Editor of the Reformer:

I want to thank Stuart Richards ("In defense of Israel," (July 31) and the Reformer ("Blood on Our Hands," Aug. 2). The Reformer’s powerful and factual response to Richards commentary is a service to humanity, as it helps us cut through the fog created by the shop-worn talking points of Israeli propaganda.

Stuart writes, "... Arab countries of the Middle East chose not to work with the new State of Israel in 1948 to the mutual economic benefit of all. Instead the Arabics ethnically cleansed 900,000 Jews who were citizens of their countries ..."

Israeli historian Yehoshua Porath points out that the immigration of Jews from Arab countries to Israel, expelled or not, was the "fulfillment of a national dream." Hardly "ethnic cleansing." And prominent Israelis have rejected the characterization of Jewish immigrants to Israel as refugees. Here, for example, is Iraqi-born Ran Cohen, a former member of the Knesset: "I have this to say: I am not a refugee. I came at the behest of Zionism, due to the pull that this land exerts, and due to the idea of redemption. Nobody is going to define me as a refugee."

Unpacking all the claims and counter-claims of the parties to the conflict raging is a task beyond most of us. It can be pretty easy to remain complacent in our green and idyllic homeland here in southern Vermont. But, as the Reformer editorial points out, as citizens of the United States, we are complicit in the on-going death of innocents.

To accept this assertion does not mean we are anti-Israel, a self-hating jew, or, God forbid, anti-Semitic. Henry Siegman, an impeccably credentialed, leading voice of U.S. Jewry, gave a thoughtful interview concerning Gaza on July 30, "A Slaughter of Innocents." Responding to Israel’s U.S.-backed claim that its assault on Gaza is necessary because no country would tolerate the rocket fire from militants in Gaza, Siegman says "What undermines this principle is that no country and no people would live the way that Gazans have been made to live. ... The question of the morality of Israel’s action depends, in the first instance on the question, couldn’t Israel be doing something (to prevent) this disaster that is playing out now, in terms of the destruction of human life? Couldn’t they have done something that did not require that cost? And the answer is sure, they could have ended the occupation."

We all share responsibility, and there are many ways to shoulder it. You can dig a little deeper to inform yourself or you can insist our representatives go on record to stop spending our tax dollars to kill innocents. You can get involved in the End the Occupation movement, or donate to humanitarian relief. Let us each do something to defend our humanity, to begin washing the blood of Palestinian children from our hands.

Richard Coburn,

Westminster West, Aug. 2