The Brattleboro Reformer's editorial contending Israel is an apartheid state (July 17) is a discredit to your paper. In a world where 170,000 Syrians have died, Shiites and Sunni are killing each other, Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Lebanon are convulsed in violence, Israel has been a bright light.

Since Israel's founding in 1948 it has been an incredible success story. Starting from nothing, not only is Israel the one democracy in a sea of repressive regimes engaged in tribal or religious warfare, it is a roaring economic success bringing a Western standard of living and full democratic participation to all its citizens including the 1.6 million Arab Israelis within its borders.

Unfortunately, Arab countries of the Middle East chose not to work with the new State of Israel in 1948 to the mutual economic and political benefit of all. Instead the Arabs ethnically cleansed 900,000 Jews who were citizens of their countries and five Arab armies attacked the new, UN approved state of Israel to destroy it.

The Reformer ignores the root causes of the current conflict in Gaza and other conflicts between Israel and Arabs and Palestinians. Since 1948 and before, the Arabs have tried to eliminate Israel and exterminate the Jews. Arabs and Palestinians have been unwilling to accept Israel and they've tried numerous times to destroy it.


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To date, only Egypt and Jordan have been willing to make peace and other Arab countries have ensured that the Palestinian problem continues by keeping Palestinian refugees in camps rather than resettling them as Israel resettled the 900,000 Jews who were ethnically cleansed by Arab Middle Eastern countries.

Before there were settlements, and prior to 1967, there were thousands of terrorist attacks. The PLO took pride in the Munich massacre, bombing pizzerias and school buses filled with children.

The record is replete with threats to Jews and to Israel from Arabs in power. Currently Arabs who murder Jews are celebrated as martyrs and streets are named after them and they are paid to kill Israeli civilians.

Today the terrorist group Hamas wants to perpetrate a new holocaust on Israel and the Jews. With the same genocidal hate that Hitler expressed in "Mein Kampf," The Hamas Charter states: "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it .... The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: 'The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him."

The current situation in Gaza didn't need to be. As Charles Krauthammer states in a recent Washington Post column (July 17): "Israel wanted this new Palestinian territory to succeed. To help the Gaza economy, when it left Gaza Israel gave the Palestinians 3,000 greenhouses that had produced fruit and flowers for export. It opened border crossings and encouraged commerce." The Gaza Palestinians reacted by demolishing the greenhouses. Then they elected Hamas. Then, instead of building a state (and building an economy for the betterment of the people) Hamas spent the better part of a decade turning Gaza into a massive military base.

Millions have been spent on underground tunnels to hide their rockets, other weapons and military commanders. "They deliberately placed them in schools, hospitals, mosques and private homes to better expose their own civilians." The U.N. announced that it found upwards of 40 rockets in three different schools and Israel has uncovered upwards of 30 tunnels to be used to attack Israel. The UN turned the rockets over to Hamas. It's a war crime to use children as suicide bombers and to use schools, private homes, ambulances, hospitals and mosques to wage war and deliberately endanger civilians and to fire rockets indiscriminately at Israeli civilians.

It makes no sense to fire rockets at Israel unless you understand that the whole point is to draw Israeli counterfire, Krauthammer writes. "This produces dead Palestinians for international television. Which is why Hamas perversely urges its own people not to seek safety when Israel drops leaflets warning of an imminent attack."

To deliberately wage war so that your own people can be telegenically killed is indeed moral and tactical insanity. But it rests on a very rational premise: Given the Orwellian state of the world's treatment of Israel, fueled by a mix of classic anti-Semitism, near-total historical ignorance and reflexive sympathy for the ostensible Third World underdog, these eruptions featuring Palestinian casualties ultimately undermine support for Israel's legitimacy and right to self-defense.

In a world of such Kafkaesque ethical inversions, the depravity of Hamas begins to make sense. This is a world in which the Munich massacre is a movie and the murder of Klinghoffer is an opera -- both deeply sympathetic to the killers. This is a world in which the U.N. ignores humanity's worst war criminals while incessantly condemning Israel, a state warred upon for 66 years that nonetheless goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid harming the very innocents its enemies use as shields. It's to the Israelis' credit that amid all this madness they haven't lost their moral scruples or nerve. Those outside the region have the minimum obligation, therefore, to expose the madness and speak the truth. Rarely has it been so blindingly clear.

Stuart L. Richards writes from Norwich.