It is difficult to know where to start in attempting to respond to your recent editorial regarding the tragic situation in Gaza ("Blood on our hands," Aug. 2-3 Weekend Reformer), but the breathtaking irresponsibility of your recitation of purported "facts" is as good a place as any.

While there is certainly a difference between factual allegations in reporting and opinion, the litany of supposed violations of human rights by Israel, going back to the very foundation of the state in 1948, underlying your conclusion that the current activity of Hamas in Gaza constitutes "fight[ing] back" by an oppressed people misleads your readers in ways that cross the line of journalistic responsibility.

Your readers might be interested to know, for example, that the Press TV you quote extensively about Israel's alleged inhumanity is the English language service of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Or that the "study" you cite in the British Medical Journal about children allegedly killed at Israeli checkpoints is not a study at all, but a "personal viewpoint" submitted by a long time critic of Israel. Or that the men you call "two of Israel's leading rabbis" are leaders of no more than a hateful fringe element of the settler movement, condemned by large majorities of Israelis.


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Or that in an extraordinary act of selective citation you have rendered Ari Shavit's beautiful book "My Promised Land" a condemnation of purported massacres by Israeli forces in the 1948 War of Independence, when in fact Shavit describes in heartbreaking prose the depredations visited by both sides in that conflict, resulting in two legitimate narratives of suffering by two peoples sharing the same land.

Neither is there any mention in your blanket condemnation of Israel of the efforts by Israeli governments of both the right and left to find a way to end the occupation and initiate a two-state solution. What of the Oslo accords? What of the unilateral disengagement from Gaza? What of the offer at Wye to resolve the issue of Jerusalem? What of the large and active peace movement in Israel? In half a page of newsprint there was no room to consider these?

We oppose continuation of the occupation, decry the religious nationalists' claim that all of the biblical Land of Israel should belong to the Jews, and believe that the the present government has made serious mistakes in failing to legitimize and negotiate with President Abbas. We believe that it is legitimate to ask whether the IDF is living up to its own standards regarding the minimization of civilian casualties.

But for all of that, the fact remains that the Hamas that rules Gaza is a terrorist organization that now and always has targeted civilians, often by using its own young people as suicide bombers. It is richly supplied with missiles, and it has fired its missiles at Israeli population centers for years. It diverted precious resources from its civilian population to build elaborate tunnels for the sole purpose of attacking Israeli civilians. While it may or may not have been involved with the murder of the three Israeli teens that precipitated the current conflict (your suggestion that it has been conclusively determined that Hamas had no involvement does not comport with the known facts), its leader did congratulate the kidnappers on their actions. And it has treated its domestic Palestinian opponents with a level of brutality that exceeds the worst Israel is accused of.

To be legitimate, a critique of Israel's actions in Gaza should suggest an alternative way in which Israel can protect its citizens from the real threat posed by Hamas rule in a territory on Israel's doorstep. Your editorial suggests no such alternative, and sadly adds nothing but more invective to an issue already overflowing with it. Your readers deserve better.

Ken and Eve Klothen write from Guilford.