Photo: Ethan Hoover

Letters – May 3, 2018

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Reaction to “Some Uncomfortable Gaza Truths

I just completed reading the article by Michael Koplow (April 19, page 8). If ever there was a far-left-wing piece of work, this was it. I am an independent. I have no tolerance for those on the far right nor on the far left. This article, for the most part, is despicable.

I particularly take issue in this article with the paragraph starting “Israel Not Blameless.” What Koplow fails to understand is that the actions of the government of Israel are existential. He states to set aside the Hamas fighters killed on March 30. You cannot set aside the shooting of these individuals. He states that Israel still wounded hundreds more and to consider the odds of every single one of these people being a terrorist or affiliated with the terrorist group when the numbers were 20,000-30,000 people.

This “peaceful demonstration” was stimulated by Hamas. They influenced the myriad of people involved to rush the fence separating them from Israel’s citizen populace. The intent was to break down the fence and attack every Jew they could, make no mistake of that. The unarmed and “innocent” people either had the wool pulled over their eyes or they were totally complicit. It so very matters that Hamas put Israel in this untenable situation; and what made it worse is they again used the “innocent” Palestinians as shields for this nefarious act. Hundreds of injuries were caused by Hamas, not by Israel.

He points out that Hamas has not fired a rocket into Israel in 14 months. He fails to bring up the reason they haven’t fired rockets into Israel for 14 months. The reason is that that ordinance is expensive, and Hamas discovered it was ineffective. Israel, being one of the only moral governments in the world, developed the Iron Dome system to knock down the incoming missiles instead of raining their own missiles into Gaza. What country does that? If Canada attacked the United States from Windsor, our government would level that city.

Koplow is correct that Israel does not have perfectly clean hands. However, it matters not what they do in the face of world opinion. Its government is vilified by the United Nations far more than any other country in the world. The reason that Israel is reluctant to again speak with the Palestinian Authority is particularly highlighted by the fact that Mahmoud Abbas has stated specifically that Jews will not be allowed to live in a Palestinian state. That should say it all. Yes, I am saddened by the conditions that these disenfranchised Palestinians are forced to live under. The fault, however, is not the Israeli government; it is the leaders they choose or are forced to choose. Wherever does the author of this piece believe the conditions in Gaza are the fault of the Israeli government?

Had the government of Gaza negotiated with Israel after Israel withdrew its people and forces in the interest of peace instead of choosing a leadership dedicated to the destruction of Israel and its people, there is no question that Israel would have made sure that the conditions in Gaza would have been better. Hamas decided to build missiles, hide them in civilian populations, even in the U.N. Pavilion there, instead of working and spending for the benefit of the Palestinians, a fact Koplow chooses to ignore.

Koplow had the audacity to suggest that “Only someone who is willfully blind … would argue that Gaza is an independent territory free of Israeli control … Israel has contributed a staggeringly awful humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and Israel’s political leadership has used Hamas’ presence there to punish nearly 2 million people while avoiding having to make any hard decisions.”

Bull feathers! The Israeli government has repeatedly offered to meet with the Palestinian Authority without precondition. That request has been denied by Mahmoud Abbas!

Make no mistake, Hamas will never be interested in working with Israel. It is written in their charter!

Kenneth M. Bertin

West Bloomfield

Thank you for publishing “Some Uncomfortable Gaza Truths” by Michael Koplow on April 19. While the piece will likely illicit angry reactions from readers on both the left and the right, Koplow eloquently reminds us that situations on the ground can be hard to easily categorize into black and white/right and wrong. In trying to simplify situations that are not simple, we risk eviscerating nuance for the fleeting “victory” of winning an argument at the cost of greater fundamental truths.

In his piece, Koplow painfully illustrates the complexity of the situation on the Gaza/Israel border in a way that helps the reader think about the barriers to peace. There are certainly a myriad of complicated reasons why, 70 years after the founding of the state of Israel and 50 years after 1967, Israel still does not have peace. Supporters of Israel can choose to give reductionist answers that place all the blame on the Palestinians or Netanyahu or the settlements or Hamas, but ultimately such answers fall flat.

As Koplow notes, in the current situation at the Gaza border, there is tension between the methods that Israel uses to protect its border and the fact that peaceful protesters are intermixed with Hamas. Only pain and tragedy can come out of this. We must not delude ourselves into forgetting that Hamas is a terrorist organization that has continually shown its willingness to put innocent Palestinians into the line of fire to later use their deaths as propaganda in support of the destruction of Israel.

Regardless of this, supporters of Israel — no matter what side of the political spectrum in Israeli or American politics — must keep in mind the eventual goal of Israel living side-by-side with a Palestinian state in peace and security. The fact that Hamas is neither a feasible nor willing partner for peace does not diminish the reality that a two-state solution is the most viable path to creating a sustainable future for both Israel and the Palestinian people.

To reach that goal, we must all grapple with uncomfortable truths such as the ones Koplow lays out. I hope the Detroit Jewish News continues to challenge us with similar thoughtful and nuanced pieces.

Alicia Chandler

President, Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC 

I was really disgusted by the lies in the Michael Koplow article. The IDF who defends Jews from our eternal enemies is morally equivalent to the Syrian army that bombs its own civilians? Not true! The Allies who fought the Nazis are morally equivalent to the Nazis? Not true! Moral relativistic nonsense. Contrary to what he says, when the IDF defends its nation and makes every effort to avoid hurting non-combatants, it is a moral army.

Joel K. Letvin

West Bloomfield 

Michael J. Koplow claimed that he was presenting the truth. At times he did. He was correct that armies kill people. At times he didn’t.

Despite his reliance on Hamas’ talking points and the fact that the IDF uses violence like other armies, the IDF is still the most moral army in the world. The IDF protects Israeli women and children from the terrorists of Hamas, the P.A., Hezbollah and surrounding armies. They also protect Palestinian civilians, the ones that Hamas and the P.A. use as human shields, hoping their deaths can be used to tar Israel.

The IDF and the IAF are the only military organizations I know of who warn civilians they are coming, thereby increasing their own chances of being injured or killed. Israel also investigates incidents of Palestinian civilian injury in spite of the fact that Hamas puts children in harm’s way. This is all documented, and it should be repeated no matter what the Israel-haters say. Why should we allow them to twist the truth?

Hamas is a dictatorial terrorist organization. The only way thousands of Gazans could have gathered was at the behest of Hamas. Hamas organized these border riots, again, using human shields. They are responsible for every death.

Koplow mourns “a staggeringly awful humanitarian crisis in Gaza” in order to excuse Hamas. He refuses to acknowledge that Gaza could be a successful, self-supporting, non-barricaded entity if Hamas chose to build up Gaza rather than work to kill Jews. Has he forgotten that most of the donated building materials Israel allows into Gaza are used to develop the terrorist infrastructure, including terror tunnels into Israel, rather than going to civilian use?

This is a straightforward issue. Israel (as always) is being attacked. The only moral response is self-defense. Koplow tries to add complexity due to his anger that the Netanyahu government is “the most right-wing government in Israel’s history.” Who cares? Did Hamas hate Israel any less under left-wing Israeli governments?

Harry Onickel

Fernadale

Yom Hazikaron

The Jewish News should acknowledge its unconscionable lack of coverage of the moving Yom Hazikaron ceremony at the recent Jewish Film Festival. The event was not promoted by story or interview of the Israeli guests.

How more “Jewish” should an event be before it warrants coverage?

Yom Hazikaron is Israel’s Memorial Day, acknowledged by piercing sirens and a nation at standstill in silence for its fallen soldiers. We American Jews need to be reminded and educated of the sacrifice for our precious homeland.

Ruby Kushner

Farmington Hills

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