Israeli offensive in Gaza
Madam, - In his "some-of-my-best-friends-are-Jews" letter of January 6th, Senator David Norris defends himself against the obvious charge of anti-Semitism.
But by the European Union's working definition of anti-Semitism, a key indicator is "drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis".
Senator Norris's ludicrous comparison of Israel's defensive Gaza campaign to the Nazi action in the Warsaw ghetto is a gross example of this.
Did the Warsaw Jews decide that Germany had no right to exist? Had they been shelling the Germans for years with rockets and mortars? Did they have a charter which called explicitly for the elimination of Germans? And conversely, was the German army trucking food and medical supplies, at great risk to itself, into the ghetto?
Senator Norris's ridiculous comparison would be risible were it not for the fact that such nonsense panders to the real anti-Semites, and perpetuates the tragedy of the Arab-Israeli conflict. - Yours, etc,
Madam, - The certainty with which a number of contributors to your Letters page have taken up either side in this conflict is worrying, especially considering our recent past.
To my mind, there are only a number of truisms in this matter, as follows:
1. Both sides are at fault for the current impasse.
2. Proportionality is a red herring: any lives lost on either side are too many.
3. As in all armed conflict, the principal sufferers will be women and children.
4. Peace will come only through a negotiated settlement. Neither side will be fought to submission or "bombed to the table".
5. Both sides have shown an abject failure of leadership, and are content to play to their baser instincts.
6. No solution can be imposed from outside. The involvement of Tony Blair as envoy is ridiculous, despite his success in Northern Ireland, he has blood on his hands from Iraq and Afghanistan.
7. Self-serving support for either Israel or Hamas by other states must cease. Current positions preclude a "road to peace".
Unfortunately, I cannot see lasting peace for the ordinary citizens of the region until the above issues are addressed. - Yours, etc,
ROBERT P. CHESTER,
Madam, - The destruction in Gaza is appalling. It is also evil. It is justified by recourse to the so-called "war on terror" - a catch-phrase that is so vague, woolly, lacking in precision and boundaries that it is almost devoid of meaning and can be used to justify nearly anything.
The destruction itself is state-sponsored terror - by people whose ancestors perished in analagous dreadful circumstances just two generations ago.
And so the spiral of hatred, vengeance and retribution continues.
Why are these seen as inevitable? Have the political leaders of Israel and Hamas no positive values to offer? - Yours, etc,
Fr DERMOT MILLS,
Madam, - We , the undersigned, demand the immediate ending of the Israeli all-out war against the Palestinian people in Gaza. While every human life is sacred, the killing of Israeli civilians from Hamas rocket attacks in southern Israel bears no proportionality to the air and ground bombing of Gaza, which has so far resulted in the killing of over 500 Palestinians, 20 per cent of whom are women and children according to UN reports.
This latest offensive will only create a hardening of Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation of Palestinian land as young children experience the terror of these air and land attacks and the death and destruction they cause.
We thank the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, for having courageously condemned this disproportionate Israeli attack and request him to call in the Israeli ambassador to Ireland to express Irish outrage at the callous loss of human life in Gaza and ask the Israeli authorities to cease their offensive and allow immediate humanitarian and medical aid to the civilian population of Gaza. - Yours, etc,
JOE MURRAY ,
Rev ROBERT MacCARTHY,
Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral,
Fr BRENDAN FORDE o.f.m.,
Irish Missionary Union,
Co-ordinator, Latin American
NGO Peace Alliance,
Madam, - The call by Chris Andrews TD to "expel the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland" (January 5th) is a predictable outcome of his alliance with Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh in the Oireachtas, where they have been jointly circulating an anti-Israeli petition.
People who enter into alliances with SF usually end up parroting Provo policies. The Provos have a long record of attacking Israel and backing whatever bunch of Jew-hating terrorists or heads of state are leading the charge to "wipe Israel off the map" — whether it's Hamas to the south, Hizbollah to the north or Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the east.
The spectacle outside the Central Bank last Saturday of young children dressed in military fatigues and green Hamas headbands gave Dubliners a brief insight into the use of children by Hamas which was very different from the tragic images of dead and wounded children that appear daily in newspapers and television reports from Gaza. The anti-Semitic indoctrination and militarisation of children, their abuse as human shields and their posthumous exploitation, wrapped in Hamas flags, for propaganda purposes is part of Hamas strategy and fully compatible with its jihadist ideology.
The killing of innocent civilians, including children, must be condemned without reservation. In doing so, responsibility should be laid at the door of those responsible for locating military hardware and personnel in civilian settings, using civilians as human shields and exploiting children for propaganda. An objective analysis of all the facts, rather than an emotional response to horrific images on newspaper pages and TV screens, will show any fair-minded person that it is not Israel's policy that is responsible for the tragic deaths of civilians in Gaza.
I hope the Government will ignore Deputy Andrews's outrageous and opportunistic demand to expel the ambassador of a small country that is fighting to protect its citizens from daily rocket attacks and to secure its borders in the midst of enemies on all sides who deny the right of the Jewish state to exist. The Irish Government should continue to back the two-states policy supported by the majority of Israelis and moderate Palestinians. - Yours, etc,
Madam, - Charles Krauthammer's spin on the Israeli onslaught in Gaza is most interesting (Opinion, January 5th).
Is it his position that the IRA's bombing of commercial targets in Belfast was legitimate because the bombers gave advance warnings to news organisations?
I do not recall your newspaper giving space to such a viewpoint. - Yours, etc,
Madam, - When the Israeli army has pulverised Gaza and killed many more Palestinian civilians, when the rockets cease firing, will all those who have written in support of Israel then demand that it lifts its siege and stop its collective punishment of the Palestinian people? Will they demand an end to Israel's apartheid policies in the West Bank? Will they call on Israel to respect international and humanitarian law, to stop the ongoing settlement expansion, dismantle the illegal separation wall and halt the theft of Palestinian land?
No, of course they won't. Their denunciation of violence extends only to Palestinian violence; their calls for the rule of law applies only to the occupied people. There is nothing that Israel will do that these "friends of Israel" won't support with self-righteous anger, indignation and charges of anti-Semitism against those who disagree.
Pity the Palestinians; but pity the Israeli Jewish citizens too, whose country represents to the world today what apartheid South Africa represented for much of the last century. Pity them their "friends" abroad. - Is mise,
Madam, - We are appalled at Chris Andrews TD's call to expel the Israeli ambassador (January 5th). Every nation has the right of self-defence. It strikes us that there are six key questions Mr Andrews might usefully address:
1. Who started it? On December 19th Hamas declared it would not renew a six-month ceasefire agreement. Instead, Hamas stepped up the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel. On Christmas Eve it fired over 50 rockets and on Christmas Day over 80 rockets and mortars against Israeli civilians. No country could ignore rockets being fired against its people.
2. Is Israel's response disproportionate? What is a proportionate response? In the past three years Hamas has fired 5,800 rockets and mortars randomly against Israeli civilians. What would be the world's response if Israel fired 5,800 missiles randomly into Gaza?
3. What is needed to end the conflict? There needs to be a change to the security situation in Gaza. If Israel accepts another ceasefire without destroying this stockpile of rockets or putting controls in place to prevent new and longer-range rockets being smuggled into Gaza it could face a repetition whenever Hamas decided to renew hostilities.
4. What is the reaction of the Arab powers? No Arab nation would have allowed a neighbour to fire rockets into its sovereign territory. Any Arab state would have reacted far more strongly and would not have been so concerned as Israel to minimise civilian casualties. Many Arab states recognise that Hamas is acting as an agent for Iran. They do not want Iranian power to increase in the Middle East and are secretly pleased that Israel is taking on Hamas.
5. What about the humanitarian situation in Gaza? Hamas assassinated its opponents. Hamas does not permit other voices in civil society and persecutes the small Christian minority. Israel is allowing daily deliveries of 50 to 100 truckloads of supplies to Gaza and has not cut off power supplies from the generating station at Ashkelon, even when it is under fire.
6. Is Gaza hopeless? If the administration of Gaza focused on development rather than using all its resources for attacking Israel, Gaza could have a brighter future. - Yours, etc,
PADDY and ANNE