January 06, 2009

Collective punishment unfair to people of Gaza

The article "Muslims step up Israel protests" (Jan. 3) suggests that the Palestinians are divided between those who "back the search by moderate leaders for a peace accord with the Jewish state and those drawn to Hamas' call for armed struggle," as if Palestinians of either camp would settle for a peace dictated by Israel.

What the article does not say is that Israelis are divided between those who back leaders willing to settle for a just peace with the Palestinians and those who support armed conflict until they agree to all Israeli demands.

To date, and since the 1947 Partition Agreement, Jewish supporters of armed conflict have dominated the debate, scheming to take more land than the 56 percent of historic Palestine granted to Israel in 1947 by a guilt-ridden international community.

Since 1967, they have dragged out so-called peace talks with whatever "moderate" Palestinians they can find.

However, Hamas has publicly stated its intention to negotiate a peace accord with Israel on the basis of the internationally accepted border of that state prior to the 1967 war. That's a huge concession. Few Palestinians would accept less or abandon the refugees created when Israel refused to allow the return of the 750,000 Palestinians who were displaced from their homes by the 1948 war.

Most of those dying in Gaza today formerly lived on land inside Israel or are the children and grandchildren of those who did.

Today, in the name of Israeli self-defense, collective punishment, a war crime, is being visited upon the Palestinian people to break their will to resist Israeli demands.

And Hamas is widely blamed for it all.

Michael Burns, Catonsville

Israel acts to protect its own security

As usual, Israel is sustaining rocket attacks and worldwide verbal assaults ("Israeli forces press Gaza offensive," Jan. 5). But have you ever noticed that the situation in the Middle East is never labeled a "crisis" until Israel responds to defend itself?

As soon as the ground assault into Gaza began, world leaders began calling for a cease-fire. But where is the anguish from the so-called peace-loving nations when Iranian-made rockets are launched by Hamas into Israel towns, killing Israeli children?

The United Nations recognized Israel in 1948 as a sovereign nation. But today the U.N. turns its back and pretends that Hamas and Hezbollah are not terrorist groups but bona fide governments.

Israel does what it does to protect its borders and its children.

I would expect the same from my government if our country was under constant attack.

Gerry T. Deba, Reisterstown

Israel gains nothing from further carnage

With hundreds of Palestinians dead and injured in Gaza, what can Israel gain by extending the carnage ("Israeli forces press Gaza offensive," Jan. 5)?

For the sake of its security and to regain its standing as a moral nation, Israel must withdraw from Gaza, and evacuate all its settlers from the West Bank.

Grenville B. Whitman, Rock Hall

Use military budget to build families, roads

In his column "Build families, not roads" (Commentary, Dec. 28), Matthew H. Joseph suggests that under the proposed federal infrastructure stimulus package, billions in federal funds will be funneled to a few major companies while only what's left over will trickle down to state and local governments and nonprofit organizations.

Mr. Joseph proposes more direct solutions to help the working poor, such as expanding the earned income tax credit and support for programs that provide health care and housing for families just a paycheck away from homelessness.

While these laudable programs would go a long way toward ending poverty, concerns will undoubtedly be voiced regarding the cost of funding these projects.

One source of funding for these reforms that is seldom included in the discussion of the U.S. economy is our excessive military spending on cruel weapons such as cluster bombs, the ongoing nuclear arms race and the billions of tax dollars we have squandered on the unnecessary, pointless war in Iraq.

To paraphrase Mr. Joseph, let's "build families and roads, not bombs."

Lee Lears, Annapolis

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