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Web Letter

I am curious as to whether Prof. Falk is aware that the Hamas movement does not disguise that its objective is to kill every last Jew. It is only about Israel only in so far as that country is a Jewish state. Hence the perpetual stream of rocket attacks well after Gaza was Jew-less for over three years.

On the basis that Hamas defines itself by its objective of Jewish genocide, how would Prof, Falk suggest that the dialogue of negotiations unfold? For Hamas a dialogue is purely strategic, to buy time without any pressure from people like Falk to have them change their actual objectives. This would offer Israel little.

To understand Israel's response, one must accept that the very civilians whom Falk purportedly cares about elected a regime that had a genocidal objective. The entire Hamas infrastructure from universities to TV stations and offices serves the same objective. Falk claims that the population is being punished for the actions of a few militants. But these were elected by the people of Gaza. They are united in their objectives, whether it is one person who pulls the trigger or twenty.

It is difficult to steer away from the blunt refutation that is required in response to Falk's claim of intentional targeting of civilians. There is simply no evidence supporting Falk, and plenty that he appears to have ignored that confirms the very systematic and careful approach by Israel.

I am a psychiatrist and have visited Sderot. I spoke with families who have been traumatized for years by the continual bombardment coming from Gaza. Many of the children require intensive psychological treatment for their terrifying dreams and regressed development from having lived in continual threat. Falk is predictably silent on issues such as these. He insultingly makes a passing reference to such attacks as being illegal, but minimizes entirely the epidemic of human suffering created by Hamas long after Jews left Gaza. For what purpose? They cannot claim occupation.

Israel should be commended for ignoring the bleating, one-sided hysteria from Falk in favour of a sustained military response that ends when Hamas gives up its genocidal objectives. Israel should use as much force as it can at its disposal until there is a definitive end to the conflict. Until Hamas is comprehensively annihilated, the Gaza's Arab population will have no opportunities for peace or statehood. A renunciation of violence and genocidal objectives would lead to immediate prosperity and freedom for their fellow Gazans. This is where UN pressure should be applied.

When Falk shows a genuine commitment to the fundamentals of the UN rather than encouraging tolerance of the intolerant, he may be more persuasive in peace efforts. Until that time I would respectfully commend Prof Falk to make the most of his peaceful sanctuary at Princeton to reflect on his unbalanced and untrue assertions.

Dr. Doron Samuell

Sydney, NSW, Australia

Jan 1 2009 - 4:07am

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Why does The Nation in general and Prof. Falk in particular reserve the most inflammatory and prejudicial language for actions taken by the Israelis and never for the horrors perpetrated by the Arabs in Gaza?

Lest we forget, the Israeli attacks represent a best-faith effort to destroy an entity that is trying to kill Israelis and, indeed, Israel itself. Attacking that entity without causing civilian casualties is made exceedingly difficult by the Arab practice of siting their security buildings, munitions factories, etc., in the middle of crowded civilian areas. They cynically exploit their own people, especially children, and then blame Israel when those sacrificial martyrs are hurt.

Any civilized decent people would keep its children in safe areas, out of harm's way. But Arab children are more valuable to the Arab publicity machine maimed and dead, and so they stack the deck to ensure that outcome.

Lest we further forget, the Arab attacks are intended to maim and kill civilians, especially children. Why else do they attack school buses? In contrast, the Israelis do their level best to avoid harming innocents.

Speaking of innocents, let us not forget that Hamas was elected by the people. It is not a dictatorship like that of Saddam Hussein, which did not represent the will of most of the Iraqi people. So when Prof. Falk talks about how wrong it is to punish all of the people, let us remember that a majority of them voted for the terrorist entity now in charge in Gaza.

He also speaks of vioations of international law. When did he last bemoan the fact that launching rockets at a neighbor is also a violation?

I am forced into a belief that a good many knee-jerk (and jerk is certainly the right word) leftists choose to side with the underdog regardless of the merits of his case. When Israel was the underdog, defending itself against attacks by its Arab neighbors back in 1948, 1967, and 1971, the left in general was supportive. Now it lambastes Israel for doing the same thing--attempting to protect its people.

Not fair, Falk; not fair.

Mike Riezenman

New York, NY

Jan 1 2009 - 3:16am

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What purpose is served by writing a one-sided article like this, so intent on criticizing Israel? Why not an article on a subject rarely written about, such as the treatment of Jews in Arab countries, starting with the 1930s? A good start would be the causes of the disappearance of the large Jewish population in Baghdad.

David Doubilet

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Dec 31 2008 - 8:49pm

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I am writing to express my gratitude to Dr. Falk for his informed assessment of the seriousness of Israel's violations of international law in its genocidal assault on Gaza, and also of the seriousness of America's complicity in these war crimes by virtue of being Israel's primary supplier of advanced military equipment. Dr. Falk's charges are deeply troubling; they should be thoroughly investigated and acted upon.

Toward that end, it would be helpful if Dr. Falk or others could provide a factual accounting of the events leading up to this latest violence. Specifically, during the "cease-fire" that recently elapsed, what positive efforts were made by both sides to strengthen and extend arrangements for peaceful coexistence, and what provocations/violations occurred on both sides, with what consequences (numbers of deaths and injuries, types and magnitudes of economic suffering)for the other side? Were the violations from the Palestinian side directly linked to Hamas, or were they mostly committed by individuals and groups outside Hamas control? Considering this factual context, is Israel's latest assault best understood as a matter of legitimate national self-defense or as an illegitimate act of continuing aggression by a powerful state against a beseiged, impoverished, nearly defenseless, civilian population?

One other matter. We hear much about Israel's "right" to defend itself against Hamas rocket attacks. We hear much less about the corresponding rights of an occupied people to resist aggression. In international law, are there any constraints on the rights of the victims of an illegal military occupation to resist the occupation and to retaliate, as best they can, against the suffering that has been inflicted on them?

kenneth burgdorf

Derwood, MD

Dec 31 2008 - 11:13am

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As I understand what I've read in the news and seen on TV, Israel withdrew from occupying Gaza in 2005. Can someone advise Mr. Falk of this?

John D. Froelich

Upper Darby, PA

Dec 31 2008 - 5:49am

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The article by the Princeton professor, who by virtue of his position should be smart enough to see the hypocrisy in his own words has reminded me of why I quit reading The Nation several years ago. Why is it that the far left, which is correct more often than not, cannot understand the simple concept of nations protecting their citizens? If all the news reports are correct, Gaza is a virtual tinderbox with more ordnance per square mile than probably any other similar-sized or larger area on earth. Is that an example of peaceful intentions.?

Israel agreed to a six-month cease-fire, which Iran promptly used to ship thousand of tons of weapons and ammunition (not relief supplies) covertly into Gaza. Israel attempted to extend the cease-fire, but Hamas ignored the request (contrary to your statement) and immediately started firing rockets and killing Israeli civilians. Note that Israel does not hide its military in the middle of civilians, a practice that is called "human shields," and no wonder there is "collateral damage" of less than 20 percent of the deaths. Hamas targets civilians, and so the ratio is reversed in Israel, i.e., mostly civilians killed by Hamas ordinance.

One suspects your motives in condemning Israel instead of Iran and Hamas are in support of a different agenda.

Allan Altman

Kentfield, CA

Dec 30 2008 - 9:33pm

Web Letter

Falk must live in a different world with a perspective that is clearly biased toward the Palestinians and a disregard for the Israeli people. After all, as it is said in the extremist Islamic world, they are only Jews.

I would grant that the Israeli response to the continual bombardment of Israeli citizens by Hamas may be ill advised in the context of long-term prospects for peace in the region, but if any other nation was the subject of such bombardment as perpetrated by Hamas, what would their response be?

Given that Hamas, an internationally recognized terror organization, hides it munitions among its own civilian population, clearly with the intention that there be civilian casualties and demonstrating its contempt for the lives of its own people in the name of jihad, the destruction of Israel and Western civillization, what other means does Israel have to protect its own people?

The notion that Hamas wanted to extend the truce is utter nonsense. Hamas is not interested in peace for its people because they are pawns in a philosophy of Islam above all else.

The Palestinian people are the victims of their own leadership, as they have been for more than sixty years.

Falk needs to answer the ultimate question: How does Israel or any other civilized nation deal with a entity that is bent on destruction, terror and contempt for human life, and is the avowed enemy of not only Israel but all Western civillization? Egypt has tried to broker peace but has been rebuffed by Hamas, which had been rocketing Israel even while there was a truce. Rockets that Hamas could easily have stopped if it had wanted to.

The carnage is horrible and disheartening for all of us who want peace the world over.

Norman Phillips

Highland Park, IL

Dec 30 2008 - 5:10pm

Web Letter

The criminal US-backed Israeli bombing massacre on Gaza, and the mass murder of 240 and serious wounding of another 500 Palestinians was done with a US green light using US weapons. The bombings took place at the end of the school day revealing a fiendish, genocidal intent to inflict as many casualties as possible, including children.

The UN in an emergency session issued a lukewarm resolution calling on all sides to stop the fighting. The US and the UK merely requesting that Israel try to avoid civilian casualties in the face of this modern day Guernica.

Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Houses are built on top of each other. Government buildings and schools are amongst residential neighborhoods. Reports now show Israel has bombed the Gaza port, a university campus, greenhouses, a school, homes, mosques, prisons and medical storehouses.

Under Israeli siege for eighteen months, the people of Gaza had been denied food, electricity and medical care. This murderous siege was carried out without protest from their allies in Western Europe and the United States. Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu has called this blockade an "abomination".

The Israeli army engages daily in degrading and inhumane treatments towards Palestinians, such as prolonged detention without charges, strip searches at checkpoints, beatings, torture and home demolitions. According to Amnesty International, Israel is the only country that legalizes torture.

Why does the Arab world hate us? The answer is on the front pages of our daily newspapers.

rich broderick

Cambridge, NY

Dec 30 2008 - 4:34pm

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I'm sorry; from a professor and editor of this paper I expect a stronger, progressive, more balanced piece. I'm sorry, but this is instead regressive, in my view. Israel is not an "occupying power" of Gaza and certainly doesn't see itself as one, so how can you ignore this perspective? You mention the rocket attacks from Gaza in passing, but do not describe the full gravity of how these attacks affect Israel and her citizens, her children? Although you attack Israel's response to the terror from Gaza, you offer no alternative response for how Israel should respond to such attacks. Maybe they should use the "Sedona method" and send good vibes to Gaza? Or, how they should deal with ever-increasing organisations of terror in Gaza, supported by other Arab states? if it is only a "few militants" that are causing the problem in Gaza, then why don't you recommend that authorities in Gaza remove these people? Israel is a beautiful country, thanks to its current stewards in charge for a mere sixty years. It is easy to judge from your desk in the USA, but go have coffee in Tel Aviv and then try to e-mail this type of rubbish to The Nation.

Marc Zweier

Fremantle, Western Australia

Dec 30 2008 - 11:30am

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This article is further proof that some on the left are delusional and borderline anti-Semitic. What other country in the world is asked over and over again to sit and take rocket attacks... while the world does nothing?!

While Israel gets attacked by Hamas rockets, Falk's heroic world-saving organization (the UN) does nothing as usual, the Middle East countries do and say nothing, as usual, and Europe does nothing, as usual.

And what is a proportional response, by the way? Hey, we only lost something like 2,700 people during the Pearl Harbor attack. Was FDR's and Truman's response proportional, killing approximtely 2,000,000+ Japanese.

Falk's mentality and thought process on this issue is a syptom of something very wrong with the civilized world today.

When will Falk finally say: Well, yeah, I guess Israel has my blessing to defend herself.

Maybe a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv? Maybe it would take Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to be destroyed.

Readers of The Nation. Wake up ! It is 1936 all over again. Will you appease another murderous ideology? Or will you stand up for what is right and good?

Cesar Quintanilla

Anaheim, CA

Dec 29 2008 - 8:15pm