Opinion | Blame it on the Israel-Gaza conflict

For the publisher:

Re “Israel must rout Hamas for peace” (column, May 14):

Bret Stephens should define precisely what he means by the rout of Hamas and what the day after such a rout looks like.

Yes, a more stable outcome for all would be a general perception that Hamas miscalculated and harmed Palestinian interests. It is much easier said than done. And we need to be especially careful at this time when all the actions taken by the Israeli leadership against Hamas pave the way for a fifth round of the elections that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would try to win.

Mr. Stephens agrees that Israel made many mistakes before the fighting. But it fails to capture the madness and irresponsible behavior on Israel’s side, especially Prime Minister Netanyahu, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, and the Israel Police.

As Mr. Stephens notes, Hamas launched this campaign as part of a deeply cynical effort to achieve primacy as leader of the Palestinian national movement. But the Israeli leadership provided Hamas with an opportunity.

So yes, Hamas is bad. Maybe we in Israel should have been more careful. And especially now, we have to be.

Daniel Sherman
Modiin, Israel
The writer is a former senior staff officer in the Israel Defense Forces who has dealt with issues of strategic planning and the peace process.

For the publisher:

Regarding “The United States should make aid to Israel conditional on conflict reduction” (column, May 13):

Nicholas Kristof is right when he mentions that Israel once allowed the rise of Hamas as a counterweight to the Palestine Liberation Organization. But Israel has done more than “allow”.

In 1981, Brig. General Yitzhak Segev, Israeli military governor of Gaza, told me that he was giving money to the Muslim Brotherhood, the forerunner of Hamas, on instructions from the Israeli authorities. The funding was intended to divert power from communist and Palestinian nationalist movements in Gaza, which Israel saw as more threatening than the fundamentalists.

Judging from a distressed phone call I later received from the army spokesman, General Segev’s superiors were not happy with his disclosure of a practice that did not seem very smart, even then. They mistakenly thought – but apparently wished – that he had made his comments unofficially.

David K. Shipler
Chevy Chase, Md.
The writer was the Times bureau chief in Jerusalem from 1979 to 1984.

For the publisher:

Re “We need a new approach in the Middle East” (guest essay, May 15):

I do not dispute Bernie Sanders’ plea for the rights of the Palestinian people. But he blames the contempt for these rights primarily on Israel.

These rights are compromised by the very government of Gaza, which is supposed to protect them. Hamas launches rockets at Israel from densely populated civilian areas, knowing full well that Israel will retaliate to destroy the source. Innocent civilians will be killed.

Protecting Palestinians begins with Hamas. It is Hamas that must place the rights of its citizens above its visceral hatred of Israel.

Ellen shaffer meyer
Wilmington, Del.

For the publisher:

Bernie Sanders says, “We are seeing the rise of a new generation of activists who want to build societies based on human need and political equality.”

It is a wonderful and utopian thought, but when Hamas’s stated goal is the destruction of the State of Israel, and the Hamas leadership refuses to negotiate with Israel and terrorizes Israeli civilians, it does not matter who the leader is. Prime Minister, this person cannot focus only on human needs and political equality. Israel’s leaders must focus on survival.

Geraldine Wolk

For the publisher:

Re “Civilian deaths on both sides raise specter of war crimes” (front page, May 17):

Is it a war crime when civilians are collateral damage if military targets are the reason for the attack? Is it a war crime if the target of the bombs or rockets is civilians where there is no military target?

Edward gilbert
Studio City, California

For the publisher:

Re “Democrats Fracture Over Israel Stance” (front page, May 16):

As an American Jew and Zionist, I have been appalled by the Trump administration’s support for right-wing religious extremists in the United States and Israel.

I have always despaired of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s agenda. The abuses against the Palestinian people by the Israeli and American governments go against the civic and religious definitions of justice that are said to be at the heart of both countries.

It breaks my heart. You don’t have to be progressive to protest.

Annlinn kruger
Bar Harbor, Maine

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